Photo-Illustration: Vulture

Why do this year’s Oscar nominations feel so much harder to predict than usual? In part, that’s owed to a quirk of the calendar: Many of the influential guilds and industry groups held their nominations up until the very end of the awards calendar (and one, the WGA, hasn’t announced its at all yet). But it’s also because we simply don’t know which way the membership is leaning this year. As I like to say, the Oscars are the Academy Awards, not a machine that tabulates guild nominations, and each season brings its own flavor. In years like 2019, the Oscars skewed mainstream, nominating big blockbusters like Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody. At other times, like in 2018 and 2022, its taste leaned more auteurist.

That this year’s awards crop is stacked with box-office smashes like Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water has bolstered hopes we’ll see the most mainstream set of Oscar nominations in years. And yet at the same time the Academy has become much more global than in the past, allowing little films like last year’s Drive My Car to become big players in the awards race. Which of those dueling factors will come out on top this season? We’ll find out Tuesday morning. But in the meantime, here are Vulture’s official predictions for the eight biggest races.

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