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The Eclipse: Losing Bergman and Antonioni

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The Eclipse: Losing Bergman and Antonioni

Ingmar Bergman dies in the morning. Michelangelo Antonioni dies at night.

On the same day. In the middle of summer. Now, to most people, these are names from the distant past. Their real heyday in the cinema was at least forty years ago. These were old men (Bergman was 89, Antonioni, 94). More than one commentator has termed their mid-twentieth century, fearing-the-atom-bomb, discuss-our-alienation-over-black-coffee-later modernism as “quaint.” We live in a period where some of those in power have termed the central tenets of the Geneva Conventions “quaint.” Can the term “elitist” be far behind? The other recurring word in these initial pieces is “difficult.” Not easy.

But there are always going to be certain circles, reportedly wide in the late fifties to the late sixties, and restricted to a few hundred devoted cinephiles now, who will take on the purported challenge of Persona and L’Avventura, these artists’ most representative work, as a badge of honor. Then there are some people who will be instinctively drawn to these films, and other films made by Bergman and Antonioni, and approach them time and again as we would approach an old lover or a friend. For these people, and I include myself among them, losing the two greatest living film directors in one day is an annihilating experience. There are sure to be writers and other devotees of their work who will deal with their grief by immediately bemoaning the current state of cinema. This is tiresome, but inevitable, and it’s better than forgetting them and what we could take from them. In the coming weeks, I would hope that their work is re-shown and re-watched and re-evaluated, in tandem and separately.

I saw most of Bergman’s films in college, wearing headphones in Bobst Library at NYU, not the ideal setting for first encountering the super-charged sexuality of Summer with Monika or The Rite. After college, the Anthology Film Archives did a complete retrospective of Antonioni’s work, in thoroughly wretched prints. Still, these seemingly unideal conditions enhanced the sense of trauma and, yes, difficulty, in their work. I did think of them together, long before they were united in death on July 30. And let’s face it: their concentration on existential dread makes them perfect for anxious college-aged viewers. After a while, life and work and a few laughs turn us all into Mary Wilke (Diane Keaton) in Woody Allen’s Manhattan: “I mean, the silence, God’s silence…OK, OK…I mean, I loved it at Radcliffe, but alright, you outgrow it!” Surely Allen means us to reject the self-loathing, brittle Wilke, who churns out novelizations of popular movies instead of trying to create serious art. But her comments nail the Bergman/Antonioni pretensions and the mindset that would most appreciate them. She also sees Bergman’s “fashionable pessimism” as “adolescent.” This hits even closer to the bone. Wilke has a point. Several points, actually. She is also evil. Her pop mindset rules today, and we have to do everything we can to topple it. Paying attention to the virtues of Bergman and Antonioni is definitely a step in the right direction.

Bergman made far more films than Antonioni. Most of his early work up to Summer with Monika is dull and muddled, though he does show his talent in individual sequences. Monika was his breakthrough, a love story starring his then-girlfriend, the mouth-wateringly sexy, thick-lipped brunette Harriet Andersson. Her Monika does not want to grow up, get a job and live a day-to-day existence: towards the end, she stares straight into the camera, defiantly, in the first really indelible Bergman close-up. Bergman created his own camera language, just as Antonioni did, and it was based on Dreyer’s technique from The Passion of Joan of Arc: staring patiently at eyes, noses and especially mouths in close-up, looking for secrets. It should be remembered that Bergman was also a key man of the theater, always directing plays in-between movies, often with the same actors, and his actresses generally went from the set to the stage to his bed and back again. This hermetically sealed world could seem antiseptic in his worst films of the fifties, but starting with Through a Glass Darkly and running clear through the rest of his movies, his often carnal intimacy with his actresses paid off with blistering insights into performance and attempted connection between players on stage and off.

