It’s time for the Oscars again! And wow, is it a weird race this year. On the one hand, we have a genre movie like Black Panther, which is more than deserving but would never have gotten nominated a few years ago, and Roma, an arthouse darling by an auteur director that would be a lock for Best Picture/Director if the movie industry weren’t so angry at Netflix. And then we have the old standbys–a retrograde racial reconciliation fantasy, a couple of mediocre biopics, and the requisite movie-about-show-business that the Academy historically loves. So who knows?
We got every major category correct last year, but it was also a much more standard and predictable race. So here are our predictions–and our choices–but honestly, it’s anyone’s game at this point.
PSA: Similar to last year—when I watched all the nominees except Dunkirk—I have not watched Vice. I hold a real grudge against Adam Mckay after the Margot Robbie bathtub scene in The Big Short, and I am not overly impressed by prosthetic makeup, so I don’t think it would change anything.
A Star Is Born
Will Win: Roma
Should Win: Black Panther
I’m throwing Roma out there, but it could easily go to Green Book, depending on how much the demographics of the Oscars have actually changed (and how afraid the movie industry is of Netflix taking over everything). Between those two, I’d obviously rather see Roma win for its intimate and gorgeous (if sometimes aimless) slice-of-life portrayal of a Mexican domestic worker than reward Green Book for its distinctly Trump-era, “racists are really nice if you just get to know them” narrative.
As for what should really win, I think The Favourite and Black Panther are both examples of visionary directors realizing their vision in both sumptuous and entertaining ways, but Black Panther has a whole lot more to say. I’d be happy if The Favourite won, but it would be much more important if the equally deserving Black Panther took home the trophy.
Snubs: Widows, First Reformed, Sorry to Bother You, A Simple Favor, Destroyer, The Kindergarten Teacher
Spike Lee, Blackkklansman
Paweł Pawlikowski, Cold War
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice
Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Should Win: Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Cuarón and Lanthimos are both visionaries, and Roma was nothing of not beautiful. But Cuarón’s vision is more typical art house—showy shots and Fellini-esque visuals—while Lanthimos has a very specific, idiosyncratic vision of the world that’s borderline nihilistic and kind of batshit. I dig it.
Snubs: Ryan Coogler, Black Panther; Debra Granik, Leave No Trace; Karyn Kusama, Destroyer; WOMEN IN GENERAL
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Will Win: Glenn Close
Should Win: Glenn Close
This is probably the only category that’s a complete lock. Lady Gaga’s performance in A Star Is Born is sensitive and, yes, starmaking, Olivia Colman is brilliant as always, and we love ourselves some Melissa McCarthy, but Close’s performance is singularly internal, navigating quick shifts between devotion and seething anger with just a look.
Snubs: Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Kindergarten Teacher; Viola Davis, Widows; Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade; Nicole Kidman, Destroyer; Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace (who was technically submitted for Supporting, but we’ll ignore that)
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Will Win: Rami Malek
Should Win: Write-in for Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Usually I keep my snubs for the end, but it’s insane that Ethan Hawke wasn’t nominated, especially in such a weak field. His performance as a priest in a politically charged crisis of faith is searing–much more deserving than Malek’s fake teeth, which will almost definitely win. (Certainly more than Viggo Mortensen, who smirked and hand-waved his way through Green Book.)
Snubs (other than Ethan Hawke): Lakeith Stanfield, Sorry to Bother You; John David Washington, Blackkklansman
Best Supporting Actress
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
Should Win: Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Regina King is amazing, and should definitely win for something. But the characters in Beale Street were pretty thinly written, and she wasn’t given much to do in the end. All the ladies in The Favourite acquit themselves equally well in meatier roles—especially Weisz, whose deceptive yet loyal character was easily the most layered of the three.
Snubs: Anya Taylor-Joy, Thoroughbreds; Elizabeth Debicki, Widows; Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians
Best Supporting Actor
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
Should Win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
I had all the problems with the sanitized, white-savior-teaches-black-guy-to-eat-fried-chicken racial politics of Green Book. But Mahershala Ali did the near-impossible: he wrung a commanding performance and genuine character arc out of the condescending, casually racist script. Without Michael B. Jordan in the race (which is ridiculous, btw), I’m happy to see it go to Ali, who made me wish the whole time that his Don Shirley was the protagonist, for both political and artistic reasons.
(Would also be happy to see it go to potential spoiler Richard E. Grant, who was super charismatic and having the time of his life in Can You Ever Forgive Me?.)
Snubs: Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther; Daniel Kaluuya, Widows; Armie Hammer, Sorry to Bother You; Brian Tyree Henry, If Beale Street Could Talk
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
BlacKkKlansman, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee
Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
A Star Is Born, Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters
Will Win: Blackkklansman
Should Win: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
I like Blackkklansman, but think that the stark, furious direction is much more special than the writing, which veered towards conventional in the third act. Similarly, the visuals were the standout in If Beale Street Could Talk, which worked better as a tone poem than a story about actual humans. Likewise, the acting was what elevated both A Star Is Born and Can You Ever Forgive Me? above typical Oscar bait. The trophy will go to Blackkklansman as a consolation prize, but it should go to the witty subversions of the Coen brothers.
Snub: Crazy Rich Asians
Best Original Screenplay
The Favourite, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
First Reformed, Paul Schrader
Green Book, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
Vice, Adam McKay
Will Win: The Favourite
Should Win: First Reformed
I would be happy for The Favourite, which boasts a biting and often hilarious screenplay, if I weren’t so mad about First Reformed getting snubbed for Best Picture and Best Actor. Sigh.
(If Green Book gets this, I will riot.)
Snubs: Sorry to Bother You, A Simple Favor, The Kindergarten Teacher
Best Original Song
Will Win: “Shallow,” A Star Is Born
Should Win: “Shallow,” A Star Is Born
No contest here, nor should there be. There are other good songs in the race, but nothing could beat the instantly-iconic Lady Gaga scream.