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Featured: Predictions for 91st Academy Awards

Featured: Predictions for 91st Academy Awards

Well, tonight is the night! It’s the Super Bowl of the movie season. It’s the Oscars and the final celebration of 2018 and everything it had to offer in film. The awards season this year has been bizarre, frustrating and somewhat regressive to what we’ve seen the last few years. That said, there are some great films and individuals nominated that are worth celebrating, so hopefully tonight’s ceremony does that justice. At any rate, here are our predictions for this year’s Oscars:

BEST PICTURE

  • Roma
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Black Panther
  • Vice
  • A Star is Born

Brendan
Will Win: Many films have a reason to win the coveted award; Spike Lee is due for his work on BlacKkKlansman, Roma is universally loved, Black Panther has the honor of being the first superhero film up for Best Picture, Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody have the audience support (God help us), and A Star Is Born is classic Hollywood and right up the Academy’s alley. After honoring such great progressive films over the past few years (The Shape of Water, Moonlight, and Spotlight for instance), can the Academy really stoop so low in honoring such pandering films like Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody? This year showed how little brains they have, but they still have ears, and I (optimistically) believe that they have heard the discourse and frustrations among film critics and audiences. Because of that, I think Best Picture is going to Roma, the safest bet of the bunch, and the one that is most consistently in line with the past years’ winners.

Should Win: At this point I’ll take anything that isn’t Bohemian Rhapsody, Vice, or Green Book. Out of the nominees though, The Favourite is my personal preference, but Roma is a close second.

JD
Will Win: This awards season has been quite chaotic with several of these films winning precursors, so it’s hard to say with full confidence, but I think it comes down to Roma, BlacKkKlansman and Green Book. Green Book has surprised many this awards season with some of its bigger wins, but with more nominations and likely wins from Roma and BlacKkKlansman, I’d say it’s a two horse race with those films. As I anticipate Roma to come away with a few wins, the fact that both actresses were nominated (and the Actors are the biggest voting branch), I am going with Roma to win Best Picture.

Should Win: Roma is an all-timer that will come to define 2018 in many respects, so it should win here. Although, if The Favourite or BlacKkKlansman steals it, I won’t lose sleep.

BEST ACTOR

  • Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
  • Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
  • Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
  • Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Christian Bale, Vice

Brendan
Will Win: This is ultimately a two-horse race between Rami Malek and Christian Bale, two performances I personally wouldn’t have even nominated. They both give good performances in bad movies, but I do think Malek does a finer job imbuing Bohemian Rhapsody with at least some pathos and nuance that did not exist anywhere in that film; in some ways, his performance improved that film. Because of that, and the fact that Bale already has an Oscar (winning for David O. Russell’s The Fighter), I think Rami Malek will take it home.

Should Win: Why we aren’t talking about Ethan Hawke in First Reformed or Ben Dickey in Blaze still continues to haunt my dreams; sorry Reverend Toller, but I do not think God will forgive the Academy. Of the nominees, my personal pick would actually be Bradley Cooper.

JD
Will Win: Rami Malek is perhaps one of the seemingly locks of the night. All of the evidence points toward another victory for him, although Christian Bale does have a solid chance. After giving the Oscar to Gary Oldman last year for essentially doing the same thing, you’d think Bale is the logical choice. Of the two, I’d argue he gives a better performance with slightly more nuance, but in the end it’s Malek that wins here.

Should Win: Bradley Cooper. Hands down. At least of these nominees anyway, I agree with Brendan that Ethan Hawke should win in an ideal world, but sadly he is missing. So, of the five nominated, Cooper is my pick. His performance is by far the most intricate, complex and emotionally stimulating. Oh, and he actually does the singing in his film.

BEST ACTRESS

  • Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
  • Olivia Colman, The Favourite
  • Glenn Close, The Wife
  • Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Lady Gaga, A Star is Born

Brendan
Will Win: We now at least transition to something worth celebrating. I love all these nominees, and was even ecstatic when the Academy went as far as to recognize Yalitza Aparicio (where were you when y’all forgot about Ethan Hawke?). It’s a tight race with regarding the quality of these performances, with all five of them crafting complex characters with effortless nuance, and any one of these women could be a frontrunner in any other year. But this year has a seven-time nominee anxiously awaiting her first win, and that is Glenn Close. We all know how much the Academy loves to reward an actor for their body of work, but Glenn Close’s performance in The Wife would still be a worthy win, and I think it’s going to her.

