Oscar Predictions 2019

As always, I make my predictions as soon as the nominations are out. These are the individuals and films that will win Oscars in 2019 – no need to watch the host-less show now!

Best Picture

A Star Is Born
BlacKkKlansman
Green Book
Roma
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Vice

Should Win: BlackKKKlansman, both the best of the bunch and also the movie that affected me the most even months after seeing it. I also really enjoyed The Favourite and A Star is Born, and while I like Black Panther, to me it’s great just for a Marvel movie to be nominated.

Will Win: Welp. A few weeks ago, I’d have said A Star is Born is a lock. Then Bradley Cooper (or as my friend Rachel Weiner dubbed him years ago, Cooper Bradley) didn’t even get nominated for Best Director, a bad sign. Green Book (likely your parents’ favorite movie) and Roma seem like the best bets here, with the crowd-pleasing Bohemian Rhapsody a dark horse. I’ll say Roma.

Directing

Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay, Vice
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War

Should Win: Spike Lee. His first nomination, and his is the best movie of this group. The surprise here is Pawlikowski, essentially taking the slot I thought would go to Cooper. And Lanthimos’s film was his most audience-accessible and yet still retained his trademark quirkiness.

Will Win: Cuaron, and I think this is the prediction about which I feel best.

Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale, Vice
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Should Win: I’m surprised that Ethan Hawke and Lucas Hedges are out and Mortensen and Dafoe are in, but Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine is the only character on this list I’ll remember years from now.

Will Win: This has felt like a Bale/Malek showdown since the Golden Globes, and with Bale having already earned a trophy, I think the Academy will recognize Malek.

Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close, The Wife
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Should Win: Olivia Colman was great, but A Star is Born does not work without Gaga’s performane as Aly. Aparicio is the heart of Roma, and the same is true of McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me.

Will Win: This has also felt predestined since the Globes to go between Close and Colman. I think Close will win, as her Globes speech put her back on a lot of voters’ radars.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Elliott, A Star is Born
Sam Rockwell, Vice

Should Win: Driver was great, though I thought Topher Grace was the more memorable performance in that film. Rockwell did an admirable Dubya in Vice, but he and Ali are the two most recent recipients of this award. I think the Academy will want to spread the love.

Will Win: This seems to come down to a career recognition of Sam Elliott versus an outstanding performance by Richard E. Grant. Supporting Actor is usually a category with big upsets, so I’ll take Grant.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Amy Adams, Vice
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Should Win: Stone and Weisz are the foundation at the heart of The Favourite, and their performances should win them a co-trophy. I’m very surprised to see de Tavira on the list, though she was quite good.

Will Win: Does the Academy recognize Amy Adams, frequently-nominated but still searching for her first trophy? Or will it go with Regina King, who I’ve enjoyed ever since she was Marcy Tidwell in Jerry Maguire? Adams is long overdue, but this would feel like a make-good award, and she’s had several better performances. I think the award goes to King.

Original Screenplay

The Favourite
First Reformed
Green Book
Roma
Vice

Should Win: First Reformed was scintillating, and Paul Schraeder is a phenomenal writer. The Favourite had a great story about palace intrigue. Vice, for me, had a lot of story faults – the story of Scooter Libby leaking Valerie Plame’s name is all but dropped after an off-hand mention. And – sorry Mom and Dad – Green Book is 1) Driving Mr. Daisy, and 2) Going to get dinged because its author had some seriously bad tweets in 2015. Therefore…

Will Win: Roma.

Adapted Screenplay

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
BlacKkKlansman
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born

Should Win: If Beale Street Could Talk had some memorable scenes, and Buster Scruggs works as an anthology (though I thought it had thematic and tonal issues). Can You Ever Forgive Me is an ironic choice considering its subject is a woman who fakes letters. And while A Star is Born is a really solid movie, the story fades badly in the second half. Ergo…

Will Win: BlackKKlansman.

Animated Feature Film

Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

Should Win: Spiderverse. Period. It’s one of the best animated films of all time.

