A Recap of the Best Picture Nominees for the 2023 Oscars

With the 95th Annual Academy Awards just a day away, Isabel and Cass review the ten Best Picture nominees and give their personal picks and predictions.


A24 Studios

Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang in “Everything Everywhere all at Once”

A season of incredible storytelling and heartwarming comeback performances that have been sweeping awards shows leading up to this sunday, The 95th Academy Awards is shaping up to be one of the most riveting races to date, with several neck-in-neck performances in every acting category. However, there’s no doubt that the majority of viewers are waiting the most to see who will take home Best Picture. 


For any potential Oscars watchers who couldn’t see all ten Best Picture nominees, Isabel and Cass sat down to review each nominated film, as well as give their prediction for who they think will take their spot as this year’s Best Picture.


“Everything Everywhere All at Once” 

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” has single handedly dominated the 2023 award season. The film, directed and written by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert grossed over $107 million worldwide, becoming A24’s first film to cross the $100 million mark and surpassing Hereditary (2018) as its highest-grossing film. The film has earned 11 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay. Michelle Yeoh, who plays the lead character Evelyn Quan Wang, is the first Asian woman to be nominated for Best Actress in a leading role. Ke Huy Quan, who people may know from “The Goonies” or “Indiana Jones” french took a step away from acting for numerous years, until he was presented with the opportunity to play Waymond Wang. Now he is an Academy Award nominee. Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu are also both up for Best Supporting Actress nominees for their work in the movie as well. 

The plot follows Evelyn who runs a washing and drying business with her husband Waymond, who are being audited by the IRS. They’re daughter Joy, who feels like she cannot live up to her mothers expectations of life, portrays Jobu Tupaki, the Alpha-Verse iteration of Joy Wang; the film’s “villain.” With help from her distant husband, Evelyn discovers that she must connect with the Alpha-Verse version of herself to prevent a Jobu Tupaki from destroying the multiverse and to fix her estranged relationship with her husband and daughter. Who would’ve known this low-budget sci-fi movie would crush box offices and be an Oscars front runner.  


“All Quiet on the Western Front” 

17-year-old Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) and his fellow classmates and friends enlist in the German army during World War I, having been urged to do so by their jingoistic teachers. Encouraged by a sensationalized view of war, they have no idea that as foot soldiers fighting in the trenches, they’ve been thrown into a futile cycle of senseless death and violence. Viewers and critics alike have been turned off to the film by the excess of gore and grime that sets this adaptation apart from prior (American) screen adaptations of the Erich Maria Remarque novel, don’t let that deter you from what is one of the most poignantly raw depictions of war in decades. Kammerer, in his breakout role, is mesmerizing to watch turn seamlessly from bright-eyed young man to tormented soldier over the course of the film’s nearly two and a half hour run time, and he is accompanied in his stellar performance by an ensemble cast. 

As the only foreign-language film in this year’s best picture roster, “All Quiet on the Western Front” stands out as a German story told in German by a German cast and crew. The film broke records at the 2023 BAFTAs after being nominated for and winning seven awards, including best film and best director for Berger. Continuing this record-breaking theme, the film is up for a total of nine Academy Awards, beating out 2020 Oscars sensation “Parasite”’s six nominations, although not quite surpassing 2000’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”’s 10, a record-breaking number for non-English language films. While likely not a front runner for many viewers (war movies rarely are), “All Quiet on the Western Front” has already left its mark, Oscars wins or not.


“Avatar: The Way of Water” 

With a $250 million budget, “Avatar: The Way of Water ” stands at the third highest grossing film of all time earning $2.268 billion at the box office. This makes it the third film that director and producer James Cameron’s has in the top five highest grossing films of all time. The second installment of the franchise is set 15 years after the events of the first movie and focuses on Jake Sully and Ney’tiri and the family they have created and how they will do anything in their power to protect that. But when threats from the human world resurface, they are forced to explore more of Pandora and fight to protect their family. Sully and Ney’tiri’s children also play a huge role in the film with Sully’s attempts of shielding and protecting his children along with his overwhelming fear of losing them plays a pivotal role in Sullys character development between the first and second installment. “Avatar: The Way of Water” is only the second film out of the five confirmed films in the installment, “Avatar: 3” which is set to release Dec. 20, 2024 is expected to pick up right where the second film left off. Cameron only had plans to extend the Avatar story into five films, but there are heavy rumors swirling around that Cameron is planning to extend the franchise to a total of seven movies after the recent success of “Avatar: The Way of Water.” Just 14 years after the initial release of  “Avatar” and the film being up for best picture back in 2010, will  “Avatar: Way of Water” take home best picture at the 2023 Academy Awards? 


