Fran Hoepfner Tells Us Who Really Needs an Oscar (and Who Doesn’t)

Admit it: everyone wants an Oscar. Even if you’re not an actor or a writer or a director or a hot-shot producer (though if you’re that one, HMU), you would love to hold one of those little gold trophies just for a second. Who wouldn’t? It’s easier to win an Oscar than it is to be elected president. This is the driving philosophy that runs much of our society, whether we like it or not.

But not everyone deserves an Oscar, and not everyone needs the Oscar. Whose career will be bolstered with an award? Who deserves it for taking the most shit? There are a lot of people who sit in the audience at the Dolby Theater who don’t need an Oscar; in fact, it might even curse them (see: Brie Larson). So let’s take a look into the crystal ball of FYC campaigns for this year’s four big categories and see who really, truly needs to win on Oscar night.


Best Supporting Actress

Hong Chau might be the rare Oscar nominee who actually doesn’t want the Oscar at all, telling The A.V. Club that the nomination for her role in The Whale made her feel nothing. That rocks. She doesn’t need it. Stephanie Hsu is a first-time nominee for Everything Everywhere All At Once. She doesn’t need it. Kerry Condon, like all the Irish talent nominated for The Banshees of Inisherin, is just happy to be there. Does she need it? Here’s where it gets tricky: Angela Bassett did the thing, of course, in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but Marvel doesn’t need the validation of her victory. Meanwhile, Jamie Lee Curtis wants us to think she needs it for her hammy performance as a “regular woman” in Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Who needs the Oscar: Jamie Lee Curtis. She hasn’t recovered from Laura Dern’s nepo baby win.

Best Supporting Actor

Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan, both up for The Banshees of Inisherin, are totally vibing. Barry will be back, probably. They don’t need it. Judd Hirsch, nominated for all of eight minutes of screen time in The Fabelmans, has something way better than an Oscar: applause every time his character exits the movie. With all due respect, that’s better than an award. Bryan Tyree Henry is one of the most underrated actors of our generation. He doesn’t need it: he transcends it. But Everything Everywhere’s Ke Huy Quan has cried through just about every awards show so far, thanking the industry that once betrayed him for bringing him back into the fold. His unceasing gratitude towards an industry that has neglected and tokenized many POC actors only to reward them for their merciful patience is one of the darkest narratives in Oscar memory. 

Who needs the Oscar: Ke Huy Quan. Release him from the prison of tearfully thanking the people who once wouldn’t hire him.

Best Actress 

As Ariana DeBose famously rapped: Cate Blanchett is a genius—and TÁR is a masterwork. That said, she has two Oscars, and the last one was for a Woody Allen movie. PASS! Michelle Williams and Michelle Yeoh, for The Fabelmans and Everything Everywhere, cancel each other out because it’d be too stressful to hear a presenter go “Michelle—” then wait to find out which one. Andrea Riseborough mounted one of the most insane campaigns in Oscar history for her little movie with a big heart, To Leslie, and now feels bashful about it. She needs it, but it won’t happen. Which leaves us with the category’s chillest girlie, Ms. Monroe herself, Ana de Armas.

Who needs the Oscar: Ana de Armas. She was supposed to break big in 2020, but instead she dated Ben Affleck. It seems like she worked really hard on Blonde? Just let her have it.

Best Actor

Paul Mescal is still a Hulu celebrity, Aftersun success be damned. An amiable fellow, he should be happy to be there without Phoebe Bridgers. Bill Nighy, a criminally overlooked performer, stars in Living, a movie no one saw. He doesn’t need it and t’s not swaggy enough for him, anyway. Here’s the puzzle: Austin Butler for Elvis vs. Colin Farrell for Banshees vs. Brendan Fraser for The Whale. Farrell, like his co-stars, is just having fun, shooting his shot with Ana de Armas and goofin’ his way through the feckin’ awards season. Not having an Oscar has never prevented him from doing great, strange work. He doesn’t need it. Austin Butler has the ghost of Elvis stuck inside him, and Brendan Fraser keeps having to pretend his movie was good.

Who needs the Oscar: Austin Butler. What if he did his speech in his real voice?