The 91st Academy Awards are held in Hollywood on February 24, 2019. That means that it’s far too early for me to make any sort of realistic predictions for the ceremony, but what harm is there in giving it a go anyway? So, with another five and a half months still to go, here are my ridiculously early 2019 Oscar predictions.
The Following Pack: First Man, A Star Is Born, The Favourite
After a less-than-stellar fight for Best Picture last year, it seems that there’s a real range of potential greats coming up for this year’s Academy Awards. Of course, most of these films are only just premiering at Cannes, Telluride and Toronto, however with their buzz and credentials, we can start to see which films will be coming to the fore.
For me, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma looks like the best candidate for Best Picture at the moment. Its trailer has everything you’d ever want in an Oscar-winning movie, it has the credentials of the man who won Best Director for Gravity, and, simply put, it does look rather impressive.
The only thing working against Roma is that it’s a Netflix movie, and although things have improved since streaming services entered the awards biz, there’s still a strong bias against them when it comes to these ceremonies, with only Manchester By The Sea – a part-Amazon production – taking awards home.
That could open up the field to more candidates, and as things stand, there are a couple of other films with good potential to take the big prize. Director Damien Chazelle’s First Man La La Land has received rave reviews for both its story and its technical achievements – any suggestions of controversy are of no concern to general audiences – and with the director’s infamous disappointment two years ago, this could be a real shot at redemption.
Also, Bradley Cooper directs and stars in A Star Is Born, alongisde Lady Gaga in the lead role. Said to be a moving and inspiring piece with strong roots in the country music scene, it’s captured the hearts of many at festivals, although its very early release date (October 5 in the US) could possibly work against it.
Finally, the current outside bet for Best Picture comes in the form of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite. With an incredible track record already on the director’s back, including Dogtooth, The Lobster and The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, this film seems like his first real shot at big Oscar success.
Starring Academy favourites Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, as well as acclaimed actress Olivia Colman, The Favourite has all the credentials to help it take a top prize, although as is the case with Lanthimos, it could just be a bit too weird for the Academy to really rave about.
Prediction: Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk
The Following Pack: Damien Chazelle – First Man, Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
Just as Damien Chazelle met with disappointment for Best Picture two years ago, Barry Jenkins missed out on Best Director for his Best Picture-winning Moonlight. This year, however, as the two prepare to do battle again, it looks as if Jenkins will come out on top, by virtue of his adaptation of the novel If Beale Street Could Talk.
A striking trailer is already enough to put Jenkins right at the front of the race, and with now with an Oscar-winning film already under his belt, he won’t be seen as much of an outside this time round, putting him on level terms with his more established competitors.
With that said, Chazelle is still in the picture with First Man, a film that’s built around technical brilliance, something that the Academy is often more drawn towards in awarding Best Director, so don’t count him out of the race just yet.
And then Yorgos Lanthimos is once again an outside runner for the prize, given that his film The Favourite is very much a so-called ‘director’s film’, with all of its buzz and anticipation based on Lanthimos’ excellent track record. Although, it would be a shock to see him take the prize given that the Academy may be put off by just how strange The Favourite promises to be.
Prediction: Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
The Following Pack: Lucas Hedges – Boy Erased
Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born is likely to be in the running for a good few categories, although I can’t help but feel it’s going to come up short in most. The exception, however, could be Best Actor. Cooper has already picked up two nominations in the category, for Silver Linings Playbook and American Sniper, and with extra praise being heaped upon him for his work as director on the film, it’s likely Cooper will be the most highly-valued part of what looks to be a good film, putting him right at the centre of attention when it comes to selecting the nominees and eventual winners in a few months’ time.
However, as is so often the case with Best Actor in recent years, things aren’t quite a foregone conclusion. While Cooper has had the Oscar campaign going on A Star Is Born for a good few weeks now, some of the smaller productions will likely pick up momentum as we come towards the end of the year. Lucas Hedges, for example, is very likely to take his first Best Actor nod for Boy Erased, two years after his Supporting Actor nomination for Manchester By The Sea.
Of course, Hedges is much younger than many of his competitors, which stacks the odds against him when it comes to the eventual award, but with an already impressive track record in a very short career, and a performance that’s set to gain acclaim the world over, he has a real chance at upsetting the formbook when it comes to Best Actor.
Prediction: Nicole Kidman – Destroyer
The Following Pack: Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born
I don’t know why it is, but Best Actress is year-on-year a category with more impressive performances and far more fierce competition than Best Actor, and it looks to be the case once again in 2019.
As things stand, Nicole Kidman is set to run a strong race as she looks for her second Best Actress win, with her performance as a haunted detective in crime-thriller Destroyer completely upending expectations and receiving strong plaudits at its premiere in Telluride a few days ago.
With her established track record as an Oscar-winning actress, and a performance that looks to contain powerful emotion and depth beyond anything we’ve seen from her before, Kidman looks very strong in the upcoming race, and even if the film itself isn’t a masterpiece – Julianne Moore dominated the 2015 awards despite Still Alice’s less-than-exceptional quality – there’s a really good chance we could see her taking that second statuette home.
Speaking of defying expectations, however, Lady Gaga is genuinely in the fight as well for her performance in A Star Is Born. Sometimes celebrities from outside the movie world come into a lead performance, but never really manage to shake off their real-world persona, yet the story surrounding A Star Is Born sees Lady Gaga doing the exact opposite, with a completely different look and persona to her popular music, and a performance that could really tug at the heartstrings.
Watch this space, because Best Actress is as close a fight as ever before.
Best Popular Film
Prediction: Black Panther
NEW FOR 2019! As the Oscars ceremony faces ever-falling ratings, The Academy have finally given into years of internal pressure and announced they would introduce a new Best Popular Film category – prompting controversy and outrage across Twitter.
The category does somewhat devalue the quality of blockbusters that are going for Best Picture, as well as taking away from the definity of the award for the year’s Best Picture, but seeing as it’s there, I might as well have a go at predicting it.
My pick for the award is Black Panther, a film that caused a wave of excitement across the world back in February, and took over $1bn at the global box office. Given the incessant (and rather over-ambitious calls) for Black Panther to be awarded Best Picture, some have suggested that the Best Popular Film category was created just to give Black Panther an award that wasn’t Best Picture.
Anyway, while calls for Black Panther to win Best Picture are a little much, it’s a fair winner for Best Popular Film, and although it isn’t Marvel’s best from this year, nor is it the year’s best blockbuster, its unstoppable momentum and public support will almost certainly push it to victory.
The chasing pack includes the stunning Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the enormous Avengers: Infinity War, the hilarious Incredibles 2, and many others, but we’re still not sure how this new category is going to pan out (if it’s even in the ceremony at all come next year).
Also, what classifies as a ‘Popular Film’? Is it box office returns? A public vote? There are still a lot of unknowns as the Oscars tries to weather the storm of a difficult few months ahead.