Roma and A Star Is Born likely to lead the nomination count come Tuesday morning
by Sara Michelle Fetters -
SGN A&E Writer
The 91st Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday morning, and other than the likely presence of Bradley Cooper's hit remake of A Star Is Born and Alfonso Cuarón's B&W critical darling Roma appearing in a number of categories including Best Picture and Best Director, the actual ins and outs of which films are going to wake up Oscar nominees and which ones are going to want to curl back under the covers upset is very much up in the air. While 2018 was an undeniably outstanding year for cinema with a slew of worthy contenders in any number of categories, at this point it's entirely unclear which way Academy voters (just over 6,000 members strong) will go.
Will they honor indie darlings like Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade or Debra Granik's Leave No Trace? Or will they follow the path set by the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes, the Producers Guild and other awards bodies and anoint Peter Farrelly's entertaining and well-acted Green Book or the critically reviled but massively popular Freddie Mercury biopic (and box office smash) Bohemian Rhapsody as frontrunners, the dual controversies swirling around both motion pictures be damned? In many ways these are the million-dollar questions that will only be answered once the nominees themselves are revealed, and whatever the announcement, rest assured voices on both sides of the argument will undoubtedly raise them in cantankerous anger no matter what they might be.
Those two films have become the hot topics of conversation as far as this year's Academy Awards are concerned. After somewhat surprisingly winning the audience prize at last September's Toronto International Film Festival, usually considered a bellwether for Oscar glory, Farrelly's '60s-set racially-charged road trip dramatic comedy inspired by a true story hasn't exactly set the box office afire, the movie barely clearing $39-million domestic since its November 16 release. The story of musician Dr. Don Shirley's concert tour of the Deep South and the friendship that develops between he and his uncouth, racially insensitive driver Frank Anthony 'Tony Lip' Vallelonga, the film has come under fire for a number of issues, most of them coming directly from Shirley's family. They charge screenwriter Nick Vallelonga not only crafted his initial story without Dr. Shirley's approval, but that he also rewrote the musician and his father Tony's relationship to be far closer and friendlier than it actually was. Mix in the fact that this is another story about racism told through the eyes of a White man where the Black protagonist becomes the secondary character in his own story.
As for Bohemian Rhapsody, while Rami Malek's performance as Freddie Mercury has always been regarded as worthy enough to warrant a Best Actor nomination, as far as the picture's prospects were concerned they were supposed to be dead and buried long before the film itself ever saw a theatrical release. Director Bryan Singer being fired from the production just a few weeks before principal photography had come to an end. Reports the surviving members of Queen wanted producers to play down and whitewash Mercury's homosexuality in order to potentially reach a broader audience. These were real issues that typically turn off Academy voters, but where critical reactions to the film were fairly disastrous (rapturous applause for Malek's performance notwithstanding), audiences went and made the motion picture the single most financially successful music biography of all-time (just under $200-million domestic at the box office as of last weekend according to Box Office Mojo). Add in the picture's shocking win for Best Drama at the Golden Globes and all bets as to what voters are going to do are suddenly off, and for a film where all involved don't even mention the name of the man who directed it when picking up awards suddenly this feature's Oscar prospects are seemingly through the roof.
Otherwise it seems like things will pretty much go as anticipated. A Star Is Born and Roma will dominate as far as overall nomination count is concerned (both could earn upwards of 10 noms apiece). Yorgos Lanthimos' The Favourite will likely be a strong contender across the board, especially in the acting categories. Glenn Close will almost certainly receive her seventh acting nomination for her role in The Wife. Marvel's Black Panther by all accounts should become the first comic book adventure to land a Best Picture nomination. Spike Lee will finally crack the Best Picture and Best Director lineup with BlacKkKlansman. Adam McKay's polarizing Vice should still land nominations in multiple categories including Best Actor (Christian Bale), Best Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), Best Original Screenplay and more than likely Best Picture. Richard E. Grant will almost assuredly receive his first-ever Oscar-nomination for his supporting turn in Can You Ever Forgive Me? while that film's star Melissa McCarthy will more than likely earn her second for her justifiably lauded lead performance.
Best Documentary and Best Foreign Language Film offer up their strongest potential nominees in years, the former sporting a number of box offices success like RBG, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, Free Solo and Three Identical Strangers proving that nonfiction filmmaking is still alive and well as far as the ticket-buying public is concerned. As for the latter, four of the most critically acclaimed films in recent memory (Cuarón's Roma, Pawel Pawlikowski's Cold War, Chang-dong Lee's Burning, Hirokazu Koreeda's Shoplifters) all made the shortlist for Oscar consideration, and it wouldn't be shocking at all to see all of them nominated Tuesday morning. At the same time, it would be equally unsurprising to see their spot in the lineup usurped by one of their fellow contenders, Columbia's Birds of Passage, Denmark's The Guilty, Germany's Never Look Away, Kazakhstan's Ayka and Lebanon's Capernaum all viewed as worthy potential nominees as well.
