91st Academy Awards: Predictions and Choices

Here are my preferences and comments for the top eight categories for the 91st Academy Awards in a table format.  I’ll put the movies and performances I haven’t seen at the bottom, separate from the actual rankings.  For the predictions, rather than try to formulate my own as in previous years, I just put GoldDerby’s; you can find all their predictions here.  I made sure to watch every nominee for the Academy Award for Best Picture prior to the ceremony, which is today, February 24 2019.

 

Best Picture

Nominees by alphabetical order (the titles in bold were the ones I watched before the nominations were announced on January 22) Nominees by my preference, from highest to lowest GoldDerby’s predicted winner
Black Panther A Star Is Born Roma
BlacKkKlansman Green Book
Bohemian Rhapsody Roma
The Favourite Black Panther
Green Book The Favourite
Roma Bohemian Rhapsody
A Star Is Born BlacKkKlansman
Vice Vice
I found the Best Picture field this year to be rather weak.  No film really stood out to me and most were middling or just plain bad.  I had low expectations going into A Star Is Born so it’s rather amusing and surprising that it managed to rocket its way to the top of my list.  It’s a good movie, but I think in a different year with a better field it wouldn’t have made it as my top pick.  Green Book, my previous favorite before I saw A Star Is Born, is a strong second, and Roma a strong third.  Black Panther, The Favourite, and Bohemian Rhapsody occupy the middle-of-the-pack just-okay territory, Bohemian Rhapsody barely qualifying thanks to a balls-to-the-wall final act that partially made up for a crummy first half.  I did not like BlacKkKlansman and I especially did not like Vice.

 

Best Director

Nominees by alphabetical order Nominees by my preference, from highest to lowest GoldDerby’s predicted winner
Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman Alfonso Cuarón for Roma Alfonso Cuarón for Roma
Paweł Pawlikowski for Cold War Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite
Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman
Alfonso Cuarón for Roma Adam McKay for Vice
Adam McKay for Vice Haven’t seen: Paweł Pawlikowski for Cold War
My rankings for Best Director pretty much follow my preferences for Best Picture.  I will say that Yorgos Lanthimos and Spike Lee both did decent, if not extraordinary, jobs, even if I didn’t particularly like their nominated films.  I wanted to see Cold War before the ceremony but I didn’t get to it.

 

Best Actor

Nominees by alphabetical order Nominees by my preference, from highest to lowest GoldDerby’s predicted winner
Christian Bale for Vice Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody
Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody
Willem Dafoe for At Eternity’s Gate Christian Bale for Vice
Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody Viggo Mortensen for Green Book
Viggo Mortensen for Green Book Haven’t seen: Willem Dafoe for At Eternity’s Gate
Well this was a tough category for me to get through.  The four nominees I’ve seen were all really good and all about equally good, which made it hard for me to untangle them enough to rank them.  Bradley Cooper and Rami Malek both really impressed me, and at the end of the day I gave Cooper the slight edge because his performance really made me forget that the person on screen was actually Cooper rather than his character.

 

Okay, I know what you’re thinking – Christian Bale in third place?!  He melted into his role as Dick Cheney!  Well he’s a strong third, but he’s still a notch below Cooper and Malek, not just because of how strong Cooper and Malek were, but because I found some problems with Bale’s performance.  There were times when I thought he was overacting or exaggerating Cheney’s mannerisms (and you’ll see below that I have the same issue with co-star Amy Adams’s performance), and it took me out of the experience of watching Dick Cheney.  I might be thinking from bias since I’m much more familiar with Cheney than I am with Cooper’s and Malek’s characters, so I’m going to be more critical of how close Bale gets to the real thing (I’ve never actually seen anything of the real Freddie Mercury aside from the footage in Bohemian Rhapsody’s end credits).  Viggo Mortensen was really good and I would place him just slightly below Bale.

 

Best Actress

Nominees by alphabetical order Nominees by my preference, from highest to lowest GoldDerby’s predicted winner
Yalitza Aparicio for Roma Yalitza Aparicio for Roma Glenn Close for The Wife
Glenn Close for The Wife Olivia Colman for The Favourite
Olivia Colman for The Favourite Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born
Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born Haven’t seen:

Glenn Close for The Wife

Melissa McCarthy for Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy for Can You Ever Forgive Me?
It’s funny – when I left the theater after watching Roma, I didn’t think much of Yalitza Aparicio’s performance, let alone jump to putting it in the Oscar-worthy category (this was before the nominations were announced).  But with this field, picking Aparicio’s quietly and somberly powerful performance makes sense, especially in contrast to the much more high-profile, obvious, and loud choice in Olivia Colman.  I would put Colman and Lady Gaga pretty close together but Colman gets the slight edge here just because of the range in her performance.  Honestly, I’m not sure if Colman should even be in the Lead Actress category as opposed to Supporting (more on this in the Supporting Actress comments).

