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Oscar Quest 2019 draws to a merciful end, after a sputtering out that has been mind-numbingly exhausting. In a world of everything possible being problematic via social media, Academy Awards season has become a lesson in patience through futility.

It’s been a long time since my personal top films were so startlingly off from what Oscar season put in front of us on nomination day.

But let’s talk a little about the good from this season: A terrific slate of big budget films finally got a little Oscar love, as “Black Panther” became the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture. Spike Lee saw his way to the top again with “BlacKkKlansman”, and “A Star is Born” came back around for a fourth time, and probably was better than ever (or at least better than the Streisand nonsense).

The bad: Scandals all around, as “Bohemian Rhapsody” saw a lot of love despite allegations surrounding it’s ousted director. Netflix stirred the pot with a threat to not release “Roma” in theaters so they could show it only on their platform.

The ugly: Snubbing Bradley Cooper for Best Director was a shocker. as was a pretty strong slap in the face of some amazing films made by women this year.

But now we get on with the show and here’s how I see it all this year. All told, in my Oscar quest, I only had a handful of films I didn’t get a chance to see. Mostly in foreign films, documentaries, and the shorts this year.

To the picks!

Best Picture:

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – NOVEMBER 21: Yalitza Aparicio poses during the red carpet and screening of Alfonso Cuarón and Netflix film ‘Roma’ at Cineteca National on November 21, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Victor Chavez/Getty Images for NETFLIX)

Will win: “Roma”

Should win: “A Star is Born”

Could win: “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Green Book”

What’s Missing: “Leave No Trace,” “Eighth Grade,” “A Quiet Place,” “The Rider”

Thoughts: For a year that had a lot of films that were solid 8s for me, this final lineup for Best Picture left me feeling rather meh. Four of the eight made my personal Top 10 list for the year. But aside from me, this will be interesting to see if the love for Netflix’s “Roma” stayed strong long enough into the voting cycle. Or will the absolutely ridiculous love for “Bohemian Rhapsody” take the day. Personally, I had “Roma” out of my Top 20 for the year, but I respect the achievement. “A Star is Born” was the highest rated of these in my personal rankings overall (coming in at 4th).

Personal ranking:

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

 

Lead Actor:

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 10: Rami Malek attends the EE British Academy Film Awards at Royal Albert Hall on February 10, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Will win: Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Should win: Bradley Cooper, “A Star is Born”

Could win: Christian Bale, “Vice”

Thoughts: This will go down as one of the bigger misjudgments in Oscar history. Rami Malek is a nice enough guy, and he does a fine enough job with his impersonation of Freddie Mercury. But make no mistake about this: This was not a good film artistically, and Malek’s ability to do a really good extended episode of Lip Sync Battle does not an Oscar winner make. Bradley Cooper on the other hand…well he only put together a remarkable performance that embodied a great acting performance AND he ACTUALLY sang the songs. Along side one of the greatest pop stars of our generation. We will wonder forever how this possibly wasn’t a slam dunk win for Cooper.

Personal ranking

  1. Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
  2. Christian Bale, “Vice”
  3. Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
  4. Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
  5. Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

 

Lead Actress:

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 23: Glenn Close accepts the Best Female Lead award for ‘The Wife’ onstage onstage during the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 23, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Will win: Glenn Close, “The Wife”

Should win: Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”

Could win: Olivia Colman

Thoughts: Glenn Close is a fine actress. She should have already won some Oscars. But this is a crappy year to award her a fake lifetime achievement award. The biggest issue is that Olivia Colman is a shared lead in “The Favourite,” so it’s hard for people to support that vote. And while Lady Gaga was terrific in her first acting role, the worst parts of “A Star is Born” are the portions focused on her career. That’s hard to get past. There are so many terrific performances that didn’t even make this list.

Personal ranking:

  1. Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
  2. Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
  3. Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
  4. Glenn Close, “The Wife”
  5. Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”

 

Supporting Actor:

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 10: Mahershala Ali attends the EE British Academy Film Awards at Royal Albert Hall on February 10, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Will win: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Should win: Sam Elliott, “A Star is Born”

Could win: Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Thoughts: “Green Book” is so problematic. In a bubble, it’s a fine film that feels like a nice redemption story. But man does a white savior story feel like it’s really out of place in the current climate. That’s not Ali’s fault. He’s a terrific actor that’s about to grab his second Oscar. Driver, Elliott and Grant all play terrific parts in their respective films, and Grant has been a delight on Twitter and throughout the campaign season. Rockwell’s Dubya impersonation is so misplaced on this list.

Personal ranking:

  1. Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
  2. Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
  3. Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
  4. Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
  5. Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

 

Supporting Actress:

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 23: Regina King accepts the Best Supporting Female award for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ onstage during the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 23, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Will win: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Should win: Emma Stone, “The Favourite”

Could win: Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Thoughts: “The Favourite” is a terrific film with terrific performances all around. But the issue here is that all three ladies are equally leads in this film. But some category fraud has Colman up in Lead Actress category and Stone and Weisz down here. That makes for some difficulty in picking one of them above another. Regina King was a gem in the slow but beautiful “Beale Street” but in a just world, this would go to one of the Favourite options.

