The 91st Academy Awards ceremony will be held this Sunday, February 24, but there’s still plenty of time to speculate about who will win, who should win, and who got passed over when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out nominations last month.
When it comes to the Oscar predictions, everyone’s a pundit — and we’re no exception. Here are our best guesses about the likely winners in the major categories, as well as our thoughts on who should win the category, and which (if any) actors, films, or filmmakers were snubbed this year. We’ve also included some brief thoughts on some of the other Oscar categories, and what the final results are likely to be in those races.
What’s going to win: Roma
In a race that has all kinds of subtext behind each and every nominee, Roma is the current the favorite to take home the prestigious Best Picture honors, despite a strong challenge from early darling A Star is Born. Alfonso Cuarón’s gorgeous, semiautobiographical drama about a family in Mexico City during the 1970s swept nearly every major award ceremony for best film, and the movie’s austere sincerity to its subject matter (complete with black-and-white cinematography) is certain to endear it to Academy voters. It’s also a foreign-language film nominated at a time when the Academy is trying to appear more open-minded toward nontraditional Hollywood fare, and a win could simultaneously fend off criticism of the Academy’s stance on streaming projects, too.
What should win: Black Panther
If the Best Picture category is intended to honor a film that changes the Hollywood paradigm and prompts a dramatic shift in the way we look at movies, Roma is a good choice — but Black Panther is a better one. With the #OscarsSoWhite controversy still fresh in the minds of audiences, filmmakers, and the Academy itself, Black Panther busted every preconceived notion regarding movies made by Black actors and filmmakers. Not only was it the highest-grossing movie in the U.S. last year and the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time domestically (no small feat, given how the genre has exploded in recent years), but it did so with the best reviews (97-percent positive) from professional critics of any film in Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe so far. No movie changed Hollywood more than Black Panther over the last year.
Snubbed? First Man
Given how much love Damien Chazelle received for Whiplash and La La Land in recent years, a nomination for First Man seemed inevitable. That Chazelle and his Neil Armstrong biopic were shut out of every major category is shocking.
Who’s going to win: Alfonso Cuarón
With one Best Director Oscar already on his mantel, Cuarón seems destined to bring home another for Roma, a deeply personal film that checks off all the usual boxes for Academy favorites. Roma is a beautifully shot film that deserves the praise it’s getting, but it’s one of several films that fit that description. Cuarón’s status as an Academy favorite gives him the edge.
Who should win: Spike Lee
It’s ridiculous that this is the first time BlacKkKlansman director Spike Lee has been nominated in the Best Director category given the long list of groundbreaking films on his résumé. One of Hollywood’s greatest directors and a filmmaker whose work inspired generations of writers and directors, Lee has been a conspicuous Oscar snub time and time again. In an ideal world, this wouldn’t even be Lee’s first win.
Snubbed? Bradley Cooper
The Academy is notorious for snubbing first-time directors who make the leap from acting, and Bradley Cooper is the latest filmmaker to feel that effect. Given all of the other categories that A Star is Born is nominated in, the lack of a Best Director nomination is a glaring omission that doesn’t make much sense objectively.
Who’s going to win: Rami Malek
The Academy loves actors who jump into the role of real-world entertainers — particularly musicians — in dramatic biopics that depict their struggles in and out of the spotlight. Bohemian Rhapsody offers all of that for Malek, who swept most of the early award ceremonies with his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. His win is no certainty, given that Bohemian Rhapsody is regarded as an extremely flawed film outside of his performance, but this one appears to be his to lose at this point.
Who should win: Rami Malek
Although Christian Bale did a remarkable job of portraying former Vice President Dick Cheney in Vice, it’s hard to argue with a Malek win. It was Malek’s performance that propelled the film to box-office success despite all of the controversy surrounding the film — including the departure of former director Bryan Singer due to sexual misconduct allegations.
Snubbed? John David Washington
With all of the nominations for BlacKkKlansman across multiple categories, the absence of the film’s lead actor,Washington, is inexcusable. Supporting actor Adam Driver even has a nomination this year, making the Academy’s decision to omit the star of a film nominated in nearly every major category a particularly egregious mistake.
