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Oscar 2004 Winner Predictions

Jack Valenti’s screener ban didn’t last for very long and didn’t seem to do much damage, and come Oscar time, indies may walk away with several big prizes.

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Oscar 2004 Winner Predictions

It was a year of pleasant surprises. Jack Valenti’s screener ban didn’t last for very long and didn’t seem to do much damage, and come Oscar time, indies may walk away with several big prizes. AMPAS passed on Cold Mountain, ending Miramax’s 11-year nomination streak in the Best Picture category. With the exception of the execrable Seabiscuit, this may be one of the strongest line-ups in years. Nominated for 11 awards, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King may not win everything, but Peter Jackson fans don’t care, just as long as the big guy wins Best Director and his film takes the top prize (watch out for Seabiscuit!), which many will consider a reward for Jackson’s work on the first and second installments of his Lord of the Rings trilogy. If this sense of inevitability may make Oscar a little boring this year, things are not so cut-and-dry in some of the technical races and acting categories. Will it be Theron or Keaton? Will Penn and Robbins say “weapons of mass destruction” when they take the stage? Is Zellweger really the lock everyone thinks she is? Only time will tell. Until then, here are Slant Magazine’s biased and bitchy predictions of who will leave the Kodak Theatre with Oscar on their arm and who will be putting on a happy face for the camera. This year, though, we’re going to make you work a little, as we will unleash one prediction every day until the big night. Enjoy!

ACTOR: Imagine a montage clip of scenes from the five films represented in this category, set to Gloria Estefan’s “Bad Boys.” Some Oscar nuts will tell you that Sean Penn’s reputation will cost him a much deserved win here. Reality check: It doesn’t matter what Penn has to say about Oscar and Bush, this is the actor’s fourth nomination in less than ten years, which means there’s lots of love for him in the Academy. And surely if Penn can be nominated for I Am Sam, he can win for Mystic River. Some members think he’s overdue, and they’ll use this opportunity to retroactively award him for his performance in Dead Man Walking. Penn will also score points courtesy of 21 Grams fans, who tossed nominations to Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro in the lead actress and supporting actor categories, respectively. Penn’s main competition is Bill Murray, who’s performance in Lost in Translation was a coup for serious comedic actors everywhere (somewhere, Jim Carrey is weeping). Sofia Coppola’s film is beyond popular with the Academy, and there’s no denying the clout of Murray’s critic’s prizes and Golden Globe victory, but who can forget the man’s controversial snub for his turn in the Wes Anderson masterpiece Rushmore? You have to wonder sometimes if Academy members collectively buy into the hype perpetuated by Oscar prognosticators everywhere or if they make decisions on their own terms. Some Oscar swamis will tell you that Murray will be back in this category for his performance in Anderson’s next film, but the reality is that Oscar prefers melodrama to stand-up, and as such Penn’s primal howls trump Murray’s “lip my stocking” routine. Note to Johnny Depp: You did good this year, and it helps that everyone on the face of the earth saw Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, but as good as your scene-stealing performance in the Gore Verbinski film was, there are some people in the Academy who refuse to take your fey, drunkard pirate seriously. Better luck next time! The Academy gave Cold Mountain the cold shoulder (Look Ma, I made a pun! Take that Gene Shalit!), but this much is true: Jude Law’s pelvic thrust won the hearts of every woman and gay man in the Academy. This is the second time the Brit pretty boy has been nominated for a performance in a Minghella production, but are his heaving buttocks enough to win over Cold Mountain’s detractors? Probably not. As for previous Oscar winner Ben Kingsley, House of Sand and Fog is the least popular film in the category, and though the man’s critically approved performance happily panders to liberal ideologists everywhere, the Academy may have an easier time sympathizing with Shohreh Aghdashloo’s character in the film. It doesn’t help that Kingsley’s proud character in the film is a difficult man to like. In the words of Nicole Richie: “You’re mean!”

Will Win: Sean Penn (Mystic River)

Should Win: Sean Penn (Mystic River)

ACTRESS: Bravo Newmarket! When Jack Valenti’s controversial screener ban went into effect last year, the studio was lucky enough to be a non-member of the MPAA. That meant that they could send screeners out to critics and Academy members alike, and that they did: “For Your Consideration” copies of Whale Rider and Monster. Charlize Theron’s nomination was a give-in, but Keisha Castle-Hughes’s nod came as a surprise to everyone, even the would-be card-carrying members of CWR (The Cult of Whale Rider). Fox Searchlight should be similarly applauded. While most studios went on the woe-is-me defensive, Fox Searchlight quickly employed a non-screener attention-grabbing campaign that included sending out publicity goodies for their films In America and Thirteen. Evan Rachel Wood lost the tween vote to Castle-Hughes but Samantha Morton (a previous Oscar nominee for Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown) scored a well-deserved nod for her sensitive, knock-out performance as a grieving mother in Jim Sheridan’s magical mystery tour In America. Both Morton and Castle-Hughes represent the most likeable and sympathetic films in the category, but their performances may be too subtle to truly register across the board, and as such they’re just lucky to be here. Snubbed for her brilliant turn in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Naomi Watts received a nomination for her performance as a grieving, coked-out wife and mother in 21 Grams. Unfortunately for Kidman’s best gal pal, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s time-bending indie was seen as a disappointment after the director’s break-out hit Amores Perros and may prove entirely too nihilistic for older Academy members. Diane Keaton scored her fourth Oscar nomination in 25 years for her three-dimensional juggling of an older woman’s sexual frustrations in the one-dimensional Something’s Gotta Give. Working to Keaton’s advantage is a Golden Globe victory and a role that appeals to older members in the Academy. Finally, a movie that acknowledges that men and women over 50 still like to have sex! “Whoopdi doo!” say Monster fans—you know, the same people who like to reward ingénues (Hilary Swank, Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow, et al) for playing against type and coddling (not so much exploring) the body horrific. Monster isn’t exactly beloved, but the spectacle of Theron’s performance is one that will be impossible to ignore. Kidman won by a nose last year. This year, Theron will win by 25% body fat.

Will Win: Charlize Theron (Monster)

Should Win: Samantha Morton (In America)

SUPPORTNG ACTOR: There are more Baldwins than Bridges, but let’s face it: Alec doesn’t command the same kind of respect that four-time Oscar loser Jeff and his Emmy slut brother Beau do. The oldest Baldwin brother scores his first nomination for his bada-bing performance as a Machiavellian casino owner in Wayne Kramer’s The Cooler. Big ups to Lions Gate for their impressive Oscar campaign, but The Cooler may have less fans than Girl with a Pearl Earring. Kramer’s film is a far cry from Goodfellas and Baldwin’s nasty put-on may be recognized as derivative of Joe Pesci’s Oscar-winning performance in the Martin Scorsese film. Then again, the Academy loves the guy’s politics more than they do his charisma, and weirder things have happened in the past (Kim Basinger has an Oscar, right?). Actors love Benicio del Toro, and while his performance as a hard-boiled thug who’s failed by the American Dream in 21 Grams is better than his material, the actor already has an Oscar under his belt and it may be entirely too soon for a second one. Djimon Hounsou also earns a much deserved nomination for his role as a reclusive painter living with AIDS in In America. Sheridan’s film is better liked than The Cooler and 21 Grams, but Hounsou, like Morton, is just lucky to be here. Plus, what with Academy tough guys (you know, the one’s who give away their screener tapes) splitting their votes between Baldwin and del Toro, the more sensitive members of the Academy will have to choose between Hounsou and Mr. Susan Sarandon. Tim Robbins directed his wife to an Oscar back in 1995 and this year the Academy will not only get the chance to retroactively reward Penn, but also his one-time director. As a conflicted husband and victim of abuse in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, Robbins is put through a complex emotional wringer and his performance was justly applauded by the Hollywood Foreign Press and critics alike. His what-the-fuck competition? Apparently Ken Watanabe, whose completely non-descript (one could say “vanilla”) performance in Ed Zwick’s absolutely ridiculous The Last Samurai pressed everyone’s PC button (wait, you thought they were making up for some slight against Kizuna and Tampopo?). Okay, so the guy can act, and the Academy has patted itself on the back before for representing Asians in their nominee line-ups, but The Last Samurai doesn’t command the same respect as The Killing Fields.

Will Win: Tim Robbins (Mystic River)

Should Win: Tim Robbins (Mystic River)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: One of the luxuries of having your own forum and Oscar column on a non-CBS monitored webzine is that I can say “fuck” at will and go out on a limb. Anthony Minghella’s white-washed, harlequin portrait of the Civil War made oodles of money, but on Nomination Tuesday, the Academy nearly gave Harvey Weinstein a coronary when Cold Mountain failed to nab nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. Some consider Renée Zellweger’s cock-busting Ruby Thewes the film’s stand-out performance, but others see the character as the stuff of late-night parody (note to MadTV: I’m still waiting for Nicole Sullivan’s button-nosed impersonation). Okay, so Zellweger lost for Bridget Jones’s Diary and Chicago, but are Academy members really that hellbent on rewarding the young actress this year, not to mention this quickly, in a supporting category with so many viable alternatives? No one wants to read a column like this without at least one risk, and though I’m likely to pencil down Zellweger’s name come Oscar Pool Sunday, I’m going to give the edge here to Shohreh Aghdashloo. But we’ll get to Sho Agh in a sec. Marcia Gay Harden rode Mystic River’s wave to her second nomination in four years. In 2000, she won for her excellent performance in Pollack after failing to secure SAG and Golden Globe nominations. This year, the actress was similarly ignored by her friends at SAG and the Hollywood Foreign Press, but can she upset again this soon? Sure. Mystic River may be the best acted film of the year, and with Sean Penn and Tim Robbins poised to take home Oscars, so can Harden, who arguably gives the best performance in the group. This category is the one where we’re likely to see the most surprises come Oscar night, so if the Academy can pass on Lauren Bacall, they can certainly pass on Zellweger, whose Golden Globe acceptance speech may have been her worst performance to date. Some Academy members know what it’s like to raise a problem child, which explains Holly Hunter’s nomination for Thirteen. Certainly it’s an excellent performance, but the competition is stiff and the actress already has a Best Actress Oscar. La Hunter, then, is another one who’s just lucky to be here. The same can be said for the versatile Patricia Clarkson, who finally gets some love from the Academy for her bizarre turn as a wise-cracking mom afflicted with cancer in the uglier-than-sin Pieces of April. This year, the workaholic was a two-time SAG nominee, so consider a vote for Pieces of April a vote for The Station Agent. But who saw Pieces of April, let alone liked it? Which brings me to Aghdashloo, who plays the proud wife of an even prouder Iranian ex-general in House of Sand and Fog. Aghdashloo is a first-time nominee, and only time will tell what kind of roles she’ll get in the future, but working overwhelmingly to her advantage is her character’s supreme kindness and the American Dream’s torture mechanism that gets the better of her character. Liberal guilt nominations went to Aghdashloo and Watanabe, but only the former successfully trumps the heavy agenda of their respective film. As for that sound you hear? That’s me kicking myself the day after.

Will Win: Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog)

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Should Win: Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River)

ANIMATED FEATURE: After the multi-billion dollar success of Pixar’s collaborations with Disney, DreamWorks joined forces with PDI to produce more adult-friendly cartoons like Antz. Yes, 2D animation has seen better days, but this oh-so-retro aesthetic isn’t on the way out, it’s just been compromised by our digital-era, trend-following Hollywood execs. Today, films like Lilo & Stitch and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas seem to exist only to sedate kids hungry for the next Pixar concoction and fart-happy Shrek episode. This year, the Academy had better films to choose from—after Spirited Away’s victory last year, I suppose it was naïve of me to think Millennium Actress would follow suit. The fact that Brother Bear received an Oscar nomination this year shouldn’t be seen as a triumph for 2D animation a failure of good taste. The good news: now that the money-hungry Pixar has dumped the money-hungry Disney, let’s hope the Mouse House invests in more quality control. Lilo & Stitch lost to Spirited Away last year, but can another quirky animated gem from abroad defeat another Disney goliath? Not this time. Triplets of Belleville never took off the same way Spirited Away did, and Finding Nemo is way bigger than Monsters, Inc.. We’d give Triplets of Belleville a shot here, except the film is not a Disney property and has yet to be Americanized via gratuitous dubbing.

Will Win: Finding Nemo

Should Win: Triplets of Belleville

ART DIRECTION: In 2002, The Fellowship of the Ring lost to Moulin Rouge!. One year later, The Two Towers lost to the comparatively minimalist Chicago. This year, The Return of the King’s crew goes head-to-head against Girl with a Pearl Earring (production designer Ben van Os is a previous nominee for Orlando and set decorator Cecile Heideman earns her first nomination here), The Last Samurai (art director Lilly Kilvert was previously nominated for Ed Zwick’s Legends of the Fall and set decorator Gretchen Rau makes her first trip to the Oscars), Master and Commander (art director William Sandell and set decorator Robert Gould are both first timers) and the hail-to-the-horse anthem Seabiscuit (production designer Jeannine Claudia Oppewall, a three-time nominee, and set decorator Leslie A. Pope, a first-timer). Because the voters in this category dissed Peter Jackson two years in a row in this category, we’ll give The Return of the King the edge this time. Though the film certainly earns the award, its recognition here will be for its three-film cumulative effort. Master and Commander or Girl with a Pearl Earring could pull an upset, but they’ll likely cancel each other out. Plus, Master and Commander may suffer the same fate as The Thin Red Line and Gangs of New York, embarrassed epics that went home with nothing on Oscar night.

Will Win: The Return of the King

Should Win: The Return of the King

CINEMATOGRAPHY: One of four surprise nominations for Miramax’s City of God came in this category for César Charlone’s dewy camerawork, which has been awarded at several festivals around the world but failed to register with American critics and the American Guild of Cinematographers. John Schwartzman also earns his first nomination for putting as much red, white and blue into Seabiscuit’s color palette. It’s a handsome effort, and Schawartzman has the love of the American Society of Cinematographers. John Seale makes his fourth trip to the Oscars, and though some think his cinematography for Cold Mountain was appropriately dreary, I think it was downright, well, dreary. Look at this way: Academy members wanted to fuck the color wheel Seale used for English Patient, but when they look at Cold Mountain, most of them will think of venereal diseases. In my humble opinion, Master and Commander cameraman Russell Boyd did most of the work for Peter Weir. Blue is our favorite color (can’t you tell?), so we’ve got nothing but love for Mr. Boyd’s lens, but the first-time nominee will have a difficult time besting Eduardo Serra, a past nominee for The Wings of the Dove and a nominee this year for the shallow but absolutely gorgeous Girl with a Pearl Earring. A film about painting never looked this painterly. But can it defeat Seabiscuit? When Academy members think of the Gary Ross horse epic, they’ll think that much of the film’s excitement was summoned by the cameraman and the editor.

Will Win: Seabiscuit

Should Win: Girl with a Pearl Earring

COSTUME DESIGN: Trend-spotting has gotten me into trouble before, but I couldn’t resist here. The Academy likes their outfits two ways: really, really old (Gladiator, Shakespeare in Love) or with lots of razzle-dazzle (Chicago, Moulin Rouge!). Sometimes “really, really old” and “lots of razzle-dazzle” overlap, but that’s not the case this year. It’s a muted list of candidates this time: first-timers Wendy Stites (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) and Dien van Straalen (Girl with a Pearl Earring), three-time nominee Judianna Makovsky (Seabiscuit), and Ngila Dickson, whose outfits for The Return of the King and The Last Samurai compete against each other. However authentic-looking, some costumes are just plain boring. Note to Makovsky: Didn’t I see that shirt in Pleasantville? To Stites: Who gave you the key to MGM’s Mutiny on the Bounty clothes closet? Dickson lost in 2002 and the Academy didn’t bother nominating the garbs she designed for The Two Towers (more or less the same ones that appear in all three films), but this might be an excellent opportunity for the costume people to reward her cumulative effort. (Assuming supporters of The Last Samurai and The Return of the King stay put, she’s unlikely to suffer from a vote-split.) The elegant costumes for Girl with a Pearl Earring may be Dickson’s fiercest competition, but van Straalen enters the Oscar race without the support of the Costume Designers Guild, so a win here will be considered a major upset.

Will Win: The Return of the King

Should Win: The Return of the King

DIRECTOR: Welcome to the odd-man-out club Fernando Meirelles! Please take a seat next to Pedro Almodóvar and David Lynch. A surprise nominee in this category, Meirelles is a great guy (click here for my interview with the Brazilian director), and a bright future in Hollywood is now within his reach, but a win for City of God here seems as unlikely as Cold Mountain winning Best Picture. Note to Harvey Weinstein: next year, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. (Yes, that was also a coded attack against the Minghella film.) Clint Eastwood goes for a second Oscar this year, but Old Reliable’s Mystic River may strike some in the director’s branch as more of an actor’s film more than a director’s one. Peter Weir is here for the fourth time, and he may be Peter Jackson’s fiercest competitor, but Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is entirely too mannered and may scream “director’s film” a little too much. Maybe next time Pete. The near-universal love for Lost in Translation will obviously work toward Sofia Coppola’s advantage, and while Frances and the handful of women in the director’s branch may vote for their fellow sister (don’t expect ex-beau Spike’s approval though), her prim-and-proper direction is a relative dry-hump compared to what DGA winner Peter Jackson does to The Return of the King. Some will say: “Congratulations Mr. Jackson on a job well done.” Hell, even the film’s naysayers will toss votes his way: “Here, take it already, now please go away!”

Will Win: Peter Jackson (The Return of the King)

Should Win: Peter Jackson (The Return of the King)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Possibly the most difficult category to predict because every nominee is a heavyweight in some capacity. Nathanial Kahn’s My Architect: A Son’s Journey opened to overwhelmingly positive reviews last November and recently won an award from the DGA. In an attempt to learn more about his deceased father, Kahn visited the architectural structures the man left behind and in the process comes to grips with the memory of an elusive paternal figure. Equally well-received was The Weather Underground, Sam Green and Bill Siegel’s analysis of the 60s terrorist radical group The Weather Underground. Though the film may be more topical than My Architect, it’s also nowhere near as introspective. Plus, The Weather Underground stands absolutely no chance against The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. After being snubbed in this category for many years, Errol Morris gets to make his first trip to the Academy Awards. Morris’s frightening conversation with former Secretary of Defense McNamara suffers occasionally from the director’s signature aesthetic flourishes, but The Fog of War remains one of the most frightening indictments of unexamined military aggression and is distinguished by its surprising humanity. Just as popular is this year’s shock-jock entry, Capturing the Friedmans, Andrew Jarecki’s exploitational documentary about ex-schoolteacher Arnold Friedman and his son Jesse, who were accused of sexually abusing dozens of children in their Long Island home in the late 80s. The highest grossing film in the category, Capturing the Friedmans is certainly popular but it’s not exactly beloved by everyone and may be entirely too confrontational and difficult for older members voting in this category to suffer through. That leaves Carlos Bosch and Loris Omedes’s Balseros, a devastating, unusually cinematic chronicle of Cuban rafters trying to navigate the rigors of the American Dream while attempting to reconnect with the families they left behind on their island prison. The film could very well play on a double-bill alongside The Fog of War, and though both films are equally worthy, the blistering Balseros has the distinction of being both smart and emotionally devastating. Some members may buy into the ugly hype of Capturing the Friedmans, but a vote against Balseros is a vote for human rights. Call this one wishful thinking.

Will Win: Balseros

Should Win: Balseros

DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Winner of an honorable mention prize at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, Sandy McLeod’s Asylum documents a woman’s attempts to seek political asylum in the United States after fleeing her native Ghana’s rituals of genital mutilation. Katja Esson’s Ferry Tales will likely remind people of the recent disaster at the Staten Island Ferry, but it’s also nowhere near as powerful. The documentary will be distributed by HBO Films and follows a group of female commuters who transform into businesswomen and mingle with each other inside the women’s room of the Ferry that connects Staten Island to lower Manhattan. Activist filmmaker Maryann DeLeo’s Chernobyl Heart is another HBO production and chronicles the effects of Chernobyl’s radiation leak on a group of children from Belarus. Ferry Tales is arguably the most solid, but Asylum is the short mostly likely to pull on everyone’s human right’s heartstrings.

Will Win: Asylum

FILM EDITING: Oscar-winning editor Walter Murch receives his ninth nomination for his work on Cold Mountain, but because this is the only film in the category not nominated for either Best Picture or Best Director, there are some members in the editing branch who might think the 155-minute Minghella harlequin romance could have been cut by at least, I don’t know, 155 minutes? Next to go is first-time nominee Lee Smith, whose assemblage of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is certainly elegant but there are more svelte monsters in the category that should more easily engage voters. City of God’s Daniel Rezende is nominated here for his very first editing job, and as such is very easy to write off as a non-competitor, but not only is the popularity of the groovy Fernando Meirelles film in part his doing, City of God’s editing did win a BAFTA award last year against four future Best Picture heavyweights. The Fellowship of the Ring lost to Black Hawk Down in 2002 and The Two Towers lost to Chicago last year. This year, voters can throw the Lord of the Rings trilogy a cumulative bone by rewarding the exceptionally edited but extremely long Return of the King, or they can just give the award to Seabiscuit…because horses are pretty and they run fast. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but this race will end in a photo finish.

Will Win: Seabiscuit

Should Win: The Return of the King

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Notable snubs in this category: Golden Globe winner Osama, macho endurance test The Return, and the crowd-pleasing Good Bye, Lenin!. Evil, the story of a troubled teen sent to an private academy where a reign of terror is commanded by the school’s Abercrombie & Fitch upperclassmen, may skew entirely too young. Though this is the 13th nomination for Sweden, the country has only won for Ingmar Bergman productions (The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly, and Fanny & Alexander). A major hit in its native Japan, and now poised for U.S. distribution (hopefully not by Miramax), Yoji Yamada’s Shakespearean-samurai action extravaganza The Twilight Samurai may have a difficult time winning over voters who previously passed on Zhang Yimou’s Hero. The powerhouse in the category is Denys Arcand’s The Barbarian Invasions, the story of a middle-aged braggart who spends his last days on the planet injecting heroin, calling Mother Theresa a “slimy Albanian,” and talking about his rock hard cock. Charming stuff, and though this is Arcand’s third nomination in the Foreign Language Film category, the strange individuals who vote in this category will have no problem passing over the Miramax machine in favor of Twin Sisters or Želary. The former, from the Netherlands, concerns the separation of twin sisters in the 1920s and their struggle to reconnect in the future. The latter tells the story of a student involved in the Resistance during WWII and the time he spends hiding from the Gestapo in a remote mountain village. The Oscars love Nazi perseverance dramas and Želary (recently picked up by Sony Pictures Classics) screams The Pianist Part Deux or Still Nowhere in Africa.

Will Win: The Barbarian Invasions

Should Win: None.

MAKEUP: Last year, The Hours and The Two Towers didn’t make the cut, and Frida defeated The Time Machine. This year’s nominees all scream Big Spectacle, except for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, that is—for the life of me, I’m trying to remember anyone wearing makeup in the film. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is surely a worthy candidate, but the film’s Moonlight Serenade sequence may be recognized as a triumph of CGI rather than makeup. Peter King and Richard, who won two Oscars in 2002 for The Fellowship of the Ring, should have no problem racking up another win for The Return of the King here.

Will Win: The Return of the King

Should Win: The Return of the King

SCORE: Poor Danny Elfman. His best scores have never been nominated, and his previous nominations in this category were for Men in Black and Good Will Hunting. This year, his sugary score for Big Fish represents the only nomination for the Tim Burton film. He’s a long-shot here, as is James Horner’s dreary orchestrations for House of Sand and Fog. This is Horner’s ninth nomination, and while there’s lots of love for him to go around, his score for the DreamWorks picture can only be described as “music to slit your wrists to” (thank you Brittany Murphy for the quote!). Next to go is six-time nominee Thomas Newman for Finding Nemo, which could feasibly benefit from a vote-split but the film will probably content itself with a win in the Animated Feature Film category. Gabriel Yared scores his third Academy Award nomination for an Anthony Minghella film. For me, this is the best score in the category (or, at the very least, the most recognizable), and certainly it’s the best thing about Cold Mountain. Also, Yared currently has another excellent score, for Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s Cesar-nominated Bon Voyage, working through some people’s consciousness. Though Howard Shore’s score for The Return of the King was rewarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press, AMPAS didn’t recognize his work for The Two Towers, and some members in this category might see his win for The Fellowship of the Ring as a victory for all three. Assuming Renée Zellweger goes home very upset on Oscar night, this may be Cold Mountain’s consolation prize.

Will Win: Cold Mountain

Should Win: The Return of the King

SONG: AMPAS had the good sense to nominate “Belleville Rendezvous” from the brilliant Triplets of Belleville, but the song is too quirky and the film is the Little Engine That Could of the category. Michael McKean and Annette O’Toole’s “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow,” from A Mighty Wind, is the category’s other surprise nominee. Fans of the Christopher Guest mockumentary celebrated the nomination, but some think the wrong song made the cut. T Bone Burnett and Elvis Costello are nominated for “Scarlet Tide” and Sting for “You Will Be My Ain True Love,” both songs from the Cold Mountain soundtrack. Sting’s contribution is the only other song in the category besides “Into the West,” from The Return of the King, to carry over from the Golden Globe line-up, but many of its votes may be siphoned by the inferior “Scarlet Tide.” In fact, if “Scarlet Tide” wasn’t here, I would have given the edge to “You Will Be My Ain True Love.” I’m looking forward to Annie Lennox’s live interpretation of “Into the West.” It’s no “Here Comes the Rain Again,” but Lennox can out-diva Alison Krauss and Sting any day. Of course, what’s to be made of the fact that Lennox’s live performance was cut from the Grammys but Alison Krauss was allowed to go on?

Will Win: The Return of the King

Should Win: The Return of the King

ANIMATED SHORT: Even if you don’t think Destino is the best film to receive a nomination this year, it’s certainly the most important. I had the pleasure of seeing the film last year at the New York Film Festival, where it preceded The Barbarian Invasions. Introduced by director Dominique Monfrey, Destino began as a collaboration between surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney in 1946, but was abandoned after Dali barely produced 15 seconds of footage. Many years later, Roy Disney and Monfrey reunited to approximate Dali’s original vision. This frank, delirious short follows a ballerina through a Daliesque dreamland as she grapples with the sexual implications of the objects around her (think Belle from Beauty in the Beast walking into “The Persistence of Memory”). This short is so good it propelled someone at the screening I attended to say, “I would hate to be the film that follows this.” (Hmmmm, maybe that’s why I hated Denys Arcand’s film so much.) Bud Luckey’s adorable Pixar short Boundin’ and Adam Elliot’s cynical claymation Harvie Krumpet could feasibly upset. The former tells the story of a toe-tapping lamb that loses his pride along with his wool and how a mythical Jackalope teaches him to get his groove back. Harvie Krumpet is the story of a man dogged by bad luck, and though it has several high-profile festival prizes under its belt, can it honestly defeat Walt Disney and Salvador Dalí? Harvie Krumpet is the longest film in the category, and as such may stand out from the pack, but Elliot’s story of a down-trodden Polish loser who moves to Australia during the Holocaust and suffers one physical embarrassment after another is as snide as it is frequently touching and funny. Ice Age fans have seen Carlos Saldanha’s Gone Nutty, which stars the scene-stealing squirrel Scrat and offers a nutty explanation for Continental Drift. (Note: On the 2-disc Ice Age DVD, Gone Nutty went by the name Scrat’s Missing Adventure.) Audiences at this year’s Academy screenings went crazy for both the pomo Gone Nutty and the rhythmic Boundin’, but their respective cuteness is unlikely to linger on everyone’s mind with Destino and Harvie Krumpet on the ballot. Last but not least is Christopher Hinton’s amusingly composed Nibbles, which chronicles the delirious and grotesque trip a father and his three sons make to a fishing pond. Because the short is so rough around the edges, consider it the night’s biggest long shot.

