Final 91st Academy Award Predictions

Well everyone, it all comes down to this! Tomorrow morning, at the crack of dawn, Tracee Ellis Ross and Kumail Nanjiani will announce the nominations for the 91st Academy Awards! Am I ready to announce my final predictions for this glorious event? Not at all. Still, there’s only a brief amount of time left, so here we go anyway!

The good news of this year’s race is that, for the most part, the categories are pretty easy to predict. You can easily get 80% of the field right without even trying. The problems arise when you try to figure out what goes in those last one or two spots. But we’ll get to that in a minute. Right now, let’s talk about Best Picture and flesh out the rest of the categories from there. Technically speaking, there are only two films you can call “locks” right now. The first “lock” is A Star Is Born. Yes, Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut has struggled when it comes to actually winning awards thus far, but its record for nominations is almost ridiculously unprecedented: it was nominated at both the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, and it appeared at every guild preceding the Oscars (ok, not visual effects, but you get my point). Even if there is little chance the film can win, it is almost impossible for the film to not be nominated tomorrow. Look for it in Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Original Song. Meanwhile, while a snub is still possible, look for Sam Elliott in Best Supporting Actor, who will likely be drawn in by the support of the film. After that, while it is likely that it won’t get every technical nomination it saw these past few weeks in the guilds, I still think it’ll have a strong showing – look for it in Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay, making Cooper the next entry in the “Big Four” Club and making it the most nominated film with 10. The second is your Golden Globe winner and, as of Saturday, your Producers Guild winner, Green Book. It is impossible to deny now that people really like Peter Farrelly’s racial buddy comedy, and as we head into the nominations tomorrow, it shows no sign of slowing down (despite the Internet’s attempts to derail its momentum, both justly and unjustly). At this point, it is a lock for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, with Viggo Mortensen likely to be nominated for Best Actor and Mahershala Ali a lock to win Best Supporting Actor. However, it is the next two categories that make Green Book a “survive-or-die” contender. On paper, Green Book should not be nominated for Best Director or Best Editing. Both are fairly pedestrian entries, and they are not deserving. However, both received nominations from the guilds in these fields, and both could, theoretically, elbow their way in. If Green Book is not nominated in either of these fields, the backlash is strong, and Green Book will not be your Best Picture winner. If Peter Farrelly gets into Director and the film gets an Editing nod, the race is over, and this is your winner. And if it gets one but not the other, then we’ve got a wide-open race where anything can happen. That latter scenario is what I’m currently predicting, with the film missing out on Editing while Peter Farrelly gets into Best Director, but who knows?

Speaking of “survive-or-die,” next we have Roma. Roma is facing an unprecedented berth, as no Netflix film has ever received a major Academy Award nomination (Mudbound did get into Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, but in a weak year and with neither really mattering as much in the long run). If Roma can overcome the bias against it by the older members of the Academy, it could even win. But that’s still a bigger “if” than people realize. Either way, Alfonso Cuarón will win for Best Director – either as the most deserving, most well-spoken director in the field or as penance for snubbing the film in Best Picture. And I don’t expect the love to stop there – Cuarón is likely to become the most nominated man in Oscar history, as the film will receive bids for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Editing, all of which he was responsible for. I also expect the film to earn a spot in Best Production Design, considering they accurately recreated the streets of Mexico in 1970 on a series of back lots. Of course, that may not be the only place it shows up – Yalitza Aparicio is absolutely a contender for the Charlotte Rampling/Marion Cotillard critical darling slot, even if I’m not giving her the edge just yet. All in all, expect it to be a major contender. Meanwhile, while we’re on the subject of major roadblocks, let’s turn our attention to Black Panther. In theory, Black Panther should be this year’s Mad Max: Fury Road, a big-budget spectacle that deserves and earns nominations across the board. However, there’s still a major “But” standing in its way: the Academy hates superhero movies. Its 2014 winner was a huge “f*ck you” to the genre. Panther still has an uphill battle to fight its way up to the higher ranks. There’s even early rumblings that it could receive a massive snub across the board. I don’t see this happening, but I do think that a coordinated whisper campaign will force the film out of some of the bigger below-the-belt categories. Basically, it won’t get Supporting Actor or Adapted Screenplay, but look for it in Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Sound Editing and Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, and likely Best Visual Effects – a total of nine.

And then there are the British and American favorites – the films that are so well-liked and have had such success in the guilds and abroad, there is little doubt that they will get nominated. There are three films here that meet that standard: The Favourite, BlacKkKlansman, and Bohemian Rhapsody. With The Favourite, there is little doubt that the film will be a huge player – the British loved it, the Globes liked it, and it has general support around the country/world. Not only do I think that it will be nominated for Picture, Actress for Colman, two Supporting Actress nominations for Weisz and Stone, Original Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, and Costume Design. And based on that massive British voting bloc, look for Yorgos Lanthimos in Best Director, the same way Paul Thomas Anderson got the edge in last year’s directorial race. Up next we have BlacKkKlansman, the theoretical only other film that can win Best Picture this year (and arguably, the most deserving). The Academy loves Klansman, and arguably rightly so – Spike Lee has never been properly nominated, it’s a film that speaks to the now, and the film is simple enough for the centrists and those who lean right in the Academy, yet poignantly political enough to appeal to those more far-left. Look for this film to have a big day – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay are locks, while John David Washington should sneak over the edge in Actor. Oh, and don’t be surprised if it sneaks over the edge in Best Score or Best Costume Design – I’m not predicting it, but it’s possible (and should happen, just saying). And then…sigh…there’s Bohemian Rhapsody, arguably the least popular Best Picture contender since American Sniper (albeit with better performances). Rhapsody has an overwhelming sense of popularity amongst the Academy, even if it missed out on Best Picture at the BAFTAs (it got into Best British Film instead), and while there is a zero percent chance of it winning, I wouldn’t be surprised if it got enough first place votes to make the Academy’s list of nominees. Expect it in Picture, Sound Mixing, and Costume Design, and expect Rami Malek to be a contender for the win. And should the Academy decide that Big Fake Teeth are cooler than designing an entirely fictional country, look for it in Best Makeup and Hairstyling too (please God, no). Oh, and you can expect that final Editing nod to be a three-way fight between Rhapsody, Klansman, The Favourite, and the aforementioned Green Book. I’m giving the edge to Klansman, but honestly, that’s the hardest category to predict.