Should Win: Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me? turned her usual comedic bite into something tragic, a tricky balancing act for someone (Lee Israel) we feel such sympathy for when she’s a character we should ultimately hate. She gave my favorite female performance of 2018, and gets my vote here.

JD
Will Win: This is my favorite category this year. All five of these nominees are worthy and I’ll be happy regardless of who wins. In the end though, I expect Glenn Close to win as Lady Gaga will win for Original Song. Some have argued that it’s a “career” victory, but I’d argue it’s a legitimately great performance that is more than deserving. Olivia Coleman does pose a threat, but I don’t think it’ll be quite strong enough.

Should Win: I’m all in on the Glenn Close train. As much as I love the other four nominees, this is Close’s award.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Sam Elliot, A Star is Born
  • Mahershala Ali, Green Book
  • Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
  • Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Sam Rockwell, Vice

Brendan
Will Win: Will Mahershala Ali win this award again, after having already won it only two years ago for Moonlight? Or could Richard E. Grant’s recent social media charms give him the edge? If Grant does pull through, it was either a great example of the optimism we needed this awards season, or simply a great marketing strategy. Either way, I think Richard E. Grant and his charming pathos in Can You Ever Forgive Me? will work in this favor. As long as it doesn’t go to Sam Rockwell, who is only nominated because of a chicken wing and the phrase, “Hot damn!”

Should Win: Sam Elliot didn’t just get nominated because of that one scene in A Star Is Born (you know the one), he got nominated because of a single facial expression. It takes a great actor to convey everything with a glance and a response, and for that he gets my personal vote here.

JD
Will Win: I’m not sold that Ali has this in the bag. As Brendan mentioned, Richard E. Grant has been lovable all awards season and it’s been reiterated in some of the anonymous voter ballots we’ve seen pop up online in the last week. He has a real shot to win this, and if he does win, it’s deserving. Perhaps it’s charming campaign helped overcome Ali’s strong performance in Green Book, but Grant is equally fantastic in Can You Ever Forgive Me?. For that, I’m going with the upset and picking Grant.

Should Win: As much as I love Ali, or that great facial expression by Sam Elliot, Grant gets my vote. He’s not only endearing in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but he generates a pathos by the end that is striking.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Marina de Tavira, Roma
  • Emma Stone, The Favourite
  • Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
  • Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Amy Adams, Vice

Brendan
Will Win: I have to first express my joy seeing Marina de Tavira’s name here, which I honestly did not expect. That aside, it would seem foolish to bet against Regina King at the moment, who has all the statistics behind her. Don’t count out Emma Stone or Rachel Weisz’s respective comedic chops in The Favourite, but I firmly believe Regina King has this one in the bag.

Should Win: I guess the Academy can get a few things right once in a while, as Regina King is a very clear standout among these nominees for me; nuanced, self-reflective, and explosive all at once.

JD
Will Win: It’s really wonderful to see Marina de Tavira, and her partner in crime Yalitza Aparicio, get nominations for Roma. They were big and wonderful surprises. However, this is Regina King’s award to lose.

Should Win: It’s hard to argue against King’s performance. She’s not as heavily utilized as Rachel Weisz or Emma Stone, but when she’s on screen she’s a magnetic presence that you can’t ignore. For my money, I’d go with Stone personally. But I won’t be upset over King winning.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
  • Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
  • Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
  • Paweł Pawlikowski, Cold War
  • Adam McKay, Vice

Brendan
Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón is a technical and storytelling master, all rolled into one. He may have already one this award for Gravity, but the Academy knows a thing or two about technical proficiency behind the camera, and Roma just screams it. However, do not count out Spike Lee’s work in BlacKkKlansman, who has been overdue for a nomination since he missed out for Do the Right Thing.

Should Win: Spike Lee should win just for his facial expression every time Peter Farrelly speaks. But for his sheer craftsmanship in bringing us back to 1970s Mexico, Alfonso Cuarón is the clear choice for me, though I do want to quickly shout out Yorgos Lanthimos for his dark wit in The Favourite, as well as Pawel Pawlikowski’s stark beauty in Cold War, both of whom are not far behind for me.

