Predicting the 2019 Oscars


Best Picture

Black Panther


Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book


A Star Is Born


Has there ever been a harder Best Picture field to predict than this one? I don’t think so. Prevailing opinion says that Roma will win, as it’s the frontrunner for Best Director (a good indicator for what’ll win Best Picture), won the BAFTAs, and is widely beloved, meaning it’ll get a lot of number two or three votes with the Academy’s preferential ballot voting system. However, a foreign language film has never won Best Picture at the Oscars. Furthermore, Roma is a Netflix film, and many older Academy members turn up their nose at (or secretly fear) the streaming giant. So while I’d love the prognosticators to be right and Roma to win, I am going with my gut, which tells me that the Academy is not nearly as young and critically-minded as it likes to project itself as. So the affable comedy that doubles as a lesson on not being racist will win. Don’t underestimate the chances of a film that tells its white, liberal audience to feel good about not being bad people. So I’m going against the consensus and picking Green Book to win. Too bad A Star Is Born has faded as it’s the type of prestige film that would be a worthy Best Picture winner while also being an obvious one.

Will Win: Green Book

Should Win: Roma

Best Actor

Christian Bale for Vice

Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born

Willem Dafoe for At Eternity’s Gate

Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen for Green Book

This list of nominees could’ve been so much better. Where is Ethan Hawke for First Reformed? Brady Jandreau for The Rider? Nowhere to be seen. At least Willem Dafoe got a justly-deserved nomination for his immersive work as Vincent van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate. I’d be happy to see Dafoe win, but I think Cooper deserves it, like he did for American Sniper. His performance as the ill-fated Jackson Maine in A Star Is Born is remarkable in all the conventional ways you judge a performance, but add to the fact that he directed the film and does his own singing and guitar playing, and you’ve got more than enough reason to give him the award. Of course, he likely won’t win. Rami Malek is riding the momentum for his performance as Freddie Mercury in the wildly-popular Bohemian Rhapsody, so expect him to be on stage come Sunday night.

Will Win: Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody

Should Win: Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born

Best Actress

Yalitzia Aparicio for Roma

Glenn Close for The Wife

Olivia Colman for The Favourite

Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born

Melissa McCarthy for Can You Ever Forgive Me?

I’m not convinced anyone has actually seen The Wife, but that won’t stop Glenn Close from winning Best Actress as a kind of lifetime achievement award. Close is a decent actress, but she has bad taste in material, with most of her films reeking of awards bait. Melissa McCarthy or Yalitzia Aparicio would be worthy winners for their work (Olivia Colman is very good in The Favourite, but she’s a supporting role in the film), but I think Lady Gaga deserves it for her performance of “Shallow” alone. We knew she could sing (even though I don’t care for her pop music), but who knew she could really act as well?

Will Win: Glenn Close for The Wife

Should Win: Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali for Green Book

Adam Driver for BlacKkKlansman

Sam Elliott for A Star Is Born

Richard E. Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Sam Rockwell for Vice

Mahershala Ali will win for his enjoyable work as the pianist Don Shirley in Green Book. Despite the critical narrative that Ali is miscategorized here, his work as Shirley is the supporting role in the film, as the narrative arc belongs to Viggo Mortensen’s Tony Lip. I won’t begrudge Ali for winning his second Oscar in three years, but I’d prefer Richard E. Grant to win for his hilarious and occasionally devastating work in Can You Ever Forgive Me?. Sam Elliott would also be deserving, if only for the scene where he drives away from Jackson’s house after dropping him off after rehab, struggling not to cry.

Will Win: Mahershala Ali for Green Book

Should Win: Richard E. Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams for Vice

Marina de Tavira for Roma

Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk

Emma Stone for The Favourite

Rachel Weisz for The Favourite

Regina King seems to have the momentum on her side, but don’t discount Rachel Weisz, who won the BAFTA for her actually-leading role in The Favourite. Both her and Emma Stone are very good in The Favourite, but both are actually the film’s two lead roles, so they’re both miscategorized. But the Oscars seem to arbitrarily categorize lead and supporting roles, and seeing as I don’t find any of the nominated performances among the year’s best (my pick would’ve been Elizabeth Debicki in Widows or Jennifer Jason Leigh in Annihilation), I’d be fine if either Weisz or Stone get the award, although I lean more to Stone, as she has the trickier balance to pull off.

Will Win: Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk

Should Win: Emma Stone for The Favourite

Best Director

Alfonso Cuarón for Roma

Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman

Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite

Adam McKay for Vice

Paweł Pawlikowski for Cold War

I’m confused as to why Adam McKay and Yorgos Lanthimos snuck into this category over other potential nominees. Vice is certainly bold, but its direction is uneven, and mostly a retread of what McKay had already done in The Big Short. Lanthimos seems to have no actual directorial sense aside from sucking any humanity out of any given scene. His visual instincts are baffling, for instance. Most of the good work being done in The Favourite is the result of talented actors and a competent script. I’d be happy to see any of the other nominees win. Spike Lee has never been nominated until now and him winning would be a delight to witness. Pawlikowski continues to be one of the best working European directors. I love that he broke into this category despite his movie being very small and artsy. Cuarón has won the majority of the precursor awards and expect him to take home Best Director as well. It’d be well-deserved, as Roma is nothing if not a stunning directorial achievement.

Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Best Original Screenplay

The Favourite by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara

First Reformed by Paul Schrader

Green Book by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly

Roma by Alfonso Cuaron

Vice by Adam McKay

Most of success of The Favourite relies on the caty dialogue and intricate subterfuge and plotting, so expect this to be the major award for that popular British film. However, don’t discount a Green Book surge and its humorous script to win here, despite co-writer Nick Vallelonga courting controversy with this pro-Trump tweets (since deleted). First Reformed should win in a just world, but I’m happy just to see it here. The Rider and Shoplifters should’ve found their way into this category, at the expense of Vice and either Green Book or The Favourite.

Will Win: The Favourite

Should Win: First Reformed

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs by Joel & Ethan Coen

BlacKkKlansman by Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee

Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty

If Beale Street Could Talk by Barry Jenkins

A Star Is Born by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters

However much I’d love Spike Lee to win Best Director, this is his best shot to win an Academy Award (he already has an Honourary Oscar from 2015). While I like A Star Is Born better as a film, and I also wouldn’t be disappointed if Can You Ever Forgive Me? won, BlacKkKlansman is a deft blend of historical storytelling and buddy comedy. It’s both funny and carries dramatic weight, largely as a result of its sturdy screenplay. Burning and Widows are bafflingly absent here. Either of those two would be deserving winners in a better year.

Will Win: BlacKkKlansman

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

Best Cinematography

Cold War

The Favourite

Never Look Away


A Star Is Born

Alfonso Cuarón will become the first director to win Best Cinematography for a film he also directed. If you’ve seen Roma, this makes sense. The visuals are gorgeous and exact, with each sweeping pan calculated to stunning degree. I’d also be happy to see Cold War win for its beautiful black-and-white Academy ratio cinematography, or A Star Is Born for its personal concert footage and electric close-ups. But Roma will be a deserving winner.

Will Win: Roma

Should Win: Roma

Best Costume Design

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Black Panther

The Favourite

Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Queen of Scots

Never discount the highly-awarded period piece. For all my quibbles about The Favourite, the costume design is marvellous. Nicholas Hoult’s costumes alone would be worth awarding. So I expect The Favourite to take this category because it’s the film that looms largest in the Academy’s minds. That being said, Black Panther could squeak out a win for its Afro-futurist outfits, especially the striking costumes on display during the waterfall fight. If I could pick the winner, I’d give it to The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, if only for Buster’s immaculate white suit in the opening segment.

Will Win: The Favourite

Should Win: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Sound Mixing

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man


A Star Is Born

This category could go a lot of ways. It could reward First Man for the mechanical sound effects that are essential for all the rocket launch scenes. It could go to A Star Is Born for its remarkable live sound recording that captures all the emotions of concerts (which would be my pick). Or, as is most likely, it’ll reward the popular movie about a popular rock band, despite the actors not actually singing the music.

Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody

Should Win: A Star Is Born

Best Sound Editing

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man

A Quiet Place


While mixing has more to do with the capturing of sound effects, sound editing has to do with created effects and how they’re put to use in the film. That being the case, I expect First Man to win here for the booming sound effects that make its many scenes of rocket launches and space flights exhilarating, visceral experiences.

Will Win: First Man

Should Win: First Man

Best Editing


Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book


I wouldn’t be surprised if Bohemian Rhapsody won here for its shoddy over-cutting and garbage coverage, as people mistake montages and over-editing for good editing. However, I think it’s more likely that Vice wins for its flashy meta-editing that takes The Big Short route of combining a commentary on the film’s events with kinetic recreations of the events themselves. I think that BlacKkKlansman would be the worthy winner, as its meticulous cross-cutting expertly builds tension and weaponizes a form pioneered by D.W. Griffith in his racist epic, The Birth of a Nation.

