2019 Academy Awards Predictions
As an update, my MoviePass subscription has officially been deactivated and I’m going to try moving on to AMC Stubs A-List after the Oscars are over.
We’re finally all caught up, though. We have no Oscar host, but the 91st edition of the Academy Awards will go on as planned on Sunday night.
I was seriously so surprised about how soon the ceremony was. It was pushed back last year because of the Olympics, but this is the regular slot for the Oscars, at the last Sunday in February.
Thankfully, after the nominations came out, I was pleased with how little work I had to do with seeing movies.
We’ve got eight nominees for Best Picture, with surprises and stories galore.
The new favorite is Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white, Netlifx-exclusive, upstairs-downstairs Mexican family drama. It’s won the Best Picture prizes at the Critics’ Choice and BAFTA Awards, and more importantly, its director, Alfonso Cuarón, has won every major directing award since the start of awards season. A win could legitimize Netflix original content even further, and it would also be the first foreign film to win Best Picture.
Following closely behind is Green Book, Peter Farrelly’s Civil-Rights-era comedy/drama about Dr. Donald Shirley and his road manager, the surly Tony Vallelonga. Green Book has its fair share of cliches as somewhat of a token “race movie,” and it’s faced numerous off screen challenges, including criticism of a “white savior” narrative (although in viewing it I think one can make the argument that the script is concrete in establishing boundaries for the characters), but has been in the conversation since the start, winning the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture-Comedy, spurring it into the ring for a legit Best Picture shot. It also helps that its lead actors- Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali- both give stellar performances.
Another unexpected nominee was Bohemian Rhapsody. The Queen biopic was also not as well reviewed as other films nominated for the top award. It has also faced its share of off-screen drama, as director Brian Singer was fired midway through the production; actors cited he was incredibly difficult to work with. The film has also been heavily criticized for its historical accuracy, in particular that of lead singer Freddie Mercury. Still, the film’s success comes from Mercury’s portrayer, Rami Malek, who continues to garner Best Actor awards as the season rolls on. He is the favorite to win Best Actor, and we’ll see just how far he’s able to carry the film at the Oscars.
Then there are the numerous films that have fallen to the wayside, all of which one can make the case for an Oscar win.
The Favourite appears to be everyone’s dark horse to win Best Picture, as Yorgos Lanthimos’ dark comedy about two women jockeying for the affection of Queen Anne received rave reviews. The three women, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone, bring the absurdities and intricacies to life.
BlacKkKlansman is known as a return to form for director Spike Lee, who himself is nominated for best director. It’s also in the running for Best Adapted Screenplay, and has a realistic shot at winning it.
Black Panther is the first superhero film nominated for Best Picture, and rightfully so, as director Ryan Coogler took the superhero narrative and reimagined it in this Afro-futuristic style that is played out to incredible effect. It’s a shame Michael B. Jordan isn’t nominated, but the film has strong cases for its Best Production Design nominations and others.
A Star is Born was the favorite at the start of the season, and everything kind of fell off the rails. Bradley Cooper got overshadowed by Rami Malek and didn’t even get a nomination for Best Director; Lady Gaga got overshadowed by Glenn Close; Sam Elliott got overshadowed by Mahershala Ali. Perhaps it suffered from poor release timing, or maybe it’s just not the remake’s time. Still, A Star is Born is a true winner in my book- it’s my favorite movie this year.
And finally, there is Vice. I am consistently blown away by Adam McKay’s ability to make impressive films that are historical, satirical, comedic, dramatic, poignant, and well produced all at the same time. Christian Bale’s transformation into the terrifying Dick Cheney is one that will likely not be forgotten.
So. The ceremony is tomorrow. Here are my predictions for how the 91st Academy Awards will shape up.
