Oscar Experts Typing: Michelle Williams in supporting? Our last-minute burning questions

Welcome to Oscar Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Oscar race — via Slack, of course. This week, we discuss some categories that are keeping us up at night as we head toward Tuesday’s Oscar nominations.

Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! It’s the final Friday before the 2023 Oscar nominations are announced and I’m already primed to make changes to my allegedly final (“final”) picks. But what changes? Let’s start with Best Picture, where we both think there are nine movies all but certain to land in the field of 10 — the set seven (“Avatar: The Way of Water,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “Elvis,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “The Fabelmans,” “TÁR,” and “Top Gun: Maverick”), “All Quiet on the Western Front,” and “The Whale.” For that final spot, we differ: I’m on “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and you’ve got “Triangle of Sadness.” The Cannes winner is a popular pick among sharp pundits — many of the high-profile experts in this field expect it to land a nomination. But it hasn’t really blown the doors off this season, and I still don’t know if enough people care about it to make the list — there isn’t enthusiasm around it like there was for other Cannes faves-to-Oscar nominees such as “Parasite” or “Drive My Car.” But I don’t know if “Black Panther” is the pick either. The cultural response to the movie is more muted than it was for the original, and by keeping it in my picks, it means I have three sequels getting nominated for Best Picture. Feels wrong! But all the other options aren’t much better. “Babylon,” my beloved, could be this year’s “Don’t Look Up” — it’s a movie Film Twitter turned on, but that isn’t necessarily the view from the industry (or my keyboard since the movie OWNS). But it also seems like this might be a case of a movie being too polarizing to break through. Some pundits are hanging on to “Women Talking,” but I can’t abide by that pick: Everything we’ve seen suggests the industry has not found it as compelling as critics. “RRR,” probably not? “The Woman King,” where was the PGA nomination? “Aftersun,” why not more BAFTA nominations, Chief Willoughby? “Glass Onion,” where was the SAG nomination? Joyce, I have such doubts! So I’m back to “Black Panther,” the blockbuster hit that should contend for multiple craft nominations, or “Triangle of Sadness,” the eat-the-rich satire that certainly has fans overseas and could also score nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay. Can you imagine any of these other movies knocking off Ruben Östlund’s dark comedy for your final slot? Will we see a surprise here on Tuesday?

joyceeng: I mean, sure. It’s the wild West down there, so anything can happen. You’ve never believed in “Triangle of Sadness” (Martin McDonagh is your new Amanda Seyfried, but “Triangle of Sadness” was your OG Amanda Seyfried), but I think you’re judging it too harshly against past years instead of against the current field. “Parasite’s” Best Picture nomination was never in doubt and you could see “Drive My Car’s” coming after it swept the Big Three critics’ prizes. “Triangle of Sadness” is obviously not as strong as either of them, but you know what’s not strong either? That bottom tier. We’re four days out and you just named six films besides “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” that could pop up. If it were still the sliding scale, I wouldn’t be thinking about it getting in (no offense), but none of the options here really make that much sense, so you just gotta pick your poison. Before BAFTA noms, I was toying with “Women Talking,” but that adapted screenplay miss is brutal, to say nothing of its overall shutout. Based on its SAG nom, you can argue that it’s relying on actors to push it across the finish line. And like we discussed last week, “Women Talking” and “Babylon” already got stat-dinged since no SAG nominee and PGA snubbee has made Best Picture in the expanded era. I’m fully prepared for a film that no one has heavily considered to show up, which is the chaos that I always want. Speaking of, more and more folks, pundits and normies alike, are predicting Michelle Williams to get into Best Supporting Actress now for “The Fabelmans.” As I type this on the 25th anniversary of the premiere of “Dawson’s Creek” on The WB’s (RIP) New Tuesday lineup, in which the erstwhile Jen Lindley dated noted Spielberg stan Dawson Leery, are you going to be swayed into slotting her into the category that so many people thought she’d and want her to be in?

