A Full List Of Predictions For The 91st Academy Awards

Christmas has come early to the Sacred Wall, as I have, for the first time this year, a complete look at this year’s Oscar race! That’s right, from Best Picture to Best Documentary Short, we now have enough information to accurately(ish) predict all 24 categories for the 91st Academy Awards. So, without further ado, let’s break down where we stand in this year’s race!

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga from A Star Is Born, writing their Oscar speeches now

To explore this list, I’m going to break things down in pieces – first the Best Picture nominees, then the acting categories, then the tech players, and then the little side bits that make things juicy. So let’s start with Best Picture. When I last posted a list back in October, things weren’t too different from this list. What is different? Well, in October I expected First Man to be the frontrunner, based on what I expected to be strong audience turnout and great word of mouth. That…did not happen. Despite being one of the best films of the year, a dumb controversy, terrible box office, and lack of support from any precursor awards has doomed First Man’s Oscar chances. Therefore, I have removed First Man from any non-technical categories. That’s right – frontrunner Man is gone, frontrunner Damien Chazelle is out of Best Director, and frontrunner Ryan Gosling is out of Best Actor (we’ll talk more about the technical stuff in a minute). This leaves a power vacuum that needs to be filled, and quite frankly, there’s only one film to fill it. That’s right, it’s time to talk about the dominating force known as A Star Is Born. While A Star Is Born was my original pick for Best Picture way back in March, the good-not-great reviews out of Venice convinced me to drop it down to #2. That decision came back to bite me in the ass, because you can take it to the bank that A Star Is Born will win Best Picture. Ok, ok, I know it’s early, but seriously: that’s where things are headed. The film has key Golden Globe nominations, the music is Grammy nominated, the film is a box office juggernaut the likes of which we haven’t seen in years, all generations of Hollywood love it, and unlike La La Land (its closest comparison), it actually has that key SAG Ensemble nomination. Expect this film to walk away with ten nominations, including Picture, Director, Writing, three acting awards for Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, and Sam Elliott, and a handful of tech, including Best Editing and Best Song for “Shallow.”

John David Washington and Laura Harrier in BlacKkKlansman

As you continue through Best Picture, you’ll notice that most of my predictions are still here: we still have The Favourite, Roma, BlacKkKlansman, Vice, If Beale Street Could Talk, and Green Book. There is, however, a shift that has begun. Particularly, the race has begun to establish itself as a battle between the statistical favorite and the logical favorite. Statistically speaking, there is only one film that could be #2: Green Book. It over-performed at the Globes, thanks to the coveted trifecta of Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay (the trio has been almost an Oscar litmus test since 2005), and it has enough goodwill to put it over the edge for Oscar nominations. It’s even overcome its early box office struggles to become a steady performer. However, here’s where things get tricky: while critics mostly like the film, it doesn’t have the same level of support as other films in this category. What’s more, the film has hit almost every brick wall of controversy it possibly could have up to this point – the family of one of the main characters (an African-American musician) came out to say that the film is not only accurate, their offers to flesh out their uncle/cousin/brother were roundly rejected, resulting in an inaccurate film; star Viggo Mortensen can’t stop saying inappropriate things, including a horribly mistimed (albeit well-intentioned, sort of) use of the n-word; and horrible attempts to explain the film’s main message (instead of a parable about two lost men finding each other, the filmmakers keep trying to defend Magical Negro tropes, which is a no-win scenario). While such issues won’t keep a film out of the Oscar race, they definitely hinder chances at a win. Which is where reality comes into the frame. Despite their seeming drops in popularity, no two films have had as marvelous a comeback as The Favourite and BlacKkKlansman. Klansman in particular has to be excited by recent events: despite most considering it a non-factor in the awards race and circling the drain, the film has proven to be one of the most consistent awards players so far. Not only was it a surprise SAG hit (three nominations, including a surprise nod for John David Washington as well as Ensemble), as well as a Globes juggernaut (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor), but it has seen success in other shows throughout the season. Adam Driver has been nominated at every major award thus far. It’s appeared on several Top Ten lists. And it appeared on a few key Oscar shortlists just a few days ago. Make no mistake: BlacKkKlansman could win this thing outright if it just plays its cards right. Meanwhile, The Favourite has been trying to figure out how to position itself in the awards race, and I think it’s finally found its footing. Sure, it stumbled at the SAG Awards, but that was hardly the film’s fault (three acting nods and no Ensemble? The hell were they smoking?). It had major success with the Globes and the Critics Choice Awards, it is one of the most beloved films of the year, and whether they love it or hate it, people can’t stop talking about it. And The Favourite winning would be no stranger than a movie about a Fish Man. Consider this your Shape of Water nod. At the end of the day, I think Green Book will survive the be nominated for four Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and nominations for Mortensen and Ali (and consider it a heavy contender for Best Director), while The Favourite will earn nine nominations, including Picture, Director, Screenplay, Costumes, Cinematography, Production Design, and all three actresses (Colman, Stone, and Weisz) and Klansman will earn six, for Picture, Director, Screenplay, Editing, the likely nomination of Adam Driver in Supporting while John David Washington will surprise in Best Actor.

