Friday, February 22, 2019

91st Academy Awards Preview & Predictions

It's that time again, when Hollywood's best and brightest get dolled up and give each other presents for being awesome!  So Mike Drinan (@mdrinan380) and I are back to offer our thoughts and predictions!

2018 was definitely a step down from 2017 for me.  There were some excellent films but nowhere near the volume of '17 (Then again 2017 was one of the best years for film I can remember).  I also spent a lot of the year playing catch-up and there are still a few important entries I have to see.  But in terms of Best Pic nominees I'm in decent shape, having seen six of the eight.

What disturbs me about this year's awards is the obvious desperation for ratings, to the point that not only was the Academy considering adding a Best Popular Film category (Holy fucking Christ that's a terrible idea), but a couple of the Best Pic noms were questionable at best.  I get that you need people to watch the show, but surely we don't have to cheapen the most important category with films that don't deserve to be there.  More on that in a bit.

I also find the lack of a host very odd.  Kevin Hart was of course tapped to host the show originally, and I think he'd have been highly entertaining in that role.  But then it got out that, get this, standup comedian Kevin Hart once told some offensive jokes.  ***GASP***  Look, Eddie Murphy was supposed to host several years ago and I guarantee whatever Hart said in his act was less offensive than some of Murphy's 1980s material.  Standup comedy is kinda sorta supposed to be offensive at times, no?  So rather than welcome further backlash, Hart stepped down as host and the Academy chose not to replace him at all.  This'll be weird.  Who's doing the introduction?  This edition feels so chaotic.

Anyway, let's get to the categories.

Best Picture

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
A Star is Born

Justin: I've seen all but two of these candidates (Roma & Green Book) and hope to catch them this weekend before the show.  Roma's on Netflix so that should be a no-brainer.  My favorite of the six I have seen is BlacKKKlansman, a riveting docudrama with subject matter that's as relevant today as it was in the 70s.  I also loved The Favourite and have begun delving into Yorgos Lanthimos's previous films (His movies have an offputting, Kubrick-esque quality that I admire greatly).  Vice and A Star is Born are both top-notch candidates as well, with excellent performances.  Black Panther is an odd one for me; I liked this movie a lot and I'm certainly happy the Academy recognized a superhero film, particularly one with such cultural significance.  But like Mad Max Fury Road it seems out of place here.  The one that really gets my goat though is Bohemian Rhapsody, a sterile, trite, paint-by-numbers rock n' roll biopic that for me didn't even measure up to Oliver Stone's The Doors.  This nomination more than any other reeks of ratings desperation, and in including it the Academy seems to have mistaken a strong central performance for a great film.  You can read my full review of BR here, but in short, this movie has no business in this category.  How did If Beale Street Could Talk not get included instead, aside from "ratings, man?"

Anyway, Roma's been the odds-on favorite to win this whole thing and it's probably the most unanimous pick for most critics, but I gotta think the studio heads are pissed that it's a Netflix film.  Could that hurt its chances?  I could see Klansman getting it instead, since Spike Lee never wins anything.  That's what I'm rooting for.  But Roma has gotten SO much praise it's hard to bet against it.

Prediction: Roma

Mike: This year, I slacked off on the movie front. I have only seen 2 of the nominated films, Black Panther and BlacKKKlansman. Both Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody seem odd choices for this category. It's definitely an effort to get ratings. It would've been nice if If Beale Street Could Talk got one of those two spots. It was absolutely worth nomination, at least. I'm really interested to see The Favourite since there seems to be a good mix of humor, drama and uncertainty to it. Yorgos is definitely an interesting director to keep an eye on. I'm also interested in seeing A Star Is Born because it looks great, but I don't like that it got nominated in this category. It's the fourth remake of this film. WHY are we entertaining it as if it was some great original idea?

Anyways, I've heard great things about Roma and it's won a slew of awards already and critics have been loving it, so I'm not sure if it being on Netflix hurts or not. I wouldn't completely mind if BlacKKKlansman gets it but I don't see that happening. To me the upset would come from Green Book.

Prediction: Roma

Best Director

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

Justin: It's about fucking time Spike Lee got this nomination.  Jeezus Christ.  He's already won an honorary Oscar before ever getting a Best Director nod.  That's criminal.  And he truly deserves it for this film.  That's enough for me to go with him.  Alfonso Cuaron could win it too, but since he won it in 2013 (over Steve McQueen, mind you - absolute bullshit), it's Spike's this year.

Prediction: Spike Lee

Mike: Spike deserves this award, but I don't think it's his year considering Cuaron has been dominating this category in awards season picking up a Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics Choice and the Director's Guild Award. I love Spike and hope he pulls the upset here.

Prediction: Alfonso Cuaron

Best Actor

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

Justin: This is probably the easiest category to predict.  Rami Malek is clearly winning.  I'm okay with that; his performance was quite good, and really the only thing about Bohemian Rhapsody that worked for me.  Though if I had my druthers I'd go with Christian Bale for Vice.  But Malek is a fine choice.

Prediction: Rami Malek

Mike: Once again, we agree. I haven't seen the film but it's pretty clear how deep Malek dives into Freddie. Once you lose yourself to the character and become unrecognizable, you get my vote, which is why I wouldn't be mad if Bale stole it from him. All this makes me sad for Willem Dafoe. Fourth Oscar nomination and no wins. I don't like Bradley Cooper's inclusion in this category, I think it's based off of buzz of the film and on screen chemistry (which I've heard is excellent between him and Gaga). I'm kind of pissed that Ethan Hawke didn't get nominated for First Reformed and would've like to see him take Cooper's nomination.

