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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 10, Episode 14, “Grand Finale”

When the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race was announced, it felt arbitrary and compulsory.

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 10, Episode 14, “Grand Finale”
Photo: VH1

When Sasha Velour snatched the crown in last season’s finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race, many felt it came out of left field. Even though we never got to really see her lip-sync for her life at any point in the season, it was a minor upset to see her ascend beyond three lip-sync assassins. In retrospect, the live auditorium atmosphere played as much a role as anything in selecting the winner, because Sasha had the good sense to recognize that, when you’re playing not just to RuPaul, but to the back row, you’d better be packing some impossible-to-miss stunts under that lace-front. So even though it may not have made a ton of sense to crown Sasha from a narrative sense, it played into the overt populism of national politics.

In doing my now-annual season finale assessment of which queens most deserve the title, the element that matters the most is, like Lady Gaga sang, the applause. A rundown of how they got here and what they did with it on the finale leading up to the coronation:

Aquaria

Strongest Challenge: Despite her reputation as a lewk queen, Aquaria didn’t fully come into her own as a potential drag superstar this season until “Snatch Game.” In true Tatianna fashion, Aquaria made jaws drop with her devilishly funny riff on Melania Trump, which managed to be gonzo and political in equal measure. Best line: “No wonder why my husband is complaining about [China] all the time!”

Strongest Runway Look: Each of Aquaria’s looks for the “Last Ball on Earth” challenge slayed, but her oil slick-covered mermaid getup, again from the “Snatch Game” episode, was a perfect 10.

What Letter She Deserves: So, last year Michelle Visage took time in the final critique to give each of the queens a specific letter from RuPaul’s C-U-N-T litany. She didn’t do so this time around, but if she had, Aquaria would probably merit a U for Uniqueness. Unless you ask Miz Cracker. [Insert shade rattle here.]

What Letter She Doesn’t: N for Nerve. I mean that in the Paris Is Burning, “It do take nerve” sense. If we found anything out from the good-evil twins challenge, it’s that Aquaria really and truly doesn’t have an inner saboteur. Hence, she has no need for Nerve. Follow?

Stop Relying On That…: Boy body. Aquaria’s disregard for padding, breastplates or really anything other than her svelte, Naomi Smalls frame kept her in her own lane most of the time.

Finale Q&A Performance: To Ru’s interview question about which of the other three queens is her biggest competition, Aquaria chose Asia, noting that she’d been doing drag for at least 46 years, and then pulling back and saying that’s not shade but a sign of respect for her level of experience. Whatever she says. In any case, Oprah’s into the age of Aquaria, in a surprise pre-taped cameo. And much love to Aquaria’s restaurateur parents for correcting Ru on what they call Philly cheesesteaks in Philly: cheesesteaks. Duh.

Asia O’Hara

Strongest Challenge: “Tap That App,” a win she stole right out from under the rest of the girls without saying a word…or even being in the foreground. Her freeze-frame ugly face was fierce and fearless.

Strongest Runway Look: Raja and Raven would probably give their top Asia toot of the week to the infamous Tweedy Bird feathers, but I can’t get over the perversity of her flipping the mermaid challenge around and coming out with a big old trout face on her mug. Which brings us to…

What Letter She Deserves: N for Nerve. Not just for serving that putrid fish fantasy, but for standing up to none other than RuPaul herself during the reunion episode, rushing to The Vixen’s defense and asking how dare the rest of them not have her back.

What Letter She Doesn’t: U for Uniqueness. Aside from those aforementioned exceptions, Asia is first and foremost a pageant girl.

Stop Relying on That…: House-mother attitude. Asia took it upon herself this season to have each of her competitors’ backs, which very nearly sent her home halfway through, and then nearly sent Miz Cracker off the deep end when Asia let the evil twin challenge lapse into sheer meanness.

Finale Q&A Performance: All bonus points in the world for sitting up on stage and telling the world that your boyfriend of one year better soon be your husband. And then if there are any extra points left over, throw them in too for paying tearful tribute to her parents, fielding a question from gay Olympian Ken Kenworthy, and musing, “It was through dressing up like a woman that I learned how to be a man.” That’s the silver lining of pageant training on full, bejeweled-headdress display right there.

Kameron Michaels

Strongest Challenge: The one she served the show’s producers and editors, daring them to give her any screen time. Otherwise, I vaguely remember her doing about as well as anyone with the dreadful material they all had to work with in the notoriously grim “PharmaRusical” challenge, which in my book counts for hella something.

