Where my beloved Indie Spirt awards are, to my mind, a pure celebration of film making, albeit from a left of center position, the Academy Awards are much more complicated.

There is nobody who knows, who believes that the “best picture” will always win BEST PICTURE.  I can tell you scores of movies that just got lucky, or more likely had huge marketing campaigns directed at academy members.  

*cough* Titanic *cough*

I do love the tradition, the clothes, the second guessing and everything.  I don’t get invited to any after parties, (I don’t get invited to ANY parties Oscar or otherwise as I think of it) but I also love the intrigue, the backstabbing, the drama and the way it’s so much bigger under the microscope than it should be.

It is, after all, a celebration of cinema, but if you think the best movies and performers win simply on the merits of the work, well bless your pure little heart.

Best Picture

  1. “Roma”
  2. “The Favourite”
  3. “BlacKkKlansman”
  4. “Vice”
  5. “Black Panther”
  6. “Green Book”
  7. “A Star Is Born”
  8. “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Will Win/Should Win: “Roma”

Best Picture is the only category that asks voters to rank the nominees in order (I have done that) and there’s a fairly complicated statistical model in picking the winner, that kind of makes Best Picture a bit of a crapshoot sometimes.  It leads to some unpredictability. 

That said it will be Roma’s night. It is the best movie of the year and it has a campaign budget that I think was three times the cost of making the actual film.  Netflix wants this one bad.  There’s a fair amount of backlash and strategic voting going against it.  Many voters would rather die than see a film that is by and large seen on TV screens win Hollywood’s biggest prize.  There is also the business backlash where established studios are reluctant to let Netflix into the club.  I’ve also read that some people simply think Roma is a boring movie.  (They are wrong.).

But the academy loves art house cinema, and the hot film is indeed Roma so look for the first foreign language film to be awarded Best Picture  makes history.

Of the eight listed, I cant say ANY of them aren’t worth watching, akthough there are flaws and some controversies.

For example, I hear a lot of voters LOVED “Green Book” although it has serious narrative flaws and story problems.  The fact that Dr. Don Shirley’s family quite vocally calls the movie a “collection of lies”  doesn’t help.  But in these times where America’s racist society is at it’s most ugly, a movie that at least makes the monitions of redemption, no matter how over simplified, will pull at the heart strings of academy voters.

“A Star is Born” had oodles of Oscar buzz this summer but I think that’s a dead film walking here.  The movie is quite nice but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before and quite honestly, when Lady Gaga is not on the screen the movie grinds to a maddening halt.  

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is fine, but it’s like a VH-1 behind the music only with Rami Malek carrying it.    I can’t say I hated it, and that’s sadly the best I can say.  Malek was fantastic though but he couldn’t save the film.

Don’t be surprised if: Amy Adams were to get Best Actress, that Vice could sneak in here.  Also if Spike Lee gets Best Director “BlacKkKlansman” will steal this one.


Best Director

Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Adam McKay, “Vice”

Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”

Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”

Will Win/Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón

Picture and Director are rarely split up and this will be well deserved.

Don’t be surprised if: If you are looking for the upset, look to Spike Lee, the Academy likes to surprise with an award for a deserving person who is overdue.  I would consider Spike winning here to be a triumph and he should have gotten it for “Do The Right Thing”


Best Actress

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/Should Win: Glenn Close

She rips it UP in “The Wife”, nominated seven times and not winning, it is her turn and she will deserve it for such a great, gutty performance.

Gaga doesn’t have a chance.  

It would be really great if Melissa McCarthy could win, she was amazing in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” which was one of my favorite films of the year.

Don’t be surprised if: Olivia Coleman steals it.    A LOT of voters loved “The Favourite” and fresh off a BAFTA triumph it wouldn’t be TOO big a surprise to me if  the British actress jumps in.  I do think this is Glenn’s to lose and may be the surest bet of the night but I find the Coleman upset intriguing.

OH and if by some divine providence Yalitza Aparicio has her name called I’ll be in tears of so much joy that I wont be able to stand it.


