Oscars: Voting Opens for AMPAS, Ranking the Categories Of the Night

2019 OSCAR PREDICTIONS: Oscar voting has opened today, and members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will weigh in on their favorite films and performances of the year.  Unfortunately, they’ll be doing this under the umbrella of the single worst PR year in Academy’s history.  It was reported by Variety yesterday that the decision to air some of the awards during the commercial breaks had been decided.

President John Bailey announced that the winners for cinematography, film editing, live action short, and makeup and hairstyling, will be handed out during a commercial break, then repackaged and aired later in the show.  I already had my rant on Twitter yesterday, so I’ll spare you more grief but needless to say, I am extremely disappointed and deeply offended by the decision to move forward with this cheap shot for ratings (spoiler alert: that will never come).

With that said, we look ahead in hopes we can salvage whatever is left of this abysmal awards season, that was littered with fantastic films and ones that can be celebrated.  With all the bad announcements, all seemingly taking queues from the Donald Trump playbook, you can’t focus on the first superhero movie nominated for Best Picture or the most nominated foreign film of all-time.  All you can hear is anger and dismay.

What have we learned in the past few days from BAFTA, and other guilds?  Weirdly, some things were cleared up, while others remain in flux and likely open until we’re at the ceremony.  Let’s break this down to three different classifications of the Oscar categories: “Easy Calls,” “50/50,” and “Your Guess Is As Good As Mine.”

EASY CALLS

  • DIRECTOR: Seems set up well for Alfonso Cuaron to nab his second Academy Award for “Roma,” following his win in 2013 for “Gravity.”  With wins at Critics Choice, Golden Globes, DGA, and BAFTA, he’s hard to beat.  The only possible spoiler is Spike Lee if “BlacKkKlansman” gets some more gas leading up to the end of voting.  It’ll need to be a rally cry for him to take it at this point.  Only Ang Lee’s second Oscar for “Life of Pi” was able to win Best Director without any major win preceding it.
  • LEAD ACTRESS: Glenn Close has this sewn up pretty well, but there is some vulnerability coming from Olivia Colman’s BAFTA win.  There’s also no telling how deep the “Roma” love goes which can translate votes to star Yalitza Aparicio.  Should be quite easy for the seven-time nominee to have her moment on the Oscar stage.  Standing ovation time!
  • SUPPORTING ACTOR: I know I’ve tried to make a case for Sam Elliott (“A Star Is Born”) to go the way of James Coburn’s win for “Affliction” but as many have pointed out, Coburn did NOT beat a steamroller, in the way that has been demonstrated by Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”). You can look far and wide for a comparison of an upset in Oscar’s history (i.e., Alan Arkin, Kevin Kline, Don Ameche) but none of them went against someone with winning resume that Ali has.  It looks as though besides Jason Robards back-to-back wins in the 1970s, Ali will become the second fastest person to two Oscar wins in Supporting Actor, and only the second black person who has multiple Oscars.
  • ANIMATED FEATURE: Not worth discussing (even though there’s a chance that Oscar “fumbles this” as said by Kris Tapley at Variety) but “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” looks well versed to overtake the Disney/Pixar machine. An excellent film to do it.
  • CINEMATOGRAPHY: BAFTA and Critics Choice have all gone to a director who shot his own film.  Alfonso Cuaron’s beautiful “Roma” has this one in the bag (and during a commercial break) despite the loss at ASC to “Cold War.”
  • ORIGINAL SONG: There are rumblings that Kendrick Lamar (“All the Stars” from “Black Panther”) is going to give Lady Gaga (“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born”) a run for her money, but the BAFTA win in Original Score strangely sewed this up for her.
  • FOREIGN LANGUAGE: Can you even imagine if “Roma” didn’t win this?  On the previous episode of “Circuit Breaker,” the AwardsCircuit staff spoke about the possibility of a “Cold War” upset but we’re honestly reaching for talking points regarding this category.  Or are we?

