The 91st Academy Awards: My Picks and Predictions

Happy Oscar Sunday! It’s been quite an awards season, with different movies taking the top prizes at the precursors, making it all more uncertain as to which movies will end up winning at Hollywood’s biggest show. As is my annual tradition on this blog, I’ll make predictions on which films will win the Academy Award in each category. And for the top eight categories (the four for acting, the two screenplay categories, Best Director, and of course, Best Picture), I’ll be including which of the nominees I’d pick for my own ballot. So without further ado, my thoughts on this year’s Oscar nominees…

Best Picture

First, my personal ranking of the nominees, from best to worst:

  1. Roma
  2. A Star Is Born
  3. BlacKkKlansman
  4. Black Panther
  5. The Favourite
  6. Green Book
  7. Bohemian Rhapsody
  8. Vice

This year’s crop of Best Picture nominees can be split into two groups: five movies that I either loved or admired, and three that I either didn’t care for or just didn’t like. So my list here is a bit of a rough ranking, and I even had some trouble deciding on one movie I’d want to see win. I saw both A Star Is Born and Black Panther in theaters twice, so obviously I enjoyed those movies quite a bit and would love to see either win (the latter would particularly be a really great win to see). But I think for a personal pick, I’m going to go with Roma. On top of being a beautifully made film, it’d be great to see a foreign language film finally awarded Best Picture.

As far as the movie that will actually be named Best Picture, I ultimately think it will also go to Roma thanks to the Academy’s preferential ballot. I don’t think it’s everyone’s favorite of the year overall, as previous awards have been split between the likes of Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody, Black Panther, and The Favourite. But it’s a movie that seems to be much admired by the Academy, as evident from its ten nominations. It’s a tough call though, as I can see almost any one of these movies taking the big win. If Roma doesn’t win, Green Book would be my next best guess, followed by Black Panther.

My Pick: Roma
My Prediction: Roma

Best Director

Nominees (in alphabetical order by movie):

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

For the most part, this is a really solid list of nominees, and I was especially pleased to see Pawel Pawlikowski’s name among them, as Cold War was one of my favorites of 2018. While I mentioned how well-made I thought Roma was, I would really love to see the Oscar go to Spike Lee, who finally earned his first nomination for Best Director for BlacKkKlansman. I think for that reason, he could be the spoiler win in this category. But since Alfonso Cuarón has won virtually every Best Director award leading up to the Academy Awards, the Oscar is basically his to lose.

My Pick: Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
My Prediction: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma

Best Actor

Nominees (in alphabetical order by last name):

  • Christian Bale, Vice
  • Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
  • Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
  • Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

For me, there’s no contest on who should win the Oscar for Best Actor, and that’s Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born. In my opinion, he gives the most complex performance, and it’s by far his best work to date. But the Academy really loves seeing actors play real people (Cooper is the only one playing a fictional character in this category!), so the race seems to be more between Christian Bale as Dick Cheney and Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. While Bale’s transformation into the former VP has been a big talker, most people are likely going to lean toward Malek as the globally-beloved rock star, despite the lip-syncing.

My Pick: Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
My Prediction: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Actress

Nominees (in alphabetical order by last name):

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

Unlike its male counterpart, the Best Actress category is very strong, as it usually seems to be in my opinion. I really liked all the nominated performances, but for me, and likely voters as well, it’s between Glenn Close and Olivia Colman. Overall I think Colman gives the better performance, but I really want to see Close finally win an Oscar, and her work in The Wife is one of her best. And with that in mind, I think the Academy will finally award her after seven nominations.

My Pick: Glenn Close, The Wife
My Prediction: Glenn Close, The Wife

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees (in alphabetical order by last name):

  • Mahershala Ali, Green Book
  • Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
  • Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
  • Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Sam Rockwell, Vice

This is another case where there’s a clear winner for me, and that’s Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me? who gives such a dynamic performance, full of both comedic and heart-rendering moments. I also really liked Sam Elliot’s work in A Star Is Born, who did such an effective job in a limited amount of screentime. Given how much the Academy loves Green Book though, and considering all the previous awards it’s won in this category, it seems to be Mahershala Ali’s to lose.

My Pick: Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
My Prediction: Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees (in alphabetical order by last name):

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

Of the four acting categories, Best Supporting Actress seems to be the most unpredictable, as there have been a wider variety of nominees and winners in this category at previous awards. And all these performances are great, though Emma Stone and arguably Rachel Weisz are much more leading than supporting in The Favourite. I can see the winner being either Weisz or Regina King, or even Marina de Tavira, given her surprise Oscar nomination and overall support for Roma. But I think there’s been a lot of passion to give the Oscar to King, who’s also my personal favorite here.

