By the time tonight's ceremony rolls around, I will have had a chance to watch each and every film nominated for this year's Academy Awards. One would think that having done so would make it easier to predict this year's winners. That, however, is not the case.
I can't say there's anything nominated tonight that's head and shoulders above the rest of the pack, and there's some (“Vice,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Roma”) whose success is bewildering at best, and infuriating at worst.
Without there being a true standout, I think it's going to be a year where the Oscar love is spread around … think of them as Hollywood participation ribbons.
Will Win: Roma
Should Win: Anything except “Vice” or “Bohemian Rhapsody”
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuaron's semi-autobiographical tale has somehow captivated the imagination of many. And I can't say I'm sure why, other than the fact that early on critics and people in the know said they should love it. I'm not one of them – I think it's overrated Oscar bait with no real plot or point.
Hell, I'd go so far as to say “Roma” isn't even the best foreign language film nominated this year.
I think it's inevitable, although I'd much prefer to see “A Star is Born” or “Green Book” pull the upset.
Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron
Should Win: Spike Lee
As someone who doesn't identify as a Spike Lee fan, it pains to have to say he should win an Oscar. But “BlacKkKlansman” was easily one of the year's best films, and since Bradley Cooper didn't get nominated, this would be a logical place for the Academy to honor the film.
That said, people love Cuaron's work. Despite “Gravity” being a very average movie, Cuaron won Best Director for that film. And since he gets honored for mediocre work, I assume he'll also be honored for below average offerings, too.
Will Win: Glenn Close
Should Win: Glenn Close
In an otherwise forgettable movie, Close was the standout. I think you could easily say that without her performance (or one as good) “The Wife” would have been nearly unwatchable … since you can't watch things while sleeping. She took what could have been a bad movie and turned it into something worth seeing.
Will Win: Rami Malek
Should Win: Bradley Cooper
Malek channeled his inner Freddie Mercury and brought the Queen frontman back to life. Sort of, anyway. Cooper, on the other hand, took a role that had essentially played out on screen three times before, and made it his own, rather than mimicking something he'd seen elsewhere. But, we all know how much Hollywood loves biopics and honoring them. Whereas Close took the unwatchable and elevated it, Malek didn't - “Bohemian Rhapsody” is still an incredibly flawed and subpar movie.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Regina King
Should Win: Regina King
There's very few categories I feel are slam dunks, but this is one of them. King stole every scene she was in in a very overlooked movie, and has rightfully claimed every major award along the way.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Mahershala Ali
Should Win: Mahershala Ali or Sam Elliott
See everything I wrote about Regina King and apply it here, but note that I'd be ecstatic is Elliott were to win.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: BlacKkKlansman
Should Win: BlacKkKlansman
Such a unique story and good movie deserves to be honored in a big way. Since I don't think it'll come via Best Picture or Director, this seems like a no-brainer. That, and it's probably the most compelling story of the bunch.
Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: The Favourite
Should Win: The Favourite
This is another case of a movie being too good to be shut out of the major categories, and a fun, unique twist on historical characters. Personally, I'd love to see “First Reformed” get the win, but I just don't see it happening. The turd in the punchbowl, of course, is “Roma,” which could pull off a surprise win for its disjointed, seemingly non-existent storyline.
Best Animated Feature Film
Will Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Should Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I wasn't sold on this one and its style of animation when the trailers hit, but after a few minutes to acclimate to it in the theater, it officially won me over. It has stiff competition from Disney and Pixar, but it is the best story, the most unique animation, and has all of the steam behind it.
Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: Cold War
Should Win: Cold War
I'm calling an upset here. With “Roma” being the favorite for Best Picture, and having been there for a long while, voters may very well choose to honor another film here. I think that film will be the Polish representative and its director Paweł Pawlikowski. It could just as easily be “Shoplifters,” but I think Pawlikowki's Best Director nomination gives “Cold War” the biggest chance at upset.
Best Documentary Feature
Will Win: Free Solo
Should Win: Free Solo
In a year where the Academy attempted to bring in casual moviegoers by floating the idea of a Best Popular Film category, they essentially fisted themselves by doing the exact opposite with documentaries. “Won't You Be My Neighbor” and “Three Identical Strangers” were box office and critical hits, but couldn't manage a nomination, and “They Shall Not Grow Old” missed out due to paperwork and bad timing.
With the three best of the year out of the way, that clears a path for the breathtaking insanity that is “Free Solo.” If there's an upset to be had here, it should likely come from “Minding the Gap.” But then again, would anyone be surprised to see “RGB” win because of, well, it's 2019.
Best Documentary Short
Will Win: Black Sheep
Should Win: ?
Honestly, I don't remember a worse year for Documentary Shorts. They're all socially-charged (which is fine) and un-entertaining (which is not) Oscar bait. There must be better doc shorts out there, right?
Best Live Action Short
Will Win: Marguerite
Should Win: Mother
The short docs isn't the only category that's weak this year – live action shorts isn't much better. Marguerite (the story of an elderly woman who forms a friendship with her nurse and accepts some very important things about herself) seems to have the momentum, but the only one that I found the least bit captivating was Mother (a woman communicating with her son who has been abandoned on a remote French beach by his his father).
Best Animated Short
Will Win: Bao
Should Win: Bao
Not as strong as it's been in previous years, but still better than the other shorts categories. While there's a couple of entertaining works here - “One Small Step,” “Animal Behaviour”), Pixar is still the godfather of animation, which means “Bao” is the runaway winner here.
Best Original Score
Will Win: Black Panther
Should Win: BlacKkKlansman
“Black Panther” isn't winning a “big” award, but it also isn't leaving empty-handed. The score isn't nearly as memorable as “BlacKkKlansman,” but there's not enough separation to make it a travesty.
Best Original Song
Will Win: Shallow
Should Win: Shallow
Like “Black Panther,” I don't see “A Star is Born” winning in the big categories or going home without something. The lead song from a film about musicians is the logical place to give it its token win, since it won't get the ones it truly deserves.
Will Win: Roma
Should Win: Roma
This is literally the only award “Roma” is likely to win that it deserves. The film, while boring and pointless, is very easy on the eyes … when they're not battling to stay open.
Best Production Design