Written By: Daniel Kinsley
As January winds down, the holiday season is officially long gone, and the awards season is similarly gearing up to its big finish: the Oscars. Voting officially closed on January 14th, and the nominees for the 91st Academy Awards will be officially announced on Tuesday, January 22nd. The occasion also marks our sophomore season of Oscar coverage, and this writer hopes to continue our prediction success, as our 2018 predictions (LINK) went 32/44 overall. Not bad for a guy with no industry ties (just a lot of interest for inside baseball). As per last year, we are sticking to the major eight categories only (it just is not as much fun to guess who will win Best Costume Design). Without further ado, here are our final predictions for the 2019 Oscar nominations.
A Star Is Born
Since expanding the category from five nominees to ten for the 82nd Academy Awards (inclusion being the biggest motivation factor) there have not been ten nominees in the Best Picture category since 2011. This year is unlikely to break that trend, as this writer is betting on eight being the magic number. A Star Is Born is a lock, having picked up a veritable boatload of awards this season, but most importantly, receiving nominations from the four major guilds (Writers, Producers, Actors and Directors) which is a big indication of what a major hit it has been with, well, everyone. The only other film to get a nod from all four of the major guilds? BlacKkKlansman which figures to put Spike Lee’s latest in the mix for a bevy of awards, including Best Picture. Roma is the next closest thing to a sure bet, as it has racked up an enormous amount of support from critics and precursors; despite being a black and white film in a foreign language, the Netflix production seems poised to put the streaming service on the awards map in a major way that has eluded them to this point. Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody are most likely to be the populist picks, leaving A Quiet Place, and Crazy Rich Asians in the cold. The Favourite, meanwhile, has been quietly chugging along all season, and is safe in nearly all of the major categories as the requisite indie pick. Green Book has been both the most traditionally obvious pick, as well as the season’s big storyline villain, but there is almost no chance that the film misses a bunch of major nods. Finally, Vice seems to be the safest pick to make the final slot, despite a divisive reception, as neither Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2016) follow-up If Beale Street Could Talk nor presumptive favorites like First Man or Widows seem to have caught enough momentum to get in.
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay, Vice
Kudos to Bradley Cooper, who will earn his first Oscar nomination for his work behind the camera, adding an explanation mark to a wildly successful season. Cuarón stands to be Cooper’s biggest competition in this category for his intimate, personal work on Roma, and if the Academy elects not to award the foreign-language film the best picture prize, a Best Director trophy would be a solid consolation prize. Spike Lee is the final sure bet on this list, and it is long overdue, as the incendiary filmmaker has never been nominated in this category (!) Yorgos Lanthimos may not be quite as sure as Spike, but based on the number of total nods his film stands to receive, this writer is betting he will make the list. Adam McKay’s transition into Serious Filmmaking is the wild card in this category, as the film has racked up plenty of accolades for its bold experimental style, even if it hasn’t been universally loved. Peter Farrelly (Green Book), Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street), or Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War) or even Damien Chazelle (First Man) could all play spoiler for the last spot, as the director’s branch often goes their own way, and typically throws in at least one curve ball.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Personally, the only pick this writer is willing to bet on as a lock is Academy favorite Bale in another transformative performance that many (including critics) agree is the best part of the film. Cooper seems to be the next closest thing due if nothing else to the total dominance of his film. Malek is the surprise breakout in this group, but he has earned enough legitimate recognition at this point to solidify a spot, which was not always assured early in the season. Similarly, despite the controversy following the film as well as some comments made at press time, Mortensen seems like a safe, traditional choice. The final spot is a toss-up, but this writer is going to bet that Ethan Hawke has enough goodwill to beat out other outlier performers like Willem Dafoe, particularly as his film is likely to be awarded for “smaller” categories (read: not Best Picture).