 

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees by alphabetical order Nominees by my preference, from highest to lowest GoldDerby’s predicted winner
Mahershala Ali for Green Book Mahershala Ali for Green Book Mahershala Ali for Green Book
Adam Driver for BlacKkKlansman Adam Driver for BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott for A Star Is Born Sam Elliott for A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me? Sam Rockwell for Vice
Sam Rockwell for Vice Haven’t seen: Richard E. Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Let me get this out of the way: I think Mahershala Ali should’ve been in the Lead Actor category rather than Supporting.  He’s one of the two main characters!  Well, even discounting the importance and screen time he gets that far surpass what’s normal for a Supporting Actor, his performance really did impress me, far more so than his Oscar-winning turn in Moonlight.  Adam Driver also had a pretty weighty role for Supporting (an argument could be made for him being considered Lead as well) and the amount of acting he had to work with helped push him up the rankings.  The two Sams – Sam Elliott and Sam Rockwell – don’t feel like they really belong here.  Rockwell in particular seems rather out of left field; he was barely in the movie, and his performance was actually pretty weak by Sam Rockwell standards.

 

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees by alphabetical order Nominees by my preference, from highest to lowest GoldDerby’s predicted winner
Amy Adams for Vice Emma Stone for The Favourite Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk
Marina de Tavira for Roma Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk
Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk Amy Adams for Vice
Emma Stone for The Favourite Rachel Weisz for The Favourite
Rachel Weisz for The Favourite Marina de Tavira for Roma
Let me get this out of the way: I think Emma Stone should’ve been in the Lead Actress category rather than Supporting.  She’s pretty much the main character! (And yes, I did copy and paste from what’s basically the same situation with Mahershala Ali for Supporting Actor.) If I were arranging the categories for Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz for The Favourite, I would probably put Stone as Lead, Colman as Supporting (or possibly Lead alongside Stone), and Weisz as Supporting.  Given how much she gets to work with, Stone really did play the role to the hilt and showed a great amount of range.  I was pretty torn between giving Stone or Regina King the top spot, and although I think King did a really great job, ultimately it was the amount of material Stone had to work with that pushed her to the top.

 

Amy Adams, much like her co-star Christian Bale, feels overacted and over-the-top at times in Vice, perhaps owing to the over-the-top overall feel of the movie (wow that’s a lot of uses of “over-“ in one sentence).  I’m also biased because I’ve seen much better from Adams (how was she not even nominated for Arrival?!) and much like the rest of the Vice cast, she seems to be underperforming (or perhaps misperforming?) in a way.

 

Rachel Weisz was good, but not extraordinary, in The Favourite.  The same goes even more so for Marina de Tavira in Roma; she did well, but I was very surprised she was actually nominated.

 

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees by alphabetical order Nominees by my preference, from highest to lowest GoldDerby’s predicted winner
The Favourite Green Book The Favourite
First Reformed The Favourite
Green Book Vice
Roma Roma
Vice Haven’t seen: First Reformed
So this shouldn’t be a surprise given my Best Picture rankings, with one exception: how did Roma fall lower than Vice?  Well, even though I thought Vice was a garbage movie, its script did have a few noteworthy high points, and the majority of the dialog was fairly well-constructed.  And even though I thought Roma was a rather good movie, it wasn’t because of its script, which I actually think is rather sparse and unmemorable.

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees by alphabetical order Nominees by my preference, from highest to lowest GoldDerby’s predicted winner
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs If Beale Street Could Talk BlacKkKlansman
BlacKkKlansman A Star Is Born
Can You Ever Forgive Me? BlacKkKlansman
If Beale Street Could Talk Haven’t seen:

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

A Star Is Born
A Star Is Born is my Best Picture top pick and I did really like its script, but it does get edged out by If Beale Street Could Talk. (If Beale Street Could Talk was not nominated for Best Picture, and I would’ve ranked it lower than A Star Is Born if it had been.) The voiceover narration by Tish Rivers in If Beale Street Could Talk was especially powerful, and made even more so by that gorgeous accompanying music (I’m not doing a breakdown for Best Original Score, but of the three nominees in that category I’ve seen, If Beale Street Could Talk is my top pick).

 

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