If you’re reading this, you’re probably more than aware that the 91st Academy Awards will be airing this Sunday evening at 8PM EST. The Oscars are always #messy, but this year’s ceremony has already been embroiled in a number of scandals, from its multiple nominations for a film who’s credited director has been accused of sexual assault against a minor, to the controversy surrounding comedian Kevin Hart, who was announced as this year’s host only to drop out shortly thereafter when homophobic tweets of his resurfaced online. Now, we have nobody hosting, a couple of truly Not Good films in the running for best picture, and a Queen tribute to ring in the ceremony, since we all know that The Music of Queen is one of 2019’s greatest cinematic achievements.
Basically, we’re off to a great start.
Looking over my predictions post from last year (which I would link to were it not still living in the archives of our old site, sorry), I am not at all surprised to see that I correctly predicted exactly half of the categories (6/12). For those playing along, that’s a 50% success rate, which is also considered an F. So, you know — maybe don’t bet a lot of money on my picks?
Before I get into the categories, I have some disclaimers. These are copied and pasted from last year with a couple of edits.
Every year, I do my best to catch up with as many of the nominees as I can, even if that means sitting through some extremely boring/bad contenders (yes, I sat through Bohemian Rhapsody, and I hated every moment of it). That being said, I did not manage to get to every single film I would have liked to see before writing this list, and I will make note of that as we go through the nominees. From this point forward, any film in bold italics is a film I saw, and any film in just italics is one I didn’t see.
I am not going to go through every single category, because it would be ridiculous to pretend I know anything about what merits, for example, “good sound mixing.” In addition, I didn’t manage to catch up with any of the foreign contenders (other than Roma, which is going to win anyway), animated/documentary shorts, or feature-length documentary nominees (yes, I’m terrible, shut up). Basically, I don’t feel comfortable making predictions for categories where I haven’t seen at least three of the films.
Okay. Let’s get it on.
Incredibles 2 — Brad Bird, John Walker and Nicole Paradis Grindle
Isle of Dogs — Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson
Mirai — Mamoru Hosoda and Yuichiro Saito
Ralph Breaks the Internet — Rich Moore, Phil Johnston and Clark Spencer
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Will Win: Incredibles 2
I’m going out on a limb with this prediction, because Spider-Man won the Golden Globe in the animation category — but I’m putting my faith into the Academy’s incredible ability to get things wrong. Historically, the vote almost always goes to Pixar films, and while Incredibles 2 is a sequel, it’s also one that was so highly-anticipated and well-received that I would not be surprised if it stole this award right out of Miles Morales’ sticky hands.
Should Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
If you saw this movie, you know it should win. I could gush about it here, but Mary and Todd did a much better job of it in their review of the film. (This is the first of many plugs for previous BSG blog posts. While I’m at it, shout-out to Emily’s Isle of Dogs post!)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs — Mary Zophres
Black Panther — Ruth Carter
The Favourite — Sandy Powell
Mary Poppins Returns — Sandy Powell
Mary Queen of Scots — Alexandra Byrne
Will Win: Mary Queen of Scots
Although I was interested in it, I didn’t end up seeing this movie, mostly because it got eclipsed by The Favourite. Period pieces tend to win in this category, and from looking at the photos, I feel like Mary Queen of Scots has great potential to win for its costumes, particularly because it’s a bit more of a “serious prestige piece” than the other contenders. Alexandra Byrne has been nominated in this category five times, but this would only be her second win.
Should Win: The Favourite
Emily and I wrote about The Favourite back in January, and it’s no secret that we both loved it. One of its many successful visual elements is its wardrobe, with costumes by Sandy Powell. Powell is up twice in this category, and has been nominated for her costumes a whopping 14 times (with three wins). It wouldn’t be surprising if she did win here, but I’m trying not to be boring and do ‘can and should win’ for too many of these categories… so there you have it.
Music (Original Song)
“All the Stars” from Black Panther — Music by Kendrick Lamar, Mark “Sounwave” Spears and Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith; Lyric by Kendrick Lamar, SZA and Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith
”I’ll Fight” from RBG — Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
”The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns — Music by Marc Shaiman; Lyric by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
”Shallow” from A Star Is Born — Music and Lyric by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt
”When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs — Music and Lyric by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
Will Win & Should Win: SHALLOW
I mean. Come on.
