Final predictions for the 91st Academy Awards

It seems the days of smooth preseasons are well and truly gone. It’s been another rollercoaster of an awards seasons, and not just because the Academy has made all sorts of baffling and idiotic decisions with their ceremony that’s left us all highly anxious for what we’re about the experience. For the umpteenth year, we head into the ceremony without a clear Best Picture frontrunner and no one has any concrete idea what film may actually win.

Of course, that’s rather exciting. In past years where an unstoppable force has collected every precursor award in sight, we arrive at the ceremony with very little to be surprised by. And it’s not just Best Picture that’s wide open. Even something like the Screenplay categories, which are usually relatively set in stone, could go numerous ways. That makes it rather hard for us prognosticators, with most of us expecting to have a fairly low result when all is said and done.

After a year of numerous stunning pieces of cinema, it’s ultimately crushing to ponder the films which may actually dominate this ceremony. When future film fans look back on these Academy Awards, they may well scratch their heads and wonder what on earth voters were thinking. Ignoring films like First Man, Widows, Leave No Trace, and If Beale Street Could Talk will not look great in decades to come. Alas, the Oscars of the past are littered with such embarrassments, and now we have a new year to add to that group.

As I always say, these predictions are just always reading tea leaves, even more so this year, so take them with a grain of salt. Alas, one must try, so, without further ado, here are my final predictions for the 91st Academy Awards.

BEST PICTURE
BlacKkKlansman
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Roma
A Star Is Born
Vice

Will win: Roma
Should win: Roma
Possible shocker: Bohemian Rhapsody
Shameful snub: First Man

Yet again, we head into Oscar night without any real idea of what film will take home Best Picture. It’s become the norm now. And, naturally, there’s something rather exciting about that. Predictable awards seasons are ultimately very dull and uninteresting to suffer through. But when you’ve been wrong on Best Picture for four years running, one can’t help but dream of an easy ride this year and the chance for some redemption. Sadly, that’s not happening.

After closely analysing each nominee, it’s apparent at least five of the nominees stand a serious chance of winning, especially with the unpredictable preferential ballot causing all sorts of chaos. They may choose the most powerful film of the pack with BlacKkKlansman and finally honour the legend that is Spike Lee. They could go with the popular choice in Black Panther and who knows how that decision will be met by the film community. They might fall back on old ways and pick Green Book. Or the might and power of Bohemian Rhapsody will cause a Film Twitter implosion and take it home.

But the smart money seems to be on Roma, and that’s where I make my final stand. It’s not infallible. It doesn’t have the SAG Ensemble nomination. It’s not up for Best Film Editing. It’s a foreign language film. It’s filmed in black-and-white. It’s distributed by Netflix. It could prove to be too divisive. But it’s the greatest artistic achievement of the year. It has to win. And I have to have faith the Academy will do the right thing.

If either Green Book or Bohemian Rhapsody take it, I may never be able to forgive them.

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay – Vice
Pawel Pawlikowski – Cold War

Will win: Alfonso Cuarón
Should win: Alfonso Cuarón
Possible shocker: Spike Lee
Shameful snub: Bradley Cooper

There are few locks this year, but Cuarón feels unbeatable. Much like his compatriot Guillermo del Toro last year, Cuarón hasn’t dropped a Best Director prize all season. What he achieved with Roma was nothing short of masterful and he’ll be rightly rewarded with his second Academy Award for Best Director. A number of pundits have posed the possibility of a Spike Lee shock victory, and there’s a faint chance of it happening. But he needed to prove his chances elsewhere, and it simply hasn’t happened. Plus he’ll get his Oscar elsewhere and that will be his big moment.

BEST ACTRESS
Yalitza Aparicio – Roma
Glenn Close – The Wife
Olivia Colman – The Favourite
Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Will win: Glenn Close
Should win: Melissa McCarthy
Possible shocker: Olivia Colman
Shameful snub: Toni Collette

The Best Actress has been a manic rollercoaster. The critics’ awards all swooned over Collette’s breathtaking performance in Hereditary, but she couldn’t even score nominations at the big awards ceremonies. Many thought it could be Gaga but it seems it was ultimately decided her consolation prize would be a win for Best Original Song instead. When Close took the Golden Globe, it reignited a campaign that started way back in August when The Wife debuted and the calls began to finally award this long overdue actress. With six losses behind her, Close will finally snatch victory with her seventh nomination. But don’t call this a career award. Her performance is sublime and she deserves this. That being said, this is the Academy that has overlooked her six times. If it happens again, the award is Colman’s, which, frankly, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

BEST ACTOR
Christian Bale – Vice
Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen – ‎Green Book

Will win: Rami Malek
Should win: Bradley Cooper
Possible shocker: Viggo Mortensen
Shameful snub: Ethan Hawke

What a topsy turvy race Best Actor has proven as well. Early on, it looked to finally be Cooper’s year. But the buzz for A Star Is Born died and so did his Best Actor chances. From all accounts, he’s somewhat shunned campaigning, and that simply doesn’t play anymore. Even his snub for Best Director didn’t propel him back into the race. Lord knows why. Then it appeared to be Bale taking the lead and heading for his second Oscar. But then the Bohemian Rhapsody train came to town, and Malek has steamed ahead. He’s campaigned relentlessly and somehow avoided the Bryan Singer controversy. He’s playing a beloved icon in a film that’s leaving audiences cheering. And he’s taken the Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA trophies. Game over.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams – Vice
Marina de Tavira – Roma
Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone – The Favourite
Rachel Weisz – The Favourite

