One of the more competitive acting races, I still have to say I am ultimately underwhelmed by the total. While the Academy has, let’s just say, a soft spot for roles in biopics, I tend to view them as glorified impressions, which in itself is still worthy, just not as creative. 4 of the 5 nominees fit this bill, and the one outlier, Bradley Cooper, stared in a remake of a film. So ultimately, there is nothing too original here, albeit each actor did an exceptional job becoming their characters.
Winner: Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) – Malek has the benefit of playing the most flamboyant character of any of the nominees, with more eye-catching quirks and an in-your-face personality. His performance is not exactly understated, but it does have its moments of humanity. Is this the greatest acting performance ever? No. That could ultimately lead me to believe this is a lesser overall class than we’ve seen, but there truly is no weak link. I would say 4 of the 5 on any given year would score a Best Actor nomination regardless of the competition, so there is that. If Malek doesn’t win, it will be Bale (“Vice”), who underwent another absurd physical transformation and actually acted more like Dick Cheney than the former Vice President, himself.
Best Supporting Actor
This category disappoints me more than ever this year. While Best Actor has the perception of a weak class, Best Supporting Actor sports that as a true reality, which is disheartening, to say the least. This category usually yields remarkable and groundbreaking performances that can change the way we think about secondary characters in film. This class simply fits comfortably in the mold and makes no attempt to break it.
Winner: Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”) – Ali is one of my favorite actors alive and it did pain me to include him in that paragraph above. Having said that, his win is an easy call. First off, he is basically a co-lead meaning he holds way more screen time than his competition. Secondly, he hits every checkmark that the Academy looks for: period piece; artist; victim of social injustice; LGBTQ character; alcoholic burdened by his own genius… You know, all those things. The reason I am so critical though is that we’ve seen that hundreds of times before. This performance doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It is not a leader, it is a follower. But it is the best of the followers.
This category I appreciate. The nominees all did a great job and I thoroughly enjoyed each of their performances, which is in contrast to the male categories this year. It also helps that there is potential for some competition here. Nothing helps spice up a performance more than knowing there is a lot in the real-world riding on it.
Winner: Glenn Close (“The Wife”) – Full disclosure, you could make this pick without seeing any of the films. Close has the distinction of garnering 7 Nominations without collecting a win. That alone might play as a bigger factor than the intricacies of her actual performance. She is due for a win and that is how many voters will decide. Her performance was great and she will deserve the win. Gaga had a very crowd-pleasing performance but she is almost guaranteed to win for Best Original Song which will also play a factor here. Olivia Coleman is also trending upwards and could make it interesting but the award is Close’s to lose.
Best Supporting Actress
Another great category for acting. And again, there is suspense in who the winner will be. The past few years, the winners seemed too predictable and kind of drained the fun out of it all.
Winner: Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) – I am just following the trends here. She is on an enormous hot streak and she seems to be the unstoppable force in the group. Weisz and Stone being in the same film doesn’t help their chances, nor does the fact that they’ve both already won an Oscar before. I loved Mariana De Tavira’s performance but I don’t see it winning, sadly. Amy Adams is the interesting one though. She could easily be considered the female lead for “Vice” and has legitimate screen time. She is also rather ruthless as Lynn Cheney which was fun to watch. But most importantly, this will be her sixth nomination, and yet she still does not have a win. It is a major factor in the Best Actress category as well, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly here. I would almost put her as a 50/50 split with King, but I still give King the slight edge.
This is another relative tossup. The directors of my personal top 2 films of the year are also the 2 frontrunners for this award.
Winner: Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”) – I don’t make this prediction with 100% confidence, but I do believe both Lee AND Cuarón are deserving. Honestly, either could win. But Lee doesn’t have an Oscar and Cuarón does. Lee is also in contention to be the first ever black winner of this award, and with the Academy’s recent efforts to be more socially conscious with it’s voting, maybe that could play into it. Cuarón made some brilliant artistic choices in “Roma” that certainly are deserving of recognition too. I just think I would give a slight, slight, slight edge to Lee at this point.
I’m just going to start with the prediction.
Winner: “Roma” – “Roma” was, for me, unexpectedly beautiful and heartbreaking. It took more somber and real material and made it compelling without the use of melodrama or monologues that typically garner attention. Instead it demands your attention with its beauty, in a way that I have rarely seen in a film before. It is an understated masterpiece that feels more real than any other film in contention. It takes creative risks, such as completely foregoing the use of a musical score, and filming in black and white at the risk becoming a cliché. And yet it takes the challenge it sets for itself and runs with it. In a world where films tend to hit you over the head with its message, “Roma” is more thoughtful and it stands out.
As for the rest of the films, most never had a real chance and should just be happy with a nomination. “BlacKkKlansman” is my runner-up, followed by “The Favourite” then “Vice”. “Green Book” is colossally overrated and cliché.
Winner: Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”) – This film was a joy to watch. Every frame was art with purpose and this film deserves to win this category
Best Visual Effects
Winner: “Avengers: Infinity War” – Nothing groundbreaking, but it is the biggest blockbuster that heavily relied on its visuals.
Best Costume Design
Winner: Sandy Powell (“The Favourite”) – Period piece that is in contention for Best Picture. These tend to win.
Winner: Barry Alexander Brown (“BlacKkKlansman”) – Editing was a major part of the visuals of the film. It most effectively used editing to convey its message, especially with it’s opening scene and it’s closing montage.
Best Makeup and Hair Styling
Winner: “Vice” – Did you see how they changed Christian Bale into Dick Cheney? That can’t be easy to do.
Best Production Design
Winner: “Black Panther” – I am hesitant to give credit to big budget films over smaller ones, but this is the category where they shine most. Black Panther did an exceptional job.
Winner: “A Quiet Place” – This was the only film that relied on sound as the focal point for the narrative. The film was well received for its success in doing so in a unique way.
Best Sound Mixing
Winner: “A Star Is Born” – I almost gave this to “First Man” but sound and music was everything to “A Star Is Born”. The way the performances were recorded live and how impactful they were seal the deal for me.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: “BlacKkKlansman” – The best film in the category.
Best Original Screenplay
Winner: “The Favourite” – Great script with better dialogue than “Roma” and just overall better than “Green Book”.
Best Documentary Feature
Winner: “RBG” – Grossing over $14 Million is really great for a documentary, and in today’s political climate, this seems ripe for a victory.
Best Foreign Language Feature
Winner: “Roma” – A Foreign Language Feature that is also the frontrunner for Best Picture doesn’t come around often. Very easy win here.
Best Original Score
Winner: Terence Blanchard “BlacKkKlansman” – A mix of Jazz and R&B perfectly compliments the story that Spike Lee told here.
Best Original Song
Winner: “Shallow” (“A Star Is Born”) – Easy money.
Best Animated Feature
Winner: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” – Just watch it. It’s obviously the best in this category.
Best Animated Short
Winner: “Bao” (Pixar) – This once again proves the advantage appearing with a major Pixar release brings. A mix of Chinese culture and a short story about a mother struggling with her son growing up, “Bao” was a very touching and funny short that should win.