Surprises: Bohemian Rhapsody
Snubs: Can You Ever Forgive Me?; First Man; If Beale Street Could Talk
In a field of high-profile releases from this season, there is no clear frontrunner for Best Picture. At the start of the summer, everyone was talking about Black Panther, poised to become the first superhero movie nominated for Best Picture. At the start of Oscar season, it became about A Star is Born and later Bohemian Rhapsody, and their subsequent standout performances from less-film-visible stars like Lady Gaga or Rami Malek. After that, it became about the indie films like The Favourite, and how Yorgos Lanthimos was ready to ascend the throne with this film after great works like The Lobster. And now, we are down to two unlikely contenders, it seems, both of whom have been racking up wins at award shows prior to the Oscars.
The first is Green Book. This film has drawn more criticism than most of the films nominated (and more off-screen controversies as well), but it checks off most boxes of past Oscar winners, including Golden Globe and Producers’ Guild wins for Best Picture, not to mention the clout of both its lead actors- Viggo Mortensen and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali- being nominated this year.
The second is Roma, a Netflix release from director Alfonso Cuarón. Roma has a lot going for it, including its stunning visuals, emotional story, and signature touch of Oscar winner Cuarón. But it has a lot going against it as well- it is a foreign film (its primary language being Spanish- no foreign film has ever won the Oscar for Best Picture), and its release on Netflix has been troubling to critics and voters alike, mostly due to the reason that Netflix a) has been very stubborn about its original material being promoted as film and not television, much to the chagrin of producers, directors, writers and actors alike, and b) does not release its box office figures. Now, how much of this will hinder Roma’s potential Best Picture hopes? Honestly all this is a toss up, and we’ll figure it out come Sunday night.
Will and should win: Roma
Could win: Bohemian Rhapsody or Green Book
In Andrew's Perfect World: A Star is Born
Best Achievement in Directing
Surprises: Paweł Pawlikowski, Cold War
Snubs: Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born; Peter Farrelly, Green Book; Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Roma is a stunning piece of filmmaking. Alfonso Cuarón’s passion project is a visual feast- but let’s talk about these other nominees and why they’re here. BlacKkKlansman is a return to form for Spike Lee- It’s a critically important film for the day and age we’re living in right now. The last 15 minutes of that movie slap you across the face and make you realize just how bad things are. Yorgos Lanthimos’ efforts for The Favourite are not to go unnoticed. The Greek director’s traits are all over the movie- shooting in naturally poorly-lit locations; absurdist, snappy, deadpan comedic dialogue; Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz; everything is there. Yorgos is probably second on my list for this category. I also continue to be stunned by Adam McKay’s direction of more serious films (keep in mind, the guy made Step Brothers), and Vice is no different- the random Shakespeare portion and fake credits are among the film’s many high points. As for Paweł Pawlikowski’s film Cold War… well, I haven’t seen it.
Which brings me to another thing the Academy apparently didn’t see, which was A Star is Born, which apparently was director-less. Bradley Cooper deserves your respect, dammit. This film is a superlative debut effort from Mr. Cooper.
Will and should win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Could win: Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
In Andrew’s Perfect World: Bradley Cooper gets nominated for A Star is Born.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Surprises: Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Snubs: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Say what you want about Bohemian Rhapsody. Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury will likely get him an Oscar on Sunday. In my humble opinion as blog writer, I think Christian Bale had a better performance, but I wonder how much makeup attributed to his transformation into Dick Cheney. Going back to Malek, I think the writing is on the wall. He’s won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA for his performance. I see no reason why he won’t win his first Academy Award. Outside of Bale and Malek, Viggo Mortensen is probably the next stiffest competition.
Will win: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Should win: Christian Bale, Vice
Could win: Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
In Andrew’s Perfect World: Christian Bale, Vice
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Again, this category has materialized mostly due to the writing on the wall from prior ceremonies. Glenn Close is due for her Academy Award with a tour de force performance in The Wife, and she’s already raked in a Golden Globe and a SAG award. Closely behind her is Olivia Colman, who won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite. Lady Gaga’s tour de force performance in A Star is Born was the early Oscar buzz, and, were it not for Glenn Close, it very well could be hers. But I think her campaign suffered from a loss in momentum (the film was released in September)- and it didn’t help that Glenn Close has had one of those “phenomenal performance in a non-nominated film” performances.
