Oscars 2019: Who will win and who we think should

Updated: Dec 8, 2019


It’s easy to look at the Oscars this year and think that Hollywood still hasn’t learned its lesson about inclusion and diversity.

Not a single woman was nominated for Best Director. In most of the Best Acting categories, all but one of the contenders is white. Two of the nominees for Best Picture, Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book, are being called out for their lackluster and controversial attempts at showing diversity onscreen.

Clearly, there’s still room for improvement in terms of representation in Hollywood.

But here’s an interesting piece of information for you: Four out of the last five Best Director winners were born in Mexico.

One of them, Alfonso Cuarón, is going to bring home the prize again this year and his movie Roma, a foreign-language auteur piece, is going to be declared the night’s big winner.

That’s just a taste of our predictions for Hollywood’s biggest night on Feb. 24, as Curbside Press raises a glass to all things great about film in the year 2018.

Below is a list of the prizes and who we think will end up with them. There’s also a grab-bag of honorable mentions that deserve a spotlight, too.

Not all the Oscar categories have been included (you’re welcome.) That’s either because we are too poor to see enough of the contenders in those areas to weigh in or because we’ve touched on some of those predictions elsewhere.

 

Best Picture

“Black Panther”

“BlacKkKlansman”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“The Favourite”

“Green Book”

“Roma”

“A Star Is Born”

“Vice”

What Will Win: Roma

As stated above, Roma is going to win the big prize on Sunday night. It got dozens of wins on the awards circuit already and it picked up a total of 10 Oscar nominations (tied for the most with Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite.) We’re calling it: the same year that Netflix made history as the first streaming service to get a Best Picture nomination, it will win the top award.

It’s just as well, too, because Roma is a gem. It’s an autobiographical love letter from filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón to the woman who raised him in 1970s Mexico City. The film’s protagonist is the sheepish Cleo, an indigenous nanny who faces down countless trials while also having to support an upper class family in a broken household.

The monochrome Roma allows the film medium itself to do most of the talking, with artful lighting, framing and sweeping long takes that are staples of Cuarón’s style. From breathtaking vistas to simple domestic quarters, every second of Roma is just a pleasure to look at.

Despite an almost painstakingly slow opening act, Roma is quite gripping. The master’s touch of the man behind the camera make it a worthy recipient of the gold this year.

What Should Win: A Star Is Born

Before most of its competition premiered late last year, A Star Is Born was talked about as a virtual lock for the biggest prizes of Oscar season. A love story about two musicians, it’s a moving allegory of one fading star giving the last bit of its light to a bright new one.

Bradley Cooper’s 2018 re-envisioning of the romance is actually just the latest iteration in a long line of films with the same name.

The original A Star Is Born came out in 1937, starring Janet Gaynor and Frederic March. It was remade in the 1950s, starring Judy Garland and James Mason, and also in the 1970s starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. The screenplay was even adapted into a Bollywood movie not too long ago.

But Cooper’s directorial debut is its own movie -- and he shows his chops in nearly every aspect of this production. He not only calls the shots as director, he also stars in it alongside the breathtakingly talented Lady Gaga -- who deserves her Best Actress nomination even more than Cooper deserves his Best Actor nod.

More than a love story, the film deals with depression, anxiety, addiction, sexism and personal identity.

All of the original music was written with care in this film, and heartbreaking numbers like “Shallow” (which will capture the Best Original Song prize) could draw teardrops from a statue. A Star Is Born doesn’t just rely on its soundtrack, though. Its mobile-yet-patient camera, flashy sets and stellar performances draw us into scenes. We feel every moment.

It should break hearts, then, that A Star Is Born will suffer from early contender bias that will keep it from capturing big prizes at The Oscars. By the time Hollywood's big night comes around, most voters will have forgotten about this crowning achievement in cinema.

Honorable Mentions: The Favourite, Black Panther

The Favourite was one of the most enjoyable and handily feminist contenders of the year.

Yorgos Lanthimos’ film features a plot centered around three female leads who each wield more influence over the plot than all of the male roles combined. Each of the main actors (we try not to use terms like “actress” at Curbside if we can avoid them) carries her respective role with aplomb.

Emma Stone keeps her Oscar streak going with a hilarious and endearing turn as the high-born-yet-low-status Abigail who’s trying to secure a spot by the Queen’s side. Rachel Weisz delivers as the calculating and fearsome Lady Sarah, who already occupies that spot and doesn't want to give it up. Olivia Colman is lights out in portraying the ailing and self-indulgent Queen Anne. It’s no accident that all three of them received acting nominations for their work.

The set design and costuming is superb. The use of wide angle fish-eye lenses to capture distorted life in royal England is unique. The dialogue is deft.

As for Black Panther, we’re seeing the beginnings of change at the Academy Awards. After much debate last year over whether to create a new category for blockbuster films, the Oscars committee decided instead to grant Ryan Coogler’s 2018 global phenomenon with a Best Picture nomination. It’s deserved, to be sure, since the film was not only commercially successful but also a cultural tidal wave.

Black Panther likely won't pick up much consideration for the top prize, though, and that’s fine. It was an immensely entertaining film, but not all of its elements rise to the level of Best Picture. Maybe some huge superhero project will someday, though, and it will owe its allegiance to Black Panther for paving the way.

 

Lead Actor

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: Christian Bale

His turn as Vice President Dick Cheney is as impressive as it is disturbing. Just like Adam McKay’s The Big Short (2015), this film is two parts comedy, one part historical drama, and one part political statement.

Bale is the central gear from which the whole twisted thing turns. His transformation (while also a credit to the makeup department) is complete and unrelenting. True to his reputation as one of the most intense method actors working today, Bale put on some serious pounds in order to completely assimilate to the role of the heart-attack-prone politico.

Oscars voters love character actors for these awards, and Gary Oldman’s victory last year for playing Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour gives Bale all the momentum for the gold here. He’s already got a Supporting Actor trophy from 2011’s The Fighter and now he’ll have a Lead Actor one to complete the collection.

Who should win: Christian Bale

Honorable mention: Rami Malek

His performance as one of the most iconic rock ‘n’ roll frontmen of all time was about the only good thing about Bohemian Rhapsody. The film was plagued with production woes, controversy and just about everything else that can go wrong in life. Its Best Editing nomination is a slap in the face of professional-grade cinema, and a story about Queen deserved better than the meandering plot that we got with this movie.

That said, Malek really brought his all to this film and he deserves recognition for his rise to the heights of award season conversation. He got an important Golden Globe for his role and even nabbed a SAG Award that many thought was Bale’s. This kid’s going places.

 

Lead Actress

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

Close has all the momentum behind her with big wins on the circuit already. Added to that, she stars in a role that provides The Academy with everything they could hope for to pick up some woke points. She plays Joan Castleman, a woman who’s given her entire life -- her very persona -- to a place beside her Nobel prize-winning husband. She’s nearing the end of a life that she realizes is not her own, and the movie shows her impassioned attempts at seizing agency in a world created by men. It’s a fitting statement in any day and age, even more so in the Me Too Era.

Her seventh Oscar nomination should be the one that finally gets her a win. For a fun aside, check out this video of her appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”.