• Casey Seline

2019 Oscar Predictions

Updated: Jan 22, 2019

I'm writing these in October because I'm insane.

 

Here's the deal. I've guessed the Best Picture winner correctly seven times in the last eight years (The Shape of Water can go straight to hell). If you think that's a silly thing to be proud of, you a) aren't my target audience and b) are wrong because the last eight years have seen some glorious upsets from the Academy. Moonlight over La La Land? “Hollywood always votes for itself” my ass. The King's Speech rather than The Social Network? I wrote a Facebook status over that hotly contested take. Argo instead of Zero Dark Thirty? Considering Ben Affleck wasn’t up for Best Director, that upset many a statistician. Spotlight over literally any other option? No one else saw that coming.


The key to making accurate award predictions is understanding how Hollywood and Academy voters understand themselves. While I’m sure not every Academy voter considers themselves an artist, I’d be willing to bet they all believe they have a relationship with cinematic art. Saying they’re elitists isn’t an insult to them. They don’t respond to box office returns or statistics; they respond to art, which is always political. Put movies through the sieves of current politics and artistic quality, and you’ll end up with a narrow set of contenders. From there, think of how Hollywood feels about each film’s themes and the filmmakers. Hollywood wants to be a hero and an educator. Which movie do they think is vital to this moment, and who do they connect with enough to award?

Last year, I missed only six of the Academy's 24 categories: Foreign Language Film, Original Song, Production Design, Short Film - Live Action, Visual Effects, and (as aforementioned) Best Picture. For those keeping score, that’s 18/24 or 75%, which is about the same score as any industry expert. Suffice it to say, I really like awards season and I'm more often right than I am wrong. Normally I don’t make my predictions solidly until mid-February. Up until then, I have hunches but I can change them by conducting close readings of the awards shows leading up to the Oscars. This year, however, I'm challenging myself to make my predictions long before the hints come pouring in. I'm testing my intuition.


Save for shorts (which I wouldn't even know where to find at this point in the awards season), my predictions for nominations and winners in each category are below. I’ve never tried to predict nominations ahead of time, only winners, so I’m allowing myself some small grace by including alternate selections, which are 2-3 options that I wouldn’t be surprised to see score a nomination, but I don’t think would win. I’m also including some rationale, which will notably get less and less coherent as we get into the more technical categories.


Let me know what you think in the comments!


Best Picture

A Star Is Born

The Favourite

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Black Panther

On the Basis of Sex

Roma

The Front Runner

Vice

First Man


Alternate selections: Mary Queen of Scots, Boy Erased


Winner: Green Book


Commentary: Here's what's going to happen. The race will be between Green Book and Roma. At this point, I've only seen trailers for each of these films. While Green Book’s trailer doesn’t invigorate me as much, I’m heartened by its People's Choice Award win at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). In comparing Green Book and Roma, the reasons it'll go to Green Book are very shallow; Roma is distributed by Netflix, and while Netflix has promised a theatrical release, that won’t be how the majority of audiences experience it. This is a huge debate for a lot of Academy voters and the reason no Netflix film has been up for Best Picture before. That Roma will be nominated will be a big deal, but it'll be protested just enough to push it out of the winning spot, even if it's clearly the deserved winner. Other than that, Roma will have subtitles, which automatically forces it to be considered more niche. You'd hope Academy voters wouldn't hold subtitles against a film, but historically, it has. It'll also be much less explicit about its own social importance, which is a double-edged sword.


That social importance is presumably what Green Book will get right. Like Moonlight, Best Picture winners need to have some sociopolitically relevant stance to them that Hollywood agrees with and wants to say it agrees with. The trick is that this stance has to create an emotional impact but also feel understated, or like it's tangent to a piece of what's in the cultural zeitgeist. From what I've seen of this award season's movies, it looks like Green Book has the best shot of achieving that. So long as it also hits on the "fine art" aspects of a Best Picture winner (i.e. it has to be emotionally and visually artistic), it should coast into the winning spot.


