2023 Oscar pre-nominations slugfest: Last-minute surprises we’re rooting for [WATCH]

“There’s so many people talking about what’s going to get nominated at the Oscars, but really all you need to worry about is this: this is where it’s at,” jokes Gold Derby senior editor Rob Licuria as he introduces a last-minute discussion about what and who are the most likely contenders at the 2023 Oscars, focusing on some of the potential jaw-dropping surprises that many won’t see coming.

Licuria is joined by contributors Charles Bright and Tony Ruiz to champion their “on the cusp” dark horse contenders and dish who and what to expect on the morning of the announcement of the 95th Oscars nominations, which is scheduled to take place live from the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Tuesday, January 24 at 5:30 am PT. The presentation will be hosted by Riz Ahmed (Oscar winner for the short film “The Long Goodbye” and a Best Actor nominee for “Sound of Metal”) and Allison Williams (“MEG3N” and “Get Out”). Watch our 2023 Oscar pre-nominations predictions video slugfest above.

SEE dozens of interviews with 2023 awards contenders

“We’re going to start off with talking about those ‘on the cusp’ contenders, the dark horses, the surprises that we’re rooting for, that we know deep down is going to be a stretch, but that we’re really hoping could happen. Stranger things have happened!” Licuria begins, as he champions contenders like “Triangle of Sadness” in Best Picture and Dolly de Leon in Best Supporting Actress, Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”) looking more and more likely in Best Actor, Netflix’s Rian Johnson murder mystery “Glass Onion” in Best Costume Design (Jenny Eagan) and Best Production Design (Rick Heinrichs), “Emancipation” (Pierce Austin, Andrea Bowman, Ken Diaz, Judy Murdock and Christien Tinsley) and “Blonde” (Tina Roesler Kerwin and Jaime Leigh McIntosh) in Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and two tunes in the Best Song category; “Good Afternoon” from “Spirited” (songwriters: Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, Khiyon Hursey, Sukari Jones and Mark Sonnenblick) and “Til You’re Home” from “A Man Called Otto” (songwriters: David Hodges and Rita Wilson).

“My number one film of the year was ‘RRR,'” Ruiz chimes in. “For a long time I have been on this tirade that S.S. Rajamouli needs to be nominated and I think it’s still possible. It is not unlike the Oscars to throw in a director of a popular foreign language film,” hee explains. Ruiz also champions Jeremy Pope (“The Inspection”) in Best Actor and Brian Tyree Henry (“Causeway”) in Best Supporting Actor, while suggesting that Michelle Williams is on very shaky ground for “The Fabelmans” in Best Actress, dismissing the internet chatter about her popping up in Best Supporting Actress.

Bright on the other hand is keen to see Gina Prince-Bythewood claim a spot in the Best Director category for “The Woman King,” which he says could be at the expense of Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), who he is predicting will miss out. He also believes that Ana de Armas is now almost assured in Best Actress for her performance in the divisive “Blonde,” and is on the record as championing “Women Talking” in numerous cateogories, Bill Nighy (“Living”) and Felix Kammerer (“All Quiet on the Western Front”) in Best Actor, Paul Dano (“The Fabelmans”) in Best Supporting Actor and “The Whale” in Best Picture.

The trio then chat at length about the fascinating stealth campaign mounted by a growing list of fellow actors for Andrea Riseborough, for her acclaimed performance in the micro-budget indie “To Leslie,” for which she has already picked up a nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards. “There’s a lot of passion, particularly from really interesting people like Frances Fisher and Edward Norton,” Licuria notes, adding that “Cate Blanchett mentioned her during her speech at the Critics Choice, while Kate Winslet publicly acknowledged that Riseborough gave one of the best performances that she’s ever seen.”

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