Wednesday, January 23, 2019

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Leading Role


The competition: Emily Blunt’s magical nanny (Mary Poppins Returns), Glenn Close’s loyal spouse (The Wife), Olivia Colman’s manipulated monarch (The Favourite), Lady Gaga’s musical newcomer (A Star is Born), Melissa McCarthy’s professional forger (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

For your information: Close was nominated in 2011 for “Albert Nobbs,” four times for her TV role on “Damages,” along with three other TV bids, one of which resulted in a win, for “The Lion in Winter” in 2004. McCarthy was nominated in 2011 both individually and as part of the ensemble in “Bridesmaids.” Blunt was nominated in 2016 for “The Girl on the Train” and also contends in the supporting actress category this year, though she is the only one in this race not nominated for an Oscar. This is the first nomination for both Colman and Gaga. Only Gaga is nominated as part of her ensemble. Colman and Close won Golden Globes, while Gaga and Close tied for the Critics’ Choice Award. All but six times since the SAG Awards’ inception in 1994, the winner of this award has gone on to win the corresponding Oscar.

Who should win? This is a great list. Blunt played her role well, and Close and McCarthy were both engaging. I’m all for Gaga, but I think I’d choose Colman.

Who will win? I think it’s safe to say Close though it could just as easily be Gaga or Colman.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Leading Role


The competition: Christian Bale’s Dick Cheney (Vice), Bradley Cooper’s alcoholic country star (A Star is Born), Viggo Mortensen’s prejudiced driver (Green Book), Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury (Bohemian Rhapsody), and John David Washington’s undercover officer (BlacKkKlansman).

For your information: Bale won for “The Fighter” in 2010 and was also nominated for “The Big Short” in 2015 picking up ensemble nominations for both films, “3:10 to Yuma” in 2007, and a win for “American Hustle” in 2013, shared by Cooper, who also earned individual and ensemble bids the previous year for “Silver Linings Playbook.” Mortensen was nominated in 2007 for “Eastern Promises” and in 2016 as part individually and as part of the ensemble of “Captain Fantastic.” He also contended from 2001 to 2003 as part of the cast of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, winning for the third. Malek was nominated in 2015 and 2016 for starring in “Mr. Robot.” This is the first nomination for Washington, who is the only one in this group not nominated for an Oscar. Cooper, Malek, and Washington are all nominated as part of their ensembles. Malek and Bale won Golden Globes, while Bale took home the Critics’ Choice Award. All but five times since the SAG Awards’ inception in 1994, the winner of this award has gone on to win the corresponding Oscar.

Who should win? I wasn’t as impressed with Washington’s performance as many have been, and while I appreciate Bale’s mimicry, he wouldn’t be my choice. Cooper was good, though I think I’d vote for either Malek, or likelier, Mortensen.

Who will win? Some are backing Bale or Cooper, but I’m sticking with Malek.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Oscar Nominees: Best Picture


My predictions: 8/8
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star is Born, Vice

This is a bit of an underwhelming finish to a somewhat surprising slate of nominations. “Cold War” broke through with a Best Director nomination, likely putting it closest to this list, while “Widows,” “Leave No Trace,” “Eighth Grade,” and “Crazy Rich Asians” all ended up with zero nominations (listed in descending order of my enthusiasm for them). “If Beale Street Could Talk” managed just three bids, which is a real shame given how close it should have been as the only snubbed Globe nominee from the corresponding race, while “Mary Poppins Returns” earned five. Another onetime frontrunner, “First Man,” got just four nominations. Green Book hung in there despite missing out on a Best Director bid, demoting its chances considerably after Globe and PGA wins. A Star is Born suffered an unfortunate snub for director Bradley Cooper, which means its onetime dream of taking the top prize may be negated. Vice did manage to score both Best Director and Best Film Editing bids despite lackluster impressions of the film, while Bohemian Rhapsody, the Globe winner for Best Motion Picture – Drama, did get a Best Film Editing mention even while it puzzlingly missed out for its costume design and makeup and hairstyling. BlacKkKlansman did about as well as most expected, while Black Panther still feels like it underperformed while managing to earn seven nominations. That brings us to the nominations leaders: The Favourite, which rebounded against any doubts of its chances, and Roma, which becomes only the ninth foreign film to be recognized in this category. Those two are looking like the most invincible at this point, and I’d be perfectly happy with either to win.

My current bet to win: After everything today, I continue to back Roma.

Oscar Nominees: Best Director


My predictions: 3/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman), Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War), Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), Alfonso Cuaron (Roma), Adam McKay (Vice)

Even in the age of an expanded Best Picture field, there’s still always a huge snub in this category. There were rumblings that it might be Bradley Cooper, whose directorial debut was once the favorite to win big, and that’s what happened, a bizarre omission that feels most like Ben Affleck six years ago. In his place, we have Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War), who surprised with a BAFTA bid earlier this month and managed to repeat that feat here. Joining Alfonso Cuaron (Roma), this is the first and only time since 1976 that two foreign films are represented here (unless you count 2006, but Clint Eastwood directed one of them). I’m not as fond of the Polish film as most, but I can appreciate its directorial style. I’m most disappointed by the inclusion of Adam McKay (Vice), who really didn’t need to be here. There were so many other people who could have been here instead, like Debra Granik or Steve McQueen. Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman) finally earned his first-ever nomination in this category, along with Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), whose film tied Cuaron’s for the highest nominations haul.

My current bet to win: I don’t think there’s any taking down Cuaron now with Cooper out of the way.

Oscar Nominees: Best Documentary


My predictions: 2/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Free Solo, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Minding the Gap, Of Fathers and Sons, RBG

Last year, I hadn’t seen a single one of the nominees in this category, and this year, I managed to see all fifteen finalists. What that means, of course, is that I’m sad about the snubs, particularly “The Silence of Others,” but also the two shocking omissions from this race – “Three Identical Strangers” and, what everyone expected to be the winner, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” When I watched Minding the Gap, I thought it would be nominated, but didn’t put it in my predictions, and I also had Of Fathers and Sons, a worthwhile choice, in there for a while but took it out at the last minute. I’m not thrilled about Hale County This Morning, This Evening, the most experimental and least involving of the finalists, though I know that I’m in the minority there. RBG is a great choice, also nominated for Best Original Song, along with my favorite documentary of the year, Free Solo.

My current bet to win: Who knows now? I’m going to pick RBG.

Oscar Nominees: Best Animated Feature


My predictions: 5/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

At least this category was safe from surprise snubs, with the expected list making the cut. Mirai was the most vulnerable, and it’s in, which is great, and I’m breathing a sigh of relief that Ralph Breaks the Internet didn’t get snubbed. Incredibles 2 is the other sequel here, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse should still be the frontrunner even though Isle of Dogs is the only film in this category with another nomination, for Best Original Score. These are pretty much the only animated films I saw this year, so I’m on board!

My current bet to win: I’m backing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Oscar Nominees: Best Foreign Film


My predictions: 4/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Capernaum (Lebanon), Cold War (Poland), Never Look Away (Germany), Roma (Mexico), Shoplifters (Japan)

I’m more invested in this race than I’ve ever been before, and while I’m not surprised by this lineup, I’m a bit disappointed since I would have loved to see “Burning” included. This list includes the four finalists nominated at the Golden Globes and the one film that was snubbed there, Cold War, which also merited a Best Cinematography nomination and a much more surprising Best Director bid. This may well be the most participatory foreign field ever, and certainly the most active in twenty years when two of 1998’s nominees scored major bids. Never Look Away got an unexpected but well-deserved nomination for Best Cinematography, where it joined Roma, the nominations co-leader, which scored a total of ten nominations. Shoplifters is here, which is good, along with Lebanon for its second consecutive nomination: the marvelous Capernaum. I’ll go through statistics and likelihoods when I do my winner predictions, though I will note that the scenario that pits Germany against Mexico where the former prevailed over the much more nominated latter in 2006 has in fact occurred.

My current bet to win: Even if both “Cold War” and “Never Look Away” got a bump today, it’s not wise to bet against Roma.

Oscar Nominees: Best Visual Effects


My predictions: 4/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Avengers: Infinity War, Christopher Robin, First Man, Ready Player One, Solo: A Star Wars Story

It’s not a complete shock that “Black Panther” missed the cut here after it failed to score any Visual Effects Society mentions, but it is strange to think that it could reap seven nominations and not be rewarded for its effects. At least Avengers: Infinity War is here, which is a relief. I underestimated Christopher Robin, which is one of just two nominated feature films I haven’t seen, and so I’ll have to check that out soon to offer commentary. Ready Player One scored its expected bid here, while Solo: A Star Wars Story wasn’t a sure thing yet still managed to make the cut even if it didn’t really deserve to. I’m happy that First Man is here, just one of its few technical bids.

My current bet to win: I’m going with First Man over “Ready Player One” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Oscar Nominees: Best Makeup and Hairstyling


My predictions: 1/3
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Border, Mary, Queen of Scots, Vice

I usually do terribly in this category even though it only has three nominees, picking just one right for the second year in a row after achieving a rare zero two years ago. One of just two feature films I haven’t seen from among all the nominees, Border, is nominated here, the latest foreign selection to score a mention, and I’ll have more to say once I see it. I suppose that these aspects were very strong in Mary, Queen of Scots, and I won’t argue with that in regards to Vice also. I am surprised that “Bohemian Rhapsody” didn’t make the cut, but I’m not overly upset by it.

My current bet to win: I don’t see how Vice loses this.

