Oscars 2019: Predicting Every Winner In Every Category
UPDATE: Read all Oscars 2019 winners here.
Here are our complete predictions for every categroy at the 2019 Oscars. The 91st Academy Award nominations have The Favourite leading the pack, but who will win on the big day itself?
This year’s nominations proved to be the epitome of a mixed bag. Once again, the Best Picture category settled on eight nominees despite there being room for ten. There were some surprise omissions – no Bradley Cooper for Best Director, no Timothee Chalamet for Best Supporting Actor, no If Beale Street Could Talk for Best Picture – but also a few delightful surprises, like the two female stars of Roma, Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira, landing acting nominations. This was also the year the superhero film finally broke through to awards glory in a major way, with Black Panther landing seven nominations, including Best Picture. The Favourite and Roma are tied with ten nominations each, with A Star is Born and Vice landing eight each.
Read More: Full List of 2019 Oscar Nominations
The month since has (inevitably) beem spent fighting over who should win, who will win, and who should have been nominated in the first place. For now, here are predictions of who will take home Oscar gold on February 24.
Last Updated: February 21, 2019
Alfonso Cuarón's long-time passion project Roma has been the subject of many an awards season debate. It has bags of awards under its belt already, including the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, but many had predicted that its status as a Netflix exclusive would hinder its chances at the Oscars. Cuarón and company needn't have worried, as Roma outperformed even the most optimistic expectations and bagged 10 nominations. Now, going into the official race itself, Roma is the favorite for Best Picture, and with good reason: It's a sumptuously made film that shows Cuarón, already an Oscar winner himself, at the peak of his powers. Plus, in a year with more controversial Best Picture choices, including Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book, Roma may oddly end up being a safe consensus pick.
If there was any justice in the world, Spike Lee would already have won a Best Director Oscar at least once in his career. That he has never even been nominated in the category remains one of the Academy’s most egregious snubs in recent memory (he does have an honorary Oscar but not a competitive one). Almost 30 years after Do The Right Thing, Lee finally has his nomination for BlacKkKlansman and he’s got a great shot at the top prize. It always helps to have the "it’s their time" narrative in your corner, but BlacKkKlansman also shows Lee on top form with prescient subject matter and an expert demonstration in juggling seemingly disparate tones. The film is critically and commercially popular, with Lee having won the Grand Prix at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. The Academy has also shown more willingness in recent years to split the Director and Picture prizes between two films, which benefits Lee with Roma being the front-runner in the latter category.
Bohemian Rhapsody remains mired in controversy following its oft-disputed depiction of Queen lead singer Freddy Mercury and his life as well as the ever-present problem of missing director Bryan Singer and the sexual assault allegations surrounding him. However, the film’s status as an awards contender, despite very mixed reviews, is not all that surprising: Bohemian Rhapsody is a major commercial hit, something the Academy love to reward, and there’s nothing more exciting to the Oscars than a biopic featuring an actor who transforms themselves into a familiar figure. Here enters Rami Malek, whose performance as Mercury remains the only element of Bohemian Rhapsody that every critic can agree is excellent. Malek has plenty of other big awards in his corner, including the Golden Globe, and the narrative is in his favor. Biopic performances are always popular with the Oscars and Malek himself is a popular figure within the industry.
As with Lee’s lack of nominations until now, the fact that Glenn Close has never won an Oscar remains a huge shock in the industry. It’s not for lack of trying or nominations either. The Best Actress race this year is one of the tighter competitions of the season: Close has to fend off the critically beloved Olivia Colman for The Favourite, as well as the zeitgeist of Lady Gaga’s work in A Star is Born. It’s a tough three-way race in a category full of deserving nominees (the presence of first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio from Roma is one of the true delights of this awards season). However, Close has momentum on her side, coming off the Golden Globes, as well as a swell of industry support from people eager to see her finally receive that Oscar. The Wife is a quiet film with a gentle but immensely controlled performance from Close. It’s not a typically Oscar-ish performance but it would certainly be worthy of the top prize.
This season has seen the Best Supporting Actor race come down to a two-man race: Mahershala Ali for his turn as Don Shirley in Green Book, and Richard E. Grant for his performance as an acid-tongued vagabond who befriends a struggling writer in Can You Ever Forgive Me? Neither choice would be surprising or especially controversial, but the odds are in Grant’s favor. Unlike Ali, he has never won an Oscar before, but he is also very popular in the business and turns in an affecting but hilarious performance as the friend of biographer turned forger Lee Israel. He is funny and moving and often tough to like but remains utterly magnetic because of Grant’s light touch.