And now that we’ve rounded out the seven most-likely films, let’s take a look at what could be #8 and #9 (should it go to 9). At this point, despite the critical mixture on the film, it would be truly shocking if Vice didn’t get nominated for Best Picture. Despite the critical uprising, the Academy is actually fond of the film, and it should be a major contender in several categories. Christian Bale is the only one right now who can beat Rami Malek, and expect him to be the only other lock in Best Actor. Meanwhile, with our next film floundering (more on that in a minute), Amy Adams is starting to inch her way up in the Best Supporting Actress race, and could win her first Oscar for the film. And obviously, Best Original Screenplay and Best Makeup and Hairstyling (the latter of which it should win) are locks. Which leaves just one category left: Best Director. Both the Directors Guild and the Golden Globes gave Adam McKay a nomination for his work directing his intentionally-messy treatise on America today. However, this is a completely competitive year, and McKay’s work is honestly the weakest part of the film. In a year where the Academy could nominate someone cool, like Cooper, edgy, like Lee, or foreign, like Lanthimos, Cuarón, or Pawel Pawlikowski (more on him in a minute), then I don’t see McKay getting in over Farrelly, Lanthimos, or Lee. Still, stick it in Best Picture, and you could, theoretically, call it a day. But that’s not the way the Academy functions. Very rarely are there only eight nominees – the Academy has, in recent years, stuck to nine as their nice round number. For this reason, I’m going to throw in one more film, and that’s where things get tricky. You see, neither of the films I’m choosing between actually have a strong enough level of support to justify their picking. I’m talking, of course, about If Beale Street Could Talk, a critical darling that has gone largely ignored by the guilds, and First Man, a film that people expected to be out of the Oscar race completely that has a widespread support in the technical categories. Now, in theory, First Man has the edge, the same way Darkest Hour did last year. It’s got a lot of guild love, it should make a major showing in other categories (I’m predicting it for eight nods myself), and it’s a film that everyone can agree is “good.” However, “good” doesn’t get you Oscar nominations. You need 5% of the Academy to truly “love” you in order to get a Best Picture nomination. And I think more people “love” Beale Street over First Man. Expect Beale Street to be the weakest of the nominees, earning Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and fighting tooth and nail for a nomination for Regina King, the one-time frontrunner who has been snubbed in every industry-voted award so far.

While we’re on the subject of the battle for the final slots, let’s take a quick run-through the other hotly contested categories, and which performers are trying to fight their way in. We’ve discussed John David Washington getting that fifth nomination in Best Actor, but don’t be surprised if Willem Dafoe or Ethan Hawke fight their way in. Same goes for Aparicio vs. Emily Blunt, who has had a massive year and should get nominated for playing Mary Poppins, as well as Claire Foy vs. Margot Robbie in Supporting Actress (edge: Robbie). Best Original Screenplay has four locks in The Favourite, Roma, Vice, and Green Book, but who gets that final slot? First Reformed and legend Paul Schrader? Eighth Grade and comedian Bo Burnham? A Quiet Place and celebrity John Krasinski? The possibilities are endless. And in Visual Effects, there’s a huge battle for the final two slots (after Avengers: Infinity War, First Man, and Ready Player One), including Black Panther, Mary Poppins Returns, Christopher Robin, and Welcome to Marwen. Honestly, the only decided category is Best Costume Design (Black Panther, The Favourite, Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Poppins Returns, and Mary Queen of Scots), and even that could see a shock from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Other observations include the likely love for Mission: Impossible and A Quiet Place in the sound categories, and the fact that, due to a late surge amongst voters, the foreign film Cold War could be a major factor.

The nominees will be announced tomorrow on Good Morning America at 8:30 a.m. EST. We’ll see how this all wraps up before entering the final phase of the season. I’ll have the nominations up in real time, as well as a write-up later in the day. In the meantime, you can check out my updated predictions over here. I will see you all back here tomorrow, bright and early, with the results. It’s time, people!

Best Picture

  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • 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
  • Peter Farrelly-Green Book
  • Yorgos Lanthimos-The Favourite
  • Spike Lee-BlacKkKlansman

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

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

Best Documentary Short

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

Best Live Action Short

  • Caroline
  • Chuchotage
  • Detainment
  • Fauve
  • Marguerite

Best Animated Short

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

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
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  • A Quiet Place

Best Sound Mixing

  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • First Man
  • A Quiet Place
  • A Star Is Born

Best Production Design

  • Black Panther
  • The Favourite
  • First Man
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • Roma

Best Cinematography

  • Cold War
  • First Man
  • The Favourite
  • 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
  • Border
  • 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

 

A Star Is Born – 10
Black Panther – 9
The Favourite – 9
First Man – 8
Roma – 7
BlacKkKlansman – 6
Mary Poppins Returns – 6
Vice – 6
Green Book – 5
Bohemian Rhapsody – 4
If Beale Street Could Talk – 4
Can You Ever Forgive Me? – 3
A Quiet Place – 3
Avengers: Infinity War – 2
Cold War – 2
Mary Queen of Scots – 2

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