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Even after a stake was driven through its heart, there’s still interest.

Prediction
2019 Oscars

Shockingly, as in I’m usually much further behind, I’ve missed out on only one of this year’s Best Picture nominees– Vice isn’t yet my vice, it seems – in what is being suggested, with some justification, as a difficult year to call. That might make for must-see appeal, if anyone actually cared about the movies jostling for pole position. If it were between Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody (if they were even sufficiently up to snuff to deserve a nod in the first place), there might be a strange fascination, but Joe Public don’t care about Roma, underlined by it being on Netflix and stillconspicuously avoided by subscribers (if it were otherwise, they’d be crowing about viewing figures; it’s no Bird Box, that’s for sure).

As for the ceremony itself, the affair seems to have run through the entire catalogue of shambolic decisions even before the night, stretching back to the Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film debacle (the post quote comes from Academy President John Bailey, upon recanting the announced category) and from thence trying to administer damage limitation following a number of hopeless blunders, including going ahead without a proper MC– you need to have a show with some sort of spine, which even the less memorable presenters have given it – and trying to legislate for overruns by chopping into awards coverage and then hastily backtracking in response to the outcry just shows none of those calling the shots understand viewership in today’s age.

Best Picture
Winner: Green Book
I’d like to win: A Star is Born
The Interesting Choice: BlacKkKlansman

Smart money (certainly Netflix’s smart lakes of money) has been on Roma, but Green Book’s inroads and Academy grudge-bearing towards what is perceived as a disruptive threat from Netflix lead me to think the more traditional – and resultingly controversial in some quarters, in a Driving Miss Daisy kind of way – option will go home with the big award. Black Panther stands no chance – even by Marvel standards, let alone by those of the presumed quality of Oscar fare, it’s a third-tier superhero movie. The Favourite is whacky and oddball costume drama, but I doubt it has the likes of BAFTA love behind it. Vice is respected but just not something anyone is impassioned about, not in a political era that makes Cheney look like small potatoes (however mistaken such an analysis may be). Bohemian Rhapsody is seductive surface gloss, very well done, while A Star is Born is the same, but with some depth and death and incontinence to give it earthy substance. The interesting choice – not because it’s good, far from it – would be BlackKklansman, but the Academy has already covered itself simply by nominating it.

Best Director
Winner: Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)
I’d like to win: Adam McKay (Vice)
The Interesting Choice: Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)

I’m not fussed by any of these. The snubbed Bradley Cooper would have been my pick out of the picture frontrunners. Cuaron is obviously going to win, and he knows the ends of his lenses from each other, but that doesn’t make his work on it some kind of miracle; like everything he does, it’s very studied, so reflecting the faux-naturel quality of the whole movie. Just for giggles sake I’d like to see McKay win, not that he’s anyone’s idea of a great director (if he’s there, so should Farrelly be). Interesting would be Pawlikowski, because he’d be the foreign language guy no one was banking on. Most undeserved would be Yorgos Lanthimos, who has all the philosophical depth of a walnut. As for Spike, he’s the sterling example of someone who has gone his entire career in desperate need of a good editor.

Best Actor
Winner: Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
I’d like to win: Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
The Interesting Choice: Viggo Mortenson (Green Book)

Any time Willem Dafoe gets nominated, he automatically deserves the win. Playing Van Gogh, especially so. Viggo would be interesting, not least because he’s overdue recognition, but also due to his interview faux pas and status as the stands-accused part of a movie about race made for white people (plus, he’s incredibly good in it). Bale might be good in Vice, but no one likes Christian, not even his mum (that probably isn’t true). And it sucks to be Bradley; anyone would think A Star is Born was this year’s The Color Purple. Rami’s won this one, and if he hasn’t, all that copious schmoozing has been completely in vain.

Best Actress
Winner: Glenn Close (The Wife)
I’d like to win: Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
The Interesting Choice: Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Glenn Close is the 91stOscars’ Jessica Lange or Julianne Moore, appearing in a movie no one saw but it’s nevertheless felt that it’s about time to recognise her body of work. Which is fair. Even the mighty Jeff got the statuette for the wrong movie. Lady Gaga is about as likely to win as Yalitza Aparicio, the difference being that a plethora of roles won’t await the latter if she does. Olivia Colman is a boring Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs choice, much admiration for amusing ticks and quirks. Melissa McCarthy, though: a talented comedy actress proving her mettle in a straight(ish) part. She’d be my choice and the most interesting pick.