Strongest Runway Look: Forget Aquaria’s evil twin look, it was Kameron’s Maleficent feathered couture that was this season’s true all-time contender.

What Letter She Deserves: T for Talent. So long as it’s not in the form of an acting challenge. Or in serving up producer-friendly workroom drama. Or conveying relatability. Okay, let’s just say she had more than her fair share of great looks and she can truly sync a mean lip. It do take talent.

What Letter She Doesn’t: C for Charisma. Just…no.

Stop Relying on That…: Thirst-trap fanbase. Though even that’s more on Instagram, where she has more control over the narrative, than during season 10, where she seemed reluctant to pop off the shirt unless a mini challenge called for it.

Finale Q&A Performance: Kameron sits bolt upright, embodying every inch of the tagline “muscle-bound Barbie,” as Ru lets the audience in on the secret that prior to the “Cher: The Rusical” challenge, Kameron didn’t let anyone know she was an expert Cher impersonator. “Does that make you a silent but deadly queen or a shady queen?” We all know the answer to that one. And when Ru presents Kameron with a clip of her grandmother that brings this season’s ice princess to tears or thereabout, Ru seizes the opportunity to clap back at the show’s growing legion of social-justice-warrior opponents: “RuPaul’s Drag Race, still bringing families together after all these years.”

Eureka

Strongest Challenge: Of all the times she played to her girthy strengths, her “Snatch Game” Honey Boo-Boo was the most amusing. Even more impressive given she was flanked on both sides by the slow-rolling disaster of Asia and The Vixen’s Beyoncé and Blue Ivy.

Strongest Runway Look: Would it be terribly rude to go with the Trade Cologne mini-challenge look? Yeah? Well hell, then, let’s say her reunion-episode frock.

What Letter She Deserves: C for Charisma. There’s no denying her ability to seize a room and make it her own. And while she rubbed on the last good nerves of more than a few contestants, to say nothing of Trinity Taylor’s, what do you expect a drag queen to do except seize the room?

What Letter She Doesn’t: T for Talent, but really only because I ran out of letters. In her own way she’s been as inconsistent as plenty of other the girls, but no, I really did just run out of letters.

Stop Relying on That…: Narrative of overcoming. Eureka, having already seen how the strings get pulled from her time in season nine, was never not in control of how her narratives were being crafted. As a snarky comment on Reddit pointed out, if Ru had announced a challenge where the queens would just have to sit and watch cute animal YouTube videos, Eureka would’ve confessed in her interview footage that she’s “just always had a problem with watching cute animal YouTube videos.” And then go on to with the challenge.

Finale Q&A Performance: If Asia brought pageant to the stage in her segment, Eureka swallows it whole by telling Ru that, should she end up winning the $100,000 payout for being named America’s next drag superstar, she’ll give that money right back to her cash-strapped family, as her mother deals with mounting medical bills but won’t be kept away from seeing her son take the crown. Somewhere, even Trinity is throwing a hand up in praise.

Recently, I decided that the thing that’s kept season 10 from greatness or frequently even okay-ness was its lack of superstar queens. That even though she’d managed to collect an almost across-the-board above-average cast, no one other than The Vixen seemed capable of seizing the season’s overall thrust. If someone had, do you think Ru would’ve stacked this finale with so many tributes to prior seasons? Would she have brought the queens from season one (pointedly minus Tammie Brown) to the stage to introduce the show and then later perform a medley of RuPaul lip-syncs against this season’s queens? Would she have stopped mid-ceremony to serve up a montage of iconic moments that didn’t happen these last 14 weeks but years and years ago?

Speaking of iconic moments, few recent moments now feel as game-changing as Sasha’s wig reveal cascade of rose petals. And wouldn’t you know that the four queens vying for this year’s win all come out to the stage for the main event wearing various levels of baggy and poofy, promising reveals upon reveals as they do battle against each other. (Aquaria’s look in particular resembles nothing so much as a metallic tulip bud waiting to blossom.) Ru then tells the four finalists that they’re all going to have to perform one of her favorite Janet Jackson tunes. And the wheel of queens lands on Kameron, meaning she gets to select her opponent. She takes on Asia O’Hara.