Prediction: Rami Malek

Best Actress

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

Justin: My heart wants Lady Gaga to take this; she was absolutely wonderful in A Star is Born.  I also admired Olivia Colman's demented turn as Queen Anne in The Favourite.  But Glenn Close (to my shock) has never won this award.  Simply baffling.  So she's taking this.

Prediction: Glenn Close

Mike: This does seem like a race between Glenn Close and Lady Gaga for this, but I can't see Close losing this either.

Prediction: Glenn Close

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali – Green Book
Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell – Vice

Justin: I'd love to see Adam Driver win this.  He was fantastic in BlacKKKlansman and he's one of those actors you can't take your eyes off of when he's onscreen.  Just a naturally super-compelling actor.  But all signs point to Mahershala Ali taking home his second Supporting Actor statuette for Green Book.  Again, I haven't seen it yet but Ali's probably gotten the most praise of anything in that film.

Prediction: Mahershala Ali

Mike: I agree with you about Driver, he's fantastic. Even in interviews he's compelling and interesting with a great sense of humor. He was really entertaining in BlacKKKlansman. Sam Elliott has slowly become someone that I've enjoyed watching recently. I've never really gave him much consideration as an actor, not sure why. It was great that he got a nomination, but once again it's going to be Mahershala Ali taking home this award.

Prediction: Mahershala Ali

Best Supporting Actress

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

Justin: Of the three performances I've seen in this category Rachel Weisz was my favorite (pun intended).  She just has a magnetic presence when she's onscreen in this film and for me she stole the show.  That said, I think Regina King takes this one.  Haven't seen Beale St. yet but I'm very much looking forward to it.

Prediction: Regina King

Mike: My heart screams for Amy Adams to get a fucking Oscar one day. This is her sixth (SIXTH!!!!) nomination without ever taking home the prize. it goes, Regina King deserves this award. She was fantastic in Beale Street. Absolutely compelling, heartbreaking, and at times funny. There was a great depth and warmth to her performance that really surprised me. At the end of the film, I turned to my friend and said, "How about Regina King?" Her performance really won me over.

Prediction: Regina King

Best Original Screenplay

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

Justin: I've only seen two of these and I'd be happy with either of them taking it.  I loved the offbeat Vice, which alternated between making me laugh and making me angry, but the darkly humorous The Favourite should take this as far as I'm concerned.

Prediction: The Favourite

Mike: This is going to be another interesting category. The Favourite won the BAFTA. Green Book won the Golden Globe. First Reformed won Critics Choice.  So, this is a real tossup. We agree on most categories so let's have some fun.

Prediction: Green Book

Best Adapted Screenplay

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

Justin: I'm a HUGE Coen Brothers fan but I didn't think much of Buster Scruggs at all.  It's very far from their best work.  A Star is Born was touching and emotive, hitting familiar notes but satisfyingly so.  But my pick is the spellbinding BlacKKKlansman since it's probably falling to the mighty Roma in the Best Pic category.

Prediction: BlacKKKlansman

Mike: Once again, I will reiterate my annoyance that A Star Is Born is nominated because it's the FOURTH REMAKE OF THE MOVIE! Yeah, there are changes and it's not the same and blah blah blah, but come on man. How are we going to tolerate the same recycled shit over and over again? If it's up to me it would go to Beale Street. It was such a great rendering of James Baldwin's book, with so much care put into the characters that it's really tough to go against it. However, Spike has a lot going for him this year and I can't see him losing this category.

Prediction: BlacKKKlansman

Best Cinematography

Cold War – Łukasz Żal
The Favourite – Robbie Ryan
Never Look Away – Caleb Deschanel
Roma – Alfonso Cuarón
A Star Is Born – Matthew Libatique

Justin: One of four awards the Academy had announced was being given out during a commercial break (idiots), Cinematography is easily the most important of the technical Oscars.  A film's look and feel contribute greatly to our impression of it.  I've seen three of these and my personal pick would be the Kubrick-esque The Favourite, as its use of wide-angle lenses and natural light made the settings claustrophobic as hell.  But I gotta think Roma takes this.

Prediction: Roma

Mike: I agree with you on this but my argument is more succinct. Voters love black & white.

Prediction: Roma

Best Original Score

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

Justin: I've only seen two of these (Panther and Klansman) and I have to say neither film's score really stuck out to me like the obvious winner usually does.  So the winner is probably something I haven't seen.  I'll go with Beale St.

Prediction: If Beale Street Could Talk

Mike: This is going to be a fun category. The score for Beale Street was absolutely fantastic and really added to the story, the character's emotional struggles and the tension that results from it. For me, it should win this category. However, there's something to being a Best Picture nominee so I wouldn't look away from BlacKKKlansman or Black Panther to take this as well.

Prediction: If Beale Street Could Talk

Tie-Breaker: Best Sound Editing

Black Panther – Benjamin A. Burtt and Steve Boeddeker
Bohemian Rhapsody – John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone
First Man – Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
A Quiet Place – Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
Roma – Sergio Díaz and Skip Lievsay

Justin: This seems like a suitable tie-breaker category, since who knows what the fuck will win this?  Could literally be any of these.  A Quiet Place seems like a potential winner for its absence of sound to ratchet up the suspense.  I'll go with Jim Halpert's horror masterpiece, and I look forward to its inevitable sequel, I Still Know How Quiet Your Place Is.

Prediction: A Quiet Place

Mike: A Quiet Place is a great pick. That film was so fucking good that I'd love it if it won. But, Bohemian Rhapsody took home the sound prize at the BAFTAs so I think its the favorite. I don't know much about sound, that's where I'm going to lay my bet on.

Prediction: Bohemian Rhapsody

There's our picks for the 91st Academy Awards.  Hope you enjoy the show - we'll be back on Monday with a recap.

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