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Should, Could, Will, Why, and Where: The 2019 Oscars

The Academy can’t make up their minds about anything, but for now the Oscars are scheduled for Sunday, so I’m back with Connor Stambaugh to break down everything we want to happen and everything that will happen instead.

oscars 2019

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star Is Born

PJ

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

Could Win: A Star Is Born

Will Win: BlacKkKlansman

Why…Nothing!

Where is…First Man?

It’s funny that we’re leading off with this category, because you’ll quickly realize that I am NOT fond of the Academy’s overall choices this year…but this is good! This honestly might be the best category of the night, and there were a few other adapted screenplays that could’ve made the cut. The hilarious yet smart screenplays of Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians come to mind, but I especially wish there could have been room for First Man’s slow burn. I guess it could have taken Buster Scruggs’ spot, especially since that stretches the definition of an adapted screenplay, but I actually really liked that movie and the Coen Brothers kinda have to try to not to get nominated.

Despite decent odds for both Can You Ever Forgive Me and If Beale Street Could Talk, I think this comes down to BlacKkKlansman vs. A Star Is Born, and either would be a fantastic choice. The buildup of A Star Is Born is just so, so good, as is the writing behind the addiction storyline. And the dialogue is probably the best of the year. Was there a more repeated 2018 movie line than “I just wanted take another look at ya”? Still, I can’t shake how steep the drop-off is over the second half of the movie. So I give the slightest of personal edges to the hilarious, brutal, and timely screenplay of BlacKkKlansman. I’m pretty confident it wins out too. It’s deserving of the honor, and like I wrote in this blog last year about Jordan Peele, there’s just no way that the Academy lets Spike Lee go home empty handed. I don’t feel great about his chances in the bigger categories, so Spike gets his long overdue Oscar here.

Connor

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

Could Win: If Beale Street Could Talk

Will Win: BlacKkKlansman

Why… The Ballad of Buster Scruggs?

Where is…Widows?

Academy Award winner Spike Lee. Sounds pretty good, right? Get ready for it. This is a pretty exceptional category, and I really enjoyed Buster Scruggs so that kinda hurts but thems the rules. Beale Street is knocking on the door but this one is pretty much locked. Gillian Flynn took a complex heist narrative, fleshed out each character, and (along with Steve McQueen and a baddest cast) created a rousing and thoughtful piece of popcorn entertainment with Widows. Would’ve been nice to see.

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: The Favourite, First Reformed, Green Book, Roma, Vice

Connor

Should Win: The Favourite or First Reformed

Could Win: Green Book

Will Win: The Favourite

Why…Green Book?

Where is…Eighth Grade? Sorry To Bother You?

This is a wild one, where a different film has won every major precursor. The Favourite *should* score here for its devilish wit, and it’s nice to see Paul Schrader recognized with his first career nod for the incredible First Reformed. (Seriously, go watch it. It’s streaming on Prime). Green Book somehow won the Globe and cannot be ignored. Bo Burnham? More like No Burnham. I’ll show myself out. But seriously, his WGA-winning script is so fucking good and should’ve been here. Special shoutout to Boots Riley for his imaginative and daring Sorry To Bother You script.

PJ

Should Win: First Reformed

Could Win: Green Book

Will Win: The Favourite

Why…Vice?

Where is…Blindspotting?

YUCK. They botched my favorite category this time around. This is usually where the more original and creative movies of the year that are too bold for other categories get their due, but instead the Academy pretty much teed off with an 8 iron on a Par 5. I personally didn’t care for a majority of these screenplays, but even objectively the Vice screenplay is straight up not good. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see it nominated since Adam McKay is a genius, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s sloppy, largely uninteresting, and has no bite. As for the others, Green Book’s feel-good vibes don’t make up for its cheese factor and messy racial dynamics in my book, and Roma was just so sprawling. I don’t have enough fingers to list off the more deserving options here, but I’ll shout out Blindspotting since it was super underrated and had a script with more energy than any other movie I saw in 2018.

Still, it’s hard for me to get too upset here, because the First Reformed screenplay got a bit of a surprising nomination, and it was my favorite of the year. It was so goddamn brilliant and thought provoking and daring. Paul Schrader, who got his first ever Oscar nomination for this screenplay EVEN THOUGH HE WROTE TAXI DRIVER AND RAGING BULL, should be getting his first statuette as well, but it’s going to Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara instead. And I’d actually be fine with that – The Favourite was extremely original with A++ insults to boot.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: 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

PJ

Should Win: Adam Driver

Could Win: Mahershala Ali or Sam Elliott

Will Win: Richard E. Grant

Why…Sam Rockwell?