Will win: Glenn Close, The Wife
Should win: Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Could win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Surprises: Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman; Sam Rockwell, Vice
Snubs: Timotheé Chalamet, Beautiful Boy; Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther
Truly, I’m surprised Michael B. Jordan’s performance for Black Panther isn’t being appreciated, in favor of, say, Adam Driver’s in BlacKkKlansman. Driver was good, but Jordan was better. As for the nominees, it appears Mahershala Ali has this one in the bag, having won all previous supporting actor awards since the start of awards season. I would be shocked if he doesn’t win the Oscar, too. There’s always one nominee that’s pretty much a lead actor but gets put into the supporting actor category: Ali’s Donald Shirley is that in Green Book. Not to take away from his performance; it’s a damn good one.
Will and Should win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Could win: Sam Elliott, A Star is Born or Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Surprises: Marina de Tavira, Roma
Snubs: Claire Foy, First Man
The case is the same for Regina King in the Supporting Actress category. She appears to be the favorite, having won a fair share of her nominations since the start of awards season. Her staunchest competition would be either Rachel Weisz or Emma Stone from The Favourite. As for Amy Adams, she’s due for her award, but she’ll have to wait yet another year to actually receive it.
Will win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Should win: Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Could win: Emma Stone, The Favourite
Best Original Screenplay
Snubs: A Quiet Place- Bryan Woods & Scott Beck and John Krasinski; Eighth Grade- Bo Burnham; The Ballad of Buster Scruggs- Joel & Ethan Coen; Sorry to Bother You- Boots Riley
Why isn’t Eighth Grade included on this list of nominees? The field is packed, I get that, and credit to Oscar veterans (Paul Schrader) where credit is due, but Bo Burnham’s coming of age comedy-drama was one of the best-written films of last year.
As for the field itself, it’s gotta be The Favourite. The film’s got some clout with its ten nominations, and the witty dialogue has to be recognized somehow, since it probably isn’t winning Best Picture. Roma is more of a visual medium anyways; I don’t think Cuarón’s script work is all that incredible. As for Green Book- it’s a good story, but the script suffers from being just a bit too cliché to garner an Oscar.
Will and should win: The Favourite- Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
Could win: Green Book- Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Curie and Peter Farrelly
Best Adapted Screenplay
Surprises: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Snubs: Black Panther
I’m stuck on this one. There some great nominees but none of them stick out to me at first glance. Can You Ever Forgive Me? won the WGA top prize, but writers like Barry Jenkins and the Coen Brothers (who I’m surprised are here) have wooed the Academy in their direction before. I think the strongest case can be made for BlacKkKlansman, though.
Will win: BlacKkKlansman- Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Wilmot and Spike Lee
Could win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?- Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
Best Animated Feature
Spider-Man is that good. It’s just that damn good. Yes, Isle of Dogs is a quirky homage to our canine companions, and we waited ten years for a satisfying sequel to The Incredibles. But Spider-verse’s animation style and intriguing storyline make it the favorite. It’ll cruise to a win here. Also, this is revenge for PhilLord and Chris Miller, who were snubbed for The Lego Movie.
Will and should win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
Could win: Isle of Dogs
Best Foreign Language Film
Snubs: Where is Woman at War?
Cold War earned its director, Paweł Pawlikowski, a nomination for Best Director. But I think more people have seen Roma since it’s nominated for Best Picture. That tips the scales in its favor, and I anticipate that it will win Best Foreign Language Film. A win here would be the first for Mexico, funny enough.
