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Screen Test Goes to the Oscars | A breakdown of the six biggest races of the year

Ten films are up for the biggest prize of the night, Best Picture, and it's a diverse crop...from arthouse thrillers to high-flying blockbusters and sci-fi comedies.

SAN ANTONIO — The 95th annual Academy Awards airs on March 12 and some of the best in show business will be honored with an Oscar.

KENS 5's San Antonio film critic David Lynch has broken down the six biggest races of this year.

Check out his full breakdown and thoughts in KENS 5's Screen Test Goes to the Oscars below (article continues underneath):

Ten films are up for the biggest prize of the night, Best Picture, and it's a diverse crop...from arthouse thrillers to high-flying blockbusters, sci-fi comedies and German war films.

Everything Everwhere All at Once

It's been almost a year since the genre-spanning adventure premiered at South By Southwest in Austin. It's since ridden a strong box office performance, critical acclaim, and a dynamic performance from star Michelle Yeoh. It's earned 11 total Oscar nominations.

This endlessly imaginative multiverse-jumping movie from the directing due that goes by Daniels is one-part comedy, one-part family drama and one-part sci-fi adventure.

Altogether, it's one of the zanier movies that has ever been up for best picture at the Academy Awards.

All Quiet on the Western Front

The movie fills the requisite war film slot in this year's Best Picture lineup 

The brutal German-language movie emerged in recent months as Netflix's top contender, ultimately garnering nine total Oscars. All Quiet on the Western Front is a technical showcase contending for its sound and cinematography, but it also nabbed a screenplay nomination that could prove key for its Best Picture chances.

If that title sounds familiar, it's because a 1930's adaptation of the same novel won Best Pictures at the Academy Awards nearly 100 years ago. Maybe the story can win enough Academy support to triumph a century later.

Banshees of Inisherin

Also tallying nine nominations this year is the Irish dark comedy, the Banshees of Inisherin, which stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two best friends undergoing a cataclysmic breakup of sorts. The film marks a return to form for its director, Martin McDonagh, who finds humor in the existential tragedy in the ludicrous. Banshees of Inisherin is an impressive tonal highwire act and has been a major awards contender ever since it premiered to praise at the Venice International Film Festival back in September.

Four actors were nominated for their performances in the Banshees of Inisherin. That includes Farrell, who ended an incredibly strong year with his first-ever Oscar nomination.


The movie is a dizzying and rambunctious biopic of the King of Rock 'N Roll from Great Gatsby Director Baz Lurman.

Even at two and a half hours, the movie is light on meaningful examination of its titular rocker and could stand to closely interrogate his enduring place in culture. But, movies about real-life musical icons tend to win big at the Academy Awards. And Elvis moves, grooves and shakes to the energy of young actor Austin Butler, whose undeniable breakout performance nabbed him a lead Oscar nomination. When Elvis the character takes the stage, Elvis the film comes to life. Butler is just 31 years old and one of the frontrunners over in the Lead Actor race.

The Fabelmans

For the second year in a row, a new Steven Spielberg movie has racked up seven Oscar nominations.

The Fabelmans puts the legendary director’s life story on the screen, tracking how he fell in love with movies as a child while his parents barreled toward divorce. The Fabelmans is not the strongest of the latter-era Spielberg films and individual sequences stand out stronger than the whole. But, it does end on its strongest scene and an incredible cameo, as well as put some of Spielberg’s most famous films in a new context.

The Fabelmans is chock full of great performances including young Gabriel LaBelle, who has the tall task of standing in for Spielberg himself. He is name you should keep on your radar.


The most accomplished movie in this year's Best Picture lineup is Tar, a mighty captivating character study set in the world of classical music and centered around one of the best performances from one our best actresses, Cate Blanchett.

It's the first movie for director Todd Field in 16 years, returning with a vengence with a movie meant to provoke conversation about power dynamics and elitist maneuvers of high-art titans who seemingly have nothing to lose.

Tar is up for six Oscars and they're all some of the biggest categories of the night. It's best shot might very well be in Best Actress.

Top Gun: Maverick

One of the biggest Hollywood success stories of the year was Top Gun: Maverick. Delayed multiple times due to the pandemic, the movie finally opened in May and went on to earn more than $700 million domestically, more than any other 2022 release. It is rare for blockbusters to nab a Best Picture nomination, but Maverick is more than deserving with its tight script, roaring action and crowdpleaser thrusters firing on all cylinders. Tom Cruise was in the running for Best Actor but did not make the cut.

Avatar: The Way of Water

Just twice in the last 15 years has a sequel been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and two sequels were nominated this year alone. Joining Top Gun: Maverick in the lineup is the long, long awaited Avatar: The Way of Water.

After a 13-year wait that became its own punchline, the first of several planned Avatar sequels brought audience back to Pandora for the first time since 2009. The bigger surprise is that the movie is an improvement on the original, bringing genuine heart to immerse us even further into one of the most painstakingly-rendered worlds ever brought to the big screen. Joke all you want about talking whales, but the last hour of this bloated epic has to be seen to be believed. 

Whether all those people will tune in on March 12 to see if Avatar can bring home any Oscar gold remains to be seen.

Triangle of Sadness

A much-lesser seen movie that also largely unfolds on water does have potential to play spoiler in the Best Picture race.

Having won top prize at the glitzy Cannes Film Festival last summer, the mildly entertaining, but thematically spare satire, Triangle of Sadness, is gunning for another big triumph at the Oscars. It comes from Swedish filmmaker Ruben Ostlund, whose movies explore humanity's flaws through outrageous scenarios. In Triangle of Sadness, the showstopper sequence is a Captain's dinner on a yacht navigating a chaotic storm.

The move belongs to that genre of "eat the rich" movies. That worked well for parasite when it won Best Picture a few years ago, but that South Korean film also worked in many areas where Triangle of Sadness does not.

Women Talking

This movie centers on a group of Mennonite women debating whether to leave, stay or fight back after a series of assaults by the men in their community. Though the story is rooted in these attacks, Polley's strong script foregrounds the merits and clearly-defined arguments of her characters. The performances also give weight to relevant questions about what is most practical in the most horrific of scenarios.

The cast of Women Talking is a who's who of talented actresses, including Frances McDormand, Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley. 


Best Picture is not the only race that KENS 5's film critic David Lynch breaks down in Screen Test Goes to the Oscars. Check out his full breakdown in the video below:

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