A weird science fiction comedy with sausage fingers and parallel universes, a German anti-war film with gruesome images from the trenches, an Irish tragic comedy about a broken male friendship, including severed body parts and a dead donkey - these are this year's Oscar favorites.
"Everything Everywhere All at Once" leads the way at the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday (local time LA/CET 01.00 on March 13) with eleven nominations, "Nothing New in the West" and "The Banshees of Inisherin" each have nine Oscar chances. The biopic "Elvis" is represented eight times, Steven Spielberg's autobiographical work "The Fabelmans" seven times.
They all compete for the top Oscar for "Best Picture" in a strikingly colorful mix - along with the blockbuster films "Top Gun: Maverick" and "Avatar: The Way of Water", the social satire "Triangle of Sadness", the independent film " The pronunciation" and the psychodrama "Tár".
"Nothing New in the West" makes Oscar history
Never in the history of the Oscars has a German film had as many trophy chances as "Nothing New in the West". The anti-war drama by director Edward Berger, based on the book by Erich Maria Remarque from 1929, is also the first German work that could win "Best Film". There were a further eight nominations in the categories of international film, camera and make-up
In the history of the Oscars, only eight non-English language films have made it into the Best Picture and International Film categories at the same time. In 2020, the South Korean satire "Parasite" achieved its first double victory ever. A good omen for Berger: all eight won at least the foreign Oscar.
Many favorites - suspense until the end
Film prizes have been awarded for months, many of which are considered harbingers of the Oscars. This season, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" by the directing duo "The Daniels" (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) has already scooped up important trophies from Hollywood's influential associations of actors, directors and producers.
At the Golden Globes in January, on the other hand, veteran Steven Spielberg ("The Fabelmans") triumphed as director and with the top globe for best drama. And recently at the British Film Awards in London, "Nothing New in the West" won a sensational seven Bafta trophies, including in the top category "Best Film" and for director.
According to industry forecasts, there's a neck-and-neck race between Cate Blanchett ("Tár") and Michelle Yeoh ("Everything Everywhere All at Once") for the leading actress Oscar. For the men, "Elvis" actors Austin Butler and Brendan Fraser ("The Whale") should have an acceptance speech ready.
Superlatives and premieres
Spielberg (76) is an old hand in the Oscar race, nominated for the twelfth time as a producer and nominated for the ninth time as a director, but for the first time he also has a chance of winning the Oscar for the original screenplay with "The Fabelmans". He already has three trophies, for "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan".
At 91 and his 53rd Academy Award nomination for the music of The Fabelmans, composer John Williams is the most Academy Award-nominated living filmmaker. Walt Disney (1901-1966) holds the Hollywood record with 59 Oscar chances. Williams has already received five golden boys, the last almost 30 years ago for "Schindler's List".
Hollywood star Tom Cruise has already lost three Oscars as an actor, but at the age of 60 he could now win for the first time as a co-producer of "Top Gun: Maverick". Two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (53), who shines in "Tár" as the fictional chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, can hope for an Oscar for the eighth time.
Her closest price competitor is Michelle Yeoh (60) as the chaotic laundromat owner in "Everything Everywhere All at Once". The Malaysian-born actress is the first Asian woman ever to be nominated for Best Actress. The native Vietnamese Ke Huy Quan (51) plays her husband - and is considered a favorite for the supporting role Oscar.
Stars and glamor at the gala
The gala program is still under wraps, but the Academy is already getting in the mood for the show with big names: Music stars like Rihanna and David Byrne have been announced as performers in advance. Harrison Ford, Halle Berry, John Travolta, Glenn Close, Riz Ahmed, Zoe Saldaña and Michael B. Jordan will be on stage as presenters. Ariana DeBose and Troy Kotsur, who won the Oscars for best supporting actor last year, also help distribute the trophies.
The host is the US comedian Jimmy Kimmel for the third time. The quick-witted presenter quipped that it was "either an honor or a trap" to be asked again "so soon after all the good guys have canceled".
Protection from slaps with crisis team
There shouldn't be a moment of shock like last year. US actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage over a joke about Smith's wife Jada Pinkett. The organizers have now set up a crisis team, as the academy emphasizes.
One thing is for sure - Smith is not among the guests at the Dolby Theater. After the scandal, the Oscar winner ("King Richard") was excluded from Oscar ceremonies for ten years.
Oscars "Made in Germany" - celebration or bankruptcy
It's 16 years since a German film won the foreign Oscar. This was achieved in 2007 by the then 33-year-old Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck with the Stasi drama "The Lives of Others". Before that, only Caroline Link managed to do that with "Nowhere in Africa" (2003) and Volker Schlöndorff in 1980 with "The Tin Drum". Last year there was double applause for German filmmakers when composer Hans Zimmer and special effects artist Gerd Nefzer were honored for "Dune", both their second Oscars.
In addition to the nine Oscar chances of "Nothing New in the West" there is also the German candidate Florian Hoffmeister. Born in Braunschweig, he was nominated for his camera work on "Tár".
Before the nomination triumph of "Nothing New in the West" "Das Boot" was celebrated in 1983 as the German film with the most Oscar candidatures. The war drama by Wolfgang Petersen (1941 - 2022) was nominated six times. At the trophy gala, however, it went empty handed.