Oscar Nominees: Best Sound Editing


My predictions: 4/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, A Quiet Place, Roma

This category went 4/5 with the Best Sound race, dropping “A Star is Born” in favor of A Quiet Place, which scored its one and only bid here. I’m all for its inclusion, and the rest of this field is pretty great too. First Man and Roma in particular are great, and Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody were both delightful aural experiences.

My current bet to win: It could be any of these, but I’ll pick A Quiet Place with “First Man” as the next likeliest.

Oscar Nominees: Best Sound


My predictions: 4/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, Roma, A Star is Born

I guessed four of these, though my surest pick, “A Quiet Place,” only ended up being recognized for sound editing, where it replaced this category’s A Star is Born. First Man scored one of its just four technical bids here, along with Bohemian Rhapsody, Black Panther, and Roma. It’s actually a pretty great list, even if it’s a bit more centralized around Best Picture contenders which also happen to be technical achievements.

My current bet to win: It could be any of these, honestly. I’ll choose A Star is Born.

Oscar Nominees: Best Original Song


My predictions: 3/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), “All the Stars” (Black Panther), “The Place Where Lost Things Go” (Mary Poppins Returns), “I’ll Fight” (RBG), “Shallow” (A Star is Born)

This list isn’t all too surprising save for the unexpected inclusion of the song from the first segment of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which I’m all for since it was the only part of the film that I really liked. I bet against both songs from Mary Poppins Returns, but I’m fine with this sweeter, more sentimental one, especially over “Trip a Little Light Fantastic.” The other three I predicted, with Black Panther scoring, RBG earning a worthwhile bid to go with its Best Documentary mention, and A Star is Born continuing to dominate in the one category it still looks sure to win.

My current bet to win: I wouldn’t bet against A Star is Born.

Oscar Nominees: Best Original Score


My predictions: 4/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, If Beale Street Could Talk, Isle of Dogs, Mary Poppins Returns

This category is where the saddest omission occurred – Golden Globe winner “First Man” didn’t make the cut. It’s a real shame considering how incredible it was. At least If Beale Street Could Talk did get honored, representing its lone technical bid among what should have been several worthwhile nominations it didn’t get. I’m fine with BlacKkKlansman even if it’s not my favorite score of the year, and I can appreciate the musical excitement of Mary Poppins Returns. It’s cool that Black Panther did make the cut, and I’m all for Isle of Dogs being here.

My current bet to win: With the presumed frontrunner out of the way, I think this defaults back to Mary Poppins Returns.

Oscar Nominees: Best Film Editing


My predictions: 2/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Vice

This category has offered some strange omissions in previous year, and this one is no different, with the two films thought to be competing for Best Picture – “Roma” and “A Star is Born” – left off this year, which is especially surprising in the case of the former since it scored in pretty much every other race it could. Last year, we had two films not nominated for Best Picture; this year, they all are. Green Book, which didn’t score a Best Director bid, did get in here, along with Bohemian Rhapsody, a mention that will surely irk most since critics aside from me didn’t like the film and certainly wouldn’t commend its editing. BlacKkKlansman quietly and subtly did well as it’s been doing all awards season, joining Vice, a predictable if irritating nominee here, and the top nomination-getter that did score here, The Favourite.

My current bet to win: It’s hard to know without the expected frontrunner here. I’m going to choose The Favourite for now.

Oscar Nominees: Best Costume Design


My predictions: 4/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Black Panther, The Favourite, Mary Poppins Returns, Mary, Queen of Scots

In this year’s unusual tendency of certain films not showing up in exactly the categories everyone thought they would, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is nowhere to be found here, along with “If Beale Street Could Talk,” a sadly more expected snub. Instead, we get The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a decent choice here even if the film was far more uneven, and Mary, Queen of Scots, representing one of the film’s two total bids. Mary Poppins Returns did decently in the technical categories if not fantastically, and we have two very different Best Picture nominees here as well: Black Panther and The Favourite.

My current bet to win: I’m picking The Favourite over “Mary Poppins Returns.”

Oscar Nominees: Best Production Design


My predictions: 5/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Black Panther, The Favourite, First Man, Mary Poppins Returns, Roma

I didn’t even realize that I got a perfect score in this category. There’s no denying that these five films are wonderful to look at, though I wish there would have been room for “If Beale Street Could Talk.” The Favourite and Roma both tied for the total nominations haul, while Black Panther underperformed a bit considerable its technical potential. First Man and Mary Poppins Returns both did fine but definitely didn’t reach expectations. I’m very happy with this list.

My current bet to win: My guess is The Favourite over “Mary Poppins Returns.”

