The Alternate Ending team proudly presents our predictions for the winners in all 24 categories at the Oscars this coming Sunday. For the record, we agree on eleven categories, and we have a three-way split on four categories – Costume Design, Original Score, Sound Mixing, and Documentary Feature. How’s that for a reflection of this most exhaustingly uncertain year?
Literally the only upshot to this unbelievably lousy slate of nominees is that it’s about as hard to predict the winners this year as it has been ever since I started paying attention. So that makes it “fun”. And now, at least, I won’t be boycotting the ceremony, now that the Academy has conceded that cinematography and editing are kind of important elements of the filmmaking process. Jesus Christ, this has been a dispiriting year to be an Oscar-watcher.
Oh my. This is great, because for the second year in a row, literally none of the films can possibly win. Also, three of them would be the worst movie to ever win Best Picture, but that’s almost beside the point. So let’s work it out.
Vice is the only one that feels like it just can’t win. It will surely have the most last-place votes on the preferential ballot.
The Favourite just doesn’t feel right. I could even vaguely see it winning the most awards of the night (Original Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress, Costume Design, Production Design, Cinematography) and still missing out here.
A Star Is Born peaked way too early. It is tired. Nobody cares anymore.
So now we’re down to five, and this is where it gets hard. Black Panther is too popular, but’s a year where the Academy is obviously, blatantly pandering to pop audiences. BlacKkKlansman has everything on paper to win, and is in fact the only film in contention that does, but simply nobody seems passionate about it. Bohemian Rhapsody has absolutely nothing on paper it needs, but you can manage to explain away everything it should have and doesn’t, and be left with a giant crowdpleaser that is one of the few nominees here just about guaranteed to win multiple Oscars (Actor and Sound Mixing – it could easily go 4/4 on its nominations outside of Best Picture). Green Book won the PGA and is probably winning Best Original Screenplay, but it missed the crucial Best Director nomination, and it’s easily the most old-fashioned of these films. Roma is almost certainly winning Best Foreign Language Film, and doesn’t it feel just silly to give that award and Best Picture to the same film? Plus, lest we forget, giving Roma means legitimising Netflix.
Roma and Green Book have, I think, the most uncompelling counterarguments, so I think it’s down to those two. I was all set to predict the latter, basically ever since the nominations, but then Roma proved at the BAFTAs that it was possible to win both Best Film and Best Foreign Film, so I’m going that direction. That I think Roma is several orders of magnitude better than Green Book is not, I think, influencing my prediction.
Will win: Alfonso Cuarón
Should Win: Yorgos Lanthimos
Should have been here: Paul Schrader, First Reformed
Compared to the suffocating clusterfuck that is Best Picture, this is almost serenely easy to predict: Cuarón continues the uninterrupted glide through awards he’s enjoyed all season.
Will Win: Rami Malek
Should Win: Willem Dafoe
Should have been here: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Dear Christ, this is a dismal category. I do believe that Conrado is right, we should just get rid of it.
Will Win: Glenn Close
Should Win: Olivia Colman
Should have been here: Toni Colette, Hereditary
It feels like a coronation coming, and as career make-up Oscars go, it’s even a worthy one. The closest any of the acting categories comes to being locked up.
Will Win: Mahershala Ali
Should Win: Richard E. Grant
Should have been here: Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite
Not as desolate as Best Actor, but there’s still not much here that stirs my soul. It’s Ali’s or Grant’s, and the only real liability that Ali has is that he won just a couple of years ago for a better performance in a much better film.
Will Win: Regina King
Should Win: Rachel Weisz
Should have been here: Danai Gurira, Black Panther
I will admit that I still don’t see why King, of all members of that cast, has gotten all the awards love, and this feels like the acting category with the richest chance for an upset; I don’t see how it can be Stone, but any of the others feel like you could make a persuasive argument. If de Tavira wins, Roma is heading for Best Picture in a blowout, probably with a nice haul of statues along the way.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)
BlacKkKlansman (Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and 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 and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters)
This really does feel like the only chance to give BlacKkKlansman any award at all, doesn’t it? And in year like this, spreading the wealth among the BP nominees feels like the right way to go with predictions. The recent WGA win for Can You Ever Forgive Me? puts an enormous question mark over this category, but I think it has to be between those two: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is self-evidently the “other” nominee, A Star Is Born is old news, and losing the USC Scripter absolutely buried any chance If Beale Street Could Talk had here.
