At the outset, let it be said that Mary Poppins Returns was my favorite film of 2018 and should have been nominated here. Moving on…
Such a fascinating category this year. Roma is the consensus prediction — and it’s probably the most deserving of the pack — but truly, every picture in this category has a not-unrealistic shot of winning.
We usually look to the major ceremonies preceding the Oscars to gauge voters’ mindsets. This year, EACH of these eight have taken the top prize at a major predictive ceremony. Anything could happen. I’m making a (probably foolish) “no guts, no glory” prediction here: The Favourite.
Why am I betting against Roma? The things that most distinguish the Academy from other voting bodies are (1) a much larger group of voters, (2) a wider swath of technical craftspeople voting, and (3) a heavier executive presence, representing the “business” vote.
I think each of these things weighs against Roma. I loved the movie, but it doesn’t play with a general audience. Several of this year’s anonymous “Brutally Honest Oscar Ballots” have summed up Roma as “nothing happens,” and I think that sentiment is widespread. Roma is a critical darling, sure, but that only accounts for a fraction of the Academy voters. Among businesspeople — and, to some extent, among directors and craftspeople too (who very much value industry security as well as the importance of theatrical distribution) — Roma‘s small-screen Netflix rollout may be enough to keep it out of many voters’ top spot.
Why do I think The Favourite takes it instead? A gut feeling, really. Honestly, I can see The Favourite making a surprise sweep across all categories tonight. There’s a lot of last-minute buzz in its favor.
Then again, BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, and Bohemian Rhapsody are just as likely. Even Black Panther has a shot (it will be a decent number of voters’ top choice, and A LOT of voters’ #2 or #3 choice).
The movie least likely to win? Probably A Star Is Born, because even though it’s great, it’s been forgotten.
Personally, I’m happy with any winner except Green Book or Bohemian Rhapsody. While I don’t dislike either as much as their biggest detractors do, they just aren’t in “BP” league, quality-wise.
The math tells us Rami Malek has this one locked up, the Bryan Singer controversy notwithstanding. He’s very good in it, but I’d have picked Bradley Cooper instead.
Willem Dafoe’s performance in At Eternity’s Gate is strong, but he’s held back by an otherwise weird and boring movie. Christian Bale isn’t bad but his makeup is better (and Vice is terrible). Viggo Mortensen in Green Book gives me the creeps.
Glenn Close all the way. The Wife is underappreciated and phenomenal. Her quiet, nuanced performance is in its driver’s seat. For her work here and in her career at large, the award belongs to her. That said, all five of these nominees are outstanding, and I’d applaud any winner here. Special shout-out to Melissa McCarthy, who we might start seeing in this category more often.
Julia Roberts and Emily Blunt should be in this category. That is all.
Best Supporting Actress
I figure The Favourite votes will split (a shame because Emma Stone is probably my top choice here), and that leaves Regina King, who was good enough in Beale Street and who voters are very eager to award.
Amy Adams is stellar in Vice but nobody wants to vote for Vice. Marina de Tavira’s performance in Roma is everything it needs to be, but it’s just too small for the Oscar. Even her nomination here was a surprise.
Best Supporting Actor
The math tells us Mahershala Ali will win. I’m making another “no guts, no glory” prediction here (one I’ll probably regret): Richard E. Grant. There’s been last-minute buzz in his favor, he has a long body of work the Academy would like to award — and might not always have a chance to (whereas Mahershala is young and has already become an Oscars mainstay), he has a lot of friends in Hollywood who will likely vote for him, and from what I hear, he’s been the toast of the town at awards parties all season. He’s also just a lot better in Can You Ever Forgive Me? than Ali is in Green Book.
Ultimately, I’ll support anyone other than Sam Rockwell, who is strictly doing SNL work as GWB in Vice.
Spike Lee has a decent chance of winning here. Maybe even more than decent because, remember, the Academy membership changed significantly this year, and none of us can really know what that means in terms of votes yet. A more diverse voting body might be very eager to give Spike Lee his long-awaited win, even if BlacKkKlansman isn’t being looked at as his best work.
But it’s most likely going to Alfonso Cuaron, because Roma was one hell of a directorial achievement. Cuaron is a master and a genius, and Roma is his most personal and intricately made movie yet.
Honorable mention to Bo Burnham, who I’d have nominated here (and his movie, Eighth Grade, in our next category…)
The Favourite is a very screenplay-y movie. I’d call it a shoe-in.
Screenplay isn’t Roma‘s strength, nor First Reformed‘s (which I have to say I hated… but I’m alone there, I know). Again, everyone hates Vice. Green Book could win, but half the movie’s controversy has been lobbed at its screenplay, so that should knock it out.