I might see Green Book and find out it doesn't create any sense of impact, which would essentially make all of this void. I'm putting a lot of faith in TIFF.


As for the other movies that I think will be nominated, Black Panther has no chance of winning because it doesn't pass the "cinematic art" test. To give a better indication of what that test entails: our cultural understanding of art is tied to feeling deeper emotions and accessing that piece of the self that feels perpetually isolated. That means a story needs to go beyond what's readily available for us to feel (anxiety, longing, contentedness) to create a greater sense of impact. Because of that, action movies (including superhero movies) and rom coms don't pass, even if they're cultural phenomenons like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians. Black Panther will receive the nomination despite this in an effort to raise viewership. Crazy Rich Asians won't get a nomination because its impact is tied only to representation. Aside from that, it's a standard rom com, and representation, important as it is, cannot be the sole factor in a nomination. Black Panther rises slightly above the standard action/superhero movie, which is why it gets the nomination and Crazy Rich Asians doesn't.


On the Basis of Sex is the new Hidden Figures in that it has the social import piece but not the artistic piece going for it. Some Academy voters might get suckered into favoring A Star Is Born, but my (controversial) opinion on that is any remake is past its prime and shouldn't be in the same league as modern originals, no matter how "new" the remake is. We can argue about how everything is a remake of something later.


Everything else on my nominations list is pretty standard. I'm cutting myself off because this commentary is too long; let me know what you want to talk more about in the comments.



Best Actor

Ryan Gosling (First Man)

Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)

Christian Bale (Vice)

Viggo Morentsen (Green Book)

Hugh Jackman (The Front Runner)


Alternate selections: Willem Dafoe (At Eternity's Gate), Robert Redford (The Old Man & The Gun)


Winner: Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)


Commentary: This race is between Rami Malek and Christian Bale, undoubtedly. They'll split the Golden Globes, one taking Best Actor in a Drama and the other Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. I think Malek will narrowly edge out Bale because while Bale's performance will have to be more exacting, Malek's has to be electrifying. I wouldn't be surprised by Robert Redford cutting into this category because The Old Man & The Gun is supposedly his swan song. If Bradley Cooper sneaks in here for A Star Is Born, I'm going to have to hurt someone.



Best Actress

Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)

Glenn Close (The Wife)

Olivia Colman (The Favourite)

Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)

KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk)


Alternate selections: Nicole Kidman (Destroyer), Felicity Jones (On the Basis of Sex), Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots)


Winner: Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)


Commentary: Glenn Close is probably the most deserving, but it'll truly be between Lady Gaga and Olivia Colman. Of those two, it won't go to Colman because I assume some Academy members will protest the fact that she's the leading lady of The Favourite rather than Emma Stone and/or Rachel Weisz.



Best Supporting Actor

Sam Rockwell (Vice)

Mahershala Ali (Green Book)

Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy)

Sam Elliot (A Star Is Born)

Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)


Alternate selections: J.K. Simmons (The Front Runner), Steve Carell (Vice)


Winner: Mahershala Ali (Green Book)


Commentary: This race is between Sam Rockwell and Mahershala Ali, both of whom have picked up this exact award in the last two years. Ali will take it because, ironically, his portrayal of a fictional man is more real than Rockwell's portrayal of the very real George W. Bush.



Best Supporting Actress

Claire Foy (First Man)

Emma Stone (The Favourite)

Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)

Margot Robbie (Mary Queen of Scots)


Alternate selections: Amy Adams (Vice), Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased)


Winner: Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)


Commentary: It's possible that Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz will split the vote, allowing Margot Robbie or Claire Foy to take it, but I think voters are going to respond most to The Favourite's ensemble and will pick Weisz over Stone because Weisz better fits the supporting category. (If you think that contradicts what I said in Best Actress, you’re right and I’m merely a vessel of the ways the Academy contradicts itself.)



