Oscar Picks 2019

This year’s unpredictable award season comes to an end Sunday. The controversy surrounding this year’s Oscars makes for an interesting narrative. Seemingly everything has gone wrong for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. From the Kevin Hart fiasco that left the ceremony hostless, to the flip-flop of the decision to condense certain categories on the telecast, it’s been one controversy followed by the next.

Even so, we’re movie whores and are going to watch anyway.

These are the winners we would vote for if we had a vote. Please do not get these confused with predictions. The picks are derived from the votes of our staff (three people) and hold about as much weight as The Dundies™ from the Office. We hope everyone enjoys this years Oscars with no host, all 24 awards being televised, and what figures to be a punishing live performance of Bohemian Rhapsody. Please let us know if you agree or disagree with our picks in the comments.

The criteria

  • Must have been nominated in the category (sorry Burning, Sorry Ethan Hawke)
  • Must not suck (Sorry Bohemian Rhapsody)

Lead Actor:

Christian Bale “Vice

This one was unanimous. Batman delivers the performance of the year as he transforms into former Vice President Dick Chaney. Among Vice’s top-notch performances, Bale stands out as the best actor on screen. With Bale putting on more than 40 pounds for his role, you forget that you’re watching one of the generation’s most recognizable movie stars and are convinced that you are watching Chaney. Bale went all in on this performance and it paid off. He’s deserving of this years best actor award but he may have to wait to get his second trophy (best supporting, 2010’s The Fighter), as Rami Malek and his giant chompers are the favorite to win.

Lead Actress:

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma

Making her acting debut in the Netflix critically-acclaimed Roma, Yaliztza Aparicio wins over audiences heart with her performance as Cleo. Playing a maid-nanny of a wealthy family in Mexico, Aparicio portrays Cleo as a strong resilient woman in a story where men are shit. The innocence that is felt through the character on top of the resiliency adds to the film’s theme. Roma being Aparicio’s acting debut puts her against the odds of actually winning the award, as voters will be more inclined to go for someone with more experience. Biased aside Aparicio clearly put on the best performance of those nominated.

Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book

This isn’t a great year for this category. There is no Christoff Waltz. There is no J.K. Simmons. Because none of these performances steal the show in a transcendent way, that fact that Ali was on screen for the movie’s entirety makes his performance seem bigger than the rest. Ali’s portrayal of Don Shirley is charming, engaging and provides depth to an otherwise shallow script. This is Ali’s Oscar to lose. His second statue in three years would cement his place as one of Hollywood’s premier talents.

Supporting Actress:

Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

If Beale Street Could Talk is spectacular for a number of reasons. From the score, script, all the way to perfection from the actors. When making a masterpiece everyone needs to hold their weight. Regina King does that and more. King is a familiar face. The Friday and Boys In The Hood star gives us her greatest performance to date. Beale Street has the potential to launch King’s career to new heights.

Director:

Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”

Roma is one big Alfonso Cuarón masturbation fest. Cuarón, without subtly, is saying to audiences “look what I can do.” From beginning to end, every decision in Roma is purposeful and Cuarón’s fingerprints are felt throughout. The results are impressive. This one is a done deal. A second best director win (2013’s Gravity) would make Cuarón one of six living directors with multiple wins in this category. Thanks for coming Spike. Enjoy the sandwich table.

Animated Feature:

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Spider-Man

Spider-Verse is a game-changer. It’s ground breaking visuals are a refreshing change of pace to what we’re used to seeing from powerhouse Disney Pixar. The film makers took a gamble and it paid off in a big way. The ability to tell a super hero story that has been done many times before, with a new twist that puts life back into the character and even wins over the most die hard old-school purest is what makes Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse not just the best animated film this year but one that filmmakers will be taking influence from going forward.

Best Documentary Feature:

Minding the Gap,” Bing Liu

Minding the Gap Director Bing Liu made his presence felt with his directorial debut. Liu used years of captured skate footage to make the year’s best documentary, a noteworthy achievement considering the depth of this category. Minding the Gap is much more than a skate video montage. It’s a film that subtly tackles an onslaught of themes  like masculinity, growing up, domestic violence and trying to make something of yourself. 2018 was the year of skate movies. From Mid 90s, to skate kitchen, to Minding the Gap, all three are remarkable but none stuck out more than Liu’s first feature film.

Best Foreign Language Film:

Capernaum

Capernaum is the tale of a boy named Zain who lives in Lebanon. Zain runs away in search of something better and is forced to fight, alone, for survival. Through his journey, he makes a series of decisions that lead to more misery. The events of Zain’s life cause him to curse his own birth and hate life itself. It’s some dark shit. This is the years most stacked category. This year foreign films showed that they are worthy of big-time award talk and left lasting impressions.

*For the record, the actual Best Foreign Language Film, Burning, was snubbed for this category but Capernaum is a close second.*

Original Score:

“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell

For all of its precision, Beale Street’s crowning achievement is its score. Through the heavy themes and dark moments, Nicholas Britell’s score is there to remind us that this is a love story. This is not the same movie with a weaker score. As beautiful as it is essential, this score is  the perfect example of how music can elevate film.