My Pick: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
My Prediction: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees (in alphabetical order):

  • The Favourite
  • First Reformed
  • Green Book
  • Roma
  • Vice

The race in the Best Original Screenplay category seems to be between The Favourite and Green Book so I can see either of them winning the Oscar. But I have a hard time imagining anyone passing up The Favourite for the win, as I think it had the most compelling story, paired with some memorable dialogue. Admittedly, I’m not too invested in this category because Eighth Grade, one of my favorites of 2018, missed out here and would’ve been the deserving winner. Since that’s obviously not happening, I think The Favourite deserves the win here.

My Pick: The Favourite
My Prediction: The Favourite

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees (in alphabetical order):

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

I’m much more invested in the Adapted Screenplay than the other category, as I feel it’s a strong list of nominees. For my personal pick, I was between If Beale Street Could Talk and Can You Ever Forgive Me? but I ultimately went with the latter because of the way it was able to make a couple of unlikable characters so enjoyable to watch on screen. I think this is the place though where voters will give an Oscar to Spike Lee for co-writing the screenplay for BlacKkKlansman since he’s not likely to win Best Director.

My Pick: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
My Prediction: BlacKkKlansman

And now the rest of my predictions…

  • Best Animated Feature Film: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Best Foreign Language Film: Roma
  • Best Documentary Feature: Free Solo
  • Best Cinematography: Roma
  • Best Film Editing: Vice
  • Best Production Design: The Favourite
  • Best Costume Design: Black Panther
  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Vice
  • Best Original Score: If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Best Original Song: “Shallow” from A Star Is Born
  • Best Sound Editing: First Man
  • Best Sound Mixing: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Best Visual Effects: First Man
  • Best Animated Short Film: Bao
  • Best Documentary Short Film: Marguerite
  • Best Live Action Short Film: Period. End of Sentence.

A few thoughts on some of the categories:

  • I would love to see a surprise win in Best Foreign Language Film for Cold War, especially if Roma wins Best Picture; I love seeing awards spread out more than one film sweeping. I also want to note that this is the first time I’ve managed to see all five movies nominated in the category before the ceremony! That was mostly thanks to my local arthouse theater for playing three of the nominees.
  • For Best Documentary Feature, I think it’s really close between Free Solo and RBG, but I would love a surprise win for Minding the Gap, which was my favorite of the three (haven’t seen the other two in the category). Sidenote: the director of Minding the Gap also went to the same community college as me and took the same film courses (though he graduated a couple of years before I attended).
  • Best Costume Design is another category with a tight race, between Black Panther and The Favourite. While it’s hard to resist some good period costumes, I think this is the one category that voters can award Black Panther in, and finally, give an Oscar to Ruth E. Carter.
  • Another really tough category to predict is Best Original Score, especially with First Man out of the running despite winning the Golden Globe (it was also easily my favorite movie score of the year). It’s a very good list of nominees, and I could really see it going to Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, or If Beale Street Could Talk, but I’m ultimately going to predict the latter.
  • I’m going out on a limb in splitting my predictions in the sound categories between two movies, though I could see both of them end up going to Bohemian Rhapsody. I think that movie’s strongest contender is First Man for Best Sound Editing; for Best Sound Mixing, the win tends to go to more music-heavy movies, so I don’t see any other movie winning over Bohemian Rhapsody, though I feel A Star Is Born is much more deserving.
  • While Avengers: Infinity War has some incredible visual effects, I’m predicting the Oscar going to First Man for its more subtle work, and because of the Academy’s more historical love for awarding space movies in this category than superhero movies, a subgenre that’s only won in this category twice.
  • Overall I predict Roma taking the most Oscars of the night, winning four of its ten nominations. And following that with two Oscar wins each: The Favourite, Vice, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, and If Beale Street Could Talk. Then the remaining Best Picture nominees will win one Oscar each, so it looks like the Academy Awards will be spread among the contenders.

As always, while I love to be right, I do hope there are some good, unpredictable wins at the ceremony (Best Actor Oscar for Bradley Cooper please!). Thankfully, we’ll also get to see speeches from all the winners in each category, which I do enjoy even if the show ends up going longer. Aside from that, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper perform “Shallow” on the show and am interested to see what else will be featured in this ceremony without a host. I just hope the 91st Academy Awards ends up being a good, solid show.

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