Everything Everywhere All At Once leads the Oscar nominations, as blockbuster films triumph in the best picture category.
The sci-fi indie, which has been a word-of-mouth hit around the world, landed 11 nominations, closely followed by The Banshees Of Inisherin and All Quiet On The Western Front with nine nods each.
Asian and Irish talent shone across the acting categories, and it was a particularly successful year for first-timers with 16 of the 20 actor nominations for first time nominees.
Somewhat unusually, the prestigious best picture category includes films that were widely watched by the public and performed brilliantly at the box office, with Avatar: The Way Of Water, Top Gun and Elvis all making the cut.
In money terms, Avatar broke box office records making over $2 billion (£1.6 billion) worldwide, Top Gun $1.5 billion (£1.2 billion) and Elvis over $280 million (£230 million).
One common complaint about the Oscars is that films selected by critics and industry insiders don’t always tally with public opinion – but this year it could all be very different.
All about the sequels
In another first for the category, two sequels were nominated – Top Gun and Avatar. Only eight sequels have ever made the cut in Oscar history, and never before have two been chosen in a single year.
Last year, in a bid to open it up to genres that might not be typically thought of as Oscars-material, the best picture category was expanded to 10 films.
Despite forecasts that streaming giants could crowd out traditional cinema releases, and last year’s winner – Coda – coming from Apple TV+, this year’s top category only had one streamer in the mix – Netflix (for All Quiet).
The other films up for best picture are The Fabelmans, Tar, Women Talking and Triangle Of Sadness.
Which actors got a nod?
While first-time talent, and Asian and Irish stars shone, it wasn’t the best year for British talent with just Bill Nighy and Andrea Riseborough making the cut.
The best actor category saw five first time nominees, with Nighy, 73, getting his first nod for his portrayal of a buttoned-up businessman learning to enjoy life.
Irish stars Colin Farrell and Paul Mescal also made the cut, nominated for The Banshees Of Inisherin and Aftersun respectively. They will go up against US stars Brendan Fraser, for The Whale, and Austin Butler, for Elvis.
There had been high-hopes for Fraser ahead of the announcement, with his return to the big screen after nearly 20 years away dubbed the “Bren-aissance”.
Speaking ahead of the nominations, Fraser told Sky News: “The award stuff, it’s new to me, but we’re all frothy and happy and giddy and happy for this with fingers crossed and best fondest hopes for success. But who knows what the result is going to be. But I’m confident, I think that we’ve got a shot at making it to the finish line early.”
In the best actress race, five-time nominee Michelle Williams will be hoping this year is her time, especially after pushing to be considered for best actress rather than best supporting actress for her role of Mitzi Fabelman, Spielberg’s fictional mother, in his very personal film.
Speaking ahead of the nominations, Williams told Sky News: “I do this for myself sense of satisfaction, purpose, self-esteem, I want to feel a certain way internally about my contribution to this job that I’ve been doing for 30 years, that’s the only thing I’ve ever done. And it’s always about doing something new, doing something I haven’t been able to do before. Expanding, pushing slightly of what I’m capable of and that’s the thrill that I get.”
In the best actress category, Williams and goes up against Cate Blanchett for Tar, and first-time nominees Michelle Yeo for Everything Everywhere, Ana de Armas for Blonde and Andrea Riseborough for To Leslie.
Riseborough’s nomination is a shock to many, with her film – about an alcoholic seeking redemption after squandering her lottery winnings and abandoning her son – made on a modest budget and filmed in just 19 days.
Endorsed by a host of Hollywood stars including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Aniston and Amy Adams in recent weeks – the last minute push has clearly done the trick.
Banshees continues to impress
Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees – a comedy about a man left bewildered after his best friend kicks him to the curb – continued its success in the supporting actor categories, with Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon all gaining nods.
In the best supporting actor category Glesson and Keoghan will be up against former child-star Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere, Brian Tyree Henry in Causeway and Judd Hirsch (the only previously nominated actor in the category) for The Fabelmans.
In the best supporting actress category, Condon will be up against Angela Bassett – whose nod for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever marks the first acting nomination for a Marvel film – aside from Chadwick Boseman’s posthumous 2021 nod.
The other best supporting actress nominations are Hong Chau for The Whale, and Jamie Lee Curtis and and Stephanie Hsu for Everything Everywhere – again, all first-time nominees.
Female directors snubbed
An all-male best director list means that despite women winning the category two years running (Chloe Zhao in 2021 and Jane Campion 2022) it will not be a woman taking home the gong this year.
Both previous Oscar winners, Spielberg and McDonagh will continue their rivalry for best director accolades, both having received nominations in the parallel categories at other award shows.
The other men up for the best director Oscar are Todd Field for Tar, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known collectively as “The Daniels”) for Everything Everywhere and Ruben Ostlund for Triangle Of Sadness.
Nominations across 23 categories were announced by Oscar-winner actor and producer Riz Ahmed and Girls star Allison Williams.
When and where can I watch the actual Oscars?
Three hundred and one films were eligible for this year’s awards, which will take place in March, in a star-studded ceremony hosted by US chat show host Jimmy Kimmel.
All nominated movies must have opened in a commercial motion picture theatre in at least one of six US metropolitan areas between 1 January and 31 December, last year.
They must also have completed a minimum of seven consecutive days in the same venue and must have a running time of more than 40 minutes.
You can watch the Oscars exclusively on Sky Showcase on Sunday 12 March from midnight.
Sky News will be live on the red carpet at the ceremony in Hollywood on Sunday 12 and live with the winners at the Vanity Fair party on Breakfast with Kay Burley, Monday 13 March.