Oscar Predictions: Final Round - Will Win/Should Win

A Star is Born Oscars
Clockwise from top left: Roma, BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, A Star is Born, The Favourite, Green Book
Another year, another utterly toxic Oscar season in the can. I don't know if this year was as brutal as the last one, but jeez - don’t you remember when the Oscars were fun? Don’t you remember when you could champion a movie because you loved it, because it moved you, or because it wowed you unlike anything you’d seen before? I mean, could you even imagine Titanic winning Best Picture in 2018? If The Boy Who Cried Woke thinks its classist to say “You’ve gotta see Roma in a theatre!” then Titanic would have gotten killed because Rose, the rich girl, survived the shipwreck and Jack, the magical boy from Steerage, died. An iceberg would be the least of Titanic's problems.

What do we talk about when we talk about the Oscars these days? Survey the coverage this week and there is arguably more discussion about the campaigns or what each film "represents" than substantial assessments about the merits of each film. Every vote and every film seems to be a referendum on something. I don't envy Academy voters for being responsible for solving the world's problems with the films they like.

I don’t in any way dispute that many of these conversations are important and long overdue, but the use of the Oscars specifically as a vehicle for correcting centuries of systemic wrongs might not be productive in the long run. For example, I don’t think Roma is the film to hold up and misrepresent as some Mary Poppins fable that allegedly exploits Cleo, the Indigenous nanny for a well-to-do white Latino family, as White Privilege: The Movie and that a vote for Roma "says something" about a person. The film is very much aware of the class distinctions at play in the family dynamic and they are central to the interplay that Alfonso Cuarón uses in the spatial relations of the house and camera frames. The attempted take downs of this film just feel like data dredging.

I don’t think Roma’s main competition, Green Book, is an especially great movie, but I almost want it to win Best Picture because everyone involved in that film has put up with the most insane shit I’ve ever seen in an Oscar race. Some of it has merit, like the questions of representation and, most notoriously, Nick Vallelonga’s inexcusable anti-Muslim tweet from a few years ago. However, the latter controversy reveals how much the season has harnessed the pervasive negative energy of Twitter to change the game. Weighing in on Green Book is like trying to defuse a minefield while onlookers throw rocks at you, so for the best and most balanced assessment of the film and its many controversies, I direct you to Scott Feinberg’s article at The Hollywood Reporter, which does an incredible job of looking at the film with voices from different sides of the debate.

The first draft of this article tried to list all the controversies leveled at each film and link to them. Simply put, I couldn’t bring myself to finish the list simply because it was so exhausting.  I don’t like the way that writers are more eager to be seen as the person who took down a movie, rather than be the person who championed a great film or actor into the spotlight. Be aware of the environment you’re creating.

Hopefully, everyone uses this season as a wakeup call to reflect upon the efforts they’re putting into their coverage, campaigns, and social media posts. Our collective sanity depends on it.

Here are my picks and predictions for Sunday’s show:

Best Picture

The nominees: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star is Born, Vice

To avoid the risk of saying anything controversial, I think Roma will pull through here given the admiration for its technical accomplishment and storytelling and put an end to the Netflix debate. However, the preferential could benefit any of Black Panther, Green Book, or A Star is Born, which are have popular appeal. I’m personally rooting for the latter because it hit every note for me as a spectacularly made film played straight from the heart.

Will win: Roma
I’d vote for: Since the preferential ballot asks for ranked preferences, my picks would go:
1) A Star is Born 2) The Favourite 3) Roma 4) BlacKkKlansman 5) Vice 6) Black Panther 7) Green Book 8) Bohemian Rhapsody
Should have been there: Destroyer

Best Director

The nominees: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma; Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite; Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman; Adam McKay, Vice; Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War

If anyone deserves to make history as the first Black filmmaker to win Best Director, it’s Spike Lee. His wild, fun, and influentially confrontational style is a singular voice in filmmaking. It’s hard to imagine another—or better—chance to recognize him than with BlacKkKlansman, which might be the wild card of the night. BlacKkKlansman. However, I think Lee will and should win Best Adapted Screenplay and will ultimately see this award go to the season’s overwhelming favourite in the director category, Alfonso Cuarón. My personal preference is Yorgos Lanthimos, who took the best script of the year with The Favourite and enhanced it with his own whacked-out vision that deepened the film's style and eccentricities using off-kilter angles, fish eye lenses, larger than life performances, and a deadpan sense of black humour.

