The Nominees: “Black Panther,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite,” “Green Book,” “Roma,” “A Star Is Born,” “Vice”
The guild wins, which usually point the way, have been all over the map making this a hard one to call. The momentum is with “Roma” thanks, in part, to an all-out blitz of a campaign from Netflix (which has eyes for an Oscar the way Jackson Maine wants another look at Ally) and because of, well, it’s a fairly astonishing movie. But “Black Panther” and the response it provoked epitomized the cultural height of movies, something some doubted was still possible. Wakanda for February 24.
The Nominees: Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”; Glenn Close, “The Wife”; Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”; Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”; Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
The conventional wisdom is that Glenn Close is overdue for an Oscar. Thankfully, she’s really wonderful in “The Wife,” as the dutifully supportive spouse of a newly-minted Nobel-winning writer. A “career Oscar” isn’t a bad sentiment and definitely not a “pity Oscar.” But love definitely has no limits when it comes to my own appreciation of Olivia Colman’s performance as Queen Anne in “The Favourite,” which could get passed over because Colman hasn’t been a fixture on the schmooze circuit (she was busy shooting “The Crown”! which is a totally reasonable excuse).
The Nominees: Christian Bale, “Vice”; Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”; Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”; Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”; Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
That Rami Malek somehow became the consensus choice here still kind of baffles me, especially when there’s Bradley Cooper giving the performance of a lifetime as sad, sweet, awful and tragic Jackson Maine. He felt realer than the sanitized Freddie Mercury of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” that’s for sure.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
The Nominees: Amy Adams, “Vice”; Marina de Tavira, “Roma”; Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”; Emma Stone, “The Favourite”; Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”
Sometimes will and should match up, and it definitely does for Regina King’s heart-wrenching turn as Sharon Rivers, protective and supportive mother and almost grandmother who will do whatever it takes to keep her daughter’s family intact. She is the foundation and beating heart of “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
The Nominees: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”; Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”; Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”; Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”; Sam Rockwell, “Vice” BAHR:
An unheralded avenue for a successful Oscar campaign, if you can pull it off, is starring concurrently in HBO’s “True Detective.” Just as Matthew McConaughey did a few years ago before winning for “Dallas Buyers Club,” Mahershala Ali is proving every Sunday how good he is. A win for Ali, two years after he took home the same Oscar for “Moonlight” (a, uh, different movie than “Green Book”) would be something to applaud. But so would an Oscar for Richard E. Grant, a brilliant character actor who has enjoyed the Oscar spotlight more than anyone.
The Nominees: Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”; Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”; Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”; Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”; Adam McKay, “Vice”
Cuaron did an astonishing job writing, directing and shooting “Roma,” which feels like an epic although it’s in fact a very small and contained story. But it is Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” that is the big, cinematic achievement to be celebrated in the directing category. Lee has made it more than the sum of its parts, more than just a great movie: It’s a rollicking, unforgettable indictment of the deplorable foundation of the film industry and the country.
The Nominees: “The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara; “First Reformed,” Paul Schrader; “Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly; “Roma,” Alfonso Cuaron; “Vice,” Adam McKay
The Writers Guild of America provided no help here, since the winning original screenplay (Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade”) wasn’t even nominated. This is really a tough one that could, reasonably, go any way. While I think Paul Schrader has a shot, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara are the perfect consensus pick for “The Favourite.” I just hope they bring Horatio, the fastest duck in the city, with them to accept.
The Nominees: “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
A win here would assure Lee of his first (and long-overdue) non-honorary Oscar. Joel and Ethan Coen have won twice before for their scripts but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still the best in the business, as they showed once again with their six-part anthology of fate in a wanton Wild West.
The Nominees: “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
This is probably a toss-up between “Free Solo” and “RBG,” the latter of which had the fortune of seeing its iconic subject make a dramatic return to the Supreme Court bench just as Oscar voting was winding down. But don’t forget about “Hale County,” RaMell Ross’s cinematic poem of rural African-American life in Alabama. Its luminous images keep glowing long after the movie has finished.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Nominees: “Capernaum” (Lebanon); “Cold War” (Poland); “Never Look Away” (Germany); “Roma” (Mexico); “Shoplifters” (Japan)
“Roma” deserves the many accolades it has received. But its lock-step awards-season sweep has obscured a tremendously good bunch of foreign language nominees, several of which — including “Cold War,” “Shoplifters” and the overlooked “Burning” — I favor. Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters,” which won Cannes’ Palme d’Or, is made with such delicacy that you never see its profundity coming. You might never think of family the same way again — which is, ironically, part of the message of “Roma,” too.
The Nominees: “Incredibles 2,” “Isle of Dogs,” “Mirai,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,”
“Spider-Verse” will and should win because, frankly, it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen in this animation category before. There are a lot of good and even great films in here, but they’re all familiar in some way — except for “Spider-Verse.” MDT/AP