It’s the Oscars this evening and I thought I’d have a go at predicting the winners. I have to say that this is the first year in ages that I’m not planning on watching. While anything is possible I think it’s fair to say that we’re looking at a predictable and to be honest mostly rather mediocre set of results. This has been such a weird Oscar season you guys. I can’t think of another year like it. Where do you even begin? The awards themselves have just weathered one fiasco after another. First there was the best popular movie debacle (where the industry reaction could best be summed up as “lol NOPE”). Then the Kevin Hart hosting mess, which wasn’t assisted by Ellen weirdly going into bat for him once things had died down, resulting in no host at all (unless they are truly intending to spring a surprise host on us). My favourite was the deeply insulting decision to just randomly cut 4 categories for time. Yes I know the BAFTAs delays the live broadcast so they can do the same thing (show the smaller awards in a “also won” clip at the end) but the BAFTAs are a joke with tiny audience figures. Why would you want to emulate their example? Of course they’ve had to walk that decision back but it showed the producers have no idea why people watch the Oscars. Yes I like the pretty dresses and the famous people but most of all I LIKE seeing the smaller guys win. I love watching their joy and their determination to speak over the orchestra. It’s a celebration of people who don’t usually get celebrated. Why should their work be seen as any less important than the fancy actors? I mean it’s really clear that the Academy need to find their way out of the TV deal and give it to a streaming service who does not give a shit about time constraints. The whole 90 second speech thing is insulting. I don’t want skits or incredibly long introductions of the best film contenders. I want to hear the speeches from the winners. Let them talk!
And then there’s the nominations themselves. Most years one or two people who should have been nominated mysteriously aren’t (step forward Amy Adams in Arrival). But this year the sheer list of people who should have been nominated and haven’t been is quite something to behold. Where’s You Were Never Really Here and it’s director (Lynne Ramsay) and star (Joaquin Phoenix)? How did If Beale Street Could Talk and it’s director Barry Jenkins not got nominated? Ethan Hawke for First Reformed. Karyn Kusama and Nicole Kidman for Destroyer. Marielle Heller for Can You Ever Forgive Me? Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie and Debra Granik for Leave No Trace. Bo Burnham and Elsie Fisher for Eighth Grade. Ryan Coogler and Michael B Jordan for Black Panther. Toni Collette for Hereditary. Emily Blunt for A Quiet Place and Mary Poppins Returns. Elizabeth Debicki and Brian Tyree Henry for Widows. Hugh Grant for Paddington 2. I mean the list goes on. I think the reason people have gotten so agitated about Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book (both pleasant, entertaining films which play well in a crowd and are set to age HORRIBLY) is that they’re just so thoroughly beige compared to other much stronger films which didn’t get a look in. It’s been a weird, weird year set to produce results which we’re likely to have forgotten in 2 months never mind next year.
But for what it’s worth here’s my guesses for what will win and what I think should win (I haven’t seen any of the documentaries or shorts so haven’t guessed for those):
This one has the potential for an upset. The smart money is on Roma but best picture is the only one with a preferential ballot which means the 2nd and 3rd place votes become critical. I think the issue is that Roma is a film people respect but don’t necessarily love. I respected its artistry but it bored me to tears. Will it ultimately triumph in a year when there’s been an odd populist backlash that has seen so so movies like Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born nominated? I’m not entirely convinced. I think Green Book may snag it with a higher number of second place votes.
Will win: Green Book
Should win: The Favourite
This is a two horse race between Alfonso Cuaron and Spike Lee. Roma looks stunning (although I think Cuaron has done better work) but there’s a lot of love for Spike Lee. I wouldn’t be too surprised if he stole it. But I’m plumping for Cuaron.
Will win: Alfonso Cuaron
Should win: Yorgos Lanthimos
I don’t really know how Willem Defoe snagged Ethan Hawke’s nomination but I think he has no chance. Viggo is delightful but it’s not really an Oscar winning role. Which leaves us with Cooper, Bale and Malek. Cooper and Bale are light years ahead of the rest of the pack but Malek has been campaigning his arse off and there’s a lot of sympathy for him re the Bryan Singer debacle. I think people feel that Cooper hasn’t paid his dues sufficiently even though he really is wonderful in his role. Bale could snag it but given Malek has won everything else I think this is his to lose. I actually think he’d be better off losing to Bale and using the nom as a springboard to bigger and better as a win for Bohemian Rhapsody has precious little credibility and is going to be mocked endlessly but he’s certainly been putting the hours in to win it.
Will win: Rami Malek
Should win: Christian Bale (who is genuinely terrifying as Dick Cheney)
If you are in the business for long enough you will eventually be given an Oscar, not for whatever film you happen to be in that year but for the body of your work. It’s Glenn Close’s time. She isn’t getting this for The Wife (which she is perfectly fine in but is dull as ditchwater) but for Dangerous Liaisons and Fatal Attraction. It’s a shame for Olivia Colman who to be honest gives the vastly superior performance but it’s her first nomination. Her time will come.