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
I’d like to win: Richard E Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
The Interesting Choice: Sam Elliot (A Star Is Born)

I’d love Grant to win, but he’s too much of an unashamed (and rightly so) ham to get serious consideration. Ali will likely get this as the acceptable face of Green Book, but there’s something faintly underwhelming about re-recognition so soon after Moonlight (same as Sam Rockwell in Vice). Adam Driver is the furthest from the envelope of the five, while it would be nice to see Elliott and his ever-loving moustache get a shout after all these years.

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
I’d like to win: Amy Adams (Vice)
The Interesting Choice: Marina de Tavira (Roma)

By the law of averages, it should be Adams’ turn, but at the current rate, I’d be unsurprised if she has to make do with a lifetime achievement in about thirty years. The two Favourite favourites pretty much cancel each other out (but Weisz has the edge over Stone, recently recognised for La La Land). King has been the likely pick for a while now, and I’m not going to argue with that, but the interesting choice might be the one memorable performance in Roma (if you don’t include Aparicio’s boyfriend).

Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: BlackKklansman
I’d like to win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Interesting Choice: A Star is Born

There’s a good story somewhere in BlackKklansman, but Spike Lee does his best to divest you of that notion. Still, if the movie’s going to win anything, it’s this. It would be funny if The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was recognised, but has an anthology movie ever been? I’m fully behind any boosting of Can You Ever Forgive Me? despite having yet to see it, mostly because it’s a great story that strangely hasn’t caught on. If Beale Street Could Talk will probably settle for its Supporting Actress statuette. Interesting would be A Star is Born, just because of the number of times the story has had the opportunity to be nominated in the past (this is the first time since the 1937 version it’s been recognised in that category, on which occasion it won).

Best Original Screenplay
Winner: Green Book
I’d like to win: Green Book
Interesting Choice: First Reformed

Visually distinctive as it may be, that shouldn’t blind anyone into mistaking Cuaron’s nostalgic noodling for magnificent writing. The Favourite was probably better before Yorgos interfered with it. McKay was more acute when he was tackling the financial crisis. If nothing else, Green Book is likely to win this one, and it should, as it’s an expertly judged balance of laughs and poignancy. Interesting would be giving it to the misbegotten First Reformed, just because anyone voting for it would have to answer the question whatwere you thinking if you thought the last half hour was in any way good writing?

Best Animated Feature
Winner: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I’d like to win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Interesting Choice: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

All round, I think Spider-Verse breaks the mould, being an unashamedly modern animated movie that has been critically praised and publicly recognised. The likes of Incredibles 2 and Ralph 2 are fine, but more of the same. Mirai is the sole foreign-language entry, most unlikely to gain ultimate recognition, while Isle of Dogs would be my pick in any other year, Wes Anderson making good, having previously failed to provide us with an authentic Fantastic Mr Fox.

Best Cinematography
Winner: Roma
I’d like to win: A Star is Born
Interesting Choice: Cold War

Roma wins, that’s guaranteed. It’s also the least engaging visually of the season: impressive, but distancing. The Favourite is all ticks and quirks, like Olivia Coleman. Cold War would be interesting for stealing a foreign-language guaranteed award away from the prime contender. Caleb Deschanel has received his sixth Oscar nomination for Never Look Away. This won’t be his year, alas. A Star is Born had the most interesting visual approach of the nominees, by a long chalk.

Best Production Design
Winner: Black Panther
I’d like to win: Mary Poppins Returns
Interesting Choice: First Man

I’m not sure any of this year’s really “pop” but giving it to Black Panther is as good as any, and means it doesn’t go away empty handed. First Man, in its rudimentary way, is most interesting, while Mary Poppins is most sumptuous. Roma and The Favourite may need to look elsewhere.

Costume Design
Winner: The Favourite
I’d like to win: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Interesting Choice: Black Panther

Panther would be interesting, if only because it’s the sole non-period piece nominated. I’d give it to Scruggs, not least for Tim Blake Nelson’s impressive duds. But I suspect Sandy Powell will go home with an award, and not for Mary Poppins Returns.

Best Make Up and Hairstyling
Winner: Vice
I’d like to win: Vice
Interesting Choice: Border

They’re not giving it to an otherwise ignored Swedish movie, any more than they gave it to The 100 Year-Old Man a few years back. Mary Queen of Scots can count itself fortunate to bag two nominations, but this is Vice’s, and Christian Bale’s prosthetics, to lose.