Will Win: Ditto.

Cinematography

Cold War
The Favourite
Never Look Away
Roma
A Star Is Born

Should Win: Things get interesting here. A Star is Born has some beautiful concert shots, but its cinematography is most memorable when Jackson and Aly are riding through the desert. Cold War is nominated for Best Director as well and has a Polish director, Never Look Away is a German film, and the Favourite deals with the England of centuries ago, and all three are fine choices, but it’s a different foreign film that will win this category.

Will Win: Roma.

Documentary Feature

Free Solo
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons
RBG

Should Win: This is one of the best years for Documentary I can remember. Free Solo has gotten raves, and in another year might be the front-runner.

Will Win: RBG.

Documentary Short Subject

Black Sheep
End Game
Lifeboat
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.

Should Win: Having seen none, I’ll just say that they all have very nice titles.

Will Win: Lifeboat.

Foreign Language Film

Cold War
Roma
Shoplifters
Capernaum
Never Look Away

Should Win: A strong year for foreign film! Cold War snagged a Best Director nom, and Never Look Away received one for cinematography. Shoplifters may have been my dad’s favorite movie of 2018. All that said…

Will Win: Roma.

Makeup and Hairstyling

Border
Mary Queen of Scots
Vice

Should Win: Vice. Christian Bale essentially became Dick Cheney.

Will Win: Same.

Costume Design

Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Black Panther
The Favourite
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen of Scots

Should Win: Black Panther. The world-building that movie did included clothing for all of the various tribes of Wakanda.

Will Win: The Favourite.

Film Editing

Blackkklansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Vice

Should Win: Best Editing is usually tied to best picture. Interestingly, Roma is not nominated here, which may portend more trouble for the film than I originally saw. Regardless, BlackKklansman had some brilliant editing, including the scene with the bomb towards the end, when the action toggled back and forth between several characters.

Will Win: As much as I’m hopeful that Spike Lee’s film will get some Oscar love, I think this will go to Green Book, and will begin the slow realization of my Oscar night that it’s going to win a lot of awards.

Original Score

Black Panther
Blackkklansman
If Baele Street Could Talk
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns

Should Win: BlackKklansman, because it really did have great music that added an extra element of intensity.

Will Win: Mary Poppins Returns, because it’s a musical.

Animated Short Film

Animal Behaviour
Bao
Late Afternoon
One Small Step
Weekends

Should Win: One Small Step, because it’s amazing:

Will Win: Bao, because it played before the Incredibles 2 and so most voters will have seen it.

Live Action Short Film

Detainment
Fauve
Mother
Marguerite
Skin

Should and Will Win: Detainment (having seen none of them, that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it).

Sound Editing

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place
Roma

Should Win: First Man. The job they did with various noises (rockets taking off, etc.) were great, but also the moment of silence when (50-year spoiler alert) Neil Armstrong walks on the moon was one of the best “sound” moments of the year.

Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody

Sound Mixing

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
Roma
A Star Is Born

Should Win: First Man, for the same reasons as above.

Will Win: A Star Is Born

Visual Effects

Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story

Should Win: I’m never going to go against Star Wars, although Infinity War and Ready Player One had really great special effects.

Will Win: First Man, the only “awards-y” film of the bunch.

Original Song

“All the Stars” from Black Panther
“I’ll Fight” from RBG
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns
“Shallow” from A Star Is Born
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Should and Will Win: Shallow. I mean, it’s a song that is legitimately great, that’s currently on pop radio rotation.

Production Design

Black Panther
The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns
Roma

Should and Will Win: Black Panther. Again, Ryan Coogler and company had to completely world-build Wakanda, and they made it feel like a real place.