50/50

  • BEST PICTURE: A race between “Green Book” and “Roma” remain the consensus, but there is a semblance of a day where “The Favourite” or “BlacKkKlansman” emerge victoriously.  The question you must ask yourself is: “does Roma have enough #1 votes to clinch Best Picture in the first round due to preferential balloting?”  If you can answer yes, choose it for Best Picture.  If you think it doesn’t, choose “Green Book.”
  • BEST ACTOR: Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) has walked into the Oscars with the Globe, BAFTA, and SAG.  It seems safe that he’s winning but Christian Bale’s (“Vice”) double wins at Critics Choice do loom large, and he may be someone that the Academy still embraces in the end.
  • ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Pending a shocker at WGA, this seems to be a race between “The Favourite” and “Green Book.”  The former was ineligible at the Writers Guild Awards which should pave an easy win for Peter Farrelly’s film, however, a win for Cuaron could move this category into “Your Guess Is As Good As Mine.”
  • ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The labeling should be appropriately titled “60/40” with “BlacKkKlansman” having the edge over “If Beale Street Could Talk.”  This is the easiest road for a Spike Lee win, and we haven’t had a winner in this category that wasn’t a Best Picture nominee since “Gods and Monsters” in 1998 and “Sling Blade” in 1996.  Before that, you have to go back to “The Bad and the Beautiful” in 1952 for a non-Best Picture nominee winner.  Tough obstacles.
  • PRODUCTION DESIGN & COSTUME DESIGN: Pairing this together because it’s between the same two films for the win.  Will the Academy give both to “The Favourite” or “Black Panther?”  Convinced they’re not splitting, you can predict the split, and you should get one right.  Rolling the dice but these seem fitting for BAFTA winner “The Favourite.”  Should be noted, Critics Choice did go with “Black Panther” in both and ADG gave it to both in separate categories.  God help us.
  • VISUAL EFFECTS: Feeling safer than 50/50, “Avengers: Infinity War” is walking in with the Visual Effects guild wins but “Black Panther” has beaten it at all the award shows.  Knowing that “Panther” isn’t nominated, the edge goes to “Avengers” but “First Man” could come up from behind pending their overall mood on the film.
  • DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and “Three Identical Strangers” are omitted despite wins at PGA and DGA.  “Free Solo” is going in with a BAFTA win but “RBG” has the American swelling that could help.  Flip your coin.

YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE

  • SUPPORTING ACTRESS: You may say to yourself “Regina King is winning this, and you’re stupid for putting it in this classification.”  You could be right, or you can look at history and say only two people have won the Academy Award without a SAG nomination (Marcia Gay Harden for “Pollock” and Christoph Waltz for “Django Unchained”).  Add in the strange Emily Blunt win at SAG for “A Quiet Place,” paired with Rachel Weisz’s big win at BAFTA, and a genuine possibility that Marina de Tavira could ACTUALLY BECOME the new Marcia Gay Harden, this is way more open than we think.  “If Beale Street Could Talk” is anchored by King’s incredible performance but so are the other two actresses.  This will come down to just a mere number of votes I suspect.
  • FILM EDITING: Admitting that I was feeling good with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” weeks before nominations were announced, which was also supported by an ACE win, the “Vice” win at BAFTA has thrown a big wrench in the works.  I also remember when “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” won this award a few years ago, and then I can foresee the “BlacKkKlansman” and “Favourite” possibilities.  When BAFTA gave their award to “Hacksaw Ridge” in 2015, we didn’t listen.  I’m going to learn my lesson and stick with them this time around.
  • MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: You may feel good about “Vice,” especially if you’re going with it in Film Editing.  “Suicide Squad” showed that anything is possible.  I think all nominees are on the table.  “Mary Queen of Scots” is very showy while “Border” has drummed up plenty of passion, especially from members of the foreign language branch that couldn’t get it into the lineup.
  • SOUND MIXING & SOUND EDITING: Understanding that these two have split in the past, we’ve been leaning towards the feeling that it won’t be this year which opens things up but at the same time, drives us completely crazy.  “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the BAFTA sound category, which translates heavily to sound mixing, but a sound editing win seems so far-fetched at the moment.  “Black Panther” could add to a tally with a win in both, but sound editing seems more up its alley while “First Man” features some of the best in movie history on all fronts.  I only feel good that “A Quiet Place” isn’t winning sound editing.  That leaves nine possible winners in two categories.  You pick!
  • ORIGINAL SCORE: Banging the drum for “If Beale Street Could Talk” all season, it seemed like an easy road when “First Man” missed out on a nomination but we haven’t seen an Oscar nominee win ANYWHERE yet.  Actually, Ludwig Gorannson on “Black Panther” won the Grammy award for Best Score Soundtrack, but it should be noted that Terence Blanchard also won a Grammy for Instrumental composition, but not for “BlacKkKlansman.”  I think any of the films except for “Isle of Dogs” can win it in the end.  Slight edge for “Panther” at the moment but hoping for “Beale Street” to pull it out.
  • ALL THE SHORTS: You know why.

Be sure to check out the Official Oscar Predictions Page to see where the contenders rank!