Will win: Glenn Close
Should win: Olivia Colman
Best Supporting Actor
The industry loves Mahershala Ali and I can understand why. He’s a delightful, thoughtful, erudite man and he gives a lovely performance in Green Book. But it’s category fraud. He’s the co-lead with Viggo. He shouldn’t be in this category. However he’s won everything else so I suspect this is his to lose. It would be really lovely if Richard E Grant could snag it though. He’s such a wonderful man and has been having such a ball on the awards circuit – he’s been a genuine delight to follow and he is pretty much my only reason to be interested in the Oscars this year. It would be so nice if he could follow that momentum to a win.
Will win: Mahershala Ali
Should win: Richard E Grant
Best Supporting Actress
Perceived wisdom is that Regina King has this on lock but I’m not convinced. She wasn’t even nominated for a BAFTA or SAG award for the role. So this is a category where they could be a surprise. The lady from Roma has no chance so it’s down to perennial favourite Amy Adams and The Favourite ladies. Amy was as wonderful as ever but if she wins it’s an apology Oscar because this isn’t her strongest role. Both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone are incredible in The Favourite but again it’s category fraud as they are both literally the title role. I also suspect they’ll split the vote. I’d be happy with either of them winning though.
Will win: Regina King
Should win: Rachel Weisz
I loved Buster Scruggs but fear I am in a minority there. I suspect A Star is Born is going to win nothing but best song (which to be fair other than best actor for Cooper is all it deserves). I think it’s going to be hard for If Beale Street Could Talk to win this without a best film nom. So it’s between BlackKkKlansman and Can You Ever Forgive Me? I preferred the latter but I think people may want to reward Spike Lee here as they know Cuaron is getting best director.
Will Win: BlackKkKlansman
Should win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Best Original Screenplay
Green Books’ screenplay is fun but the film and its makers have proven controversial. Roma’s screenplay is the weakest part of the film. I really enjoyed Vice but it is way too similar structurally to The Big Short and condescends to its audience. So this is between First Reformed and The Favourite. I think if First Reformed wins this is a win for Schrader’s body of work (as really it was only Ethan Hawke that deserved the nomination) but I think The Favourite which is by far the strongest script nominated should win it.
Will win: The Favourite
Should win: The Favourite
Best Foreign Film
There’s a lot of love out there for Cold War and Shoplifters but this is a lock. It’s Roma all the way.
Will win: Roma
Should win: Roma
Both Cold War and Roma look stunning and I really liked the weird fish eye angles in The Favourite. But again Cuaron has this on lock.
Will win: Alfonso Cuaron
Should win: Robbie Ryan (The Favourite)
Oscar voters tend to plump for period dramas in this category so I think they may opt for The Favourite. Which is fine as everyone looked very nice in it and the costuming added a great deal to the characterisation of the central trio of women but if we are going to celebrate costume design no film this year had better outfits than Black Panther. The Afro-futuristic outfits were utterly essential to the mythos of the film.
Will win: Sandy Powell (The Favourite (she is also nominated in the same category for Mary Poppins Returns)
Should win: Ruth Carter (Black Panther)
Makeup and Hairstyling
It’s so weird to me that this category only has 3 nominees. But the winner is clear. The work in Vice with Christian Bale and all is incredible.
Will win: Vice
Should win: Vice
This category has been on lock since the very first trailer was released. Step forward the Oscar winning Lady Gaga.
Will win: Shallow
Should win: Shallow
Best animated feature
I really enjoyed The Incredibles 2 but it looks identical to the first one. Which isn’t that great a compliment given how much time has passed. Of these Spiderman is just in a league of it’s own. I’ve never seen an animated movie look quite like this before. With different types of animation for the various characters it was the most beautiful and innovative animated film in years.
Will win: Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse
Should win: Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse
Music – Original Score
Three of the best scores of the year weren’t even nominated (Mandy, First Man and Suspiria) and the remainder are a little underwhelming to be honest. It’s hard to judge what academy voters will go for. I don’t get the impression Mary Poppins Returns is much loved (which is crazy as it’s such a lovely film) and I can’t see Isle of Dogs triumphing here. I think any of the rest of the three could take it.
Will win: If Beale Street Could Talk
Should win: Black Panther
Lots of beautifully designed films here. Again people tend to plump for costume dramas here so I think The Favourite could win it. I personally rather loved the look of Mary Poppins Returns
Will win: The Favourite
Should win: Mary Poppins Returns
Sound Editing and Sound Mixing
I don’t know the difference between these categories and I don’t think the Academy voters do either. This will be between First Man and Bohemian Rhapsody as people liked the concert scenes. I’m going to guess at BoRahp winning both.
Will win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Should win: First Man
From the second that clip appeared on the net showing the nausea inducing number of cuts in a scant few seconds of film from Bohemian Rhapsody it became inevitable that it would win the Oscar for editing just so that film twitter would explode. Vice is of course the superior piece of work.
Will win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Should win: Vice
Despite Black Panther’s nomination I suspect Academy members may be rather anti-Marvel. So this is probably between the Spielberg helmed Ready Player One and First Man. I think First Man is more the Academy’s speed.
Will win: First Man
Should win: Avengers: Infinity War