Best of 2017

During Thanksgiving weekend, my nephew wanted my family to play a game. It was pretty simple, actually: name your favorite thing, from categories he chose. Name your favorite TV show. Name your favorite movie. Name your favorite video game. Etc. As simple as the concept of the game is, however, it was wholly impossible for me to answer his questions. Having to choose my favorite movie would be like having to choose which is the favorite hair on my head. The idea of even trying to narrow down to just a handful, let alone one, was way too complicated. While I was happy to rattle off all-time favorites (“Back to the Future,” “A Few Good Men,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” all of the “Star Wars” movies, etc.) there was no way to pick just one.

So why am I bringing this up now? Because, as in years past, I’m not going to blog about my “ten favorite shows” or “eight favorite films.” I’m not bound by space or word limit. These are just the things that I either loved or thought about critically in the world of entertainment in 2017. Even though it’s been a dumpster fire of a year politically,  a lot of the below shows and movies allowed me some form of escape, at least temporarily. Here now is my list of the best of 2017, broken down by category. If you are able to narrow down your list(s), please feel free to provide it in the comments section below.

TV/Streaming

Love (Season 2)

Season 1 ended on a pretty good cliffhanger (Gus and Mickey kissing at the gas station seconds after Mickey has told Gus she needs to be alone for a year), and Season 2 really delved into the question of whether or not 1) these people actually like each other 2) these people are capable of love and 3) these people should be dating each other, either now or ever. Funny, and the show just feels…real. Special shout-out to Claudia O’Doherty’s Bertie, who cracks me up at least once an episode. Here’s hoping that the newly-announced Season 3 (the final season) sticks the landing.

Master of None (Season 2)

Man, this show. Season 1 was pretty great, and then Season 2 just upped the ante. From the premiere episode, filmed on location in Italy in black and white, to the incredible Thanksgiving episode (which rightly won an Emmy for comedic writing), to the doorman/cab driver/hearing impaired woman episode, to the episode at Storm King and ending with the helicopter ride, Season 2 was just incredible. I know Ansari is on record as saying he needs to live more before he can do a third season, and I don’t blame him. If we can get a third season as rich as this one was, I’ll happily wait a few years.

The Good Place (spoiler alert in the clip below)

Holy. Forking. Shirt. I thought The Good Place’s first season was pretty good, and it was a show that, like The Office and Parks and Rec before it, would get its sea legs in the second season. But that twist at the end of Season 1 was genius, and I did not see it coming. Special shout-out to Manny Jacinto, who has made Jason into the show’s MVP.

Superstore

When I was growing up, NBC’s Thursday night line-up (aka “Must-See TV”) was the place for comedy. Cheers and Seinfeld and Friends are all sitcom legend, and some shows (Caroline in the City, The Single Guy, Boston Common) brought some laughs, despite lackluster ratings and having to be compared to those mentioned above. What does any of that have to do with Superstore? Superstore ticks a lot of boxes for me. It’s a funny workplace ensemble that really feels like a spiritual heir to The Office (without the awkwardness and the talking heads), and feels like it is of a place where it could have fit very easily into the Must-See TV schedule. It’s not the kind of show that will win accolades or awards (except from this blog, I guess), but it is consistent week-to-week, and its episode about health insurance was the best primer on the subject (in a funny way) that I’ve ever seen. Humor + distillation of timely political facts = a win in 2017.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 3)
Full disclosure: I thought this season felt a little muddled. Kimmy goes to college! Kimmy struggles in college! Kimmy leaves college! That’s a huge arc, and it was done in about 3 weeks of the show’s timeline. This season did great some great mileage out of guest stars like Laura Dern and Daveed Diggs, which I think bumped it up a notch for me.

Saturday Night Live

“Now I’d like to begin today by apologizing on behalf of you, to me, for how you have treated me these last two weeks. And that apology is not accepted!”

While some may argue that Melissa McCarthy and Alec Baldwin overshadowed the regular SNL players, SNL is clearly having a renaissance. Also, “Woke Jeans” is the sketch of the year for me, in a walk.

Billy on the Street

In a year when a lot of us wanted to just yell and scream out our frustration, Billy Eichner was our avatar.

