This year, ten nominations each for Roma and The Favourite, both leading the pack -- I can live with that. Eight nominations for Vice gets something more akin to "whatever" from me, but at least the Academy doesn't seem to be too far out of line with my thinking generally this year. Well, except for one particularly notable snub: no nominations whatsoever for Eighth Grade, which just happens actually to be the best film of 2018.
This is all subjective, of course, and we're all just passing time with this crap. But I've been doing it for years and years, and I'll never stop! Also, if a superhero movie must be the first ever to be nominated for Best Picture, Black Panther is the one to do it. It won't win and it doesn't deserve to, but it sure as shit deserves a nomination; I was way of the possibility that it wouldn't.
There's actually a surprising number of nominees I haven't seen this year. A couple I've never even heard of. As usual of course I have seen the vast majority, so let's get into it.
Actor in a Leading Role
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity's Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Many months ago, I would not have said this was a tough one -- it's toucher now, only because Bradley Cooper's momentum has waned. And this year, the SAG Awards have yet to happen, so making this prediction today is a lot trickier than it will be a week from now. That said, considering the competition, if pressed, I would still predict Bradley Cooper. If not him, at the moment, it looks like it's close to a toss-up between him and Christian Bale.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: My vote since the moment I saw A Star Is Born has never wavered from Bradley Cooper, whose transformation is astonishing -- honestly, even more so than Christian Bale's, even though it's not as flashy and attention-getting.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: How have I not even heard of At Eternity's Gate, let alone seen it? Perhaps it's unfair to declare a performance I have not even seen should not win, but this is a movie that has not in any way been in the national conversation. It simply makes the least sense for that one to win.
Actress in a Leading Role
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I feel like this is the one race that nearly every year has the greatest competition, packed with great performances. Many people seem to think Glenn Close will win, largely because she has more nominations without a win than any other actor alive today, but it seems telling to me that The Wife has no other nominations. So this really is a tough one. I'm leaning toward Melissa McCarthy, but I'm probably wrong.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: And this may be sheer bias on my part -- because I actually feel Melissa McCarthy deserves the win.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I love Lady Gaga, but her performance in A Star Is Born was fine -- not great. She should get the Oscar for Best Song.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Given the sheer number of nominations for Vice, the unlikelihood of all others in this category, and his legitimately incredible performance as George W. Bush, I think Sam Rockwell has the edge here.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Upon further reflection, among these five, I think Sam Rockwell gets my vote as well.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I actively avoided seeing Green Book, as its production has been uncomfortably problematic in far too many ways: its cliched white perspective without bothering to get the story from the family of the black man it was based on; its writer's own bigoted comments (directly aligning himself with Donald Trump, no less); its portrayal of a gay man, just to name a few. Mahershala Ali is a great actor who has done great work -- he deservedly won an Oscar for Moonlight only two years ago -- but even without having seen this movie, I feel I know enough to conclude this is not a particular film that needs to be rewarded.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I have no idea! I'd want to give The Favourite the edge, except that it has two nominees in this category, which could split the vote. This is now Amy Adams's sixth nomination with no win, which could give it to her.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I'm leaning toward Rachel Weisz here, but . . .
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: . . . I'd be fine with anyone in this category winning, really. Marina de Tavira's nomination was a genuine surprise; I'm not sure anyone was predicting acting nominations for Roma besides Yalitza Aparicio as the lead. And really, all five of these women are great. That said -- well, Emma Stone did win for La La Land only two years ago. She doesn't need to win for this. (Rachel Weisz also already has an Oscar, but it's been longer since she last won, in 2006, for The Constant Gardener.)
Animated Feature Film
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I feel like this is a close call between Isle of Dogs and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. If critical response has any sway at all, it'll likely go to the latter.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Much as I did genuinely love Incredibles 2, for once I am not rooting for the Pixar film. Spider-Man is where it's at -- and I say this as someone who avoids superhero movies as a rule! This one is exceptional in far more ways than any of the others, though: the story, the animation, the themes, everything.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I don't know, Mirai, I guess? This answer is completely unfair since it's the one nominee I did not see. But, I hate anime. And Spider-Man deserves it, god damn it!
