It’s the final countdown. The one we’ve all been waiting. The ninety-first Academy Awards are just days away and the final pieces are falling into place.
In a year of bad press and backtracks, there will be no host. Contrary to initial plans, all twenty-four awards will be presented on camera and all five Original Song nominations will be performed. Yes, the build up to 2019’s Oscars has not been without calamity.
The ceremony, which is once again to be held in Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre, will see producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall given the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, whilst honorary Oscars go to Cicely Tyson, Lalo Schifrin and Marvin Levy.
But what of those categories not yet decided? Well, the votes are in and we can but speculate.
A raft of huge names – from Crazy Rich Asians’ Awkwafina to Sorry to Bother You and Thor star Tessa Thompson – will present statuettes, with Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite and Netflix hot shot Roma expected to do well. Each enters the ceremony with ten nominations, followed closely by A Star Is Born and Vice on nine. Other major contenders include BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody and Black Panther.
Now, as judgement day beckons, we offer our analysis of the runners and riders in this year’s Best Picture race.
A Star is Born
RT: 90% BO: $420m We Said: ★★★★
How the field has shifted. When Bradley Cooper’s entry into the A Star is Born remake franchise was first seen, it was quickly labelled an awards favourite. The one to beat. That was five months ago.
Whilst some still advocate the film – which will forever be known as Lady Gaga’s first – as a likely champion, the odds are long. With no recognition for either its editing nor director, it’s hard not to feel that the Academy lost interest.
Fans needn’t fear too much, though. Cooper’s Star mightn’t be shooting high but an Original Song nod for ‘Shallow’ seems a certainty.
RT: 97% BO: $1.35bn We Said: ★★★★
The most financially lucrative of this year’s Best Picture nominees, Black Panther is a groundbreaker for Disney’s Marvel empire, being the first superhero film ever to make the Oscar top table.
Could it pull out a surprise win? We’re not prepared to rule it out entirely. The recent sighting of an actual black panther in Africa – for the first time in a century – even feels like a sign. While convention dictates that Black Panther is a film for which the nomination alone is its triumph, a win for the Wakandan adventure would be a neatly populist move for the Academy.
Not to get too carried away, Black Panther is very much an outsider in this race. A BAFTA win for Special Effects is promising but Infinity War will be indomitable competition.
RT: 96% BO: $89.8m We Said: ★★★★
Worthy that it is, BlacKkKlansman wasn’t a film we expected to see find its way onto the Best Picture shortlist. Indeed, by our reasoning, the Spike Lee drama is an ‘also ran’ nominee.
That said, Lee has earned himself a first-ever Best Director nomination for his work on the film and their are plenty happy to see recognition for Adam Driver. Neither will win but they’re popular outsiders.
Instead, BlacKkKlansman’s best shot is Adapted Screenplay, where it holds significantly lower odds. Only Beale Street stands in its way there.
RT: 61% BO: $885m We Said: ★★★
Critics may scoff but, for audiences across the globe, Bohemian Rhapsody really is the champion. Hey, it rocked them.
A landslide of negative – Bryan Singer and homophobia related – publicity has failed to hamper Rami Malek’s victory parade through the awards season, collecting Acting gong’s left, right and centre.
In terms of the film itself, recognition for John Ottman’s editing may well be forthcoming, while success in the sound categories is a real possibility. Like it or not, BoRap’s a contender.
RT: 79% BO: $108m We Said: ★★★★
The Golden Globes have a lot to answer for when it comes to the awards buzz surrounding Green Book. There’s little else to go by.
Mahershala Ali should easily scoop his second Oscar for Best Supporting Actor but that’s likely to be the lot. Sure, Green Book topped the NBRs, but so did The Post last year. Just look how that turned out.
It’s not that Green Book isn’t very likeable on its own terms – although there’s more than enough controversy outwit them – just that there’s too little firepower to push it to the very top.
RT: 95% BO: $3.8m We Said: ★★★★★
Make no mistake about it, Netflix have thrown a lot of money at Roma’s awards campaign to see it reign quite so steadily.
Having scooped every comparative award going, Alfonso Cuarón is a dead cert for Best Director and, at this stage, it would be a surprise for any other film to supplant Roma’s superiority. Nominations for Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira have done much to prove its popularity with Academy voters.
All that really stands in Roma’s way is history. Never before has film not in the English language won Best Picture at the Oscars and the same is true of Netflix Originals.
RT: 93% BO: $69.8m We Said: ★★★★★
Our favourite of the set – and a heavy hitter at the BAFTAs – The Favourite probably won’t fare just as well across the Atlantic.
Olivia Colman would be an upset here, in a category generally felt to have Glenn Close’s overdue name on it, and Rachel Weisz looks set to lose out to Regina King as Supporting Actress. If the British Academy favour Brits, it is not unreasonable to suggest the reverse of the American.
Things should match up better for Lanthimos’ film in terms of its Original Screenplay, Costume and Production Design. We can’t see The Favourite coming away empty handed.
RT: 66% BO: $56.6m We Said: ★★★★
On balance, Adam McKay’s second Best Picture nominee has a lesser chance at winning than his first. Vice‘s mould is of the much the same ilk but it’s critical response has been more mixed.
Christian Bale was, at one point, the favourite for Best Actor but that position has slipped of late. Rami Malek’s recent BAFTA win seems to have cemented the loss but don’t completely rule out an Oscar plot twist. Amy Adams’ nod is best seen as compensation for her Arrival and Nocturnal Animals snubs, rather than as being in contention.
Vice’s best shot at success may be in the jumbled, unpredictable category that is this year’s Best Editing line up. Truthfully, that one’s anyone’s game.