Sunday, February 24, 2019

Oscars predix 2019 - basically, I have NFC

It's been, to say the least, a very weird Oscars season. Between the Academy's maddening obsession with making the Oscars more "relevant" - leading to uniformly terrible ideas for the show that they've invariably had to walk back - to the controversies swirling around several of the nominees, many Oscars lovers I know are either perpetually scratching their heads or wringing their hands. Me, I veer between annoyed at the Academy's tinkering with the telecast (if you really want to make it shorter, guys, just cut all the stupid skits and filler, and no, that does NOT include any actual awards!) and oddly fascinated by the schizophrenic nature of the best picture roster. Because you couldn't get a more perfect picture of the current fault lines that run through Hollywood than that lineup: old vs. new, "artsy" vs. commercial, "woke" vs. conservative. Which forces will triumph tonight? Damned if I know, which is why I haven't felt this uncertain about my predictions in years. But here are my picks for the major categories, for whatever they're worth:

Best Picture

Will win: Smart money is on either GREEN BOOK or ROMA, but especially with the complicated math of Oscars ranked voting, this really could be anyone's game. At this time I'll go with what appears to be the (hesitant) consensus for GREEN BOOK.

Should win: ROMA, but I'd be less unhappy than most if GREEN BOOK takes it. Despite its flaws, the backlash over its racial politics, and the increasingly ugly revelations about its conception and creators, at its core it's a sweet and engaging movie that works very well if you don't take it as a prescription for How to Fix Racism. That said, I almost think it would be better for Green Book if it *doesn't* win.

Dark horse: Again, literally any of these films could win. Any of them. Well, probably not VICE, although I might be biased since it was the only nominee I actively disliked.

Best Director

Will win: The Academy loves Alfonso Cuarón almost as much as it loves his fellow amigo Alejandro Iñárritu, and he's gotten a boatload of awards this season for ROMA - so he's probably got this locked up.

Should win: Cuarón (who wrote, directed, and shot ROMA) would be a worthy winner, but I secretly wish the Academy would give it to Spike Lee. He's overdue, and BLACKKKLANSMAN was excellent.

Dark horse: Spike Lee

Best Actress

Will win: Glenn Close. Not only is strong in THE WIFE, she, too, is overdue (7 nominations, no wins), and has been pitch-perfect on the awards circuit. See, e.g., her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes.

Should win: Close

Dark horse: Olivia Colman for THE FAVOURITE

Best Actor

Will win: Probably Rami Malek for BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, though there will no doubt be great wailing and gnashing of teeth if that happens.

Should win: I still haven't seen At Eternity's Gate, and I loves me some Willem Dafoe, so I will abstain on this question.

Dark horse: Christian Bale for his transformation into Sith Lord Cheney

Best Supporting Actress


Should win: Emma Stone in THE FAVOURITE, though she's really a co-lead (as is Rachel Weisz, who's also very good in a quieter performance - but Stone is just so much fun)

Dark horse: Rachel Weisz, though never rule out Amy Adams (who's been nominated a ridic number of times but still hasn't won - hopefully it won't be for VICE)

Best Supporting Actor

Will win: Mahershala Ali, who's remained untouched by the controversies surrounding GREEN BOOK

Should win: Richard E. Grant, who's truly sublime in CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Dark horse: With a meatier role, I'd say Sam Elliott (who's quite good in A STAR IS BORN), but I really think Ali has this one in the bag.

Best Original Screenplay

Will win: Another tough one - as tough as best picture. If GREEN BOOK wins this, it's probably winning best picture. But I will pick THE FAVOURITE since this is the one major category where the Academy does sometimes go with the edgier choice. Plus, the controversies over GREEN BOOK will probably hurt it even more in this category than in the best picture category.

Should win: For sharpness and originality, THE FAVOURITE. For enjoyability - well, don't shoot me, but I did prefer GREEN BOOK. Turning in my critic's card now.

Dark horse: Excluding GREEN BOOK, which is really almost a co-front runner, I wouldn't count out ROMA. As with GREEN BOOK, if it wins this award, it's probably winning the whole shebang.

Best Adapted Screenplay


Should win: I haven't read any of the original source material for any of the nominees, but CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? did an amazing job bringing to life the prickly character/author behind the very odd, initially off-putting story that somehow ends up being surprisingly touching and funny.

Dark horse: Not really one I can think of, unless there are more people than I think there are in the Academy who share my feelings about CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?


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