Cold War, Łukasz Żal
The Favourite, Robbie Ryan
Never Look Away, Caleb Deschanel
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
A Star Is Born, Matthew Libatique
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I'll bet my head on a spike that Roma will win this award.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Roma for the win! Not enough people saw this movie, but probably enough members of the Academy did. And, true to form for Alfonso Cuarón movies, the cinematography is jaw-dropping.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I truly loved virtually everything else about The Favourite, but the one thing I disliked about it was its fishbowl-lens cinematography, which I found persistently distracting. I could only get past it after seeing it three times. Even though I am clearly in the minority on this point, cinematography would be the single award I think that movie does not deserve.
Mary Poppins Returns
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This is always a hard one to predict. Maybe The Favourite will get this one, since the production design detail of Roma -- which is itself intricate and extensive -- gets a little lost in the black and white cinematography. And The Favourite was shot in opulent, vast palaces that really added to the tone of the story.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I think I just convinced myself The Favourite should win.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Mary Poppins Returns was fun, but ... come on.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Mary Zophres
Black Panther, Ruth Carter
The Favourite, Sandy Powell
Mary Poppins Returns, Sandy Powell
Mary, Queen of Scots, Alexandra Byrne
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I think I'm going to declare The Favourite as having the edge here as well. It's possible Mary, Queen of Scots actually deserves it, but only two nominations, that movie isn't likely to win anything.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I actually think Black Panther also has a legitimately decent chance in this category, and you know what? If Black Panther wins any Oscar at all, it should be for its intricately African-inspired costume designs.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Seeing three nominations for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a little jarring; I did not expect it to get any, in spite of knowing it did get a very limited theatrical release just to qualify -- thereafter, though, it seemed merely to be a Netflix original streaming movie. Who ever expects Oscar nominations for such things? The times, they are a-changin'. It doesn't deserve this award, regardless. I mean, the cowboy outfits are nice and all, but they're still just cowboy outfits.
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
Yargos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Conventional wisdom already says this will be another year with a split between Best Director and Best Picture, and in this category more than any other, Alfonso Cuarón is the one to beat. I was surprised to see a second foreign language film in this category (Cold War), but for that one, the nomination itself is the award.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Honestly? For every film here except for Roma, I feel that had they not been nominated for Best Director, that would have been fair. Only a Roma exclusion would have been a stunning snub. Roma is the only truly deserving winner here.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I'm going with Adam McKay and Vice. I'm most surprised by his even being included here -- what is with the love for that movie, anyway? It's all right, but also fails to justify its own existence beyond acting parlor tricks. Christian Bale as Dick Cheney is impressive, and also it's not fun to watch the story of Dick Cheney.
BlacKkKlansman, Barry Alexander Brown
Bohemian Rhapsody, John Ottman
The Favourite, Yargos Lanthimos
Green Book, Patrick J. Don Vito
Vice, Hank Corwin
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Hey, what! Roma isn't even nominated here. That's odd. I do think movies being in any way polarizing hurts its chances, even for a lower-tier award like Editing. And you know which is the only one of these films that is not notably polarizing in any way? The Favourite.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: The Favourite also gets my vote.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Green Book. Don't give that whitewashing movie any awards!
Cold War, Poland
Never Look Away, Germany
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I am actually including this category for the first time in roughly a decade this year, because for once I have actually seen most of them! Well, two out of three. I haven't even had a chance to see Capernaum yet, even though it's opening locally soon; also, what the hell is Never Look Away? Hmm, apparently a three-hour German romance about a tortured soul. Whatever, Roma is winning this award. Unless . . .
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: What are the odds that Roma wins both Best Picture and Best Foreign Film? Pretty much zilch, I would think -- and, in the absence of Eighth Grade, among the nominees, Roma truly deserves to win Best Picture. And if that should happen? Cold War should win Best Foreign Language Film. It actually is very good.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Honestly I could not see what the big deal was with Shoplifters. It was fine, but hardly Oscar-worthy.
Makeup and Hairstyling
Mary, Queen of Scots
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Border? What the hell is that? -- oh, right, I nearly forgot: this actually did play locally and I never went to see it. Its main characters are borderline disfigured, hence the makeup nomination. It was a very small, Swedish movie that got almost no attention outside critic circles. Therefore, given the massive transformations of both Christian Bale and Sam Rockwell, Vice is sure to win this one.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Much as I hesitate to throw any awards at Vice, it probably does deserve this one. Maybe Border does too, but I skipped that one.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Mary, Queen of Scots seems too on the nose for this award these days, to be honest. Both the other nominees clearly deserve it more.