The two go toe-to-toe to “Nasty,” and it doesn’t take long to see how this one’s going down. Kameron, who came out on stage in what I guess you’d describe as a boxer’s kimono, sticks with what she knows best; her only trick, per se, is taking the robe off to reveal a pretty killer architectural bustier. Asia, who’s flounced for the gods with her baby-doll dress, starts removing her cartoonishly oversized breasts to reveal…what exactly? It takes a while for everyone to realize that each breast or jewel removal releases a live butterfly on the stage. While eventually it works in close-up, the effect is clearly lost on the audience. You can already see it written on Asia’s face when Ru sends her packing and Kameron advancing to the final round.

Aquaria and Eureka return to receive one of the only songs I’m confident Kameron could’ve slayed even harder to: “If.” When Ru says, “Don’t fuck it up,” she clearly means it this time. Aquaria immediately opens the pouch she’s wearing to reveal her thin frame covered in flesh-colored thorns, and wins early approval with a knowingly gratuitous flick of her hand fan, revealing the message “Miss Vanjie.” Eureka, meanwhile sheds a wig, turns her coat inside out in quick-change fashion, and strips it away to reveal a shattered disco-ball bodysuit. But, splits aside, her dancing isn’t a patch on Aquaria, who executes to the letter Janet’s iconic dance breakdown, right down to those pumping hieroglyph arms. The combination of both going for the throat gets the crowd on its feet, and Ru declares them both safe to go on to what will now be a three-queen final LSFYL.

Ru declares that the online vote for Miss Congeniality showed irregularities, and so the producers had to lean on the votes of the season’s own queens. It’s at this point that Valentina arrives (via satellite) to name this year’s winner. Valentina takes a dig at Aja, who decided Valentina’s win last year was really for being Fan Favorite, and not actual congeniality. But when Valentina names the winner, balance is restored to the actual title, because it’s shockingly not fan-favorite Miss Vanjie who wins but the reliably delightful Monét X Change, who can hardly believe it herself. Cue the arrival of last year’s winner Sasha Velour, who from the looks of her “Eve in the intergalactic Garden of Eden” look has been spending her $100,000 quite well.

Pity the final song choice wasn’t also a Janet one. It’s Jessie J’s “Bang Bang,” which given the two guest artists—Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj—seems more than just a tad fishy. Eureka lets her clothes once again do the talking, with a massive panel reading “The Big Girl” that gets torn away to reveal “Wins.” Kameron doesn’t remove much of anything but some screen time compared to her previous performance. And Aquaria stunts with some confetti cannons. By the time the camera widens out to show them all in various stages of splits and death drops, flopping around on stage like Rose Nylund gasping for air on a party boat, the three-way battle capping off a season that repeatedly said “Shantay, you all stay” seems like it’s about to throw its hands in the air and say it one more time. When Ru names Aquaria the winner, even taking into account her stellar in-season track record it feels arbitrary and compulsory, not triumphant, leaving the audience glad that Miss Vanjie will almost certainly be coming back next season.

For more recaps of RuPaul’s Drag Race, click here.

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Awards

2019 Oscar Nominations: The Favourite and Roma Lead Field, Bradley Cooper Snubbed for Director, & Cold War Surprises

Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards were announced today and The Favourite and Roma led the way.

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The Favourite
Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning. Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma led the nomination count with 10, followed by Adam McKay’s Vice and Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born with eight, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther with seven, and Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman with six.

Cold War made a strong showing, with Pawel Pawlikowski claiming his first nomination for best director. Notably snubbed in the category was Bradley Cooper and Peter Farrelly, whose Green Book is considered the favorite to win best picture after its victory at the Producers Guild Awards. Elsewhere, Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy) had to make way for Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born) in best supporting actor, while Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate) snagged a spot in the best actor race thought to be reserved for John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman).

See below for a full list of the nominations.

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

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

Best Actress
Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Best Actor
Christian Bale (Vice)
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

Best 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)

Best 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)

Best Costume Design
Mary Zophres, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Ruth E. Carter, Black Panther
Sandy Powell, The Favourite
Sandy Powell, Mary Poppins Returns
Alexandra Byrne, Mary Queen of Scots

Best Sound Editing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place
Roma

Best Sound Mixing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
Roma
A Star Is Born

Best Animated Short
Animal Behaviour
Bao
Late Afternoon
One Small Step
Weekends

Best Live-Action Short
Detainment
Fauve
Marguerite
Mother
Skin

Best Film Editing
Barry Alexander Brown, BlacKkKlansman
John Ottman, Bohemian Rhapsody
Yorgos Mavropsaridis, The Favourite
Patrick J. Don Vito, Green Book
Hank Corwin, Vice

Best Original Score
Ludwig Goransson, Black Panther
Terence Blanchard, BlacKkKlansman
Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk
Alexandre Desplat, Isle of Dogs
Marc Shaiman, Mary Poppins Returns

Best Documentary Feature
Free Solo
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons
RBG

Best Documentary Short Subject
Black Sheep
End Game
Lifeboat
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.