And what of the critical favorites? What of Roma and If Beale Street Could Talk? Well, both films seem likely for Picture nominations, but there’s several obstacles in their way. With Roma, there’s the fact that Netflix has never had a Best Picture contender before. It’s going to happen some day, but the question is will it be this year? While it is still debatable, all evidence at the moment says yes. I think Roma will quietly walk away with six nominations – nominations that, as it turns out, will make Alfonso Cuarón the record-holder for most nominations in one year. Cuarón and the film should beat Walt Disney’s record with nominations in Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing (the latter two also executed by writer/director/producer Cuarón). Meanwhile, Beale Street has the mantle of being the critical darling of this season – people love its warm, emotional story, as well as Barry Jenkins’ sumptuous direction. However, it just hasn’t caught on so far this season. It hasn’t won critical awards, Jenkins hasn’t earned anywhere near the appropriate number of directorial awards needed to compete, and the SAG Awards didn’t even bother nominating it – not even in Best Supporting Actress, which it expects to win. So it appears that the film may not be the awards juggernaut that Moonlight was, nor will it be a major force for Best Picture. It also appears that my go-for-broke prediction of Kiki Layne has fallen through, as she has received a whopping total of zero nominations from any major branches. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be nominated at all. No, I still think the film will sneak in for Best Picture, that Regina King will recover from the SAG snub to win Best Supporting Actress, and that the film will receive nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, and Best Cinematography. And next we have Vice. Poor Vice. Poor, sweet, innocent Vice. Early word on the street was that this film would be a major force for Best Picture. It received a few key nods, and it powered through the Golden Globes, earning a whopping six nominations. And then the reviews poured in. And they were not kind. In fact, the backlash has been so strong, the odds for its nomination in Best Picture have dropped from “a lock” to “we’ll see.” I still think the film will get in for Best Picture, and also should earn nods for Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Original Screenplay, and Makeup, but consider my predictions for Best Editing and Best Director (especially Best Director) to be extreme dark horses.

Black Panther

Which leaves us with what should normally be two spots to fill (more on that in a minute). It’s time that I wholeheartedly commit to the promise I made several months ago: that if I sensed the tide starting to swing in its favor, then Black Panther would move up from the #10 slot and into the Top 8. And that’s exactly what has happened. Black Panther has defied the odds against superhero movies and made appearances everywhere, from the Globes (Best Drama) to the Critics Choice Awards (even a nomination for Michael B. Jordan) and even at the SAG Awards (Best Ensemble). Add to that the fact that it appeared on every Oscar shortlist it was eligible for, and this is more than enough evidence to tell me that Panther has the ability to sweep the top categories, in terms of nominations. I’m currently predicting it to earn nine nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Sound Editing and Mixing, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects – and if Hollywood is really onboard the Coogler Train, then watch out for Best Editing, Best Screenplay, and even the weaker Best Director field. Which brings us to the ninth spot. After all, the Academy normally nominates nine films for Best Picture. However, this is what I’m currently thinking: while the Academy has nominated nine films the past three years, that isn’t the Golden Number. The official rule is “Any film that receives 5% of the vote gets in” and the sliding scale is from 5-10. Which means that nine isn’t a locked in force. And like 2013 and 2014, I wholeheartedly believe that there will only be eight nominees this year, leaving Black Panther in that eighth spot and leaving First Man, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (my previous picks for eight and nine), Mary Poppins Returns, and dark horses First Reformed and Bohemian Rhapsody in contention for a potential ninth and tenth Oscar berth.