Will win: Regina King
Should win: Emma Stone
Possible shocker: Marina de Tavira
Shameful snub: Margot Robbie

The tightest race of the acting categories. All the pundits are sticking with King, but her campaign has been problematic as hell. If Beale Street Could Talk barely registered in the nominations, leaving her as the only nominee in this category from a film not nominated for Best Picture. But most damning were her nomination snubs at both SAG and BAFTA. It’s meant she hasn’t won an award for over a month and could have fallen off everyone’s radar completely. She’s run the exact same trajectory as Sylvester Stallone for Creed in 2015. He also missed those two nominations, and, despite being the presumed Oscar frontrunner, ultimately lost to Mark Rylance. Will history repeat? King is enormously liked in the industry and her performance is spectacular, so she may still have the edge. Her main competition is BAFTA winner Weisz, who has already won this award back in 2005 which works against her. And she may end up splitting the votes with her co-star Stone, so I’m sticking with King.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali – Green Book
Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell – Vice

Will win: Mahershala Ali
Should win: Richard E. Grant
Possible shocker: Sam Elliott
Shameful snub: Michael B. Jordan

It’s still perplexing how the tide turned in this race. For the longest time, it looked like it was Grant’s to lose. He swept the critics’ awards and seemed destined for Oscar glory. Then the Golden Globes happened, and Ali has won everything since. Grant couldn’t even win on home soil at the BAFTAs and that was likely the final nail in the coffin of his campaign. It’s rather unfathomable Ali is set to take home his second Oscar just two years after his first. It’s a great performance, but Grant’s was the best of the year and it’s a travesty how he’s been overlooked. If there is to be an upset in the acting categories, it will be here. Grant has been a genuine delight this season with his unbridled joy and enthusiasm at every awards show and event (which some have cruelly suggested is a sly campaign tactic) and it may have been enough to turn the tide back his way.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Favourite
First Reformed
Green Book
Roma
Vice

Will win: The Favourite
Should win: The Favourite
Possible shocker: First Reformed
Shameful snub: Eighth Grade

This is one of the flip a coin categories. The Favourite is easily the best screenplay of the nominees, but it’s facing stiff competition from Green Book, which is utter nonsense, but it seems likely the Academy will want to honour this film somewhere else, and it could happen here. While The Favourite took the BAFTA in this category, it had the home crowd advantage, and that may mean very little for its Oscar chances. Green Book did win the Best Screenplay category at the Golden Globes, which could count for something or could mean absolutely nothing. If anything can upset, it’s First Reformed. Legendary screenwriter Paul Schrader scored his first nomination this year and the sentiment to acknowledge a Hollywood legend could propel him to a surprise win. But I’m sticking with The Favourite. It deserves it and I’d love to see Australia’s Tony McNamara take an Oscar home.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
BlacKkKlansman
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born

Will win: BlacKkKlansman
Should win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Possible shocker: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Shameful snub: Black Panther

While it may not have performed spectacularly this season, this should be the place Spike Lee will finally be awarded his long overdue Oscar with a win for BlacKkKlansman. It proved its might by taking this category at the BAFTAs. And while its stunning loss to Can You Ever Forgive Me? at the WGA Awards was a huge dent in its campaign, the Lee narrative is simply too strong to ignore. And he deserves it. There’s still a slight chance for If Beale Street Could Talk, but it’s not a Best Picture nominee and Barry Jenkins won this category two years ago. Lee will take it and it may prove to be the moment of the night.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“All The Stars” – Black Panther
“I’ll Fight” – RBG
“Shallow” – A Star Is Born
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” – Mary Poppins Returns
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Will win: “Shallow”
Should win: “Shallow”
Possible shocker: “All The Stars”
Shameful snub: “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” – Mary Poppins Returns

Nothing but “Shallow” is winning this award. And Lady Gaga will receive the award she should have won in 2016.

I’m not going to bother going into great detail with the other awards, so I’ll just run through the rest of my predictions without notes. I will preface I have very little faith in most of these, so don’t judge me too harshly for getting most of them dead wrong.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Alternate: Incredibles 2 (gulp…please don’t do this)

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Bao
Alternate: Weekends

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Roma
Alternate: Cold War

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Black Panther
Alternate: The Favourite

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Free Solo
Alternate: RBG

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Period. End of Sentence.
Alternate: Black Sheep

BEST FILM EDITING
Vice
Alternate: Bohemian Rhapsody

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Roma
Alternate: Cold War

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Marguerite
Alternate: Skin

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Vice
Alternate: Border

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
If Beale Street Could Talk
Alternate: Black Panther

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
The Favourite
Alternate: Black Panther

BEST SOUND EDITING
A Quiet Place
Alternate: First Man

BEST SOUND MIXING
Bohemian Rhapsody
Alternate: First Man

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Avengers: Infinity War
Alternate: First Man

And there you have it. Honestly, we are all playing a guessing game this year. The tech categories are all still wildly open with plenty of shocks and unexpected surprises highly likely. It’s felt like an exhaustively long season, namely thanks to all those missteps the Academy itself has made along the way. There’s somewhat of a sense of relief it’s almost over. The Academy can redeem itself by picking a stack of inspired winners this year. But, after so many misguided choices lately, we’re probably heading for one of the worst ceremonies in recent history. Let’s just get this over with.

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