Oscar Nominees: Best Cinematography


My predictions: 3/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Cold War, The Favourite, Never Look Away, Roma, A Star is Born

I was just going through my own contenders yesterday in preparation for my own AFT Awards and almost choose Never Look Away, which also scored a bid for Best Foreign Film, as a selection in this category, only to decide that it’s technically a 2019 film, though maybe its very limited release at the end of November was the extent of its showing in the United States. I’m actually all for its inclusion since the visual style in this more-than-three-hour film was mesmerizing. It’s also got to be a historical moment that three foreign films are honored in this category, though 2004 technically had that if you count “The Passion of the Christ.” Roma and Cold War, both of which did very well, were more expected here, joined by the very popular The Favourite, which didn’t miss any expected technical races, and A Star is Born, which definitely did. I thought “Black Panther” would make the cut here, and I’m sad that this was just the first of many “If Beale Street Could Talk” omissions.

My current bet to win: With these nominees, I still think Roma can win, but “The Favourite” may just overtake it.

Oscar Nominees: Best Adapted Screenplay


My predictions: 4/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star is Born

It’s no wonder I didn’t predict The Ballad of Buster Scruggs here – I had it in tenth place for Best Original Screenplay! I guess my research was a bit sparse, but I also never expected this anthology film from the Coen Brothers to earn three nominations. I’d argue this is the least deserved of them since the first of the segments is excellent and everything else doesn’t really compare. It’s a shame that “Black Panther” missed the cut here since it was close, and I would have loved to see either “The Death of Stalin” or “Leave No Trace.” At least If Beale Street Could Talk scored one of its just three bids here, though it really should have performed better in the technical races. Can You Ever Forgive Me? was the third of the three-nomination films honored here, placing everywhere most expected. I wasn’t sure that A Star is Born would make the cut, but it did, along with BlacKkKlansman, representing the Best Picture field in this category.

My current bet to win: I’m picking If Beale Street Could Talk since this category isn’t always connected to doing well in other races.

Oscar Nominees: Best Original Screenplay


My predictions: 3/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: The Favourite, First Reformed, Green Book, Roma, Vice

If one film had to score just one nomination in this race this year, joining the four Best Picture nominees expected to show up here, I wish it would have been “Eighth Grade” instead of First Reformed since I much preferred the former, and this was also a place I thought that “A Quiet Place,” which managed just one technical bid, might have been honored, but I’m not disappointed since I didn’t love that film either. I went out on a limb to guess that Roma wouldn’t make the cut, but that was foolish, as it proved to be a juggernaut, tying The Favourite for the most nominations. Green Book did pretty well, as did, much to my chagrin, Vice.

My current bet to win: I’m going with The Favourite which I recognize that it could just as easily be any of the rest.

Oscar Nominees: Best Actress in a Supporting Role


My predictions: 4/5, picking Claire Foy over de Tavira
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Amy Adams (Vice), Marina de Tavira (Roma), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Emma Stone (The Favourite), Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Last year, Lesley Manville surprised everyone by showing up here, and this year, we have a wonderful inclusion that many suspected early on but didn’t end up being a huge factor in the precursors: Mexican actress Marina de Tavira (Roma), a wonderful choice who helped her film tie for the mantle of most nominations. Claire Foy would have been a good choice, but I’m completely fine with this entire list, the best of all the acting categories, in my opinion. Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) made the cut despite a SAG snub, earning just one of three bids for her mostly neglected film. Amy Adams (Vice) is the only nominee from her film I’m particularly behind, and I’m superbly excited that Emma Stone (The Favourite) and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite) both got in for the other film with the largest nominations haul.

My current bet to win: Even though the other three films cited did much better overall, I think King can still win this.

Oscar Nominees: Best Actor in a Supporting Role


My predictions: 4/5, picking Timothée Chalamet over Rockwell
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Sam Elliott (A Star is Born), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Sam Rockwell (Vice)

I’m not overly disappointed with this category because I wasn’t championing Timothée Chalamet’s performance, but I do wish his absence might have led to the inclusion of someone much more exciting like Nicholas Hoult or Steven Yeun. I wasn’t all for Sam Rockwell (Vice) winning last year, and now his repeat nomination – for a very small role – feels unnecessary. I’m fine with the rest of the list, with Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman) earning his film’s only acting nomination and Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) joining his costar and screenplay. Sam Elliott (A Star is Born) made the cut despite early snubs, with Golden Globe winner Mahershala Ali (Green Book) still looking strong as the frontrunner here.

My current bet to win: I’m sticking with 2016 victor Ali over last year’s unexpectedly included winner.

Oscar Nominees: Best Actress in a Leading Role


My predictions: 5/5
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Glenn Close (The Wife), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Lady Gaga (A Star is Born), Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

This is my second year in a row with a perfect score in this category. I knew there wasn’t any way that Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) wasn’t making it in when her costar showed up with a surprising bid, and her film managed to tie as the nominations leader with that of another nominee here, Olivia Colman (The Favourite). Emily Blunt might eventually be nominated for an Oscar, but this wasn’t her year despite two high-profile performances that ended up netting her films a grand combined total of five nominations. Glenn Close (The Wife) and Lady Gaga (A Star is Born) still look good as rivals for Best Actress, and, despite early concerns about her omission from this category, Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) arrives with her film carrying exactly the nominations everyone always expected it would.