Will and should win: Roma
Could win: Cold War
Best Documentary Feature
Surprises: Minding the Gap; Hale County This Morning, This EveningSnubs: Three Identical Strangers; Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
The biggest question will be if the Academy selects subject matter over timeliness. Free Solo has been the front runner with its stunning visuals and unique storytelling, while RBG surrounds Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has been more in the public eye since the 2016 election, and especially since she has battled back from injuries to serve on the Supreme Court once again.
Will and should win: Free Solo
Could win: RBG
Best Animated Short Film
I was truthfully underwhelmed by this year’s shorts after last year’s left us with such indelible images. Bao, Disney/Pixar’s precursor to Incredibles 2 from earlier this summer, is the clear frontrunner for the category. I felt like a lot of these all played on the family drama trope a little too hard, and perhaps some of them even cancel each other out by having animation styles that are a tad too similar. If I had to pick a second place, it’s the charming and deeply cutting One Small Step, even if it’s a little cheesy toward the end. But it’s one giant leap from second to first in this one. Bao by a mile.
Will and should win: Bao
Could win: One Small Step
Best Live Action Short Film
These shorts WRECKED me. I am overwhelmed.
There’s an overarching sense of desperation that wends its way through each of the nominees. From the terror of a mother whose son is lost and alone, only able to communicate by phone, to two boys whose power game spirals out of control, to an elderly woman finding solace in her caretaker, to the frightening story of the youngest convicted murderers of the 20th Century, to a man who receives his comeuppance in the most shocking way possible, the live action shorts have enough power to make you both shed a tear of sympathy one minute, and make you squirm in your seat the next. Overall, I found Marguerite to be the most poignant. It is the one film that differs from the other four, which all involved children in trouble in one way or another.
Will and should win: Marguerite
Could win: Fauve or Skin
Best Documentary- Short Subject
The Best Short Documentary category really relies on what the Academy will find as the most interesting topic. There are some broader topics like Lifeboat and End Game, both of which also do a great job of pulling at heartstrings, but there also more personal ones like that of Cornelius in Black Sheep. An interesting addition is A Night at the Garden, a 7-minute found footage film recounting a Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden in 1939. I think the strongest case can be made for Period. End of Sentence., an Indian documentary about women who make and sell feminine products in the impoverished countryside. I think it differs from the rest of the films in tone, and its timely message I think will resonate more soundly with the voters, given the social issues that surrounded the entire awards season last year.
Will and should win: Period. End of Sentence.
Could win: End Game
Best Original Song
Surprises: “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings”
Snubs: “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” from Mary Poppins Returns
“All the Stars” is a bop, and I’m really excited that “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is included on this list. But come on. There’s a clear winner here. We all knew it from the moment this film was released. It has to be Gaga, doesn’t it?
Will and should win: “Shallow,” from A Star is Born
Could win: “All the Stars,” from Black Panther
Best Original Score
Surprises: Black Panther- Ludwig Goransson
Snubs: First Man- Justin Hurwitz
This entire category appears to be a toss up, with neither the Golden Globe winner (Justin Hurwitz for First Man) nor the BAFTA winner (A Star is Born) we’re nominated for Oscars. Nicholas Britell’s sweeping score is integral to If Beale Street Could Talk. I am partial to the quirky scores of Alexandre Desplat for Isle of Dogs, and there is a lot to be said about the Afro-infused score from Black Panther. But two more contenders are intriguing- the first being Marc Shaiman, who brings new life to the Mary Poppins sequel, and frequency Spike Lee collaborator Terence Blanchard for BlacKkKlansman, whose swirling and ominous score punctuates through a narrative that can be mistaken as a comedy if not looked at more closely. It’ll be a tough slog, and it could be any of these films winning Best Original Score.
