Political! Diverse! Hostless! Femaleless! This year’s Oscar awards gala is nearing and with all the gimmicks of today’s media frenzy, they’ve managed to create quite a buzz for the ceremony. Whether it’s been about cutting and then not cutting out some awards from the live broadcast, to Queen not performing but then performing with Adam Lambert, to host dropping out to Whoopi Goldberg secretly hosting the show, not to mention the debate about diversity, the political agendas of both the academy and the filmmakers, it’s been a big media circus like only the Americans know how to set up. They sure need it, as Oscar ratings have been going down steadily for the last 20 years or so, and this year it appears to be even harder to get people to switch to the three-hour-plus show from whatever else is going on in everyone’s vast media landscape.
And who can blame them? The people don’t care about Oscars anymore. What does it actually add to the ever-quicker-disappearing film landscape of today, as all the films that might get awarded are already out of the theatres and forgotten by the big public, as they are neck deep in YouTube, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, getting ready for the next big Marvel blockbusters?
Personally, I’ve been excited about Oscars since I can remember and have watched nearly every film every year for the last ohh I don’t know 10 years. I don’t really care who wins, but I do enjoy the Academy handing me a list of films to track down and watch, in one concentrated effort, instead of having to wander through the year worth of Hollywood shite, trying to decipher if this drama is worth it, or that, or this…
But it does bring a bit of cynicism to the game as well. I find myself thinking the “award season” timings when choosing the films. Don’t bother watching anything that’s coming out just after the Oscars. Summer you’ll see a handful of big blockbusters which usually suck anyway, and the only time to actually start returning back to the theatres begins in October-November, when the big Oscar-baits are coming. Rest of the films through the year are mostly specialties or just too bland. Cynical, I admit, but one has to find tools to balance between the media consumption of the year, nevertheless.
I’ve been busy with the trials and tribulations of my own film, getting the monster out of the hat so to speak, through most of last year, so I was surprised when the actual nominations were announced that I had somehow already seen quite a good handful of the chosen movies. Nevertheless, I did devote most of my January and February catching up the ones I could find one way or another, and this here is my list of nominations and my predictions for 2019 Oscars, for those who care about my opinion. I’ll be updating the list until Sunday night, so changes are possible.
Although today, on Thursday morning, I already have, I think, quite a good hunch of how most of the categories are going to go down.
A Star is Born
Why? Politics! Roma is a perfect movie for this year’s political and diversity-driven atmosphere, with a strong Mexican female-led story that’s also well written, superbly directed and strikes the absolute right chords for Academy who’s longing for those long-since-forgotten black-and-white masterpieces. It certainly is one, and if it wins, it’s a well-deserved win.
Personally I did enjoy Roma, but Vice managed to slap me around the face harder and more soberingly.
Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
Adam McKay (Vice)
Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)
Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)
Why? Well, enough is said already, but Cuaron, the first Hispanic to win an Oscar for best directing is no stranger to the Academy, and definitely one of the great minds of our current generation of directors. His work on Roma is brave and strong and honest, and that definitely deserves the notion.
Personally I probably would also go for Cuaron, and while I think other directors in this category are great, his voice was strongest this year.
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Christian Bale (Vice)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
Why? Rami Malek’s winning streak has been commendable, and he did an amazing job bringing Mercury back from the grave for BoRap, but I’m inclined to think that the Academy is slightly more conservative, and given some harsh criticism also given to Malek, Bale is a safer bet for this one. He truly transformed into another person, and not for one second did I feel I was watching Christian Bale, but actually Dick Cheney, whereas with Malek, I was constantly in awe of how well Malek managed to move and communicate as Freddie Mercury – but he was an actor doing a role all the time.
Personally I probably would love to see Willem Dafoe getting the award since his role as Vincent van Gogh was something you could feel was really coming from very deep in his heart and soul, but unfortunately, I don’t think it’s realistic to assume nearly half of the Oscar board even watched At Eternity’s Gate, or at least zoned out halfway through Julian Schnabel’s weird video art.