My current bet to win: For the moment, I’m actually going to lean Colman, but we’ll see how SAG plays out.

Oscar Nominees: Best Actor in a Leading Role


My predictions: 4/5, picking Ethan Hawke over Dafoe
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Christian Bale (Vice), Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born), Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

I was cringing, waiting for the snub of someone fully expected to make this list, like James Franco was last year. But, instead, we just saw the two likeliest misses not make the cut – John David Washington and Ethan Hawke – while their films performed about as well as people thought. The surprise inclusion is Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate), one of two acting choices also nominated last year. He did a good job as Vincent Van Gogh, but, like Sam Rockwell, his turn in “The Florida Project” was far superior. The rest of the list is completely expected: Golden Globe winner Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Globe and Critics’ Choice winner Christian Bale (Vice), Viggo Mortensen (Green Book), and Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born), whose day was not nearly as good as everyone thought it would be.

My current bet to win: It’s possible Cooper gets this as a consolation prize but I think that Bale may have eclipsed Malek as the winner due to reception of his film.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Final Oscar Predictions


This year, the Sundance Film Festival starts a week later, which means that my full focus tomorrow will be on the Oscar nominations. I’m more prepared than I’ve ever been, having seen every movie I’m predicting for a bid aside from one song contender and all of the shorts. That said, this has been a lackluster year in a lot of ways in terms of diversity among the nominees from each critics’ groups to each guild, and I’m hoping for some wonderful surprises when nominations are announced.

Last year, it was anybody’s guess which film would take the big award home with five legitimate contenders. This year, “Bohemian Rhapsody” shocked with a Best Motion Picture – Drama win despite being ranked dead last based on predictor consensus. The Critics’ Choice Awards, which have existed since 1995, picked their first foreign-language winner, “Roma,” which couldn’t compete in the top category at the Globes but still managed to take home the Best Director trophy. “Green Book” just won the Producers Guild of America, which, along with its victory for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical Most races seem 80% locked up, but there could be some unexpected omissions and inclusions.

Mostly, I’m hoping for love for some of the contenders that never got off the ground. “Widows” was in most people’s predictions a few months ago but now looks like it won’t get anything at all. I would be ecstatic if Elizabeth Debicki cracked the Best Supporting Actress race, and bids for supporting actor Daniel Kaluuya and director Steve McQueen would delight me, though, if anyone, BAFTA nominee Viola Davis is probably the only one with a shot. “Leave No Trace,” a film that I saw almost a full year ago at Sundance, has a slightly better shot after taking home a number of critics’ prizes, and even though she’s a lead, Thomasin McKenzie scoring a Best Supporting Actress nomination would be so great. It’s too much to hope that three of my favorite films which scored minor bids with the Film Independent Spirit Awards – “American Animals,” “Colette,” and “Thoroughbreds” – can earn surprise nominations for Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Screenplay, respectively, but I would be so happy if that happened.

Last year, we had “Phantom Thread” show up with an unexpected Best Director bid (though it was one of my no guts, no glory picks) to go along with its far-from-guaranteed Best Picture nomination, and if any film does that this year, I think it will be “First Man,” which I’m predicting for the former but not the latter. I suspect there may be very few surprises, but I’m sure that won’t be the case.

I’m not getting up at 5:20am tomorrow to watch the nominations, but it’s the first thing I’ll be doing when I get up a bit later. This is the first time that I’m not seeing four or five movies on this day, so you can expect detailed reactions by category as soon as I’m up and start posting tomorrow. Click on category headings below for full analysis for each race, and film titles to read my reviews! Leave your thoughts and predictions in the comments!

No guts, no glory:
Chloe Zhao (The Rider) for Best Director
Steven Yeun (Burning) for Best Supporting Actor
Rachel McAdams (Disobedience) for Best Supporting Actress

Final Predictions:
Best Picture
BlacKkKlansman
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Roma
A Star is Born
Vice

Best Director
Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)
Damien Chazelle (First Man)
Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)
Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born)

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Christian Bale (Vice)
Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born)
Ethan Hawke (First Reformed)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Lady Gaga (A Star is Born)
Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy)
Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
Sam Elliott (A Star is Born)
Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams (Vice)
Claire Foy (First Man)
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Emma Stone (The Favourite)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Best Original Screenplay
Eighth Grade
The Favourite
Green Book
A Quiet Place
Vice

Best Adapted Screenplay
BlacKkKlansman
Black Panther
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star is Born