The Best Supporting Actress category this year threw up a couple of surprises. Claire Foy, who had been expected to land a nomination for her work in First Man, was absent, but in her place was Marina De Tavira from Roma, a choice basically nobody saw coming (and one that bodes well for Roma’s Best Picture odds as the actors body remains the biggest demographic of Academy voters). Amy Adams, a perpetual nominee, is present for Vice, as are both supporting women for The Favourite (which could split the vote in favor of another nominee). Regina King, a scene stealer in Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk, is a popular actress with various awards to her name and has been positioned as the film’s standout member of a lofty ensemble.
For Adapted Screenplay, the addition of the Coen Brothers proved surprising. They may be Oscar favorites but their Netflix film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, wasn't present in many awards conversations. And while BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me? and If Beale Street Could Talk would all be admirable winners, this may be the one opportunity the Academy has to reward A Star Is Born in a major category. Bradley Cooper's omission from Best Director was one of the major surprises given how inevitable his nomination seemed, so this would be a way to reward him, especially if Malek takes Best Actor over him. There’s a lot of industry appreciation for how Cooper and company took on one of Hollywood’s most iconic stories for the modern age.
Writer Deborah Davis had been working on the script for The Favourite, on the battle of control for the court of Queen Anne, as early as 1998. 20 years later, it finally found its way to the big screen under the direction of the celebrated and very esoteric Yorgos Lanthimos, a man whose cinematic style does not necessarily seem compatible with period drama. The Favourite is an ideal mix of classic historical intrigue and Lanthimos' dry wit and unnerving absurdity. Lanthimos’ work is often more recognized in terms of its screenplays than his direction, which could push Davis and co-writer Tony McNamara to the win.
Read More: The Favourite: True Story & Ending Explained
Typically, the Best Animated Feature category can be predicted by one simple question: is there a Disney or Pixar film nominated? If so, that’s winning. This is a category where voters can get a little lazy, rewarding the bigger names over the ones whose artistic merit deserves the credit. So, under those circumstances, it would be easy to call this year’s prize for Incredibles 2: it’s the sequel to an Oscar-winning movie, made by Pixar and one with over $1 billion in the bank. However, this year, it seems foolish to write off Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It’s a commercial hit, a critical darling, it won the Golden Globe and it has a massive amount of momentum in its corner. It’s also helped by Black Panther’s presence in this year’s nominees, meaning the superhero stigma of awards seasons past can’t hurt it as much. There’s a reason so many people were predicting Into the Spider-Verse for Best Picture glory. Even though it didn’t get nominated there, it’s helped to set a new standard for the medium and that deserves to be recognized.
Roma has a slew of technical nominations this year, and deservedly so, but its stark and layered black and white cinematography is one of the film’s most beautiful elements. It’s also all the work of Alfonso Cuarón himself, as he took on the mantle of being his own film’s cinematographer. This is not unusual – last year, Paul Thomas Anderson was the cinematographer on Phantom Thread – but it remains uncommon for a reason. It’s technically difficult and physically demanding work to juggling alongside directorial duties. If Best Picture is likely, so is this.
The editing category this year is one of the weirdest selection of nominees. Nothing about Green Book's editing was especially interesting and Bohemian Rhapsody was frequently called out by critics for its messiness. These additions seem all the more confusing given the omissions, such as Roma (co-edited by Cuarón), First Man, or Joe Bini’s stellar work on You Were Never Really Here. The lack of expected front-runners makes this category tougher to predict, but the Academy always love a period drama and The Favourite comes with the benefit of being directed in an unexpectedly modern fashion that requires a deft editorial vision. The flashier the work, the more likely it is to get an Oscar.
This year's nominees for Best Score feature a few familiar names, like Alexandre Desplat and Marc Shaiman. But it's in the less familiar names where the magic truly lies. Ludwig Göransson, a regular collaborator with Ryan Coogler, landed a nomination for his work on Black Panther while Terence Blanchard, who has worked with Spike Lee for close to 30 years, landed his first nomination for BlacKkKlansman. However, the most talked about score of the year has been Nicholas Britell's work on If Beale Street Could Talk.
Page 3 of 4: Oscars 2019 Predictions For Technical Categories
This category has opened up to predictions following the notable omission of the expected front-runner, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? The Mr. Rogers documentary seemed like such a shoo-in for the top prize given its critical acclaim and beloved subject matter, with many declaring that it was the movie everyone needed at this moment in time. The Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary RBG could fill that hunger instead but our bet goes on Free Solo, a staggering technical achievement and fascinating ethical study in the limits of the documentary, focusing on a free solo climber attempting to scale El Capitan. It’s one of the most astounding cinematic experiences of 2018.
