The actors most likely to win at the 95th Academy Awards


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Sheila Rafizadeh, Staff Writer

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hold the 95th annual Oscars at Hollywood’s venerable Dolby Theatre on March 12. Following the initial announcement in May 2022, comedian Jimmy Kimmel was confirmed as the host. With performances from Rihanna, Sofia Carson and Diane Warren, this ceremony is highly anticipated. Whether it’s the Academy’s response to controversies surrounding the ceremony or the rise of up-and-coming actors, here’s everything to look out for during this year’s Oscars season.

Released in March 2022, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has gained a great deal of success with a box office performance of $106 million globally. With 11 Oscar nominations for the season, it is the current contender for Best Picture. Other Best Picture nominees include films such as “TÁR,” “Women Talking” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” all of which have been nominated for multiple categories this season. Star Michelle Yeoh is one of the lead competitors for the Best Actress category, as is “TÁR’s” Cate Blanchett who is another worthy contender, having been nominated for seven other acting awards, winning two. Yeoh is the second Asian woman to be nominated for the award in the Academy’s history, after Merle Oberon in 1935. Other nominees include Ana de Armas for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in “Blonde,” Michelle Williams in “The Fabelmans” and Andrea Riseborough in the indie drama “To Leslie.”

While “Blonde” only received one Oscar nomination, many are still outraged by the Academy’s inclusion of de Armas’ performance. Viewers and movie critics alike criticized the film’s exploitation and over-sexualization of Monroe and believe the nomination is further disrespecting the star’s legacy.

However, “Blonde” is not the only nomination causing controversy. Earlier this year, actors such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Edward Norton posted on social media and assisted Riseborough in receiving an unexpected Best Actress nomination for “To Leslie.” Instead of costly trade magazine advertisements and billboards, the “To Leslie” campaign mostly relied on text messages, emails and social media pleas. Some supporters were also accused of violating Academy regulations by mentioning other potential contenders in their petitions for Riseborough.

In addition, Viola Davis for “The Woman King” and Danielle Deadwyler for “Till” appeared to be excluded in place of Riseborough’s nomination, which many criticized as the Academy’s historical reluctance to honor Black women in all categories. Although the Academy did launch an investigation into the campaign, they ultimately decided against rescinding Riseborough’s nomination.

While the Best Actress nominees are under scrutiny, the nominees for the Best Actor category, a traditionally competitive debate, have been widely celebrated by the public, considering that each actor is a first-time nominee.

Although Brendan Fraser is favored by many for his performance in “The Whale,” Austin Butler is estimated to win the award for his portrayal of Elvis Presley in the 2022 biopic “Elvis” following his Golden Globe award for the same category. Butler spent years practicing for his role in a production that was continually postponed due to the pandemic lockdown and Tom Hanks’ COVID-19 diagnosis. With the passing of Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie, in early 2023, Butler has expressed that winning the Oscar for Best Actor would be another way to pay tribute to Presley’s only child. “I’m so humbled and feel so privileged to be listed in the great actors in this category,” Butler told USA Today. “Winning would be a beautiful way of honoring her, but just going on this journey at all has been the biggest privilege of my life.” Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Bill Nighy (“Living”) and Paul Mescal (“Aftersun“) are also nominated for their performances. 

Even after these highly anticipated nominations, this year’s ceremony is likely to be overshadowed by the 94th Academy Awards when actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage. While Rock was presenting an award, he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Smith’s wife, that caused him to storm on stage in her defense. University junior Blake Rhodes expressed that “I just want to know how they’re going to move past the Will Smith and Chris Rock incident from last year.”

Bill Kramer, the CEO of the Academy, has taken extensive precautions to prevent any incidents from happening again this year. While Smith is banned from attending Academy events for 10 years, Kramer has installed a “crisis team” for the first time in Academy history. With the competitiveness of the nominees, the highly-anticipated performances, and the number of controversies the Academy is grappling with, this year’s Oscars are sure to be eventful.