No one movie has taken the lead as the Oscars’ front-runner for best picture this awards season, but here’s the thing: Something’s got to win on Sunday.
An unpredictable road to the 91st Annual Academy Awards (ABC, Sunday, 8 ET/5 ET) – from the unexpected re-emergence of Glenn Close to the surprising embrace of Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” – ends with Hollywood’s biggest night. Even the ceremony itself, for better or for worse, has some novelty again with the absence of a host for the first time in 30 years.
Ready or not, Oscars are being handed out, and these are our predictions for the major categories:
All things Oscar: Find all of our Academy Awards coverage in one spot
The list: Who’s nominated for an Oscar?
The drama: After Hollywood outcry, Academy says all awards will air live, after all
“A Star Is Born”
Will win: “Roma”
Should win: “Black Panther”
While fate has seemingly pegged “A Star Is Born” as a high-profile also-ran and the crowd-pleasing “Green Book” leans problematic, Netflix’s foreign-language darling “Roma” is the safest bet and a beloved movie with a lot of support. Giving best picture to the actual best picture is a smart move, where applicable, and that would be “Black Panther.” The entertaining superhero blockbuster is a technically crafted, well-acted marvel and an effort that has gone beyond mere movie – this is a game-changing cultural movement that’s more than worthy of Oscar’s top prize.
Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Will win: Malek
Should win: Bale
Malek’s portrayal of rock god Freddie Mercury has fascinated audiences and Hollywood, and he has won the battle of musical dudes again and again this awards season, besting Cooper’s fading superstar. But even though we’re just a year removed from a similarly transformed Gary Oldman winning this Oscar for playing Winston Churchill, Bale’s take on former Vice President Dick Cheney is just as immersive and brilliant, fleshing out the idiosyncrasies of a mysterious political power player.
Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Will win: Close
Should win: Gaga
Close pulls off yet another master class, but make no mistake, the seven-time nominee will also be winning her first Oscar for “Dangerous Liaisons,” “Fatal Attraction,” “The Big Chill” and every other role in her lauded career. Righting that wrong aside, Gaga’s is the singular spectacular performance in this category, acting and singing her heart out in equal measure as a young musician navigating the ups and downs of instant fame.
Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Sam Rockwell, “Vice”
Will win/should win: Ali
This is one of the strongest categories across the board, including Elliott’s heartfelt showing, Driver’s and Grant’s scene-stealing turn, plus Rockwell’s uncanny George W. Bush. But Ali will snag gets his second Oscar in three years, not only for classing up “Green Book” but showing impressive nuance as a black musician – and a straight-up artistic genius – on tour in a Jim Crow South that celebrates his talents yet can’t get beyond his skin color or sexuality.
Amy Adams, “Vice”
Marina de Tavira, “Roma”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”
Will win: King
Should win: Weisz
Six-time Oscar nominee Adams will have to wait a little bit longer, because this is King’s year to win for an outstanding, emotional turn as a driven mother fighting to free her daughter’s boyfriend from prison. Stone and Weisz cancel each other out to a degree, though the latter has one of her best all-around showings in “The Favourite” as an embattled 18th-century duchess caught in a lust triangle with her overly ambitious scullery-maid cousin and her secret lover, the gout-ridden queen of England.
Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Adam McKay, “Vice”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Will win: Cuaron
Should win: Lee
“Roma” is an emotional, personal and impressive filmmaking achievement that’s likely to bestow Cuaron his second Oscar for best director. Any other year there wouldn’t be any argument, but something feels special about Lee’s first nominations in this category and best picture with the fabulous and timely “BlacKkKlansman” after being snubbed throughout his influential career. Like Close, Lee is totally deserving for his new film and everything else on his resume. (Plus, just imagine the energy he’d bring to a stuffy awards show with an acceptance speech and a live mic.)