'Roma,' 'The Favourite' and more
We thought about the Oscar nominations so you don't have to
The glitz! The self-congratulations! The righteous outrage over perceived snubs! Nominations for the 91st annual Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning, folks. Let's take a quick look at a few key Oscars categories. What did the Academy get wrong? (Most things involving male actors in leading roles!) What did they get right? (Giving us an actress battle royale!)
Before we break down the race for this year's little gold men, a moment of silence for a few good to great to financially successful movies that the Academy seemed to forget existed altogether, and the world may never know why:
• Boots Riley's surrealist protest art “Sorry to Bother You”
• Police violence tale “Blindspotting”
• The warm cardigan of a Mr. Rogers documentary that is “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
• Box office smash “Crazy Rich Asians”
• Viola Davis heist vehicle “Widows”
• Bo Burnham's sublime full-body cringe "Eighth Grade" (and, in particular, 15-year-old Elsie Fisher's magnetic lead turn)
• Visually dazzling mind-trip "Annihilation"
• Henry Cavill's mustache in "Mission Impossible: Fallout"
And now, our take on the nominees in the top Oscars categories:
• “Black Panther”
• “Bohemian Rhapsody”
• “The Favourite”
• “Green Book”
• “A Star Is Born”
Joe Gross: Eight nominations means one can theoretically win this category with 12.51 percent of the vote, which seems as apt a metaphor as any for our divided age. “Black Panther,” “BlacKkKlansman” and “Green Book” bring discussions about race to this race, with allegations of whitewashing (that the Golden Globes didn’t care about) haunting “Green Book.” The increasingly iconic “Black Panther” was the year’s most popular movie (in the U.S.). Golden Globe-winner “Bohemian Rhapsody” bowdlerized its tale about as much as fellow Globe-winner “Green Book.” The hypnotically overrated “A Star Is Born” generated memes and popist vs. rockist debates among music dorks. Which leaves the look-at-us-acting showcase “Vice,” the she’s-not-a-"real"-actor wonder “Roma” and the wow-these-ladies-can-act miracle “The Favourite.” Your guess is as good as mine, frankly.
Eric Webb: I let my shower water run cold while I watched the nominations roll out on Twitter, and honey, I am here to guess. Like Joe mentioned, "Green Book" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" are the New England Patriots of this year's Oscars slate: pretty well disliked by the critical hivemind, yet putting the points on the board this awards season. If they steal vote share from each other — let's assume for a minute that people who think "Green Book" is good also think "Bohemian Rhapsody" is good — then I'd love to see "The Favourite" take it. It's a decadently rendered, twisted period piece; it has a refreshing point of view about sex, power and queer desire; it has Rachel Weisz in menswear; and it has a duck.
Actress in a Leading Role
• Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
• Glenn Close, “The Wife”
• Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
• Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
• Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
JG: Even if Close already has a Globe, this is McCarthy vs. Colman. I honestly think a coin flip is the way to go. Sorry, Stefani Germanotta.
EW: To paraphrase Close playing as Gertrude in the 1990 version of "Hamlet": Academy, thou hast cleft my heart in ... five directions. The only bad outcome here is if Dakota Johnson wins in a write-in for "Suspiria." I'd love to see Colman take it just for the acceptance speech, but McCarthy or Aparicio would be thrilling underdog winner.
Actor in a Leading Role
• Christian Bale, “Vice”
• Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
• Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
• Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
• Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
JG: “Bohemian” was problematic as heck, but Globe-winner Malek wasn’t one of the problems — his performance is a masterclass in chicken-blank-into-chicken-salad. Mortensen’s mook plays to the cheap seats, Bale already has the Globe, Cooper’s ridiculous am-I-Kristofferson-yet voice should actually have disqualified an otherwise perfectly fine performance, and nobody saw Dafoe. An oddly "who cares?" category.
EW: I think they should give this award to one of the women in the best actress race.
Actor in a Supporting Role
• Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
• Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
• Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
• Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
• Sam Rockwell, “Vice”
JG: Always a fun category. Anyone could win this, and everyone should be fine with it. Except Sam Elliott, who was fine but basically playing Sam Elliott in a role that actually didn’t make a lick of sense. (He is supposed to be Bradley Cooper’s brother? What?) If he wins, look at it as a career thing.