Best Actor

Christian Bale, “Vice”

Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”

Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”

Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Will Win: Rami Malek

Should Win: Christian Bale

Two actors, playing two real life people.  Both handle the job without being caricatures, which is hard to do and Malek does a great job with his Freddie Mercury but Bale BECOMES Dick Cheney and it would be so easy,, when playing a man of such fundamental evil to do it over the top, but he doesn’t, he does it with such subtlety and nuance.   His portrayal makes Cheney even more rotten than a simple impression could ever do.  He brings life to a character who is devoid of a single redeeming quality without being cartoonish.


Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, “Vice

Marina de Tavira, “Roma”

Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Emma Stone, “The Favourite”

Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Will Win: Regina King

Should Win: Amy Adams.

This will be the spot where “If Beale Street Could Talk” gets it’s well deserved recognition and Regina King turned in such a powerhouse performance but if I had a vote it would have gone to Amy Adams who is not only  overdue for an oscar but also damn near steals the show in her Shakespearian portrayal of the America’s  Lady Macbeth, the terminally immoral and soulless Lynne Cheney.  Her creepiness in the performance is second only to the creepiness of the subject and like Bale, did it without resorting to cliché.


Best Supporting Actor

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: Mahershala Ali

I think this is a sure bet.  He was fantastic in “Green Book” and the voters loved this movie, flaws and all.  If you want to think upset, you might look to Richard E. Grant who stole “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” from Melissa McCarthy but I sure wouldn’t bet the car payment on it.


Best Adapted Screenplay

“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)

Will Win/Should Win: “BlacKkKlansman”

This will be the one for Spike and well deserved and a bit of a “body of work” reward for Spike.  You might look for an upset in “Beale Street” though.


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)

Will Win/Should Win: “The Favourite”

When I watched “The Favourite” I thought to myself ,”god this had to have been a hell of a lot of fun to write”  The script is a riot worthy of a modern day, English, Moliere.  I think this is another sure bet 


Best Cinematography

“Cold War” (Lukasz Zal)

“The Favourite” (Robbie Ryan)

“Never Look Away” (Caleb Deschanel)

“Roma” (Alfonso Cuaron)

“A Star Is Born” (Matty Libatique)

Will Win/Should Win: Roma

A sure bet.  Nothing else is even close.  If Roma doesn’t win I will be screaming at the TV.  Historic because this will be the first time a director of a film also wins an Oscar for shooting his own movie.  They almost took this away from us when they foolhardily decided that some awards like Cinematography and Editing would be awarded during commercials.  Thankfully they were convinced otherwise.


Best Costume Design

“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)

Will Win/Should Win: “The Favourite


Best Film Editing

“BlacKkKlansman” (Barry Alexander Brown)

“Bohemian Rhapsody” (John Ottman)

“The Favourite”(Yorgos Mavropsaridis)

“Green Book”(Patrick J. Don Vito)

“Vice” (Hank Corwin)

Will Win: Vice, more than most, the editing in Vice is the whole ballgame.


Best Makeup and Hairstyling


“Mary Queen of Scots”


Will Win: Vice for the transformation in Christian Bale alone.


Best Original Score

“Black Panther” (Ludwig Goransson)

“BlacKkKlansman” (Terence Blanchard)

“If Beale Street Could Talk” (Nicholas Britell)

“Isle of Dogs” (Alexandre Desplat)

“Mary Poppins Returns” (Marc Shaiman)

Will Win:  “If Beale Street Could Talk


Best Original Song

“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 Willie Watson, Tim Blake Nelson

Will Win:  Shallow.  This will be the one award that keeps A Star is Born from being shut out.

Best Foreign Language Film

“Capernaum” (Lebanon)

“Cold War” (Poland)

“Never Look Away” (Germany)

“Roma” (Mexico)

“Shoplifters” (Japan)

Will Win:Roma, best movie of the year no matter how you slice it.

Best Documentary Feature

“Free Solo,” Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

“Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” RaMell Ross

“Minding the Gap,” Bing Liu

“Of Fathers and Sons,” Talal Derki

“RBG,” Betsy West, Julie Cohen

Will Win: RBG, if for no other reason than as a prayer that she keep healthy until we get the apricot asshole out of office.  Not to mention, it’s a great documentary.

Ill be tweeting from @jjtierney during the event, and I am wearing sweatpants and teeshirt tonight.


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