It’s a wild card year at the Academy Awards, with no one to host the ceremony and no single movie a clear favorite to win Best Picture.
The guilds that govern the different disciplines that make movies couldn’t agree on one film. The Producers Guild of America picked the watered-down racial drama “Green Book.” The Screen Actors Guild gave its version of Best Picture to the pan-African glory of “Black Panther,” while the Directors Guild of America presented its top prize to Alfonso Cuarón’s Mexico City memory drama “Roma.”
And the Writers Guild of America gave top honors to two movies not even in the Best Picture race: The forger comedy-drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and the adolescent comedy “Eighth Grade.”
Which films will take the Oscars in this wide-open year? Here are my predictions for how Sunday night’s show at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood (starting at 6 p.m. Mountain time on ABC, KTVX, Ch. 4, in Utah) will play out.
The nominee are: “BlacKkKlansman,” Barry Alexander Brown; “Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Ottman; “Green Book,” Patrick J. Don Vito; “The Favourite,” Yorgos Mavropsaridis; “Vice,” Hank Corwin
Who will win: American Cinema Editors, the guild for film editing, gave one of its ACE Eddie Awards to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and in tech categories the Academy voters often follow the guilds’ lead.
Who I’d vote for: As someone who believes the award here should go to the best editing, not the most, I’ll bypass “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the other Eddie winner, Mavropsaridis’ subtle work in “The Favourite,” which helps makes this costumed comedy magnetically watchable.
The nominees are: “Black Panther”; “Bohemian Rhapsody”; “First Man”; “A Quiet Place”; “Roma”
Who will win: The sounds of test flights and the Apollo 11 moon shot in “First Man” will likely take the prize.
Who I’d vote for: “First Man,” for creating sounds that put the viewer in the capsule.
The nominees are: “Black Panther”; “Bohemian Rhapsody”; “First Man”; “Roma”; “A Star Is Born”
Who will win: The musical mix of “A Star Is Born.”
Who I’d vote for: “Roma” captures the sounds of Mexico City, and gives Dolby Atmos sound system a full workout without a musical score.
The nominees are: “Avengers: Infinity War”; “Christopher Robin”; “First Man”; “Ready Player One”; “Solo: A Star Wars Story”
Who will win: “Avengers: Infinity War” — it’s Thanos’ universe, we just live in it. Half of us, anyway.
Who I’d vote for: “Avengers: Infinity War” created a variety of worlds in which Earth’s mightiest heroes fought and failed.
The nominees are: “Black Panther,” Hannah Beachler; “First Man,” Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas; “The Favourite,” Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton; “Mary Poppins Returns,” John Myhre, Gordon Sim; “Roma,” Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez
Who will win: The early 18th century charms of “The Favourite.”
If I had a vote: The period details of “Roma” are just as important, and just as lively, as those in “The Favourite” — and the re-creation of 1970s Mexico City is in its own way stunning.
The nominees are: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Mary Zophres; “Black Panther,” Ruth E. Carter; “The Favourite,” Sandy Powell; “Mary Poppins Returns,” Sandy Powell; “Mary Queen of Scots,” Alexandra Byrne
Who will win: Powell’s intricate, playful work in “The Favourite.”
If I had a vote: Carter’s evocative, proudly African-influenced costumes of “Black Panther.”
Makeup and Hair
The nominees are: “Border”; “Mary Queen of Scots”; “Vice”
Who will win: “Vice,” for making Christian Bale look convincingly like Dick Cheney at different ages.
If I had a vote: I’d pick “Border,” just to troll the Academy. (Thank you to the two people who saw “Border” who got that joke.)
The nominees are: “BlacKkKlansman,” Terence Blanchard; “Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson; “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell; “Isle of Dogs,” Alexandre Desplat; “Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
Who will win: The jazz-inflected “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
If I had a vote: Britell’s score for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which moves between the story’s young lovers like a spirit.
The nominees are: “All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA; “I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson; “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman; “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice; “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch
Who will win: Gaga will not be denied, and “Shallow” will win.
If I had a vote: Since my favorite (“Hollywood Ending” from “Anna and the Apocalypse”) was passed over, I’d go with the clever cowpoke anthem “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings.”
The nominees are: “Cold War,” Lukasz Zal; “The Favourite,” Robbie Ryan; “Never Look Away,” Caleb Deschanel; “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón; “A Star Is Born,” Matthew Libatique
Who will win: Cuarón’s black-and-white work in “Roma.”
If I had a vote: “Roma,” whose luminous images both creates and cuts through the nostalgia of Cuarón’s memory play.
The nominees are: “Animal Behaviour”; “Bao”; “Late Afternoon”; “One Small Step”; “Weekends”
Who will win: Pixar’s “Bao,” which made everyone who saw “Incredibles 2” cry.
If I had a vote: “Bao,” a beautiful allegory of a Chinese-American mother dealing with her son leaving the nest.
Documentary Short Subject
The nominees are: “Black Sheep”; “End Game”; “Lifeboat”; “A Night at the Garden”; “Period. End of Sentence.”
Who will win: “Period. End of Sentence.” is the least depressing of the group, showing Indian women finding independence by manufacturing and selling sanitary pads.