When it comes to the acting categories, we have something of a predicament. Unlike most years, where one or two spots might be debatable while one or two actors are destined to win (Casey Affleck in 2016, every winner in 2017, Leonardo DiCaprio in 2015, J.K. Simmons in 2014, etc.), there are NO frontrunners as of yet. Every actor is capable of winning, and every actor is capable of being snubbed. This makes for an exciting race to watch, but an anxiety-inducing race to predict. So I will do my best to break down each category’s subtleties, and try to figure out which actors are locks, which are just likely, and which are risks I’m willing to take. For Best Actor, there appear to be three locks at this point, and three that I’ve had predicted for quite some time. Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Viggo Mortensen are all locks for Best Actor, and one of them (*cough Cooper cough cough*) is going to take it. However, it appears that my other two predictions are DOA – despite my personal love for Robert Redford and Ryan Gosling’s performances this year, neither of them have the support to strong-arm their way into Best Actor. It is possible that Ethan Hawke, another of my favorite performances, manages to get in for First Reformed, especially if the Academy loves that film as much as the critics do. However, I’ve already established that I think that spot is going to John David Washington. Which brings me to the biggest question mark/exclamation point in the awards race. I haven’t predicted Rami Malek at all this year because I thought the film’s drama would destroy his Oscar chances. This seemed confirmed when it was critically panned at the beginning of November (my own critique is coming within a week). However, something kind of remarkable has happened in the meantime: the film has become a hit. And not just with audiences, although it has earned almost $300 million by this point. I mean with award bodies too. It got several nominations from the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes, and the central focus of this campaign has been the strength of Malek’s performance. Indeed, I will concede that he is so good you often forget that it isn’t that great a movie. So I’m going to lay some harsh truth at the feet of the haters, and something shocking for the supporters out there: Rami Malek is a lock for a Best Actor nomination, and honestly? If he plays his cards right, he might win it. We’ll see how that race plays out.

Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda in Mary Poppins Returns

As for Best Actress, we have another incident of three correct predictions out of five. Lady Gaga, Olivia Colman, and Melissa McCarthy are all locks for Best Actress. I’ve already noted that Kiki Layne is a non-starter, but I should also note that as good as she supposedly is in the film, Saoirse Ronan is something of a non-starter for Mary Queen of Scots (don’t worry, folks, she’ll be fine. She’s only 24). I can’t explain it, but the film just hasn’t caught on with people outside of Best Supporting Actress (Margot Robbie was an upset at the SAG Awards, and I absolutely believe she will reprise that upset at the Oscars). So who fills out those last two spots? Well, the first is fairly obvious, although it irritates me to no end. Glenn Close has been most pundits’ frontrunner since The Wife came out in August, but I’ve been dragging my feet – she’s good, but the movie is most certainly not. I was hoping Close would win her Oscar for a better film, but it is seeming that this is not to be the case. She will receive a nomination for a good performance in a bad film, just like Rami Malek. And then there’s the fifth spot. Who could it be? Well, as it turns out, it’s someone I didn’t think would even be in consideration, due to the impossibility of her task. I mean, Emily Blunt was playing one of the most iconic roles in film history, and one that had already netted Julie Andrews an Oscar – there’s no way she could live up to the hype. Right? Well, I was wrong. Not only does Blunt give one of the best performances of the year, charming and wicked and filled with singing-and-dancing verve, but the film is a huge hit with the Academy. She’s already been nominated by the SAG, the Critics, and the Globes – if she misses with the Academy, this will be the biggest snub since Amy Adams in 2016. Expect Blunt to fill out the Best Actress list – and speaking of Mary Poppins Returns, expect it to net another six nominations, including Best Original Score and Song, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Visual Effects. Best Supporting Actor has mostly been a lock since November – expect the same five as SAG, which would be the same as my current Top Five. And we’ve covered Supporting Actress, thanks to mentions for Adams, King, Stone, Weisz, and Robbie (expect Claire Foy, Nicole Kidman, and even Emily Blunt again to play upset).