Best Original Screenplay
The Favourite (Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara)
First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
Green Book (Nick Vallelonga & Brian Currie & Peter Farrelly)
Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
Vice (Adam McKay
Goddammit, I hope I’m wrong though.
A delectably creative category this year. I wonder if the presence of two black-and-white foreign films means they cancel each other out, especially since I think they’re in 1st and 2nd place, in either order. The problem is that I don’t know what else wins: The Favourite is unconventional, A Star Is Born isn’t flashy, and Never Look Away is obscure. Nope, sticking with monochrome, and letting the Best Picture nominee be my tie-breaker.
The presence of two different “British royalty” projects throws a bit of a kink into the works, but The Favourite being a Best Picture nominee surely breaks that tie. I can sort of vaguely see the argument for Black Panther, but it would need weaker competition, I suspect.
Insanely repressing to even ponder, particularly since I assume it has to be between Bohemian Rhapsody and Vice, by far my least favorites of the nominees. The former is plainly the more well-liked film by the world at large, which I guess will be my rationale for picking it; frankly, I think that BlacKkKlansman is the only film with any genuine business being here. If The Favourite wins this, it’s getting Best Picture.
Best Production Design
Black Panther (Hannah Beachler; Jay Hart)
The Favourite (Fiona Crombie; Alice Felton)
First Man (Nathan Crowley; Kathy Lucas)
Mary Poppins Returns (John Myhre; Gordon Sim)
Roma (Eugenio Caballero; Barbara Enriquez)
Real tough; other than “definitely not First Man“, I hardly know what to think here. Black Panther is showy but undone by cheapish CGI; Roma is magnificently ambitious, but it steadfastly refuses to call any attention to itself. Mary Poppins Returns is gaudy as shit, and the Academy likes gaudy as shit in this category, but they also like period opulence, and The Favourite has that in droves. Throwing a dart with this one.
Fat and old, the keys to this category. Also being by light-years the highest-profile of the three nominated films.
Best Music, Original Score
Black Panther (Ludwig Göransson)
BlacKkKlansman (Terence Blanchard)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell)
Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)
Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)
One of the handful of true “it could be any one of them” categories, though it’s hardest to imagine Isle of Dogs winning. I’ve picked Black Panther largely on the grounds that it’s the highest-profile category where that film seems competitive; If Beale Street Could Talk wouldn’t suprise me an iota. Neither, I’m unhappy to report, would Mary Poppins Returns. After that three-way tie, BlacKkKlansman is probably in fourth place; it’s not conventionally pretty, and that won’t help in this crowd.
Best Music, Original Song
From The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings”
From Black Panther: “All the Stars”
From Mary Poppins Returns: “The Place Where Lost Things Go”
From RBG: “I’ll Fight”
From A Star Is Born: “Shallow”
Will Win: “Shallow”
Should Win: “Shallow”
Should have been here: From Ralph Breaks the Internet: “A Place Called Slaughter Race”
In a rout. Not since Frozen and “Let It Go” has this category felt so pre-ordained.
An unusually quiet mix of nominees for the “war films and action pictures” category, and I don’t know, maybe that argues for Black Panther. But First Man has the most obvious sound – I mean, A Quiet Place does, really, but in a negative sense. And “most” wins in these categories.
A big, bullying crowdpleaser is a big, bullying crowd-pleaser. I mean, it’s not even the best mixing of a live concert out of these nominees, but in a fucked-up year, fucked-up things happen.
This category doesn’t care much for practical effects, which probably spikes First Man, though that’s also the only one of the films that’s particularly distinctive. Ready Player One has the “most” effects, but they sometimes look deliberately unpolished in a way that I think will not play well for every viewer. Avengers: Infinity War made a fuckload of money, so I guess that’s as good a tiebreaker as any.