Will Win: Destino

Should Win: Destino

LIVE ACTION SHORT: Remember: Even if the winners in this category aren’t always fair, this is one of those equal-opportunity categories where all members of the Academy are required to see all the nominees. Florian Baxmeyer’s The Red Jacket already won a student Academy Award but has to compete on Oscar night with another entry from Sarajevo and another film where a little boy bites the bullet. In Baxmeyer’s short, an unfortunate accident results in the titular jacket being sent to Sarajevo, where a little boy picks it up on the day of his family’s slaughter. This trite, ham-fisted fable about replaceable children may be the worst film Krzysztof Kieślowski never made, but since a child gets shot in the film and is later saved by UN officers and a grieving German man, it will have no problem tugging everyone’s heartstrings. Also from Sarajevo is Stefan Arsenijevic’s deceptively simple (A)Torzija, the allegorical story of an amateur choir group about to leave their besieged village, but not before they sing in unison for the salvation of a pregnant cow and her baby calf. The whistle of a young boy becomes indistinguishable from the sounds of falling bombs, and Arsenijevic milks this confusion for absurdist gravitas. Academy members will have an easier time remembering The Red Jacket, but the two films from Sarajevo may just cancel each other out. Another festival favorite is Lionel Bailliu’s twisted Squash, the story of an intense psychological feud between a maniacal boss and his employee. Bailliu brilliantly situates Charles’s abuse of Alexandre as a primitive torture mechanism; by film’s end, though, an empowered Alexandre turns the racquetball game into something not unlike a house of cards. Because of its ultra-tight screenplay and excellent performances, Squash will stand out, but may be deemed “too French” for those looking for more emotional, squishier returns. At 40 minutes, Two Soldiers is the longest film in the category and has the distinction of being the only nominee in Made in the U.S.A. (and proud of it!). It’s also the last short that Academy members will see before penciling down a winner. Adapted from a William Faulkner story, this remarkably photographed short is the tale of a young southern boy who wants to join the army after his brother is drafted and sent to Memphis. Director Aaron Schneider, who did the cinematography for Kiss the Girls and Simon Birch, put a lot of money into this production (Ron Perlman stars, Alan Silvestri scored the thing) and he’s more than happy to show off the expensive period detail. However beautiful, the film lacks considerable brio. I expected a mini Pearl Harbor, so it’s impressive then that Schneider downplays the jingoism, even if he doesn’t fully allow the separation of two brothers to reflect a larger American loss. Still, Academy members will be endeared by the film’s knife-wielding, button-nosed protagonist and the lengths he goes to in order to reconnect with his dear brother. But Bobby Garabedian may have the edge by virtue of being American but telling a more universal story and shooting it abroad. Most is the story of a Czechoslovakian father and the fateful day he brings his 8-year-old son to the rail bridge he works at. Arguably the best film in the category, Most evokes a fleeting moment in time when a father must sacrifice a young life after he gauges his son’s existential connect to the world. Dreamily and elliptically composed, Most is like watching lives trapped in amber. It’s at times disturbing (Academy members jumped out of their seats during a crucial moment), but it’s also very funny and touching, and it’s this sentimentality that may just give the film the edge.

Will Win: Most (The Bridge)

Should Win: (A)Torzija

SOUND: I’m sorry, but it you are not a sound guy (or girl), and you’re not voting in this category yourself, it’s impossible to figure out what kind of sonic logic the voters in this category use to pick a winner. My ears tell me that Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is loud and nowhere near as elegant, or deadly, as Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Seabiscuit can trot and The Last Samurai can swing a sword, but there were more horses and blades in The Return of the King. Though the Lord of the Rings trilogy has yet to win in this category, one of the four dudes representing the film, Christopher Boyes, is also nominated for Pirates of the Caribbean. It should be noted that, unlike The Return of the King, Master and Commander and Pirates of the Caribbean are also nominated in the Sound Effects Editing category. Assuming, then, that Boyens’s friends are completely split down the middle and that the love for The Return of the King among sound guys (and girls) is not universal, I’ll hesitatingly give Master and Commander its only victory of the evening in this category.

