From: Silver Screen

The Eagle’s 2019 Oscar picks and predictions

The Eagle’s 2019 Oscar picks and predictions

This year’s Academy Awards ceremony is sure to be a fascinating one. With the lack of a host and the staggeringly large number of snubbed films (casualties include “Widows” and “You Were Never Really Here”), there’s definitely going to be an uproar so great, we might even hear it all the way from Hollywood to our small, private Washington D.C. university.

Here are The Eagle’s picks and predictions for who will (and who should) win the awards for some of the top categories, including: Best Picture, Directing, Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Leading Role and Writing (Original Screenplay). The list consists of nominees only, and omits any films that were not nominated in their respective categories. 

Best Picture: 

What Will Win: “Roma

In a year without a clear Best Picture front-runner, Alfonso Cuarón’s semi-biographical opus stands out with its sheer intimacy. Principally about his childhood nanny in 1970s Mexico, Cuarón crafts a story so personal—sometimes even uncomfortably so—that it feels timeless. With the exception of “The Favourite,” “Roma” is the only film in this category that is generally more substance than style. Looking at the winners of the last two years, “Moonlight” and “The Shape of Water,” “Roma” fits the criteria of a deeply personal and somewhat bittersweet drama written and directed by an auteur.

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What Should Win: “Roma”

There isn’t much else to say that hasn’t already been said about “Roma.” It is a timeless (and timely) epic about childhood, motherhood and loss that quite frankly may go unrivaled for years to come. As previously stated, it fits into the same neat little box as the winners of the previous couple of years. It somehow manages to feel vast in scope as well as naked in its intimacy. It also doesn’t have to be said that with current events on the United States’ southern border, this may be the exact kind of rebuttal Hollywood wants to give to the current administration.

Directing: 

Who Will Win: Spike Lee

One of the few strong—and decidedly male—categories at this year’s ceremony, the directing award is somewhat unpredictable. While his most recent filmmaking contribution may not be his strongest overall, Spike Lee’s absence of an Oscar to date may be indicative of the outcome of this award. “BlacKkKlansman” is unmistakably his, with style, flare and searing social commentary that enthralls viewers up until its somewhat (appropriately) somber conclusion. Despite some serious criticism on some of the portrayals of police in the film, the Academy may decide that an award for one of America’s finest directors is long overdue. 

Who Should Win: Yorgos Lanthimos

Lanthimos is the preeminent director of black comedy working in film today, at least in a relatively mainstream setting. His last two directorial efforts, “The Lobster” and “The Killing of A Sacred Deer,” were both critically acclaimed and “The Favourite” is no different. His ability to direct what is essentially three lead actresses and an impressive supporting cast in an what is an absurd power struggle with heavy emotional undertones is a testament to his ability as a filmmaker.

Actor in a Leading Role: 

Who Will Win: Christian Bale

People love a good chameleon-like performance, and the Academy Awards are no exception. Christian Bale’s portrayal of the almost universally-reviled former Vice President Dick Cheney earned him a number of accolades, including this year’s Golden Globe for acting. Bale’s ability to transform himself and completely inhabit his roles over the years in films like “The Machinist” and “American Hustle” demonstrate his inimitable skill as an actor. Using another previous year as a predictor, Gary Oldman’s performance as Winston Churchill in last year’s “Darkest Hour” brought him to victory, and in a generally unremarkable category for this year, there is no reason to indicate things will be any different.

Who Should Win: Bradley Cooper

This one may draw some criticism, but take a moment to look at the lead performances from this year: Three of the performances (Christian Bale, Rami Malek and Willem Dafoe) are essentially just playing somebody else. Viggo Mortensen is doing his damndest in a role that was grievously underwritten in a film that has garnered well-deserved criticism and frankly underserved awards. Although “A Star is Born” is essentially a remake of a remake of a remake of a remake, there is something to be said about Bradley Cooper’s infectious charisma in a role that is for all intents and purposes a caricature of a rockstar, a trope that has been beaten so brutally to death that the fact that Cooper is able to somehow bring it to life is in itself a laudable miracle.

Actress in a Leading Role:

Who Will Win: Glenn Close

In what is arguably the only major category at this year’s Oscars that is packed with extraordinary nominees, this one may also be a toss up. From Olivia Colman’s colossal performance as an ailing and distraught Queen Anne in “The Favourite,” to esteemed first-time performances by Yalitza Aparicio in “Roma” and Lady Gaga in “A Star is Born,” there is nobody undeserving of the award. Seven-time nominee Glenn Close, however, will likely walk away with it. Her performance in “The Wife” is a masterclass in understated performance, and given her pedigree and habit of winning all manner of other awards, Close seems all but a guarantee.

Who Should Win: Glenn Close

This is ultimately another no-brainer. Glenn Close has been in the industry for decades and has yet to receive recognition by the Academy for a slew of incredible performances. “The Wife” is the latest in a career full of tour de force acting in a series of different roles. Close plays the quiet, irritable wife of a soon to be Nobel Laureate for literature, and the story unfolds, she unwinds, revealing not only the cracks in the relationship with her husband but also the lie that she has been telling herself and the world for so many years. Close manages to turn a relatively conventional story into a frightfully engaging 101 minutes.

Writing (Original Screenplay):

Who Will Win: Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (“The Favourite”)

“The Favourite” is the first time in several years that Yorgos Lanthimos has not written his film himself. Although “The Lobster” is a genius script for its intentional stiffness and black comedy, it is difficult to imagine “The Favourite” being what it was without some outside help. Screenwriters Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara were able to craft a script that far surpasses the scope and complexity of Lanthimos’ other films. Rife with seedy political intrigue in addition to the now signature black comedy that has become the cornerstone of Lanthimos’ major movies, Davis and McNamara deftly weave an intimidatingly complex story while never making it seem overstuffed or tiring. The fact that this is Davis’ first credit as a screenwriter is an achievement in itself, and this is the kind of writing that Hollywood should be rewarding.

Who Should Win: Paul Schrader (“First Reformed”)

“First Reformed” is one of the smallest, quietest films to be nominated for one of the major categories this year. Paul Schrader, who penned the classic “Taxi Driver,” wrote and directed this film, to great effect. This is easily one of the most intense movies to come out in the last few years, and the entire thing from start to finish is just tinged with a palpable sense of dread. This insular tale with only a handful of characters is told almost exclusively through the monologues of Toller (Ethan Hawke), the disgruntled pastor at the black heart of this cynical masterpiece. While many had likely overlook “First Reformed,” these types of small, unique stories are once again the ones that Hollywood should reward.

bermer@theeagleonline.com


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