Music (Original Score)
Black Panther — Ludwig Goransson
BlacKkKlansman — Terence Blanchard
If Beale Street Could Talk — Nicholas Britell
Isle of Dogs — Alexandre Desplat
Mary Poppins Returns — Marc Shaiman
Will Win & Should Win: If Beale Street Could Talk
This is Nicholas Britell’s second collaboration with director Barry Jenkins, his first being the equally beautiful score for Moonlight two years ago. This music serves perfectly to lift Beale Street’s visuals to soaring heights, particularly during the year’s best sex scene (can this be a thing?). It’s a romantic and swooning score, but each song is layered with a touch of discord, hinting at the film’s darker moments. I’m obsessed with it.
Cold War — Łukasz Żal
The Favourite — Robbie Ryan
Never Look Away — Caleb Deschanel
Roma — Alfonso Cuarón
A Star Is Born — Matthew Libatique
Will Win & Should Win: Roma
It is undeniable that the camerawork in this film is phenomenal. From its sprawling shots of Mexico City to its loving close-ups of Yalitza Aparicio’s face, Cuarón’s camera brings everything to life, even in black and white. Every single shot of Roma could be framed and hung in an art gallery, and that more than qualifies it for this award.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs — Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
BlacKkKlansman — Written by Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
Can You Ever Forgive Me? — Screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
If Beale Street Could Talk — Written for the screen by Barry Jenkins
A Star Is Born — Screenplay by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters
Will Win: BlacKkKlansman
I think the Academy will be looking for places to award this film — because even though it’s probably not going to steal best picture, it’s a very good film by a veteran filmmaker who really and truly deserves his due. Also, if they award Green Book and don’t give anything significant to Spike Lee, that’s just… not going to look very good for them at all.
Should Win: To be honest, I haven’t read any of the source material for this category, so I can’t really speak to what the best adaptation is. I’m also hesitant to make this decision not having seen Can You Ever Forgive Me, which is one of the only films in this post that I still fully intend to catch up with even if I don’t watch it before the show on Sunday. So, I’m going to use exactly one pass here and say: I really don’t know!
Writing (Original Screenplay)
The Favourite — Written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
First Reformed — Written by Paul Schrader
Green Book — Written by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
Roma — Written by Alfonso Cuarón
Vice — Written by Adam McKay
Will Win & Should Win: First Reformed
It’s time for another plug! Emily and I wrote about First Reformed for the blog and we both agreed that it was one of our favorite films of the year. Paul Schrader has been working in this industry for approximately 20,000 years, but somehow this is his FIRST EVER nomination in any category. This is one of those awards that could very well go to him as a celebration of his career overall — but I think this film alone is deserving of it.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali — Green Book
Adam Driver — BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott — A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant — Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell — Vice
Will Win: Mahershala Ali for Green Book
If this film has to win for something, this is the category that will upset me the least. Mahershala Ali is an incredible actor, and he put forward a good performance in Green Book, even if it’s one of those movies that I like less the more I think about it.
Should Win: Richard E. Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Okay, I’m about to cheat. Hard. I didn’t see this movie. But I can tell from the trailer that when I do see it, Richard E. Grant will be my choice for this category. I’m a professional.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams — Vice
Marina De Tavira — Roma
Regina King — If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone — The Favourite
Rachel Weisz — The Favourite
Will Win: Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk
Regina King has been getting a lot of well-deserved praise for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk, and this could be her “career” award as well. Though she has less screen time than some of the other women in the category, her work here is no small feat, and she steals every scene she’s in. The Academy has already been criticized for the lack of nominations given to Beale Street in the Best Picture and Directing categories, so this is also a place where they can make up for a bit of their slack.
Should Win: Rachel Weisz for The Favourite
While I think King is excellent and would be happy enough to see her take this award, I think it's important to note that both Weisz and Emma Stone are in this supporting category mainly because nominating all three of the women in The Favourite for Best Actress would have left little room for other films. These are all leading performances, and Weisz as Sarah is a sharp and treacherous delight. She is putting in so much work here, and I think that needs to be acknowledged.
Actor in a Leading Role
Christian Bale — Vice
Bradley Cooper — A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe — At Eternity's Gate
Rami Malek — Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen — Green Book
Will Win: Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody
Even people who, like me, detested Bohemian Rhapsody, are likely to add this caveat to their criticism: “Malek’s performance is good.” Here's the thing, though: it's not. He's doing a decent impression of an icon, but half of it gets lost in the way he continuously sucks on his distractingly gigantic dentures to keep them from falling out of his mouth. I just… don't get it. But for some reason, people are shitting their pants over this performance, so I think he's definitely going to take the award.
Should Win: ETHAN HAWKE FOR FIRST REFORMED
It's time for my soap box.