Will Win: Vice

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

Best Visual Effects

Avengers: Infinity War

Christopher Robin

First Man

Ready Player One

Solo: A Star Wars Story

While convention would have it that Avengers: Infinity War wins for its “throw everything at the screen and see what sticks” approach to visual effects, and for realizing Thanos, a purely-digital creation, I think it’s more likely that the Academy continues the trend in recent years of rewarding the less-flashy, more impressive visual effects that blend into the film. That’d mean that First Man, which uses visual effects to seamlessly recreate the Apollo missions, will win. For what it’s worth, I think Solo had as good visual effects as is possible in current blockbusters. I’d be happy to see it win.

Will Win: First Man

Should Win: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Best Makeup & Hairstyling


Mary Queen of Scots


Did you see Vice? Or did you even only see a promotional photo from it? Christian Bale looks identical to Dick Cheney. Yes, he gained a bunch of weight, but makeup technicians did the rest. It’s a triumph of recreation.

Will Win: Vice

Should Win: Vice

Best Original Song

“All the Stars” from Black Panther

“I’ll Fight” from RBG

“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns

“Shallow” from A Star Is Born

“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

It’ll be an injustice if “Shallow” doesn’t win. However much I like “All the Stars” and “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” “Shallow” is the best moment in A Star Is Born and very likely the best moment in movies in 2018. It’s also a very good song performed so very well. I love it and it ought to win A Star Is Born its sole award.

Will Win: “Shallow” from A Star Is Born

Should Win: “Shallow” from A Star Is Born

Best Original Score

Black Panther


If Beale Street Could Talk

Isle of Dogs

Mary Poppins Returns

I haven’t seen If Beale Street Could Talk, but by all accounts, Nicholas Britell’s score is wonderful and the frontrunner here. I admire the Black Panther score and am glad to see Isle of Dogs here, but I’d like if BlacKkKlansman won. Upon rewatch, Terence Blanchard’s score is one of its secret weapons. It wouldn’t be as rousing if that score wasn’t so compelling.

Will Win: If Beale Street Could Talk

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

Best Short Film, Animated

“Animal Behavior”


“Late Afternoon”

“One Small Step”


I usually go with the consensus with the shorts because it’s so hard to judge on other terms. Pixar often wins this category and I see the Toronto-set “Bao” continuing this trend.

Will Win: “Bao”

Best Short Film, Live Action






“Marguerite” is the one I keep hearing about, so it’ll win.

Will Win: “Marguerite”

Best Documentary Short

“Black Sheep”

“End Game”


“A Night at the Garden”

“Period, End of Sentence”

“Black Sheep” or “Period, End of Sentence” have the narratives around them, so it’s a toss up. So, why not “Black Sheep”?

Will Win: “Black Sheep”

Best Documentary Feature

Free Solo

Hale County This Morning, This Evening

Minding the Gap

Of Fathers and Sons


The Academy loves feel-good movies and making liberal statements, so the film that combines the two will probably win. RBG is a hagiography of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and scratches all the itches of liberal Hollywood. Free Solo ought to win for its stunning rock climbing cinematography and compelling portrait of a bizarre individual. I like that Hale County This Morning, This Evening is nominated. Movies that small and idiosyncratic are rarely recognized.

Will Win: RBG

Should Win: Free Solo

Best Foreign Feature


Cold War

Never Look Away



Considering Roma is the frontrunner for Best Picture, it’d be a shock if it didn’t win Best Foreign Feature. That being said, Cold War snuck into Best Director and was left out of Best Picture, so if the Academy wants to share the wealth, I could see a Cold War upset. I still think Roma will win, however.

Will Win: Roma

Should Win: Roma

Best Animated Feature

Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs


Ralph Breaks the Internet

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is beloved by critics and audiences and has all the momentum heading into the awards, so I expect it to win. It’s a good film, but Incredibles 2 is still a superior film, and even a superior superhero film. It’s another casual act of dominance on behalf of Pixar.

Will Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Should Win: Incredibles 2

Best Production Design

Black Panther

The Favourite

First Man

Mary Poppins Returns


This is a toss-up between The Favourite, for its early-18th century setting, and Black Panther, for its Afro-futurism. Don’t be surprised if The Favourite wins this in addition to costuming, but I don’t expect the Academy to leave Black Panther empty handed and this is as good a category as any to reward it. If I had my pick, I’d reward First Man for the impeccable 1960s production design. It’s a masterclass in historical design, without it being flashy and all about empty pop-culture signifiers of what the decade was about.

Will Win: Black Panther

Should Win: First Man