Oscars 2019 Best Picture Nomination Predictions

Oscars 2018 was possibly the most unpredictable race ever (only in terms of Best Picture). So, it was a little disappointing that it ended with a whimper. ‘The Shape of Water’ was the most conventional and predictable choice that the Academy could have gone with. And in the end, despite all its unpredictability, the Oscar 2018 season ended on a predictable note, so much so, that I was able to predict 23 out of 24 winners correctly. Anyway, it is time to move on and look what lies ahead.

Update 5th Sep, 2018: Two major film festivals, Telluride and Venice, just got over. And even though both the festivals were low key compared to past years, there were more than a few movies that emerged to be the top Oscar contenders. While there were familiar titles, that most of the Oscar pundits, expected to do well — like ‘Roma’ and ‘First Man’ — there were also movies like ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me’ and ‘The Favorite’ that emerged as surprise contenders. At this point, you might be wondering what about the films that nobody has seen yet? It is true that we have yet to see some major titles scheduled to release late in the year, but don’t forget that majority of the Best Picture winners of last few years premiered at Telluride.  While I am tempted to declare that the race to Best Picture will ultimately be between ‘Roma’ and ‘First Man’, I will hold off that judgement for a few weeks till things settle down.

Update 17th Sep, 2018: The biggest film festival as far as Oscars are concerned, just got over. While the films that were carrying buzz from Telluride and Venice — like Roma, A Star is Born and First Man — continued their good show at TIIF, there were also several new titles that threw their hat in the race. The two that emerged to be the strongest contenders out of TIFF are Green Book and If Beale Street Could Talk. The former won the highly sought after TIFF’s People Choice Awards. Just in case you were wondering what does People Choice Award has to do with Oscars, let me remind you that prior winners include the likes of La La Land and The King’s Speech. So, that puts Green Book squarely into the mix of Best Picture conversation.

Update 6th Dec, 2018: A lot has changed since the last time I made an update to my predictions. The reason I waited for so long to move things is because of two reasons: 1. I wanted to see some of the prospective contenders that had skipped the film festival circuit 2. I also wanted to wait for how major critics group awards and Golden Globes nominations play out.

So, the question remains: what has changed? First, a couple of months back I was almost certain that Roma is the Best Picture frontrunner, but after all that has transpired since then, I am no longer sure of that. Why? Because there are now more than one serious contenders for the top prize. Apart from Roma, there are two films that are steadily climbing the Oscar charts: A Star is Born and Green Book. Then, considering the fact that Oscars are nowadays more about making political statement than rewarding “the best”, I wouldn’t discount Blackkklansman and Black Panther either. Yes, you read that right. Black Panther is now a serious Best Picture contender.

Second, some of the serious contenders are almost out of the race.. or are they. The first one to suffer the brunt happens to be one of my favorite films of the year: First Man. I am surprised by the cold reception the film is receiving. Its poor box-office performance almost sealed its fate. Another film that I had high hopes with, Mary Queen of Scots, also doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The film was received positively by the critics, but it really needed overwhelmingly positive response to catapult it into the Oscars race.

Third: Emergence of a couple of new contenders: Mary Poppins Returns and Vice. Both the films hugely benefitting from strong showing at Golden Globe nominations. More on them below.

I will continue to closely monitor the Oscar landscape and update this list after every major event. For now, here is the list of movies that I predict will be nominated for Best Picture Oscar in 2019. I have categorized the list into three categories: Almost Guaranteed, Strong Possibility, Slim Possibility and Falling Out.

Falling Out:

On the Basis of Sex

Director: Mimi Leder
Cast: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux
Synopsis: The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her struggles for equal rights and what she had to overcome in order to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
Analysis: Film’s weak showing with the critics didn’t help the matters. Its best shot was grabbing a Best Actress nomination. That too seems like an impossibility.

Beautiful Boy

Director: Felix Van Groeningen
Starring: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan, Timothy Hutton and Kaitlyn Dever
Synopsis: Chronicles meth addiction and recovery through the eyes of a father who watches his son Nic as he struggles with the disease.
Analysis: ‘Beautiful Boy’ is based on a bestselling novel  Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff. The film that explores a dysfunctional yet intimate father-son dynamic is well made, but is bleak and gives you no respite as a viewer. While the film will remain in conversation, I am not very hopeful of its Best Picture prospects.

Boy Erased

Director: Joel Edgerton
Starring: Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Lucas Hedges
Synopsis: Based on Gerrard Conley’s memoir titled ‘Boy Erased: A Memoir’, ‘Boy Erased’ tells the story of a young man who was outed to his parents when he was a teenager. Themes of identity, self-discovery and love remain the film’s central focus.
Analysis: Apart from the touching story, the film has some terrific performances. A film as bold and as humane such as this is difficult to ignore. But my guess is that because of such tough competition this year, it won’t be easy for Boy Erased to break into the Best Picture nomination list.

Mary Queen Of Scots

Director: Josie Rourke
Starring:  Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, Guy Pearce
Synopsis: Mary Stuart’s attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution.
Analysis: A period drama with a terrific cast more often than not does well at the “Oscars” . Saoirse Ronan, who plays the titular character, had a stellar 2017, so we can naturally only expert greater things from her. The supporting cast also has several heavyweights. Director Josie Rourke is a theater veteran and she seems more than comfortable helming the film. Unfortunately, the film was too late to the party and needed phenomenal reviews to make a dent in the Oscar race. The reviews were good .. but not good enough.