EW: Grant spilled regret and gin off the screen in a shabbily serpentine turn as a down-on-his-luck barfly turned accomplice to forgery. Especially if McCarthy doesn't take best actress, I'd like to see him win.
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Actress in a Supporting Role
• Amy Adams, “Vice”
• Marina de Tavira, “Roma”
• Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
• Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
• Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”
JG: Another one you can’t get mad at. King already has the Globe (and deserved it), but everyone here was equally good. Stone and Weisz might cancel each other out. I wasn’t wild about the movie, but would it have killed anyone to put Michelle Yeoh here for “Crazy Rich Asians"?
EW: De Tavira lit Twitter up in delighted surprise, but I think this is King's to lose. Pitting Stone and Weisz against each other makes me feel like the Watcher from Marvel Comics: doomed to witness tragedy but unable to prevent it.
• Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
• Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
• Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
• Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
• Adam McKay, “Vice”
JG: A complicated one. “BlacKkKlansman” isn’t Lee’s best work. It might not even be in the top five: Hello, “Do the Right Thing,” “Bamboozled,” “25th Hour,” “When the Levees Broke,” “Inside Man." But his career is singular. Cuarón has a Globe already. McKay is a dark horse. Pawlikowski probably shouldn’t be here without a best picture nod, and Lanthimos earns a spot for what feels like his version of a brilliant mainstream move. (Not to mention it's a stellar film.) The absence of Paul Schrader for "First Reformed" here is really weird — that guy actually did make one of his best movies of a 40-plus-year career. Also missing Barry Jenkins for “If Beale Street Could Talk” and Ryan Coogler for “Black Panther.”
EW: I'm thinking Cuarón will get the trophy. The Academy obviously has "Roma" fever (peep the actress category nominees, as well as the coveted best picture nod for a foreign language film, a category that also includes "Capernaum," "Cold War," "Never Look Away" and "Shoplifters"), and it's been a minute since he won for 2013's "Gravity." But yeah, Lanthimos winning would make me smile, especially if it helped seal the deal for "The Favourite" in the top prize. And I say this as someone who hated "The Lobster."
• “Incredibles 2,” Brad Bird
• “Isle of Dogs,” Wes Anderson
• “Mirai,” Mamoru Hosoda
• “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
• “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
JG: As much as Texans might pull for University of Texas alum Anderson and “Isle of Dogs,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” was the year’s best animated feature by such a wide margin and on so many levels that to see it lose would be shonde.
EW: "Isle of Dogs" is not good! "Into the Spider-Verse" is a generation-and-genre-defining dazzler that makes you both cry and like a Post Malone song!
• “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
JG: Another coin-flip in a category that’s always a bit of a head-scratcher for the audience. Are they rewarding the quality of the screenplay or its relationship to the source material or both or what? Whatever it is, how about it not be "A Star Is Born."
EW: "If Beale Street Could Talk" deserves some hardware, and this is as good a place as any to start.
• “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
JG: *raises hand* Where on Earth is “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
EW: *raises hand* Did anyone else think "RBG" was a complete softball of a bio-doc?
• “The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
• “First Reformed,” Paul Schrader
• “Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
• “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
• “Vice,” Adam McKay
JG: All fine, but my tastes lean toward "The Favourite," "First Reformed" and "Roma." Also, as far as originality of screenplay goes, "Sorry to Bother You" and "Blindspotting" really should be here.
EW: Justice for Bo Burnham's "Eighth Grade!" "Roma" would sit well with my soul, though. (Especially because I want it to win something, and I'd rather see "Shoplifters" win best foreign language film.)
• “All the Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
• “I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
• “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
• “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice
• “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by Willie Watson, Tim Blake Nelson
JG: It's between "Shallow" and "All the Stars." "Shallow" already has a Globe, so it will probably be "Shallow."
EW: Once in my life, I thought Lady Gaga would get an Oscar for putting tape over her eyebrows and singing "La Vie En Rose" in a gay bar. Then the rest of the awards season happened, and I resigned myself to the fact that she would probably only get her EGOT grist for a song that's more of a meme than a bop. Send an Edible Arrangement to SZA and Kendrick.