2023 Academy Awards Predictions — Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup & Hairstyling

These are our 2023 Oscar predictions for Best Makeup & Hairstyling and Best Visual Effects, part of a series on this year’s awards. Check out full predictions in all Oscar categories.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • The Batman
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • Elvis
  • The Whale

Will Win: The Whale

Could Win: All Quiet on the Western Front

Dark Horse: Elvis

There is precedent for pretty much every film in this category. Elvis may be the outlier, just because its prosthetic work on Tom Hanks is not as “on display,” as it were, as it is in The Whale (not saying that makes the makeup in The Whale better; this is just to say that the Academy likes an abundance of prosthetics when it gives an Oscar to such a film). As for The Batman, it seems like a long-shot, but it has the precedent of Suicide Squad winning in this category a few years back.

The favorites here, by my estimation, are The Whale and All Quiet on the Western Front. About six weeks ago, I would have told you that The Whale was running away with this award. But with the film’s mixed reception and the backlash that explicitly targeted aspects of the film like the makeup, another contender could easily take over. And that contender is All Quiet. It is clearly well liked by multiple branches of the Academy, given its many nominations. And its makeup plays a direct part in the visceral “war is Hell” energy of the film.

Best Visual Effects

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Avatar 2: The Way of Water
  • The Batman
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • Top Gun: Maverick

Will Win: Avatar 2: The Way of Water

Could Win: Top Gun: Maverick

Dark Horse: All Quiet on the Western Front

This is one of the more clear-cut races of the year. Avatar 2 way win nothing else on Oscar night (and, in the unlikely case that my predictions are accurate, it won’t), but it will win Best Visual Effects. Occasionally, this category has turned out some surprises. Ex Machina beating Mad Max: Fury Road was something of an upset. Hugo beat Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which I don’t know if that was seen as an upset at the time, but it’s an odd choice.

I bring this up to say that anything can happen. But it would be a huge shock if anything other than Avatar won this. The movie is essentially a three-hour-long visual effect. Whether you like the movie or not, you have to admit that this is exactly what the Academy would go for.

As always, thanks for reading!

—Alex Brannan (Twitter, Letterboxd, Facebook)


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