Slim Possibility:

12. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Director: Marielle Heller
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells
Synopsis: When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception. An adaptation of the memoir Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel.
Analysis: The film garnered universal acclaim both at Telluride and TIFF. It was the one true surprise that floored the critics. Considering it is based on a true story and sees Melissa McCarthy give a terrific dramatic performance, its chances looked very bight. But critics and indie groups aren’t showing the warmth that this film deserved. Hence, it is losing some steam. Read Full Review.

11. First Man

Director: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Shea Whigham, Jon Bernthal, Brian d’Arcy James, Pablo Schreiber
Synopsis: A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Analysis: First Man is not as easy to like as La La Land. That doesn’t mean it is any less of an achievement. Chazelle once again proves he is master craftsman. I expect universal support from the technical branches of the Academy. But I am not so sure about its Best Picture prospects, especially after getting snubbed by AFI and Golden Globes. Read Full Review.

Strong Possibility:

10. First Reformed

 

Director: Paul Schrader
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer
Synopsis: A minister of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns and a tormented past.
Analysis: First Reformed received glowing reviews when it first released. But for some reason, experts thought it wouldn’t gain any Oscar traction — probably because of its May release date. It took Gotham Awards and Independent Spirit Awards to show that actually ignore First Reformed at your own risk. I believe it does have an outside shot of making the list of Best Picture nominees.

9. Mary Poppins Returns

Director: Rob Marshall
Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Mortimer, Meryl Streep
Synopsis: Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives.
Analysis: Reviews are through the roof. Critics are going gaga over the film. It will set box office on fire. Older Academy members are going to love the film. Its position on Best Picture nomination almost seems certain.

8. Black Panther

Director: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o
Synopsis: T’Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past.
Analysis: Black Panther is all set to become the first superhero film to receive Best Picture nomination. After smashing box office records and impressing critics around the globe, it is now doing extremely well in the precursor awards shows. Keeping in mind all the PC boxes it checks, its nomination is all but guaranteed.

7. Vice

Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Bill Pullman and Alison Pill
Synopsis: The story of Dick Cheney, the most powerful Vice President in history, and how his policies changed the world as we know it.
Analysis: One look at Bale’s transformation for the role and you won’t be asking this question again. But there’s much more to the film than the master transformer, such as the stellar ensemble and Dick Cheney’s own original intriguing life story. ‘The Big Short’, McKay’s last collaboration with Bale and Carell, was a treasure trove of crisp filmmaking and wry humour. They seems to have to repeated the magic again.  ‘The Big Short’ fell short (pun intended) of winning Best Picture. But he will have a second shot at the big prize with ‘Vice’.

6. If Beale Street Could Talk

Director: Barry Jenkins
Starring: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King
Synopsis: A woman in Harlem desperately scrambles to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime while carrying their first child.
Analysis: Barry Jenkins follow up to Moonlight is impressing critics everywhere. Even though, I am not a big fan, I recognize how much the film is relevant to current times. I am confident it will do very well with the Academy voters. Read Full Review

Almost Guaranteed:

5. The Favourite

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring:  Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone
Synopsis: In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne (Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Weisz) governs the country in her stead. When a new servant Abigail (Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.
Analysis: Who would have thought that Yorgos Lanthimos, who came into limelight with Dogtooth, would go on to direct a historical dramedy? Even more surprising is that The Favourite is being talked about as serious Oscar contender. I believe the film will score several below the line nominations — Production Design, Costume Design, Cinematography — and due to its technical strength it is very likely to score Best Picture nomination as well. Remember Darkest Hour?

4. Blackkklansman

Director: Spike Lee
Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier
Synopsis: The plot revolves around an African-American cop from Colorado who goes on to infiltrate the local Klu Klux Klan and later become the leader of the local chapter.
Analysis: Spike Lee is known to have explored a wide range of socio-cultural issues in his movies, including racism, urban poverty, media and crime. The man has made some of the most important American films of the past 30 years including ’25th Hour’, ‘Malcolm X, and ‘Do the Right Thing’, and with this one, he looks pretty much in his zone, which is what makes the wait very exciting. After a long time, we have a Spike Lee-directed Oscar contender on our hands.

3. Green Book

Director: Peter Farrelly
Starring: Linda Cardellini, Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali
Synopsis: A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.
Analysis: The fact that Green Book beat the likes of A Star is Born and First Man to win the coveted TIFF People Choice Awards tells you a lot about how easy to like it is. While it won’t be a critical favorite, I have no doubts in my mind that Academy voters will find the film pleasing. Read Full Review.

2. A Star is Born

Director: Bradley Cooper
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Stefani Germanotta, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle
Synopsis: A movie star helps a young singer/actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.
Analysis: The verdict is out. Bradley Cooper is not just a good actor, but also a terrific director. And of course people are going gaga over Lady Gaga. Her Best Actress nomination is guaranteed. Most likely, Bradley Cooper’s Best Actor bid is also secure. Given the massive buzz around the film, it is the current frontrunner according to many. Read Full Review.

1. Roma

Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey
Synopsis: A story that chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s.
Analysis: Beautiful. Moving. Personal. Masterpiece. These are the words that critics are using to describe Alfoso Cuaron’s latest creation. It is understandable that after making a grand film like ‘Gravity’, he went back to make a very personal project. It seems like his decision to pour his heart out is touching a lot of hearts. In a perfect world, this is your Best Picture winner. But what hurts its chances is the fact it is a Foreign Language film. I am sure it will sweep most of the critic group awards. Its real test will begin once movie guilds start announcing their winners. Read Full Review.

Read More: Oscars 2019 Best Actress Predictions

Read More: Oscars 2019 Best Actor Predictions

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