JD
Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón. Alfonso Cuarón. Alfonso Cuarón. I do think Spike Lee poses a threat here though, and could upset if BlacKkKlansman does go on to win Best Picture.

Should Win: As I mentioned on our own InSession Film Awards, Alfonso Cuarón was my pick for Best Director, so I do think he should win here as well.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
  • Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, The Favourite
  • Paul Schrader, First Reformed
  • Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly, Green Book
  • Adam McKay, Vice

Brendan
Will Win: Out of all the nominees, The Favourite is arguably the “most” written film of the bunch, which normally favors well with the Academy. For those reasons, I expect this award to go to Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara.

Should Win: In some ways, I would like to see Green Book win just to catch a glimpse at Spike Lee’s face when it does. But as for the films themselves, despite it being the most heavily written of the bunch, The Favourite emulated such an insultingly comedic snark with dialogue so endlessly quotable; I personally couldn’t see myself giving this award to anything else. But a win for Paul Schrader would at least prove that the Academy has in fact seen First Reformed, and realizes their mistake in not nominating Ethan Hawke.

JD
Will Win: I think this comes down to three films in The Favourite, Green Book and First Reformed. Paul Schrader hasn’t won much this awards season, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he somehow wins this as a “career prize” sort of thing. That said, I expect The Favourite to walk away with the award here as Green Book has found itself in some controversy in recent weeks.

Should Win: The Favourite or First Reformed. It wouldn’t just be a “career” win if you ask me, the script for First Reformed is genuenly terrific and deserving to win. But so is The Favourite. I can go either way.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
  • Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever forgive Me?
  • Bradley Cooper and Will Fetters, A Star is Born
  • Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

Brendan
Will Win: I see this as a two-horse race between BlacKkKlansman and If Beale Street Could Talk, and could honestly see it going either way (nor would I have any issues with that). But because Barry Jenkins has already won this award for Moonlight, and Spike Lee has been overdue for almost 30 years, my money is on BlacKkKlansman.

Should Win: Most of these nominees are very fine scripts, but there is something about the dialogue in Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty’s script for Can You Ever forgive Me? that just so effortlessly balances comedy and pain simultaneously. For those reasons, their work may be my favorite of the bunch.

JD
Will Win: It’s going to be great to finally see Spike Lee win a competitive Oscar.

Should Win: It’s going to be great to finally see Spike Lee win a competitive Oscar.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Lukasz Zal, Cold War
  • Robbie Ryan, The Favourite
  • Caleb Deschanel, Never Look Away
  • Matthew Libatique, A Star is Born
  • Alfonso Cuarón, Roma

Brendan
Will Win: Black and white films go over well in this category, and this year sees a battle of visual beauty between Roma and Cold War. Alfonso Cuarón acted as his own cinematographer on Roma, which leaves me wondering if that will work for or against his favor. On one hand, being such a jack of all trades is no easy task, but on the other hand, if Cuarón were to win Best Director, will that indirectly count as a win in this category too? At this point I tend to think no, and I believe Cuarón will win here for Roma.

Should Win: You cannot argue against the epic smoothness of Roma, but I slightly prefer the simplicity of Lukasz Zal’s work in Cold War; with its boxed-in ratio and grainy filter, the whole film comes off like a lost WWII photo album come to life.

JD
Will Win: While I do think that Alfonso Cuarón is the heavy favorite for this category, I do think that Lukasz Zal has a small chance to upset. Cold War is obviously a liked film since it’s nominated in three different categories and the cinematography is hard to deny. Perhaps it’s closer than the experts think, but Roma still wins here.

Should Win: I echo Brendan above, I may ever so slightly prefer Cold War, but Alfonso Cuarón is very deserving for his camerawork on Roma.

BEST ANIMATED FILM

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Mirai

Brendan
Will Win: It may be shocker, but this is the toughest category to predict for me. It comes down to three; Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, or Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. Let’s not forget that The Oscars is an ABC production, owned by Disney, meaning Incredibles 2 could be a lock. But we all know the Academy loves Wes Anderson, meaning Isle of Dogs could sneak in too. But Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse has the accolades to support it, plus it’s both innovative and incredibly popular among audiences. For sheer statistics, I’ll go with Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, but don’t count out the other two.

Should Win: Isle of Dogs was not only my favorite animated film of 2018, but I actually think it’s one of Wes Anderson’s best. Therefore, it gets my personal vote.

