The 91st Academy Awards are going to be weird. Every guild has voted differently, thus giving us no definitive frontrunner, let alone even two movies duking it out between themselves. The ceremony itself has been marred by controversy, with the Academy capitulating to overwhelming public opinion time and time again, suggesting dumb ideas (a popular film Oscar, abridged speeches, last year’s winners not handing out the trophies…just to name a few). And with no host, it’ll be interesting to see how the program even opens, let alone how it will progress over the course of the night. Here’s to hoping there are some big upsets and deviations from my expected predictions, or else this will be a night to forget. The categories should be presented as listed below, although at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if changes were made to the normal pecking order.
Actor in a Supporting Role: This one will be a slam-dunk, despite how infuriating that is for me to say. Not because I don’t think Mahershala Ali gives a good performance here (it’s stiff yet effective enough), but more so because it isn’t a supporting role. He’s a co-lead, and after the string of blatant category hopping that’s led to big wins over the past few years, I seriously hope The Academy draws definitive guidelines sooner than later. A true best supporting race would be between Elliott and Grant, with the edge going to the latter because he’s delightful and more integral to the story. I’m still wondering how Timothée Chalamet, in one of the best performances of the year, was left off the ballot altogether. Did people really think Sam Rockwell was more deserving? I can just as easily imagine a different – and better – five man lineup.
The Nominees: 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 (Green Book)
Could Win: Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Should Win: Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Deserved Consideration: Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy), Ben Foster (Leave No Trace), Brian Tyree Henry (If Beale Street Could Talk), Russell Hornsby (The Hate U Give), Daniel Kaluuya (Widows), Alex Wolff (Hereditary), Steven Yeun (Burning)
Makeup and Hairstyling: Hate it or love it, this category belongs to Vice. The beautifully bizarre Border is the strange outlier pick and Mary Queen of Scots doesn’t have support in areas outside of its looks, which suggests to me that Vice – while divisive – will pull out the win here. Oscar voters love a physical transformation and the film certainly delivers in that regard.
The Nominees: Goran Lundstrom and Pamela Goldammer (Border), Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher and Jessica Brooks (Mary Queen of Scots), Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia DeHaney (Vice)
Will Win: Vice
Could Win: Mary Queen of Scots
Should Win: Vice
Deserved Consideration: Tamara Eyre, Natalie Henderson & Jane O’Kane (Adrift), Manolo Garcia and Fernanda Perez (Suspiria), Kirsty Mcqueen (The Death of Stalin)
Costume Design: Nominated seven times over, this category feels like it could be the lone win for Marvel’s surprise smash hit. And honestly, I’m quite sick of the period piece dramas taking this one every single year. We’ve all see corsets and hats and dresses, but Black Panther uses its costumes as a means of immersing us in a brand new, specific world. Don’t be surprised if The Favourite wins, but don’t be surprised if Ruth E. Carter wins her first Oscar either.
The Nominees: Mary Zophres (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), Ruth E. Carter (Black Panther), Sandy Powell (The Favourite), Sandy Powell (Mary Poppins Returns), Alexandra Byrne (Mary Queen of Scots)
Will Win: Black Panther
Could Win: The Favourite
Should Win: Black Panther
Deserved Consideration: Caroline Eselin (If Beale Street Could Talk), David Crossman and Glyn Dillon (Solo: A Star Wars Story), Giulia Piersanti (Suspiria), Mary E. Vogt (Crazy Rich Asians)
Documentary Feature: What a peculiar category. Hale County is poetry without rhythm. RBG is a standard, tastefully informative biographic doc. I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually saw Of Fathers and Sons, which makes the more expected omissions all the more puzzling. This one will come down to RBG and Free Solo. Does the arts sector want to send a political message? If so RBG will take the prize. Do voters want to celebrate a beautifully calculated yet potentially deadly climb? Then they’ll opt for the simple humanity of Free Solo and its jaw-dropping IMAX presentation. I’d personally vote for Minding the Gap (available on Hulu and one of the year’s very best films period).
The Nominees: Free Solo, Hale County This Morning This Evening, Minding the Gap, Of Fathers and Sons, RBG
Will Win: Free Solo
Could Win: RBG
Should Win: Minding the Gap
Deserved Consideration: Maria by Callas, Three Identical Strangers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Sound Editing: Essentially serving as another, integral character in the film, First Man should be the one to win. The sound design is epic, overwhelming, and really puts you into the actual head space of the astronauts attempting to land on the moon. It’s so visceral that you almost believe it’s real. War movies tend to do exceptionally well in this category, and First Man is a war film battling the laws of physics.
The Nominees: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, A Quiet Place, Roma
Will Win: First Man
Could Win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Should Win: First Man
Deserved Consideration: Annihilation, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Ready Player One
Sound Mixing: History suggests that First Man will land another win in this category, simply because most voters see the two as inextricably linked. Editing has more to do with the creation of sounds whereas Mixing revolves more around the balance of diegetic / non-diegetic sounds. So it makes sense that films which heavily rely on music tend to do well here, although Bohemian Rhapsody is undeserving and A Star Is Born looks like a long-shot since it didn’t receive a Sound Editing nomination. I’ve heard that Roma’s sound mix is truly masterful in properly equipped theaters, but how many people got to experience that from this Netflix release? Not Many. Even on my huge TV with the carefully calibrated surround sound speakers, there was nothing outstanding about it.
The Nominees: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, Roma, A Star Is Born
Will Win: First Man
Could Win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Should Win: A Star Is Born
Deserved Consideration: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Leave No Trace, Vox Lux
Actress in a Supporting Role: I honestly believe Olivia Colman would have won this category had The Favourite accurately campaigned her as a supporting performer rather than a lead. As it is, something tells me her co-stars Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone will split votes, leaving Amy Adams and Marina de Tavira on the outskirts as mere afterthoughts. Pencil in Regina King for the victory. She’s won just about everything she’s been nominated for and is the heart of the powerful, emotional If Beale Street Could Talk.
The Nominees: 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 (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Could Win: Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)
Should Win: Emma Stone (The Favourite)
Deserved Consideration: Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place), Kayli Carter (Private Life), Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale), Claire Foy (First Man), Laura Harrier (BlacKkKlansman), Tilda Swinton (Suspiria), Zoe Kazan (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs)
Foreign-Language Film: Here’s where things get tricky. Roma has become the favorite to take Best Picture, which complicates this category a bit. Will voters want to spread love to another film if they think Roma is already predestined to win the night’s biggest prize? I’m hoping that’s the case, which would likely vault the masterful Polish film Cold War into the winner’s circle. That’s a major what-if though. My heart tells me Cold War but my head tells me Roma. Swap out Never Look Away for South Korea’s Burning and this lineup would have been one of the best this category has ever fielded.
The Nominees: Capernaum, Cold War, Never Look Away, Roma, Shoplifters
Will Win: Roma
Could Win: Cold War
Should Win: Cold War
Deserved Consideration: Beauty and the Dogs, Border, Burning, The Guilty, Happy as Lazzaro, Let the Sunshine In, Summer 1993
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