Best Film Editing
Winner: The Favourite
I’d like to win: Bohemian Rhapsody

One might argue The Favourite or Vice are the obvious contenders here, what with their flashier styles. Green Book would be the outsider, in terms of being unshowy and seamless. BlacKkKlansman deserves recognition for how notto edit a movie. Is John Ottman too synonymous with Bryan Singer to be garlanded with an Oscar? He’s arguably the unsung saviour of his wayward director, going back to The Usual Suspects, and in the second half at least he works magic on Bohemian Rhapsody that’s the key to its success. I suspect the Academy won’t want to risk him speaking his pal’s name on the stand.

Best Sound Editing
Winner: First Man
I’d like to win: First Man
Interesting Choice: First Man

First Man is technically one of the most impressive movies of the year, only its achievements are rather hidden beneath its first-person demeanour. The two sound awards don’t often go to the same movie, so I’ll go for Bohemian Rhapsody in Mixing, with A Star is Born as the runner-up.

Best Sound Mixing
Winner: Bohemian Rhapsody
I’d like to win: First Man
Interesting Choice: First Man

See Sound Editing above.

Best Visual Effects
Winner: Avengers: Infinity War
I’d like to win: First Man
Interesting Choice: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Christopher Robin would also be an interesting choice, but it would be funny if the first Star Wars flop got an Oscar. First Man deserves it in the seamless way The Right Stuff also did (but didn’t even get a nom). Ready Player One might be too undiluted in its CGI, and anyway, I think Marvel’s the frontrunner here (at least it’s the right Marvel; that Black Panther scooped a BAFTA for its often-terrible effects work shows how laughable that awards ceremony is).

Best Original Score
Winner: Mary Poppins Returns
I’d like to win: Isle of Dogs
Interesting Choice: BlacKkKlansman

Mary Poppins was something of a box office disappointment, given the stratospheric expectations, but if the songs aren’t so memorable, the score is perfectly agreeable. Alexandre Desplat’s compositions are always agreeable when he’s working with Wes Anderson, but he’s won a couple of Oscars in the last five years, and probably doesn’t need any more urgently. The interesting choice would be Terence Blanchard, never previously nominated for his languorous, jazzy contributions to Spike’s oeuvre.

Best Original Song
Winner: A Star is Born
I’d like to win: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Interesting Choice: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Shallow’s a great song, but could be robbed (Greatest Showman was last year, after all). RBG proffers a power ballad, Mary Poppins one of its least memorable unmemorable tunes and Black Panther a packaged piece of pop from Kendrick Lamar. But a comedy tune always wins out in my book, particularly a comedy cowboy tune.

Best Foreign Language Feature
Winner: Roma

I’ve only seen Roma, but it’s a shoe-in here, the closest contender being Cold War some considerable distance behind. And Roma being the hot ticket here makes it less likely to gain recognition in the main category. 

Best Documentary Feature
Winner: RBG

With no Mr Rodgers in sight, this probably has Free Solo’s name all over it, but the Academy being what it is, they might go for the politically skewing RBG instead. Elsewhere, there’s the usual Syria propaganda piece (Of Fathers and Sons), a doc about skateboarding (Minding the Gap), and one about Alabama’s “Black Belt” (Hale County This Morning, This Evening).

Best Documentary Short
Winner: Black Sheep
Docs about a black kid’s survival growing up on a racist white estate (Black Sheep), German volunteers rescuing Libyan refugees from sinking rafts (Lifeboat), end-of-life support (Netflix’s End Game), a 1939 pro-Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden (A Night at the Garden) and women making sanitary pads in rural India (Period. End of Sentence).

Best Animated Short
Winner: Animal Behaviour
I’d like to win: Weekends

Animal psychology under the microscope (Animal Behaviour), Pixar’s Bao (mother’s dumpling comes to life for pining mother), an elderly woman’s memories (Late Afternoon), a girl’s dreams of becoming an astronaut (One Small Step) and an autobiographical piece about the child of divorced parents (Weekends). It’d been two years since Pixar last took home the short award, so it’s probably about time again, but I’m just going by my instinct of finding Bao immensely irritating.

Best Live Action Short
Winner: Marguerite

Controversial movie on the Jamie Bulger killing (Detainment), danger for two boys at an open pit mine (Fauve), the friendship between an elderly woman and her lesbian nurse (Marguerite) a mother calling her son learns he has been left alone on a beach (Madre) and a film about Nazi skinheads (Skin). I’m going with Marguerite, which seems to be the favourite, as I suspect an antidote to kids in peril/untoward environments in the other shorts might be called for.

Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

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