Best Cinematography
Black Panther
Cold War
The Favourite
First Man
Roma

Best Art Direction
Black Panther
The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns
Roma

Best Costume Design
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary, Queen of Scots

Best Film Editing
BlacKkKlansman
First Man
Roma
A Star is Born
Vice

Best Original Score
BlacKkKlansman
Black Panther
First Man
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns

Best Original Song
“All the Stars” (Black Panther)
“Revelation” (Boy Erased)
“Girl in the Movies” (Dumplin’)
“I’ll Fight” (RBG)
“Shallow” (A Star is Born)

Best Sound
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
A Quiet Place
Roma
A Star is Born

Best Sound Editing
Black Panther
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns
A Quiet Place
Roma

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
Vice

Best Visual Effects
Avengers: Infinity War
Black Panther
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story

Best Animated Feature
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Documentary Short Film
End Game
Los Comandos
’63 Boycott
Women of the Gulag
Zion

Best Animated Short Film
Animal Behaviour
Bao
Late Afternoon
Lost and Found
One Small Step

Best Live Action Short Film
Chucotage
Detainment
Icare
May Day
Wale

Best Documentary
Free Solo
RBG
The Silence of Others
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Best Foreign Language Film
Burning
Capernaum
Cold War
Roma
Shoplifters

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 22nd. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories.


Last year’s nominees: Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My choices: Coming in February!

This year’s locks: A Star is Born, Roma, Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman

Very likely: Green Book, The Favourite, Bohemian Rhapsody

Possible: Vice, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Quiet Place, Mary Poppins Returns

Unlikely: Leave No Trace, Crazy Rich Asians, First Man, Eighth Grade

The rundown: It’s been a busy Oscar season, but, if precursors are any indication, this field isn’t going to be all that surprising. Though A Star is Born didn’t take home the multiple Golden Globes it was expected to, there’s no way it won’t be here, joined by the film that I think is going to win, foreign-language entry Roma, which has won seemingly countless prizes. Black Panther is the big hit of the year that will become the first comic book movie nominated for this prize, and BlacKkKlansman also seems set to be here. Then we get to films that may have mixed support, starting with the Producers Guild of America victor and Golden Globe winner for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical, Green Book, and probably won’t be taken down by some controversy both about the film’s message and filmmakers’ past actions. The Favourite hasn’t performed as spectacularly as initially expected, but it should make the cut. Bohemian Rhapsody was looking like a longshot for a while, but after its shocking Globe win for Best Motion Picture – Drama and its inclusion among the Producers Guild nominees, it would be jarring to see it snubbed by the Academy. Vice is still looking strong despite lackluster reviews, and it could just as easily be dropped as it could make it. If Beale Street Could Talk, despite being the very well-reviewed director’s follow-up to the 2016 winner in this category, missed out on way too many guild nominations to be looking like a sure thing at this point. A Quiet Place managed a PGA bid and will surely get votes. Mary Poppins Returns got a Globe nomination and was cited at the Critics’ Choice Awards, but it may not have what it takes to be included here. Leave No Trace would be a fantastic choice but hasn’t made enough of a splash this season, while Crazy Rich Asians is immensely popular but doesn’t seem formidable enough to join this list. First Man was an early favorite with pundits, but after missing out in the top race with most organizations, it’s a true longshot here (though I’m predicting it for a surprise Best Director bid). Earlier, Eighth Grade seemed like it could go the distance, but I’m not so sure, and that’s also true of First Reformed, an extremely respected film that hasn’t shown up outside of critics’ awards in the way it needed to in order to truly make an impact.

One possible crazy scenario: The winner of the Gotham Award for Best Feature and the Best Picture prize from the National Society of Film Critics, The Rider, makes an unexpected entry into this category.

Predicted nominees (8): BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star is Born, Vice

Forecasted winner: I’m going with Roma.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Oscar Predictions: Best Director

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 22nd. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories.


Last year’s nominees: Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Jordan Peele (Get Out), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread), Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water)

My choices: Coming in February!

This year’s locks: Alfonso Cuaron (Roma), Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born), Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)

Very likely: None

Possible: Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), Damien Chazelle (First Man), Peter Farrelly (Green Book), Adam McKay (Vice), Ryan Coogler (Black Panther)

Unlikely: Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk), Debra Granik (Leave No Trace), Paul Schrader (First Reformed), Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)