Will win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
I’d vote for: Yogos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Should have been there: Karyn Kusama, Destroyer; Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born

Best Actress

The nominees: Yalitza Aparicio, Roma; Glenn Close, The Wife; Olivia Colman, The Favourite; Lady Gaga, A Star is Born; Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Glenn Close has it in the bag. She played the overdue narrative very well and campaigned the hell out of the circuit. She’s also great and gives the kind of subtle, downplayed performance that rarely receives awards contention. Olivia Colman might have won this award any other year for her whackadoodle performance in The Favourite as could Melissa McCarthy’s disarmingly brilliant turn as Lee Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me? For my money though, the Oscar gold belongs to Lady Gaga, who knocked it out of the park and proved herself a true dramatic actress with her magnetic, vulnerable, and gutsy turn in A Star is Born.

Will win: Glenn Close, The Wife
I’d vote for: Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Should have been there: Nicole Kidman, Destroyer

Best Actor

The nominees: Christian Bale, Vice; Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born; Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate; Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody; Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

The referendum here is whether one artist should pay for the crimes of another. Bryan Singer is rightly being taken to task for that doorstop of an article in The Atlantic that chronicled years of alleged sexual abuse and misconduct against minors that added to a pile of allegations raised over the years, as well as the director’s bad behaviour that got him fired from the shoot. Malek might lose a vote or two from people who feel that honouring him rewards Singer by proxy, but he has weathered the story of Singer’s bad behaviour well enough to make people appreciate what he delivered during difficult circumstances. Additionally, Bohemian Rhapsody is doing incredibly well for a film that, while fun, is not particularly good or well made. That’s largely because of Malek and regardless of what one thinks of Singer or the film, the film has a great lead performance. (But not as great as the one Bradley Cooper gave.)

Will win: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
I’d vote for: Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Should have been there: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed; Zain Al Rafeea, Capernaum

Best Supporting Actor

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

It’s been a toss-up between Mahershala Ali and Richard E. Grant all season. Ali has prevailed in the major awards winning the Golden Globe, Critics Choice, SAG, and BAFTA. (And if a Brit like Grant can’t win the BAFTA…) The main thing working against Ali is the fact that he won two years ago for Moonlight and in that race he lost the Globe (to Nocturnal Animal’s Aaron Taylor Johnson) and the BAFTA (to Lion’s Dev Patel), although it’s fair to say that his lead turn in Green Book is his best work yet. However, I don’t think the recent win will cost him because he’s been extremely diplomatic while weathering one Green Book controversy after another by taking a cue from his character Don Shirley that "Dignity always prevails." Grant would be a welcome surprise here given that his work complements Melissa McCarthy so well in Can You Ever Forgive Me? and I must agree with every article that celebrates Grant as the true unbridled joy of awards season. I really have to hand it to him for being such a fun and enthusiastic presence. I would be utterly thrilled to see him win, and he nearly steals my vote from Sam Elliott, who does so much in so little screen time in A Star is Born and makes every frame count like a true supporting player does.

