My 2019 Oscar Picks

The Oscars have been in the news for the past few months for all the wrong reasons. Faced with declining viewership of its annual telecast, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced in January that only two of the five songs nominated for the Best Song award would be performed at the ceremony in an effort to trim the length of the event. After swift negative reaction from both inside Hollywood and out, that idea was dropped. Then in August, AMPAS again came up with another idiotic idea to attract viewers. They announced the creation of a new category — Best Popular Film. That plan faced strong opposition too, and the Academy had to backtrack again. Then in December, it was announced that Kevin Hart would be this year’s awards event host but, within days, he bowed out because of some homophobic tweets he posted a while back. Word had it that the producers then approached a few other people but no one wanted the job. Although the pay is probably ridiculously crazy, the critical glare that inevitably comes with it is just not worth the money. So the producers said that this year’s ceremony would be without an official host. It’s not such a big deal though. After all, the 1989 ceremony was also host-less and that went… well? If you’re too young to remember that fiasco, thankfully it’s all recorded for posterity on YouTube:

Oh my. But it hasn’t ended. The Oscars were in the news again last week with reports that four awards would be handed out during commercial breaks. Not surprisingly, there was a huge outcry and again they had to walk that idea to the garbage can where it belongs.

Unless something else dumb happens in the next few days, the 91st annual, host-less, 5-song, 24-category Oscar Awards will take place this Sunday night, February 24th, in Hollywood. For us here in Hong Kong, that means Monday morning starting at 6 am with a repeat telecast at 8 pm that evening. I stopped watching the telecast years ago, opting instead to watch the highlights of the show the next day. As usual, I’m expecting this year’s show to be a predictable affair as there seems to be a strong consensus among the voters as to which films and actors are their favourites. In any case, here are my picks for this year’s awards:

Actor in a Leading Role

The nominees are:
Christian Bale – VICE
Bradley Cooper – A STAR IS BORN
Willem Dafoe – AT ETERNITY’S GATE
Rami Malek – BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
Viggo Mortensen – GREEN BOOK

I believe Rami Malek, who won a BAFTA, a SAG and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury, is leading the odds race right now but there is considerable competition coming from Christian Bale, who won a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice award for his uncanny portrayal of Dick Cheney. My vote goes to Christian though a few days ago I would have said Viggo Mortensen. It’s interesting that everyone in this category except for Bradley Cooper was playing a real person.

Actress in a Leading Role

The nominees are:
Yalitza Aparicio – ROMA
Glenn Close – THE WIFE
Olivia Colman – THE FAVOURITE
Lady Gaga – A STAR IS BORN
Melissa McCarthy – CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

If there’s going to be a shocker tonight, it will be if Glenn Close doesn’t take home this award. She’s already won a Golden Globe, a SAG and a Critics’ Choice award (the latter she tied with Lady Gaga) for her portrayal of a long-suffering wife who decides she’s as mad as hell and she’s not going to take it anymore. This is the seventh time she’s been up for an Oscar. It’s not only her time to win, it’s for a solidly fantastic performance. My vote goes to her but I wouldn’t be the least bit upset if the award goes to Olivia Colman instead.

Actor in a Supporting Role

The nominees are:
Mahershala Ali – GREEN BOOK
Adam Driver – BLACKKKLANSMAN
Sam Elliott – A STAR IS BORN
Richard E. Grant – CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
Sam Rockwell – VICE

My sentimental choice would be for the Oscar to go to Sam Elliott but I think it will go to Mahershala Ali, who already won Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG and Critic’s Choice awards for his portrayal of Dr. Don Shirley.

Actress in a Supporting Role

The nominees are:
Amy Adams – VICE
Marina de Tavira – ROMA
Regina King – IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
Emma Stone – THE FAVOURITE
Rachel Weisz – THE FAVOURITE

This should also be a no-surprise category with Regina King already scooping up all the big awards and almost three dozen lesser awards for her portrayal of matriarch Sharon Rivers in Barry Jenkins’ poetic retelling of James Baldwin’s novel. I loved Emma Stone’s performance as Abigail Masham but I think she’ll split the pro-THE FAVOURITE voting with Rachel Weisz and they’ll knock each other out of the race.

Foreign Language Film

The nominees are:
CAPERNAUM (Lebanon) in Arabic
COLD WAR (Poland) in Polish and French
NEVER LOOK AWAY (Germany) in German
ROMA (Mexico) in Spanish and Mixtec
SHOPLIFTERS (Japan) in Japanese

We have an interesting situation here with ROMA also being nominated for Best Picture and having a solid chance of winning that award. Will it be the first film to take home both awards though? I think it might but if it doesn’t win this award, then it will go to COLD WAR, which was equally excellent.

Music (Original Song)

Are there any other songs in this category? There is little, okay, no doubt that “Shallow” from A STAR IS BORN will take home this award.

Documentary (Feature)

My virtual vote goes to RBG. May she continue to live long enough to see a Democratic president come to power in the US!

Animated Feature Film

The nominees are:
INCREDIBLES 2
ISLE OF DOGS
MIRAI
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

I would like to see ISLE OF DOGS win but I think the Oscar will go to SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE.

Adapted Screenplay

The nominees are:
THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
BLACKKKLANSMAN
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
A STAR IS BORN

As much as I’m a Barry Jenkins fan and I do believe that his screenplay of IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK is absolute poetry, I think the Academy will honour Bradley Cooper’s achievement in this category.

Original Screenplay

The nominees are:
THE FAVOURITE
FIRST REFORMED
GREEN BOOK
ROMA
VICE

I’m glad to see FIRST REFORMED here though I’m disappointed that Ethan Hawke wasn’t nominated in the Best Actor category. In any case, my virtual vote goes to THE FAVOURITE.

Makeup and Hairstyling

The nominees are:
BORDER
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
VICE

I haven’t seen BORDER yet but I hear that the makeup is excellent. Even so, I’m going to go with VICE because Christian Bale is almost unrecognisable.

Costume Design

The nominees are:
THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
BLACK PANTHER
THE FAVOURITE
MARY POPPINS RETURNS
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

I think this category is going to be a gimme for THE FAVOURITE but I wouldn’t be sad if BLACK PANTHER wins.

Directing

The nominees are:
Alfonso Cuarón – ROMA
Spike Lee – BLACKKKLANSMAN
Paweł Pawlikowski – COLD WAR
Yorgos Lanthimos – THE FAVOURITE
Adam McKay – VICE

I think this is a two-horse race between Cuarón and Lanthimos. My feeling is that Cuarón will win but I wouldn’t be sad if the Oscar went to Lanthimos.

Best Picture

The nominees are:
BLACK PANTHER
BLACKKKLANSMAN
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
THE FAVOURITE
GREEN BOOK
ROMA
A STAR IS BORN
VICE

Will ROMA make Oscar history by becoming the first film to take home both the Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture Oscars? I’m thinking it will but if it won’t, then I hope the Oscar will go to THE FAVOURITE as that was my favourite film from last year.

Enjoy the show!

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