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Awards Season / Oscar Predictions Update: Will ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ and James Cameron Convince the Academy to Return to Pandora?

20th Century Studios
20th Century Studios

Somehow, 2022 only has three weeks left to it. Moreover, the film releases for the year have all been seen. Nothing is still a mystery. The movies of the cinematic year are all under consideration. It’s strange to think about, considering how long we’ve been looking at the year and thinking about how X factors will play. Now, that’s no longer the case. So, after having seen a few of the final flicks of 2022, what better time is there than now for updated Oscar predictions? In particular, this is the time because a little film from James Cameron has entered the chat.

Avatar: The Way of Water screened for critics, including yours truly, earlier in the week. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with many claiming that the Academy will go for this one as much, or maybe more, than voters went for Avatar. Cameron is someone you can never bet against, for sure, but is that a realistic possibility? Today, we’ll consider just that.

Last time around, Avatar was nominated for nine Academy Awards. The categories it was cited in? Best Picture, Best Director (for Cameron), Best Art Direction (now Production Design), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Score, and Best Visual Effects. Of those nine, it wound up winning Oscars for Art Direction, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. If nothing else, it provides a template for the sequel.

20th Century Studios

It’s not unreasonable to see Avatar: The Way of Water performing well in almost all of those aforementioned categories. It may not do quite as well, but a half dozen citations by the Academy is not out of the question. The only mystery is whether they’re all going to be below the line or not. We won’t know for a while, since so many high profile sequels are competing for Best Picture attention, but it’s definitely in play.

My hunch? There’s a decent chance that this sequel joins Top Gun: Maverick as a Best Picture nominee. Throw in the promising candidacy of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and the lineup could have more franchise efforts than ever before. As for those thinking that it could win in Picture? I’m skeptical. However, if things break a certain way, Avatar: The Way of Water could quickly find itself an upper echelon contender.

So, with everything having been seen (I’ve also seen A Man Called Otto and Tom Hanks may be a dark horse contender in Best Actor) and the precursors underway, it’s just a matter of watching how things shake out. The critics groups right now are obviously not going to focus heavily on this particular film, but the Guilds will be what matter. If Avatar: The Way of Water performs with the Directors Guild and the Producers Guild, watch out. DGA and PGA will be what to watch out for, mark my words.

The clock is ticking on 2022, believe it or not. My various prior prediction articles throughout the year (found hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere, and here) are available for your perusal, which I do so you can see some of the changes I’ve been making throughout the season. We’re knee deep in December, which is insane to think about. There’s only three weeks left in the year, as mentioned above.

As a reminder, Golden Globe predictions are now live and have even been tinkered with. So, if you’re curious who and what the Hollywood Foreign Press Association might be nominated, my picks are here. Give those a look, but obviously take them with a big ole grain of salt, as per the usual with the Globes.

Folks, as always you can see my newest crack at Oscar predictions right here at Awards Radar. The changes are coming, and will continue to come, more and more, now that the fall festivals wrapped up and the winter precursor season very much upon us. So, sit tight for plenty more before we hit 2023…

Stay tuned for another update to these Oscar predictions as the awards season continues!

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Written by Joey Magidson

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