Where is…Jason Isaacs for The Death of Stalin?

Each of these next two categories is going to be FUN. Since four of these nominees are hugely deserving and at least three stand a good chance of winning, I’m going to trim the fat now: Sam Rockwell has absolutely no business being here. He was actually one of the few things I liked about Vice, but that’s just because he offered like five minutes of pure comic relief with his Dubya impression. If we’re giving that final spot to whoever served up the most laughs per scene, then it should have gone to Isaacs.

Anyway, a lot of people have this category as a runaway for Ali. Not only do I not see it that way, I have a weird feeling that he’s not going to win. His performance as Don Shirley was undoubtedly great, but he’s got a few things working against him. First and foremost, the Shirley Family was apparently less than pleased with the characterization and the movie as a whole. But Ali also won this very award just two years ago for Moonlight, and that performance dwarfs this one. (I would remove him from the category altogether just because he’s a goddamn lead in this movie, but nobody else seems to care about that.) The other three nominees each delivered one of my ten favorite performances of the year. I loved Driver’s the most, but I just don’t think there’s any way the Academy would risk the optics of the white guy winning the only Oscar for BlacKkKlansman. Elliott might have given the best pound-for-pound performance of ANY actor, but he just wasn’t in the movie that much and I’m not sure he can overcome that. (Seriously you morons, the category is for SUPPORTING performances. This is what that is supposed to mean!) So that leaves Grant, a popular actor who is impossible to look away from in Can You Ever Forgive Me? His speech would be a highlight of the night.

Connor

Should Win: Sam Elliott

Could Win: Richard E. Grant

Will Win: Mahershala Ali

Why…Sam Rockwell?

Where is…Everyone?

Sam Elliott backing out of the driveway. Nuff said. Anyone with a close relationship to a sibling would be absolutely gutted right there. I was ready to hand this to him back in October, but who are we kidding? Mahershala is taking this home. It’s a walk. Richard E. Grant, however charming he may be, doesn’t have as close of a shot as some pundits are predicting. Going with the stats here. It should be noted that this category was so strong all year that you could have an incredible field of five that weren’t even nominated – Chalamet, Hugh Grant, Michael B. Jordan, Nicholas Hoult, Alex Wolff.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: 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

Connor

Should Win: Rachel Weisz

Could Win: Regina King

Will Win: Rachel Weisz

Why…Nothing!

Where is…Claire Foy for First Man?

Here is my ballsy pick. Hear me out: Regina King has long been considered the frontrunner for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk, but missing out on SAG (the actor’s branch that makes up the majority of Academy voters) and BAFTA nominations hurt. Weisz has won before and is *incredible* as Lady Sarah in The Favourite. Beale Street’s three nominations vs. The Favourite’s ten. Coming off the BAFTA win, I’m feeling the love for Weisz. Claire Foy was stellar in First Man, and I think her missing out on a nom is more of a knock against the film than it is for her performance. Other than that, de Tavira is the best part of Roma and this is a very strong category.

PJ

Should Win: Rachel Weisz

Could Win: Regina King

Will Win: Rachel Weisz

Why…Amy Adams?

Where is…Claire Foy for First Man?

SERIOUSLY THOUGH…WHERE IS CLAIRE FOY?!?! I thought she was going to win the damn thing! Did every single Academy voter get up to take a piss during the “BUNCH OF BOYS” scene? Christ.

I swear I’m not copying here. The Academy clearly didn’t love If Beale Street Could Talk. Ironically enough, I did, but I don’t get the hype surrounding King. She was definitely good, but it’s a mostly dialed-back performance and she doesn’t have THAT scene that you usually look for from supporting actors. If I were to bet on Oscars, I’d put money on both nominees from The Favourite. The fact that both already have Oscars could work against them, but Weisz won all the way back in 2006. Also, mildly important, she outdoes Stone in the movie.

(Don’t even float the idea of Adams winning to me. I LOVE me some Amy Adams, but she was not very good in this role.)

Best Actress

Nominees: Yalitza 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?

PJ

Should Win: Lady Gaga

Could Win: Olivia Colman

Will Win: Glenn Close

Why…Yalitza Aparicio?

Where is…Toni Collette for Hereditary?