Best Director

Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)

Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)

Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)

Damien Chazelle (First Man)

Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk)


Alternate selections: Ryan Cooler (Black Panther), Adam McKay (Vice)


Winner: Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)


Commentary: It warms my heart to think that Damien Chazelle is probably livid about the fact that he and Barry Jenkins are seemingly cosmically intertwined. Anyway, neither of them are going to win this year. This is Alfonso Cuarón's race to lose. The only person who could possibly touch him is Yorgos Lanthimos, but I think the Academy is still wary of him. He has a shot of winning this category in the future, but I think he needs at least one more Hollywood-palatable film under his belt (which I say as a huge fan of The Lobster).



Best Animated Feature

Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Mirai


Alternate selections: Smallfoot, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation


Winner: Ralph Breaks the Internet


Commentary: Incredibles 2 and Isle of Dogs are probably Ralph Breaks the Internet's biggest competition. Incredibles isn't as inclusive as Ralph Breaks the Internet, and Isle of Dogs is a little racist. Plus, both of them came out much earlier than Ralph Breaks the Internet, which lessens their chances.



Best Documentary

RBG

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Free Solo

This Changes Everything

Fahrenheit 11/9


Alternate selections: Three Identical Strangers, Reversing Roe


Winner: Won't You Be My Neighbor?


Commentary: I don't know enough about docs to be confident in my nomination list, but I do think the Mister Rodgers flick will end up winning. Won't You Be My Neighbor? was something of a phenomenon among the documentary lineup this year, bringing people who often ignore docs to the theater. That should enough for the voters who will vote without having watched all of the nominees.



Best Foreign Language Film

Roma (Mexico)

Shoplifters (Japan)

Dogman (Italy/France)

Cold War (Poland)

The Spy Gone North (South Korea)


Winner: Roma (Mexico)


Commentary: As far as I know, Mexico is the only country that has made their selection official, so this predicted nomination list is more of a blind stab at things after scrolling through some international film festival commentary online. In any case, Roma is almost certainly going to be the only foreign language film included in the Best Picture nominees, which should make it the de facto choice for Best Foreign Language Film.



Best Cinematography

At Eternity's Gate

Roma

If Beale Street Could Talk

First Man

Green Book


Alternate selection: Vice, A Star Is Born


Winner: Roma


Commentary: I read earlier today that Alfonso Cuarón served as his own Director of Photography (DP) on this film when his regular DP had scheduling conflicts, which is a big freakin’ deal. I think the only competition to Roma’s black-and-white beauty will be If Beale Street Could Talk. I’m still furious Barry Jenkins’ previous masterpiece, Moonlight, lost Best Cinematography to La La Land, but even his vision of soft colors won’t be able to charm voters like a classic B&W. Honestly, I’m sold on Roma winning this category after seeing nothing more than those water shots from the teaser trailer.



Best Production Design

Black Panther

First Man

The Favourite

A Star Is Born

Roma


Alternate selections: Isle of Dogs, Mary Poppins Returns


Winner: A Star Is Born


Commentary: A Star Is Born will win just to piss me off. The Production Design category always gives me trouble because I assume it’ll go to a film with more complex, detailed sets, and then it goes to one with the most average amount of frills possible. This year, that amount of frills can be found in A Star Is Born.



Best Costume Design

The Favourite

Colette

Mary Queen of Scots

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Mary Poppins Returns


Alternate selections: Bohemian Rhapsody, The Front Runner


Winner: Colette


Commentary: The Favourite and Mary Queen of Scots should split the vote, allowing the more creative, experimental-for-the-period costuming (as necessitated by the story) in Colette to win here.



Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Mary Queen of Scots

Vice

The Favourite


Alternate selection: Bohemian Rhapsody


Winner: Mary Queen of Scots


Commentary: I’m expecting Mary Queen of Scots here mostly for the range of looks Margot Robbie has in the film’s trailer. I hope Bohemian Rhapsody gets nominated here instead of The Favourite, but I’m not sold on the Academy seeing it that way.



Best Film Editing

Vice

Roma

A Star Is Born

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk


Alternate selections: Widows, First Man


Winner: Roma


Commentary: This category is often misunderstood by the masses. Yes, it has to do with the transitions between shots, but it’s also (almost) entirely responsible for the flow of the movie and how you process the information presented to you. (Shoutout to my film studies degree.) Did you leave the theater feeling confused about the story? That falls more on the editor than you think. That’s why this category usually goes to a film with a good story rather than an edit-heavy action flick. Roma should take this category.



