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Oscar 2006 Winner Predictions

Watch as we unveil one winner prediction every day until the Saturday before Oscar night.

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Oscar 2006 Winner Predictions

To bring everyone who didn’t read our Oscar nomination prediction article up to speed, we’re disinterested in the concept of treating the Academy Awards as anything other than the spectacle of a glitzy Queen Bee organizing her army of schmoozing publicist Worker Bees to construct a temple dedicated to the glory of her legacy—a frenzy of almost telepathic orchestration. You hardly have to be a rock-throwing punk to know which way the honey will drizzle, and don’t let anyone who labels their vocation with either the words “awards,” “show,” or “expert” tell you otherwise. In the spirit of the occasion, we give you a ceremony of our own: Watch as we unveil one winner prediction every day until the Saturday before Oscar night. So as to avoid any irritation we may have caused last year, the most recent prediction has been dutifully checkmarked—and for those who really, really like us, we’ve splooged on our personal favorite in each category.

PICTURE: If you’ve been following these Oscar blurbs from the beginning, you’ve no doubt come to the realization that we’ve purposefully slipped a jab against Crash into each category, no matter how far we’ve had to bend over backward to do so. If you’ve made it this far without taking notice, then you’re undoubtedly a member of that exact same, incredibly desensitized, woefully oblivious demographic to whom Paul Haggis aimed his bullhorn screed, written and directed like a New Age episode of Jerry Springer. But taking one last potshot against Crash feels so pointless, even with the trade columnists and self-appointed “awards experts” all attempting to spin some semblance of a last-minute surge of Crash support in the (apparently very long-lasting) wake of its win for Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards. Roger Ebert’s recent huffy defenses for the integrity of Haggis’s vision only confirm that history’s vindicating judgment has been unusually swift this time around—at least in the critical community—and already people are looking back on Crash’s nomination as an outrage for the ages. So why kick the deafened and dumbstruck majority while they’re down? Especially when the objection-squawking slack has been picked up (and then some) by Brokeback Mountain’s fan base, who had already been slapping our wrists over Ed’s mixed review for some months before the Oscar nominations were even announced. Suggestions that Brokeback Mountain was just too socially important for any self-respecting gay man to be allowed any aesthetic reservations grew into shrill hysteria when we used the word “fag” to illustrate the latent prejudices we sensed in Oscar voters. That we actually endorsed Jake Gyllenhaal as our pick of the contenders apparently carried little sway, and our perceived assault on the tender sensibilities of Brokeback Mountain’s fans resulted in harassment on our forum, in our email inboxes, and even at Fashion week where our poor Alexa took a tofu cream pie to the face while attempting to get Nick Verreos’s cell number. (I’m still convinced that this counterstrike was carefully organized over at the Tennessee Williams Discussion Forum for Very, Very Sensitive Homos.) That this race boils down to Brokeback Mountain vs. Crash (in which harmless mediocrity will almost surely defeat pure evil, if only so that the Academy doesn’t have to spend the rest of our natural lives living down accusations of homophobia) testifies to the widespread nature of political navel-gazing. The category’s two arguably superior films Munich (perhaps flawed, but certainly not lacking in ambition) and Good Night, and Good Luck (a solid reiteration of a historical episode the nation is in sad need of relearning) are both sanguine alternatives to the political culture of “Me!” So of course they’ll both go home empty-handed.

Will Win: Brokeback Mountain

Should Win: Munich

ACTOR: Another year, another overblown bitchfest over female actors getting a raw deal compared to their male counterparts. Truth be told, we don’t notice a significant drop-off in quality looking at the line-up of Best Actress contenders, and a hypothetical list of close-but-no-cigar contenders left off the final ballot probably includes more women (Joan Allen, Ziyi Zhang, Q’orianka Kilcher) than men (Russell Crowe and Jeff Daniels). But that’s not to say that the complaints are without some validity. Three out of the five Best Actor nominees play the central roles of Best Picture nominees, another (Joaquin Phoenix) spearheaded a film that was probably edged for Munich’s slot by a mere handful of votes. And, let’s be honest, would Terrence Howard’s pimp performance in Hustle & Flow have been given a single glance from the Academy’s Charlton Heston demographic had he not also played one of the two noblest roles in Crash? (That “Santo” Michael Peña wasn’t even mentioned as a viable Supporting Actor contender alongside Howard and Don Cheadle tells us just how much longer we can expect to wait before we get an Oscar “Year of the Hispanic.”) Does one have to be a raging feminist to suggest that Capote and Brokeback Mountain aren’t aesthetically superior to North Country and Transamerica? Or that what distinguishes your glorified Lifetime movie of the week from your serious Oscar contender is whether or not the lead character has exterior genitalia? Perhaps in deference to the newly glorified spirit of Betty Friedan, the Best Actor race is a two-man contest between the category’s sensitive, sweet-natured homosexuals. (Though one could certainly make the case for Strathairn’s crusade against the “fairy”-baiting Senator McCarthy or Howard’s lady-lovin’ pimp.) If Heath Ledger’s lovelorn cowboy frequently inspires romantic types to clutch their fists to their hearts and purr “awww,” Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Faberge eggshell queen (and, especially, his “no spit-lube required” relationship with author Jack Dunphy) won’t spook the voting body’s cattle. And, oh look! Coincidentally, the goddamned movie’s named after his character.