The Leftovers (Season 3)

This show just got better and better. The final season didn’t waste time, even as the characters moved from Texas to Australia. Unlike a certain other Damon Lindeolf show, this one stuck the landing in the end. And Carrie Coon – just wow. What an all-time performance as Nora Durst.

Veep (Season 6)

The first season with Selina out of power entirely (and without Sue – who I really missed), the show smartly pivoted into a few funny story lines, most notably three terrifying words: Congressman Jonah Ryan.

Silicon Valley (Season 4)

The other half of HBO’s spring comedy duo, Silicon Valley took a few characters in new directions this year. Big Head taught at Stanford, Gavin Bellson became something approaching relatable, and poor Erlich is now stranded off in an opium den.

The 2017 Academy Awards

Well, the ending, anyway. I don’t think we’ll ever see another moment like that again, especially for presentation of best picture.

 

The Challenge: Dirty 30

Didn’t necessarily end the way I’d like, and there was a lot of drama from some random people (Nelson, I’m looking at you) and way too much (racist) Camila. That said, what a stacked cast. Wish they could just run it back.

GLOW (Season 1)

GLOW makes the brave choice of (spoiler alert) having the main character (Alison Brie) sleep with her best friend’s husband in episode 1. The show concentrates so much of its time on good guys and bad guys (or “heels” in wrestling parlance) both in and out of the ring. Like my friend Mags, I found myself compelled to root for the bad guys. Bonus points to Marc Maron for killing it as the show’s director and as a surrogate father figure to all of the GLOW ladies.

New Girl

Mostly because we finally got this moment:

 

Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later

When I first saw Wet Hot American Summer, and it had the joke about meeting up ten years later, I never thought I’d be watching a whole TV season of the counselors’ lives. Of course, I also didn’t know what “streaming” or “Netflix” was, but that’s another matter. This whole series is insane, but in the best way possible.

Late Night Shows

John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and even Jimmy Kimmel really stepped up to the plate this year and delivered scorching, heart-felt, and/or impassioned monologues and comedy bits about everything from health care to net neutrality.

My friend winning Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions

When I was growing up, I used to ride the bus (and later gave rides home to) a kid named Buzzy (whose dad, fun fact, sold me my Bar Mitzvah suit). Really exciting to watch him win the whole Tournament of Champions. (And let’s be honest, Austin was really fun to watch, too.)

 

Other shows I enjoyed: The resurgent third season of Mr. Robot (especially the one-take/”oner” episode), When We Rise, Handmaids Tale, The Young Pope, Future Man, This is Us, and Big Little Lies.

People

James Franco

The Disaster Artist was great, full stop, and his performance on The Deuce was what brought that show from “huh, interesting idea” to fully watchable.

Laura Dern

Between Big Little Lies, her role as Jon Hamm’s new wife on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and, of course, as Admiral Holdo, Laura Dern had an amazing 2017.

Comic Book Movies

Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, and especially Spider-Man Homecoming were all solid popcorn movies. (Of course, Justice League was about as entertaining as watching paint dry, but that was the exception, not the rule.) Bonus points to the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War for looking amazing.

Star Wars

While The Last Jedi isn’t my favorite Star Wars movie, at the end of the day it was a lot of fun, and years from now I’ll still be thinking about that scene of R2 playing Luke Leia’s original “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope” recording. #DroidGuiltTrip

Other Movies

The Big Sick was the best movie of the year, and I’ll be quite upset if it doesn’t get nominated for several Oscars. Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon wrote a tremendous screenplay, Zoe Kazan does great character work in what amounts to not a lot of screen time, and Ray Romano and Holly Hunter are both incredible.

War for the Planet of the Apes

I’ll admit it: I love this new “Apes” trilogy. I love the original, Charlton Heston-led Planet of the Apes (and its goofy sequels), but the serious tone of this new trilogy (especially the last two) is really enjoyable.