I’ve had a really last-second change of heart here. I’m confident that Close will finally lose her distinction of being the most nominated actor ever without a win, and I was all aboard that train. I still think she was incredible and that this wouldn’t be a bad case of lifetime achievement recognition, but my rule in the acting categories is that performances from bad movies shouldn’t win. I actually kinda liked The Wife almost solely due to Close’s performance, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not a particularly good movie. A Star Is Born, on the other hand, is very good. I had a few minor issues with Gaga’s performance, but her singing scenes was instantly legendary and I’m still amazed by how convincingly she played a grounded character.

As for Aparicio, I love the “can you BELIEVE it was her first time acting” reviews. Yes. Yes I can. (I’ll let Connor talk Collette.)

Connor

Should Win: Olivia Colman

Could Win: Olivia Colman

Will Win: Glenn Close

Why…Yalitza Aparicio?

Where is…Toni Collette for Hereditary?

Toni Collette gave, in my opinion, one of the greatest performances of the decade in Hereditary. I just don’t understand the miss. Yalitza was solid but unremarkable. I didn’t buy in emotionally and I don’t see her having a long career in film. Of all people not named Toni Collette, Olivia Colman should win here. She’s at once tragic and hilarious and I want to hear another Olivia Colman speech. (Check out her BAFTA win). She’s in for a dogfight against Close and her “career award.” I haven’t seen The Wife & will have to let PJ speak to her performance, but the idea of awarding someone based on her career instead of a single performance is annoying. Give her an honorary Oscar and give the queen her hardware.

Best Actor

Nominees: 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

Connor

Should Win: Bradley Cooper

Could Win: Christian Bale

Will Win: Rami Malek

Why…Willem Dafoe? Viggo Mortensen?

Where is…Ethan Hawke for First Reformed?

Like Collette, 2018 belonged to Ethan Hawke. His perfect role in the perfect First Reformed was, well, perfect. This award doesn’t count. Cancel the show. Luckily, the second best male performance of the year is Bradley Cooper’s. It is *insane* to me that he will lose to anyone in this category. He is the only one not playing a real life figure, and to build up such a believable, tragic character from the ground up (not to mention the live singing, piano, guitar, directing, writing, producing, etc.) is remarkable. Bale is the Gary Oldman of this year and the Academy loves rewarding actors who transform, but at this point I don’t think there is any stopping Rami Malek and the behemoth that is Bohemian Rhapsody.

PJ

Should Win: Bradley Cooper

Could Win: Rami Malek or Bradley Cooper

Will Win: Christian Bale

Why…Willem Dafoe?

Where is…Ethan Hawke for First Reformed?

Connor already covered how ass backwards this category has been from the start, from Hawke’s snub all the way to Malek dominating the awards circuit for an impression from a shit movie that is honestly more problematic than uncanny. So instead, I want to focus on what really matters: At Eternity’s Gate. I know almost nobody saw this movie…but did ANYONE see this movie besides me? Because it is bad. Like SOOOOO bad. It’s a drama about van Gogh that uses more shaky cam than Cloverfield. And Dafoe isn’t even good in it! Half of his performance is sprinting through the countryside for no particular reason! All right, now that that’s off my chest, Bradley Cooper should win in a landslide. Thank you.

Best Director

Nominees: Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman, Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War, Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite, Alfonso Cuaron for Roma, Adam McKay for Vice

PJ

Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron

Could Win: Not Happening

Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron

Why…Adam McKay?

Where is…Ryan Coogler for Black Panther?

This is the only lock of the night among the major awards. Cuaron turned an extremely personal story about his upbringing in Mexico City into a technical and visual masterpiece. He deserves his second Oscar.

I obviously didn’t like Vice, but I didn’t hate it either. I just think it’s mind-boggling that it got Oscar nominations, let alone EIGHT of them. So that pretty much speaks to what I thought of McKay’s direction, which never deviated past “Dick Cheney was bad.” I would have so much rather seen Bradley Cooper, Christopher McQuarrie, Damien Chazelle, or Ryan Coogler, who turned the 18th Marvel movie into way more than a superhero movie, in that spot.

Connor

Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón or Yorgos Lanthimos

Could Win: Spike Lee

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón

Why…Adam McKay?

Where is…Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born?

This is Cuarón’s to lose after sweeping all relevant precursors. One of the safest bets of the night, but I know there is a groundswell of support for Spike here as he is long overdue for a nom (and because BlacKkKlansman rules pretty damn hard). I’ve long been a Lanthimos fan and he turns in an obscenely lavish & wonderful film while directing the best ensemble of the year. Much has been said about Bradley Cooper’s snub and while I think his greatest contribution to A Star Is Born is in front of the camera, there’s no denying he is also a born director. I’m not losing sleep—he’ll be back.

