2019 Oscar Preview – Part One
Over the next couple weeks I’ll take a look at this year’s Academy Awards nominees leading up to the event on February 24th where Hollywood will do their part to celebrate the best in film for 2018. For the first entry in this series I’ll take a deeper look at the movies nominated for Best Picture and rank them from best to worst as well as give you my opinion on their chances to win. After that I’ll list every single nomination in every category and tell you who I think should win and who I think will win. Without further ado, here are the 2019 Oscar nominations.
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A Star Is Born – 8 Nominations
I’ve never seen any of the first three versions of this classic Hollywood story but I was surprised how much I liked this one. Bradley Cooper made a very successful directorial debut with Lady Gaga giving a breakout acting performance. Cooper was nominated for Best Actor but didn’t get the directing nod. The movie is very well shot, all of the performances are great (including Sam Elliot in a supporting role), and most importantly the music works. Everyone has heard ‘Shallow’ all over the radio and its going to win Best Original Song but there are quite a few other songs that are really well done as well. That includes a few sung by Cooper. The first half of the film is stronger than the back half but in the end the dramatic stakes worked for me even if there were some silly moments mixed in. Gaga has a chance to win for Best Actress but she isn’t the favorite (or The Favourite). I thought for a while this had a real chance to win Best Picture since it was well reviewed and did so well at the box office this fall but surprisingly I think it might have the lowest odds in the field. I’ll give it a 2% chance.
Ranking: 2nd out of 8
BlackkKlansman – 6 Nominations
Spike Lee finally broke through and got his first ever Best Director and Best Picture nominations which is kind of hard to believe. Another dark comedy (‘Roma’ is the only movie nominated for Best Picture that could be described as a pure drama) and another look to the past regarding race relations. Only ‘BlackkKlansman’ puts ‘Green Book’ to shame when it comes to making a statement. Lee is able to make light of the true story about a black police officer who finds a way to infiltrate the KKK but not without injecting some startling reality checks about where we still are as a nation. I’m shocked that the Academy passed up an opportunity to reward Denzel Washington’s son with a much deserved nomination but instead of John David Washington getting in for lead actor, Adam Driver was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. He is great as well as the white officer who stands in as the avatar of Ron Stallworth. As a jewish person he has his own things he needs to hide from the awful people hes interacting with. The score is good and there are some real edge of your seat moments as the film nears its climax. I think its tied with ‘Black Panther’ as the third most likely movie to win Best Picture at 15%.
Ranking: 5th out of 8
Black Panther – 7 Nominations
Not only did ‘Black Panther’ shatter expectations financially after its release almost exactly a year ago, making over $1.3 billion worldwide, but it also became the first ever superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. And it has an outside shot at winning (15% in my eyes). Its not my favorite superhero movie or even my favorite movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but its still really, really good and deserves its nomination. As a fan of the genre and because of a lackluster group of Best Picture nominees, if ‘Roma’ doesn’t win I would be happy if this did. Ryan Coogler is a great director and he made the most of the opportunity to adapt this origin story. It has a tremendous score/soundtrack, great costumes, and production design. The special effects actually could’ve used some work in spots but its not much of a deterrent. Michael B. Jordan was a bit of a snub in Supporting Actor, I thought he was the best part of the movie. The Academy wanted to create a new ‘Popular’ Oscar to award exactly this type of movie so maybe they’ll just give it the real deal.
Ranking: 3rd out of 8
Bohemian Rhapsody – 5 Nominations
This is easily my least favorite of the Best Picture nominees and I’m really confused as to how it got nominated. I can kind of understand why it did so well at the box office and has its fans, sure, but to be mentioned in the same breath as some of these other films (Green Book and Vice withstanding) as one of the year’s best is crazy. Queen made good music and they utilize that well here especially with the Live Aid performance for the climax. Rami Malek does a great job in the lead role and I can see the argument for him being nominated – but not winning, which he probably will. The problem with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is that it falls into every musical biopic trope that ‘Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story’ roasted 12 years ago. Everything moves in fast forward like a feature length trailer. The movie takes no time to let a scene develop. Its always in a rush to get to the next plot point that is smoothed over since the film is produced by members of the band. It should do well on cable and/or streaming over the years but I only give it a 5% to get the big win.
Ranking: 8th out of 8
The Favourite – 10 Nominations
Yorgos Lanthimos has become one of my favorite directors over the last few years. He first caught my eye with 2009’s ‘Dogtooth’ but has really come into his own since moving to English language features such as ‘The Lobster’, ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’, and now ‘The Favourite’. This time he finally received a Best Director nomination for his efforts. Its not my favorite movie of his but its still very much deserved for his most mainstream film to date. Its a dark comedy about a queen who has been unable to birth an heir and the battle between two ladies in her court to be her… favourite. All three of the actresses are at the top of their game. Olivia Coleman is nominated for Best Actress as the queen, even though realistically all three of them are supporting roles and if one of them was a lead it would be Emma Stone or Rachel Weisz who are both nominated for Supporting Actress. The cinematography is a little crazy with fish eye lenses but it works, the script is air tight, the costumes and production design are on point. It tied for the lead in overall nominations but to me it still only has a 10% chance to win Best Picture.
Ranking: 4th out of 8
Green Book – 5 Nominations
There has been a lot of controversy with this one all throughout awards season yet it has continued to rack up wins from many different awards bodies along the way. Looking purely at the merits of the film, I don’t get it. The movie is fine. Its a candy coated version of a story about curing racism. ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ did this 30 years ago. Viggo Mortenson is nominated for Best Actor for playing a cartoon character, a New York stereotype who literally yells out “I’m working here!” at one point. Mahershala Ali is legitimately good in a supporting role and is in line to accept his second Oscar. Hes on fire right now between this, True Detective season three, and ‘Alita: Battle Angel’. The motives behind the script might be in serious doubt but the movie itself is harmless. Empty calories. But in one of the closest Best Picture races I can remember it is somehow the second most likely winner. I give it a 20% chance.
Ranking: 6th out of 8
Roma – 10 Nominations
Netflix dipped their toes into the Oscar pool last year with nominations in Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actress for ‘Mudbound’ but it wasn’t long before they dove in head first. All it took was a visionary director to create a near masterpiece for them. ‘Roma’ is my favorite movie that was released in 2018 and is most likely going to rate pretty high in my best of the decade list at the end of 2019. The black and white cinematography is stunning. The performances are natural and great. Particularly Yalitza Aparicio in the lead role. She plays a maid for a rich family in Mexico who gets pregnant by a karate obsessed loser who leaves town. The camera calmly but perfectly captures her journey through highs and lows. There is a little bit of ‘Forrest Gump’ in here as she brushes shoulders with some moments from history, only much more subtle. One of the best scenes of the year comes at the end of the film involving a beach, the ocean, and an impossible camera. Alfonso Cuaron is the favorite for Best Director and his film is the favorite for Best Picture. I’ll be rooting for it and the 30% chance that I give it of winning.
Ranking: 1st out of 8
Vice – 8 Nominations
Adam McKay is two for two now with his more serious directorial efforts getting a Best Picture nomination. I’m not exactly sure why but he was nominated for Best Director once again. I like ‘Vice’ better than his previous effort ‘The Big Short’ but going in with lowered expectations surely helped in that regard. The Dick Cheney biopic has a few tricks up its sleeve, I thought a false ending around thirty minutes into the movie was pretty clever, but its not really telling us or doing anything new. The performances are all good, especially Christian Bale in the title role. If I’m being honest Amy Adams shouldn’t have been nominated. As always shes good but there were many other supporting actress performances that did more with their screen time. She has become young Meryl Streep. Sam Rockwell is fun as the president but again, not sure if it was nomination worthy. My biggest issue with ‘Vice’ and ‘The Big Short’ is that they’re so bland visually. Maybe that’s what McKay is going for but it doesn’t work for me and the too clever by half writing doesn’t make up for it. I only give it a 3% of winning Best Picture.
Ranking: 7th out of 8