Best Foreign-Language Film
Capernaum (Lebanon)
Cold War (Poland)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Roma (Mexico)
Shoplifters (Japan)

Best Production Design
Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart, Black Panther
Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton, The Favourite
Nathan Crowley and Kathy Lucas, First Man
John Myhre and Gordon Sim, Mary Poppins Returns
Eugenio Caballero and Barbara Enriquez, Roma

Best Visual Effects
Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story

Best Cinematography
Robbie Ryan, The Favourite
Caleb Deschanel, Never Look Away
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Matty Libatique, A Star Is Born
Lukasz Zal, Cold War

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Border
Mary Queen of Scots
Vice

Best Animated Feature
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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

Best Original Screenplay
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, The Favourite
Paul Schrader, First Reformed
Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly, and Nick Vallelonga, Green Book
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice

Best Original Song
“All the Stars,” Black Panther
“I’ll Fight, RBG
“The Place Where Lost Things Go,” Mary Poppins Returns
“Shallow,” A Star Is Born
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

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WATCH: Stylish Queer Short Film Stay Makes Its Online Premiere

Brandon Zuck’s sexy and stylish gay thriller Stay debuts for free online.

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Stay
Brandon Zuck

Writer-director Brandon Zuck’s sexy and stylish gay thriller Stay made its premiere on the film festival circuit back in 2013, but the L.A.-based filmmaker is finally debuting it for free online. The short film, which Zuck claims is loosely based on events from his past, follows Ash (Brandon Harris) and his ex-boyfriend, Jacks (Julian Brand), on a road trip to the Florida Keys where the pair get mixed up in a fatal drug deal.

“I think maybe I was holding onto the film because it’s such a part of me,” Zuck says about his decision to release Stay on YouTube, which has been criticized by queer creators and organizations like GLAAD for ever-changing content guidelines that appear to target content made by and for LGBT people.

“YouTube started age-restricting my other LGBT films and—to be totally honest—I got furious. YouTube is this faceless behemoth and there’s nothing someone like me can do to fight any of it directly. Really the only thing I could think of was just putting more queer content out there. And Stay was sitting right there on my desktop where it’s always been. So I just hit upload. And it got age-restricted. C’est la vie. Next.”

Watch Stay below:

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Awards

2019 Oscar Nomination Predictions

How has Oscar royally screwed things up this year? Let us count the ways.

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Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

How has Oscar royally screwed things up this year? Let us count the ways. The hastily introduced and unceremoniously tabled (for now) “best popular film” Oscar. The impending commercial-break ghettoization of such categories as best cinematography and best film editing, but most certainly not best song and best animated feature. The abortive attempts to unveil Kevin Hart as the host not once, but twice, stymied by the online backlash over years-old anti-gay Twitter jokes and leading AMPAS to opt for George Glass as this year’s master of ceremonies. The strong-arming of its own membership to deter rank-and-file superstars from attending competing precursor award shows. If these end up being the last Oscars ever, and it’s starting to feel as though it should be, what a way to go out, right? Like the floating island of plastic in the Pacific, the cultural and political detritus of Oscar season has spread far beyond any previous rational estimates and will almost certainly outlive our functional presence on this planet. And really, when you think about it, what’s worse: The extinction of mankind or Bohemian Rhapsody winning the best picture Oscar? In that spirit, we press on.

Picture

Vice

There will be plenty of time, too much time, to go deep on the many ways Green Book reveals the flawed soul of your average, aged white liberal in America circa 2019. For now, let’s just admit that it’s as sure a nominee as The Favourite, Roma, and A Star Is Born. (There’s snackable irony in the fact that a movie called The Front Runner became very much not an Oscar front runner in a year that doesn’t appear to have a solid front runner.) And even though few seem to be predicting it for an actual win here, Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman has an almost spotless precursor track record, showing up almost across the board among the guilds. Predicting this category would’ve been easy enough when Oscar limited it to five films, but it’s strangely almost as easy this year to see where the line will cut off between five and 10. Adam McKay’s Vice may be without shame, but you don’t have to strain hard to see how people could mistake it for the film of the moment. Bohemian Rhapsody is certainly lacking in merit, but, much like our comrade in chief, Oscar has never been more desperate for people to like and respect him, and a hit is a hit. Except when it’s a Marvel movie, which is why Black Panther stands precariously on the category’s line of cutoff, despite the rabid enthusiasm from certain corners that will likely be enough to push it through.

