Awards Circuit Column: It’s decision time.
After months of campaigning, festivalgoing, splashy premieres, magazine profiles and morning-show appearances, Academy voters will finally get their ballots this week (Thursday, Jan. 11). Hopefully, the organization’s nearly 10,000 members did their homework and watched as many of 2023’s offerings as possible.
It’s hard to distill an entire year of cinema — particularly one overflowing with so much great work — into a mere five (or, in the case of best picture, 10) achievements. I love many of the films that the Academy will almost certainly nominate for top prizes, such as Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers” and Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon.” And who could resist the phenomenon of Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” forever linked in pop culture history as “Barbenheimer.”
Read: Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Oscars predictions in all categories.
But for me, nothing can beat Cord Jefferson’s audacious debut, “American Fiction,” which boasted sharp writing, an invigorating ensemble and smart social satire. Jefferson is the real deal, a filmmaker whose boundless future I cannot wait to watch unfold. I can only hope the Academy recognizes his brilliance.
Then there’s Ava DuVernay’s emotionally stirring “Origin,” which ranks as the finest directorial achievement of her career. If I controlled the Oscars, DuVernay would be running away with the directing prize, alongside her lead actress, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor.
As for lead actor, there’s an embarrassment of riches, topped by Colman Domingo’s searing work as civil rights leader Bayard Rustin in “Rustin.” While studios campaign for their stars in specific categories, Oscar voters can make their own decisions about which roles qualify as leading ones and which are supporting. For me, “BlackBerry’s” Glenn Howerton and the “May December” duo of Charles Melton and Julianne Moore feel better suited for lead recognition than for the supporting categories in which they are likely to appear if they score a nod. At the same time, Lily Gladstone, unforgettable in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” and Laurie Metcalf, under-heralded for “Somewhere in Queens,” seem better fits for supporting salutes.
John Magaro’s heartbreaking and understated turn in Celine Song’s “Past Lives” has been unjustly ignored this season, despite the film being a sure-fire best picture contender. A supporting actor lineup without the journeyman actor just feels wrong.
Here’s what my Oscar ballot would look like if I were a voter.
The full list is below.