WHERE THE HELL IS ETHAN HAWKE’S NOMINATION? ETHAN HAWKE IS THIS FILM AND HE IS GIVING A CAREER-BEST PERFORMANCE. I’M SORRY THAT HOLLYWOOD DOESN’T LIKE HIM BECAUSE HE WAS MEAN TO UMA THURMAN ONE TIME, BUT FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS MEN WHO HAVE BEEN PHYSICALLY OR SEXUALLY ABUSIVE HAVE WON THIS AWARD, SO ETHAN HAWKE DEFINITELY DOES NOT DESERVE TO BE ICED OUT SIMPLY BECAUSE HE DIVORCED KILL BILL!!!!!!!!!!!!
Honestly this category is trash but if I am forced to choose someone from these options I choose BRADLEY COOPER. That's right. Suck my dick, y'all.
Actress in a Leading Role
Yalitza Aparicio — Roma
Glenn Close — The Wife
Olivia Colman — The Favourite
Lady Gaga — A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy — Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Will Win: Glenn Close for The Wife
Yet again, here we have an award that is probably going to go to someone who has deserved it for a very very long time. I haven't seen The Wife, so I can't speak to Close’s performance, but I'm sure she's very good in it!
Should Win: Olivia Colman for The Favourite
I know, I know, I won't stop talking about this movie. But guys, it's so good — and Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne as a fully-realized person, not just a character but a human being. She's arguably the most sympathetic of the film’s three leads, but also the most frustrating, and I think Colman plays her with impressive nuance when she easily could have played her as a woman we are supposed to laugh at. For the above scene alone, she deserves to win.
BlacKkKlansman — Spike Lee
Cold War — Paweł Pawlikowski
The Favourite — Yorgos Lanthimos
Roma — Alfonso Cuarón
Vice — Adam McKay
Will Win: Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman
I'm taking a bit of a gamble with this one. My other guess would be Cuarón, but I do think the Academy is more hesitant to award this category to what is technically a foreign language film (but also maybe not? more on that later). Again, Spike Lee has never won an Academy Award despite his huge catalogue of critically-acclaimed films, and this is a great opportunity to honor him for his work.
Should Win: Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite
Have I mentioned I like this film? Lanthimos has been on my radar since Dogtooth was nominated for best Foreign Language Film of 2010, and never has he disappointed me since. I feel like The Favourite is the perfect distillation of his directorial style. It’s absurd, witty, dark, and at times incredibly morbid, and even if what’s happening on screen is patently disgusting (Anne’s cake eating scene, for example), I simply cannot look away. Honestly, I’m thrilled that this movie got nominated for so many things, or for anything at all — after seeing it, I swore to my boyfriend that it wouldn’t even make the shortlist because it was “too weird.” I’ve never been happier to be wrong.
Black Panther — Kevin Feige, Producer
BlacKkKlansman — Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele and Spike Lee, Producers
Bohemian Rhapsody — Graham King, Producer
The Favourite — Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday and Yorgos Lanthimos, Producers
Green Book — Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga, Producers
Roma — Gabriela Rodríguez and Alfonso Cuarón, Producers
A Star Is Born — Bill Gerber, Bradley Cooper and Lynette Howell Taylor, Producers
Vice — Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adam McKay and Kevin Messick, Producers
Will Win & Should Win: Roma
I’ve seen a lot of arguments online for why this is the perfect time for a movie about race as dated and simplistic as Green Book is to win Best Picture. In fact, my initial instinct was to go with that for my prediction, and I wrote three paragraphs about it before changing my mind. Here’s the thing: it’s very possible that the members of the Academy became aware of all of this criticism before voting, and not wanting to come out of this year looking like fools, have opted to cast their votes elsewhere.
While nine foreign language films have been nominated for Best Picture in the past, there’s never been a win in this category, and I think this could be the year. To choose a film about class dynamics in Mexico would certainly be one of the more “progressive” options (other than Black Panther or perhaps BlacKkKlansman), and this film has captured the hearts of film critics and audiences alike, widely seen because of its distribution on Netflix. A win for Roma would please the masses while still being a relatively safe choice — after all, this is prestige filmmaking at its finest, and Cuarón has won big in other categories in the past, most notably Best Director for Gravity in 2014.
I think that out of the options presented to us this year, Roma best exemplifies the things we’ve come to expect from a Best Picture candidate while still presenting a unique perspective. I think it’s a beautiful film, and although it might not be my Favourite (ahem) film that I saw, I do think it deserves this award — and I hope I’m right that it will win.
Well, that’s all, folks. Tune in tomorrow night and help me track my failures. I’m aiming for 7/12, which would be a personal best.