I gained a much deeper understanding of Bergman’s art from seeing three of his stage productions at The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM): Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata, Schiller’s Maria Stuart and Ibsen’s Ghosts. Bergman pinned his actors together on stage, trapping them, stripping them, and they used their whole bodies to escape the vise of his control and the darkness of the texts; the effect was extraordinarily erotic. Bergman ended his film career with a close-up of a grieving Liv Ullmann in Saraband. I think it’s worth mentioning that he ended his equally important theater career with the image of Osvald (a spectacular Jonas Malmsjö) in Ghosts, stripped naked, dying of syphilis, reaching for his mother and the sun, the womb and death. This endpoint came as a relief after seeing so many Bergman characters assaulting each other verbally; most of his people are sadistic virtuosos pledged to detailed recriminations of their family, friends and lovers. Bergman is the true heir of Strindberg, but also of Dostoyevsky: his characters are always confessing. He has them tell us everything in heightened monologues rather than show us their behavior, but this creates its own tension when you’ve immersed yourself in his world.

If being unforgiving is adolescent, then Bergman was adolescent until the end. But his images of bliss linger as much as his vicious dialogue (and the nastiness was always mitigated by the lilting music of the Swedish language). Here’s Harriet Andersson, resplendently naked, walking away from the camera in Summer with Monika. Andersson again, on a swing with her sisters in Cries & Whispers, experiencing a moment of stolen happiness. Most touchingly, Victor Sjöström’s aged professor, seeing his parents wave at him from a distance in Wild Strawberries. To be sure, the uncomfortable images stay with us, too. The German Expressionist dream sequence in Sawdust and Tinsel, a bursting, stylized view of marital humiliation. There’s the image of Death in The Seventh Seal, funny and easily parodied, yes, but uncanny and scary, too. How about the old woman who takes off her face and plunks her eyeball into a wine glass in Hour of the Wolf? And we can hardly forget every hilariously mortified role played by the long-suffering Ingrid Thulin, starting with her skin-crawlingly disgusting speech to the camera in Winter Light, moving to her masturbatory lesbian in The Silence, on to her repressed, vagina-cutting sister in Cries & Whispers, and ending with After the Rehearsal, where she does a sort of “Thulin’s Greatest Hits” as a self-loathing, aging actress who can’t stop acting. Best of all, there’s Bibi Andersson’s whole performance in Persona, a complex portrait of a limited, sensual woman gradually subsumed by a vampirish actress (Liv Ullmann). Summer with Monika notwithstanding, Bergman is the least romantic of directors. He has no hope about anything, and he consistently dramatizes what he sees as our inevitable devouring of each other. There’s a lot to reject in his work. But we cannot ignore the essential, dream-like truth of his lifelong enquiry into acting, sex and anger, leading always to solitude and wounds that will never heal.

Leaving the Scandinavian hothouse of Ingmar Bergman, we can come to the limitless open air of Italian Michelangelo Antonioni with relief. This was no man of the theater, and he had no interest in acting at all (sometimes to the detriment of his films). An aspiring filmmaker today would only court disaster by using any of Bergman’s film techniques. But if we could really see and absorb the way that Antonioni looked at life with his camera, and follow his example, our films would be so much the better for it (we can feel his use of slow, lifelike rhythms in the films of Abbas Kiarostami, Wong Kar-wai and many of our finest directors of today). Antonioni was not particularly interested in looking at people, as Bergman was, and he didn’t care much about specific personality. What he did was seemingly simple. Antonioni chose a milieu, a space. He would put a person in the space, Monica Vitti, or Jeanne Moreau, or even a man. He would have this person walk though the space and react to the environment. This method reached its climax in L’Eclisse, which is a whole film where we see Vitti look, we see what she is looking at, and we see her reaction. If you yield to Antonioni’s way of looking at things, your whole sense of time, duration and observation will become deeper, more sensitive and more receptive.