Will Be Nominated: BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star Is Born, and Vice

Closest Runners-Up: If Beale Street Could Talk and A Quiet Place

Should Be Nominated: BlacKkKlansman, Burning, First Reformed, Let the Sunshine In, and Zama

Best Director

Yorgos Lanthimos

Everyone can agree that Bohemian Rhapsody will be one of the best picture contenders that doesn’t get a corresponding best director nomination, but virtually all the other nominees we’re predicting have a shot. Including Peter-flashing Farrelly, whose predictably unsubtle work on Green Book (or, Don and Dumber) netted him a widely derided DGA nomination. The outrage over Farrelly’s presence there took some of the heat off Vice’s Adam McKay, but if any DGA contender is going to swap out in favor of Yorgos Lanthimos (for BAFTA favorite The Favourite), it seems likely to be McKay. As Mark Harris has pointed out, Green Book is cruising through this awards season in a lane of its own, a persistently well-liked, well-meaning, unchallenging throwback whose defiant fans are clearly in a fighting mood.

Will Be Nominated: Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Alfonso Cuarón (Roma), Peter Farrelly (Green Book), Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), and Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)

Closest Runners-Up: Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk), and Adam McKay (Vice)

Should Be Nominated: Lee Chang-dong (Burning), Claire Denis (Let the Sunshine In), Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman), Lucrecia Martel (Zama), and Paul Schrader (First Reformed)

Best Actress

Yalitza Aparicio

Had Fox Searchlight reversed their category-fraud strategizing and flipped The Favourite’s Olivia Coleman into supporting and Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone into lead, the five best actress slots would arguably have been locked down weeks, if not months, ago, unless Fox’s bet-hedging intuits some form of industry resistance to double female-led propositions. As it stands, there are four locks that hardly need mention and a slew of candidates on basically equal footing. Hereditary’s Toni Collette has become shrieking awards show junkies’ cause célèbre this year, though she actually has the critic awards haul to back them up, having won more of the regional prizes than anyone else. The same demographic backing Collette gave up hope long ago on Viola Davis being able to survive the Widows collapse, and yet there by the grace of BAFTA does she live on to fight another round. Elsie Fisher’s palpable awkwardness in Eighth Grade and winning awkwardness navigating the Hollywood circuit have earned her an almost protective backing. But we’re going out on a limb and calling it for the rapturously received Roma’s Yalitza Aparicio. Voters could, like us, find it not a particularly great performance and still parlay their good will for her into a nomination that’s there for the taking.

Will Be Nominated: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Glenn Close (The Wife), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born), and Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Closest Runners-Up: Toni Collette (Hereditary), Viola Davis (Widows), and Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade)

Should Be Nominated: Juliette Binoche (Let the Sunshine In), Toni Collette (Hereditary), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Regina Hall (Support the Girls), and Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Actor

John David Washington

Take Toni Collette’s trophies thus far in the competition and double them. And then add a few more. That’s the magnitude of endorsements backing First Reformed’s Ethan Hawke. And his trajectory has the clear markings of an almost overqualified performance that, like Naomi Watts’s in Mulholland Drive, cinephiles decades from now will wonder how Oscar snubbed. If Pastor Ernst Toller and Sasha Stone are right and God is indeed watching us all and cares what the Academy Awards do, Hawke’s nomination will come at the expense of John David Washington, whose strength in the precursors thus far (SAG and Globe-nominated) is maybe the most notable bellwether of BlacKkKlansman’s overall strength. Because, as with the best actress category, the other four slots are basically preordained. Unlike with best actress, the bench of also-rans appears to be one solitary soul. A fitting place for Paul Schrader’s man against the world.