Best Sound Editing

First Man

A Quiet Place

Black Panther

A Star Is Born

Roma


Alternate selections: Mission Impossible: Fallout, Widows


Winner: First Man


Commentary: Sound is probably the aspect of film that most eludes my grasp. I've gotten away with getting this category right in the past by going with the action-heavy films. My understanding, though, is that when there’s a film that incorporates silence as much as it incorporates sound (i.e. movies set in space), it usually wins. This year, however, we have to consider A Quiet Place, which also plays with silence, but it doesn’t necessitate the same amount of range as a movie dealing with space.



Best Sound Mixing

First Man

A Quiet Place

Mary Poppins Returns

Black Panther

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom


Alternate selections: Roma, The Favourite


Winner: First Man


Commentary: Sound Mixing typically (but not always!) matches up with Sound Editing. For the uninitiated, sound mixing is the process of creating sounds that match a visual. Most of the sounds you hear in movies weren’t recorded as they were shot, which means all the gunfire, explosions, animal noises, splashes, etc. you hear were created by sound engineers, scene by scene. That’s why the sound categories usually go to action flicks, which require a lot of sound insertion/lining up to what you see. Lesson aside, First Man will also take this one over A Quiet Place or Black Panther/Jurassic World, again because space.



Best Original Score

First Man

If Beale Street Could Talk

Roma

Mary Poppins Returns

The Favourite


Alternate selections: Can You Ever Forgive Me?, At Eternity's Gate


Winner: If Beale Street Could Talk


Commentary: I’m basing this decision off of trailers. Trailers don’t always include the movie’s score, so the fact that If Beale Street Could Talk not only includes it, but highlights it, says a lot to me.



Best Original Song

Winner: "Shallow" (A Star Is Born)


Commentary: I haven’t the foggiest notion which other songs will be included in this category, but I’m willing to bet "Shallow" will beat them all. Update: Vanity Fair says Dolly Parton is entering this race with “Girl in the Movies” (Dumplin’). This makes no difference to the outcome; sorry, Dolly.



Best Visual Effects

Black Panther

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Mary Poppins Returns

Widows

First Man


Alternate selections: Avengers: Infinity War, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom


Winner: First Man


Commentary: This is another category that has proven tricky for me, and so it’s hard to talk about this group with any confidence. I’m relying on the notion that Hollywood thinks space is pretty cool.



Best Adapted Screenplay

A Star Is Born

If Beale Street Could Talk

First Man

BlacKkKlansman

The Front Runner


Alternate selections: Beautiful Boy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?


Winner: If Beale Street Could Talk


Commentary: This will probably be a tight race. A Star Is Born could edge in for the win, though I’d be disappointed because the script had little to do with what made that film a success. I wish the Academy was a bigger fan of Spike Lee so BlacKkKlansman could take this category (and get the nominations it deserves), but I think it’s most likely Academy voters will throw a bone either Barry Jenkins or Damien Chazelle’s way. I haven’t seen If Beale Street Could Talk yet, but I certainly left First Man disappointed with the story it told. Hopefully voters also felt that.



Best Original Screenplay

The Favourite

Roma

Green Book

Vice

Eighth Grade


Alternate selections: First Reformed, Private Life


Winner: The Favourite


Commentary: I would love for Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade to win all the awards, but I think that’ll come down the line. For now, Yorgos Lanthimos will finally see his cleverness pay off with a win here.



That's all for now. Sound off below with your own Oscar predictions.


UPDATED 10/24/18 11:17AM This post has been edited to correct my spelling of Yorgos Lanthimos' name. Not sure how spellcheck missed that on the first run.


UPDATED 1/22/19 4:02PM Want to keep score? I've gotcha covered: https://www.caseyseline.com/blog-1/2019-predictions-scoreboard