Will win: If Beale Street Could Talk- Nicholas Britell
Could win: BlacKkKlansman- Terence Blanchard, Mary Poppins Returns- Marc Shaiman or Black Panther- Ludwig Goransson
Surprises: Cold War (Lukasz Zal), Never Look Away (Caleb Deschanel)
Snubs: First Man (Linus Sandgren), If Beale Street Could Talk (James Laxton)
Cuarón wanted to work with three-time Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki, but he couldn’t commit to Roma’s long shooting schedule. Instead, Cuarón chose to shoot the film himself. Naturally, Roma is a feast for the eyes. “What would ‘Chivo’ do?” wondered Cuarón (“Chivo” is Lubezki’s nickname) often on set. Robbie Ryan’s work on The Favourite is certainly commendable, but the Roma auteur could become the first director to also win for shooting his own film.
Will and should win: Roma- Alfonso Cuarón
Could win: The Favourite- Robbie Ryan
Best Costume Design
Surprises: Mary Poppins Returns; Mary Queen of Scots
Snubs: A Star is Born
17th century costumes? Shot on location? Three time Oscar winner Sandy Powell? I think The Favourite has this one in the bag. While Mary Queen of Scots is pretty much the same style, I think the Best Picture nominee has the edge. Don’t count out Ruth E. Carter’s designs for Black Panther though.
Will and should win: The Favourite- Sandy Powell
Could win: Mary Poppins Returns- Sandy Powell or Black Panther- Ruth. E Carter
Best Hair and Makeup Design
Snubs: The Favourite
I went back and watched footage of Dick Cheney. The resemblance is uncanny. Props to Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney for helping Christian Bale fully morph into everyone’s least favorite Vice President.
Will and should win: Vice- Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney
Could win: Mary Queen of Scots- Goran Lundstrom and Pamela Goldhammer
Best Production Design
Snubs: Ready Player One
I can imagine that the world of Wakanda will run the Best Production Design category. The Favourite did film on location, and Mary Poppins Returns does evoke the same spirit as the original, but it’s Hannah Beachler’s production design and Jay Hart’s scenic design that are the most impressive of the five nominees.
Will and should win: Black Panther
Could win: Mary Poppins Returns or The Favourite
Best Film Editing
The predicted nominees:
Surprises: BlackKklansman; Bohemian Rhapsody; Vice
Snubs: A Star is Born, First Man
The battle is Vice against BlacKkKlansman. Two historical comedy/dramas, both with their own fun editing styles. BlacKkKlansman features vintage Spike Lee quick cuts, interspersed with images both during and at the end of the film. I think Hank Corwin’s editing for Vice is more creative though, as its unique narrative is told through many different styles reminiscent of documentary, soap opera, and even Shakespeare (the latter should get an Academy Award if its own for being such a daring choice and paying off so well). It’s tough to choose, but I think Vice has it in the bag.
Will and should win: Vice- Hank Corwin
Could win: BlacKkKlansman- Barry Alexander Brown
Best Visual Effects
Surprises: Christopher Robin; Ready Player One; Solo: A Star Wars Story
Snubs: Mary Poppins Returns, Black Panther
So Ready Player One is a visual treat, and certainly deserves merit for its accomplishments. But I think there will be a performance aspect of the film that gives the edge to Avengers: Infinity War, and that is Josh Brolin’s performance as Thanos. Avengers has strong effects PLUS an emotional component by those visual effects. Can’t wait for Endgame in April.
Will and should win: Avengers: Infinity War
Could win: Ready Player One
Best Sound Editing
Surprises: A Quiet Place, Roma
Snubs: A Star is Born
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that A Quiet Place made the list. I am surprised that a musical film like A Star is Born didn’t make the list. That said, it’s clear that Bohemian Rhapsody should be the favorite, mixing the action of the film with Queen’s greatest hits. Also, that Live Aid sequence, though.
Will and should win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Could win: A Quiet Place
Best Sound Mixing
Snubs: Mary Poppins Returns; A Quiet Place
Rami Malek with Freddie Mercury’s voice. That’ll just about clinch it right there. No contest, Bohemian Rhapsody wins this one.
Will and should win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Could win: A Star is Born
God help us all.
Who's your pick for Best Picture? Leave a comment down below.
The 91st Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday, February 24th, at 8:00pm on ABC.