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
Why? Again, I think politics will play a big part in this year’s Oscars. Everyone wants to throw Trump’s ridiculous wall against his face, and what better way to do that than to give an Oscar to a person who can’t even get into the country because of the new immigration and border control laws. It’s obviously not only that, Yalitza did a momentous job in Roma and deserves every inch of appreciation, but just as well the Oscar could have gone to Glenn Close or Olivia Colman.
Personally I would’ve awarded Olivia Colman, for her role was one that really gripped my innards in an uncomfortable but purely honest way. And hey, Melissa McCarthy, too. Split the dude half and give ’em each a slice.
Best supporting actor
Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Richard E Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
Sam Rockwell (Vice)
Why? I think Mahershala’s second Oscar is the safest bet in these Oscars. Not only was he truly remarkable in the role, but they’ve also played it safe and chose to compete in the Best Supporting Actor -category, as they knew he would’ve never stood a chance against Bale or Malek in Best Actor -category. And in this category, nobody else is even close to challenging him.
Personally I agree. Mahershala deserves the Oscar.
Best supporting actress
Emma Stone (The Favourite)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)
Amy Adams (Vice)
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Marina De Tavira (Roma)
Why? Emma Stone was wicked in The Favourite and played the highly complex role with great tenderness and care. She could’ve gone overboard many times but kept it together and the role completely believable through the whole film. While The Favourite can’t stand a chance in many main categories, this one is quite a clear one.
Personally Emma Stone gets my vote as well.
Best adapted screenplay
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)
A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters and Eric Roth)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty)
BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)
Why? I don’t think Buster Scruggs has any chance since while it was brilliant sometimes, some stories didn’t really work that well. A Star Is Born is a story as old as time and been done so many times it’d be weird if this iteration would gain the credit. If Beale Street was tiresome and way self-indulgent in writing, so it would come down to Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Blackkklansman – and I believe the latter was the freshest of these two.
Personally I would also go with Blackkklansman, and not only because I’d loved to see this Jasper Pääkkönen -movie get some Oscars love as well.
Best original screenplay
Green Book (Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga)
The Favourite (Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara)
Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
Vice (Adam McKay)
First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
Why? I believe Roma is going to go for the big win this year, so it’s natural that the script gets the Oscar. And it’s a good one, deep and thoughtful, and while driving over the dogshits in the yard seems a bit too metaphorical for my personal taste, I’m sure the Academy just loves this kind of stuff.
Personally I would’ve given the best original screenplay to Vice. It’s hard-hitting and thought-provoking and politically enjoyable, and manages to entertain through its’ seemingly rather dull subject matter.
Best animated feature
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Isle of Dogs
I better not go guessing anything at this point, since I haven’t seen but two of the contenders, but hopefully manage to catch at least few more before the awards.
Minding the Gap
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Of Fathers and Sons
Same here, just not enough films seen so far.
Best foreign language film
Cold War (Poland)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Why? It’s clear, Roma will win everything, and if it’s going to be the best picture this year, it’s natural it’s also the best foreign language film.
Personally I would’ve given the award to Shoplifters. Rarely have I been so deep in the characters of a movie and enjoyed the nearly-poetic pacing, with a story that left me thinking for quite a while indeed.
Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)
Cold War (Lukasz Zal)
Never Look Away (Caleb Deschanel)
The Favourite (Robbie Ryan)
A Star Is Born (Matty Libatique)
Why? Cuaron’s camera is beautiful in Roma. It leaves huge events in the background and travels seamlessly through the huge, vast shots but keeps the main character always in focus, very close to the story.
Personally I wouldn’t challenge Roma here either. I enjoyed Cold War’s look and feel, but there was nothing spectacularly new there, and The Favourite was lush and all over the place in a beautiful way, but still, pretty conventional if you really look at it.
Best costume design
Black Panther (Ruth E Carter)
The Favourite (Sandy Powell)
Mary Poppins Returns (Sandy Powell)
Mary Queen of Scots (Alexandra Byrne)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Mary Zophres)
Why? It’s something new and fresh what they did with Black Panther, and the film deserves an Oscar for not sucking unlike most of its’ comrade movies have for so many years now, but is it the best? Not necessarily. And the general rule of thumb here is: the costume drama always wins this category. No exceptions.
Personally the lush, over-done but still perfectly in line with the film’s general style, The Favourite earns my love, too.
