Well, here we are, close to the end of one of the more divisive and confusing awards seasons in recent memory. I have actually had trouble remembering a more active and contentious Oscars season in the 21st century. The past few years have had their controversies and ultimately, their surprises, but I don't think there has been a season like this with the combination of tumult in several of the nominees, the telecast, and in Best Picture itself.
I suppose that some of that tension might actually be good for the Oscars, but this year it has felt especially draining, particularly insofar as it feels tiring to have continued to have to have these conversations about problematic politics about race, gender, and sexuality. Sean Fennessey of The Ringer had a fair amount of existential malaise in his final ruminations on the season, and I don't entirely disagree with him. Such is perhaps the inevitable nature of attempting to change an unwieldy institution, but it felt especially tired this year. At any rate, here are my final picks for this year's Oscars.
The main categories
Best Picture: Roma is the odds-on favourite, but it is far from a lock. It would be the first foreign language film to win, as well as the first product of the streaming studios, either of which could work against it. And yet, it is my pick for the win (which I give with the caveat that I am on a four-year streak of incorrectly guessing Best Picture) over Green Book, which would instantly become part of the conversation with Crash as an all-time travesty.
Best Actor: Rami Malek has run the table, so I expect him to win here over Christian Bale. There's too much love for Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody for it to go away empty-handed.
Best Actress: Glenn Close will finally get her Oscar after almost four decades - and in typical Oscar fashion, it is two decades too late and for an unmemorable role - but at least her speech should be a highlight of the night.
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali will win his second award in this category in three years for Green Book. He has also run the table, and like Bohemian Rhapsody, there is too much affection for this movie for it not to win anything.
Best Supporting Actress: I'm sticking with Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk for this one over Rachel Weisz for The Favourite.
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón for Roma should win his second and the fifth win in this category in the past six years (!) for one of the Mexican directors nicknamed the Three Amigos: Cuarón; del Toro; Iñárritu.
Best Animated Feature: I'm going to go with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse here over The Incredibles 2. I know Brad Bird has two Oscars and might be the "smart bet", but my Spidey sense is tingling here for the upset.
Best Original Screenplay: The Favourite remains my pick here.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Spike Lee should finally get a long-overdue Oscar for BlackKklansman.
There are a few other interesting categories peppered throughout the Oscars; here are my thoughts on a few of them.
Cinematography: Cuarón could win five Oscars for Roma, but my guess is four, including this one, the aforementioned two, and Foreign Language Film.
Costume Design: This typically goes to a Best Picture nominee with the "most" costumes, unless there is a clear leader otherwise. There isn't, but there are two possibilities here from Best Picture: The Favourite and Black Panther. I think that Black Panther will actually win this category in part as recognition of Ruth E. Carter's long and storied career.
Film Editing: The fact that Roma was not nominated here is one of the reasons to second guess its status as frontrunner for Best Picture, but this race is interesting on its own merits. I think it will go to Hank Corwin for Vice as a way of recognizing his entire body of work, but especially his recent work on The Big Short.
Foreign Language Film: The only reason Roma would not win here is if enough people feel like it will win Best Picture that they could pick Cold War here - but I just don't think that's going to happen.
Makeup and Hairstyling: Vice. Just look at any picture of Christian Bale.
Original Score: I think Black Panther has a real shot here for Ludwig Goransson, but the smart money is on Nicolas Britell for If Beale Street Could Talk.
Original Song: A Star Is Born should get its only Oscar of the night here, and part of the irony is that Bradley Cooper is not nominated in this category. But its win will leave Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson each halfway to an EGOT.
Production Design: This category splits with Costume Design half of the time, and I wouldn't be surprised if it did again this year, with The Favourite winning. Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if Black Panther won this award too.
Visual Effects: Marvel should finally win here for Avengers: Infinity War, unless there's a push for First Man as a smaller film with impressive effects -which does happen often enough in this category.
In fourteen years of public prognosticating of Oscars, I have come within one award of a 9/9 sweep of the major awards five times, including being foiled by Best Picture twice in the past three years. That category may again be my undoing this year, along with Animated Feature and/or Supporting Actress. But I tend to think that Roma will take home the narrative of the evening.
As I reflect on my picks, I realize that I am expecting every Best Picture nominee to win at least one award - most of them in those eight significant categories - which would be somewhat unprecedented; that said, the fact that I expect that A Star Is Born, Vice, and Black Panther will not win major awards is enough to satisfy my expectation that a major contender will be essentially shut out, which happens relatively often.
I am actually unsure as to whether I will actually watch the full telecast on Sunday night, but be assured that I will be posting my results and reflections as soon as possible next week. And I sincerely hope that I will not have to write one of the possible thousands of thinkpieces on how Green Book could win in 2019 and what it means for the future of the Academy.