Personal ranking:

  1. Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
  2. Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”
  3. Amy Adams, “Vice”
  4. Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  5. Marina de Tavira, “Roma”

 

Director:

Will win: Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”

Should win: Bradley Cooper, “A Star is Born”…oh wait

Could win: Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Thoughts: I respect that Cuaron put together his passion project here and did literally everything on it. But I’m not sure that means it’s the best work. But this is a lock win pretty much. Spike Lee deserves more love than he’s getting for the terrific “BlacKkKlansman”. But the real stunner here is that Bradley Cooper’s first directing project didn’t land him this nomination. Incredibly disappointing actually.

Personal ranking:

  1. Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
  2. Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
  3. Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
  4. Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
  5. Adam McKay, “Vice”

 

Animated Feature:

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 07: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producers Phil Lord (R) and Chris Miller (R) speak during a Sony press event for CES 2019 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 7, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world’s largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs from January 8-11 and features about 4,500 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to more than 180,000 attendees. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Will win: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Should win: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Could win: “Incredibles 2”

Thoughts: “Spider Man” was a truly fantastic animated feature that landed in my overall Top 20 this year. Unique storytelling and just a wonderful feeling. The mediocre “Incredibles 2” is getting more love than it should, but I don’t think it’s enough to slow Spidey.

Personal ranking:

  1. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
  2. “Ralph Breaks the Internet”
  3. “Isle of Dogs”
  4. “Mirai”
  5. “Incredibles 2”

 

Animated Short:

Will win: “Bao”

Could win: “One Small Step:

“Animal Behaviour”

“Bao”

“Late Afternoon”

“One Small Step”

“Weekends”

 

Adapted Screenplay:

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 10: Spike Lee speaks during the “BlacKkKlansman” Tastemaker at Neuehouse on December 10, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Focus Features)

Will win: “BlacKkKlansman”

Should win: “BlacKkKlansman”

Could win: “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Thoughts: Spike Lee put together a terrific film this year, and its sizziling script is one of its core strengths. A solid standout this year. While “A Star is Born” is terrific, it has some scripting issues in the middle act that detract a little.

Personal ranking:

  1. “BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
  2. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen , Ethan Coen
  3. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
  4. “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins
  5. “A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters

 

Original Screenplay:

Will win: “The Favourite”

Should win: “The Favourite”

Could win: “Green Book”

Thoughts: “The Favourite” is so witty and terrific. It absolutely deserves this win here. But don’t be shocked if “Green Book” gets the love people want to place on it here. A brief moment to recognize that “First Reformed” is FANTASTIC.

Personal ranking:

  1. “The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
  2. “First Reformed,” Paul Schrader
  3. “Vice,” Adam McKay
  4. “Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
  5. “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón

 

Cinematography:

Will win: “Roma,” Alfonso Cuaron

Should win: “The Favourite,” Robbie Ryan

Could win: “Cold War,” Lukasz Zal

Thoughts: And behold for the first time we have THREE films in the foreign film category showing up in the Cinematography category as well. While that’s really cool, the downside here is that two of them are being rewarded primarily for just doing a nice job with black and white. I’m not sure they’d be the same if they were shot in color. Maybe they would, but rewarding gimmicks always feels a little icky for me. It won’t slow Cuaron on this one. There’s a tiny chance the other black and white film here sneaks in. But it’s not going to happen.

Personal ranking:

  1. “The Favourite,” Robbie Ryan
  2. “Never Look Away,” Caleb Deschanel
  3. “A Star Is Born,” Matthew Libatique
  4. “Cold War,” Lukasz Zal
  5. “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón

 

Best Documentary Feature:

Will win: “Free Solo”

Could win: “Minding the Gap”

Thoughts: My failure category this year. Only saw “RBG”. It was good, but meh.

“Free Solo”

“Hale County This Morning, This Evening”

“Minding the Gap”

“Of Fathers and Sons”

“RBG”

 

Best Documentary Short Subject:

Will win: “Period. End of Sentence.”

Could win: “Black Sheep”

“Black Sheep,” Ed Perkins

“End Game,” Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

“Lifeboat,” Skye Fitzgerald

“A Night at the Garden,” Marshall Curry

“Period. End of Sentence.,” Rayka Zehtabchi

 

Best Live Action Short Film:

Will win: “Marguerite”

Could win: “Skin”

“Detainment,” Vincent Lambe

“Fauve,” Jeremy Comte

“Marguerite,” Marianne Farley

“Mother,” Rodrigo Sorogoyen

“Skin,” Guy Nattiv

 

Best Foreign Language Film:

Will win: “Roma”

Could win: “Cold War”

Thoughts: It would be quite a shock if the likely overall Best Picture winner didn’t also win “Foreign Language Film” too.

“Capernaum” (Lebanon)

“Cold War” (Poland)

“Never Look Away” (Germany)

“Roma” (Mexico)

“Shoplifters” (Japan)

 

Film Editing:

Will win: “Vice”

Should win: “First Man”…oh wait

Could win: “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Thoughts: Both “Vice” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” are certainly the “most edited” films in the list. But that doesn’t necessarily mean good things. But I guess something has to win. That “First Man” wasn’t a lock to win this this year is a travesty. A WONDERFULLY edited film.