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
This one feels pretty locked up as it is. Lady Gaga has been a presumptive favorite to win for some time, so there is virtually no way she misses out. Glenn Close has recently gained a good deal of momentum as her strongest competition, winning some late, but potentially important precursors. First time actress Yalitza Aparicio turned in a heartbreaking, subtle performance in a well-loved film, and has almost certainly sewn up a spot. Likewise Olivia Colman, who has had big wins at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice awards, as well as landing a BAFTA nomination (while The Favourite leads the British Academy counterpart with 12 total nods). While Can You Ever Forgive Me? is not strong enough to break the Best Picture category, it stands to show out for its showcase performances, and the the Academy has gone out on a limb for McCarthy before and she is a likely candidate to be rewarded for stretching her chops here. Viola Davis (Widows) and Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns) are both well liked and may find a way to slip in to the final slot despite the underwhelming awards reception to their respective films, but the safe bet is on these five.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice
Coming off a big profile boost (after a win for Moonlight) Ali seems poised to get his second nod in a film that is sure to receive a decent number of nominations. Richard E. Grant shares the spotlight as a veteran performer given a vehicle that nearly everyone seems to agree will earn him his first nomination. Sam Elliott has been hit or miss on the circuit all season long, but this writer is going to bet that he makes it in as another well-liked veteran who makes the most of a small, but affecting performance in a popular film. Adam Driver shares a similar position, as he seems to be well-liked by his peers, and has had a consistent, if not overpowering awards season. Count him in. The final spot, again, seems to be up for grabs with many pundits leaning toward the wunderkind Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy) while Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) remains a long shot for his villainous turn as Eric Killmonger. This writer, however, is going out on a limb for another recent winner. While it is not a significant role, Sam Rockwell makes a memorable splash as former U.S. President George W. Bush in Vice, and the Academy has shown a tendency to reward smaller parts in the past before. It is just the sort of role that could be remembered well enough to edge its way in.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Amy Adams, Vice
Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Amy Adams is a veteran actress and a reliable Academy nominee, as well as one of the most egregious examples of always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Look for her to lock up her sixth (!) nomination for her turn in Vice in a performance that feels nearly universally agreed upon. While this writer is betting on A Quiet Place missing out on a Best Picture nomination, the Academy will look to give some recognition to the surprise hit, and the performances could be the place to give the film its due; Blunt stands a stronger shot here than for her work on Mary Poppins, which failed to land with quite as much of an impact as Disney had hoped. Regina King is a strong candidate despite being overlooked by SAG, and Stone and Weisz will look to take up the final spots the same way Rockwell and Harrison did last year in the same category (for Three Billboards [’17]). King or Blunt might find themselves vulnerable to Claire Foy (First Man) or the often reliable Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased) who is having a strong year overall. Look for a potential shake-up in either one of those two spots, but the rest are safe.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
A Star Is Born, Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters
BlacKkKlansman, Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
Black Panther, Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole
Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
The writer’s branch, similarly to the Directors, are adventurous, but generally stick to their guild nominees (or at least, they did in our first year of coverage!). So, while there are certainly dark-horse candidates (Leave No Trace, First Man) this writer is going to bet on consistency in this category and stick with the WGA nominees. The big players of the night (A Star, KkKlansman, Panther) figure to stay in the mix here, while the remaining two spots will be filled by Barry Jenkins’ impressive work in adapting James Baldwin, and the very writer-centric, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Eighth Grade, Bo Burnham
The Favourite, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
First Reformed, Paul Schrader
Green Book, Nick Vallelonga & Brian Currie & Peter Farrelly
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
The Favourite, Green Book, and Roma all seem like a sure thing, as all three films are likely to get a best picture look and will lock up a spot here as well. Smaller indie films like Eighth Grade do not have quite enough momentum to crack the major categories, but Bo Burnham seems likely to be recognized here for his funny, compassionate script. Similarly, Paul Schrader is a long-time veteran in Hollywood who’s resume include a few Scorsese classics, and the Academy might reward him with a lifetime achievement award for a long, storied, career and a strong script that turned plenty of heads with its headiness last year. Either one could be vulnerable to Adam McKay (for his work on Vice) so while Burnham feels safe to this writer, it may come to be a toss-up between Schrader and McKay.