Best Picture – Drama
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Unless the HFPA does something completely unexpected, which is not hard to imagine, I see ‘A Star is Born’ as the heavy, heavy favorite. The direction, music, and individual performances were simply too good to overlook, and they all add up to my favorite film of the nominees. If there’s arguments to be made against it here, it’s that it’s a remake or possibly more musical than drama. But I don’t think it matters. If there’s an upset to be had here, it’s ‘BlackkKlansman.’ And if there’s a rampant drug problem with the HFPA voters, the pick is ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’
Best Picture – Musical or Comedy
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Crazy Rich Asians
Mary Poppins Returns
With the exception of ‘Vice,’ I truly enjoyed every film in this category, and could make an argument as to why they should win. But in the end, I think we’ll see ‘Green Book’ take home the honor, setting up a two-film race to Oscar gold. While assuredly a comedy, the movie takes on some pretty meaty topics – race relations, socioeconomics, sexuality – and delivers them in a way that’s impactful, but not heavy-handed. Most importantly – it delivers entertainment value. If there’s an upset to be had, it’s ‘The Favourite,’ which with its period costumes and three outstanding individual performances, screams “awards season.” And in the bizarro world of rampant HFPA drug use (see above), the winner will be ‘Vice.’
Best Actress – Drama
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Glenn Close, The Wife
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Nicole Kidman, Destroyer
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Rosamund Pike, A Private War
This, to me, is one of the most intriguing categories of the whole night. I think three or potentially four of the Best Actress Oscar nominees are listed here (Close, Gaga, McCarthy for sure, and possibly Kidman). My money is on Gaga for a few reasons: a) she’s outstanding in the role, b) it was a bit unexpected that she’d be that good, c) the film, which is one of the best of the year, leans heavily on its individual performances, so (at least in theory) you can reward the film, without acknowledging its individual parts. But I also wouldn’t take my eyes off of Close – she’s a well-respected veteran that’s never won a Globe for film (TV movie/miniseries and TV series wins), she’s outstanding in what’s an otherwise forgettable movie, and said film takes place outside of the U.S., which might appeal to HFPA voters.
Best Actor – Drama
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Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman
If it’s me, I’m voting for Cooper as the aging, troubled, and talented Jackson Maine. Cooper embodied the character, and grew into the role of a musician in the same way Ryan Gosling did for ‘La La Land.’ Unfortunately, physical transformation often trumps substance in these categories, so I’m leaning Malek for his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Malek became Freddie, and for younger generations he’ll probably be the face they see when listening to Queen music going forward. He’s very deserving, but even his outstanding performance could only elevate the film to barely watchable status. In other words, if there’s a classic HFPA move to be made, this would be the place.
Best Actress – Comedy or Musical
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Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
Charlize Theron, Tully
Constance Wu, Crazy Rich Asians
This one comes down to two nominees – Colman and Blunt. Both were outstanding and magical in completely different ways. Colman brought the complex and powerful Queen Anne to life, portraying a woman who is both powerful and somehow frail, strong-willed yet vulnerable – a full and intricate character. On the other hand, Blunt delivers pure joy to the screen in taking over the Poppins mantle from Julie Andrews. It takes a lot to take over for an iconic character, but it takes even more to give it a fresh feel while remaining respectful of the cherished original. Regardless of who wins, I think both will compete Kidman for the final two Best Actress Oscar nominations.
Best Actor – Comedy or Musical
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Christian Bale, Vice
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Poppins Returns
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Robert Redford, The Old Man and the Gun
John C. Reilly, Stan and Ollie
It’s a copout, but basically everything I said about Rami Malek can be said of Christian Bale. He’s outstanding and completely consumes the role of former Vice President Dick Cheney. Where he differs from Malek, is that despite his Herculean efforts, ‘Vice’ is still virtually unwatchable. It’s actually scary to think how bad the movie would’ve been without him. That’s why if it were me, the award would go to Mortensen, who’s excellent in a great movie that features a powerful co-star (more on that below) that he goes tit-for-that with throughout. If a performance can’t elevate the work as a whole, how good can it possibly be?