The rundown: We’ve arrived at one of the biggest categories of the year, which is very much in danger of being extremely boring. The DGA list matched the Golden Globes’ picks exactly, which has only happened three times when both groups had five nominees, most recently in 2010. Only once, in 1977, did those two lists end up being what Oscar chose too. When there were only five Best Picture nominees, there used to be a “lone director slot” that went to another film, but that’s only happened once in the case of the expanded field, with Bennett Miller earning a bid for “Foxcatcher” in 2014. This year, the undisputed frontrunner is Alfonso Cuaron (Roma), who has already taken home prizes from the Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards. He won this prize in 2013 for “Gravity.” There’s no reason to suspect that Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman) won’t earn his first-ever bid in this category, and, though I’ve read worrisome reports to the contrary, the same is true of Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born), a three-time acting nominee whose film should be totally fine for nominations even if it won’t win as many awards as predicted long ago. The other two potential nominees embraced by both the Globes and DGA are Peter Farrelly (Green Book) and Adam McKay (Vice). The former made a film that, traditionally, wouldn’t end up with a directing bid, while the latter, who was nominated in 2015 for “The Big Short,” made a controversial film that many don’t like. If the film is as popular as people think it will be, Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) could get a nomination, but it doesn’t seem likely at this point. Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk) has missed out too many times this awards season to be considered a real contender anymore, but he did helm the film that won Best Picture just two years ago, “Moonlight,” and therefore shouldn’t be counted out entirely. With conversation about how the field looks to be all men again this year, Debra Granik (Leave No Trace) seems to be the woman with the best chance, and I would be thrilled even if I really don’t think it’s going to happen at this point. Film devotees would love to honor Paul Schrader (First Reformed) for his long career, but that film has missed out on any nominations with most guilds even after collecting a number of critics’ prizes. Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War) surprised with a BAFTA nomination, and his film is expected to be a foreign film nominee, so don’t count him out. I’m going to predict Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), who scored bids from BAFTA and the Critics’ Choice Awards, to take a spot, which seems likely given love for the film. My choice for the fifth slot is indisputably riskier since, though he won this prize just two years ago for “La La Land,” Damien Chazelle (First Man) only merited a Critics’ Choice nomination from all the major precursor groups, and his film is not expected to show up in the Best Picture list. It’s bold, but I feel like I’m not taking nearly as many chances as I usually have in the past, so here goes. His achievement is a technical one, and I think he’ll be rewarded here.

One possible crazy scenario: His film is expected to score a few technical bids, but John Krasinski (A Quiet Place) could shock by earning a place here for his suspenseful thriller.

Forecasted winner: Some are saying Lee, but I’m sticking with Cuaron.

Oscar Predictions: Best Foreign Film

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 22nd. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories.


Last year’s nominees: A Fantastic Woman (Chile), The Insult (Lebanon), Loveless (Russia), On Body and Soul (Hungary), The Square (Sweden)

My choices: Coming in February!

This year’s locks: Roma (Mexico), Cold War (Poland), Shoplifters (Japan)

Very likely: Capernaum (Lebanon)

Possible: Burning (South Korea), Never Look Away (Germany), Birds of Passage (Colombia), Ayka (Kazakhstan), The Guilty (Denmark)

The rundown: I’m excited to have, for the first time, seen all nine of the finalists that were announced in mid-December. I’ll run through each and the country statistics below. I’m predicting the exact Critics’ Choice list, which includes the four eligible Globe nominees (“Girl” from Belgium didn’t make this shortlist).

There’s no question that Roma (Mexico) will be nominated here, since it’s expected to win Best Picture yet still cited by most organizations as the Best Foreign Film of the year. Director Alfonso Cuaron won an Oscar in 2013 for “Gravity,” but this would be his first nomination in this category. Mexico has been nominated eight times before, most recently in 2010 for “Biutiful,” and has yet to win.

It might be foolhardy to put Cold War (Poland) down as a lock after it was snubbed by the Golden Globes, but director Pawel Pawlikowski’s previous film, “Ida,” won this award in 2014, and the film has won many critics’ prizes. It is also a likely nominee for Best Cinematography. Poland has been nominated ten times before, with “Ida” marking its first win.

Shoplifters (Japan) seems like a sure thing. It would mark the first nomination for director Hirokazu Koreeda, his thirteenth feature film. Japan has been nominated fifteen times before, winning three honorary prizes in the 1950s and then for “Departures” in 2008, its last nomination to date.

Capernaum (Lebanon) was an early festival favorite and would mark only the second-ever nomination for Lebanon, which earned its very first bid last year. Though director Nadine Labaki has made two acclaimed films before, this would mark her first nomination.

Burning (South Korea) has taken home some prominent critics’ prizes in addition to earning a nomination from the Critics’ Choice Awards and a spot on the National Board of Review’s list. It also has a dark horse acting contender in the form of Steven Yeun, which might give it more visibility. Despite thirty previous submissions, this would mark the very first Oscar nomination for South Korea. This is director Chang-dong Lee’s sixth film.

Never Look Away (Germany) was nominated for a Golden Globe, and its best asset is the fact that it comes from director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose first film, “The Lives of Others,” won this award back in 2006, affording Germany its most recent of three wins. The country has been nominated a total of nineteen times.