Stronger

Gyllenhaal is on such a weird streak of choosing interesting, good roles, some of which really pay off (Stronger, Nightcrawler), some of which are disappointing (Demolition, Life), but all of which are captivating on the big screen. I wish this movie had gotten more awards-season recognition, but c’est la vie.

Other enjoyable movies: Get Out, I, Tonya, The Post, Call Me By Your Name, The Meyerowitz Stories, Lady Bird, and the movie I’d vote for Best Picture, The Disaster Artist.

 

Music

Um, did both Gallagher brothers release new CDs this year? And did the Oasis song “Don’t Look Back in Anger” become the unofficial rallying cry of the city of Manchester? Yeah, no matter what Camila Cabello and Taylor Swift tried to do, it was a good year for music in 2017.

Good Riddance

To the men who committed horrific acts (Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Al Franken, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose) and to those who covered up or abetted their behavior, don’t let the door hit you.

RIP

Always tough to lose people who meant so much to the entertainment world, and I obviously cannot touch on everyone. But 2017 will be remembered for the losses of Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Bill Paxton, Mary Tyler Moore, Miguel Ferrer, Erin Moran, Martin Landau, Powers Boothe, Don Rickles and, of course, Tom Petty.

Anything I missed? What did others enjoy in 2017? For what will you remember this year? Let me know in the comments.

Oscars 2017: Who Will (and Should) Win

The morning of Oscar nominations is one of my favorite of the entertainment year. As always, I make my choices morning-of, so as to not be too swayed by narrative. The past few years, that’s become more difficult, as Oscar punditry has become more popular (and started earlier in the year to boot.) Some of these choices are shoo-ins, some of these are dark horses, and each contains who *should* win as well. As always, feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments.

Continue reading

Oscar Picks 2015

My reaction to the Lego snub

My reaction to the Lego snub

As I do every year, I try to make my Oscar picks as soon as the nominations are out, so that I’m not biased by any campaigning. In recent years, that’s gotten more difficult as more and more awards shows have become televised, and clear-cut front runners become locks earlier and earlier. That said, here’s who I expect to win. Also, please note that the fact that “The Lego Movie” was snubbed from the Best Animated Feature category makes me question why I will even bother watching this award show. (For the record, I also think “Gone Girl” deserved many more nominations, including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, and I would have loved “Skeleton Twins” or “Obvious Child” to have gotten a screenplay nomination). Continue reading

Oscar Picks 2014

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Every year, the Oscar nominations come out early one January morning. Pundits talk about who got snubbed, which movies got the most nominations, etc. People spend weeks reading tea leaves and seeing which nominees best schmooze the voters. About a week before the ceremony, you start to see articles giving odds on who will win. And that’s just not how I work.

Rather, I like to see the nominations, take a few hours to digest everything, and that make my picks that day. As I recently reminded my family via email, this strategy tends to pay off in my prognostication: I’m not sure a lot of people thought that Adrien Brody would win Best Actor for his work in “The Pianist” the morning the nominations were read. Also, as soon as I read about Baffleck’s snub last year for Best Director, I knew “Argo” would get all kinds of sympathy votes and ultimately would win best picture. Now, let’s be honest: my picks aren’t always right, but I’d say they’re more right than wrong. And, anyway, at least I can say these were my own views, rather than having been affected by any number of pundits over the next few weeks. One other note: I’ve seen a large amount of these movies (12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Street, Nebraska, Gravity, Captain Phillips, Her, Dallas Buyers Club), and even a few that ultimately weren’t nominated (Prisoners, All Is Lost, Inside Llewyn Davis), so I feel like I’m making these picks with confidence.

So: let’s break down the 2014 Oscar race by category. My choices and explanations are in bold: Continue reading

Oscar Picks 2013

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In advance of tonight’s Oscar ceremony, I thought I’d make my picks for the 2013 Academy Awards. Note: my tradition is to make my picks the morning the nominations are announced, so that the choices aren’t affected by Oscar campaigning (as much as possible). So, without further ado, my choices (picks in bold):  Continue reading