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Grammy 2004 Winner Predictions

It’s basically a rule that any album nominated for Album of the Year will most certainly win in its respective genre-specific category.

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Grammy 2004 Winner Predictions

RECORD OF THE YEAR

“Crazy In Love,” Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z

“Where Is the Love,” The Black Eyed Peas & Justin Timberlake

“Clocks,” Coldplay

“Lose Yourself,” Eminem

“Hey Ya!,” OutKast

Will Win: There’s a tremendous amount of love for Coldplay right now (even Timbaland and Timberlake, whose collaboration with The Black Eyed Peas is the dark horse in this category, have publicly praised the U.K. rockers), but with no other major nominations this year, it’s unlikely the band will snag the biggest award of the night. OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” is currently the number one single in the country, but it’s essentially a solo record and Grammy voters might want to award OutKast as a duo (see below). That leaves Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love,” the biggest single in the category, and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” which—even if voters are ready to award the controversial rapper in one of the Big Four—might be a little too old to win both Record and Song of the Year.

Should Win (Eric): Though Beyoncé has shown remarkable legs (her song has too), “Hey Ya!” is another in OutKast’s amazing string of delirious, Paisley Park tributes. What “Let’s Go Crazy” was to Prince, “Hey Ya!” is to André 3000. (Thank God Big Boi kept pace with his own personal “When Doves Cry”: “The Way You Move.”)

Should Win (Sal): It’s no surprise that Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” was shut out of Song of the Year. It’s not so much the songwriting as it is the horn-y Chi-Lites sample and the chemistry between Beyoncé and her not-so-secret beau that made this the song of the summer and, in my opinion, the record of the year.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Under Construction, Missy Elliott

Fallen, Evanescence

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Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, OutKast

Justified, Justin Timberlake

Elephant, The White Stripes

Will Win: It’s basically a rule that any album nominated for Album of the Year will most certainly win in its respective genre-specific category. So don’t feel bad for Justin Timberlake, Evanescence, and The White Stripes (who will win for Pop Album, Rock Album and Alternative Album, respectively). Duking it out for Album of the Year honors are Missy Elliott’s Under Construction and OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Missy’s album is older and she might be hurt by flooding the market (This Is Not A Test! was released just this past November), so it’s OutKast’s trophy to lose. If the Southern-fried hip-hop innovators cause a vote-split, though, The White Stripes could cause the upset of the year (and give the Grammys some long overdue indie cred).

Should Win (Eric): Sure it’s got its rough patches (to my ears, no album out of this line-up runs on a full tank for its entire duration), but OutKast’s album is still the most impressive. Pretend the ATLiens just went straight up and gave us the Deluxe Edition, rife with phenomenal B-Sides, outtakes and rarities. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Should Win (Sal): OutKast may get their due this year, but Missy topped herself (certainly an award-worthy feat) with Under Construction, an album that is more consistent (and a helluva lot more fun) than Big Boi and Dre’s ambitious two-fer.

SONG OF THE YEAR

“Beautiful,” Linda Perry, songwriter (Christina Aguilera)

“Dance With My Father,” Richard Marx & Luther Vandross, songwriters (Luther Vandross)

“I’m with You,” Avril Lavigne & The Matrix, songwriters (Avril Lavigne)

“Keep Me in Your Heart,” Jorge Calderón & Warren Zevon, songwriters (Warren Zevon)

“Lose Yourself,” J. Bass, M. Mathers & L. Resto, songwriters (Eminem)

Will Win: While “I’m with You” is far more palatable than Avril Lavigne’s first two singles, academy voters have once again confused The Matrix’s catchy hooks for good songwriting, and they’re unlikely to give Grammy gold to the self-proclaimed “Sid Vicious” of her generation. Christina Aguilera’s durable “Beautiful” certainly earned its spot but it’s a much better record than song, and no one really wants to see Linda Perry up there on the podium on Grammy night, do they? The sympathy vote will probably be spilt between the late Warren Zevon and the ailing Luther Vandross, who could cause a major upset here. Song of the Year is Eminem’s trophy to, uh, lose. “Lose Yourself” won him the Oscar and with its surprisingly positive, life-affirming message, it could be the first rap song to win in this category.

Should Win (Eric): Part of me wants so badly for Richard Marx to ascend to the podium and say, “I guess it’s not ’too late to say goodbye’!” But nostalgia trips aside, there’s only one choice to be made here: Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”

Should Win (Sal): History (albeit, white-washed history) in-the-making: Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”

BEST NEW ARTIST

Evanescence

50 Cent

Fountains of Wayne

Heather Headley

Sean Paul

Will Win: Voters traditionally award females in this category, but while Heather Headley may have the pipes, she doesn’t have the songwriting skills, the buzz or the sales. Fountains of Wayne and Sean Paul shouldn’t even be here (personal opinions aside, neither act is “new”), so it’s a neck-and-neck race between Evanescence and 50 Cent, with a possible upset by Headley. We give Evanescence the edge. Though a band hasn’t won in this category since 1996 (Hootie and the Blowfish), lead singer Amy Lee may be the closest we get to a new, estrogen-fueled Grammy darling.

Should Win (Eric): 2003 was the year of Justin Timberlake. (Hey, if the Grammys can nominate such established acts as Fountains of Wayne and Sean Paul, and seemingly don’t care about keeping their new artists, y’know…new, why should I?)

Should Win (Sal): None of the above.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

Stripped, Christina Aguilera

Brainwashed, George Harrison

Bare, Annie Lennox

Motown, Michael McDonald

Justified, Justin Timberlake

Will Win: Xtina won Best New Artist two years ago because Grammy voters recognized her potential. Her sophomore effort, Stripped, doesn’t live up to that promise and will have a hard time beating her fellow former-Mouseketeer and tourmate Justin Timberlake, who’s got an Album of the Year nod under his sparkling, Jacko-style belt. The rest of the nominees don’t stand a chance against Justin’s Justified: George Harrison is nobody’s favorite Beatle, even dead; the Annie Lennox revival, though good, arrived with too little fanfare; and Michael McDonald—well, it’s just an honor to be nominated at all.

Should Win (Eric): Neither overly sentimental, suffused with cheap junior-high affirmations of self-worth, or a solo comeback from Hell (unless you wanna be a jerk about it), Justin Timberlake was the sickeningly across-the-board popular success you just couldn’t hate even after trying for months and months not to wipe a tear away during “Rock Your Body” or touch yourself to “Cry Me A River.”

Should Win (Sal): It’s becoming more and more clear that Justin Timberlake is just beginning to show us what he’s capable of as a singer, performer and songwriter. Consider Justified his Off The Wall.