“Top Gun: Maverick” 

37 years after the release of “Top Gun” leading man Tom Cruise returns as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in “Top Gun: Maverick.” Maverick returns to his old stomping grounds in hopes to train the newest Top Gun recruits, of which being Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller) who happens to be the son of Mavericks late friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw. Maverick is tasked to train his recruits for an urgent mission, which is to bomb a foreign country’s unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant. Maverick must defy and conquer the ghosts of his past and face his deepest fears in order to pull off his greatest mission yet. “Top Gun: Maverick” was an eager release, leaving fans wondering who was coming back to the film to reprise their roles and what the film really had to offer. The movie isn’t a front runner to take home the Academy Award for Best Picture but fans across the country are eager to see it just being nominated. 


“The Fabelmans” 

Three-time Academy Award winner Steven Speilberg is no stranger to the Best Picture category. In fact, his nomination for “The Fabelmans” will be his 12th time being nominated in the category. 

 After his parents took him to see “The Greatest Show on Earth” Young Sammy Fabelman knew from that moment forward he would set his life to film making, starting out by making films at home. His mother, played by Michelle Williams is a free spirit while his father is a computer engineer played by Paul Dano. At the height of the movie Sammy comes to find out that his mother, who he looked up to dearly, was actually having an affair with Sammys fathers best friend. What sets this film different from anything Speilberg has done before is that “The Fabelmans” is based off of Speilberg’s life. Making the film a very much true story of Spielberg’s real life parents Leah and Arnold, and his childhood. In regards to Speilberg knowing about his mothers affair, he kept that to himself until the release of “The Fabelmans.” For Sammy, the ending of the movie is only the beginning for him. He will go on to live a successful life, doing what he loves; much like how Speilberg has. Three-time Academy Award winner Steven Speilberg is no stranger to the Best Picture category. In fact, this is his 12th time being nominated in the category.


“Triangle of Sadness” 

The dark comedy “Triangle of Sadness” stands amongst the other nominees in the best picture category for its morbid humor and unique plot and story. The movie starts out with influencer couple Carl and Yaya who are invited on a luxury cruise on a superyacht in exchange for promotion on social media by the couple, the boat also hosts room for handfuls of old wealthy couples. While all these guests luxuriate on the yacht, they are completely oblivious to the grueling treatment of the crew, who meet every want and need of the guests. All the while, the captain of the yacht Thomas Smith (played by Woody Harrelson) is getting drunk in his cabin. Things take a turn for the worse when all the passengers come together for dinner and fall incredibly ill due to the food. Movie goers were then spoiled with a disturbing scene of all the passengers violently seasick, vomiting or having diarrhea. 

The following morning, danger consumes the ship as two of its passengers die from a grenade, shortly before the ship is taken over by pirates. As the wealthy and powerful escape the dangers on board the ship and find themselves on an island with some of the crew, they must navigate survival together and surrender their self proclaimed power and privilege hierarchy and put their lives in the hands of the crew who they frown upon. In order to enjoy “Triangle of Sadness” you only need one thing; a cruel sense of humor. 



Perhaps one of the more controversial nominations for best picture, “Elvis” needs no real explanation: it’s a biopic detailing the life, controversies, struggles and impact of the king of rock himself. An icon of American popular culture, it would probably be borderline sacrilege for the Academy to not acknowledge the film, directed by Baz Luhrmann, probably the only person who could feel comfortable taking on the task of immortalizing a god-like figure in culture through film. 

