By Steve Warren
This year's Best Picture nominees range from the biggest commercial success, Black Panther, the first superhero movie to be so recognized, and wildly popular musicals A Star Is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody, to the uncompromisingly arty Roma and The Favourite. In between are BlacKkKlansman, Green Book and Vice, three dramedies based on true stories that span half a century of American politics and culture, all entertaining and with middling success at the boxoffice.
Being best has never been the sole determinant of Academy Award winners. Sentiment plays a big role, honoring legendary performers who have gone Oscarless for decades. This could help Glenn Close, five of whose seven Oscar nominations were in the 1980s.
More important these days are politics, especially of the #metoo variety, which a year ago probably cost James Franco a Best Actor nomination. Controversy didn't hurt Green Book at the Golden Globes but the Academy could be a different story.
African Americans had a good year at the movies, as reflected in the nominations. Women behind the camera didn't fare so well, and despite major boxoffice success, Crazy Rich Asians was ignored by the Academy. It's a shocker that the year's most popular documentary, Won't You Be My Neighbor? didn't get nominated.
I predict divergent outcomes for this year's most-nominated (10 each) films, Roma and The Favourite. Often a film with a boatload of nominations goes away empty-handed, and I think that will be The Favourite's fate. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz will cancel each other out in the Supporting Actress category, and everything else about the picture will prove a little too weird when it comes down to voting.
Contrary to many experts, I don't believe Roma will walk away with Best Picture and Best Director, as The Shape of Water (also by a Mexican director, but in English) did last year. Alfonso CuarĂ³n's directing trophy is probably the surest bet there is this year, and Roma should take Best Foreign Language Film; but Best Picture will go to something with more mass appeal.
Despite the SAG Ensemble award, I think Black Panther will be limited to technical Oscars. It did an awesome job of creating a hybrid African culture with touches of past, present and future in costumes, scenery and music. Americans assume England hasn't changed in 500 years, so to shoot The Favourite they just had to pick a castle, do a little dusting, and start filming.
The 91st Academy Awards will be handed out on February 24.
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Glenn Close, The Wife
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie & Peter Farrelly, Green Book
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
BEST FILM EDITING:
BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
"Shallow," A Star Is Born
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Ludwig Goransson, Black Panther
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:
BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:
BEST SOUND EDITING:
A Quiet Place
BEST SOUND MIXING:
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Avengers: Infinity War
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM:
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: