The 91st Oscar Ceremony will be without a host this year but that’s okay if the writing for the presenters is sharp and salient. Sometimes I wonder why actors agree to read the often lame patter that litters the awards shows. People always say, “it’s all in the writing”, so let’s hope for the best.
Two smaller films, “Roma” and “The Favourite” scored the most nominations to lead the pack but the studios did alright with “A Star is Born”, “Green Book”,“BlacKkKlansman”and “Black Panther” each getting multiple nods.
“Black Panther” (Ryan Coogler)
“BlacKkKlansman” (Spike Lee)
“Bohemian Rhapsody” (Bryan Singer)
“The Favourite” (Yorgos Lanthimos)
“Green Book” (Peter Farrelly)
“Roma” (Alfonso Cuaron)
“A Star Is Born” (Bradley Cooper)
“Vice” (Adam McKay)
I would put “A Star is Born” as my top choice for me but I’m afraid it peaked too soon with an early release costing Bradley Cooper a number nominations. “Black Panther” was a monster blockbuster (1.3 Billion so far) and it dealt with some topical issues underneath the Marvel veneer: how we deal with the less fortunate and the responsibilities of rich nations, but i think the direction and artistry of Alfonso Cuaron will carry the day. I think Roma will win.
Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Sam Rockwell, “Vice”
I think the primary race is between Mahershala Ali for “Green Book”, a great performance as 60’s pianist Don Shirley touring the South with the help of the eponymous Green Book Guide for black tourists, and Richard E. Grant from “Can You Ever Forgive Me”, both sad and hilarious as as Melissa McCarthy’s crime partner. I think Mahershala Ali will win.
Amy Adams, “Vice”
Marina de Tavira, “Roma”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”
Amy Adams is overdue as many times nominated actor and may very well win for her portrayal of Lynne Cheney in “Vice” but I think the Oscar will go to the talented Regina King as the best thing in “If Beale Street Could Talk”. Both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone were wonderful as rivals for Olivia Coleman’s crazy Queen Anne’s affection in “The Favourite”, so good that they will cancel each other out with the voters. I believe Regina King will win.
Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
My preference here is the criminally overlooked Bradley Cooper. He was robbed in the director category and ignored in this award season as best actor nominee. I thought he was masterful at directing himself in “A Star Is Born”. Rami Malek, playing Freddy Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody”, gave us a great performance in a fairly stock Rock Biopic. He’s hot right now. I think Rami Malek will win.
Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
The voters will probably be satisfied that first time nominee Lady Gaga will go home with best Original Song but she is certainly deserving of Best Actress honors too. Melissa McCarthy was fantastic as a real life author turned con woman in “Can You Ever Forgive Me” I would love to see her win, as I would first time actor Yalitza Aparicio as a domestic worker in “Roma”, but Glen Close gave a great performance in “The Wife” and is a heavy sentimental favorite in what would be an appreciation of a lifetime of great work: many times nominated (7) but never a winner.My guess is Glen Close will win.
Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Adam McKay, “Vice”
I was sad to see that Bradley Cooper lost out in the nominations here with the inclusion of two European Directors , Pawel Pawlikowski and Yorgos Lanthimos, sad about that, but glad Spike Lee is included this year. All the nominees did great work but Alfonso Cuarón, taking a chance working in Black and White, has created cinema magic with “Roma”. I think Alfonso Cuarón will win.
Best Animated Feature: “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse”
“Incredibles 2,” Brad Bird
“Isle of Dogs,” Wes Anderson
“Mirai,” Mamoru Hosoda
“Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
My personal favorite this year was Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs”, so inventive in stop motion, but “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” has the big spotlight this awards season. I think “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” will win.
Best Documentary Feature
“Free Solo” Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” RaMell Ross
“Minding the Gap,” Bing Liu
“Of Fathers and Sons,” Talal Derki
“RBG,” Betsy West, Julie Cohen
This is quite the controversial category for one reason: the fact that the very successful Fred Rogers story, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” was not nominated. That leaves us with two other successful contenders in my opinion: “Free Solo” about the worlds greatest mountain climber , untethered, taking on Yosemite’s treacherous cliff, El Capitan, and “RBG”, the inspiring story of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I was astounded by the drama and cinematography of “Free Solo”, so I’m going with filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin of “Free Solo to win.