Will Win: Roma
Should Win: I have not seen all of the nominees
Part of me wants to get really sassy, and predict Cold War on the grounds that voters who go with Roma in Best Picture will then vote for something else here, but that’s just completely daft. It’s a weird year, but it’s not that weird.
Best Documentary Feature
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons
Will Win: RBG
Should Win: Minding the Gap
Should have been here: Shirkers
One of the strongest years this category has ever had: Hale County This Morning, This Evening is damn close to the avant-garde, by Oscar standards, Of Fathers and Sons is remarkably free of editorialising on an intense subject, Minding the Gap is just great, and remarkably creative in its structure. Free Solo has lots of problems, but the footage is at least outstanding.
RBG, far and away the weakest thing here, is flattering, though, and nice, and this category worships nice movies.
All of these but End Game are to some degree “important”, but Lifeboat feels like old news, and A Night at the Garden is thoroughly unimpressive as an aesthetic object. Period. End of Sentence. has the probably irresistible “it was made by high school students!” narrative, because, I mean, seriously, who doesn’t want to see that acceptance speech?
There’s one remarkably strong correlation, the CAS award for best sound in an animated feature, that argues against Into the Spider-Verse (which has been running the boards this season). The thing is, it argues for Isle of Dogs, and that’s just no going to happen. In fact, it almost makes Spider-Verse seem more secure, given that it demonstrates that film’s haters aren’t uniformly swirling around Incredibles 2, like I’d have assumed.
So I feel like there’s this thing that happens every year, where the pundits all say “Go with the Pixar film, Pixar is always a safe bet here!” and it’s just not true. Here we go: prior to this year, Pixar has been nominated in this category 14 times, and they’ve one 4. Limit that to the 21st Century, and the years that Pixar has been a massive brand name rather than just an animation studio, and that becomes 11 nominations with 2 wins – one in 2001, one in 2016. I’m not saying Bao can’t win, I’m not saying Bao won’t win. I’m saying you can’t just wander around assuming that shit. Particularly given that every single time I’ve seen it (thrice now), the audience has reliably responded with audible bafflement and concern. One Small Step has an extremely similar emotional arc, but it’s simpler, easier, and has a much more obvious political hook. Also, Weekends is the most aesthetically distinctive, for what that’s worth.
To be honest, I think Skin has an excellent chance at winning – it’s politically charged, and it’s the only one from the United States. But I just do not have the emotional stamina to predict anything but Marguerite, on the grounds that it’s the only one of these that isn’t at least mildly poisonous.
In a year that’s full of toss-ups, it will be interesting to see how the Academy is leaning and what it looks to reward. I’m still not sure if I’m better off going for what they typically look for or go bold for what they say they’re looking for. Either way, look for me get the best of Carrie and Tim.
This batch of nominees doesn’t make this any easier for me. There are no true standouts and I struggle thinking of any of them as Oscar worthy. Of the options available to me, I think Green Book has the traditional blue print for an Oscar, but Viggo may have sealed it for Roma back in November when his poor word choice created a fiasco. If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have had A Star Is Born in both. I’m not sure what has changed, but the momentum seems to have completely dissipated.
Win Win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón
Should have been here: Christopher McQuarrie, Mission: Impossible – Fallout or Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
The stars are aligning for Cuaron with the political climate, but regardless this will be a deserving celebration of what is a personal tale he poured a tremendous amount of passion into. I do feel that both McQuarrie and Cooper were deserving of some nods. McQuarrie for putting a spectacle on the big screen that has never been seen before and Cooper for a standout first showing.
While I’m not in favor of Bohemian Rhapsody winning any Oscars, Rami’s performance leads the pack followed by Bradley Cooper. Rami has the distinct advantage of having a more dynamic role to sink his teeth into, but Cooper had far more sincere moments. I’ll never forget Jackson Maine.