In the end it should be an interesting morning, Tuesday's nominee announcement almost certain to rankle a lot of feathers and send Oscar pundits scurrying to their computer's to make bold pronouncements about the Academy's overall intentions as if they personally went and polled all 6,000-plus members themselves (even though they obviously didn't). Personally, I'm just hoping for a handful of surprises, not the least of which would be a woman, any woman at all, busting through and making the Best Director lineup. Along with Granik, Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here), Chloé Zhao (The Rider) and Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) all delivered features equal to or better than most of their male counterparts, so if this category remains an old boy's club once again (as it likely will be) I'll personally be moderately depressed. I'm also curious to see what happens with Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk and Damien Chazelle's First Man, and while I do think both films are deserving of multiple nominations in a number of categories, mainly I just want to see the two Moonlight and La La Land filmmakers battling out for Oscar glory against one another for a second time.
Be all that as it may and without further ado, here are my personal predictions for what films will likely receive Academy Award nominations in a handful of key categories come Tuesday morning:
Reminder that the Academy changed the rules a few years back for this category and that no fewer than five and no more than ten films can end up vying for Best Picture. In order to get nominated a contender has to receive 5% of FIRST PLACE votes from the Academy membership, and with this year being so fractured and crazy anyone guessing there will be a full ten nominees is absolutely insane.
THE CONTENDERS: BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, Burning, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Cold War, Crazy Rich Asians, Eighth Grade, The Favourite, First Man, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, Leave No Trace, Mary Poppins Returns, A Quiet Place, Roma, A Star Is Born, Vice, Widows
PREDICTION: BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, The Favourite, First Man, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star Is Born, Vice
Probably the most contentious category with a variety of intriguing possibilities. The only certainty? Both Bradley Cooper and Alfonso Cuarón are going to get nominated. Approaching a certainty? Spike Lee will earn his first-ever Best Director nomination. After that? Your guess is as good as mine.
THE CONTENDERS: Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade), Damien Chazelle (First Man), Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Alfonso Cuarón (Roma), Peter Farrelly (Green Book), Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk), Hirokazu Koreeda (Shoplifters), John Krasinski (A Quiet Place), Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman), Adam McKay (Vice), Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here), Chloé Zhao (The Rider)
PREDICTION: Burnham, Cooper, Cuarón, Lanthimos, Lee
Not nearly as packed a category as in recent years, still wouldn't be too much of a shock to see a surprise or two (like Ryan Gosling in First Man or Ben Foster in Leave No Trace) work their way in here and take away a spot from a perceived frontrunner like Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) or Christian Bale (Vice).
THE CONTENDERS: Christian Bale (Vice), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Willem Dafoe (At Eternity's Gate), Ben Foster (Leave No Trace), Ryan Gosling (First Man), Ethan Hawke (First Reformed), Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Viggo Mortensen (Green Book), Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here), John C. Reilly (Stan & Ollie), John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)
PREDICTION: Bale, Cooper, Gosling, Malek, Washington
The year's most loaded category. There are roughly 20 women who have a viable shot at landing a nomination here. There's a good six or ten more names who could honestly claim they should be considered as well. The only guarantee? Glenn Close will receive her seventh overall Academy Award nomination for The Wife and Lady Gaga will receive her first for her performance in A Star Is Born. Other than that, who the heck knows?
THE CONTENDERS: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns), Glenn Close (The Wife), Toni Collette (Hereditary), Oliva Colman (The Favourite), Viola Davis (Widows), Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade), Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born), Regina Hall (Support the Girls), Nicole Kidman (Destroyer), Felicity Jones (On the Basis of Sex), Kiera Knightley (Colette), Joanna Kulig (Cold War), Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Carey Mulligan (Wildlife), Rosamund Pike (A Private War), Julia Roberts (Ben is Back), Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots), Charlize Theron (Tully)
PREDICTION: Aparicio, Close, Colman, Gaga, McCarthy
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
This is really starting to feel like a race between Mahershala Ali for Green Book and Richard E. Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me? with everyone else just happy to be nominated. Personally, I'd love for a Hugh Grant Paddington 2 surprise. It's not going to happen, mind you, but a girl can dream all the same.
THE CONTENDERS: Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born), Hugh Grant (Paddington 2), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Jake Gyllenhaal (Wildlife), Josh Hamilton (Eighth Grade), Lucas Hedges (Ben is Back), Russell Hornsby (The Hate U Give), Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther), Sam Rockwell (Vice), Ben Whishaw (Mary Poppins Returns), Steven Yeun (Burning)
PREDICTION: Ali, Driver, Elliott, Richard E. Grant, Jordan
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
This should be Regina King's show, her coming out party, her Oscar to lose for her blistering performance in If Beale Street Could Talk, and if critics group prizes were all that mattered then she would be the unquestioned front runner. And yet, many feel she'll be the one to receive this year's most shocking omission from the category most expect her to win. If that happens expect lots of tears from those who adore her performance, a good third or so of them likely coming from me.
THE CONTENDERS: Amy Adams (Vice), Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place), Blythe Danner (What They Had), Marina de Tavira (Roma), Elizbeth Debicki (Widows), Claire Foy (First Man), Jennifer Garner (Love, Simon), Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Blake Lively (A Simple Favor), Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace), Margot Robbie (Mary Queen of Scots), Emma Stone (The Favourite), Meryl Streep (Mary Poppins Returns), Rachel Weisz (The Favourite), Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians)
PREDICTION: Adams, Foy, King, Stone, Weisz
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