Will Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote)

Should Win: Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow)

ACTRESS: We are not of the opinion that Judi Dench can score a nomination for as little as hailing a taxi cab. If that were true, she would have been nominated this year in the supporting actress category for bitch-slapping Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice. Not that that would have been a bad thing, since we’re of the opinion that Dench’s talent for causing a ruckus is fine when corralled to five-minute intervals and not stretched out across an entire film’s running time, for what is Mrs. Henderson Presents but an insufferably long titty attack? It’s obvious some Academy members like Dench’s ping-ponging shows of cattiness, but the truth of the matter is that Mrs. Henderson Presents hasn’t quite commanded the same attention as Being Julia or displayed the nuance of our own Mr. Henderson’s review of Bambi last year. We’re not even going to insult your intelligence by talking about Knightley’s star-making turn and Saint Charlize Theron’s latest flailing pantomime and instead get straight to business. In this corner we have Reese Witherspoon, America’s go-to movie star for Adult Contemporary comedies, the woman Ryan Phillippe gets to crash into every night, and, as of this week, the highest paid actress in Hollywood history. In that corner we have Felicity Huffman, survivor of the David Mamet School of Dick-Smacking Sadism and star of the biggest (and worst) show on network television. For whatever reason, there seems to be a consensus that Witherspoon is due for an Oscar. For reversing all the voice training she’s done over the years and essaying a pretty little impersonation of June Carter in James Mangold’s glorified TNT movie Walk the Line, Witherspoon has the Golden Globes and SAG on her side…just as Annette Bening did before losing the Oscar to Hilary Swank for Boys Don’t Cry, Unless They’re Girls Pretending to Be Boys. No less of a “stunt” than Witherspoon’s performance, and don’t let haters tell you otherwise, is Huffman’s unpretentious turn as a male-to-female transsexual in Duncan Tucker’s flawed but kindhearted Transamerica. To hear naysayers lambaste Huffman’s performance you’d think her Bree character gets her dick cut off by a pack of angry ’phobes in the film, but it’s precisely because something like this doesn’t happen to her character that we appreciate the film and think Huffman will lose here. Her acceptance speeches may be sweeter and her Dove commercial may be somewhat less off-putting than the amount of money Witherspoon is going to be making for her next movie, but we must remember that a vote for Witherspoon is a way for Hollywood to extol its Midas touch, and golden girls don’t come more golden than this one-time indie darling.

Will Win: Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line)

Should Win: Felicity Huffman (Transamerica)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: We’ll admit that Paul Giamatti’s win for Cinderella Man at the SAG Awards threw us for a loop nearly as big as William “Broheem” Hurt’s nomination for his imitation of Don Corleone as played by, well, Paul Giamatti. But that’s only because we’ve been associating this year’s Supporting Actor category with violations upon the dignity of the human form ever since Crash’s Matt Dillon secured early frontrunner status for massaging his daddy’s urethra while the cancer-ridden old coot weeps silently on the toilet. So, call us macho if you must, but we say getting bear-hugged by Russell Crowe is at least a few steps below having your fingernails pulled out by one of Syriana’s swarthy, double-crossing secret agents on the scale of bodily danger. That’s to say nothing of that trickle of spinal fluid that started leaking from George Clooney’s nose while he was tied to the chair for that very scene—a publicity gold mine, though it couldn’t have happened to a nicer nose. Also coming up short in the contest against terrorist pedicures, for that matter, are the hangovers of low self-esteem from Sideways that are the

real reason for Giamatti’s presence here. Maybe one of Giamatti’s publicists can talk him into getting into some horrible, disfiguring car accident sometime in the next month to up the stakes, but even a scenario like that runs the risk of reminding voters of Paul Haggis’s contention that car accidents are God’s way of baptizing us into the path of racial righteousness. Obviously that would help Dillon (riding the crest of a “career tribute” wave, despite being younger and tauter than both Clooney and Hurt), whose character isn’t really redeemed at the film’s end so much as the cosmic alignment around him has shifted to reveal everyone else to be even worse, especially the black social worker to whom he reads the affirmative-action riot act early on. We are obviously optimistic (given Crash’s six nominations), but we trust that all right-thinking voters would rather have Clooney’s detached fingernails jammed up their own urethra than be subjected to a second screening of Crash. Or, at the very least, that some of the same demographic who gave Halle Berry her “bigger than me” moment might feel a tinge of discomfort about sending Dillon up to the podium unless he plans on outing a certain costar from The Outsiders, a la In & Out. Which brings us to Jake Gyllenhaal. While it’s true that Jack Twist’s body gets pierced by more than just Heath’s lodger, all such invasions (pleasant and otherwise) happen almost completely off screen. Sorry, fag. No Oscar for you.

Will Win: George Clooney (Syriana)

Should Win: Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: So Maria Bello goes 0-for-2 in this category after her snubs for The Cooler two years ago and now A History of Violence this year. I guess that the Academy can only stomach women being subjected to unsolicited molestation (even if, in Bello’s case, the slow hands belong to her husband) when their skin color is no lighter than Thandie Newton’s. Which is only one of the reasons why Michelle Williams’s sexually mistreated wifey, who represents Brokeback Mountain’s best shot at an acting award now that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s BAFTA win has increased his lead on Heath Ledger, will probably end up bested by Rachel Weisz’s saint. To cover the first, I reiterate what we already stated in our nomination predictions: she’s “a woman whose righteous indignation, coupled with the indignities thrust upon her person, fans a Hollywood elite’s liberal guilt while simultaneously and safely keeping their compassion at bay.” We could cash it in right there, but why abandon the table when the dealer keeps hitting soft 17s? Weisz has both a Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award to go along with her impending Nobel and UNICEF prizes. Her character’s Demi-in-Vanity Fair picture-perfect pregnancy is the result of passionate heterosexuality, and not merely the unanticipated runoff for a woman who allows her husband to smack her, flip her and stick her up the B-side as her marital duty. And, to put it bluntly, if she were to one afternoon happen upon a love postcard addressed to Ralph Fiennes from her urbane, gay African friend, she probably wouldn’t be the type to bite her lip and continue washing the dishes. Nor, for that matter, would she let Truman Capote and his martini-sucking puss dismiss her book as “nothing special.” Everything’s coming up homo at this year’s Oscars, so you’d be a fool to bet against the woman with balls.

Will Win: Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener)

Should Win: Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain)

ART DIRECTION: Here’s a category we thought Crash had a shot in—certainly it can’t be easy to create a vision of the world that only exists in the head of one person. The film’s art direction is nothing if not detailed, but because these nuances are largely theoretical (blank cartridges and invisibility cloaks), we imagine the Academy might have confused them for special effects. Speaking of invisibility cloaks (the real fake ones), Harry Potter is emerging as AMPAS’s Susan Lucci, earning his sixth Oscar nomination in the five years he’s been putting out for the public, but we imagine J.K. Rowling will need to write a novel about how Hermione’s ostensibly aborted fetus returns to poison everyone at the Higgedly Piggeldy School of the Arts for Harry to meet Oscar. (Seriously, folks, you can’t make this stuff up—it’s happening on All My Children right now!) Like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Pride & Prejudice enters the race without a precursor shout-out from the Art Directors Guild, and the nine-year history of the organization tells us that no film can win the Academy Award in this category without at least a nomination from this group. Oscar’s own history is equally instructive: In years where a Best Picture nominee doesn’t prevail here, the spoils almost always go to a work of cotton-candied proportions. We’re guessing Good Night, and Good Luck.’s careful but reserved period detail doesn’t stand a chance against the grandiose sights King Kong and Memoirs of a Geisha have to offer. We prefer the former, but just how much of the film’s sets were constructed using actual human hands? Assuming digital-wary voters will wonder the same, they’re likely to throw their weight behind Memoirs of a Geisha. Only Rex Reed’s demographic likes the film, but let’s give a bitch credit where credit is due: Rob Marshall can’t get his Asian people straight, but at least his people know the difference between a bonzai tree and a Chinese peony.

Will Win: Memoirs of a Geisha

Should Win: King Kong

ANIMATED FEATURE: Every winner in this category since its inauguration has been something of a no-brainer, and with the possible exception of Shrek’s triumph over Monsters, Inc. in 2001, the victor has also been an unequivocal class act. Though the Academy’s preference for Howl’s Moving Castle over box office juggernauts like Madagascar, Chicken Little and Robots may validate the organization’s integrity for some, is it really that much of a surprise in a year where Brokeback Mountain’s only competition in the Best Picture race is a wild and unbelievable fantasy about race relations we thought only Ralph Bakshi’s evil twin was capable of? Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride made a pretty penny, but unless voters feel the need to retroactively reward The Nightmare Before Christmas by throwing their weight behind this gorgeous but uninspired upstairs-downstairs confection, everyone knows this became Steve Box and Nick Park’s prize to lose after a fire last October burned the Aardman Animations building, immediately positioning Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit as the sentimental favorite here.

WILL WIN: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit

SHOULD WIN: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit

CINEMATOGRAPHY: We can name at least three dozen films from last year that do more to advance the synergy of cinematographic art and narrative storytelling than Brokeback Mountain, but to hear the fans of the film describe Rodrigo Prieto’s banal color photography, you’d think they had witnessed the second undulation of A River Runs Through It. We’d like to think the discriminating cinematographer’s branch just barely nominated the film, but if the adulation Prieto’s work is lapping up on message boards across the web from Brokeaholics is any indication, expect the Academy’s general voting body to similarly consider Ang Lee’s one or two good angles and framing devices to be Prieto’s handiwork. But dem dar hills are purty! Sure, but one need only look at The New World to behold how a true master of the form works with a director to bring the mystery and vitality of a bygone era to life. Emmanuel Lubezki stands here not only for the gift he gave Terrence Malick but also for people like Agnes Godard (L’Intrus) and Christopher Doyle (2046), whose achievements continue to go ignored by an obviously short-sighted AMPAS. Lubezki could feasibly upset, but we won’t be the only ones to tell you that no film whose only nomination was in this category has won the Oscar since 1949’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. That means the gloomy Batman Begins is out too, leaving Brokeback Mountain to fend off Good Night, and Good Luck. and Memoirs of a Geisha. First-time nominee Robert Elswit’s stunning photography for the former is largely responsible for the George Clooney film’s cancerous sense of unease, but the fact that it was shot in color and processed in black and white may be a detriment for some. We wish Memoirs of a Geisha had never been made (like Crash, a film we thought would score a nomination here given all the colors of the rainbow Paul Haggis pisses on), but we’d be lying if we said Zhang Ziyi’s fierce runway performance didn’t give us pause. This tacky production is tied for the second most nominations (does Rex Reed hold AMPAS stock?), but even we wouldn’t vote for it over Brokeback Mountain, a film Oscar voters can really get behind without losing too much face…or their Kimchi dinners.

Will Win: Brokeback Mountain

Should Win: The New World

COSTUME DESIGN: I usually use the Costume Design Oscar as an excuse to freshen up my party guests’ appletinis. But it’s not because of a lack of interest in silver screen duds. Well, alright…it’s a lack of interest in silver screen duds, at least as the costume designers’ branch defines them. When a film’s costumes help serve as graceful shorthand for its characters, it’s a nice fringe benefit—Reese Witherspoon’s saucy-yet-uptight flannel skirts in Election or Gloria Stuart’s cleavage-enhancing nightslip in Titanic both spring to mind. But it seems costume designers are in the habit of praising the work that most strongly resembles their own senior thesis projects for the theater wing’s spring Shakespeare production, costumes that serve the same function on the sewing shop mannequins as they do covering the ample torsos of the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Miriam Margolyes and Joan Plowright. Which you’d think would bode well for the Dench vehicle, but (not unlike my annual family reunion up at the lake) Mrs. Henderson’s feather boas and wide-brim hats are upstaged by the flesh that remains unclothed. This is only the third year in over two decades without a Best Picture nominee in the line-up. (What, you were expecting applause for horrid, ill-fitted denim shirts and invisible bullet-proof cloaks?) The last two times they were left without a Best Pic to choose from, Oscar voters predictably went for period frippery (Topsy Turvy in 2000) and reflective fabrics (The Adventures of Priscilla in 1995). We’d like to think that the quizzical nomination for Johnny Cash’s getup portends an opportunity for voters to embrace minimalism for a change. And the Beauregarde femmes’ matching velour tracksuits had Alexa hoping, momentarily, that Johnny Depp would pull his face back to reveal Missy Elliott underneath in the most elaborate setup for an overcooked Dave Meyers blitzkrieg evah. But anyone who doesn’t think this category belongs to Memoirs of a Geisha’s freshly-pressed kimonos and Pride & Prejudice’s spring line from the House of Di-Bore is hereby cut off from appletinis in my house.

Will Win: Memoirs of a Geisha

Will Win: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

DIRECTOR: In support of our correct prediction for Clint Eastwood to win the directing Oscar last year for Million Dollar Baby, we mentioned that there was only one person in the last two decades to win both the Golden Globe award and the DGA prize and then lose the Oscar. Well, that person is up once again this year, and once again Brokeback Mountain helmer Ang Lee has a Globe and a DGA plaque in tow…not to mention something he didn’t have with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: an almost unanimous slate of critics’ awards from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and almost every other bumfuck flyover burg down the middle. So even though Lee couldn’t win in ’01 against vote-splitting double-dipper Steven Soderbergh, there’s little to suggest that he won’t take the Oscar in a cowboy chassé this time around. The fact that Brokeback Mountain is the only message movie in the category that simultaneously gets wingnut pundits’ mouths all afroth and isn’t completely one-sided about it certainly doesn’t queer the deal. The Oscars have a long and secure history of championing politically progressive and aesthetically retrograde films. So Brokeback Mountain should give them their cakewalk and the chance to eat it out, too. Expect Lee’s speech to be the least controversial public address vaguely associated with homosexuality you’ve ever heard in your life. But for any voters looking to further twist the knife in the limping (but still on the march) Bush administration, Lee’s most significant competitor is undoubtedly George Clooney, who has already proven that he has few scruples about turning his acceptance speeches into jocularly lefty end-zone dances. And, unlike Michael Moore, he doesn’t look like a sloppy belligerent embarrassment in a tux. (Score one for square jaws.) Working against Clooney is his nod over in the Supporting Actor category for Syriana, which to date has grossed twice as much as Good Night, and Good Luck. We begged and pleaded with the directors’ branch to pretend that Paul Haggis’s Crash never happened and underestimated the possibility that Capote’s Bennett Miller’s experiment in complete stylelessness would maintain traction. But, as the snubs for Cronenberg, Allen and Malick attest, not every year is a banner year for auteurism at the Oscars. On that note, Stephen Spielberg’s Munich is the most politically complex film of the lot (or, at least, the most morally relativistic) and a soberly philosophic companion piece to War of the Worlds’ impressionistic take on our fragmented, terrorized epoch, which probably damns him to last place here. Oscars crave triumph. Even if it comes from Brokeback Mountain, where the triumph is to be found in the nodding heads of the audience, secure in their knowledge that an Oscar win for the film must mean we live in more enlightened times…right?

Will Win: Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)

Should Win: Steven Spielberg (Munich)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Twinks or bears? In this especially gay Oscar season, the academy made their preference known when they chose March of the Penguins over Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man. We wish we could share your pain, except Herzog made a better documentary last year (The White Diamond) that wasn’t even considered by AMPAS’s documentary cluster. Besides, you’d have to have a heart made of Michael Atkinson to think March of the Penguins doesn’t at least deserve its slot here. Given the moolah the film’s cute little buggers have tucked away under their tailfeathers and the inspiration they’ve bestowed (to atheists and believers in the immaculate conception alike), only divine intervention will quell the Luc Jacquet documentary’s momentum. It’s a worthy enough winner, but our personal favorite is Hubert Sauper’s Darwin’s Nightmare, which doesn’t chart the consequences of Mad Haggis Disease on the Altmanesque brain but the catastrophic effects the Nile perch’s introduction into Lake Victoria had on the ecology and people of Tanzania. Support for a film of such Herculean importance is a vote for human rights, but we imagine the material is entirely too dreary for the category’s Whales of August voting bloc. Besides, any rough traders who do get to vote here will find themselves torn between Sauper’s film and the skid marks of Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro’s popular Murderball. The political subject matters of Street Fight and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room also suggest another possible vote split, leaving March of the Penguins to benefit from the spoils of these two turf wars.

Will Win: March of the Penguins

Should Win: Darwin’s Nightmare

DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Eric Simonson’s A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin ends with writer Studs Terkel saying that every kid should know about Norman Corwin, who, according to interviewee Robert Altman, elevated WWII-era radio programming to an art form. Today, a 95-year-old Corwin lectures at USC, where his students stare at him as if they’d rather be at home watching Crash. We wouldn’t blame anyone if they felt the same about the short, which is informative, capably made, and rightfully reveres Corwin’s achievements but lacks emotional resonance. This one is strictly for the Garrison Keillor set. Also out, we think, is The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang-Bang Club, Dan Krauss’s account of the titular photojournalist who killed himself in 1994 shortly after winning the Pulitzer Prize for a famous shot that appeared in The New York Times of an emaciated Sudanese toddler huddled on the ground near a vulture. A mix of talking-head interviews and archival footage from Carter’s days as a member of an Apartheid-era photo club, the documentary is life-affirming but a little stiff and slow to build to the quickly glossed-over eye-opener about the psychological damage photojournalists risk in the process of shooting and bringing to us the horrors of the world. Stacy Sherman and Kimberly Acquaro’s God Sleeps in Rwanda is a more revealing work—an account of what life is like for a group of women living in post-genocide Rwanda. The stories these women tell are horrifying and their lives are scarcely “upbeat” (as EW describes)—tales of how they saw their families murdered and how they themselves were cut up and raped, subsequently left pregnant and/or infected with AIDS. It’s a loose-limbed work, but that’s forgivable given that Rwanda is now, more than ever, a work-in-progress. If there is an upside here, it’s that women in the country now wield unprecedented social and political power: As the film’s narration points out, they now account for 70% of the country’s population. The equally devastating The Mushroom Club is director Steven Okazaki’s elegy to Hiroshima 60 years after the atomic bomb. A 90-year-old woman still finds mementos of the blast all over the city and weeps guiltily as she recalls the victims she could have helped; another woman, whose fingers were fused together by the blast, reveals how she lost her best friend to the contaminated river the people around her thought was safe to wade through and drink from; and a man’s stunning anime provides the film with its chilling centerpiece, which depicts how he survived the blast because he was kneeling down to pick up a rock at the precise moment the bomb hit. These and other devastating stories combine to form an elegiac portrait of a city and country that continues to struggle with the bomb and the fear of forgetting this tragedy once its victims have passed. It’s the category’s most “complete” package in that it possesses the heart of God Sleeps in Rwanda and the visual elegance of A Note of Triumph, but Okazaki has won here before and Academy voters might sway toward the Sherman and Acquaro film if they feel it’s more topical, especially since it arrives so close on the heels of last year’s Hotel Rwanda. It’s so hard to choose between the two, we suggest your best bet is to flip a coin.

Will Win: God Sleeps in Rwanda

Should Win: The Mushroom Club

FILM EDITING: Anyone who admires Munich as an adroit thriller no doubt thinks it merits its place here, but what about those who don’t find the political game it plays to be particularly ground-breaking? No doubt the same people who thought Universal’s Oscar ambitions were squeezing Spielberg’s arm and forcing him to rush the film into theaters last December. Still, that it scored a Best Picture nomination must mean it’s not nearly as divisive as some seem to think, right? The film is a boozy contraption that walks a sexy, fine line from beginning to end, threatening to throw up all over itself a good dozen times (at least one of us thinks it actually does during that awfully queer, tribal-infused sequence where Avner fucks the hell out of his wife’s Gaza strip). But even if the Academy likes Spielberg’s mudslide, why would they choose it over the righteous indignation of Fernando Meirelles’s frozen cosmopolitan, The Constant Gardener? There seems to be a consensus for this kind of tripe that moves so swiftly it gives the illusion of urgency. Walk the Line, unlike Ray, doesn’t writhe as intensely, and Cinderella Man, in spite of the Academy’s history of honoring boxing films in this category, is the movie people who like Raging Bull and Million Dollar Baby wish they’d never had to see (we think it’s at least 144 minutes too long), and though we think Meirelles’s film could seriously spoil here, this one is Crash’s to lose. Every year, SAG seems to confuse Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture with Most People in a Motion Picture. In a similar vein, it’s easy to imagine a good chunk of the Academy’s voting bloc thinking about the generations-old handknit quilt in their family when they think about the poor schmuck whose busy hands had to weave together the dirty-ass strands of Haggis’s kaleidoscopic ode to bad taste.

Will Win: Crash

Should Win: Munich

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: AMPAS’s tackiness never ceases to amaze. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, The Child, The Wayward Cloud, Sex & Philosophy and Something Like Happiness. Those are just five of the films sacrificed to make room for some of the sorriest foreign-language nominees to ever have their title and country of origin read aloud on Oscar night by some Hollywood It minority. We thought it couldn’t get worse than Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi, which we knew had Paradise Now beat as soon as the film’s titular thug put a kidnapped baby inside a paper bag and slid him under his bed, but then came Joyeux Noël, a preposterously naïve child’s-lit evocation of a real-life Western Front cease fire that had Academy tongues at the press screening we attended clucking for two hours straight—it’s like No Man’s Land as directed by Frank Capra. And words couldn’t even begin to describe the idiocy of the over-directed, over-plotted, over-everything Don’t Tell, a histrionic Italian soap that intercuts the story of a woman’s remembered child abuse with her blind lesbian friend’s seduction of an older woman recently jilted by her husband. The minor Sophie Scholl: The Final Days doesn’t go heavy on the meatball sauce, but it’s sprinkled with lots of swastikas. This is usually a selling point for Oscar voters, except none of the film’s action pans out inside a concentration camp. Given the category’s fondness for all things Jewish, we can’t imagine Paradise Lost—a film that humanizes the Palestinian suicide bomber and whose politics make Munich look like a trip to preschool—reaching voters the way Tsotsi does when he asks a woman at gunpoint to give up her breast milk. ’Tis the season for the Crash moment, and this is the crashiest one of all.

Will Win: Paradise Now

Should Win: Tsotsi

MAKEUP: If ever there was a category where subtlety routinely takes a holiday, it’s the makeup award. (I’m sure you can just imagine our bemusement over the non-presence of the delicate char-work on the face of the slave-smuggling Chinaman who spends nearly all of Crash getting seared by the undercarriage of Ludacris’s stolen SUV, or that fine trail of crack-laced saliva trickling from the mouth of Don Cheadle’s way-gone mom.) To put it in perspective, Cinderella Man’s pungent slabs of raw hamburger on Russell Crowe’s already mealy mug represent the lineup’s only option for those who gravitate toward realism over microwaved latex and yellow contact lenses. You’d think that the Academy would want to send the Star Wars franchise and its cumulative nine Oscar wins (two from no-contest “Special Achievement” awards, though just how “special” is up for grabs) off by rounding the take to a nice, round ten; this is the film’s only shot, given its surprising snub for the films’ stalwart Oscar niche of Visual Effects. But neither The Phantom Menace (which hardly deserved the honor) nor Attack of the Clones (which actually did) were responsible for any of those nine Oscars. Why start redressing now, especially given the fact that none of the previous five Wars were even nominated for their makeup work? Most of Chronicles of Narnia’s creatures look like drier, less pus-encased rejects from the bowels of Tolkien and Jackson’s Middle-earth, and most of the truly memorable imagery (such as Tumnus’s crooked goat gams) is CGI, not makeup. Still, there but for the grace of C.S. Lewis’s Jesus imagery goes Tilda Swinton as the statuesque, icy White Witch. I picture Swinton shrewdly sneaking her makeup artist a few tapes of her work in Derek Jarman films. Let’s hope she (or maybe even Jarman) gets a “special achievement” thank you in the acceptance speech.

Will Win: Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Should Win: Star Wars: Episode III – Attack of the Clones

SCORE: The music branch must get their restaurant recommendations from Rex Reed. First-time nominees from Spain, Argentina and Italy, and still the category’s most self-consciously exotic composition comes from the man who was just last year nominated for a Harry Potter re-hash. John Williams has been nominated almost every year since the Munich Olympics, and it’s the second time he’s gobbled up two of the category’s five slots this decade. His score for Memoirs of a Geisha won the approval of the Globes’ HFPA for putting—wait, let me check the back of this CD case here—“brush on silk,” and also for distracting Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman with opium smoke (also on loan from China) while rolling out a long, velvet table of authentic Japanese instruments to take center stage. Of course, Williams’s Oscar-winning Schindler’s List score was beaten for the Globe by Kitaro’s new age-tinged Heaven & Earth score, so maybe the HFPA, like Reed, just has a history of asking “Pass the soy sauce, this fried rice needs a little kick” before exclaiming “Wasabi, are you nuts?!” Williams’s score for Munich probably sounds a little too reminiscent of JFK and Schindler’s List to cut too strongly into Alberto Iglesias’s espionage voting bloc. Though The Constant Gardener’s textures are the most vibrant in this mostly humdrum line-up, Iglesias’s use of African percussion and flutes as a sampling template for his sinister drum n’ bass cues is, at best, as misguided as Haggis’s feature-length game of dirty dozens. (Aren’t the Nairobi Africans supposed to be the victimized, ennobled life force of the film?) What with all this gauze and turquoise clogging the category, it’s hard not to see Gustavo Santaolalla’s immediately-identifiable Brokeback Mountain score winning, despite having less notes at its disposal than Ennis has words…unless you count that incessant, deafening open-string noise between each acoustic guitar chord. How amusing would that be if the tastes of New York’s most widely read culinary racist were trumped by the lullaby of whiskey?

Will Win: Brokeback Mountain

Should Win: The Constant Gardener

SONG: We’re still sort of trying to figure out how Bird York’s “In The Deep” can actually be eligible in this category, given how über-stringent the music branch has been in the past on the notion that music be explicitly written for the film and “In The Deep” appeared on York’s LP Velvet Hour before the film opened. (Preceding the film by either two weeks, according to Amazon, or two years, according to iTunes and AllMusic.) But, then again, we’re still trying to figure out how Crash is eligible for Best Original Screenplay, considering how liberally Paul Haggis steals from Magnolia, Short Cuts, Malibu’s Most Wanted and the collected personal diaries of Mark Fuhrman, John Rocker and Barbara Bush. Haggis’s cast doesn’t sing along during their shared moment of bonfire-lit clarity, but make no mistake: a vote for “In The Deep” is, essentially, a belated vote for Aimee Mann’s (not nominated but superior) “Wise Up.” But paring the nominations for this category down from five slots to three has actually managed to increase the competitiveness, though Dolly Parton’s presence here (representing homo-friendly, Barnes & Noble country in Willie Nelson’s stead) should remind everyone of the fact that she couldn’t even win against Michael Gore back in 1981. As for Hustle & Flow’s nominated song, whose title probably already seals its fate as this category’s bronze medalist, it’s easy to picture any voters who translate their endorsement of Crash into a sense of inflated consciousness putting the complimentary CD single into their car stereos and quickly finding their condescending airs slapped back into last week by lyrics like “It might be new to you, but it’s been like this for years.” Kanye what? Katrina who?

Will Win: Crash

Should Win: Hustle & Flow

ANIMATED SHORT: Shane Acker’s 9 is an eerie little film about garbage-dump creatures with bodies made of zippered potato sacks trying to fend off a sinister, soul-sucking mechanical animal. As EW’s “Oscar oddsmakers” point out, Tim Burton is producing a feature-length version of this short, which won a 2005 student Academy Award for Acker, but this is not the kind of information voters—at least not the ones at the Academy screening we attended—are exactly privy too. If Acker, who did animation on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, wins here, it’s simply on the merit of the CGI short’s mix of suspense and spiritual uplift; it’s the rare CGI contraption with a heart to match its mechanical mind. The same can’t be said for Anthony Lucas’s The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, a Méliès-style odyssey set in the skies of a retro tomorrowland about an aerial navigator and a mad scientist trying to combat a mysterious plague; the short’s background detail is stunning and the Paul Haggis-like creature that touches everyone inappropriately is absolutely terrifying, but the cut-out characters are as empty as the story is chilly. Sharon Colman’s Badgered, about a cranky badger whose peace and quite is hounded by a pair of loud-mouthed crows and, later, an intrusive missile program, is incredibly funny and nicely drawn (a deft blend of regular paints and watercolors), but history tells us that these Bill Plymton-style shorts rarely make it to the Oscar podium. One Man Band is another inconsequential trifle fresh off the Pixar conveyor belt; EW was impressed (they called it “charming”), but Academy audiences are clearly getting tired of how far removed these artificial and snarky shorts are from the spirit of the Disney sister company’s feature-length treasures. 9’s major competition is The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation by John Canemaker, the chair of New York University’s animation program and Ed’s college advisor! Canemaker is a legend for some, but his work is largely unknown outside animation circles (regular moviegoers might know his work from The World According to Garp). The Moon and the Son, an exciting 28-minute hypothetical conversation between the filmmaker (voiced by John Turturro) and his diseased father (Eli Wallach, sounding strangely like the senile old man from Crank Yankers), is a crude but poetic mixture of prehistoric animation and live-action material. Some may think the short isn’t “animated” enough, but Academy audiences were deeply moved by the director’s work, which begins in a haze of anger and ends in rapturous reconciliation.

Will Win: The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation

Should Win: The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation

LIVE ACTION SHORT: Sight unseen, a lot of people seem to be checking off the horrendous Our Time Is Up, the only American entry in the category. The story of a psychiatrist who tells his patients—among them an angry black man who’s afraid of the dark, a closet case, and a man who sleeps with lots of women because of his ostensibly small dick—exactly what’s on his mind after learning he has a life-threatening disease, this short by Rob Pearlstein is shot like a Folgers Crystals commercial and stars plenty of recognizable actors (Kevin Pollak, the insufferable Rick Hoffman, and everyone’s favorite tubby Latino, Lost’s Jorge Garcia), but its storyline is so predictable and risible we think it might have been ghost-written by Paul Haggis. Cashback is England hipster Sean Ellis’s fun look at modern-day alienation through the eyes of a clockwatching young man who works at a supermarket; the short is jokey and irreverent but we have a feeling its very bold displays of female nudity might be too much for some viewers. That leaves the Oscar to go to one of three works dealing with human loss. Ulrich Grote’s cloying Ausreißer (The Runaway) stinks of Oscar gold from the start: A cute little boy appears on a man’s doorstep, insinuating that he’s the older man’s son. Rejected over and over again by his daddy, who does everything wrong short of rubbing feces on the kid’s face, the little bugger disappears and the film spirals inexplicably into Don’t Look Now territory, with the boy’s red-cloaked specter leading the father to a revealing location. Grote is no David Lynch, or Nicolas Roeg for that matter, but while we’re not exactly sure what he means to convey with the story’s abrupt rhetorical shift, you can’t go wrong with a short that manages to hook audiences with a syrupy opener and then bowl them over with the illusion of complexity. The short’s difficult-to-gauge reception was no less perplexing than the response heaped on the very black comedy Six Shooter by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh (The