Here we are! The big day! It feels like this awards season has gone on forever and a never ending barrage of controversy from the host, to the length of the telecast, to what awards might not be presented live on the telecast. At the end of the day, the 91st Academy Awards will be a hostless affair and feature only four of the five musical performances. All the winners will be announced live and aside from that many of the races are coming down to a photo finish. As it usually the case, many pundits (myself included) are having last-minute buyers remorse and flip-flopping on who they think the winners will be.
The time has come, however, to shore up my picks and below you’ll see my rankings by film/nominee in each category representing my overall picks as well as a Will Win and Should Win. Hopefully, this will give me a little room to put out into the ether some last minute good vibes for nominees that may not be coming into the night as favorites but who could leave the ceremony with an Oscar in hand.
Also, this is the first year I’ve seen all the nominees and while I’m not sure how much of a edge that gets me because the Oscars are nothing if not unpredictable when it comes down to it. I do think, though, that critics/movie fans worth their salt need to look beyond commercial films or buzzed about titles and seek out the nominees that might not be the most talked about. It felt good to see everything and go into the night understanding what the winners were up against.
Will Win: All signs point to Roma becoming the first foreign language film to win the Best Picture Oscar.
Should Win: My heart hurts that the raw energy of A Star is Born and the audacious pluck of The Favourite won’t be rewarded.
Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron’s winning for Roma seems like a foregone conclusion.
Should Win: Spike Lee – I just feel deep down this award was meant for him this year.
Will Win: Rami Malek – a strong performance but it’s not near the level of work that the person I think should win put in. Malek has played the game this season, though, and when he wins it will be because he gladhanded his way into voters hearts.
Should Win: Bradley Cooper – I just can’t believe Cooper didn’t walk away with this award. He was responsible for so much behind the scenes with A Star is Born and then to turn in this kind of performance? It’s remarkable. I do think his lack of presence with voters hurt him — he likely thought he had it in the bag and didn’t put the same kind of effort that Malek did. Which is too bad because the award should be given to the performance, not the person.
Will Win: Glenn Close – it’s not, um, close, to her finest work but it’s definitely her time to take home Oscar gold.
Should Win: Melissa McCarthy gave the best performance of any of the nominees. No question.
Will Win: It’s category fraud since he’s without question the co-lead of Green Book, but Mahershala Ali is heading for his second Oscar.
Should Win: If there’s one wish I had for Oscar night it would be that Rami Malek would be blanked for Best Actor. If had two wishes, the second would go toward hoping Richard E. Grant would be a surprise upset in this race.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Will Win: Regina King is such a strong force in If Beale Street Could Talk and she’s well liked by nearly everyone in The Academy. I found the performance to be slightly one-note but the note is almost always played in perfect pitch.
Should Win: Rachel Weisz – though she’ll split the vote with her co-star, Weisz has the trickiest role of the other two ladies in The Favourite. Seeing the movie again recently only confirmed that she’s the MVP of that movie.
Will Win: Seems like people want to reward John Ottman for taking the mess that was Bohemian Rhapsody and fashioning it into something that could be released. Still, if you’ve seen the film you’d know that the editing is amateur hour all the way.
Should Win: BlacKkKlansman has so little excess fat on it, it’s streamlined which adds to its breathlessness.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, The Favourite
Paul Schrader, First Reformed
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice
Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga, Green Book
Will Win: This is a close race with many wanting to reward Paul Schrader, even if First Reformed isn’t in the same league as his classic scripts for Taxi Driver or Raging Bull. I’m still betting on The Favourite to win.
Should Win: The Favourite – it’s the best shot it has at a sure-thing Oscar tonight, despite tying Roma for the most nominations.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott, BlacKkKlansman
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters and Eric Roth, A Star is Born
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Will Win: The team from BlacKkKlansman are the likely victors, only because this might be the only time of the night to give Spike Lee an Oscar.
Should Win: If you’ve read Lee Israel’s book that Can You Ever Forgive Me? was based off, I’m told you’d know why Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty deserve the award for taking source material and expanding its ideas for the screen. Just look what they did with Richard E. Grant’s character who only briefly turns up in the book but becomes a solid supporting player in the movie.
Will Win: Roma – the groundswell for this makes it almost an unstoppable force. Only Cold War (the worst of the five) could upset it should voters not want to vote for Roma here and in Best Picture.
Should Win: Capernaum – far more involving from a narrative perspective than Roma ever was, I can see why some people are turned off at the subject matter. It’s still the best of the five nominees.
Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron for Roma
Should Win: Robbie Ryan’s cinematography for The Favourite was, like the film, inventive and unexpected.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton, The Favourite
John Myhre, Gordon Sim, Mary Poppins Returns
Hannah Beachler, Black Panther
Nathan Crowley and Kathy Lucas, First Man
Eugenio Caballero and Barbara Enriquez, Roma
Will Win: The team behind The Favourite created a period-perfect world that was meticulous and gorgeous.
Should Win: The Favourite
Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Should Win: A Star is Born
Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Should Win: A Quiet Place
Will Win: Ruth E. Carter – every other nominee had some sort of point of reference to work with but Carter created these stupendous designs from scratch using new technologies. That should absolutely get her the Oscar.
Should Win: Ruth E. Carter
Will Win: Free Solo – even if the subject wasn’t such a fascinating guy, the effort that went into making this was Herculean in scope.
Should Win: Free Solo
Will Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – no other nominee comes close.
Should Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Will Win: Avengers: Infinity War – the sheer magnitude of effects is impressive, and that is doesn’t look like a cartoon is why it should be rewarded.
Should Win: First Man – the subtle work that went into sending Neil Armstrong to the moon doesn’t overshadow the action and mostly goes unnoticed. The best visual effects are the ones that we believe to be true.
Will Win: Vice – Christan Bale’s performance would be just the glorified impression it is without the work here.
Should Win: Border – if more people had been able to see this movie, they would be on board for voting. The full body transformation accomplished here was stunning.
Will Win: Nicholas Britell’s score for If Beale Street Could Talk was almost another character. It’s beautiful.
Should Win: Britell
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Shallow”, A Star is Born
“The Place Where Lost Things Go”, Mary Poppins Returns
“All the Stars”, Black Panther
“I’ll Fight”, RBG
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings”, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Will Win: “Shallow”
Should Win: “Shallow”- If this doesn’t win it would be the capper on the cruel journey A Star is Born has gone on these last few months of coming into the awards season as the frontrunner only to be usurped by movies that aren’t nearly as universally liked.
Will Win: Black Sheep – this was a rough bunch this year and this was probably the best of the four fairly depressing entries. I don’t think it’s a true documentary, though, which put it out of the running in my book.
Should Win: Period. End of Sentence – I guess I’m just favoring work this year that uplifts and this documentary has its heart in the right place and put it to good use. I can’t believe some of the comments I’ve read about how male voters will likely be turned off because talking about women’s mestrual cycles was “icky”.
Will Win: Bao – shown in front of Incredibles 2 this summer, it’s the one most voters will have seen, even if it’s not the strongest of the bunch…or even one of the better Pixar shorts.
Should Win: Late Afternoon – the animation may be simplistic but the journey it takes you on is anything but. It’s the clear winner for me.
Will Win: Skin – it’s the most cinematic of all but voters knowing the director went on to make a full length film with the same title loosely based on the same subject might want to hold their vote to see how that one turns out.
Should Win: Marguerite – the least problematic of all the nominees and also the least outright depressing. Like the animated short Late Afternoon, it’s a small, simple tale beautifully told.