BlacKkKlansman is the consensus prediction, and I agree. If it doesn’t win anywhere else, it should win here. Once again, though, I wish Can You Ever Forgive Me? would be given its due credit. That screenplay rides a fine moral line with a lot of insight, perspective, and suspense. Also, shout-out to The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, another underappreciated (and under-nominated) gem.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse all the way. How funny that Disney has two very eligible features in the running, and they’ll both lose to a character Disney owns but in a Marvel movie they have nothing to do with. And Marvel isn’t even known for animation! Nor is Sony, really. Weird, weird, weird. But awesome, because Spider-Verse is next level.
Full disclosure: I haven’t yet seen Mirai.
Consensus says Free Solo and I won’t argue with that. It’s really strong — captivating and gorgeously shot — though it certainly doesn’t break new ground in terms of the format.
The two nominees that will most stick with me are Minding the Gap and Of Fathers and Sons. (RBG is informative, I guess, but so conventional… and it’s kind of lame that RBG is on board as producer, inherently limiting the film’s perspective.)
The only doc that really didn’t work for me this year was Hale County This Morning, This Evening. It gets credit for trying to do something different, but it simply doesn’t work.
By the way, where are Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Whitney, and Three Identical Strangers in this category?
Foreign Language Film
Roma. When you’re a major player in major categories, you should have FLF on lock.
Cold War has some buzz and another major nomination of its own. It was gorgeous to look at, but the story fell short for me. I suspect maybe for voters too.
Shoplifters wrecked me. Super powerful. It’s streaming online, so I recommend watching it. But it hasn’t really been a part of the conversation.
I still haven’t seen Capernaum or Never Look Away (hoping to soon).
If Beale Street Could Talk will probably win this (maybe it’s only win). That score is gorgeous, though I like Black Panthers‘ and Mary Poppins Returns‘ scores even more.
BlackKklansman has an outside shot here, as in most categories. It boasts a unique score with a lot of feeling, tension, and vibe.
Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” has this on lock. It’s a great song, but it breaks my heart that Mary Poppins Returns won’t win this one. “Where the Lost Things Go” is a very sweet song, but it’s a weird choice for nominee. Should have been “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” or “Nowhere to Go But Up” instead.
Hate to vote against J-Hud, but at least she’ll be performing tonight, along with the Divine Miss M. Can’t wait for that.
Think of this as the “sound effects” category. It awards the making of sounds. Action movies & sci-fi tend to fare well here. You’d think Black Panther or First Man would win. But the experts are predicting Bohemian Rhapsody. I don’t know enough about sound editing to second-guess them.
Think of this as the “blending of sounds” category, or the “surround sound” category. Bohemian Rhapsody makes more sense to me here. Think about all those concert sequences (not to mention the blending of Rami’s voice with Mercury’s and that other guy’s… though that’s not really the kind of thing I want to award. It’s kind of gross.)
Poor Buster Scruggs. Probably the best cinematography of the year but it’s not even nominated.
Roma‘s gonna take this — stunning photography beginning to end.
Makeup and Hairstyling
This category is the one thing Vice has going for it. It’s hard to believe that isn’t Dick Cheney.
Full disclosure: I haven’t yet seen Border. (Has anyone?)
Five worthy nominees. I just really want Mary to win something, but it’s probably going to The Favourite.
I’ll copy & paste from Costumes because the same comments apply: Five worthy nominees. I just really want Mary to win something, but it’s probably going to The Favourite.
Consensus says Bohemian Rhapsody. Seems weird to me, but I probably don’t know enough about Film Editing to intelligently disagree (except that it’s a lot more technical than what most of us conceive it to be).
The Avengers might just be tonight’s only Disney winner out of 17 nominations.
As I press “Publish” on this article, I’m about to dive into this year’s short films. Hoping to update this after I see them. For now, here are my placeholder predictions:
• Documentary: Period. End of Sentence. EDIT: Just watched this. Very good. Check it out on Netflix. Also worth watching: A Night at the Garden (chilling, but there isn’t a lot of filmmaking involved). The narrative in Black Sheep is strong, but I didn’t care for the reenactments. Lifeboat was hard to sink my teeth into, though its story is worth telling. Hoping to see End Game soon.
• Animated: Bao. I’m here for a Pixar win but this one is just so weird. So far, I’d personally support Animal Behavior instead.
• Live-Action: Marguerite
Finally, to see my full ranking of the 70 films I’ve seen from this year so far, just click here: https://twitter.com/aaronwallace/status/1099697014152069120
Thanks for following along!