BEST DANCE RECORDING

“Love One Another,” Cher

“Easy,” Groove Armada

“Die Another Day,” Madonna

“Come Into My World,” Kylie Minogue

“Breathe,” Télépopmusik

Will Win: Cher’s sole Grammy win came courtesy of her biggest hit, “Believe,” in 2000, so “Love One Another,” a cover song that flew under the radar, is unlikely to score her another win in this category. Not to mention, there are two other dance divas to be reckoned with: the recently resurrected Kylie Minogue, and Madonna, whose Bond theme “Die Another Day,” though it’s the biggest hit here, is as equally loathed as it is loved and didn’t even manage to score a nomination for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture. Last year, Dirty Vegas won for their Mitsubishi song “Days Go By,” but Télépopmusik, whose “Breathe” is this year’s car commercial theme of choice, lacks the crossover appeal that made Dirty Vegas a household name (for a minute). “Breathe” would be the edgiest pick, but Kylie could take this one home simply because she was overlooked last year for her infectious comeback single, “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.”

Should Win (Eric): Another year, another dance category that’s acting like dance music exists solely for the benefit of Madison Avenue (Télépopmusik for Mitsubishi, Kylie Minogue for Bally’s, and Groove Armada for Mitsubishi, Mercedes and Ringtones). What do Masters at Work have to do to get nominated in this category? (They’re in the remix ghetto, but not for their gorgeous take on Nina Simone’s “See-Line Woman.”) Despite being only about the 72nd best dance track of the Grammy year (make that 83rd, if Basement Jaxx were eligible), Kylie’s “Come Into My World” is the pick of this sellout lot.

Should Win (Sal): Madonna injected the Bond franchise with some much needed umpf, and “Die Another Day,” though derivative of her previous work with “Music” producer Mirwais, is still more rewarding and forward-thinking than any other Bond theme in recent memory.

BEST ROCK SONG

“Bring Me to Life,” David Hodges, Amy Lee & Ben Moody, songwriters (Evanescence Featuring Paul McCoy)

“Calling All Angels,” Charlie Colin, Pat Monahan, Jimmy Stafford & Scott Underwood, songwriters (Train)

“Disorder in the House,” Jorge Calderón & Warren Zevon, songwriters (Warren Zevon & Bruce Springsteen)

“Seven Nation Army,” Jack White, songwriter (The White Stripes)

“Someday,” Chad Kroeger, Mike Kroeger, Ryan Peake & Ryan Vikedal, songwriters (Nickelback)

Will Win: It’s going to be difficult (but not impossible) for the academy to pass up an opportunity to award a dead guy and the Boss with one trophy, even if Bruce Springsteen didn’t actually co-write “Disorder in the House.” Train has no chance here, and Evanescence will be awarded elsewhere, so look for this to be one of multiple wins for The White Stripes on Grammy night.

Should Win (Eric): “Disorder in the House” is unfortunately not the best song on Zevon’s album. I’m no White Stripes disciple, but “Seven Nation Army” is a new standard. If Frank Sinatra were still alive, he’d be covering it in 30 years.

Should Win (Sal): The White Stripes’s progressive “Seven Nation Army.”

BEST ROCK ALBUM

Audioslave, Audioslave

Fallen, Evanescence

One By One, Foo Fighters

More Than You Think You Are, Matchbox Twenty

The Long Road, Nickelback

Will Win: Probably the most significant thing to be gleaned from this category is the absence of Warren Zevon’s album, which, up until the morning nominations were announced, was considered a likely front-runner for the Best Album award. Obviously the Grammys aren’t in a sentimental way this year, which might have repercussions in other categories. Matchbox Twenty’s boring “No, John Mayer! I’m Dave Matthews’ biggest fan!” album adds nothing to their already bankrupt legacy. And the Nickelback nod feels like a defensive “Hey, we weren’t all wrong about them last year, dammit” move on NARAS’ part. Though Audioslave is the critical fave, Evanescence has the sales, the nominations, and that certain Celine-esque je ne sans quoi that seals their victory here.

Should Win (Eric): Take away the three groups that take the cock out of rock (but, in the case of Rob Thomas, keep every last drop of cocky) and you’re left with only Foo Fighters (who are in severe danger of becoming lost in Californication) and Audioslave.

Should Win (Sal): Foo Fighters or Audioslave. Any band made up of members from some of the best bands of the early 90s gets my vote.

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM

Fight Test, The Flaming Lips

Hail to the Thief, Radiohead

( ), Sigur Rós

Elephant, The White Stripes

Fever To Tell, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Will Win: Only one of these five is also nominated for Album of the Year. (Sense a pattern yet?) But that’s not the only thing tipping the scales toward a White Stripes win here. Most Grammy voters usually struggle to know who any of the nominees in this category are, hence its propensity to reward the usual suspects time and time again—in other words, Radiohead has to be nipping at Jack and Meg’s heels. But 528 magazine covers ensure that even the stodgiest of voters probably perpetuated the “Are they married or siblings?” bullshit at some point this year. The other three candidates will just have to settle for the rabid worship of their Grammy-hatin’ fanbases. (In particular, don’t expect the Flaming Lips to win for an EP spin-off of the LP that failed to win in this category last year.)

Should Win (Eric): This category’s mostly about giving the Grammys a chance to pretend to be hip and edgy, right? It is in this frame of snark that I bestow my vote upon the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, not because I think they’re the best, but because they’re still on the cusp between being vanguard and crossing over. Plus the Radiohead and Sigur Rós albums left me wishing it was 2000 again. (And I’m still convinced The White Stripes won’t look so great in 10 years.)

Should Win (Sal): What is “Alternative Music” anymore? Maybe this category should be called “Good Rock Album.” Anyone but the Flaming Lips.

BEST R&B SONG

“Comin’ from Where I’m From,” Mark Batson & Anthony Hamilton, songwriters (Anthony Hamilton)

“Crazy In Love,” Shawn Carter, Rich Harrison, Beyoncé Knowles & Eugene Record, songwriters (Beyoncé Featuring Jay-Z)

“Dance with My Father,” Richard Marx & Luther Vandross, songwriters (Luther Vandross)

“Danger,” Erykah Badu, J. Poyser, B.R. Smith & R.C. Williams, songwriters (Erykah Badu)

“Rock Wit U (Awww Baby),” A. Douglas, I. Lorenzo & A. Parker, songwriters (Ashanti)

Will Win: The only thing self-congratulatory Grammy voters get off on more than awarding dead musicians is awarding musicians who’ve had a brush with death and survived. Add to that a song title like “Dance with My Father” and you couldn’t get more of a lock. Here’s hoping Luther actually makes it to the ceremony so everyone can give him a standing ovation and praise the fact that they’ve once again awarded circumstance over substance.

Should Win (Eric): As far as songwriting goes, the very real success of “Crazy in Love” is much more to the credit of the Chi-Lites than to Knowles and Carter. Erykah Badu’s “Danger” is a great original that only sounds like a great old sample.

Should Win (Sal): Erykah Badu’s “Danger,” or, dare I say it, Ashanti’s slinky “Rock Wit U (Awww Baby),” which evokes both Janet’s sexy peak and her PR-challenged brother’s similarly titled disco ballad.

BEST R&B ALBUM

Worldwide Underground, Erykah Badu

Bittersweet, Blu Cantrell

So Damn Happy, Aretha Franklin

Body Kiss, The Isley Brothers Featuring Ronald Isley aka Mr. Biggs

Dance With My Father, Luther Vandross

Will Win: See previous category.

Should Win (Eric): Only on a Luther Vandross album could Busta Rhymes sound so utterly vanilla. Luther has my sympathies, but surely not my ears. I know Erykah would categorize her brand of soul music as ancient, but I don’t know what she’s doing here with the dormant royalty of R&B. (As an aside, I don’t even know why Blu Cantrell is nominated for a Grammy period.)

Should Win (Sal): If I was forced to choose by gunpoint, then I’d have to say Badu’s not-so great, not-so-brief EP, but since I’m not, then I won’t. But I think I just did.

BEST CONTEMPORARY R&B ALBUM

Chapter II, Ashanti

Dangerously In Love, Beyoncé

Love & Life, Mary J. Blige

Comin’ from Where I’m From, Anthony Hamilton

Chocolate Factory, R. Kelly

Will Win: Who doesn’t hate Ashanti? So, despite the Grammy’s very Emmy-like habit of repeatedly awarding the same old suspects, count her out. And, strong sales aside, R. Kelly’s two biggest achievements of the year were rhyming “freakin’” with “weeken’” and, for a brief shining moment, out-perving kindred soul Michael Jackson. If Beyoncé is undeniably in front here, it’s not so much because she’s the nomination leader (though that doesn’t hurt), nor is it because no one notices how patchy her album really is, but rather because the critical acclaim factor is split between the so-called Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul and this year’s Stevie Wonder wannabe, Anthony Hamilton.

Should Win (Eric): R. Kelly, for stepping with a full-grown woman of adult-sized thighs in the whitest-R&B-video-of-the-year. Um, just kidding. Anthony Hamilton is following a bit too closely in D’Angelo’s footsteps, and I have no love for Ashanti, which leaves Beyoncé and Mary. Everything Blige has done since Mary has disappointed (it’s safe to say “All That I Can Say” will never ever be topped), but even sub-par Mary is more consistent than top-notch Beyoncé, and the push-pull dynamic on Love & Life between neo-soul and up-to-the-second hip-hop trends makes for some interestingly conflicted tracks (“Willing & Waiting,” “Press On”).

Should Win (Sal): Mary’s reunion with P. Diddy was good, but not great. This one is Beyoncé’s, who proved there’s strength in more than just numbers. Beyoncé is allowed more room to experiment vocally on Dangerously In Love, exploring softer registers and lathering on the coquettish persona that was only hinted at in her work with Destiny’s Child.

BEST RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION

“Crazy In Love,” Beyoncé f. Jay-Z

“Where Is the Love,” Black Eyed Peas f. Justin Timberlake

“Luv U Better,” LL Cool J f. Marc Dorsey

“Frontin’,” Pharrell Williams f. Jay-Z

“Beautiful,” Snoop Dogg f. Pharrell and Uncle Charlie Wilson

Will Win: The Neptunes will split their votes here, and LL Cool J will suffer from the “Didn’t we just give him a Grammy in, like, 1989?” curse. So the category will likely boil down to the two Record of the Year contenders. Considering we’re predicting Beyoncé’s “Crazy” to prevail in the bigger contest, it would seem foolish to assume it would lose further down. But it’s worth noting that since the category is supposedly awarding the track that best melds belting with flow, and though Jay-Z’s “I do not sing low, I swing low” is the best meta-critique of the entire faux-genre, Grammy voters might still regard his guest appearance as a gimmick. In contrast, the Black Eyed Peas’ genre blend might be regarded as a “purer” representation of the genre. Of course, anyone expecting the average voter to put this much genre-defining consideration into such a new and throwaway category is kidding themselves.

Should Win (Eric): Y’know, up until just about two or three weeks ago, I might have gone with “Frontin’” except it wore out its welcome rather severely. It’s probably worth considering that Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” was the only song I consistently liked throughout the year.

Should Win (Sal): Beyoncé’s ubiquitous “Crazy In Love.”

BEST RAP SONG

“Beautiful,” Calvin Broadus, Chad Hugo & Pharrell Williams, songwriters (Snoop Dogg Featuring Pharrell & Uncle Charlie Wilson)

“Excuse Me Miss,” Shawn Carter, Chad Hugo & Pharrell Williams, songwriters (Jay-Z Featuring Pharrell Williams)

“In Da Club,” M. Elizondo, C. Jackson & A. Young, songwriters (50 Cent)

“Lose Yourself,” J. Bass, M. Mathers & L. Resto, songwriters (Eminem)

“Work It,” Missy Elliott & Tim Mosley, songwriters (Missy Elliott)

Will Win: Once again, Chad and Pharrell will be victims of their own success (not to mention that neither Snoop’s “Beautiful” nor Jay-Z’s “Excuse Me Miss” represents The Neptunes’ best work this year). Both “In Da Club” and “Work It” would’ve been in the Record of the Year line-up, if the Pazz & Jop-pers had any say in the matter, and though versatile and fun-loving Missy might have an edge on 50 (what with his exit-wound scars spooking the older Grammy voters), she’s also unquestionably going to win the Best Female Rap Performance trophy in a cakewalk. All signs are pointing to another in a long string of wins for new Grammy prom queen Eminem for finally going all soft and fuzzy on us. Oh, he vomits he’s so nervous, how cute!

Should Win (Eric): I’m sure Grammy voters will neglect to realize it, but flipping lyrics, substituting elephant FX for profanity, and managing to finesse atonality out of the near-absence of a melody pegs “Work It” architects Missy Elliot and Timbaland as songwriters of a genuinely unique talent.

Should Win (Sal): What he said.

