Will “The Favourite” live up to its namesake? Will “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic about legendary rock band Queen, earn another crown? Can the latest (and best) version of “A Star is Born” mature into an Oscar winner?
Or will “Black Panther” become the first superhero movie to capture Best Picture? While it would be an upset, the film did capture Best Cast honors at this year’s Screen Actor’s Guild Awards.
Or is this the year Hollywood finally gives director Spike Lee his long past due honors in both the directing category and with his movie “Blackkklansman”? Likewise, a win for Lee would make him the first African-American director to capture the award.
A win for Alfonso Cuaron’s terrific film “Roma” would make double Oscar history. No foreign language movie has ever won Best Picture, and this one was made by Netflix, not exactly the Hollywood elite’s best buddies. However, should the streaming service win, it would be a history-making precedent.
With no host at this year’s Academy Awards, Sunday night’s festivities could be and should be filled with surprises. As one who anxiously awaits the Oscar presentation each year, though, it’s going to be fun even so.
But don’t get me started on the near decision to hand out a few awards during commercials, a choice as ludicrous making a sequel to “Battlefield Earth.” They didn’t make a sequel, thank goodness, and now the Academy has changed its collective (and momentarily lost) minds, backtracking and opting to hand out all Oscars on TV.
The awards shows leading up to the granddaddy of them all have been all over the map. Some clear favorites have emerged, but a lot is still up in the air, and that only adds to the excitement.
Besides, Hollywood has gone against the grain in recent years, especially when it comes to the Best Picture award. “Spotlight,” “Moonlight” and “The Shape of Water” all rose up to pull off surprise wins.
So, while not quite blindfolded and without a dartboard at which to aim, here we go with our best shots picking this year’s version of will win/should win in the major categories at the Oscars.
Will win: “Roma.” Director Alfonso Cuaran’s wonderful autobiographical tale set in 1970s Mexico City is beautiful, a movie in which black-and-white filming is not only an enhancement, but a necessity to bring out its true greatness.
Should win: “Blackkklansman.” The story about a black police officer infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan in 1970s Colorado Springs is Spike Lee’s greatest directing work since “Do the Right Thing” in 1989. He was snubbed back then, but hopefully the Academy will, ahem, do the right thing and recognize him this time.
Will win: Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The movie may have its flaws in details (a great film nonetheless), but Malek artfully brings out every tiny facet of Freddie Mercury’s controversial but incredibly talented life in a mind-blowing and vivid performance, right down to his famous overbite.
Should win: Even with that said about Malek, it’s hard to overlook Bradley Cooper’s performance in “A Star is Born.” While not as dynamic as Malek, Cooper crafted the ultimate tortured soul, an over-the-hill rock star who falls in love with a much more talented newcomer. Cooper conveys so much while often saying so little, much like his character, who knows that as he watches the love of his life blossom in her career, his is dying.
Will win: Glenn Close, “The Wife.” Many think Close is overdue for an Oscar, with this being her seventh nomination and no wins. And she has been a darling this awards season, starring as the wife living in the shadows of her ungrateful husband.
Should win: Lady Gaga, “A Star is Born.” With all due respect to Close, Gaga, in her big screen debut, takes what could have been something of a familiar role (remember, she IS a giant rock star in real life) and made it so much more. Not only does she have amazing vocal range, turns out she has incredible acting range as well. Check out her work on one of the seasons of “American Horror Story,” for which she won a Golden Globe.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Will win: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book.” As Dr. Don Shirley, a world-class African-American pianist embarking on a tour in the deep south in the early 1960s, Ali proves that he has staying power on the heels of his Oscar-winning performance in 2016’s “Moonlight.” He also deserves an Emmy for his magnificent work on this season’s “True Detective” on HBO.
Should win: Ali.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Will win: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk.” King has emerged as the favorite in what is likely the most contested category as a mother fighting to save her daughter’s fiance from trumped-up rape charges.
Should win: Among those nominated, I like the great Amy Adams for “Vice.” Her performance garnered her a sixth nomination, and first since 2013. But along with being past due, she also gave an unforgettable, though somewhat subdued performance as Lynne Cheney, wife of controversial vice president Dick Cheney. Honestly, though, the best supporting performance of the year belonged to Emily Blunt in “A Quiet Place,” who won the Screen Actors Guild award in this category, but was overlooked by Oscar voters. King, by the way, was not nominated for a SAG Award.
Will win: Cuaron for “Roma.”
Should win: Lee for “Blackkklansman.”
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Will win: “Roma,” written by Cuaron.
Should win: “Roma.”
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Will win: “Blackkklansman.” The script, written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Lee, is masterfully adapted from Ron Stallworth’s memoir about a 1970’s-era black cop (played by John David Washington, who many think should also have received an Oscar nod) who infiltrated the KKK.
Should win: “Blackkklansman.”
Remember, these are not to be used for gambling purposes. But if you do, let me know how I can claim my share of the winnings (or who to hide from in case of the losses).