Will win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
I’d vote for: Sam Elliott, A Star is Born
Should have been there: Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy, even though it’s a lead performance

 Best Supporting Actress

The nominees: Amy Adams, Vice; Marina de Tavira, Roma; Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk; Emma Stone, The Favourite; Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Here’s the tricky one. Only one actor has ever won the Oscar without nominations at the SAG Awards and BAFTAs for as long as both awards have existed. That was Marcia Gay Harden, who bested Golden Globe winner Kate Hudson with her devastating performance in Pollock. (Harden wasn’t nominated for the Globe, either.) However, I think that Regina King will join Harden in Oscar stats history despite missing SAG and BAFTA nominations when many people expected her to steamroll the red carpets. She is the critical favourite though, and has prevailed in the cases where she’s been nominated, like the Globes and Critics’ Choice, and I think the heartfelt performance she gives will resonate, especially since she's one of those character actors who is consistently great and might not have another opportunity to be recognized. The SAG shut out for Beale Street remains strange. I also think King wins if one looks logically at the competition. While Weisz won the BAFTA on home turf, and easily gives the standout performance of the category, she’s in hot competition with her co-star Emma Stone and the two will probably cancel each other out. Amy Adams is great in Vice, but she’s been nominated for stronger work and feels destined to win another year for a film that isn’t so love-it-or-hate-it. Marina de Tavira, finally, is a big surprise and mostly indicates the overwhelming support that Roma has across the board.

Will win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
I’d vote for: Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Should have been nominated: Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots; Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased; Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (my favourite, Carmina Martinez, was ineligible because Birds of Passage did not submit outside of the foreign language category)

And the rest:

Best Original Screenplay

The Favourite
First Reformed
Green Book

Will win: The Favourite
I’d vote for: The Favourite
Should have been there: Destroyer, Private Life

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star is Born

Will win: BlacKkKlansman
I’d vote for: BlacKkKlansman
Should have been there: Widows

Best Foreign Language Film

Capernaum (Lebanon)
Cold War (Poland)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Roma (Mexico)
Shoplifters (Japan)

Will win: Roma
I’d vote for: Cold War
Should have been there: Birds of Passage (Colombia)

Best Documentary Feature

Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Of Fathers and Sons

Will win: Free Solo
I’d vote for: Minding the Gap

Best Animated Feature

The Incredibles 2
Mirai of the Future
Ralph Breaks the Internet

Will win: Spider-Man
I’d vote for: Isle of Dogs

Best Cinematography

Cold War
The Favourite
Never Look Away
A Star is Born

Will win: Roma
I’d vote for: Cold War
Should have been there: Suspiria

Best Film Editing

Bohemian Rhapsody
Green Book
The Favourite

Will win: Vice
I’d vote for: The Favourite
Should have been there: American Animals

Best Costume Design

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Black Panther
The Favourite
Mary Queen of Scots

Will win: Black Panther
I’d vote for: The Favourite
Should have been there: If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Production Design

Black Panther
The Favourite
Mary Poppins Returns

Will win: Black Panther
I’d vote for: Black Panther
Should have been there: Isle of Dogs

Best Original Score

Black Panther
If Beale Street Could Talk
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns

Will win: If Beale Street Could Talk
I’d vote for: Isle of Dogs
Should have been there: First Man, Suspiria

Best Original Song

All the Stars” – Black Panther
I’ll Fight” – RBG
The Place Where Lost Things Go” – Mary Poppins Returns
Shallow” – A Star is Born
When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Will win: “Shallow”
I’d vote for: “Shallow”
Should have been there: Is that Alright?” (A Star is Born), “I’ll Never Love Again” (A Star is Born), “EKG” (Vox Lux)

Best Make-up and Hairstyling

Mary Queen of Scots

Will win: Vice
I’d vote for: Mary Queen of Scots
Should have been there: The Favourite, Black Panther

Best Sound Mixing

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Star is Born

Will win: Bohemian Rhapsody
I’d vote for: A Star is Born

Best Sound Editing

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place

Will win: A Quiet Place
I’d vote for: Roma

Best Visual Effects

Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One

Will win: Avengers: Infinity War
I’d vote for: First Man

Best Animated Short

Will win: Bao
I’d vote for: Animal Behaviour

"Best" Live Action Short

Will win: Detainment
I’d vote for: abstain

Best Documentary (Short Subject)

Will win: Period. End of Sentence.
I’d vote for: Black Sheep

What are your picks? Who will win or should win on Oscar night?