Original Song:

“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice

Rarely do we get a song that is crucial to a movies story that hits like Shallow. The song is the centerpiece of the film as it is the hit that launches Ally’s (Gaga) career into pop star fame. This made for movie song is performed so well that it got national top 40 radio play and put on the most popular spotify playlists. Bradley Cooper holds his own in the opening section of the song until superstar Lady Gaga goes full on Gaga with an iconic yell into the songs climax at around the 2:30 mark, making for one of the most memorable movie-music moments in years.

Kendrick Lamar and Szn’s track “All of the Stars” is also nominated and although the song is a bop it is not crucial to the Black Panther story. If Shallow sucked we’d likely see A Star is Born in a different light and for that reason it is the clear cut favorite and most deserving of the award.

Cinematography:

“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón

With Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s goal is to take the 2018 movie-goer and place them into 1970’s Mexico City. Cuarón acted as his own cinematographer for this task and came away with a handful of memorable shots. From the driveway scene, to the riot scene, to the “stand on one leg” scene, Roma has more lasting images than any other 2018 film.

Adapted Screenplay:

“BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee

Thirty movies in and Spike Lee is still at the top of his game. It’s a profound achievement when you can make a room full of black and white people laugh at a movie about the KKK, fully equipped with David Duke. This isn’t Spike’s masterpiece and it seems like he’s going to whiff on his best picture/director nominations, so this seems like Spike’s best chance to get his long over-due Oscar.

Original Screenplay:

“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader

First things first: How the hell did Ethan Hawke NOT get nominated for best actor?! First Reformed may be 2018’s most overlooked movie. It’s definitely a tough watch and certainly not made for everyone. Still, it has the year’s best screenplay. Its script is original and timely. Effectively executing a script about how climate change relates to religion and personal strife??  This is Paul Schrader, a master screenwriter, at his best.

Film Editing:

“Green Book,” Patrick J. Don Vito

In a climate in which movie’s about race are prevalent, Green Book is as surface level as it gets. Still, it manages to be charming for the entirety of its 130 minute run-time. The film’s editing gives us two of the movies most memorable scenes: the jump to the car reversing to pick up a paper cup and the cut where Don Shirley is holding the blue rock. The film’s editing creates non-verbal punchlines that help to make Green Book one of the year’s funniest movies.

Sound Editing:

“A Quiet Place,” Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl

With a Quiet Place, Jim Halphert proves he is more than just a Dunder Mifflin paper salesman. This was the horror movie of 2018.  Based on its name, it doesn’t take a genius to know it’s not a loud movie. What separates Kransinski’s movie from the other nominees is its use of sound as a story-telling mechanism. This is a two film battle. This award belongs to either Roma or A Quiet Place, with Jim’s movie having a slight edge. As a whole, this movie makes better use of the subtlety of selective sound.

Sound Mixing:

“Roma”

Alfonso Cuarón’s aforementioned goal to place the audience into 1970’s Mexico is an all-encompassing task, and is perfected all the way down to the sound editing. The sounds are enveloping, especially in a theater. This attention to detail, found throughout Roma, is what earned it more critical acclaim than any 2018 movie.

Production Design:

“Roma,” Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez

Makeup and Hair:

“Vice”

bale

I mean come on, look at that fucking guy.

Costume Design:

“Black Panther,” Ruth E. Carter

Creating costumes for a hidden civilization in Africa is no easy task. The mix of badass super hero stuff with historic African stuff is pulled off tastefully and sets the stage for the film.

Visual Effects:

“Avengers: Infinity War”

You’ve seen this movie. You know how good the effects are even if you’re not a fan of the MCU. This one is a no brainer.

Best Picture:

“BlacKkKlansman”

The Academy infamously never gets this one right. Last year a love story between a human and a magical fish beat out instant classic’s such as Call Me by Your Name, Get Out, and Lady Bird. This year the list of nominations are incredibly weak. They snubbed If Beale Street Could Talk and nominated a formulaic, unoriginal biopic instead.

Adam Drive and John David Washington

Spike Lee is in the running this year with BlacKkKlansman, which is a movie about a…. black klansman. Starring John David Washington and Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman tells the story of how a black police officer successfully infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. The movie’s narrative sets up for some great comedic moments as Ron Stallworth (Washington) talks to the Klan on the phone and his partner Flip Zimmerman (Driver) does all the face-to-face meetings. The film challenges the idea of identity and social groupings. Stallworth meets Patrice Dumas at an event that civil rights activist Kwame Ture is speaking. Their relationship progresses without Patrice knowing what Stallworth does for a living. Once she finds out she sees him as a traitor to the movement. The idea that he’s against their cause as a black cop but he’s also successfully infiltrated the largest hate group of minority’s in the country is an interesting and timely narrative.

As mentioned before this isn’t Spike’s masterpiece, but it is his best movie in over a decade. This years nominations were incredibly weak. All had their issues and some don’t even deserve to be in the conversation. The watchability of BlacKkKlans man is good enough for all audiences. Something that Roma and The Favourite can’t say. The timely narrative and social issues that it challenges is done with much better style than Green Book attempted to do (There’s a fried chicken scene in it). In another year BlacKkKlansman wouldn’t have a shot but this year it just might.

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