BEST RAP ALBUM

Under Construction, Missy Elliott

Get Rich or Die Tryin’, 50 Cent

The Blueprint-The Gift & the Curse, Jay-Z

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, OutKast

Phrenology, The Roots

Will Win: This is probably the single most competitive category of this year’s awards. Missy and OutKast will duke it out as the requisite heavyweights, (with OutKast the frontrunner for Album of the Year, there’s speculation that Missy could get a sympathy boost here), and add to that Fiddy’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, the best-selling album of 2003. The Roots will lose much of the rockist minority bloc to OutKast and Missy, and Grammy voters will undoubtedly wait until next year to give Jay-Z his final bow for The Black Album. We’ll play it safe, because the Grammys do. OutKast by a single “x.”

Should Win (Eric): I probably prefer Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, but I really have to give some respect to The Roots, whose album was enjoyably scattershot even if it sacrificed the clarity and balance of Things Fall Apart. At any rate, “Water” is by far the best thing they’ve ever done.

Should Win (Sal): Missy Elliott might just be the most inventive lyricist in hip-hop today and Timbaland might just be the most imaginative beatmaster around. And for a woman who’s largely viewed as a singles artist, Under Construction is a surprisingly cohesive homage to old-school rap’s simpler days.

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR A MOTION PICTURE

“Act a Fool” (2 Fast 2 Furious) – Christopher Bridges & Keith McMasters, songwriters (Ludacris)

“The Hands That Built America” (Gangs of New York) – U2, songwriters (U2)

“I Move On” (Chicago) – Fred Ebb & John Kander, songwriters (Catherine Zeta-Jones & Renée Zellweger)

“Lose Yourself” (8 Mile) – J. Bass, M. Mathers & L. Resto, songwriters (Eminem)

“A Mighty Wind” (A Mighty Wind) – Guest, Levy & McKean, songwriters (The Folksmen, Mitch & Mickey, & The New Main Street Singers)

Will Win: It’s Oscar redux, which leaves Ludacris and the Mighty Wind bunch out of the running. Though everyone fully expected the Oscar to go to U2, Barbara Streisand had an onstage orgasm over Eminem’s surprise victory. If there’s an awards-giving group with even less edgy musical taste than NARAS, it would have to be the Oscars. So there’s probably no reason to think that Eminem won’t win this award with what could be considered a home-field advantage. Still, if there’s a musical act out there today that’s even more Grammy-friendly and even more on home turf than Eminem, it’s U2. (Now just watch the two split the “cool” vote and see the trophy end up in Chicago’s camp.)

Should Win (Eric): Jeez, if your going to pick a song from A Mighty Wind to listen to outside the context of the film, wouldn’t it make sense to pick the only one that has even the tiniest shred of emotional honesty (“A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow”)? Ludacris’ tune, like so many a soundtrack cut from a loose cannon artist, captures none of his unique energy. “The Hands That Built America” sounds like it’s a b-side from U2’s latest album even before 9/11. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” really is the best song in the category.

Should Win (Sal): The only redeemable thing about 8 Mile: Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”

BEST SHORT FORM MUSIC VIDEO

“Hurt,” Johnny Cash – Mark Romanek, video director; Aris McGarry, video producer

“The Scientist,” Coldplay – Jamie Thraves, video director; Sally Llewellyn, video producer

“Die Another Day,” Madonna – Mats Lindberg, Pontus Lowenheilm & Ole Sanders, video directors; Jim Bouvet & Verenne Ferrari, video producers

“Concrete Angel,” Martina McBride – Robert Deaton & George Flanigen, video directors; Steve Lamar, video producer

“Hey Ya!,” OutKast – Bryan Barber, video director; William Green, video producer

Will Win: With all of the sentiment if now contains, Johnny Cash’s album should’ve been a front-runner for the top Grammy categories. Unfortunately, it was a September buzzer-beater and got submitted for consideration last year, long before it took off on Cash’s angel wings. So, with no other opportunities to give the Man in Black his final bow, Cash’s “Hurt” looks like a slam dunk. Having Mark Romanek as its director is just insurance.

Should Win (Eric): I’ve asked any number of straight, twentysomething males to explain to me the appeal of “Hurt.” It doesn’t take them too long to succumb to the Rolling Stone brand of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame necro-mythologizing. Not to mention the callowness of the symbolic passing of the torch between liking the supposedly junior high puerility of Nine Inch Nails and “maturing” into the “higher level” of “understanding” Johnny Cash. Pffft! Sure, it’s well-directed (like most of Romanek’s work), but it frankly takes every indulgence of its source song at face value (again, like most of Romanek’s work). Instead, I’ll opt for the unsentimental, unfettered genius of OutKast’s André, reveling in a new stardom that can’t be contained in just one body.

Should Win (Sal): Both Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” and Coldplay’s “The Scientist” are highly overrated—at best, they’re poignant and derivative, respectively. Madonna’s “Die Another Day,” though interesting, is bogged down by three directors and gratuitous, lightning-quick editing (where’s David Fincher when you need him?), and Martina McBride’s “Concrete Angel” might just be the worst video of the year, if not ever (it’s like a socially-conscious pat on the back directed by a couple of M. Night Shyamalan wannabes). That leaves OutKast’s “Hey Ya!,” a fun, retro, Polaroid-shakin’ good time.

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR

Nigel Godrich (Radiohead)

Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (Mya, Aretha Franklin, Kelly Price, Heather Headley, Beyoncé)

The Matrix (Hilary Duff, Liz Phair)

The Neptunes (Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, themselves)

OutKast (themselves)

Will Win: The Matrix, eh? Cute. No, really. Über-perennials Jam & Lewis and Nigel Godrich could get nominated even if the only artists they worked with all year were Candlebox and K.C. and Jo-Jo (even respectively!), and neither of them broke any new ground. So this category is a two-way race between the self-producing hip-hop overachievers OutKast (who have a higher marquee value right now) or The Neptunes. Now, historically speaking, producers whose work is more or less limited to their own product don’t usually win in this category, which gives The Neptunes a leg up. Plus, even though they really had “their year” last year, that’s probably all the more reason for the perpetually behind-the-curve NARAS to give them the trophy.

Should Win (Eric): The Neptunes, if for no other reason than because they produced the sexiest King Kong groove of ’03: Busta Rhymes’ “Light Ya Ass on Fire.”

Should Win (Sal): OutKast. Of the other deserving nominees, the Neptunes’ ubiquity is beginning to equal homogeneity and Nigel Godrich should have been recognized last year for Beck’s mesmerizing Sea Change.

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Awards

2019 Tony Nominations: Hadestown and Ain’t Too Proud Lead Field

Both shows were joined in the Best Musical category by Beetlejuice, The Prom, and Tootsie.