Will Win: Master and Commander

Should Win: The Return of the King

SOUND EDITING: Here’s hoping that Billy Crystal does not incorporate the Big Theme of the evening (water!) into a funny montage sketch. (I swear to God, I will never watch the Oscars again if the comedian makes a crude Balseros joke.) Because the film is not nominated in the Sound category, forget Finding Nemo. Peter Weir’s sea-faring Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World may eek out a victory for its regal sound design, but Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl has enough whiz-bang to earn Christopher Boyes and George Watters the prize. Boyes has friends here, having won in the past for his work on water-logged epics Titanic and Pearl Harbor. Plus, with a name like George Watters on the nomination list, how can the Academy resist? Go Pirates!

Will Win: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Should Win: Master and Commander

VISUAL EFFECTS: I don’t know how many people will consider Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World a triumph of visual effects, and as such this will be a smackdown between Best Picture favorite The Return of the King and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Nominated two times for the visual effects he designed for George Lucas’s The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, John Knoll lost in 2000 to The Matrix and in 2002 to The Fellowship of the Ring. Pirates of the Caribbean is better than anything George Lucas has ever created in his entire life (well, maybe not American Graffiti), but Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook and Alex Funke’s effects for The Return of the King make Pirates of the Caribbean look like Tron by comparison.

Will Win: The Return of the King

Should Win: The Return of the King

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: For a third year in a row, Philipa Boyens, Peter Jackson and wife Frances Walsh are nominated in this category. Any Tolkien fan will more than happily give this award to the trio, and though the last two Lord of the Rings films have not won this award, I don’t know if this is a category where the Academy will necessarily want to reward the group for the cumulative effort. Only a maniac would put Dennis Lehane and Laura Hillenbrand in the same league as Tolkien, but the Academy’s so-called bias against Jackson’s fantasy extravaganza may be felt here; many voting for The Return of the King in the Best Picture category consider it a “director’s film,” and as such is empowered more by its images than by Tolkien’s adapted text. Brian Helgeland, a previous winner for L.A. Confidential, certainly deserves to win over Gary Ross, but the fact remains that Lehane’s novel Mystic River didn’t move as many copies as Hillenbrand’s unbelievably popular Seabiscuit: The Saga of a Great Champion. Poor Ross wasn’t nominated for Best Director, so some members may want to reward his efforts here. The source material for Bráulio Mantovani’s City of God is entirely too obscure, and though Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s screenplay for American Splendor won a WGA award (something Ghost World didn’t do), some members in the Academy may be confused by the nature of the comic-book adaptation.

Will Win: Seabiscuit

Should Win: The Return of the King

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: The quirkiest productions are most likely to be rewarded here, and by virtue of being the only Best Picture nominee in the category, Lost in Translation is the one to beat. Dirty Pretty Things did surprisingly well at the box office, more so than The Barbarian Invasions, but some voters may recognize Steven Knight’s material as subordinate to Stephen Frears’s visuals. The Barbarian Invasions, on the other hand, has zero visual acumen, but Denys Arcand’s nasty, hot-to-trot dialogue is inexplicably beloved. Finding Nemo gets the what-the-fuck vote, and with the Miramax entries likely to cancel each other out, this may be between Coppola and the Sheridan clan. Like Dirty Pretty Things and Lost in Translation, In America enters the race with a WGA nod under its belt and it has the luxury of being the most emotional and tender film in the category. But Oscar has a history of rewarding young filmmakers in the writing categories as a consolation prize for losses elsewhere. Sofia Coppola, please take a seat next to Quentin Tarantino and Jane Campion.

Will Win: Lost in Translation

Should Win: In America

PICTURE: First, drown out anyone who’s been telling you that a “fantasy” film has never won in this category. Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings is, first and foremost, an action extravaganza, the kind of wide-eyed epic Oscar loves to reward. When The Return of the King won the Golden Globe and Jackson took the DGA prize, the film became something of a sure-thing. Critics seemed to embrace the third part of Jackson’s trilogy as much as audiences did, and the film has its fans within the Academy. But are there more AMPAS members who want to reward Jackson’s cumulative effort than there are hipsters and Seabiscuit fans? Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is just kind of there, coasting along on its competence but so non-descript people will forget it’s even nominated. Lost in Translation will appeal to younger members, and because Mystic River more or less has the universal respect of the acting branches, Eastwood’s film shouldn’t be dismissed as a possible upset. And then there is Seabiscuit, the stupidest, sappiest film in the category. If you think the film can’t win, then you have never seen an Oscar show in your entire life. This wholesome piece of American agitprop had audiences in tears last year, and it probably had the same effect on older members of the Academy. Luckily for fans of The Return of the King, there are also enough cynics in AMPAS that would rather wait to coronate a real symbol of American restoration come November (yes, I’m talking about John Kerry).

Will Win: The Return of the King

Should Win: Mystic River

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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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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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