Antonioni was perhaps the most articulate of great film directors: he explains himself seductively in The Architecture of Vision, a book of his interviews and writings. “If I can look and wonder, I don’t need God,” he claimed. There is a sensuality to his films that is always being repudiated in the dialogue; Antonioni is constantly trying to show us that modern Eros is sick, yet he himself seems to derive furtive pleasure from looking at actresses like Vitti and Moreau. He realizes this impulse in himself, so he grafts it onto his male characters and critiques his own voyeurism, condemning his fellow directors and the audience for prurience when we look at a beautiful woman or man on screen. At the same time, he takes us deeper into the interior life and moods of his women and some of his men. Antonioni realizes that movies deal with surfaces, and that no amount of literary explanation can make up for that (Bergman never quite learned this lesson). So he made films about the frustration of not knowing what is going on inside a person, and, more daringly, about not even knowing what to make of buildings, trees, the sky, the desert. In so much of his early work, his characters long to go to Africa. When Jack Nicholson starts out in that country in Antonioni’s crowning achievement, The Passenger, he finds nothing but desolation, and wishes to escape his identity.

Antonioni’s early films are too little seen. They have too much talk, and they are hurt by the poor Italian post-dubbing, but they are all masterpieces. Most deserving of recovery is The Lady Without Camellias, a disturbing, compassionate film about a working class girl (Lucia Bosé) who becomes a movie sex symbol. This is not an abstract movie, like his later work: the command of psychological realism is complete and rigorous. Every person the camera sees in Camellias has equal weight; Antonioni’s camera will go wherever it wants to go. It will drift off to observe a crying girl in a corner, or a strange-looking older woman, and it will stay staring at an empty space long after people leave the frame. Self-pity sometimes creeps into his work, and his view of the upper classes is always overdone, caricatured. He can’t be bothered about story, construction, dialogue or performance. Yet Antonioni is one of the major film directors. If I prefer him to Bergman, who I also love, it is because of several images that can never be forgotten once they are seen:

The garbage collector sleeping on the edge of a tall building in his short N.U. Lucia Bosé’s reaction in The Lady Without Camellias when she hears a man say, “With a face like that, if only she could act!” The clusters of conversation and the shifting figures at the beach in Le Amiche. The way Alida Valli’s hands shake and hesitate as she reaches out to touch the corpse of her dead husband (Steve Cochran) in Il Grido, as if she wants to comfort him and knows that now she’ll never be able to. The remorseless views of rocky, unforgiving landscape in L’Avventura, as Vitti cries, “Anna!” The empty hotel rooms she runs through towards the end, and the hand she places on the back of her straying lover’s neck. Moreau’s long, upsetting walk through the city in La Notte, and the climactic sexual endgame in the sand with her husband (Marcello Mastroianni). The couples making love in the dunes in Zabriskie Point. The little boy who cries and cries, unnoticed, in Antonioni’s documentary on China, Chung Kuo. The look of rueful insecurity on Fanny Ardant’s face in Beyond the Clouds. And the last ineffable Antonioni image, in his short film for the omnibus Eros. A warring couple sits in a café. The woman raises her glass and holds it up to the light. She could put the glass back down. She could smash it. She could place it on the floor. But no. She puts the glass on the floor on its side and rolls it away from her. What does this image mean? I have no idea. It’s intangible, a tribute to the shifting, illegible surfaces of film. It is just right.

I’ve saved the best Antonioni images, or at least the most telling for us now, for last. Who can forget the ending of L’Eclisse, where the so-called “main characters,” Vitti and Alain Delon, vanish from their own film, leaving us with empty spaces where they could have been, and a series of disconnected views of urban sites and sounds. It could be a horror film, or something by Warhol. Aside from its worry about “the bomb,” it could be a snap shot of us today, bombarded by advertising, disposable pop culture, and isolating technology. And so as I walked around today, I couldn’t help but feel that I was living out the end of L’Eclisse, going on, in some creepy, zombie fashion, without the main characters. Without artists. Without Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni. And I want them back. I want their films, all of them, on the largest screens available. And I want as many people as possible to see their films, so that they too can be touched and prodded and upset and elated at their images, before we also join them and Antonioni’s Anna in the void off-screen.

House contributor Dan Callahan’s writing has appeared in Slant Magazine, Bright Lights Film Journal and Senses of Cinema, among other publications.

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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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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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