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Hadestown
Photo: Matthew Murphy

Nominations for the 73rd Tony Awards were announced this morning, with CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King and actors Bebe Neuwirth and Brandon Victor Dixon revealing the nominees in the top eight categories. Leading the pack with 14 nominations Hadestown, followed by Ain’t Too Proud—The Life of the Temptations with 12. Both shows were joined in the Best Musical category by Beetlejuice, The Prom, and Tootsie.

See below for a full list of the nominations.

Best Musical
Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations
Beetlejuice
Hadestown
The Prom
Tootsie

Best Play
Choir Boy by Tarell
The Ferryman
Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Ink
What the Constitution Means to Me

Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
The Boys in the Band
Burn This
Torch Song
The Waverly Gallery

Best Revival of a Musical
Kiss Me, Kate
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Paddy Considine, The Ferryman
Bryan Cranston, Network
Jeff Daniels, To Kill a Mockingbird
Adam Driver, Burn This
Jeremy Pope, Choir Boy

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Annette Bening, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
Laura Donnelly, The Ferryman
Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery
Janet McTeer, Bernhardt/Hamlet
Laurie Metcalf, Hillary and Clinton
Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Brooks Ashmanskas, The Prom
Derrick Baskin, Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations
Alex Brightman, Beetlejuice
Damon Daunno, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
Santino Fontana, Tootsie

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show
Caitlin Kinnunen, The Prom
Beth Leavel, The Prom
Eva Noblezada, Hadestown
Kelli O’Hara, Kiss Me, Kate

Best Book of a Musical
Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations, Dominique Morisseau
Beetlejuice, Scott Brown and Anthony King
Hadestown, Anaïs Mitchell
The Prom, Bob Martin & Chad Beguelin
Tootsie, Robert Horn

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Be More Chill, Joe Iconis
Beetlejuice, Eddie Perfect
Hadestown, Anaïs Mitchell
The Prom, Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin
To Kill a Mockingbird, Adam Guettel
Tootsie, David Yazbek

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Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Bertie Carvel, Ink
Robin De Jesús, The Boys in the Band
Gideon Glick, To Kill a Mockingbird
Brandon Uranowitz, Burn This
Benjamin Walker, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Fionnula Flanagan, The Ferryman
Celia Keenan-Bolger, To Kill a Mockingbird
Kristine Nielsen, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Julie White, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Ruth Wilson, King Lear

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
André De Shields, Hadestown
Andy Grotelueschen, Tootsie
Patrick Page, Hadestown
Jeremy Pope, Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations
Ephraim Sykes, Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Lilli Cooper, Tootsie
Amber Gray, Hadestown
Sarah Stiles, Tootsie
Ali Stroker, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
Mary Testa, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Miriam Buether, To Kill a Mockingbird
Bunny Christie, Ink
Rob Howell, The Ferryman
Santo Loquasto, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Jan Versweyveld, Network

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini, Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations
Peter England, King Kong
Rachel Hauck, Hadestown
Laura Jellinek, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
David Korins, Beetlejuice

Best Costume Design of a Play
Rob Howell, The Ferryman
Toni-Leslie James, Bernhardt/Hamlet
Clint Ramos, Torch Song
Ann Roth, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Ann Roth, To Kill a Mockingbird

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Michael Krass, Hadestown
William Ivey Long, Beetlejuice
William Ivey Long, Tootsie
Bob Mackie, The Cher Show
Paul Tazewell, Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Neil Austin, Ink
Jules Fisher + Peggy Eisenhauer, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Peter Mumford, The Ferryman
Jennifer Tipton, To Kill a Mockingbird
Jan Versweyveld and Tal Yarden, Network

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, The Cher Show
Howell Binkley, Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations
Bradley King, Hadestown
Peter Mumford, King Kong
Kenneth Posner and Peter Nigrini, Beetlejuice

Best Sound Design of a Play
Adam Cork, Ink
Scott Lehrer, To Kill a Mockingbird
Fitz Patton, Choir Boy
Nick Powell, The Ferryman
Eric Sleichim, Network

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski, Beetlejuice
Peter Hylenski, King Kong
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations
Drew Levy, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz, Hadestown

Best Direction of a Play
Rupert Goold, Ink
Sam Mendes, The Ferryman
Bartlett Sher, To Kill a Mockingbird
Ivo van Hove, Network
George C. Wolfe, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus

Best Direction of a Musical
Rachel Chavkin, Hadestown
Scott Ellis, Tootsie
Daniel Fish, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
Des McAnuff, Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations
Casey Nicholaw, The Prom

Best Choreography
Camille A. Brown, Choir Boy
Warren Carlyle, Kiss Me, Kate
Denis Jones, Tootsie
David Neumann, Hadestown
Sergio Trujillo, Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations

Best Orchestrations
Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose, Hadestown
Simon Hale, Tootsie
Larry Hochman, Kiss Me, Kate
Daniel Kluger, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
Harold Wheeler, Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations

Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories

Special Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Terrence McNally
Rosemary Harris
Harold Wheeler

Special Tony Awards
Jason Michael Webb
Sonny Tilders
Marin Mazzie

Regional Theatre Tony Award
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
Judith Light

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
Broadway Inspirational Voices
Peter Entin
Joseph Blakely Forbes
FDNY Engine 54

Tony Nominations by Production
Hadestown – 14
Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations – 12
Tootsie – 11
The Ferryman – 9
To Kill a Mockingbird – 9
Beetlejuice – 8
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! – 8
Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus – 7
The Prom – 7
Ink – 6
Network – 5
Choir Boy – 4
Kiss Me, Kate – 4
Arthur Miller’s All My Sons – 3
Burn This – 3
The Cher Show – 3
King Kong – 3
Bernhardt/Hamlet – 2
The Boys in the Band – 2
Torch Song – 2
The Waverly Gallery – 2
What the Constitution Means to Me – 2
Be More Chill – 1
Hillary and Clinton – 1
King Lear – 1

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Oscars 2019: Complete Winners List

The 91st Academy Awards are now behind us, and the telecast told us just about nothing that we don’t already know about AMPAS.

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Green Book
Photo: Universal Pictures

The 91st Academy Awards are now behind us, and the telecast told us just about nothing that we don’t already know about AMPAS. Which isn’t to say that the ceremony wasn’t without its surprises. For one, whoever decided to capture Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s performance of “Shallow” from A Star Is Born in one single take that would end with the pair sitting side by side, rapt in each other and framed in Bergman-esque repose, should hereby be responsible for every Oscar ceremony moving forward.

For some, though not us, Green Book’s victory for best picture came as surprise. As our own Eric Henderson put it in his prediction: “Those attacking the film from every conceivable angle have also ignored the one that matters to most people: the pleasure principle. Can anyone blame Hollywood for getting its back up on behalf of a laughably old-fashioned but seamlessly mounted road movie-cum-buddy pic that reassures people that the world they’re leaving is better than the one they found? That’s, as they say, the future that liberals and Oscar want.”

In the end, the awards went down more or less as expected, with the only real shock of the evening being Oliva Colman’s stunning upset over Glenn Close in the best actress race. (Glenn, we hope you are on the phone right now trying to get that Sunset Boulevard remake to finally happen.) Black Panther proved more indomitable than expected, winning in three categories (none of which we predicted), and Free Solo pulling a victory over RBG that was the first big sign of the evening that, then and now, AMPAS members vote above all else with their guts.

See below for the full list of winners from the 2019 Oscars.

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

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

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

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

Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Green Book (WINNER)
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice

Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (WINNER)
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Adapted Screenplay
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
BlacKkKlansman, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee (WINNER)
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, and Will Fetters

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

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

Documentary Feature
Free Solo, Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (WINNER)
Hale County This Morning, This Evening, RaMell Ross
Minding the Gap, Bing Liu
Of Fathers and Sons, Talal Derki
RBG, Betsy West and Julie Cohen

Animated Feature
Incredibles 2, Brad Bird
Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson
Mirai, Mamoru Hosoda
Ralph Breaks the Internet, Rich Moore and Phil Johnston
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman (WINNER)

Cinematography
Cold War, Lukasz Zal
The Favourite, Robbie Ryan
Never Look Away, Caleb Deschanel
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón (WINNER)
A Star Is Born, Matthew Libatique

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

Production Design
Black Panther, Hannah Beachler (WINNER)
First Man, Nathan Crowley and Kathy Lucas
The Favourite, Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton
Mary Poppins Returns, John Myhre and Gordon Sim
Roma, Eugenio Caballero and Bárbara Enrı́quez

Original Score
BlacKkKlansman, Terence Blanchard
Black Panther, Ludwig Goransson (WINNER)
If Beale Street Could Talk, Nicholas Britell
Isle of Dogs, Alexandre Desplat
Mary Poppins Returns, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman

Original Song
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 (WINNER)
When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

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

Visual Effects
Avengers: Infinity War, Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl, and Daniel Sudick
Christopher Robin, Chris Lawrence, Mike Eames, Theo Jones, and Chris Corbould
First Man, Paul Lambert, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles, and J.D. Schwalm (WINNER)
Ready Player One, Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler, and David Shirk
Solo: A Star Wars Story, Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan, and Dominic Tuohy

Sound Mixing
Black Panther, Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor, and Peter Devlin
Bohemian Rhapsody, Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin, and John Casali (WINNER)
First Man, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Ai-Ling Lee, and Mary H. Ellis
Roma, Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan, and José Antonio García
A Star Is Born, Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic, Jason Ruder, and Steve Morrow

Sound Editing
Black Panther, Benjamin A. Burtt and Steve Boeddeker
Bohemian Rhapsody, John Warhurst (WINNER)
First Man, Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
A Quiet Place, Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
Roma, Sergio Diaz and Skip Lievsay

Makeup and Hairstyling
Border, Göran Lundström and Pamela Goldammer
Mary Queen of Scots, Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher, and Jessica Brooks
Vice, Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe, and Patricia Dehaney (WINNER)

Live Action Short Film
Detainment, Vincent Lambe
Fauve, Jeremy Comte
Marguerite, Marianne Farley
Mother, Rodrigo Sorogoyen
Skin, Guy Nattiv (WINNER)

Documentary Short Subject
Black Sheep, Ed Perkins
End Game, Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Lifeboat, Skye Fitzgerald
A Night at the Garden, Marshall Curry
Period. End of Sentence., Rayka Zehtabchi (WINNER)

Animated Short
Animal Behaviour, Alison Snowden and David Fine
Bao, Domee Shi (WINNER)
Late Afternoon, Louise Bagnall
One Small Step, Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas
Weekends, Trevor Jimenez

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Oscars 2019: Who Will Win? Who Should Win? Our Final Predictions

No one is okay with the Academy Awards the way they are, and everyone seems sure that they know how to fix them.

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Roma
Photo: Netflix

No one is okay with the Academy Awards the way they are, and everyone seems sure that they know how to fix them. Cut out the montages, bring back honorary award presentations, give stunt performers their own category, let ranked-choice voting determine every category and not just best picture, overhaul the membership ranks, hold the event before the guilds spoil the surprise, find a host with the magic demographic-spanning mojo necessary to double the show’s recent audience pools, nominate bigger hits, nominate only hits. Across the last 24 days, Ed Gonzalez and I have mulled over the academy’s existential crisis and how it’s polluted this year’s Oscar race so thoroughly that it feels eerily similar to the 2016 election cycle all over again. We’re spent, and while we don’t know if we have it in us to do this next year, we just might give it another go if Oscar proves us wrong on Sunday in more than just one category.

Below are our final Oscar predictions. Want more? Click on the individual articles for our justifications and more, including who we think should win in all 24 categories.

Picture: Green Book
Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Actor: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Actress: Glenn Close, The Wife
Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Supporting Actress: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Original Screenplay: Green Book
Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman
Foreign Language: Roma
Documentary Feature: RBG
Animated Feature Film: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Documentary Short: Period. End of Sentence
Animated Short: Weekends
Live Action Short: Skin
Film Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody
Production Design: The Favourite
Cinematography: Cold War
Costume Design: The Favourite
Makeup and Hairstyling: Vice
Score: If Beale Street Could Talk
Song: “Shallow,” A Star Is Born
Sound Editing: First Man
Sound Mixing: Bohemian Rhapsody
Visual Effects: First Man

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Picture

The industry’s existential crisis has polluted this race so thoroughly that it feels eerily similar to the 2016 election cycle all over again.

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Green Book
Photo: Universal Pictures

“I’m hyperventilating a little. If I fall over pick me up because I’ve got something to say,” deadpanned Frances McDormand upon winning her best actress Oscar last year. From her lips to Hollywood’s ears. No one is okay with the Academy Awards the way they are, and everyone seems sure that they know how to fix them. Cut out the montages, bring back honorary award presentations, give stunt performers their own category, let ranked-choice voting determine every category and not just best picture, overhaul the membership ranks, hold the event before the guilds spoil the surprise, find a host with the magic demographic-spanning mojo necessary to double the show’s recent audience pools, nominate bigger hits, nominate only hits.

But first, as McDormand herself called for during her speech, “a moment of perspective.” A crop of articles have popped up over the last two weeks looking back at the brutal showdown between Saving Private Ryan and Shakespeare In Love at the 1999 Academy Awards, when Harvey Weinstein was at the height of his nefarious powers. Every retrospective piece accepts as common wisdom that it was probably the most obnoxious awards season in history, one that indeed set the stage for every grinding assault we’ve paid witness to ever since. But did anyone two decades ago have to endure dozens of weekly Oscar podcasters and hundreds of underpaid web writers musing, “What do the Academy Awards want to be moving forward, exactly? Who should voters represent in this fractured media environment, exactly?” How much whiskey we can safely use to wash down our Lexapro, exactly?

Amid the fox-in-a-henhouse milieu of ceaseless moral outrage serving as this awards season’s backdrop, and amid the self-obsessed entertainers now wrestling with the idea that they now have to be “content providers,” all anyone seems concerned about is what an Oscar means in the future, and whether next year’s versions of Black Panther and Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody have a seat at the table. What everyone’s forgetting is what the Oscars have always been. In other words, the industry’s existential crisis has polluted this race so thoroughly that it feels eerily similar to the 2016 election cycle all over again, and Oscar’s clearly splintered voting blocs may become ground zero for a Make the Academy Great Again watershed.

In 1956, the Oscars took a turn toward small, quotidian, neo-realish movies, awarding Marty the top prize. The correction was swift and sure the following year, with a full slate of elephantine epics underlining the movie industry’s intimidation at the new threat of television. Moonlight’s shocking triumph two years ago was similarly answered by the safe, whimsical The Shape of Water, a choice that reaffirmed the academy’s commitment to politically innocuous liberalism in artistically conservative digs. Call us cynical, but we know which of the last couple go-arounds feels like the real academy. Which is why so many are banking on the formally dazzling humanism of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma and so few on the vital, merciless fury of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman.

And even if we give the benefit of the doubt to the academy’s new members, there’s that righteous, reactionary fervor in the air against those attempting to “cancel” Green Book. Those attacking the film from every conceivable angle have also ignored the one that matters to most people: the pleasure principle. Can anyone blame Hollywood for getting its back up on behalf of a laughably old-fashioned but seamlessly mounted road movie-cum-buddy pic that reassures people that the world they’re leaving is better than the one they found? That’s, as they say, the future that liberals and Oscar want.

Will Win: Green Book

Could Win: Roma or BlacKkKlansman

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Adapted Screenplay

After walking back almost all of its bad decisions ahead of this year’s Oscars, there’s no way AMPAS isn’t going to do the right thing here.

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BlacKkKlansman
Photo: Focus Features

Eric and I have done a good job this year of only selectively stealing each other’s behind-the-scenes jokes. We have, though, not been polite about stepping on each other’s toes in other ways. Okay, maybe just Eric, who in his impeccable take on the original screenplay free-for-all detailed how the guilds this year have almost willfully gone out of their way to “not tip the Oscar race too clearly toward any one film.” Case in point: Can You Ever Forgive Me? winning the WGA’s adapted screenplay trophy over presumed Oscar frontrunner BlacKkKlansman. A glitch in the matrix? We think so. Eric and I are still in agreement that the race for best picture this year is pretty wide open, though maybe a little less so in the wake of what seemed like an easy win for the Spike Lee joint. Nevertheless, we all know that there’s no Oscar narrative more powerful than “it’s about goddamn time,” and it was so powerful this year that even the diversity-challenged BAFTAs got the memo, giving their adapted screenplay prize to Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott. To bamboozle Lee at this point would, admittedly, be so very 2019, but given that it’s walked back almost all of its bad decisions ahead of this year’s Oscars, there’s no way AMPAS isn’t going to do the right thing.

Will Win: BlacKkKlansman

Could Win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Original Screenplay

This season, Hollywood is invested in celebrating the films they love while dodging the cultural bullets coming at them from every angle.

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Green Book
Photo: Universal Pictures

You know, if it weren’t for the show’s producers effectively and repeatedly saying everything about the Academy Awards is terrible and needs to be changed, and the year’s top-tier contenders inadvertently confirming their claims, this would’ve been a comparatively fun and suspenseful Oscar season. None of us who follow the Academy Awards expect great films to win; we just hope the marathon of precursors don’t turn into a Groundhog Day-style rinse and repeat for the same film, ad nauseam.

On that score, mission accomplished. The guilds have been handing their awards out this season as though they met beforehand and assigned each voting body a different title from Oscar’s best picture list so as not to tip the Oscar race too clearly toward any one film. SAG? Black Panther. PGA? Green Book. DGA? Roma. ASC? Cold War. ACE? Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Even awards-season kryptonite A Star Is Born got an award for contemporary makeup from the MUAHS. (That’s the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild, not the sound Lady Gaga fans have been making ever since A Star Is Born’s teaser trailer dropped last year.)

Not to be outdone, the Writers Guild of America announced their winners last weekend, and not only did presumed adapted screenplay frontrunner BlacKkKlansman wind up stymied by Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but the original screenplay prize went to Eighth Grade, which wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar. Bo Burnham twisted the knife into AMPAS during his acceptance speech: “To the other nominees in the category, have fun at the Oscars, losers!” In both his sarcasm and his surprise, it’s safe to say he speaks on behalf of us all.

As is always the case, WGA’s narrow eligibility rules kept a presumed favorite, The Favourite, out of this crucial trial heat. But as the balloting period comes to a close, the question remains just how much enthusiasm or affection voters have for either of the two films with the most nominations (Roma being the other). As a recent “can’t we all just get along” appeal by Time’s Stephanie Zacharek illustrates, the thing Hollywood is most invested in this season involves bending over backward, Matrix-style, to celebrate the films they love and still dodge the cultural bullets coming at them from every angle.

Maybe it’s just tunnel vision from the cultural vacuum Oscar voters all-too-understandably would prefer to live in this year, but doesn’t it seem like The Favourite’s tastefully ribald peppering of posh-accented C-words would be no match for the steady litany of neo-Archie Bunkerisms spewing from Viggo Mortensen’s crooked mouth? Especially with First Reformed’s Paul Schrader siphoning votes from among the academy’s presumably more vanguard new recruits? We’ll fold our words in half and eat them whole if we’re wrong, but Oscar’s old guard, unlike John Wayne, is still alive and, well, pissed.

Will Win: Green Book

Could Win: The Favourite

Should Win: First Reformed

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing

For appealing to voters’ nostalgia for drunken karaoke nights of yore, one film has the upper hand here.