If I had a vote: The short but powerful “A Night at the Garden,” an it-can-happen-here look at a 1939 pro-Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden.
Live Action Short Film
The nominees are: “Detainment”; “Fauve”; “Marguerite”; “Madre (Mother)”; “Skin”
Who will win: The tender Quebecois tale “Marguerite,” where a home-care nurse sets off a romantic memory in an elderly patient.
If I had a vote: “Madre” captures a mother’s worst nightmare — a child on the phone, alone and scared — mostly in a single, terrifying take.
The nominees are: “Incredibles 2”; “Isle of Dogs”; “Mirai”; “Ralph Breaks the Internet”; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
Who will win: The groundbreaking, genre-shattering “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”
If I had a vote: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” redefined how comic books can jump to the movie screen, by emulating the comic art that made us love them in the first place.
Foreign Language Film
The nominees are: “Capernaum” (Lebanon); “Cold War” (Poland); “Never Look Away” (Germany); “Roma” (Mexico); “Shoplifters” (Japan)
Who will win: “Roma” has 10 nominations overall, and is roundly beloved by Academy voters.
If I had a vote: “Roma,” because it’s by far the most beautiful of the five, and that’s saying a lot in a luminous group of films.
The nominees are: “Free Solo”; “Hale County This Morning, This Evening”; “Minding the Gap”; “Of Fathers and Sons”; “RBG”
Who will win: The pundits are split between the rock-climbing tale “Free Solo” and the Ruth Bader Ginsburg profile “RBG.” I think Academy voters, always eager to send a message to the political powers that be, will pick “RBG.”
If I had a vote: “Minding the Gap,” Bing Liu’s heartbreaking look inside the domestic abuse that informed his and his friends’ childhoods.
The major awards
The nominees are: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; “BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee; “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty; “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins; “A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters
Who will win: Spike Lee has been waiting decades for an Oscar. “BlacKkKlansman’s” script will give it to him.
If I had a vote: Tough choice, but I lean toward the passion of “BlacKkKlansman” narrowly over the poetry of “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
The nominees are: “The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara; “First Reformed,” Paul Schrader; “Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly; “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón; “Vice,” Adam McKay
Who will win: The gamesmanship of “The Favourite” makes this one the without-the-“u” favorite.
If I had a vote: Schrader’s thought-provoking dialogue and no-punches-pulled handling of tough issues in “First Reformed.”
The nominees are: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”; Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”; Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”; Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”; Sam Rockwell, “Vice”
Who will win: There’s an upset in the making here. Ali has been the frontrunner to get his second Oscar in three years, but Grant’s enthusiasm at being nominated — and his charm going through the pre-ceremony events — could, and I think will, push him to a win.
If I had a vote: It also helps that Grant’s portrayal of a catty old queen, funny and poignant, is the best performance in a fairly weak field.
The nominees are: Amy Adams, “Vice”; Marina de Tavira, “Roma”; Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”; Emma Stone, “The Favourite”; Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”
Who will win: King, after years in the Hollywood trenches, will see her reward for her “Beale Street” performance.
If I had a vote: King’s lioness ferocity gets the nod here. However, Stone and Weisz (and Colman in the lead-actress category) are a good argument for a Best Ensemble category.
The nominees are: Christian Bale, “Vice”; Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”; Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”; Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”; Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
Who will win: Malek’s Freddie Mercury will edge out Bale’s Dick Cheney in the battle of looking just like the guy in the video.
If I had a vote: Cooper — the only one here not playing a real person — brought a tragic soulfulness to Jackson Maine, much of it coming through in song.
The nominees are: Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”; Glenn Close, “The Wife”; Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”; Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”; Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Who will win: Close has had this one locked up for awhile, though it’s a career honor that just happens to be tied to a not particularly good movie.
If I had a vote: McCarthy’s portrayal of the misanthropic writer and forger Lee Israel was sharp, biting and heartbreaking.
The nominees are: Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”; Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”; Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”; Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”; Adam McKay, “Vice”
Who will win: Cuarón is likely to get his second directing Oscar (the first was for “Gravity”), but I wouldn’t be surprised if Lee get honored — another career-achievement award, but a deserved one.
If I had a vote: Cuarón, for willing his childhood memories onto the screen so radiantly.
The nominees are: “Black Panther”; “BlacKkKlansman”; “Bohemian Rhapsody”; “The Favourite”; “Green Book”; “Roma”; “A Star Is Born”; “Vice”
Who will win: The race is between “Green Book” and “Roma,” a microcosm of the shifting demographics of The Academy. The old guard sees “Green Book” as the sort of uplifting comedy-drama that has always won Best Picture, and views “Roma” as an arty usurper coming out of Netflix. The younger voters view “Green Book” as dated and problematic — a white-savior story of dubious veracity — and don’t care whether people saw “Roma” in a theater or a streaming service. This time, youth wins out, and so does “Roma.”
If I had a vote: “Roma” views the normalcy of middle-class life through a unique lens — that of an indigenous woman who works as the family’s maid, part of the family but also an outsider — and finds something new in the familiar. It’s the best of this list by a country mile.