Best Picture

Nominees: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star Is Born, Vice

Connor

Should Win: The Favourite

Could Win: Roma or The Favourite

Will Win: Green Book

Why…Bohemian Rhapsody?

Where are…The ‘Firsts’? (First Reformed, First Man)

This is one of the more wide-open Best Picture races in recent memory (and probably history). That said, only four have a reasonable shot at winning – Roma, Green Book, BlacKkKlansman, and The Favourite. Roma has been the critics champ all year long, but I think it has too much working against it. I don’t think the Academy is ready for a Netflix film to win the big one, and no foreign language film has ever won Best Picture. Roma is going to have a huge night, but I think it comes up empty-handed in the end. That leaves Academy-friendly, controversy riddled Green Book in prime position after riding a wave of solid box office and a strong showing at the Globes and other precursors. That said, neither Roma nor Green Book nabbed an Editing nom, which is a key indicator of Best Pic momentum and could spell trouble for both. If The Favourite takes Editing, watch out. The Favourite is my personal, ahem, favourite of the bunch and I would love to see a sweep. If Editing goes to either Vice or Bohemian Rhapsody, my money is on Green Book. Bohemian Rhapsody was incredibly entertaining (how could it not be with that music?) and Rami Malek does very well, but I don’t think it belongs here. I don’t understand how First Man got shafted across the board (that score!), and I need to plug First Reformed (my favorite of 2018) as another snub.

PJ

Should Win: Black Panther

Could Win: A Star Is Born

Will Win: Roma

Why…Bohemian Rhapsody?

Where is…Mission: Impossible – Fallout?

I don’t think 2018 was a standout movie year by any means, but man, these nominees make it seem like the worst movie year ever when that was certainly not the case. It’s gotta be the worst Best Picture class since when? 2011? This is all headlined by Bohemian Rhapsody, a generic yet terrible sing-a-long biopic that was half-made by known creep Bryan Singer and half-made WITHOUT A DIRECTOR. Just about any 2018 film could have justifiably taken its place, or, ya know, one of the two spaces that the Academy just opted not to use? We’re clearly still far away from a time when action movies will receive fair consideration for Oscars, because Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the finest ever made. It was the best movie I saw all year.

As for the winner, I’m not gonna overthink this one. Roma landed the most nominations, has arguably the most respected director in the world attached to it, and has supporters in just about every guild. I know it’s a Netflix movie and that a foreign film has never won Best Picture, but I just think too many voters are in love with it. If we’re talking upsets, I think A Star Is Born has WAY more of a chance than people are giving it. The Academy is clearly preoccupied by box office and winning over millennials, so yeah, I think the Lady Gaga movie that made over $400mil is in the hunt. I really don’t have a ride-or-die in this race, but I’d give my vote to Black Panther, which was undoubtedly the movie of the year and changed the game for an entire genre.

Nominee From Another Category That Needs To Win

PJ

Best Film Editing

Barry Alexander Brown for BlacKkKlansman

Despite the numerous problems that I have with both Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book, both of those movies are actually really well edited. And The Favourite was crazy innovative from a technical standpoint. But BlacKkKlansman was a PERFECTLY paced movie, and without pinpoint editing the tonal mashup probably doesn’t work.

Connor

Best Animated Feature Film

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 

Best Picture Ballot

Connor PJ
1. The Favourite 1. Black Panther
2t. A Star Is Born 2. BlacKkKlansman
2t. BlacKkKlansman 3. A Star Is Born
4. Roma 4. Roma
5. Black Panther 5. The Favourite
6. Bohemian Rhapsody 6. Green Book
Green Book (Haven’t Seen) 7. Vice
Vice (Haven’t Seen) 8. Bohemian Rhapsody

 

Top 10 of 2018

Connor PJ
1. First Reformed 1. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
2. The Favourite 2. Blindspotting
3. Paddington 2 3. Crazy Rich Asians
4. Eighth Grade 4. First Reformed
5. Sorry To Bother You 5. First Man
6. Mandy 6. Black Panther
7. A Star Is Born 7. BlacKkKlansman
8. Widows 8. Destroyer
9. Annihilation 9. Avengers: Infinity War
10. Hereditary 10. If Beale Street Could Talk

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