SEE Oscar Expert slugfest: Our final 2023 nominations predictions

Christopher Rosen: We saw this coming, right? Most pundits — including us — had Williams earmarked for a Best Supporting Actress win since last March. When it was decided she would run as a lead actress for “The Fabelmans,” teeth were gnashed! How could she do that to our precious assumptions? So part of me isn’t surprised that given the state of affairs, many pundits and regular folks are seemingly trying to will their initial bet back to reality. We discussed this in our previous final look at the Oscar race on Thursday, but I just can’t make the math work. To be clear, I would love the chaos were it to happen. But Williams feels more likely to split her own vote than land in the supporting category. I guess we could point to LaKeith Stanfield as a recent example of this happening — Warner Bros. positioned him as a lead to clear out space for Daniel Kaluuya, but academy members felt otherwise and decided “Judas and the Black Messiah” had no leads despite two title characters. But that was a weaker year — we almost seriously considered Jared Leto for “The Little Things”? — and while Best Supporting Actress is unhinged, there are already six viable contenders for the five spots. Does Williams rate over Dolly de Leon or Stephanie Hsu when both have had months of supporting actress campaigning in their pockets? And even if she does, will there be enough support for her in this category to offset the votes she’d get as a lead actress as well? As I said on Thursday, if I were ranking the probability of outcomes for Williams on Tuesday, missing altogether would be in first place, the Best Actress nomination would be in second, and the supporting actress nomination — the one so many top pundits have gravitated toward in the last 48 hours — would be a distant third. Not that it can’t happen, but it feels like betting on a real long shot — and I’m already doing that in Best Director with S.S. Rajamouli! Joyce, when we spoke with our faces, you had Edward Berger in that last spot for Best Director. Are you still feeling confident in him, or will you swap out for Baz Luhrmann or Film Twitter’s favorite “RRR” director?

joyceeng: That implies I was confident in Berger in the first place, which, as I said Thursday, I definitely am not! But in my stubbornness to avoid predicting the DGA five (would love to see a Joseph Kosinski nom though) and in the wake of “All Quiet on the Western Front’s” 14 BAFTA nominations, here I am. No shade to him, but Berger, like all the hopefuls for the last Best Picture spot, doesn’t make a ton of sense either on paper, especially in the vein of the sort of highbrow, critics-backed nominations for Pawel Pawlikowski, Thomas Vinterberg and Ryusuke Hamaguchi the past few years. As I said last week, I was more confident when I predicted Hamaguchi last year. But in Berger’s defense, “All Quiet” was a late-breaking discovery, so that’s why his nomination tally is practically nonexistent. Neither he nor “All Quiet” has enough to make Metacritic’s scorecard yet. How different would things be had Netflix prioritized this film from the jump? “All Quiet’s” turbo-charged rise has been kinda insane and part of me feels like we’re being punked, but I can’t really ignore 14 nominations. It won’t get that many at the Oscars and I already feel like I’m predicting it in too many places, so I might drop it somewhere below the line. Why don’t we wrap with the category that is confounding everyone the most: Best Actor. We both have Film Twitter fave Paul Mescal in the wide-open fifth spot. I am not confident in that at all, but what else is there to do? Again, nobody really makes a whole lotta sense! I’ll toss out two names we didn’t mention on Thursday and they both hail from box office hits: Tom Hanks for “A Man Called Otto” and Ralph Fiennes for “The Menu.” If either of them somehow makes it, it would be quite the reunion for the Class of 1993 with Steven Spielberg, Angela Bassett and “The Remains of the Day” (the book) scribe Kazuo Ishiguro — and just a year after Jane Campion!

SEE Oscar Experts Typing: Where do we stand after those wild PGA and DGA nominations?

Christopher Rosen: Well, you know I love me some “Otto,” a perfectly fine grown-up movie that could’ve come out in 2003, but dropped into 2023 to great box office success. When I saw this one, I immediately thought Hanks could get in to this weak field — but he hasn’t shown up anywhere, not even SAG when it’s the most SAG movie. Maybe it came on too late? So I could see Hanks getting in for an Eastwood-y performance as a small c conservative AARP member who learns to love life again, but when has the academy gone out of its way to reward Hanks in the last 20 years? As for Fiennes, I’ll send that one back to the kitchen. Mescal seems like a hopediction at this point too, but he’s the only one who really makes sense. But let’s go even sillier: What if the last spot is just Felix Kammerer, swept in as part of an “All Quiet” steamroll? I’ll let you have the last word and we’ll reevaluate on Tuesday.

joyceeng: Look, I would not be against it just for the bedlam. He, too, of course has a lot of drawbacks. He didn’t make the half-juried BAFTA lineup while his co-star Albrecht Schuch did snag a nom (different categories, different juries, I know), and he, like Mescal, is in his 20s, and we know the academy’s aversion to young men (people are still citing Austin Butler‘s 31 years on Earth as a reason why he might not win). This is also Kammerer’s feature film debut, and that type of nomination happens far more frequently for women and across supporting. But at this point, I will absolutely not rule him out. I find Phase 2 boring, so I will savor these last few days of knowing nothing and the anticipation of nice surprises but more likely, profound disappointment.

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