Before I wade into my guesses for tonight’s Oscars, a wee bit of background. I’m in no way qualified to do this except I enjoy films and have no problem speaking my mind. I truly hope you’ll pitch in with a comment (at the end of this article) with your thoughts and predictions.
Also, I’m doing this simply for fun. I’ve always regretted watching the Oscars and having seen only one or two of the top-rated movies. This year, I’ve seen all 13 movies represented in the top six categories – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Actress, and Best Supporting Actor and Actress. I’ve also seen five of the other films with nominations further down the list. (By the way, I published a column a few days ago telling why I felt like some would not win, if you want to check that out.) Let’s go.
Best Supporting Actor
And the Oscar goes to Mahershala Ali, “Green Book.”
His portrayal of Dr. Don Shirley was locked in throughout the bulk of the movie, which is one shortcoming. We didn’t get to see the character change much.
Adam Driver in “BlacKkKlansman” was truly a supporting actor in that he in no way had the lead (which one could argue Ali did) but the story could not have progressed without him. Richard E. Grant in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” turned in perhaps my favorite acting job in this category. Either one of these could easily pick up the gold statuette.
The roles of Sam Elliot in “A Star Is Born” and Sam Rockwell (last year’s winner) in “Vice” were not, in my opinion, enough to warrant a win. The 74-year-old Elliot, however, seems to have a lot of fan support and that is a real thing.
Best Supporting Actress
And the Oscar goes to Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
Most of these categories are difficult this year … as we like them to be … but I actually changed my mind since I scrawled my choices down on paper a couple of days ago. “Beale Street” tells an important story, one that much of America does not see or understand, and the character of Sharon Rivers is the thread that binds it together.
Dropping from the lead on my list is Amy Adams in “Vice.” The strength of her Lynne Cheney character shaped the movie as, if we can trust the film, the real Lynne molded Dick Cheney.
Marina de Tavira in “Roma” and the two nominees from “The Favourite” – Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone – could, in true Academy Awards fashion, spring a surprise on this category, particularly since either of those movies could turn into a runaway locomotive on the stage.
And the Oscar goes to Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Speaking of runaway locomotives, that term could apply both to his steamroller performance and to his winning record at earlier awards presentations. I cannot comprehend the task of taking on such a bigger-than-life character as Freddie Mercury, but Malek handled it with aplomb.
Any other nominee could, however, make a case for a win.
Willem Dafoe turned in what amounted to almost a soliloquy for 111 minutes in “At Eternity’s Gate.” That is to say, he was constantly the central figure, fighting with himself and others to express the artistic vision captured within Vincent van Gogh.
Christian Bale made a miraculous physical transformation to play Dick Cheney in “Vice” and accomplished a solid performance atop the makeup.
Viggo Mortensen’s “Green Book” character, Tony Lip, is the fun role actors love to play. We got to see Tony grow a lot through the movie. And, to be clear, this is not Aragorn.
Bradley Cooper is also receiving a lot of public acclaim for Jack in “A Star Is Born,” deservedly so. His tragic tale is written on the lines of the character’s face.
And the Oscar goes to Glenn Close, “The Wife.”
This is the only major category that is not even close, in my mind. “The Wife” was the last of the nominees I was able to see and I went in with no strong leader, but Close’s commanding performance as Joan Castleman instantly won me over. I love it when an actor can say as much as she did without even using words.
Melissa McCarthy is probably my next pick for her role as Lee Israel in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” It’s a complicated role, tastefully accented by McCarthy’s deft humor.
Olivia Colman in “The Favourite” and Lady Gaga in “A Star Is Born” certainly became their characters, both exhibiting considerable range and emotion.
Newcomer Yalitza Aparicio, playing the lead role in “Roma” in her first film, was amazing, considering that. I don’t see her grabbing an individual statuette, however, unless it’s coupled onto the aforementioned runaway train.
The Oscar goes to Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma.”
I feel less qualified in this among all six major categories. I’m going with Cuaron partly because of all the buzz, in addition to it being a great film.
Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman,” has been talked about a lot, but most of the comments have mentioned it more as a makeup award for better work he’s done in the past.
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite,” certainly spun up a grand tale and must be considered a favorite, as well.
Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Cold War,” being not in English and being nominated only in this category, allowed me to view it thinking about the director’s hand. Even I could see effective results that undoubtedly must be credited to him.
Last, and certainly not least, Adam McKay’s “Vice” has been in and out of my consideration for the award. The movie was an effectively woven story of multiple elements and places in time that never seemed to lose me. I think he’s a strong contender.
And the Oscar goes to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Graham King, producer.
Remember the runaway trains in “Roma” and “The Favourite” and the fan-favored “A Star Is Born.” All deserving winners, but “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the movie that, as I exited the theater, had placed in me a burning desire to create something, to go out and win at something, to achieve what I want.
Plus, of course, I grew into adulthood loving the music of Queen.
“Black Panther” is grand. “BlacKkKlansman” is an entertaining story. “Green Book” was fun and informative. “Vice” spun a powerful image.
But “Bohemian Rhapsody” is my top movie.
In addition to these 13 movies, I’ve seen five others that are up for one or more awards. If I counted correctly, that leaves 19 I’ve not seen among the other categories, plus the 15 short film nominations, none of which I’ve seen.
That is to say, the following quick predictions are a mixture of what I’ve seen, heard, guess and wish.
Best Original Screenplay – “The Favourite.”
Best Adapted Screenplay – “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
Best Makeup & Hairstyling – “Vice.”
Best Costume Design – “Black Panther.”
Best Cinematography – “Cold War.”
Best Original Song – “A Star Is Born” for “Shallow.”
Best Original Score – “Black Panther.”
Best Documentary Feature – “RBG.”
Best Animated Feature – “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”
Best Foreign-Language Film – “Roma.”
Best Sound Mixing – “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Best Sound Editing – “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Best Production Design – “The Favourite.”
Best Visual Effects – “First Man.”
Best Film Editing – “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Best Animated Short – Best Live-Action Short – Best Documentary Short – I know nothing about any of these nominees; we’ll just leave it there.
The names from the memorial segment most likely to draw an audible response from you and the Academy members: Penny Marshall, Burt Reynolds, Neil Simon, Tab Hunter and Stan Lee.
Over / under on the number of references to there not being a host and/or to Kevin Hart: 11.5.
Over / under on minutes run overtime: 7.5.
Number of times conservative viewers will yell during acceptance speeches: 10.
Let’s get together: I will be live-tweeting whatever crosses my mind during the Oscars (8 p.m. Eastern / 5 p.m. Pacific on ABC). Join me. My handle is @smartaindale and I’ll be using the hashtag #OscarsPalooza. We might even start during the red carpet.