Documentary Short Subject: “Black Sheep” Ed Perkins
“A Night at the Garden” Marshall Curry
“Black Sheep” Ed Perkins
“End Game” Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
“Lifeboat” Skye Fitzgerald
“Period. End of Sentence.” Rayka Zehtabchi
“Black Sheep” tells the story of Cornelius Walker, who, as a boy is moved into an area outside of London by his mother, who thinks that this will be a safer environment. It turns out the neighborhood is run by a racist gang, and young Cornelius adopts some of their behavior. The adult Cornelius walks us through the story portrayed by mostly non-actors recreating his experiences with disquieting effect. With it’s subjects of race and identity, Directer Ed Perkins creates a winning entry. Therefore, I think “Black Sheep” and Ed Perkins will win.
Adapted Screenplay: “A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen , Ethan Coen
“BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, 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
The Writer’s Guild nominated Spike Lee, Bradley Cooper, Barry Jenkins, and Nicole Holofcenter in this tough category. they did not nominate the Cohen Brothers but the Oscar committee did. Nicole Holofcenter did a superb job adapting author turned con woman Lee Israel’s memoir into a terrific vehicle for Melissa McCarthy, but I think anyone who can take an old warhorse tale like “A Star is Born” and make it totally relevant for the times deserves the honor. Plus, this could be a category where voters want to make up for the lack of award attention paid to this audience winner. Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters will win for “A Star Is Born”.
Original Screenplay: “Green Book”
“The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader
“Green Book”, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“Vice,” Adam McKay
Another tight race here, “Roma” creator Alfonso Cuarón leads in the category with strong completion from the “Green Book” team: Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, and Brian Currie, and “First Reformed” auteur, Paul Schrader (Taxi) has been long overlooked. I think this is a win for the “Green Book Team”. I’m going with Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly to win.
Original Song: “Shallow”, Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice
“All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch
I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the “A Prairie Home Companion” stage with David Rawlings and Gillian Welch on a number of occasions, great talents and people, so I’d be thrilled if they won, but this is Lady Gaga’s to lose, plus Bradley Cooper and Gaga will perform the song on the broadcast.It’s a lock: “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice will Win
Original Score: “Black Panther,” Ludwig Göransson
“BlacKkKlansman,” Terence Blanchard
“Black Panther,” Ludwig Göransson
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell
“Isle of Dogs,” Alexandre Desplat
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
Alexander Desplat is a two time winner and looks to Japan for his score of Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs. Terence Blanchard captures the 70’s R&B sound to underscore Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman”, but this might be an opportunity for another craft win for “Black Panther” featuring Sweden’s Ludwig Göransson’s Afrocentric score.I believe ” Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson will win.
Animated Short: “Late Afternoon,” Louise Bagnall
“Animal Behaviour,” Alison Snowden, David Fine
“Bao,” Domee Shi
“Late Afternoon,” Louise Bagnall
“One Small Step,” Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
“Weekends,” Trevor Jimenez
Pixar’s “Bao” is the story of a dumpling making woman who magically sees one of her dumping come to life as a child to be nurtured for better or worse.
“Late Afternoon”, by Louise Bagnall, explores dementia uses minimal animation to give us insight into the afflicted mind of “Emily” as she surveys the bits and pieces of her life in heartbreaking fashion.
“Bao” seems to be the front runner but I think the voters will opt for a simpler style this year. Look for “Late Afternoon” to win.
Short Film, Live Action: “Detainment,” Vincent Lambe
“Detainment,” Vincent Lambe
“Fauve,” Jeremy Comte
“Marguerite,” Marianne Farley
“Mother,” Rodrigo Sorogoyen
“Skin,” Guy Nattiv
Children in peril seems to be the theme of this years Short Film, Live Action nominees. “Skin” shows us the terrible possibilities of bad parenting and teaching hate. “Mother” portrays the horror of literally losing a child. “Fauve” gives us a lesson in wild child behavior with predictable dangerous results. “Marguerite” is a sweet reminder that empathy between generations is something to strive for. “Detainment” uses police interviews in a case involving the youngest murderers in British history to plumb the depths of the human capacity for evil. This film is presented with taut direction by Victor Lambe and brilliant acting by the cast that leaves an indelible mark on the viewer that’s tough to shake.In spite of it’s disturbing true story I think “Detainment” will win.
Cinematography: “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“Cold War,” Lukasz Zal
“Never Look Away,” Caleb Deschanel
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“A Star Is Born,” Matthew Libatique
I had the honor to act in “I Am Not A Serial Killer” (2016) filmed by nominee Robbie Ryan (“The Favorite”). Ryan made iron range Virginia, Minnesota in March a living breathing entity in this Sci-Fi, Christopher Lloyd vehicle. I was the first of the creature’s victims as “Olson, the Barber”. The Academy nomination must have been lost in the mail. None the less I think that Alfonso Cuarón’s camera work in black and white was truly magnificent. I hope it’s Robbie Ryan, but I think it’s another Alfonso Cuarón win.
