FilmSoc Predicts the Oscars 2019: Who Will Win and Who Should Win?

The FilmSoc Blog team got together to predict some of the wins for this year’s Oscars, while championing our own personal favourites and calling out injustices for snubs. Do you agree with our choices?

Illustration by Verity Slade for The Washington Post

Blog Consensus: Best Picture

What Will Win: Roma 

What Should win: Roma

Runner up: The Favourite

Our team at the FilmSoc Blog took a poll and the results for both were overwhelmingly Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, and interestingly even more of us believed that Roma will win as compared to should win. It will be well deserved – Roma has been gathering praise and accolades since its release on the festival circuits, and infused with Cuarón’s passion in this quiet, melancholic portrait of both the character of Cleo (first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio in a revelating performance) and Mexico City, there is no argument in whether it should win. However: no foreign language film has ever won Best Picture, and the Academy is not exactly known to be enthusiastic for them either. Nonetheless, it seems that Netflix this year not only has its eyes on the big prize, and will be taking it in a historical win, too.

Raphael’s Prediction for Best Director

Who Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón or Spike Lee

Who Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón or Paweł Pawlikowski

The ‘Best Director’ category of this year’s Oscars is both surprisingly diverse and uniform. With the nominations of Alfonso Cuarón, Paweł Pawlikowski, and Yorgos Lanthimos, there is a historically high proportion of non-American directors featured, at the paradoxical expense of deserving female filmmakers such as Lynne Ramsay for You Were Never Really Here or Chloé Zhao for The Rider. Adam McKay and Spike Lee make up the rest of the contenders. The BlacKkKlansman director earned his first nomination in this category 29 years after Do the Right Thing; he is the only black filmmaker to be nominated this year, considering the notable omission of Barry Jenkins for his Moonlight follow-up, If Beale Street Could Talk. Cuarón and Lee, in that order, appear to be the strongest candidates for the win, but personally, I am torn between the Roma and Cold War directors, whose black-and-white magnum opuses have stolen my heart. 

Sabastian’s Prediction for Best Actor 

Who Will Win: Christian Bale or Rami Malek

Who Should Win: Christian Bale or Willem Dafoe

This year sees some of the most prolific figures in both music and artistic history portrayed, from Vincent Van Gogh to Freddie Mercury. It’s undeniable that both Dafoe and Malek embody these roles remarkably well, with both performances carrying their respective films. In At Eternity’s Gate, Dafoe seems to strike a remarkable balance between acknowledging the status and history of Van Gogh whilst creating an original human character. In Vice, we see Christian Bale in yet another remarkably transformative role, this time as the villainous Dick Cheney; amidst the fat and the loathsome personality, one loses any sight of Bale the actor. It must be said that Bradley Cooper’s efforts in A Star Is Born, his directorial debut, are also impressive – the star physically hurt himself to lower the baritone of his vocals and lend authenticity to the role. Although it seems obvious that it’s Malek versus Bale, I would absolutely adore to see Dafoe recognised after coming so close with 2017’s The Florida Project

Sabastian’s Prediction for Best Actress

Who Will Win: Yalitza Aparicio or Lady Gaga

Who Should Win: Olivia Colman or Yalitza Aparicio

This year hosts a very interesting range of nominees, from Lady Gaga for (A Star Is Born) to Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) – both contenders who honestly surprised me with their performances in such serious roles. Olivia Colman, nominated in this for her role in The Favourite, would be a shoe-in for Best Supporting were she nominated, and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz both equally deserve Best Actress undoubtedly, though they were nominated for Best Supporting. What I will say about Colman is that she is lovely, hilarious, and heartbreaking from one beat to the next as Queen Anne. She is able to encapsulate devastating grief and a lapse in sanity immediately after light and playful banter with ease. She’s finally being given the full attention she’s deserved for a long time. If not Colman, then Aparicio deserves this win for her role in Roma; the teacher-turned-acting powerhouse is one of the shining examples of an untapped wealth of talent coming from Mexico.

Sabastian’s Prediction for Best Supporting Actress

Who Will Win: Regina King or Rachel Weisz/Emma Stone

Who Should Win: Rachel Weisz

Starting with the obvious, Amy Adams does not deserve an Oscar for her role Lynne Cheney in Vice; she deserved it for 2016’s Arrival, but sadly that time has passed. Regina King obviously deserves recognition for her portrayal of Sharon, a reserved yet powerful mother-turned-diplomatic negotiator in the complexity that is If Beale Street Could Talk. However, every fibre of my being wishes to see one of the The Favourite duo recognised for their absolutely outstanding performances. Friends, rivals, jealous lovers, enemies – the layers both actresses bring to their roles while maintaining a comedic levity is commendable and breathtaking as you watch this dysfunctional triangular relationship decay into a simultaneously childish and serious dynamic.

Alex’s Prediction for Best Animated Feature 

What Will Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

No longer will we have to debate which is the best Spider-Man movie, since Spider-Verse excels in leaps and bounds. Laugh-out-loud funny, important in its messages, and simply gorgeous aesthetically, this one definitely deserves the win.

What Should Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

See above.