JD
Will Win: A lot of pundits seem to think this is a lock. And you can’t blame them, Into the Spiderverse has destroyed all season long. But so did How to Train Your Dragon 2 in 2014. The Academy typically doesn’t go for sequels, but there’s a clear Disney/Pixar bias, and both have films competing in this category. Ralph Breaks the Internet I think is equally as deserving too and should be honored for losing to Brave (::throws up thinking about that loss::). I’m still going with Spidey, but I’m not confident like most pundits. Until I see it, I’m dubious, too much of a bias for this category.

Should Win: Ralph Breaks the Internet could win here and I’d love that. But at the same time, Into the Spiderverse was the true best animated film of 2018 and should win.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • Cold War
  • Roma
  • Shoplifters
  • Never Look Away
  • Capernaum

Brendan
Will Win: If Roma is in fact the predicted winner for Best Motion Picture of the Year, does it have a chance to win this award too? Or will the Academy attempt to split up their wins as much as possible, which is something they like to do? Given that Cold War is also up for Best Director and Cinematography (and even has the Best Director award from Cannes to boot), I believe the Academy will do their best to spread the wealth and give the award to Pawlikowski’s Cold War. Plus, Pawlikowski has already won this award for Ida five years ago, and familiarity goes a long way.

Should Win: I am all for Roma or Cold War winning, but my heart and soul continues to cry over Hirokazu Korreda’s Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters; easily my personal pick here, and one of the very best films of 2018.

JD
Will Win: Roma.

Should Win: Roma is one of the best foreign films of the decade, let alone from 2018. That said, if Roma does go on to win Best Picture, I’d love to see The Academy awards Shoplifters or Cold War here. The math doesn’t add up, but it’d be cool to reward two different films.

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • Free Solo
  • Minding the Gap
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening
  • RBG
  • Of Fathers and Sons

Brendan
Will Win: 2018 was one of the greatest years for documentaries, and some of the best ones didn’t even make this shortlist of nominees (looking at you Won’t You Be My Neighbor?). But among the best here are Minding the Gap, Free Solo, and Hale County This Morning, This Evening, all of which carry some weight of relevance. Bing Liu’s phenomenal Minding the Gap could strike a more unanimous chord with the Academy, for its depiction of youth, parenthood, and race that is just all too relatable these days. However, Free Solo just feels more top of mind at the moment, given its recent IMAX release and the celebrity status of Alex Honnold.

Should Win: Minding the Gap was one of the most moving film experiences I had all last year. It gets my vote.

JD
Will Win: Sadly (for me), I think this comes down to RBG or Free Solo. Neither film made my personal Top 5 for this category, so I do think there are better deserving docs, but the Oscar will go to one of them. I’m leaning more toward Free Solo.

Should Win: Don’t get me wrong, Free Solo is a very good film, but it’s no Minding the Gap, Hale County or Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (crazy to me that it wasn’t nominated).

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • Ludwig Göransson, Black Panther
  • Terence Blanchard, BlacKkKlansman
  • Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Alexandre Desplat, Isle of Dogs
  • Marc Shaiman, Mary Poppins Returns

Brendan
Will Win: I feel like Nicholas Britell had this in the bag just from the second the trailer for If Beale Street Could Talk premiered. Out of all the nominee’s Britell’s work feels the most like its own character in its respective film; lush, cautiously symphonic, but never too grand, maintaining its own sense of intimacy just like the film’s two lead characters.

Should Win: See above. Nicholas Britell for If Beale Street Could Talk.

JD
Will Win: Nicholas Britell should win here with the exclusion of Justin Hurwitz (a notion that I cannot fathom at all), but I can’t escape the feeling that Terence Blanchard and Ludwig Göransson are in this fight. This could be closer than what the experts think, but I’m still betting on Britell.

Should Win: Justin Hurwitz for First Man. But since he’s not here (I will never let go of that), Britell should win.

Let us know how our picks stack up against yours! Do you agree or disagree? Let us know and enjoy this year’s Oscars ceremony!

Huge movie fanatic and InSession Film founder and owner. I pretend to know a lot about movies, but mostly I'm good at discussing them. My favorite movies include Shawshank Redemption, Warrior, Top Gun and Transformers (fav as a kid!). Follow me on Twitter @RealJDDuran

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