Music (Original Score)
Black Panther, Ludwig Goransson
BlacKkKlansman, Terence Blanchard
If Beale Street Could Talk, Nicholas Britell
Isle of Dogs, Alexandre Desplat
Mary Poppins Returns, Marc Shaiman
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I bet anything this one will go to Black Panther, which is packed with nuanced, meaningful details in all sorts of its production elements -- not least of which is its score.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Black Panther should get it. I'd be fine with If Beale Street Could Talk winning, but there is no question Black Panther had the greater reach, and deservedly so.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I won't go so far as to say any of these movies is patently undeserving, but I will say Mary Poppins Returns is least likely to get it, and that's fine.
Music (Original Song)
"All the Stars," from Black Panther, Music by Mark Spears, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth and Anthony Tiffith; Lyric by Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Anthony Tiffith and Solana Rowe
"I'll Fight," from RBG, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
"The Place Where Lost Things Go," from Mary Poppins Returns, Music by Marc Shaiman; Lyric by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
"Shallow," from A Star Is Born, Music and Lyric by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt
"When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings," from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Music and Lyric by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: If "Shallow" from A Star Is Born does not win this award, I will saw off my left arm.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Given its context in a great movie with great music about musicians, "Shallow" also deserves to win this.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: So I went online to refresh my memory of "What a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings," and . . . no.
Avengers: Infinity War
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This one's hard. First Man is the only one of these movies for which I gave a solid A grade to its special effects, but that movie has so few nominations, who knows? And most of the others were much bigger blockbusters and therefore seen by many more people. I'm going to call this one for Avengers: Infinity War, which, at the very least, had far better effects than the dismal Avengers: Age of Ultron.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: First Man is without question the most impressive movie among these, in terms of its visual effects.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Ready Player One can fuck right off with its visual effects that were average at best. Why is it even nominated? Just having countless effects shots should not be considered a qualification!
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
BlacKkKlansman, Written by Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
If Beale Street Could Talk, Written for the screen by Barry Jenkins
A Star Is Born, Screenplay by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This award often goes to movies with no chance of winning other awards. Does that narrow it down? By that metric, at least after disqualifying The Ballad of Buster Scruggs for its unusually brief theatrical run, I suppose the award will go to Can You Ever Forgive Me?
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I'm going for Can You Ever Forgive Me? here, but would also be perfectly happy with A Star Is Born, whose script spoke to me and made me feel seen in totally unexpected ways.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs's six chapters are far too all over the place to be deserving of this award.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
The Favourite, Written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
First Reformed, Written by Paul Schrader
Green Book, Written by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
Roma, Written Alfonso Cuarón
Vice, Written by Adam McKay
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This one comes down to Roma and The Favorite, and considering the belabored pacing of the former, I think the latter actually has the edge in this category.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Much as I really want to reward The Favourite here, upon further reflection, Roma may actually be the most deserving. Its script is far and away the most nuanced of these five.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Oh have I mentioned, "fuck Green Book"?
Best motion picture of the year
A Star Is Born
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This is so hard to say, because a foreign film has never won this award before. I'll be happy to be wrong, but the alternative being A Star Is Born, I still think that's the most likely winner, and I'd be happy with that as well. It really spoke to me personally in pleasantly surprising ways.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: My #1 movie of the year (Eighth Grade) and my #2 movie (Blindspotting) both criminally received zero nominations -- but, my #3 movie was Roma, and that one received ten. Being forced to choose between these eight movies, Roma is the only choice to make here.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Hello, Green Book! That movie winning this year would be the most tone deaf thing the Academy has done since Crash won Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain in 2006. Lucky for everyone alive, there's no chance whatsoever that movie will win this award this year.
(Nominations for documentary feature, documentary short, animated short, live action short, sound editing, and sound mixing were also announced, but I don't know enough about them to make any worthwhile observations.)
The 91st Academy Awards telecast will air on ABC Sunday, February 24 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time. .