Oscars Season: Our 2019 Academy Awards Picks and Predictions

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In what has become a yearly tradition ahead of the Academy Awards, which air this Sunday, February 24th on ABC, GeekDad film writers Tony Nunes and Rob Huddleston make their picks and predictions for this year’s key Oscar races.

Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay

Tony’s Predictions — Best Adapted Screenplay: If Beale Street Could Talk / Best Original Screenplay: First Reformed

As much as I’d selfishly love to see the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs take home all three of the awards it is nominated for, including Best Adapted Screenplay, I predict that Barry Jenkins take on James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk will take home the Oscar. Deservedly so.

For the Original Screenplay category, I’m going out on a limb to predict a win for Paul Schrader’s fiercely restrained First Reformed. The Taxi Driver writer is due for an Oscar, and with a film as tense and emotionally blooming as this, the win would be far more than a legacy prize.

Rob’s Predictions — Best Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman / Best Original Screenplay: The Favourite

While I personally wasn’t terribly impressed with BlacKkKlansman, and I don’t think it’s going to have a great night, I think Adapted Screenplay is going to be where the Academy decides to honor Spike Lee this year.

Since they’re handing out the writing awards to the movies they aren’t going to give the big prize to, I think The Favourite ends up here with its consolation prize and the only major award it will win.

Animated Feature Film

Tony’s Prediction — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

My gut tells me that Spider-Verse will likely be the night’s big winner from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It encountered a rare audience transcendence of non-superhero fans coming out for a comic book film—enticed by word-of-mouth from critics and audiences of all ages. Sadly, my prediction comes with the caveat that with Spider-Verse as the nights big MCU winner, Black Panther will go home without the Best Picture Oscar us geeks were hoping for.

Rob’s Prediction — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I’m not sure there’s a clear favorite here. The Academy has never recognized a stop-motion movie in this category before, and I don’t think they’ll start this year. Japanese animation likewise hasn’t fared well, with Spirited Away being the only winner so far. So that leaves the three more mainstream movies. The movie I want to win is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. But it can’t be ignored that Pixar has won 9 of the 17 awards ever presented in this category. And non-Pixar Disney movies have been on a roll recently, winning 4 of the last 6 years. Still, I think that Spider-Man is different and innovative enough, it’s going up against two sequels, and some voters may see this as a way to award a superhero film without having to give Best Picture to Black Panther.


Tony’s Prediction — Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Did you see Roma? Have you seen a more cinematic, auteur-driven vision this past year? I didn’t, and that is why Cuaron will and absolutely should take home this Oscar.

Rob’s Prediction — Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

This is an easy call this year, with Roma the only truly stand-out directing nominee in the bunch.

Actor in a Leading Role

Tony’s Prediction — Christian Bale for Vice

Of all of this year’s Best Actor nominees, Bale’s take on Dick Cheney was by far the most striking transformation. I think he’ll win, but we should all be honest about who really deserves the Best Actor award: Nicolas Cage for the most manic, uncaged performance of his career (and that’s saying something) in Mandy.

Rob’s Prediction — Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody

This isn’t a list of movies I think should win, but rather, which ones I think will win. Malek has been basically unstoppable so far in other awards shows, and I see no reason why that will change on Sunday night.

Actress in a Leading Role

Tony’s Prediction — Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born

The talk is that Glenn Close is a shoe-in for The Wife, but I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid. I have a strong suspicion that Gaga will swoop in with an upset for A Star Is Born. Her win will undoubtedly be compared to Cher’s 1988 Best Actress win for Moonstruck. It’s time. Think about it; A Star Is Born has been made four times, with Oscar nominations for Janet Gaynor in the 1937 original and Judy Garland in the 1954 remake. Both lost. Barbara Streisand wasn’t nominated for her take in 1976. Bonus fun fact: Both the 1937 and 1954 films were set in the world of Hollywood (as opposed to the music business like the 1976 and 2018 versions) with both fictional stars winning an Academy Award in the film, but alas, not in reality.

Rob’s Prediction — Glenn Close for The Wife

I’m at a disadvantage here as I haven’t yet seen The Wife, but again, I don’t need to see the movies to make these predictions. (And sometimes, seeing the movies can be a bit of a distraction anyway.) In the last ten years, the winner of the SAG award for Best Actress has also won the Oscar eight times, and one of those two outliers was because Kate Winslet, who won the Oscar, was nominated in the Supporting Actress category at SAG… which she won. So even though the Academy otherwise ignored The Wife this year, I don’t see any reason why all of those actors who voted for her with the Guild would change their votes when casting their Academy ballots.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Tony’s Prediction — Mahershala Ali for Green Book

Ali won the award in 2017 for Moonlight, and I predict he’ll win again for Green Book. Mahershala Ali is one of the best actors working today, and I see a lot more awards in his future. Next up, the Emmy for his insanely great run on the third season of HBO’s True Detective.