Birds of Passage (Colombia) hasn’t won or been nominated for any non-festival American prizes, though the same was mostly true for “Embrace of the Serpent,” the last and only time Colombia was nominated for an Oscar, a film from the same filmmakers, real-life couple Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, as this one.

Ayka (Kazakhstan) was the big surprise finalist among this group, and could earn its country its second-ever Oscar nomination after its 2007 bid for “Mongol.” This film won a Best Actress award for star Samal Yeslyamova at the Cannes Film Festival. This is director Sergei Dvortsevoy’s second feature film.

The Guilty (Denmark) won an Audience Award at Sundance and was one of the National Board of Review’s choices for foreign film. This is director Gustav Möller’s debut film. Denmark has thirteen previous nominations and three wins, most recently for the superb “In a Better World” in 2010.

Forecasted winner: Unless voters feel Roma is going to be rewarded elsewhere and give this to “Cold War,” there won’t be any surprises here.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Oscar Predictions: Best Documentary

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 22nd. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories.


Last year’s nominees: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Faces Places, Icarus, Last Men in Aleppo, Strong Island

My choices: Coming in February!

This year’s locks: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Three Identical Strangers

Very likely: RBG, Free Solo

Possible: The Silence of Others, Of Fathers and Sons, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Shirkers, Dark Money, Minding the Gap, On Her Shoulders, Crime + Punishment

Unlikely: Charm City, The Distant Barking of Dogs, Communion

The rundown: In the past, I’ve seen at most a few of the fifteen documentaries on the December-announced shortlist when nominations are unveiled. Often, I don’t encounter most or any of them until I catch up on the five nominees. This year, however, I’ve managed to see all fifteen, so hopefully having actually watched them will give me a leg up on guessing which ones will make the cut. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? should be safest, earning bids from both the International Documentary Association and the Producers Guild, as well as universal acclaim from critics and audiences alike for the heartwarming portrait of Mr. Rogers. The only other film on this list cited by both those groups is Free Solo, an intense and engaging exploration of a very dangerous type of climbing that should be able to make this list but isn’t guaranteed. Three Identical Strangers is a popular and fascinating look at unexpected history and reunions, while RBG is a hot, relevant look at the oldest justice on the Supreme Court. Other surefire vote-getters are the experimental look at the South in Hale County This Morning, This Evening, the filmmaking adventure movie, Shirkers, a heartfelt look at poverty and friendship in Minding the Gap, an inspiring portrait of survival in On Her Shoulders, and the police corruption exposé in Crime + Punishment. I wouldn’t expect Charm City, a very worthwhile picture of the city of Baltimore, The Distant Barking of Dogs, a spotlight of those living minutes from war in Ukraine, and Communion, an intimate look at a troubled Polish family. I’m betting that there are two films that will particularly impress audiences to earn a place in the top five: a Syrian documentarian spending time with a jihadist family in Of Fathers and Sons and Spanish citizens reflecting on the unresolved past crimes of their nation in The Silence of Others. This is undeniably competitive, and I’m hopeful that the best in this field will be honored.

Forecasted winner: It could be “Three Identical Strangers,” but I think that Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is far enough in front of that and anything else.

Oscar Predictions: Best Animated Feature

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 22nd. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories.


Last year’s nominees: The Boss Baby, The Breadwinner, Coco, Ferdinand, Loving Vincent

My choices: Coming in February!

This year’s locks: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Isle of Dogs, Incredibles 2

Very likely: Ralph Breaks the Internet

Possible: Mirai, The Grinch, Early Man

Unlikely: Ruben Brandt, Collector, Smallfoot, Tito and the Birds, MFKZ

The rundown: Last year was the first and only time that all five Golden Globe nominees in the corresponding category, and I’m betting that’s going to happen again. Usually, there are foreign contenders waiting in the wings with plenty of buzz, but this year, Mirai is already ahead with a Golden Globe nomination and an Annie Award citation for Best Animated Feature – Independent. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse should be safe in a year that “Black Panther” is being invited to the Best Picture category, and there’s no reason to suspect any ill will towards Isle of Dogs or Incredibles 2. I’m very worried that Ralph Breaks the Internet, which I loved, could go the way of “The Good Dinosaur” and be snubbed, but I think it’s safe because there just aren’t contenders strong enough to knock it out. The Grinch is one possibility that earned a Critics’ Choice Award nomination and Producers Guild bid, while Early Man was the other Best Animated Feature nominee from the Annie Awards. Smallfoot could also earn votes as a somewhat popular choice. Of the three other eligible independent Annie picks, Ruben Brandt, Collector is the one with the highest profile, while Tito and the Birds and MFKZ aren’t nearly well-known enough to place. There are also fifteen other eligible films, but I wouldn’t count on any of those to upset. This year could be a pretty standard but worthwhile one.

Forecasted winner: Unless another film surges, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse takes this.