Best Picture Breakdown and Director Predictions for the 2019 Academy Awards

The 91st Academy Awards are just a couple of days away and it is time to break down the race for Best Picture and Best Director.  While I never fully agree with all the nominees, I’ve always been one to back the Academy and their willingness to honor art over popularity. Sure, I always vehemently disagree with some of the choices and love explaining why I’m right and they’re wrong. On the other hand, I also love many of their choices, with the top of my favorites nearly always in the running (Click the link to read my Ten Best Movies of 2018). However, this year the ballot appears to be weighted against me as I seem to disagree more than I agree, which has left a sour taste in my mouth while I attempt my annual Oscar predictions. Still, while I’m predicting a let down, I haven’t given up hope in what could be an unpredictable night.

Best Director
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice

Alfonso Cuarón probably deserves the win, but he probably always deserves to win. To be honest, he might be one of the best directors in the history of film when it’s all said and done. Spike Lee is a long time director who many believe has been snubbed most of his career. While he’s made some terrific films, I think, outside of DO THE RIGHT THING, BLACKKKLANSMAN is the first legitimate contender he has had.  Since Cuarón has already won this category for GRAVITY, this could be the time to have the first black director be handed the award. I love BLACKKKLANSMAN, but it’s a film that showcases the story more than the directing, unlike ROMA, which I believe is a story that is enhanced by the direction. Yorgos Lanthimos will hopefully win this award in the future, as his last three films have been mind-blowingly brilliant and I am eager to see what the future holds for him. This is not that year though.

Runner Up: Spike Lee for BLACKKKLANSMAN

Winner: Alfonso Cuarón for ROMA

Roma

Best Picture
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Roma
A Star is Born
Vice

This year’s nominees can be divided fairly easily into three groups. To keep the list in movie terms, I’ll simply divide it into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I’m sure, I’m about to irritate a large portion of the audience.

The Good:

ROMA (10 nominations), THE FAVOURITE (10 nominations), BLACKKKLANSMAN (6 nominations)-

These three films are the only ones that I truly believe deserve to be on the ballot.

THE FAVOURITE might be my favorite movie in the category. However, the dark comedy is far too strange and inaccessible to have legit consideration. I consider director Yorgos Lanthimos a lot like Stanley Kubrick, whose films are appreciated by the industry but never receive a ton of award recognition.

ROMA is something special and has an eye-opening story of seeing life through the lens of a different culture that many American’s probably don’t realize.  Currently the frontrunner with the most nominations and awards coming into the Oscars, ROMA is still a Netflix film and a foreign film. Two feats that have never won Best Picture in the history of the award.  I think many voters will have clicked it to win Foreign and will likely spread the love elsewhere.  Plus, being a Netflix film is another new unknown factor, which makes me leery to choose it. If it wasn’t either of those things, it would be the obvious choice, so maybe it will become the first foreign film in history to win Best Picture.

BLACKKKLANSMAN has a little more skin in the game as far as being relevant in today’s political and racial climate. However, it has won very little coming into the big night. I hope the Academy will prevail and “Do the right thing” by awarding it the Best Picture.

The Bad:

VICE (8 nominations), BLACK PANTHER (7 nominations) –

For the record, I don’t think these movies are bad. They just happen to be the very decent middle group, which I believe overachieved to their nomination. There’s not a famous movie called, “The Great, The Good, and The Terrible.”

BLACK PANTHER broke down walls by being the first superhero nominated in the category. Beginning with THE DARK KNIGHT from a decade ago, these films prove that superheroes movies can have a lot more to say than simply being fun action/adventure films. Not to mention that it was a massive blockbuster proving Hollywood doesn’t need to be afraid to cast minorities as superheroes.

VICE is funny, clever, and has some terrific performances. However, the satirical delivery of VICE is simply too political and too made up without a whole lot of substance to be taken seriously as a contender.

The Ugly:

A STAR IS BORN (8 nominations), GREEN BOOK (5 nominations), BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (5 nominations) –

No matter how much some people might love GREEN BOOK, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, and A STAR IS BORN, these films are only enjoyable on a very basic level and are nowhere near the quality of deserving a nomination as Best Picture of the year. It is perfectly fine to like these movies.  And I am in no way trying to devalue those who enjoy them. They are very likable movies:
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY – Queen Music!
GREEN BOOK – Interracial Friendship!
A STAR IS BORN – Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are in love and sing! …Okay so I don’t quite get that one.
Not all stories have to be deep, honest, or even original, but the artistic quality and softball approach to storytelling within the cinematic medium would be better suited for the MTV Movie Awards or the once People’s Choice Awards.

A STAR IS BORN continues to somehow keep itself on the radar this award season. Perhaps all those who are inexplicably infatuated with this film will feel sorry that it hasn’t won more and give it just enough mediocre love to slide it into the top spot. This result will consequently have me using sick days as I will be knelt over a toilet vomiting my guts out for the next week.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY seems to be gaining a lot of steam and has somehow distance itself from director Bryan Singer and his sexual misconduct.  It seems unlikely, but never underestimate the power of Freddie Mercury and the music of Queen, because that is exactly what is keeping this film thriving.

GREEN BOOK has only one win in all my predictions and isn’t even nominated for Best Director. That would make it the Best Picture winner with the lowest amount of wins.  It’s a roll reversal 1989 DRIVING MISS DAISY film with a “white savior” complex that we’ve been insulting for years. It still seems to rack up wins, including Best Picture by the Producer’s Guild. It’s an easy win for many to digest (not me).

Conclusion:

The last few years have actually been a somewhat tight race and this one might be the hardest to predict yet.  A contributing factor might be because of the new voting tabulation that was implemented a few years back for Best Picture.  Every voter ranks the nominees and each film gets a set amount of points depending on where they are ranked. This process gives the edge to a film that might not be everyone’s favorite but is the least offensive, which might give the edge back to the list of movies I labeled, “The Ugly”.

I think the Academy is focused on celebrating our differences, but still wants to feel good about themselves.  BLACK PANTHER’s nomination is a win already (along with its bajillion dollars it made). While BLACKKKLANSMAN is the smarter and correct choice, GREEN BOOK , as much as it pains me, is the safer fairy tale that people want to believe in.

Winner: GREEN BOOK

Ugh. That doesn’t sound right. In my heart, I can’t make sense of GREEN BOOK winning. I’m already angry about a choice that hasn’t happened. Scratch that. I believe we’re better than this! I’m calling an audible.

Upset Winner: BLACKKKLANSMAN

Who will take home the Oscar? Acting Predictions for the 2019 Academy Awards

Oscar Predictions for the eighteen other categories at the 2019 Academy Awards

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