Editing: “The Favourite” (Yorgos Mavropsaridis)
“BlacKkklansman” (Barry Alexander Brown)
“Bohemian Rhapsody” (John Ottman)
“The Favourite” (Yorgos Mavropsaridis)
“Green Book” (Patrick J. Don Vito)
“Vice” (Hank Corwin)
The editing nominees this year all maintain a delicate balance of drama and humor. “Bohemian Rhapsody” handles the “Love Aid” crowd scenes and Queen’s appearance with real skill. and “Green Book” captures the odd couple dynamic of Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) with flair, but “The Favorite” editor, Yorgos Mavropsaridis, manipulates the delicate machinations of the threesome of Queen Anne and her two “favorites” with great effect. I think Yorgos Mavropsaridis will win.
Costume Design: Ruth E. Carter (“Black Panther”)
Ruth E. Carter (“Black Panther”)
Sandy Powell (“The Favourite”)
Sandy Powell (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Alexandra Byrne (“Mary Queen of Scots”)
I was thrilled to be dressed by nominee Mary Zophres as “Detective 1” in the Cohen Brothers “A Serious Man” (2009) 20 pounds ago, the badge did all the work, so my inclination is to cheer her on to victory for the Cohen Brothers “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” for her terrific Western Costumes, but this year she’s up against Ruth E. Carter’s wildly inventive Wakandan wardrobe for the Blockbuster “Black Panther”. I believe Ruth E. Carter will win.
Foreign Language Feature: “Roma” (Alfonso Cuaron, Mexico)
“Roma” (Alfonso Cuaron, Mexico)
“Cold War” (Pawel Pawlikowski, Poland)
“Capernaum” (Nadine Labaki, Lebanon)
“Shoplifters” (Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan)
“Never Look Away” (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Germany)
Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Cold War”, set in Eastern Europe, Post War into the 60’s, is a tragic love story beautifully told in Black and White and will be one of the top contenders here, but it will be hard to overtake the “Roma” juggernaut, especially because voters may be afraid that “Roma’ won’t get best picture and will want to make sure it gets top billing somewhere. i think “Roma” will be the winner.
Hair and Makeup: Vice
“Mary Queen of Scots”
I wish John C. Reilly’s amazing transformation as Oliver Hardy “Stan and Ollie” had been honored with a nomination. The results were unbelievable. But, it’s hard to deprive the equally astounding achievement of turning Christian Bale into Dick Cheney in “Vice”. I think “Vice” will win.
Production Design: “Black Panther,” Hannah Beachler, Jay R. Hart
“Black Panther,” Hannah Beachler, Jay R. Hart
“First Man,” Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas
“The Favourite,” Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton
“Mary Poppins Returns,” John Myhre, Gordon Sim
“Roma,” Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez
Alphonso Cuaron recreated 1971 Mexico City with incredible attention to detail but I think with all the honors his film will receive will be bad news for “Roma’s” production designers, Eugenio Caballero and Barbara Enriquez. World’s like Hannah Beachler and Jay R. Hart’s design for “Black Panther” will be hard to beat so, I think “Black Panther” and Hannah Beachler and Jay R. Hart will win.
Sound Editing: “A Quiet Place,” Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl
“Black Panther,” Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Warhurst
“First Man,” Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan
“A Quiet Place,” Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl
“Roma,” Sergio Diaz, Skip Lievsay
Best Sound Editing this year is a tough race. “First Man” recreates the thrill of the Moon Landing, “Bohemian Rhapsody” masters multiple concert moments, but “Quiet Place” editors Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl have the unique opportunity to edit sound in a film all about sound. I think “A Quiet Place”: Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl will win.
Sound Mixing: “A Star Is Born”
“A Star Is Born”
It seems to me that Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” is a film in search of some Oscar love in an awards season where it’s been hard to come by. Sound Mixing will give the Oscar voters a chance to right this with recognition of the job Cooper did with giving us live concert perfection and, at the same time, many intimate moments for its lead actors. My guess is “A Star is Born” will win.
Visual Effects: “Avengers: Infinity War”
“Avengers: Infinity War”
“Ready Player One”
“Solo: A Star Wars Story”
All the nominees are worthy here in a very competitive field, but the voters will probably focus on Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and Damien Chazelle’s “First Man”. “Avengers” effects team brought the character Thanos with actor’s Josh Brolin live performance acting to life in startling detail. I think “Avengers: Infinity War” will win.