Rob’s Prediction — Mahershala Ali for Green Book

Again, going with the SAG winner here, although I also happen to think that not only is Ali very deserving of the award, but that also this will be an early indicator of the big night Green Book is going to have.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Tony’s Prediction — Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk

I have zero doubts that King will take home this award. She won the Golden Globe and a number of critics awards, but my real confidence in her odds comes from the power of the performance itself.

Rob’s Prediction — Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk

Here’s where the “just go with the SAG vote” falls flat, as the Guild’s winner, Emily Blunt, wasn’t even nominated in this category for her performance in A Quiet Place. Yikes. Conventional wisdom might think that Blunt and Weisz would split the vote here, even though Weisz did edge out her co-star at the BAFTA awards. But in the end, I think it’ll be King here, not only because she has already won a few other awards this year, but also because she really did deliver a stand-out performance.

Best Picture

Tony’s Prediction — Roma

Never in Academy Awards history has a film won both the Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture awards. There were nominees for both, including Costa-Gavras’ Z, which won Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated and lost for Best Picture in 1969. That same scenario played out for Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful in 1998, Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000, and Michael Haneke’s Amour in 2012. And there’s even the odd case of Jan Troell’s The Emigrants which was nominated for Best Foreign Film in 1971 and Best Picture in 1972, losing both. In all, there have been 11 foreign language films nominated for Best Picture and all of them lost. 2019 is the year that will change. Roma will be the first film to take home both the Foreign Language and Best Picture awards. It would be odd for a film to win Best Picture and lose the Foreign Language category, unless Cold War somehow edges Roma out.

At the end of the night, Cuaron and his team will be the big winners. And so will Netflix, which has campaigned heavily for an Oscar win. What a Netflix Best Picture means for the future of film is another story, and one that will be much debated, passionately on two sides, for months and years to come. My take is that great cinema will only be made if people and companies continue to invest in storytellers and their craft. Movie theater viewing is always the best experience, and if Netflix can toe the line between investing in story while preserving and even expanding opportunities for art house cinematic exhibition like they did with Roma, I’m all for it.

Rob’s Prediction – Green Book

I don’t think there are too many people paying attention to the Oscars who don’t think this is a two-way race between Roma and Green Book. And wow is it hard to call. If it wins, Green Book will become only the fifth movie in Oscar history to win Best Picture without a Director nomination. The last was relatively recent—2012’s Argo—but before that you have to go back to 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy… a movie that has gotten more than one comparison to Green Book.

On the other hand, Roma would become the first non-English movie ever to win.

Both movies have acting nominations, which is almost always a requirement to win (89% of all Best Picture winners have had at least one acting nomination), and both were nominated for their screenplays, which again is basically required (93% of winners have been nominated for writing). 82% of past winners have had a nomination for Film Editing, which Green Book got but Roma did not.

The other awards aren’t much help here, either. Of the five other awards that are decent-ish predictors of Oscar glory, Roma has won two (Director’s Guild and BAFTA), and Green Book has won two (Producer’s Guild and the Golden Globe.) The SAG went with Black Panther, which I know most of our readers probably want to win as well. However, of those four, the Director’s Guild is by far the most predictive, agreeing with the Oscars 72% of the time since 1981. The PGA is the next highest at only 58%.

Neither film is completely free from controversy, either. Green Book has been criticized by the family of Don Shirley (the character played by Ali) and had bad press about its director and co-writer. But Roma is seen by a lot of people as only sort-of a “real” movie, seeing as it was produced by Netflix and only barely released in theaters, with all three of the big chains (AMC, Regal, and Cinemark) refusing to screen it at all. I ended up driving all the way to San Francisco to find a theater that was playing it since I didn’t want to watch it at home. A win for the movie might be seen as a statement by Hollywood that the era of theaters is over, something lots of folks in the industry might not be ready to do.

So, with all of the predictive tools being a wash, I’m going to go with the assumption that because voters have another big category in which to recognize Roma, and the simple fact that I just happened to think it’s the better movie, and stick with Green Book.

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