The 91st annual Academy Awards will be broadcast Sunday night. As is our custom, we've assembled some highly invested industry observers and awards mavens to help you win your Oscar night party pool.
With some exceptions noted below, we're trying to guess what the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will do, not express our preferences. For comic relief, I also make picks.
This year's panel:
Sam Blair (SB), retired Little Rock Central High School college counselor, our resident armchair critic and a frequent contributor to our blood, dirt & angels blog; Jennifer Boulden (JB), a Little Rock writer and consultant who's been analyzing Oscar races as a year-round hobby since the '90s; Danny-Joe Crofford (DJC), beloved icon; Dan Lybarger (DL), our Kansas City-based film critic who "went to graduate school at UALR, but this year he wishes he went to Hogwarts because predicting this year's Academy Awards is harder than usual"; Karen Martin (KM), the founder of our movie section and editor of the Democrat-Gazette's Sunday Perspective section; your humble correspondent (PM); Piers Marchant (Piers), our Philadelphia-based critic; Philip Price (PP), critic at reviewsfromabed.com; our day copy desk chief and invaluable font of cinematic history Joe Riddle (Joe); film director, screenwriter, director and impresario Jay Russell (JR); Washington resident, Movies in the Park founder, and Bennett Miller enthusiast Blake Rutherford (BR).
Green Book (DL, JR)
Roma (SB, JB, DJC, Piers, KM, PM, PP, Joe, BR)
A Star Is Born
Comments: It's not often that my favorite film of the year winds up being an Oscar contender, much less -- if we go by our panel's votes -- the prohibitive favorite. Were I trying to win this pool, I'd go with Green Book or Bohemian Rhapsody (neither of which I liked much), to try to separate myself from the crowd.
SB: Roma ... if academy members can stomach voting for Netflix. The Rider should have been nominated.
JB: Roma didn't work for me, but I seem to be the only one. I'm expecting the 1,000-plus new international academy voters to help carry its momentum to Netflix's first [best picture] win. I think it's between Roma and crowd-pleaser Green Book, but if BlacKkKlansman or Black Panther wins, I'll be ecstatic.
DL: This is hard. The guilds, which are normally the surest way to tell what will win are all over the place on this. SAG members chose Black Panther for best cast (and it is impressive), but the Producers Guild chose the pleasantly antiquated Green Book. The latter is as safe as it is dull, and in a year when far more clever and sincere films like Roma, BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite and Black Panther have been nominated.
Piers: God help us all if Green Book takes us back to the Driving Miss Daisy catastrophe of 1990. I agree The Rider should certainly have been nominated.
JR: If Roma slips in, it would be the first film to win both foreign language and best film.
Joe: Roma will win best foreign language film ... It should not have been nominated in both categories. The academy needs to adjust its rules so this doesn't happen again.
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (SB, JB, DJC, DL, Piers, PP, JR, BR)
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (KM, PM, Joe)
Adam McKay, Vice
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
I don't understand why the person who directs the best picture isn't automatically the best director. Actually I do -- it's a chance to spread the awards around. Lee has made a film representative of his best work, and he's done a lot of good work. I'm won't be mad if he wins. Ethan Hawke should have been nominated for Blaze.
JB: Cuaron has as much of a lock on this race as I've ever seen.
SB: Debra Granik (Leave No Trace) should have been nominated.
DL: Yorgos Lanthimos should win.
Christian Bale, Vice (KM)
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (Piers, PM)
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity's Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (SB, JB, DJC, DL, PP, Joe, JR, BR)
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
I might prefer Cooper, though this feels like a bunch of just-OK performances. Ethan Hawke has a case; he is remarkable in First Reformed.
SB: Bale should win. Steve Buscemi should have been nominated for The Death of Stalin.
DL: Dafoe. He may be following in the footsteps of Kirk Douglas and Tim Roth, who both excelled in the role, but he achieves a unique combination of sensitivity and madness to Vincent van Gogh. His performances is all the more remarkable considering that he's nearly twice the age of the ill-fated painter.
Piers: Too few people saw Dafoe; Bale has a shot; Viggo has been far better, so I'm going with Bradley, as a kind of consolation prize for not winning film or director.
PP: Cooper should win.
Joe: It's a three-way tie between Dafoe, Mortensen and Malek.
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (Piers)
Glenn Close, The Wife (SB, JB, DJC, DL, KM, PM, PP, Joe, JR, BR)
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
A near-sweep of the panel? Really? This is a lot better field than the best actor category; Close and Colman have a lot of fun in their roles, Gaga and Aparicio both transcended what could have been seen as stunt casting, and McCarthy changed the way people think of her. Close seems to be the favorite, but it's the slightest movie.
Joe: Close should have won several times by now. And she should have won a supporting Oscar for a role she wasn't nominated for -- Reversal of Fortune.
SB: They got the nominees right.