Will Be Nominated: Christian Bale (Vice), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Viggo Mortensen (Green Book), and John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)

Closest Runners-Up: Ethan Hawke (First Reformed)

Should Be Nominated: Yoo Ah-in (Burning), Ben Foster (Leave No Trace), Ethan Hawke (First Reformed), Meinhard Neumann (Western), and John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)

Supporting Actress

Emily Blunt

Every Oscar prognosticator worth their bragging rights has spent the last couple weeks conspicuously rubbing their hands together about Regina King’s chances. The all-or-nothing volley that’s seen her sweep the critics’ awards and win the Golden Globe, and at the same time not even get nominations from within the industry—she was left off the ballot by both SAG and the BAFTAs—are narrative disruptions among a class that lives for narratives and dies of incorrect predictions. But despite the kvetching, King is as safe as anyone for a nomination in this category. It doesn’t hurt that, outside the pair of lead actresses from The Favourite, almost everyone else in the running this year feels like a 7th- or 8th-place also-ran. Except maybe Widows’s Elizabeth Debicki, whose fervent fans probably number just enough to land her…in 7th or 8th place. Vice’s Amy Adams is set to reach the Glenn Close club with her sixth Oscar nomination, and if she’d only managed to sustain the same loopy energy she brings to Lynne Cheney’s campaign-trail promise to keep her bra on, she’d deserve it. Which leaves a slot for supportive housewives Claire Foy, Nicole Kidman, and Emily Blunt. Even before the collapse of Mary Poppins Returns, we preferred Blunt’s chances in A Quiet Place.

Will Be Nominated: Amy Adams (Vice), Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Emma Stone (The Favourite), and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Closest Runners-Up: Claire Foy (First Man), Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased), and Margot Robbie (Mary, Queen of Scots)

Should Be Nominated: Sakura Ando (Shoplifters), Zoe Kazan (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Rachel McAdams (Disobedience), and Haley Lu Richardson (Support the Girls)

Supporting Actor

Timothée Chalamet

The same people who’re curiously doubting Regina King’s nomination chances seem awfully assured that Sam Elliott’s moist-eyed, clearly canonical backing-the-truck-up scene in A Star Is Born assures him not only a nomination but probably the win. Elliott missed nominations with both the Golden Globes and BAFTA, and it was hard not to notice just how enthusiasm for A Star Is Born seemed to be cooling during the same period Oscar ballots were in circulation. Right around the same time, it started becoming apparent that BlacKkKlansman is a stronger draw than anyone thought, which means Adam Driver (who everyone was already predicting for a nod) won’t have to suffer the representationally awkward fate of being the film’s only nominee. Otherwise, the category appears to favor previously awarded actors (Mahershala Ali and Sam Rockwell) or should have been previously awarded actors (Chalamet). Leaving Michael B. Jordan to remain a should have been previously nominated actor.

Will Be Nominated: Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), and Sam Rockwell (Vice)

Closest Runners-Up: Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born) and Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)

Should Be Nominated: Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Hugh Grant (Paddington 2); Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), and Steven Yeun (Burning)

Adapted Screenplay

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Get beyond the best picture hopefuls BlacKkKlansman and If Beale Street Could Talk, which seem deservedly locked, and A Star Is Born, which is even more deservedly iffy, and you’ll see the screenwriters’ branch deciding just how seriously to take themselves this year, and whether they’re feeling like spiritually reliving the moments that found them nominating Bridesmaids and Logan. If so, then expect Crazy Rich Asians and Black Panther to factor in here. If they most definitely don’t feel frisky, then maybe the foursquare First Man has a shot at reversing its overall downward trajectory. If they’re seeking that “just right” middle ground, then Can You Ever Forgive Me? and The Death of Stalin are in.

Will Be Nominated: BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, The Death of Stalin, If Beale Street Could Talk, and A Star Is Born

Closest Runners-Up: Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, and First Man

Should Be Nominated: BlacKkKlansman, First Man, Leave No Trace, The Grief of Others, and We the Animals

Original Screenplay

First Reformed

It’s not unusual for some of the year’s most acclaimed movies whose strength isn’t necessarily in their scripts to get nominated only in the screenwriting categories. First Reformed, which even some of its fiercest defenders admit can sometimes feel a bit like Paul Schrader’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” greatest-hits package, stands to be another of them. But it’ll be a close call, given the number of other equally vanguard options they’ll be weighing it against, like Sorry to Bother You, which arguably feels more urgently in the moment in form, Eighth Grade, which is more empathetically post-#MeToo, and even Cold War, which had a surprisingly strong showing with BAFTA. Given the quartet of assured best picture contenders in the mix, First Reformed is going to have to hold off all of them.

Will Be Nominated: The Favourite, First Reformed, Green Book, Roma, and Vice

Closest Runners-Up: Cold War, Eighth Grade, and Sorry to Bother You

Should Be Nominated: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Bodied, First Reformed, Sorry to Bother You, and Western

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