Our movie critic predicts who will win, who should win and who was snubbed at this year's Academy Awards.
All set to win your Oscar-party pool? Here’s a handy downloadable copy of the ballot, complete with my predictions for every category. (Use at your peril — some years I’m on fire, some years I’m just a heap of ash.) For best results, print the ballot in landscape mode.
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Here’s who I think will win the Oscars this year. (Note: That’s different from who I want to win the Oscars.) Who do you want to see win the Oscars? We want to know which movies resonated with our readers. Vote in our interactive poll below.
Wish you an Oscar night full of surprises.
Only eight nominees in this category this year (out of a possible 10) and as always, a few of them are embroiled in controversy: “Green Book” faced a backlash over its racial politics and its veracity after the real-life family of pianist Don Shirley (played by Mahershala Ali) spoke out against the film, calling it “a symphony of lies”; the credited director of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Bryan Singer, is currently facing (and has denied) multiple accusations of sexual assault; and “Vice” has been accused of playing a little fast and loose with the facts of Dick Cheney’s vice presidency. Happy Oscar season, everyone! Currently Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” a black-and-white memory tale of his childhood in Mexico, is getting all the buzz to win best picture, winning both the BAFTA (the British equivalent of the Oscar), and the Director’s Guild. But I’m going to predict a more unexpected scenario, just for fun: “Roma” wins best foreign-language film and Cuarón takes the directing award, but “Black Panther” — winner of the ensemble acting award at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), which often points to a Best Picture win — wins the big prize. Wakanda Forever!
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Prediction: “Black Panther”
My vote: “Black Panther”
Wish you were here: I’d fill out those 10 slots with “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” — and would also try to slip in “The Rider.”
You’d think these top two categories would go hand in hand — assuming you buy into the idea that there is a “best-directed” film, wouldn’t that one also be the best film? — but Oscar voters often disagree. I think, as noted above, that this will be one of those years, and that Cuarón (who won this category a few years back, for “Gravity”) will be the director honored. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which someone else — other nominees are Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”), Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Favourite”), Adam McKay (“Vice”) and surprise nominee Pawel Pawlikowski (“Cold War”) — might get the nod; this one seems like the most slam-dunk of the categories this year. (Fun “Roma” fact: Cuarón was the first person in history to be nominated for director and cinematography for the same movie.)
My vote: Cuarón
Wish you were here: Chloé Zhao, “The Rider”
Actress in a leading role
Conventional wisdom says it’s Glenn Close’s year: this is her seventh nomination — her first, for “The World According to Garp,” came in 1983, before fellow nominees Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”) and Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”) were even born. Conventional wisdom, at the Oscars, is usually right, despite there being mumblings that “The Wife” isn’t a strong enough vehicle to support such an honor. (I’m still wondering why Close didn’t win back in 1989, for “Dangerous Liaisons.”) If there’s a spoiler, it’ll be Olivia Colman, who was dazzling in “The Favourite” and won the BAFTA. The other nominees, which also include Melissa McCarthy (who was terrific in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), can just sit back and applaud politely.
My vote: For body of work? Close. For individual 2018 performance alone? McCarthy.
Wish you were here: Viola Davis, “Widows”
Actor in a leading role
I wasn’t a huge fan of Rami Malek’s performance in “Bohemian Rhapsody” (couldn’t quite get past the fake teeth) but a lot of people were; he’s been sweeping the pre-Oscars awards and is likely to do so again here. Christian Bale, who disappears into the role of a diabolical Dick Cheney in “Vice,” could surprise, as might Bradley Cooper, who could get a sympathy vote after being snubbed in the directing category. (Is that fair? Of course not. But Oscars aren’t about fairness, and Cooper is pretty great in the film.) The other two nominees, Viggo Mortensen in “Green Book” and Willem Dafoe in the little-seen Vincent van Gogh biopic “At Eternity’s Gate,” are long shots.
My vote: Cooper
Wish you were here: Paul Giamatti, “Private Life”
Actress in a supporting role
OK, now we have an interesting race (and an interesting slate; the SAG award winner in this category, Emily Blunt in “A Quiet Place,” wasn’t even nominated here). Will Oscars go for the supporting performance that genuinely lights up and changes a movie, or give a nod to a long-deserving frequent nominee in a good but not-for-the-ages turn? The former is Regina King in “If Beale Street Could Talk”; the latter is the six-time nominee Amy Adams, who’s never won an Oscar and is up this year for “Vice.” Also don’t rule out two-thirds of the principal cast of “The Favourite,” Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, both previous Oscar winners, or the spell cast by the powerful, quiet performance of Marina de Tavira in “Roma.”
My vote: King
Wish you were here: Awkwafina, “Crazy Rich Asians”
Actor in a supporting role
Another very competitive category, with the front-runner being Mahershala Ali, who won this category two years ago (for “Moonlight”) and took the SAG and Golden Globe earlier this season for his should-have-been-a-leading role in “Green Book.” But there’s also a couple of sentimental favorites here, both nominated for the first time: Richard E. Grant, who’s been charming the socks off voters during Oscar season (and who was deliciously good as a con man in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), and Sam Elliott, who celebrates 50 years in the film business with a note-perfect performance in “A Star Is Born.” Also potentially a factor: Adam Driver, the sole acting nominee for “BlacKkKlansman,” and Sam Rockwell as a young George W. Bush in “Vice.”
My vote: Elliott
Wish you were here: Hugh Grant, “Paddington 2”
Who do you want to win at the Oscars? Vote in our poll below and see how your picks match up against other readers.
91st annual Academy Awards broadcast begins at 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, on KOMO/ABC. More info: oscar.go.com