Will Win: Glenn Close, The Wife
Hard to put a “Should Win” here given I’ve missed the much-ballyhooed performance of Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?. I secretly want Grant to claim a victory here because I think we would end up with a memorable speech.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Should Win: Regina King
King has all the momentum in her favor and a stellar performance to make her the odds-on favorite, but it is another Favourite, that I’d be OK with claiming the top prize. While most pick Rachel Weisz over Emma Stone, I actually preferred Stone’s performance.
I had a hard time with this one as well. If I’m supposed to approach this as which of the nominees I’d welcome watching in picture book form, few really feel worthy, but Roma definitely stands out as the exception.
Slight upset pick here in my opinion, but despite not being a period piece which is typically the movie that claims honors, how can we ignore the cultural phenomenon created by Black Panther. The phenomenon is also present in the thoughtfully done costuming of each cast member. If not Black Panther, I’d have to guess The Favourite.
For the same reason as stated in Costume Design, I’m rewarding Black Panther for being a cultural phenomenon. I’ve never seen Afrofuturism before and can’t wait to get more!
Have to give it up for the Bale transformation. When the trailers came out for Vice, I had no idea who I was looking at.
Best Music, Original Song
Will Win: From A Star Is Born: “Shallow”
Should Win: “Shallow”
Not only can I not get this song out of my head, I can’t hear it without tearing up.
C’mon…what else did they spend the $321MM on if not visual effects?
How can you be a Best Picture winner and NOT win Foreign Language? I do feel bad for the other filmmakers in this category as it isn’t a fair shot and I’ve heard that Cold War is extremely deserving.
Will Win: Free Solo
Should Win: Free Solo
I haven’t seen any of these, but I love Meru and I’ve heard this puts it to shame with the incredible shots this filmmaking crew were able to get. I’m excited to catch up with this one.
Who would have thought it? A non-Pixar winner. If I had my way, Into the Spider-Verse would have been a Best Picture nominee as well.
Why does this year feel so difficult to predict? I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’d suggest that we’ve been given such a hodge-podge, where (almost) every movie has something about it that makes its mark – but where one movie rises above, another is lacking, and vise-versa. I don’t know… that’s my take…or maybe I’m just indecisive, I don’t know.
Popcorn or art movie this year? Arr….Popcorn!
Green Book has zero drama and is idealistic in ways that offend, but that should work for the Academy. And, here’s my thing with The Favourite, in totality – is it the best movie of the year? Not for me. But break down the sum of its parts. It’s beautiful! It’s quick-witted script! Those costumes! The drama! The humor! It’s a stand-out for sure.
You haven’t forgotten the water splashing over the driveway and the mirror image of the airplane flying through the pooling water yet, have you?
I didn’t despise Bohemian Rhapsody’, like probably almost everybody else, but I can still admit that best actor is a stretch. On the other hand, I’m still haunted by Bradley Cooper’s character. My chest still tightens when that stupid “Shallow” song comes on the radio. And, to commit yourself for 6 months to become a really impressive musician gets you extra points. And his face, his face helps.
Olivia Colman man, her distress is your distress.
And, you forgot about Tully, but I haven’t…I’ll never forgot.
If you’ve seen Game Night, you’re smiling right now.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Emma Weisz
Should Win: Rachel Stone
Should have been here: Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place
Oh gawd, 5-way tie (there is no real way to decide).
Notably and memorably clever.
I remember Tim telling me that he “could watch the opening scene with the water splashing on the driveway for hours” (and he probably did) and that’s when I knew my pick.
I’m going to be upset when Nicholas Britell’s tunes get passed over, prove me wrong Academy!
Best Music, Original Song
Will Win: From A Star Is Born: “Shallow”
Should Win: “Shallow”
I mentioned the weeping at the gym already.
…all the sound.
Lack of competition is working to the favor of First Man this year.
If I get every other category wrong, I know I’ll have Foreign Language Feature in the bag.
When you feel so mad, that I want to roar. Take a deep breath and count to 4. D-bags.
I always like to copy off of Tim on this one, but he won’t let me. Did I get it right?
I <3 Bao, so much