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20th Century Fox
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Given what Eric wrote about the sound editing category yesterday, it now behooves me to not beat around the bush here. Also, it’s my birthday, and there are better things for me to do today than count all the ways that Eric and I talk ourselves out of correct guesses in the two sound categories, as well as step on each other’s toes throughout the entirety of our Oscar-prediction cycle. In short, it’s very noisy. Which is how Oscar likes it when it comes to sound, though maybe not as much the case with sound mixing, where the spoils quite often go to best picture nominees that also happen to be musicals (Les Misérables) or musical-adjacent (Whiplash). Only two films fit that bill this year, and since 2019 is already making a concerted effort to top 2018 as the worst year ever, there’s no reason to believe that the scarcely fat-bottomed mixing of Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody will take this in a walk, for appealing to voters’ nostalgia for drunken karaoke nights of yore.

Will Win: Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody

Could Win: A Star Is Born

Should Win: First Man

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

If it were biologically possible to do so, both Ed and I would happily switch places with A Quiet Place’s Emily Blunt.

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First Man
Photo: Universal Pictures

If it were biologically possible to do so, both Ed and I would happily switch places with A Quiet Place’s Emily Blunt, because we’d much rather give birth in a tub while surrounded by murderous blind creatures than have to once again write our predictions for the sound categories. As adamant as we’ve been that the Academy owes it to the nominees to air every category, which they agreed to after an extended “just kidding,” it might have given us pause had the sound categories been among the four demoted by Oscar. But no, we must now endure our annual bout of penance, aware of the fact that actually knowing what the difference is between sound editing and sound mixing is almost a liability. In other words, we’ve talked ourselves out of correct guesses too many times, doubled down on the same movie taking both categories to hedge our bets too many times, and watched as the two categories split in the opposite way we expected too many times. So, as in A Quiet Place, the less said, the better. And while that film’s soundscapes are as unique and noisy as this category seems to prefer, First Man’s real-word gravitas and cacophonous Agena spin sequence should prevail.

Will Win: First Man

Could Win: A Quiet Place

Should Win: First Man

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Actress

Sometimes it’s important to just step back and pay your respects to a remarkable actress.

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Glenn Close
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

Sometimes it’s important to just step back and pay your respects to a remarkable actress for having given a performance that, while not your, um, favourite nominated one, is still deserving of an Oscar victory lap. Now, if only others felt the same. Very early on in the awards season, there was already a sense that this award could become a career-achievement coronation for the six-time losing Glenn Close—and that people were going to have a problem squaring that with the fact that her Oscar would be tied to a film perceived to be a piffle. That’s not an inaccurate perception, but it’s difficult to remember a time when critics have used that as an excuse to not do their homework.

In short, have you seen The Wife? Indeed, until the awards-media system’s attention shifted full time into covering AMPAS’s A Series of Unfortunate Oscar Decisions, it seemed as if every day brought us a new article by some pundit about the Oscar race in which it strangely sounded as if the The Wife was still a blind spot for the writer. Which is shame, because Close gives good face throughout the film. Certainly, few Oscar-nominated films this year are as absurd as The Wife, but I’ll do battle with anyone who thinks Close is getting by on her legend alone. Close’s triumph is recognizing The Wife’s inherent ludicrousness and elevating it, and without condescension, with a kabuki-like verve that seeks to speak to the experiences of all women who’ve been oppressed by their men. It’s a turn worthy of Norma Desmond.

Today, the most reliable Oscar narrative is the overdue performer. And if you take stock in that narrative, then you’ll understand why I texted Eric, my fellow Oscar guru, the following on the morning of November 29: “I think Close is going to Still Alice at the Oscars.” After that morning, when the New York Film Critics Circle officially kick-started the Oscar season (and gave their award for best actress to Regina Hall in Support the Girls), no actress ran the table with the critics and guilds, but most of the cards that matter did fall into place for Close, and much as they did for Julianne Moore ahead of her winning the Oscar for Still Alice.

This was a done deal when Close won the Golden Globe, received a standing ovation, and gave the night’s most impassioned speech, immediately after which Eric conceded that my instincts had been right. Of course, that was no doubt easy for him to admit given that, by that point, the oxygen had already seeped out of A Star Is Born’s awards campaign, leaving only Olivia Colman in Close’s way. Colman has worked the campaign trail in spectacular ways, giving speeches that have been every bit as droll as this, but in the end, she doesn’t have the SAG, and as bold and subversive as her performance certainly is, it isn’t sufficiently big enough to convince enough AMPAS members that Close should continue waiting for Oscar.

Will Win: Glenn Close, The Wife

Could Win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Should Win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite

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Awards

Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Film Editing

Sigh, can we just edit this whole Oscar season from our memories?

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Bohemian Rhapsody
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Sigh, can we just edit this whole Oscar season from our memories? AMPAS has officially brought more queens back from the brink than this year’s season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars. Now that the academy has reneged on its plans to snip four categories from the live Oscar telecast, after first attempting damage control and assuring members that it will still run those four awards as not-so-instant replays in edited-down form later on in the show, we can once again turn our attention to the other editing that’s so vexed Film Twitter this Oscar season. We yield the floor to Twitter user Pramit Chatterjee:

Very fuck! The academy would’ve been shooting itself in the foot by not airing what’s starting to feel like one of this year’s most competitive Oscar categories—a category that seems like it’s at the center of ground zero for the voters who, as a fresh New York Times survey of anonymous Oscar ballots confirms, are as unashamedly entertained by a blockbuster that critics called utterly worthless as they are feeling vengeful against those who would dare call a film they loved racist. Interestingly enough, the New York Times’s panel of voters seems palpably aware that Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is the nominee this year that’s going to go down in history as the “right thing” they’ll be embarrassed for not “doing.” No arguments from this corner. Lee’s film is narratively propulsive and knotty in ways that ought to translate into a no-brainer win here. (My cohort Ed recently mused that he’d give the film the Oscar just for the energy it displays cutting back and forth during phone conversations.)

We’re glad that the academy walked back its decision to not honor two of the most crucial elements of the medium (editing and cinematography) on the live Oscar telecast, but what we’re left with is the dawning horror that the formless flailing exemplified by the clip above might actually win this damned award. Guy Lodge sarcastically mused on the upside of Pramit’s incredulous tweet, “I’ve never seen so many people on Twitter discussing the art of film editing before,” and honestly, it does feel like Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody getting publicly dog-walked like this stands to teach baby cinephiles-in-training the language of the cut as well as any of the myriad montages the show producers intended on airing in lieu of, you know, actually awarding craftspeople. But only a fraction of the voting body has to feel sympathy for John Ottman (whose career, for the record, goes all the way back with Bryan Singer), or express admiration that he managed to assemble the raw materials from a legendarily chaotic project into an international blockbuster. The rest of the academy has their ostrich heads plunged far enough into the sand to take care of the rest.

Will Win: Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody

Could Win: BlacKkKlansman

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

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