Personal ranking:

  1. “BlacKkKlansman,” Barry Alexander Brown
  2. “The Favourite,” Yorgos Mavropsaridis
  3. “Vice,” Hank Corwin
  4. “Green Book,” Patrick J. Don Vito
  5. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Ottman

 

Sound Editing:

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 29: (L-R) Justin Hurwitz, Olivia Hamilton, Damien Chazelle and Victoria Lanier attend the Education Through Music-Los Angeles and Griffith Observatory special screening of ‘First Man’ at Griffith Observatory on November 29, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)

Will win: “First Man”

Should win: “First Man”

Could win: “A Quiet Place” or “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Thoughts: “First Man” was wonderfully edited and sound edited. And “A Quiet Place” used sound better than nearly any other film I’ve ever seen. But the “Bohemian Rhapsody” love (that I still don’t get) could steal this from two superior films and sound editors.

Personal ranking:

  1. “First Man”
  2. “A Quiet Place”
  3. “Roma”
  4. “Black Panther”
  5. “Bohemian Rhapsody”

 

Sound Mixing:

Will win: “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Should win: “A Star is Born”

Could win: “A Star is Born”

Thoughts: The most beautiful mixed film of the year was probably “First Man” also. But music tends to do better in mixing than editing. So lean to the two music-heavy films here.

Personal ranking:

  1. “First Man”
  2. “A Star Is Born”
  3. “Black Panther”
  4. “Roma”
  5. “Bohemian Rhapsody”

 

Production Design:

Will win: “The Favourite”

Should win: “The Favourite”

Could win: “Black Panther”

Thoughts: Creating a cool world inside a world is a challenge. That’s why showcases like “The Favourite” do so well here. It’s easy to make castles and various surroundings look spectacular, and boy did they nail it. But don’t discount the world creation done in Wakanda here.

Personal ranking:

  1. “The Favourite,” Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton
  2. “Black Panther,” Hannah Beachler
  3. “First Man,” Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas
  4. “Mary Poppins Returns,” John Myhre, Gordon Sim
  5. “Roma,” Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez

 

Original Score:

Will win: “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Should win: “Black Panther”

Could win: “Black Panther”

Thoughts: “Beale Street” was beautiful orchestrated. Probably too much so actually. It becomes more of the story than the story does. But it’s really well done. As was the fantastic work on “Black Panther”, where they avoided the tropes of traditional superhero movie music.

Personal ranking:

  1. “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell
  2. “Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson
  3. “BlacKkKlansman,” Terence Blanchard
  4. “Isle of Dogs,” Alexandre Desplat
  5. “Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman

 

Original Song:

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 27: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga attend the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Turner)

Will win: “Shallow”

Should win: “Any of three other songs from A Star is Born”

Could win: “All the Stars”

Thoughts: “A Star is Born” had to pick “Shallow” as its primary candidate for this award for obvious reasons in terms of story narrative, but it’s maybe the fourth best song in the film overall. All the rest of these songs are nice enough here, but none will come close to taking Lady Gaga’s moment away from her.

Personal ranking:

  1. “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice
  2. “All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
  3. “I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
  4. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
  5. “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

 

Makeup and Hair:

Will/Should/Could Win: “Vice”

Thoughts: This is all “Vice” all day for the transformation job they did on Christian Bale.

“Border”

“Mary Queen of Scots”

“Vice”

 

Costume Design:

Will win: “The Favourite”

Should win: “The Favourite”

Could win: “Black Panther”

Thoughts: Sandy Powell is a legend and even competing with herself here won’t cost her. The work done on “The Favourite” is complete perfection.

Personal ranking:

  1. “The Favourite,” Sandy Powell
  2. “Mary Poppins Returns,” Sandy Powell
  3. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Mary Zophres
  4. “Black Panther,” Ruth E. Carter
  5. “Mary Queen of Scots,” Alexandra Byrne

 

Visual Effects:

ATLANTA, GA – APRIL 26: A general view of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War Screening at The Fox Theatre on April 26, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Avengers: Infinity War)

Will win: “Avengers: Infinity War”

Should win: “First Man”

Could win: “First Man”

Thoughts: “First Man” used technology that nearly had to be invented to pull it off. Terrific work creating a world that we have dramatized so much, we think of it as clena and polished. “First Man” made it gritty and I’m here for all the grit!

Personal ranking:

  1. “First Man”
  2. “Avengers: Infinity War”
  3. “Christopher Robin”
  4. “Ready Player One”
  5. “Solo: A Star Wars Story”

 

About the Author: Brandon Plotnick is a self-described Oscar Dork, with a personal Oscar Quest every year to see every film nominated in every category before the ceremony. He also serves as the Digital Programming Director for Beasley Media Group in Fayetteville. 

Brandon Plotnick is a former sports journalist, now living in the digital space with interests all over the musical and pop culture map.