by Kevin Muller
What a complicated path this has been to this year’s Oscars. First, the Academy tried to shoehorn a category in ,“Popular Film,” that was quickly taken out after much outcry. Then, Kevin Hart was hired then fired after his anti-gay tweets surfaced. Finally, the Academy wanted to cut certain awards that always had their time to shine, but quickly walked back, and put them back in. We haven’t even gotten to the ceremony where some celebrities are going to be annoying with their political beliefs that no one asked to hear. Anyway, the Oscars have always been a second Superbowl to me, without the high ratings. I love movies, and even though I don’t always agree with the picks, Chicago winning best picture comes to mind, I always like to see what/who wins. Let’s get to it…
A Star is Born
Who Will Win and My Pick – Roma
Unless there is a major upset that doesn’t follow the previous ceremonies, which can happen, like it did in 2006, when Crash beat the favorite Brokeback Mountain, nothing is going to stop Alfonso Cauron’s love letter to his childhood and country.
The film isn’t for everybody, in all truthfulness, and it takes a while to start moving, but once you settle into it, you see how incredibly professional and personal this tale is to the director. Film making techniques that he has used in previous films, to make action set pieces even more thrilling, are used here for an emotional punch. The scene where his main character gives birth, conjures so many emotions, by the end of it, you feel raw and exposed. It also helps that the actress is so damn good in both that scene and throughout the film. The cinematography is flawless, making the most of the decision to go black and white. Most of all, it tells the honest tale about of a life of a good woman who facing some personal struggles in life set against 1970’s Mexico. The film feels lived in and doesn’t possess a falsity in the 120 minute run time. It is an epic about family, love, regret, loss, and all other things that come with this thing we call life.
Who will win = Bohemian Rhapsody
My Pick = Blackkklansman
The way it used to work with this category is that if you won here, then you pretty much had the “Best Picture” award in the bag. That has kind of disappeared in the last couple of years. The 2012 Best Picture winner, Argo, was the last one to get both. Unless the Academy falls for the glitchy and jittery nature of Vice, they will give this one to the crowd favorite Bohemian Rhapsody, which beautifully recreated the famous AIDS Benefit concert appearance. While I don’t think it will win “Best Picture,” rewarding the film with his specific award will be the big win for the legendary singer and his band.
If I had to pick though, it would have to be Blackkklansman. Outside of the ham-fisted ending, the film told a story that was funny, informative, satirical, and a thrilling good time. Nothing seemed out of place, and it all moved accordingly. But most of all, it had style.
Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Lady Gaga (A Star is Born)
Melissa McCarthy (Can you ever Forgive Me?)
Who Will Win- Glenn Close
My Pick- Melissa McCarthy
Wow! What a set of actresses who all gave great performances in their individual roles. Aparicio was the heart and soul of her film, but she is up against stronger names. If the ceremony took place back in October, Gaga would get it, but she hasn’t really won anything for the acting part of that movie. Don’t worry, you little monsters, she will be up there for original song. McCarthy can maybe upset. I thought her performance utilized her comic timing and dramatics perfectly. She basically makes an nonredeemable person charming and lovable. With that said, this match is between Colman and Close. Colman has been winning many awards for her portrayal of the confused and dying Queen, but I feel this will be Close’s year. Her performance, for the most part, is extremely subtle. It is full of pain, regret, love, anger, and Close hits all the notes perfectly. It’s a great performance that will finally give the veteran actress her due.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams (Vice)
Marina de DeVira (Roma)
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Emma Stone (The Favourite)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)
Who Will Win- Rachel Weisz
My Pick- Amy Adams
Usually when there are two people from the same film, they will cancel each other out, increasing the chances of the other three nominees. That isn’t going to happen this year, Weisz is damn good in that movie. She last won this award in 2006, for The Constant Gardner, and she will be up on stage this year holding the statue. She is razor sharp, venomous, and deliciously naughty as the Queen’s right-hand woman. She makes the dialogue sing and perfectly lands the sarcastic jabs throughout the film. The only one who may take it away is King. She gave such a warmness to her role in If Beale Street Could Talk, who wants nothing more than to take care and protect everything in her daughter’s life.
That said, if I was to hand over the statue, it would be to Amy Adams. She is freaking great as Lynn Cheney. Of course, she is overshadowed by Bale, but his performance is definitely elevated thanks to her. She maybe feminine and soft, on the outside, but she knows what buttons to push so her man does what is best for her and her country. It is a very authoritative performance and Adams, who seems extremely sweet, does a hell of a job with it.