Who’s going to win: Glenn Close
She’s been nominated six times prior to this year without a win, but Glenn Close isn’t likely to add another winless ceremony to her résumé. It’s an award she should’ve received for 1987’s Fatal Attraction or 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons, but she’ll finally get it for portraying the long-suffering wife of a celebrated author who reaches her breaking point late in life. It’s a well-deserved win for one of the industry’s most reliably compelling leading ladies, and the Academy is known for weighing the entirety of an actor’s career when deciding who takes an Oscar home.
Who should win: Lady Gaga
There’s nothing wrong with a win for Glenn Close, but there’s a good reason Lady Gaga was an early favorite in the Best Actress category. Not only does she offer a compelling dramatic performance in A Star is Born, but she also sings, performs her own music, and showcases the sort of chemistry with co-star Bradley Cooper that it typically takes years of acting experience to develop. The Academy likes to make actors pay their dues before handing over the top prize, though, so Lady Gaga will likely get passed over this year.
Snubbed? Emily Blunt
After being nominated for both Mary Poppins Returns and A Quiet Place by the Screen Actors Guild and various other award committees, Emily Blunt didn’t get a nod from the Academy this year. Even more amazingly, Blunt has never received a single Oscar nomination over the years, despite standout performances in heavily-nominated films such as Into the Woods, The Girl on the Train, and The Devil Wears Prada. That she’s versatile enough to hold her own in an underappreciated action film like Edge of Tomorrow only confirms her incredible talent and how disappointing it is that she’s so frequently overlooked.
Best Supporting Actor
Who’s going to win: Mahershala Ali
The film is surrounded by controversy, but Green Book offers yet another amazing performance from Ali that makes the project around him better and seems destined to give him his second Oscar in the category (following his 2017 win for Moonlight). Nearly everything about Green Book is controversial leading up to the Academy Awards, but Ali — and his performance — consistently rise above the controversy, and he’s not just the likely winner, but also the best nominee in the bunch.
Who should win: Mahershala Ali
This one’s easy, because Ali really does offer the best performance among a great group of actors and projects.
Snubbed? Michael B. Jordan
Portraying the most memorable villain in a comic-book movie since Heath Ledger played The Joker, Jordan seems overlooked as a nominee from the Black Panther cast, and should have been the sole acting nomination the film earned. Jordan’s portrayal of Erik Killmonger was a surprisingly nuanced performance, and his villain was one that was not just memorable, but made you sympathize with his rationale for doing terrible things — the mark of a great cinematic antagonist.
Best Supporting Actress
Who’s going to win: Regina King
After winning a well-deserved Golden Globe Award for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk, King seems poised to take home an Oscar for the role, too. She’s the overwhelming favorite in the category, and her performance merits all of the praise it’s receiving. King is an actress that’s been on the verge of reaching that next level in her career for a while now, and Beale Street is exactly the sort of film that typically makes that happen.
Who should win: Regina King
Despite some memorable performances from both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone in The Favourite, King stands out from the crowd.
There aren’t any overwhelmingly obvious snubs this year, surprisingly. This year’s nominees are all deserving of the nomination, and there isn’t a performance that jumps out as being conspicuously absent.
Despite being one of the year’s most talked-about films, Black Panther might go home without any Oscars, given the projects it’s up against in most categories. If it is going to win anything, it’s likely to take home awards in the Best Costume Design or Best Production Design categories — two areas in which its primary competition is the period piece The Favourite, which is also in danger of going home empty-handed when the ceremony is over. It could also win in the Best Original Score category, but will need to beat out If Beale Street Could Talk, the current favorite in that category.
In the “Best Visual Effects” category — one that we’re particularly interested in — Avengers: Infinity War is the current favorite, but look for First Man to possibly get the upset victory here. Chazelle is not only an Oscar darling, but the film’s innovative use of archival footage and large-screen projection set it apart from the crowd in all the ways the Academy tends to like.
Although Disney and Pixar have had a stranglehold on the Best Animated Feature category over the years, it will be a shame if Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse doesn’t win this category. No other film looked like Into the Spider-Verse (not even close), and the film’s fresh approach to animation is the sort of thing the Academy should be encouraging, instead of the usual retreads of existing styles and techniques.
To view all the nominations, check out the full list here.
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