Academy Awards 2019 Last-Minute Thoughts and Predictions
*this was my placeholder for an intro I was going to come back and write. It now serves as the entire introduction.
This year's slate is maybe the most interesting slate in years. (As distinct from "best".) For one thing, it's a truly eclectic mix both of genres and qualities.
- There's finally a Comic-Book Superhero movie in the mix for the first time.
- Spike Lee toned things down just enough for the Academy to not be scared of him.
- The obligatory gay period drama was actually a bugnuts crazy awesome comedy.
- The other gay period drama was actually a cover band concert video interspersed with "dramatic" scenes that amounted to Walk Hard minus the jokes, all directed (ish) by a man who got kicked out of Hollywood (ish) for raping too many teens. (Or at least getting caught. (Ish)).
- A slow, black-and-white, foreign-language drama got a bunch of nominations despite being from the hated-by-Hollywood Netflix.
- An overlong SNL skit got a bunch of major nominations for dropping a bunch of anti-W and anti-Cheney gags that were stale somewhere around the Florida recount.
- One of the writer-directors of Dumb and Dumber got in.
- And finally, A Star Is Born actually looks like a normal Oscar contender, and seems to have the least support of all of these.
Which brings it to the other interesting bit: there actually isn't a frontrunner, or even one or two. It's the first year in who knows how long where genuinely any one of the eight nominees has at least a shot. Black Panther would seem to be out of the race, since it's a genre movie that didn't get nominations for writing, directing, acting, or editing, but then the SAG award for Best Ensemble went to it, suggesting that actors actually did like the movie, and they do make up the largest voting bloc in the Academy. And, of course, it was a transcendent masterpiece that was also a cultural landmark.
BlackKklansman is a compelling, funny, and fascinating drama that has the "How the hell has Spike Lee not gotten an Oscar yet" thing going for it, plus the punch-in-the-gut "this is all still happening" finale to make it relevant.
The Favourite is absolutely in categories the Academy loves, and is a terrific film, but seems too weird and esoteric.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a pretty lame movie (sort of) directed by a man who has (sort of) been booted for being just an awful human being. But on the other hand, it got a bunch of nods despite that and is the frontrunner in Best Actor and Editor.
Roma is apparently a lovely film that probably has the most indicators going its way, but Hollywood's hate-on for Netflix and the fact that it's never given Best Picture to a foreign-language film before would seem to be roadblocks. I haven't seen it because I don't have Netflix, and Netflix doesn't believe in theaters or home video because they're a buncha putzes.
Vice features a phenomenal Christian Bale performance in the lead, and got nominated in seemingly every category it had a reasonable shot in. But it's also generally agreed to be a shallow, uneven drama carried by said performance.
Green Book is a nice film about how black people and white people can get along and everything can be nice if we're all just nice to each other. It's an entertaining film, thanks to its colorful atmosphere, sincerity, earthy human, and two great showboating performances up top. But in a year that not only had Black Panther and BlackKklansman, but also the unnominated Sorry to Bother You, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Hate U Give, Blindspotting, and probably something else I've forgotten, films of fire and power and rich thematic depth, it feels a little like given the Oscar to Driving Miss Daisy when Do the Right Thing and Glory are right there.
And, of course, A Star Is Born really is a damn good film that's completely up the Academy's alley and seemed to be the frontrunner right up until the moment awards started not going to it for anything. And yet, it's totally the sort of film that would end up in a lot of people's #2 or #3 slot in the voting, and that could push it over the top.
Anyway, Roma is probably the safest bet thanks to winning the BAFTA. Green Book would be disappointing but not at all shocking. But I'm going to go out on a limb for fun and say that my favorite of the year, Black Panther, will take it, because apparently I like to set myself up for massive let-downs.
SNUBS: Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Sorry to Bother You, A Quiet Place, Widows, Annihilation, If Beale Street Could Talk
With the Academy having had more Picture/Director splits in the last several years than they've had matches, this again is up in the air. Still, it probably comes down to Cuaron for Roma or Lee for BlackKklansman. I'm going to make a guess that sentiment will put Spike Lee over the top, but I'm probably wrong. If Lanthimos wins, I'll be perfectly happy. If McKay wins, I'll riot. (Or pretend they're giving him a make-up award for snubbing Anchorman.)
Rami Malek for killing it as Freddie Mercury, but if he wasn't around or if Vice was stronger or if Bale hadn't already won, it would probably be him, and if there's a surprise here, that's the one.
By all accounts, nobody, including the Academy, has actually seen The Wife, but everyone just agreed that it's crazy that Glenn Close hasn't won an Oscar yet. I'd love to see it go to Olivia Colman, though, and Lady Gaga would probably give a killer speech.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali seems to have this one locked down. No real complaints there, though if Michael B. Jordan had actually been nominated, he'd be my pick.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Regina King. No way it's anything else.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The studio neglecting to even throw Sorry to Bother You's hat in the ring was a travesty, of course. But of what we did get, The Favourite is built on an ingenious script, and will probably get this as a make-up for being snubbed in every other category. Although a small part of me wants to see First Reformed win because I have a friend who haaaaaaaaattttteeedddd that film, and I want to see her reaction.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
BlackKklansman. Anyone who isn't voted for Lee in director or picture is going to put their vote for him here, and anyone who did vote for him will presumably vote for him here, too.
John Ottman for Bohemian Rhapsody. While I really didn't care for the film, I don't actually have a problem with this. As an editor, let me just note that he made a remarkably watchable film out of a catastrophe built on a disaster. First, of course, not only was the original director often off-set for "sick days" and "partying too hard" and "too busy raping", meaning many scenes were directed by either the 1st AD or the DP, but then that director was replaced by another one. So that would be a mess anyway. But two of the members of Queen were also producers, which inevitably skews scenes. And the script is bad. So for Ottman to chop together a film that's respectable, popular, and, in a few scenes, legitimately dazzling, is a genuine achievement. And he's a brilliant editor and composer who's been ignored by the Academy for decades; I'd rather he got an Oscar for something good, but getting it for something impressively elevated to okay? Somehow seems like exactly what a Best Editing Oscar is for. Hell, more of them should go to films where everything about them is terrible and yet they're still decent.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Another interesting category. On the one hand, Roma would seem to be a lock. However, will those who voted for it in Picture or Director go for something else? And Cold War got a Director nomination, so it clearly has some strong support. Shoplifters got some incredible responses, and Never Look Away pulled a nomination for cinematography. I'm going to guess Cold War, but nothing here would surprise me. Well, maybe Caperneum.
BEST ANIMATED FILM
Spider-Man. If it's not Spider-Man, we riot.
THE OTHER STUFF
Black Panther should get Costumes and Production Design. Hopefully it will pull those. None of my favorite cinematography films of the year got nominated (Black Panther, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Annihilation, Padmavaat, and First Man), which makes me incredibly indifferent, but it's probably going to be Roma. Vice will rightly get makeup. First Man for VFX, I would think, given how flawless the effects are. Original Score will probably go to the gorgeous If Beale Street Could Talk, but I'd be just as happy if it went to Black Panther or First Man, both of which I've obsessively relistened to for months. First Man gets Sound Editing, Bohemian Rhapsody gets Sound Mixing. And I have no idea about the shorts and documentaries.