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Adam Driver (Blackkklansman)
Sam Elliot (A Star is Born)
Richard E.Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Sam Rockwell (Vice)
Who Will Win- Mahershala Ali
My Pick- Adam Driver
Hollywood loves to reward itself, but bringing the issues of race to the big screen. Ali’s performance is pretty good, but I feel that Driver should get it. It isn’t a showy performance, which makes it more impressive that you can’t keep your eyes off him. Driver has always had this magnetic quality about him and he goes above and beyond in that film. He is in deep cover in the KKK, and you feel his anxiousness when they start to feel suspicious of him, but he is equally quick on his feet and can easily turn a lie into the truth. It is a subtle performance, but I really enjoyed it.
Christian Bale (Vice)
Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born)
Willem DaFoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)
Who Will Win and My Pick: Rami Malek
Before I sat down and watched Malek bring Freddie Mercury to life, Cooper was my pick. Since sitting through Malek’s performance, I really don’t see anyone but him winning the award. The only person who may take it away is Bale as Cheney. He was good, but the performance seemed very shallow compared to the other four. Malek has won every award leading up to Sunday for elevating a standard bio-pic into something above average. It just isn’t the fact he looks like Freddie, but he gave him dimension and depth. You felt all the success and heartbreak Freddie experienced in his legendary career.
Alfonso Cauron (Roma)
Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)
Spike Lee (Blackkklansman)
Adam McKay (Vice)
Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)
My Pick and Will Win- Cuaron
Out of all the nominations, this one is the most certain to happen. What each of these directors brought to these projects validated their nominations: Lanthimos brought a sass to a genre that usually is entertaining as watching paint dry, Lee mixed his style into a true story, and McKay made an interesting lesson of the Bush years. The only one I haven’t seen is Pawlikowski, but word on the street is that he created a sizzling romance between two characters. A convincing romance isn’t easy to achieve on screen, so that is probably why he is up there. The nomination is his ticket into Hollywood. Cauron created an epic with a strong emotional core. This is a world that doesn’t feel false at all. The performance he got out of his lead star, Yalitza Aparicio, who never took any formal acting training, is an achievement on its own. She is in the entire movie. When you add all that evidence up, along with the fact he has won everything leading up to Sunday, he will have to make room on his shelf for his second award.
Never Look Away
A Star is Born
My Pick and Who Will win- Roma
While I loved the cinematography that Cooper brought to A Star is Born, which added to the realism, no one is going to beat Cauron, who also did the cinematography for his film. First off, it is shot in black and white. The color palate isn’t popular anymore, but when it is used correctly, it is amazing how beautiful a scene shot in two colors could be compared to a film saturated many different colors. Cauron carefully shoots the smaller scenes, with the same care, as he does with the bigger scenes.
The Coen Brothers (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs)
Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, and Kevin Willmott (Blackkklansman)
Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty (Can you Ever Forgive Me?)
Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters, and Eric Roth (A Star is Born)
Who Will Win- Blackkklansman
My Pick- Can You Ever Forgive me?
This is one award that I feel Spike Lee has locked up in the bag. The script is based on a true event that makes a group of people seem like the assholes they truly are. I wouldn’t be upset if it won, since it is also a thrilling and entertaining film about an interesting point in history. All the characters, especially the two leads, are given depth and some of the best dialogue of the year.
If I was in the academy, I would vote for Can you Ever Forgive Me? The script is hilarious, but also puts the character through the ringer. It never masks how awful this person was when these events took place. McCarthy’s Israel is a despicable character, but also one full of broken dreams and an unfulfilled life. She is a lovable loser. The script gave plenty to McCarthy to work with, for her to get that best actress nomination, so it is only right the writers get credit too.
Debroah Davis and Tony McNamara (The Favourite)
Paul Schrader (First Reformed)
Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly, and Nick Vallelonga (Green Book)
Alfonso Cauron (Roma)
Adam McKay (Vice)
Who Will Win and My Pick- The Favourite
Schrader’s screenplay may sneak an upset, but I don’t think enough people saw the movie to make it cross the finish line. Cauron’s screenplay was good, but not as good as the other aspects of that film. McKay may get it, but I thought the screenplay, along with the entire film, was all over the place and too in love with itself. Green Book’s script had its heart in the right place, but is just has no subtlety with its message.
The Favourite is a historical drama. Yes, the events in that film take place around a real time in history. Instead of boring us with a straight up costume drama, the writers created a story with dialogue that is fast, vicious, and hilarious. The Academy will reward the film on that merit alone.
The 91st Academy Awards will air on Sunday, February 24th at 7pm CST on ABC.
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