The film’s best picture nomination, for many moviegoers, is a subject of hot debate. Luhrmann’s distinct style is dizzyingly decadent and snappy, and while it works well in some final products, a la 1996’s “Romeo + Juliet”, its application in “Elvis” was jarring for many. The film’s reputation is also marred by Tom Hanks as Elvis’ controversial manager Colonel Tom Parker, which might just go down as one of the actor’s worst performances to date. 

If nothing else, “Elvis” has one thing truly going for it: Austin Butler’s practically uncanny performance as the titular Elvis, which has landed him front runner status in the best actor category as well as infamy for his method-acting approach to the role, as he is only now deciding to drop the Elvis voice. 


“The Banshees of Inisherin” 

Another standout film at the 2023 BAFTAs, Director Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” has quietly become one of the strongest heartstring-pullers of the pool of nominees. Set off the coast of Ireland during the Irish Civil War, the story follows two men, Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson) as Pádraic tries desperately to repair their suddenly broken friendship. 

The film is filled with nothing short of standout performances all around: The film has two best supporting actor nominations for both Gleeson as well as Barry Koeghan’s performance as the misunderstood “town fool” Dominic. Farrell’s performance has landed him into the race for best actor. Macdonagh has also earned a best director nomination for his work, which quietly left viewers stunned at a story of conflict and isolation. After the past few years of polarization and pandemic happenings, it says something that this story reaches out across a whole century to deliver something so bitingly relevant to so many lives.


Let’s be clear: it’s no secret that Cate Blanchett is a master of her craft. She’s already proven this. Watch her in literally anything she’s done, from “Lord of the Rings” to her gender-bending portrayal of Bob Dylan in “I Am Not There.” If there’s still somehow any doubt about this in your mind, look no further than “Tár,” a film that would, in all honesty, be little to nothing without her stellar performance. 

The film follows heavily lauded conductor Lydia Tár as she prepares for a career defining performance- only to watch everything fall apart in a matter of days. It’s a biting film about the modern sense of self and how we choose to present ourselves to the world, with a powerfully disturbing story of abuse of power bubbling under the surface of the whole run.


“Women Talking”

Content warning: sexual assault

An adaptation of a novel about the true story of a Bolivian Mennonite colony, “Women Talking” offers a story that is poignant and gripping, but is all too close to home for women across any and all backgrounds. The film follows a group of Mennonite women who have discovered that nearly all of them have been drugged and sexually assaulted by the men of their colony- and have been for generations. Upon discovering this, they secretly convene to decide on what to do- nothing, leave the colony or fight. 

Claire Foy is the most obvious standout here, giving a heartbreakingly passionate performance as Salome, a woman of the colony who is the most strongly in favor of fighting the men. Other notable performances include Jessie Buckley as Mariche and Ben Wishlaw as August. Although a much smaller role, the most impactful role is August Winter as Melvin, a transgender man in the colony who is also a victim of the men. This struck a chord the most- the queer- especially trans- perspective in stories of sexual assault is one that is often left out, and one that very easily could have been left out of this film, so it was an extremely emotional thing to get to see Melvin and his experience not only made visible, but accepted. 

Although “Women Talking” hasn’t been a big winner this awards cycle, it is a mistake to skip over it.


Cass’s prediction: 

Whether you like it or not, we all know who’s taking home the Oscar for Best Picture. This film has swept award shows this past year and has broken records and set the standard for film making. With 11 nominations, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is my top pick to win this year’s highly anticipated award. From the casting, to the story, to the acting this film exceeds all expectations of what an amazing film should be. Down to the last second of the movie, you are engaged and are ultimately left wanting more of what the Wang family has to give. I couldn’t think of a better film to win Best Picture. 

Isabel’s prediction: In any other Oscars, I would be vouching for “All Quiet on the Western Front” without a doubt, that movie left an impact on me like few other films on this roster did. Except this isn’t any other Oscars year. Like Cass said, there’s almost no question that “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is going to win. It’s a genre defining triumph of modern cinema that has been leaving its mark wherever it goes. The only real question is: if “Everything Everywhere All at Once” already exists, where can we (and especially A24) possibly go next?

Facebook Comments