Every movie that will be Oscar-nominated in 2019 is now available for your viewing pleasure. According to the Academy’s rules and regulations, all eligible films must be in theaters by the end of the year — even if it’s just a few theaters — so, we know who the players are. Now, it’s just a matter of who will actually get the nomination.
The field has shifted quite a bit over the past few months, as films we’d previously predicted would be shoo-ins have seen their fortunes fade while others have become late-in-the-game frontrunners. With nominees in from the Golden Globes and the first of the guilds — SAG’s are out, with the DGA and more to come — it’s all become far more clear, and so I present my first Oscar predictions of the year, ahead of the nominations announcement on Jan. 22 and the 91st Annual Academy Awards itself on Feb. 24.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Mary Poppins Returns
A Star Is Born
We can basically split this year’s Best Picture contenders into three subsections:
1) The films that absolutely will be nominated, which include A Star Is Born, Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite and Green Book, despite the latter’s continued controversy (over misrepresenting history, over actors using the N-word, and so on) since premiering at TIFF and winning the People’s Choice Award.
2) The films that will most likely be nominated, which includes If Beale Street Could Talk and Roma. It seems exceedingly unlikely that either would be passed over, but neither hit at the SAG Awards this year and Roma continues to contend with the Netflix of it all.
3) The films that I think will be nominated but could easily miss the cut, which includes Mary Poppins Returns and Vice. The original Mary Poppins won five Oscars and was nominated for eight more, and I still contend the sequel deserves a Best Picture nomination of its own. The mixed reception, however, may indicate otherwise. Same goes for Vice, which was bandied about as a major Oscar contender early on, before many critics poo-pooed it. These are still my two picks to round out a field of nine. (The Academy can nominate up to 10 films.)
Could Still Sneak In: Bohemian Rhapsody, Crazy Rich Asians, First Man
Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
The Best Actress race, originally one of the more crowded of the year, has seemingly settled to these five, with Blunt — following in the footsteps of 1965 Best Actress winner Julie Andrews — as the latest addition. Having earned rave reviews for her performance as Britain’s most beloved nanny, along with a set of SAG nominations, has all but sealed Blunt’s first-ever nomination.
She rounds out a quintet that included Close, Colman, Gaga and McCarthy from the onset. Each completed the trio of Critics’ Choice, Globes and SAG noms, among other distinctions this season — Gaga was named Best Actress by the National Board of Review, McCarthy is receiving the Spotlight Award from the Palm Springs International Film Festival — making any alternates feel like a more and more distant longshot.
Could Still Sneak In: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Toni Collette (Hereditary)
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman
Despite Bohemian Rhapsody being a not particularly good movie, there appears to be a lot of love for the beleaguered Queen biopic. (See: its massive box office haul.) I suspect Malek will be the one who benefits from the hype and score a nomination here. How he will ultimately fare against the likes of Cooper (who did his own singing) and Bale (whose physical transformation was arguably more radical) is an Oscars forecast for another day.
With four slots ostensibly filled, there’s still a fifth up for grabs. Four-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke had traction earlier on, with an Indie Spirit nomination and Gotham Awards and National Board of Review wins, but he missed with bigger awards bodies like the HFPA and Screen Actors Guild. Washington got those accolades, and I expect that, plus widespread love for the film as a whole, will propel him ahead to the nomination.
Could Still Sneak In: Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate), Ryan Gosling (First Man), Ethan Hawke (First Reformed)
Amy Adams, Vice
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
The biggest shock of the season thus far was surely when King was left off SAG’s list of nominees, a huge upset that I expect will be corrected come the Oscars. What that means for her status as this race’s frontrunner, however, is up for debate, especially as five-time Oscar nominee Adams secures her spot here for her standout performance as the morally corrupt Lynne Cheney.
Stone and Weisz are givens, at this point, with all of the requisite nominations along the way. (Although the SAG Awards should have also recognized The Favourite‘s ensemble.) That leaves something of a toss-up for the final position. Claire Foy probably makes more sense — she clinched the Critics’ Choice and Globes nominations and is riding high off her Emmy win — but as First Man‘s star dims, I’m going to take a swing on surprise SAG-nominee Robbie, who’s well-liked by the Academy and undergoes the sort of unrecognizable transformation they’ve historically favored.
Could Still Sneak In: Claire Foy (First Man), Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased), Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians)
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
As I expected, this field has remained the most unchanged from my initial predictions, with Ali, Chalamet, Elliott and Grant holding strong, despite Elliott being overlooked by the HFPA. (That went to another Sam, Vice‘s Sam Rockwell.) More important, anyway, was securing a SAG nod, which Elliott did two-fold, with a solo nomination and as part of A Star Is Born‘s ensemble.
Who I wasn’t expecting to be as sure a bet as he now seems is Driver, who has been picking up nomination after nomination from awards bodies all season long. He seems more likely, at least, than Michael B. Jordan, who delivered a year’s best performance as Killmonger but who’s only been singled out thus far by the Critics’ Choice. Black Panther secured SAG nomination for its cast, however, so perhaps there’s still hope.
Could Still Sneak In: Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther), Sam Rockwell (Vice)
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
The Directors Guild won’t announce their nominations until Jan. 8, but we have a pretty good idea of who will make the cut — which should line up, for the most part, with who the Academy nominates. Cooper (who was named Best Director by the National Board of Review) and Cuarón (who won with a majority of critics groups) are locks.
Lanthimos and Lee appear increasingly likely to join them, both of whom will become first-time Best Director nominees. (Each has been nominated for their Original Screenplay.) I’ll wager Jenkins, returning to the Oscars after the great La La Land–Moonlight fiasco of ’17, will close out the pool of all-male nominees. (But otherwise, great picks!)
Could Still Sneak In: Adam McKay (Vice), Damien Chazelle (First Man), Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Peter Farrelly (Green Book)
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