As for the rest of the technical categories, things will play out mostly as you expect. While First Man may be out of Best Picture, it is still a major technical contender. I can see it getting eight nominations, for Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Editing and Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Visual Effects. Could that number drop as the film does, or doesn’t, catch on? Sure. But this number seems safe and deserving for the time being. Categories like Best Foreign Language Film and Best Documentary are shaping up to be the best fields in years, thanks to shortlist nominees like Roma, Burning, Capernaum, Cold War, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Free Solo, and Three Identical Strangers. The Best Sound Mixing Category will be an intense battle between action films (First Man, Black Panther), silent films (Roma, A Quiet Place), and musicals (A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Poppins Returns), with the edge going to the musicals. Speaking of A Quiet Place, John Krasinski’s little film that could has been sweeping the awards conversation for a while now, earning surprise nominations in a variety of categories at places like SAG, the Globes, the Critics Choice, the AFI list, and more. While I’m not sure the film has the juice to earn a nomination for Best Picture, don’t be surprised if it gets nominated in Sound Mixing (possible) and Original Score (which I am predicting at the moment). Meanwhile, the most popular film of the year, Avengers: Infinity War, should earn two nominations as a reward for its $2 billion year: Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects. And if you’re looking for the hottest race to watch, this year’s craziest race is Best Editing: beyond my current predictions of Roma, A Star Is Born, First Man, BlacKkKlansman, and Vice, there’s still The Favourite, If Beale Street Could Talk, Black Panther, and Widows that are every bit as likely. If there’s any category that can destroy my predictions this year, it’s that one.

So that’s where we stand right now as we enter a new year and the final weeks before the Oscar nominations. It’s a tough year with few frontrunners in any categories – the only places I’m sure I have 100% right are Best Supporting Actor (Ali, Chalamet, Driver, Elliott, and Grant) and Best Cinematography (The Favourite, First Man, If Beale Street Could Talk, Roma, A Star Is Born). I have updated my Oscar predictions right here, and there are links to each category in each field below. We’re in the home stretch, guys. Time to get excited.

Best Picture

  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Black Panther
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Roma
  • A Star Is Born
  • Vice

Best Actor

  • Christian Bale-Vice
  • Bradley Cooper-A Star Is Born
  • Rami Malek-Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Viggo Mortensen-Green Book
  • John David Washington-BlacKkKlansman

Best Actress

  • Emily Blunt-Mary Poppins Returns
  • Glenn Close-The Wife
  • Olivia Colman-The Favourite
  • Lady Gaga-A Star Is Born
  • Melissa McCarthy-Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali-Green Book
  • Timothée Chalamet-Beautiful Boy
  • Adam Driver-BlacKkKlansman
  • Sam Elliott-A Star Is Born
  • Richard E. Grant-Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams-Vice
  • Regina King-If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Margot Robbie-Mary Queen of Scots
  • Emma Stone-The Favourite
  • Rachel Weisz-The Favourite

Best Director

  • Bradley Cooper-A Star Is Born
  • Alfonso Cuarón-Roma
  • Yorgos Lanthimos-The Favourite
  • Spike Lee-BlacKkKlansman
  • Adam McKay-Vice

Best Original Screenplay

  • The Favourite
  • First Reformed
  • Green Book
  • Roma
  • Vice 

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • First Man
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • A Star Is Born 

Best Animated Feature

  • The Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Mirai
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Burning
  • Capernaum
  • Cold War
  • Roma
  • Shoplifters

Best Documentary Feature

  • Crime+Punishment
  • Free Solo
  • Minding the Gap
  • Three Identical Strangers
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Best Live Action Short

  • Caroline
  • Chuchotage
  • Detainment
  • Fauve
  • Marguerite

Best Animated Short

  • Age of Sail
  • Bao
  • Bilby
  • Bird Karma
  • Late Afternoon

Best Documentary Short

  • Black Sheep
  • End Game
  • My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes
  • A Night At The Garden
  • Zion

Best Original Score

  • Black Panther
  • First Man
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • A Quiet Place

Best Original Song

  • “All The Stars” – Black Panther
  • “Girl In The Movies” – Dumplin’
  • “Revelation” – Boy Erased
  • “Shallow” – A Star Is Born
  • “Trip A Little Light Fantastic” – Mary Poppins Returns

Best Sound Editing

  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Black Panther
  • First Man
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Widows

Best Sound Mixing

  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • First Man
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • A Star Is Born

Best Production Design

  • Black Panther
  • The Favourite
  • First Man
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Mary Poppins Returns

Best Cinematography

  • First Man
  • The Favourite
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Roma
  • A Star Is Born

Best Costume Design

  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Favourite
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • Mary Queen of Scots 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Black Panther
  • Suspiria
  • Vice

Best Film Editing

  • BlacKkKlansman
  • First Man
  • Roma
  • A Star Is Born
  • Vice

Best Visual Effects

  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Black Panther
  • First Man
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • Ready Player One

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