Best Supporting Actress
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Amy Adams, Vice
Claire Foy, First Man
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Overall, I felt ‘Beale Street’ didn’t live up to the lofty expectations I set for it. The same can’t be said about King, however. While the focus has largely been on the story, and the director (Barry Jenkins), King stole every single scene she was in. Playing the mother of a pregnant, (initially) unwed, young woman whose boyfriend (later husband) is wrongfully imprisoned, King brings much needed power, grace, and poise to the film. Long a critical darling for her TV work, King is poised take home her first “major” film award. But she’s got some stout competition – at least in name value. Stone and Weisz both give strong performances, but could cancel each other out; Adams didn’t knock it out of the park as Lynne Cheney; and, honestly, I’ve almost forgotten everything about ‘First Man,’ including Foy’s performance.
Best Supporting Actor
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Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Timothy Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice
Let me start by saying that Sam Elliott not getting nominated for ‘A Star is Born’ is borderline criminal. Having said that, and despite my reverence for Mr. Elliott, if there’s a slam dunk winner on this ballot, it’s here. Ali is a past winner, who truly shows his range by playing the polar opposite of his ‘Moonlight’ character. He brings a human element to a character that, despite his undue challenges, is a bit of a Richard, and could easily come off as unsympathetic. Mr. Ali should have his acceptance speech ready.
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Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Peter Farrelly, Green Book
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay, Vice
This is another one of those categories that seems like a foregone conclusion: Alfonso Cuaron is the heavy favorite for his semi-autobiographical “origin story.” While I haven't yet seen it – hopefully rectifying that Sunday afternoon – everyone I know who has is raving about his work, and the actual “experts” seem on board with his win. Next in line would be Cooper, and I truly wouldn't be surprised to see him win – or an 'A Star is Born' clean sweep of the evening. From all accounts, both are deserving, and will likely head into the Oscars neck in neck.
Best Film Screenplay
'Green Book' is my favorite story of the lot, but 'The Favourite' is probably a bit more sophisticated and intricate in the number of interesting and unique characters it has, the period it's set in, and the smarmy wit/humor that's featured throughout. The sleeper here is 'Vice.' For some reason, the HFPA seems loves this film (6 nominations). It's going to win something, and perhaps its one-dimensional, highly-slanted screenplay of Dick Cheney's political career will be the one.
Best Animated Feature
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This, for me, is the toughest category to choose. I've seen three – Incredibles, Ralph, Spidey – and loved all of them; GKIDS, the minds behind 'Mirai,' does consistently wonderful work; and 'Isle of Dogs' appears to be the most unique of the bunch. The real question here is whether the innovation of 'Spider-Man' trump the cachet that Disney and/or Pixar carries. My hunch is that on this night, it does, and justifiably so.
Best Foreign Language Film
Never Look Away
Since this is the only category where I haven't seen a single entry, I'm doing little more than guessing. But considering 'Roma' is likely heading for a Best Picture Oscar nomination, I think it's a pretty safe bet.
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns
A Quiet Place
Aside from the star power of Ryan Gosling, and (apparently) a strong supporting turn from Claire Foy, 'First Man' didn't have much going for it. However, one thing it did have is the musical talent of Justin Hurwitz ('La La Land,' 'Whiplash'). I'm going for the name recognition winning out.
All the Stars, Black Panther
Girl in the Movies, Dumplin'
Requiem for a Private War, A Private War
Revelation, Boy Erased
Shallow, A Star is Born
You wanna talk about star power? Kendrick Lamar, Dolly Parton, Linda Perry, Lady Gaga, and Annie Lennox are among the songwriters nominated here. But barring something incredibly surprising happening, 'Shallow' is going to win.