Best film editing
Bohemian Rhapsody (John Ottman)
Vice (Hank Corwin)
BlacKkKlansman (Barry Alexander Brown)
The Favourite (Yorgos Mavropsaridis)
Green Book (Patrick J Don Vito)
Why? This year’s big thing is the unconventional, fuck-you style of editing which Vice and The Favourite specialized in. The Favourite went a bit too far with it, but Hank Corwin managed to keep Vice both entertaining and also face-slapping at all times, and I believe the academy agrees with this observation. Of course it might be they feel it’s too much, and in that case Green Book or BoRap are in for it, but I think it’s Vice.
Personally I liked Vice a lot, and editing was one of the big things about it.
Best makeup and hairstyling
Mary Queen of Scots
Why? Yeah, Christian Bale did blow himself up like a balloon for the role, but it wasn’t just that. His makeup is quite infallible through the whole picture, so I believe it will be noted.
Personally I would hope Border – which I haven’t even seen – would get the award, since, well, another Finnish connection there with Eero Milonoff playing the troll (I guess it’s a troll?)
Best original score
If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell)
Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)
Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)
BlacKkKlansman (Terence Blanchard)
Black Panther (Ludwig Goransson)
Why? Black Panther’s score was fresh, well, at least in the beginning, and I think it’s what the Academy will appreciate. In the end the originality of the film and the score did blend into typical Marvel big orchestra score without too much of character.
Personally I think Beale Street’s music was really exciting. I didn’t care too much of the film, but the score was very inventive and surprising at times.
Best original song
Shallow (A Star Is Born)
All the Stars (Black Panther)
I’ll Fight (RBG)
The Place Where Lost Things Go (Mary Poppins Returns)
When a Cowboy Trades his Spurs for Wings (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs)
Why? Another sure pick, and it’s a great song, I must admit that. Still…
Personally I loved When A Cowboy Trades his Spurs for Wings much more. What a delight!
Best production design
The Favourite (Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton)
First Man (Nathan Crowley and Kathy Lucas)
Roma (Eugenio Caballero and Barbara Enriquez)
Mary Poppins Returns (John Myhre and Gordon Sim)
Black Panther (Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart)
Why? The whole Wakanda world was really something out of ordinary, and truly painted a great overall look and feel for the movie, which truly served the story. It’s what production design is supposed to do, and does it well.
Personally still I found First Man’s production design being so accurate and so grounded, it just caressed my love for old-school space travel look and feel. The NASA grime was just lovely!
Best sound editing
A Quiet Place
Why? When the little tin bucket is rapidly crashing towards the Moon, I wasn’t in the film theatre watching it with my son, I was right there with Ryan Gosling, experiencing the 60’s tech failing around me. Wonderful use of surround sounds as well. The other films do a great job in sounds, but First Man’s sound editing was one-of-a-kind.
Personally I prefer First Man as well. Low key, high impact.
Best sound mixing
Why? The seamless nature of blending original Queen material, the outtakes and the live stuff and make it all feel a complete picture is indeed a great feat, and the heart and soul of the film indeed. And rarely, do you get to mix such great singer’s work to the whole world full of sounds and music, and Academy will definitely give a nod for that, too.
Personally I’m slightly torn. I think A Star Is Born’s sound mixing presented well the loudness of the crowds in contrast to the hearing loss of the main character, and First Man’s rattles, clankings and creakings of the little tin can headed for Moon were not only heard but felt… But since I liked First Man more, and I think it’s, unfortunately, a slightly forgotten film, I’d give it to it.
Best visual effects
Avengers: Infinity War
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Ready Player One
Why? What counts is if you forget it’s visual effects, or not. Elimination here works best (and I’m skipping Christopher Robin, which I didn’t see): Avengers was Marvel. It’s OK, but never tremendous. Solo is just a shadow of what visual effects used to be back when the original Star Wars were made, and felt like absolutely nothing. Ready Player One was mostly an animated movie, and while spectacular to watch, still, too much. First Man did it right: it didn’t go overboard anywhere, and that really brought the film down to Earth.
Personally I agree with what I believe to be the Academy’s decision as well.
Best animated short
One Small Step
Best documentary short
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.
Best live action short