OK. The big night is upon us and it’s the wild west out there. Not just the Kevin Hart controversy; the cutting telecast categories controversy; the “only Gaga/Kendrick Lamar can sing” controversy; the “popular” movie category controversy; but also that crazy slate of Best Picture nominees with no front runner! Well, the final ballots are in as of this Monday, February 19 and only PricewaterhouseCoopers has the answers. Let’s hope they can count and can keep track of those envelopes. Here are my PICKS and PREDICTIONS in the TOP FIVE CATEGORIES!
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
PICK: I really like what Emma Stone did in THE FAVOURITE. She makes it modern, impish, embodies the spirit and quirky tone of the film as it pokes fun at the absurd, insular world of court life and the unfortunate English Queen Anne who suffered immense personal tragedy losing all 17 of her babies– then substituting bunnies in the nursery. Weisz will steal some of her votes here, Marina de Tavira is effective but not well known to American audiences. Amy Adams was a tad over the top and hers was not as pivotal a role as Regina King’s.
PREDICTION: Regina King IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK Regina King’s performance was moving, had great dignity, and when Emma doesn’t win, I will be thrilled and expect to see Regina win.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Sam Rockwell (Vice)
PICK: Loved Sam Rockwell in VICE, but adored what first time nominee Richard E. Grant did in CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME. He’s louche, a crumbling, drunken once dashing intellectual, who’s deeply vulnerable and sympathetic as he sidles up to Melissa McCarthy’s down on her luck writer. They have the same gleam in their eyes, don’t suffer fools, and barely each other as they plot and plan together.
PREDICTION: Mahershala Ali in GREEN BOOK who is a marvelous actor (see MOONLIGHT), but who was misdirected here to give an overly broad performance in keeping with the rest of this very un-subtle, conventional film that makes a lot of folks feel good (until they got to part where the white guy shows the black guy how to eat fried chicken traveling through the deep south. Thank you Janice Page for reminding me.)
PREDICTION: Glenn Close THE WIFE. She’s been nominated for an Oscar seven times, holding the record for the most nominations without winning. Gaga was great, but her first nomination for playing a singer is recognition enough. Olivia Colman may be cancelled out by Stone and Weisz either of whom might have been nominated along with Colman in this category. Close has paid her dues, gives a great speech, and the Academy loves her. Though this exceptional actress has given showier, more demanding performances, this one is deft and subtle. The role also hits a sweet spot in the culture right now, as the unrecognized woman re-directing her considerable light on a man: it’s “the wife’s” night to shine as Glenn Close.
Christian Bale (Vice)
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)
PICK: Bradley Cooper who does it all in A STAR IS BORN. He directed (snubbed in that category), produced, co-wrote the script and music, sang, and played the lead actor. And how. This is an extremely charismatic, many- layered, fully fleshed out performance of a man who falls in love with an artist and breaks down, all the while creating extraordinary chemistry onscreen, this in a career of wildly different and exceptional performances.
PREDICTION: Rami Malek in BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY who’s already won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award, and folks just love his kickass delivery of “Queen” songs. This is a tricky category. Many worthy performances were snubbed, among them Ethan Hawke’s in FIRST REFORMED Ryan Gosling’s in FIRST MAN and Timothee Chalamet’s in “Beautiful Boy.” Christian Bale has won an Oscar for Supporting Actor in “The Fighter,” and his excessive though effective prosthetics here may be seen as more noteworthy than his performance. But Rami will be the champion…
A Star Is Born (8 nominations)
Black Panther (7 nominations) **Screen Actors Guild Award
BlacKkKlansman (6 nominations)
Bohemian Rhapsody (5 nominations)
The Favourite (10 nominations)
Green Book (5 nominations) **Producers Guild Award
Roma (10 nominations) **Director’s Guild Award
Vice (8 nominations)
PICK: IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK This film has not been nominated and is among the biggest snubs of the year along with “First Man,” “Eighth Grade” “Leave No Trace” “First Reformed” “Won’t you be my neighbor?” Oscar winner Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”) here transfers the luminosity, weight and elegance of James Baldwin’s novel to the big screen; the tale set in 1970’s Harlem remains unyieldingly, painfully true in 2018.
But among these nominees, my pick is “The Favourite” a dashing, stylish, original film that upends the costume drama, features three killer female performances, and seems shot through the looking glass at a bit of history I knew little about, but will now never forget. A rollicking good time.
PREDICTION: ROMA/GREEN BOOK The Best Picture category is wide open, but most predictions coalesce around ROMA, which may benefit from the preferential balloting system only used in this category, which favors the most # 1 votes on the most ballots, while the least are eliminated and others advanced in succeeding rounds. ROMA may not be everyone’s first choice, but is universally admired for filmmaker Cuaron’s exceptional crafting of the story of his Mexican nannies, and the issues of class and race that reverberate beyond its borders. NETFLIX has also spent a ton of money promoting its very first Oscar-nominated best picture.
Less likely but possible is GREEN BOOK having won the pivotal Producers Guild Award (which uses the same preferential balloting system) and is a real crowd pleaser, but not every crowd. The voting Academy crowd is becoming less white and less male, but how much and in enough time for this year’s voting?? “Green Book” has also managed to withstand criticism for being inaccurate and subversively racist (white working class hero rescues elitist black artist) better than BlacKkklansman and first-time directorial nominee Spike Lee have, weathering similar complaints about its politics from the likes of filmmaker Boots Riley. “A Star is Born” may have peaked too soon. Many folks just don’t like “The Favourite.” “Black Panther,” whose director/co-writer Ryan Coogler, and cinematographer Cambridge’s own Rachel Morrison, were snubbed, may may have to settle for being a cultural and box office juggernaut.
I will be live tweeting/facebooking through the host-less ceremony (will Whoopi show up?), ogling the stars, their gowns and gaffes, and on the edge of my seat to see who wins! Join me at 8PM ABC, red carpet on E at 7! (Can’t wait to see GAGA & COOPER together again and singing live!)