Hassan’s Prediction for Best Original Screenplay 

What Should Win: Roma – Alfonso Cuarón or First Reformed – Paul Schrader

What Will Win: Roma or First Reformed

Cuarón’s intelligent screenplay reveals just enough necessary information in an intimate and personal manner. Set in the socio-politically turbulent years of the early ’70s in the Colonia Roma district of Mexico City, it would be easy for Cuarón to didactically showcase the context of his film through basic news headlines and obvious dialogue. Instead, hints of revolution and police brutality are relegated to off-comments during a family dinner at the very beginning of the film, before being interrupted by mention of the family dog, Borras, and his roaming shenanigans. Indeed, ‘Borras’, the dog’s name, is one of the most frequently spoken words in the opening five or ten minutes, demonstrating emphasis on Roma’s domesticated setting. Cuarón’s screenplay declares that, first and foremost, this is a personal film set in a middle-class household, drawing attention to the emotions of the family, their maid Cleo, and the peripheral figures that shape their experiences. The script allows the lens to do the talking, instructing wide pans that reveal the lively character of the neighbourhood. Moments of brilliant intensity and disturbing imagery are dotted around the film, highlighting the brutal realities that Cleo contends with while she maintains her stoic, selfless approach for the sake of the children she cares for.

On the other hand, despite First Reformed being concerned with the worries of a religious pastor, Ethan Hawke suggested that as soon as he read Paul Schrader’s screenplay, he could tell it was by the writer of Taxi Driver, just a bit more ‘grown up’. Schrader himself agrees, saying the character of ‘the drifter, the loader, the lightsleeper, and the man in his room’ is one and the same, only this time he’s spiritual. The fight between religion, climate change, and how history will remember us for our sins takes centre stage, and while the performances are stellar, it is the confrontational nature of Schrader’s words that lends the troubled narrative path of Hawke’s pastor, Ernst Toller, a moving brutality.

Xinyi’s Prediction for Best Cinematography

What Will Win: Roma – Alfonso Cuarón

Roma’s combination of sweeping, grand shots of Mexico City with intimate closeups of the inner workings of Cleo’s life, all shot in black and white, has earned it numerous wins in the cinematography category so far – and rightfully so. Tackling black and white is a traditional yet tricky job, and Roma succeeds in moving away from gimmickry by utilising light and shadows fully to construct an almost angelic yet melancholic world. The opening and closing shots of the airplane reflected on the floor water; the overwhelming magnitude of the student protests; and, of course, the heartbreaking scene on the beach permanently imprint themselves in the mind. There is a reason why it has been recommended to see Netflix’s Roma in the theatres and not on the laptop – the vastness and the emotions encompassed by the camera are deserved to be marveled at on the big screen and pack their punches harder if viewed with maximum sensory focus. Cuarón juggles the role of Director of Photography himself and delivers – a feat that the Academy will recognise.

What Should Win: Roma / If Beale Street Could Talk – James Laxton

Roma absolutely deserves to win Best Cinematography. However, there is one film of 2018 with such vivid camerawork that rivals, a film that was unbelievably snubbed and not nominated: Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk. Shot by James Laxton, its cinematography is so full of character and personality that you could recognise that it is a Barry Jenkins film even when going in blind. Jenkins’ frequent collaborator and go-to DP Laxton continues from the visual aesthetics and intimate softness of Moonlight, but this time with a beautiful overabundance of colour; yellow never looked so good on camera. It’s atrocious that the Academy failed to recognise Beale Street’s cinematographic feat. If entered into the game, it would be much harder to choose between Roma and Beale Street

Lydia’s Prediction for Best Editing

What Will Win: Vice – Hank Corwin

Roger Ebert once said that to accurately predict an Oscar win, just replace the word ‘best’ with ‘most’ – and Vice is certainly filled to the brim with exciting, interesting editing, both moment-to-moment and structurally. Anyone who has seen Corwin’s work on Adam McKay’s previous film The Big Shortknows this. Out of the nominated films, it’s fairly easy to pick out Vice as the winner amongst a selection of films with mostly natural, competent editing. (The exception of course being Bohemian Rhapsody, whose atrociously jarring editing is truly a testament the Academy’s seeming lack of ability to distinguish between ‘best’ and ‘most’)

What Should Win: If Beale Street Could Talk – Joi McMillan, Nat Sanders

Okay, yes, this may be cheating slightly in that Beale Street is not nominated for Best Editing. The way in which certain shots, particularly those of faces, linger on screen for longer than audiences are accustomed to beautifully complements James Laxton’s stunning cinematography (who has, again, also been somewhat shockingly snubbed for his work on Beale Street) to create a visual experience which is immersive and not easily forgotten.

Alex’s Prediction for Best Original Score 

What Will Win: Black Panther – Ludwig Göransson

And honestly, I’d be happy with this win. Blending African music with American hip-hop, Göransson’s score underlines the looming presence of Killmonger’s character and the emotionality of the film’s themes, all while managing to keep a hold of that classic superhero orchestral sound. This is one of the most original and interesting scores we’ve had in years.

What Should Win: Isle of Dogs – Alexandre Desplat

Although controversial, Desplat’s score celebrates Japanese music and culture – I mean, that Taiko drumming is phenomenal (though actually written by Kaoru Watanabe). You only need to listen to ‘End Titles’ to know that the music of this film is playful, unusual, and fantastic, but I guess Desplat winning two years in a row would just be a little greedy.

Alex’s Prediction for Best Original Song

What Will Win: “Shallow” (From A Star is Born) – Lady Gaga

Does this need an explanation? No, I think not.

What Should Win: “Sunflower” (From Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) – Post Malone, Swae Lee

This gem of a song was not even nominated, despite it being one of the chillest and most re-playable songs to be featured on the big screen. It is dreamy and sweet, not to mention as catchy as a spider’s web. (Too cheesy a metaphor?)

The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, 24th February. It will air live in the UK through Sky and NOW TV on Monday morning at 01:00am. 

Click here for more Awards Season coverage by the FilmSoc Blog.

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