It’s rare to see films not in the English language get nominated for Best Picture. No such film has ever won the top prize and only eight films up until this year have received nominations. Roma’s presence there is ground-breaking on a number of levels but especially notable here. That it is a Best Picture front-runner should be celebrated as foreign language films are typically relegated to one category. However, that may mean the Academy want to spread the wealth around. Cold War, Poland’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film, won Best Director at Cannes last year and sees Paweł Pawlikowski nominated for the same prize in the Oscars. His cold war romantic drama, inspired by his own parents, clearly has fans in the Academy given its three nominations. Pawlikowski has also won this prize before for Ida and familiarity helps in a category like this.
While not always the case, the Oscar for make-up and hairstyling is typically rewarded to the most extravagant work, be it dramatic period wigs or transformative prosthetic work. This year, the obvious front-runner in that regard is Vice, if only for the make-up required to age all its actors over decades of history as well as the feat of making Christian Bale look eerily like former Vice President Dick Cheney.
The films absent from the category of Best Visual Effects are almost as notable as the ones that are present: No Black Panther, no Aquaman, No Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. And in their place: Christopher Robin? As with make-up and hairstyling, this award frequently goes to the biggest and most elaborate work of the year, and nowhere was that more evident than in 2018's biggest movie, Avengers: Infinity War. Even superhero cynics cannot deny the sheer scale and skill on display in that film, nor the attention to detail in realizing Thanos.
Ruth E. Carter, the costume designer of Black Panther, has been a long-time collaborator of Spike Lee and has worked with directors as illustrious as Steven Spielberg, Joss Whedon and Ava DuVernay. Her afrofuturist inspired work on Black Panther has seen her pegged as the front-runner in this category for close to a year now and there’s no reason to doubt her chances of victory. The costuming in the film is detailed, elaborate, spans an incredible range of historical and cultural inspirations, and represents decades of Carter’s work at its finest.
Production design is another category typically favored by period dramas and large scale productions, as evidenced by this year's nominees. Black Panther is the film set to benefit the most from a sweep of technical categories and it remains the best place to celebrate the film given the long-shot status of its Best Picture odds. It also happens to feature some of the most dazzling production design of the year, as the film creates an entirely fictional country from scratch, combining African history and culture with futuristic technology.
Page 4 of 4: Oscars 2019 Predictions For Song, Sound & Shorts
Shallow is the song that's been on every playlist and has been featured at every karaoke session since that first trailer for A Star Is Born dropped. In a film full of strong musical numbers, it's Shallow that sticks in people's minds, and for good reason. Even with competition as good as Diane Warren and Kendrick Lamar, this feels like Lady Gaga's prize for the taking.
Sound awards are hard to predict in general terms because a lot of people don't entirely know what the job involves. Sound editing is the creation of sound effects to fill in the gaps that the shooting process may have missed. A lot of these elements are typically missed by general viewers, but this year, one of the nominees is a film where sound is the element you're forced to pay attention to. A Quiet Place lives and dies on its sound editing, making every breath or creak of a floorboard a heart-pounding experience. Without that, the film simply wouldn't work, and that will be noticed by Academy voters.
The Oscar for sound mixing celebrates the work of production sound mixing and re-recording. It's the process of combining various channels of sound to create a full rich aural experience. Plenty of films did a great job on that front this year, from A Star is Born’s overwhelming concert scenes to the hustle and bustle of Wakanda in Black Panther. However, the soundscape of Roma is a cinematic experience unto itself, one that helps to create a richly textured film in every capacity. It’s also helped by its momentum in other categories, as films winning lots of awards in certain categories are more likely to see that success spill over into other areas.
Vincent Lambe's short film Detainment comes into the category with the most buzz but not all of it is good. The story of two young boys detained for the kidnapping and murder of a toddler is inspired by the true story of the murder of James Bulger, and Bulger's mother has already decried the film as exploitative and inappropriate. Lambe has apologized to Bulger's mother for any offense caused. Whether this will impact the film's Oscar chances remains to be seen but the short has many fans in its corner who find its tackling of a shocking true event to be fair, empathetic yet still unflinching.
Name recognition doesn’t always help in a category like this, where winners often seem like they’re chosen at random, but never under-estimate the clout of Pixar. Bao, directed by Domee Shi (the first woman to direct a short film for Pixar), is an emotional short about family estrangement and the Asian-immigrant experience that manages to be incredibly moving, very cute and surprisingly horrifying.
Netflix has cornered a neat little market for themselves with not only documentary films and series but shorts, a field of cinema that is oft-overlooked by studios and distributors alike. They won this award two years ago with The White Helmets. Having their nominee readily available to watch at home is a major benefit most of the nominated films don’t have. Their contender this year is End Game, which tells an intimate story about terminally ill patients seeking a better way to live out the rest of their days. The short is directed by legendary documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, who have won two Oscars with their work, The Times of Harvey Milk and Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt.