First off, for the second time in the award show’s history, there will be no defined host. Additionally, the Academy was looking to hack away at the show’s runtime, which is normally a lengthy four hours in duration. Initially, there was confirmation that only two nominated songs would be performed at the ceremony — but now it’s been revealed that all songs will be.
Strange that the actual award winners, whoever they might be, have taken a back seat to the front-stage antics before the ceremony has even begun. One thing’s for sure: it’ll be an interesting four hours, especially considering most of the major-category races are still wide open.
(One tip for when you’re picking winners: don’t go with your personal feelings, because you’ll almost always be wrong. Do it objectively.)
Here are my picks for winners in the major categories, each with a short explanation below the choice. (Here is the full list of nominees.)
WINNER: Green Book
A Star Is Born
Why: Green Book has experienced a strong resurgence ever since A Star Is Born fell from grace. As evidenced at this year’s Golden Globes, Green Book surged out of relative obscurity and managed to snag several top awards, including Best Picture (Musical or Comedy). It’s anyone’s guess why ASIB has receded, especially considering the film’s raving fan base, but don’t expect it to take the top prize.
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
WINNER: Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Why: Over the last few weeks, Close has emerged a clear frontrunner in this race. While the bulk of mainstream audiences hasn’t seen The Wife, even watching a snippet gives you a taste of how intense Close’s performance is. Originally, Lady Gaga was the shoo-in here (who doesn’t like a success story?), but as with ASIB, she somehow fell out of the top spot.
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
WINNER: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Why: Despite a lot of negativity surrounding Bohemian Rhapsody — its restructured story format, its alleged suppression of gay storylines, among the complaints — it’s hard to fault lead Rami Malek. His depiction of Freddie Mercury is spot-on, and it’s clear that Malek put his heart and soul into the role. A dark horse in this category is Willem Dafoe, who’s been earning rave reviews for his performance in At Eternity’s Gate.
Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
WINNER: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Why: Regina King delivers an emotional, sincere performance in the underappreciated Beale Street. The two women starring in The Favourite also stand a chance at snagging the award, but the movie’s relative obscurity may hurt their chances. Newcomer de Tavira has a hair’s chance — most newbies don’t win their first time around — and Adams, while being an Academy darling, is overshadowed by her male costars in Vice.
WINNER: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlackkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice
Why: Mahershala Ali has been the buzz in this category since the start of awards season. Many criticisms of Green Book hold that Ali’s character is the actual story, not costar Viggo Mortensen’s character. Those critics consider Ali taking home the prize to be ample payback for shoving him into the margins.
BlackkKlansman, Spike Lee
Cold War, Pawel Pawlikowski
The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos
WINNER: Roma, Alfonso Cuaron
Vice, Adam McKay
Why: Critics across the world have been raving about Roma since it first appeared in theatres, discussing its beauty, its stripped-down-yet-played-up cinematography. Coming from Alfonso Cuaron, already an Oscar darling, it’s highly likely he’ll get awarded. Since the majority of the mainstream audience either didn’t watch or didn’t enjoy the slow, sumptuous Roma, it’ll be a stretch in other categories, but a probable winner here.
Also look for a possible Spike Lee victory, which would be his first-ever Oscar win.
All the Stars, Black Panther
I’ll Fight, RBG
The Place Where Lost Things Go, Mary Poppins Returns
WINNER: Shallow, A Star Is Born
When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Why: Do you really need this explained? Since ASIB may be shut out of other categories, there is virtually no chance of it losing this.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born
Why: Spike Lee’s adapted screenplay will most likely win here, especially if BlackkKlansman fails to win in other categories. While the beautiful, underseen Beale Street deserves a win, its low box office might hinder its chances of winning.
WINNER: The Favourite
Why: The buzz for The Favourite has grown as awards season progressed, but it’s definitely not in the zeitgeist (yet). It would make sense, then, that it would snag original screenplay since it will miss out on the acting categories. Roma and Vice stand outside chances, but the former remains inaccessible to the layperson, while Vice has all but flamed out in critical eyes.
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
WINNER: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Why: I’ve yet to hear anything negative about the animated Spider-Man movie, and the positive buzz surrounding it easily defeats any of the other contenders, even two strong Disney entries, Ralph and Incredibles. Both of those franchise sequels just didn’t meet the mark, unfortunately.
** DISCLAIMER: Obviously, these are not ironclad predictions. Don’t email with rage if you lose your office pool because of me. Feel free, however, to disparage me on Twitter if you must. **
The 91st annual Academy Awards will be broadcast live on Feb. 24 starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
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