Straightening out Academy Awards
February 21, 2019
The Academy Awards are a mess this year. The show doesn’t have a host, the producers tried to cut the Editing and Cinematography categories from the live telecast, some stars are refusing to attend, and the ratings are expected to be lower than they’ve been in decades.
Even the categories are a mess, with no true frontrunners in the Best Picture category (though Green Book, Roma, Bohemian Rhapsody, and even Black Panther all seem capable of winning).
So, along with attempting to predict what will win at this year’s Feb. 24 telecast, I figured I’d give out my own awards, and here they are:
BEST ORIGINAL / ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Maybe more than any other category this year, Best Original Screenplay could go to any of the five nominated pictures. I’ll guess that Green Book will win. My favorite original screenplay of 2018 by far was actually nominated: Paul Schrader’s First Reformed. It’s not a fun film, but First Reformed is as well written as movies get.
BlackKklansman is the frontrunner for Best Adapted Screenplay, if only because people think it’s the only award it will win. But I think If Beale Street Could Talk will take it. If it were up to me, I’d go with Can You Ever Forgive Me?, written by the great Nicole Holofcener.
Anyone who knows anything about long-form editing realizes that action and documentary films are the hardest edits. That being said, Adam McKay’s films are built in the editing bay in a unique way, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Vice took the statue this year. I’d personally go with Minding the Gap, a triumphant editing marvel if ever there was one.
Nicholas Britell’s If Beale Street Could Talk should win and hopefully will. I’d also be happy if Alexandre Desplat’s score for Isle of Dogs won. (We can look forward to Desplat and Britell being nominated every other year going forward, basically.) But if it were totally up to me, Jonny Greenwood’s score for Lynee Ramsay’s brilliant You Were Never Really Here impressed me most in 2018, as dramatic avant garde composition at its finest.
Roma might win, or A Star Is Born might win. If it were up to me, I would go with Linus Sandgren for his work on the gorgeous First Man, a film that I’d call one of the year’s best crafted. It’s gorgeous and I’m glad I saw it on the big screen.
BEST SUPPORTing ACTOR / ACTRESS
Supposedly Amy Adams doesn’t have a chance and Rachel Weitz and Emma Stone are going to cancel each other out for The Favourite. That leaves Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk.
As for Best Supporting Actor, this year’s crop is notably weak, and Mahershala Ali is all but a lock for the win for his performance in Green Book. If it were up to me, I’d go with Casey Affleck for his performance in David Lowery’s amazing The Old Man and the Gun.
It should be Alfonso Cuarón for Roma, or maybe Lars von Trier for The House That Jack Built. Some would argue that it should be Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born (which I did enjoy quite a bit). Some think Spike Lee will nab the honor as something of a lifetime achievement award (which wouldn’t bother me). The Academy didn’t recognize Peter Farrelly’s direction on Green Book, but he won the Golden Globe and several other awards, and you have to wonder where those votes are going.
I’d guess that Alfonso Cuarón wins for Roma, or maybe Yorgos Lanthimos wins for The Favourite, if The Favourite ends up sweeping and becoming the surprise hit of the year. I’d be happy awarding Cuarón, who is one of the best directors of all time at this point, and I’d be happy awarding Spike Lee, who should have won the award three or four times in the past. But if it were up to me, I’d award David Lowery’s lean, almost elegant, incredibly thoughtful and charming direction for the film The Old Man and the Gun. Lowery is the next great American director candidate, and this movie displays how broad his voice and vision have become. Second place would go to Bing Liu for Minding the Gap.
I think the night will be brightened when Bradley Cooper surprises with a win over Rami Malek and Christian Bale. But if it were up to me, I would give the award to Matt Dillon for Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built. Surprise!
This is my favorite Oscar conversation of the year. The nominated actresses are all great and deserving, but here’s my alternate nomination list: Anna Kendrick for A Simple Favor, Chante Adams for Roxanne Roxanne, Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born, Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Toni Collette for Hereditary. My winner would be Chante Adams over Toni Collette by a hair.
But the actual winner will probably be Glenn Close for The Wife, which is an unfortunate career achievement gesture. Or maybe, just maybe, Lady Gaga will surprise.
I’m pretty sure Roma is going to win this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bohemian Rhapsody or Green Book steal the night. The best film I saw that was released in 2018 was Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap, which wasn’t nominated for Best Picture but was nominated for Best Documentary Feature. So if it wins in that category, then that will feel like the most important win of the night in my book. If you’ve not yet seen Minding the Gap, it’s currently available on Hulu.