Oscars 2019: My picks in all 24 categories

Last Updated by Chip Chandler on
The 91st Oscars will air Feb. 24 on ABC.
Courtesy AMPAS

By Chip Chandler — Producer

I can't think of another recent year where almost every Oscar category feels so wide open.

As I look at the ballot in almost all 24 races (download yours here), I can make arguments for two equally plausible winners (sometimes more) in virtually every category, from the shorts to Best Picture.

It's not just me: It seems like Oscar prognosticators who are far more connected than I am are struggling, too. No film has steamrolled through the precursor awards from the various guilds (Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, etc.) In fact, all eight Best Picture nominees has won one or more big prizes.

So what I'm saying, basically, is I have no idea how Oscar Night is going to go, and that makes me excited to watch (which is nice, because after all of this year's exhausting controversies swirling around the broadcast, I was a bit wary).

Here's my best effort in picking winners (and shoulda-beens) in each of the categories. I've seen 50 of the 52 nominated films, lacking only Best Foreign Film nominees Capernaum and Never Look Away (also up for Best Cinematography), but that doesn't make me feel any more secure. But we'll see when the Oscars air at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 on ABC!

 

Best Picture

Yalitza Aparicio stars in "Roma."
Courtesy Netflix

Nominees: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star Is Born, Vice

This ... is not a great batch of films, nor is it representative of the best films of 2018, not by a long shot. For my tastes, it's the worst lineup of Best Picture nominees since 2014 foisted American SniperBirdmanThe Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything on us.

By that measure, I guess we're lucky that only three junk movies made it in: Bohemian RhapsodyGreen Book and Vice.

As I've written before, Bohemian Rhapsody contains exactly one good scene (the climactic concert at Live Aid), with a whole lot of straight-washing and straight-up nonsense before it. Green Book is way too pleasant for the tumultuous times it depicts, and it focuses on the least interesting character in the car. And Vice, despite strong lead performances, just doesn't work.

Roma and The Favourite both come into this category with the year's-best 10 nominations each, but I just don't think Yorgos Lanthimos' punk period drama is going to be to enough voters' taste to take the top prize. (Then again, who would have thought a romance between a fish man and a mute woman would do that last year?) 

A Star Is Born, for whatever reason, just couldn't maintain its momentum from this fall, when it opened as the unquestioned frontrunner. BlacKkKlansman, somewhat to my surprise, wasn't forgotten after its August opening, and finally rewarding director Spike Lee with a competitive Oscar some 30 years after Do the Right Thing was snubbed must be tempting, but I don't think it has a major shot here (look below for where it will win).

As I mentioned above, all of the films in this category have won a major award, but Black Panther got perhaps the biggest one — Outstanding Cast from the Screen Actors Guild. That's the SAG's equivalent of Best Picture, and (as the name suggests) it's voted upon by the actors, the largest branch in the Academy. I'm not predicting that Black Panther will win, but doing so would not be from out of left field. And if Oscars' Best Picture is representative of the entire year in film, it's not a bad choice at all.

So that leaves Roma, a breathtakingly beautiful masterpiece from Alfonso Cuarón. If it wins, it'll be the first foreign language Best Picture winner and the first Netflix film to win, as well. Its strong showing across the board (including one shocker of a nomination for supporting actress Marina de Tavira) shows it has a deep appreciation across all branches of the Academy.

Will win: Roma

Should win: Roma or The Favourite

Left out: Can You Ever Forgive Me?If Beale Street Could Talk

 

Best Actress

Glenn Close stars in "The Wife."
Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

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?

Aparicio, a nonprofessional actress, absolutely holds the screen throughout Roma, but her nomination feels like it's reward enough. Gaga truly surprised me in her naturalistic performance in A Star Is Born, but in all of the remakes of this classic tale, none of the lead women have won the Oscar, and if Judy Garland can't, then Gaga doesn't stand a chance. And I'm still surprised McCarthy's turn in Can You Ever Forgive Me? didn't get any more love (same with the movie as a whole): She's phenomenally good.

Close is the surest thing to a lock for the entire night. She's on her seventh nomination without a win, but this isn't entirely a make-good Oscar: Though The Wife isn't solid across the board, Close is truly sensational. Her biggest competition is Colman, whose Queen Anne is a spectacular creation (though perhaps not the film's lead?).

Will win: Close

Should win: Close

Left out: Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns; Viola Davis, Widows; Toni Collette, Hereditary

 

Best Actor

Rami Malek stars in "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Nominees: Christian Bale, Vice; Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born; Willem Dafoe, At Eternity's Gate; Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody; Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Cooper, I guess, stands an outside chance here to make up for the fact that he didn't get a director nod, but it's a very outside chance. Dafoe shoulda won last year for The Florida Project, but I suspect not enough voters saw his turn as Vincent Van Gogh in Julian Schnabel's impressionistic biopic. Mortensen hasn't had much momentum despite the film's overall success.

So that leaves Bale's eerie recreation of Dick Cheney and Malek's buck-toothed impersonation of Freddie Mercury. A big meh to both of them, sorry.

Will win: Malek

Should win: Cooper

Left out: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

 

Best Supporting Actress

Regina King stars in "If Beale Street Could Talk."
Courtesy Annapurna

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

As I alluded to with Olivia Colman's Best Actress nod, Weisz and Stone really seem like the leads, or perhaps all three are all supporting each other? Whatever the case, Weisz seems like she could be a spoiler in this race. So does Adams, who has been nominated six times without a win. King, a beloved actress, seems to be the most likely to win here (on her first nomination), but she's a fine choice — especially as the likely sole winner from the overlooked If Beale Street Could Talk

Will win: King

Should win: King

Left out: Claire Foy, First Man; Elizabeth Debicki, Widows

 

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali stars in "Green Book."
Courtesy Universal

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

Green Book has been battered by controveries throughout its Oscar run, but Ali has been utterly unaffected. I wouldn't necessarily have expected him to win again so soon after 2016's Moonlight, but he's one of the most likely wins for the whole night. And, despite my utter indifference to Green Book's charms, I'm not surprised — mostly because Ali's Dr. Don Shirley is the true lead of the film, even if the filmmakers don't realize it. But Grant's charming and quietly devastating work in Can You Ever... is even better, I think.

Will win: Ali

Should win: Grant

Left out: Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther; Alessandro Nivola, Disobedience; Steven Yeun, Burning; Hugh Grant, Paddington 2; Raul Castillo, We the Animals

 

Best Director

Alfonso Cuarón directs a scene in "Roma."
Courtesy Netflix

Nominees: Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman; Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War; Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite; Alfonso Cuarón, The Favourite; Adam McKay, Vice

It always surprises me to see director nods without matching Best Picture nominations, but Pawlikowski's work on Cold War is brilliant (but unlikely to win all the same). Lanthimos is a newly minted Oscar darling, but his films are still probably not accessible enough to triumph here (though Favourite is so deserving). McKay has done far better work than Vice

So, this is essentially a two-man race between ​Cuarón and Lee. The latter has never won, and he'd be the first black filmmaker to take this trophy, but Cuarón's strength over the season will be hard to beat. (Personally, I'd give it to Lee to spread the love around and to recognize his remarkable career, and especially on this, one of his better films.)

Will win: Cuarón

Should win: Lee

Left out: Ryan Coogler, Black Panther; Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk; Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

 

Original Screenplay

Ethan Hawke stars in writer-director Paul Schrader's "First Reformed."
Courtesy Picturehouse Entertainment

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

Shrader wrote Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, but First Reformed is is first-ever nomination. That's insane. But it seems more likely that either Green Book or The Favourite will win here, and I think the biting royal comedy will eke it out. Fingers crossed, because Green Book's script is one of its most risible elements.

Will win: The Favourite

Should win: First Reformed

Left out: Eighth GradeSorry to Bother YouTully

 

Adapted Screenplay

John David Washington and Laura Harrier star in Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman."
Courtesy Focus Features

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

As mentioned above, Spike Lee has never won a competitive Oscar (just an honorary one in 2016) and he has only been nominated two other times before this year. Craziness. He'll deservedly win this time, and I think you can expect a great speech, too. In any other year, Holofcener and Whitty's wonderful adaptation would have won, though.

Will win: BlacKkKlansman

Should win: Can You Ever Forgive Me? or BlacKkKlansman

Left out: Leave No TraceWe the AnimalsWildlifeBurningSpider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 

Animated Feature Film

"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" is a frontrunner for Best Animated Feature.
Courtesy Sony

Nominees: Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

The revolutionary Spider-Verse will take this one in a walk, though all of this year's nominees are worthy, particularly Incredibles 2.

Will and should win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Left out: Early ManTeen Titans Go! To the Movies

 

Cinematography

Nominees: Cold War, The Favourite, Never Look Away, Roma, A Star Is Born

Alfonso Cuarón will likely become the first to win both Best Director and Best Cinematography for the same film, but don't overlook Cold War's sumptuous black-and-white images. (Disclaimer: Never Look Away is one of only two films I haven't been able to see this cycle.)

Will win: Roma

Should win: Roma or Cold War

 

Costume Design

Nominees: Mary Zophres, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs; Ruth E. Carter, Black Panther; Sandy Powell, The Favourite; Sandy Powell, Mary Poppins Returns; Alexandra Byrne, Mary Queen of Scots

I'm dying to see Carter take this one, but I think Powell's intentionally anachronistic Favourite will snatch this one (maybe as a way to reward her for both of her successes this year).

Will win: The Favourite

Should win: Black Panther

 

Documentary Feature

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

This is a great slate in what was an especially terrific year for documentaries. The most-likely winner is RBG, the hagiographic portrait of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, especially given the zeitgeist, but it's honestly the one I would have left out of the running. The vertiginous Free Solo is a strong contender, too.

Will win: RBG

Should win: Minding the Gap, Hale County This Morning, This Evening

Left out: Won't You Be My Neighbor?, Three Identical Strangers, Shirkers, Charm City

 

Documentary Short

Nominees: Black Sheep, End Game, Lifeboat, A Night at the Garden, Period. End of Sentence.

This is a brutal category. Click the links above to read what I wrote about them individually as well as for links to see all but Period and End Game, both of which are on Netflix. End Game is especially powerful, but Night at the Garden is the one I can't stop thinking about. Yet I think Period, which is the most hopeful, will take it home.

Will win: Period. End of Sentence.

Should win: A Night at the Garden

 

Film Editing

Nominees: BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Vice

Bohemian and Vice are both certainly the most edited, though neither are particularly strong. Bohemian's John Ottman is getting the lion's share of the credit for pulling the film together following the dismissal of director Bryan Singer

Will win: Bohemian Rhapsody

Should win: BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite

Left out: Widows

 

Foreign Language Film

Nominees: Capernaum, Cold War, Never Look Away, Roma, Shoplifters

Another strong lineup — at least the three I've seen (I'm still hoping to catch Capernaum and Never Look Away over the weekend, if I'm able to get press screeners). Shoplifters won the Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival, yet the affectingly warm film isn't really in the conversation. Cold War will pick up plenty of votes from those who think Roma's likely Best Picture win (as well as all of its other expected wins) should be reward enough, but I think enough will seek to reward Roma across the board for it to win here, too.

Will and should win: Roma

Left out: Burning, Border

 

Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees: Border, Mary Queen of Scots, Vice

The much-lauded transformation of Christian Bale into the thick, smirking Dick Cheney will take the win, but Border's eye-popping prosthetic work is a must-see.

Will win: Vice

Should win: Border

Left out: Suspiria

 

Original Score

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

Britell's work is swooningly romantic, and Blanchard's has a fantastic groove (plus, it's his long-deserved first nomination). I think that Black Panther will get rewarded here, though.

Will win: Black Panther

Should win: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman

Left out: Justin Hurwitz, First Man

 

Original Song

Nominees: "All the Stars," Black Panther; "I'll Fight," RBG; "The Place Where Lost Things Go," Mary Poppins Returns; "Shallow," A Star Is Born; "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings," The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

HAAA AH AH AH AH, AAAH AAAH, AH AH AH AH HAAA. 'Nuff said.

Will and should win: "Shallow," A Star Is Born

Left out: "Suspirium," Suspiria; "Girl in the Movies," Dumplin'; "Revelation," Boy Erased; "OYAHYTT," Sorry to Bother You

 

Production Design

Nominees: Black Panther, The Favourite, First Man, Mary Poppins Returns, Roma

The visual overload of Favourite's sets should take this one, but the Afro-Futurist look of Black Panther was my favorite (no "u").

Will win: The Favourite

Should win: Black Panther

Left out: Hereditary

 

Animated Short Film

Nominees: Animal Behaviour, Bao, Late Afternoon, One Small Step, Weekends

Weekends won the Annie Award for best short, which probably gives it a strong advantage here, but since Bao screened with Incredibles 2 and was therefore seen by the most voters (and because it's Pixar), I'm going with it for the win.

Will win: Bao

Should win: Late Afternoon

 

Live Action Short Film

Nominees: Detainment, Fauve, Marguerite, Madre, Skin

This category is SO FREAKING BRUTAL, y'all. Like, you don't even know how brutal. Four of them feature children in danger, so my hunch (and that's all it is) is that the one film that doesn't, Marguerite, is the one that'll win. I've seen it described as slight compared to the others, but I don't find that to be a valid criticism at all.

Will and should win: Marguerite

 

Sound Editing

Nominees: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, A Quiet Place, Roma

Sound Mixing

Nominees: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, Roma, A Star Is Born

These categories are the hardest for nonindustry-types to understand, but here are the basics: Sound Editing refers to the sounds created for a film, and Sound Mixing refers to the overall sound elements that are mixed together. Musicals usually win the mixing category, so look for the Live Aid concert in Bohemian Rhapsody to take it. I'd put First Man at the top because the way the sound effects of the roaring and creaking shuttles add to the overall power of the film, but I could also see A Quiet Place walking away with it because of the importance of sound to the film as a whole.

Will and should win (Editing): First Man

Left out (Editing): Annihilation

Will win (Mixing): Bohemian Rhapsody

Should win (Mixing): A Star Is Born

Left out (Mixing): Mary Poppins Returns

 

Visual Effects

Nominees: Avengers: Infinity War, Christopher Robin, First Man, Ready Player One, Solo: A Star Wars Story

Some of the battle sequences in Infinity War felt just the teeniest bit unfinished, but the Great Snap and its aftereffects were top-notch. But First Man mostly avoided the use of CGI and is stronger for it. Plus, superhero films actually haven't won here since Spider-Man 2 in 2004.

Will and should win: First Man

Left out: Annihilation, Black Panther

 

 

Chip Chandler is a producer for Panhandle PBS and a member of GALECA. He can be contacted at Chip.Chandler@actx.edu, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and on Facebook.

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