DL: Olivia Colman -- who manages to be funny, heartbreakingly pathetic and terrifying in the same scene -- should win.
Piers: While it might be true Close is well overdue at this point, the fact that Aparicio absolutely carries the emotional weight of the film most likely to win best picture should count for a lot.
PP: Lady Gaga should win.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams,Vice (DL, PM, Joe)
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (SB, JB, DJC, Piers, PP, JR, BR)
Emma Stone, The Favourite (KM)
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
I would have liked to see Alia Shawkat nominated for Blaze, but didn't expect it.
SB: Claire Foy should have been nominated for First Man.
DL: This one's a doozy because Emily Blunt won for A Quiet Place at the SAG Awards but failed to pick up an Oscar nod. Marina de Tavira should win -- if you didn't believe her struggle to keep her family together after her husband bails, Roma would not have been worth watching on any screen.
Joe: Stone and Weisz will cancel each other out. King should win.
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Green Book (SB, JB, DJC, PP, BR, JR)
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (DL, Piers)
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PM, KM)
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born (Joe)
Sam Rockwell, Vice
I've been beating this dead horse for too long but I'm going to say it again: The single best performance I saw last year was Charlie Sexton as Townes Van Zandt in Blaze. I'll shut up now.
Piers: It's the perfect role for the perfect actor at the perfect time in his life. Grant comes full circle from Withnail and I, and wins outright. Bottoms up!
PP: Elliott should win.
Joe: Grant should win.
JB: If anyone could upset, it'd be the charming Richard E. Grant.
Best Original Screenplay
The Favourite (DL, BR, PP)
First Reformed (Piers, KM, PM)
Green Book (SB, JB, JR)
I'm probably indulging in wishfulness here, but Paul Schrader should have a handful of Oscars by now.
JB: ... a tossup. I'd vote for First Reformed.
Best Adapted Screenplay
BlacKkKlansman (SB, JB, DJC, DL, PM, PP, JR, BR)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Joe)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (KM)
A Star Is Born
If Beale Street Could Talk (Piers)
JB: Of all the best pic nominees, BlacKkKlansman is the only one with all the precursor and indicator nominations -- but it hasn't won much. I think it'll prevail here, but look for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which just won the WGA, to spoil.
DL: Any of the nominees except A Star Is Born.
Piers: Agreed with the Forgive Me comment, but I'm still hoping the academy sees the error of its ways toward Barry Jenkins' film, easily one of the best of the year.
Joe: Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty for Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Best Documentary Feature
RBG (BR, PP, Joe, JR)
Free Solo (SB, JB, DJC, KM)
Minding the Gap
Hale County This Morning, This Evening (Piers, PM)
Of Fathers and Sons
I can come up with a solid list of 20 great docs from last year. Too bad Bisbee '17 didn't get a nomination.
Piers: Of this illustrious list, I'd still go for Hale County personally, but Free is absolutely mesmerizing.
Best Foreign Language Feature
Roma (SB, JB, DJC, DL, PM, PP, Joe, JR, BR)
Shoplifters (Piers, KM)
Never Look Away
Top to bottom, this is a stronger field than the best picture category. But it almost always is. Shoplifters might be the best movie that didn't make it to Arkansas last year -- or maybe Cold War is. If Roma doesn't win it'll be a huge upset. KM's Shoplifters pick is from the heart.
JB: Anything else would be a shocker. That said, Pan's Labyrinth was a best pic nominee that lost foreign to The Lives of Others, so Cold War has an outside chance. But the smart money is on Roma.
Piers: This makes no real sense, obviously, but Shoplifters has to get some love, you'd think
Best Animated Feature
Isle of Dogs (KM, PM)
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (SB, JB, DJC, DL, Piers, PP, Joe, JR, BR)
To my shame, I've yet to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. On the other hand, I love Isle of Dogs.
SB: Only saw Isle of Dogs.
JB: Into the Spider-Verse ... easily one of the best films of the year.
Joe: I only saw one of the nominated films in this category so I can't choose the winner. [Though he did.]
PM: Best hair and makeup to Border (Goran Lundstrom and Pamela Goldammer); best song to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings for "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings" (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs).
DJC: Best song will go to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper for "Shallow" (A Star Is Born).
Piers: Not that the academy cares about such things anymore, apparently, but best cinematography could very well to to Cuaron, which would give him a chance to really dominate the evening. Fortunately, I'm sure he'll have a very nice tux to display in the process.
Joe: Best original score: Sadly, Mary Poppins Returns will win this one. I hope Walt is rolling over in his grave.
JB: Costumes: Black Panther completely deserves this win. So imaginative. Editing: Vice? Could go to any of them, but Vice's was the flashiest. Both sound categories: Bohemian Rhapsody, though maybe A Quiet Place gets in editing.
MovieStyle on 02/22/2019
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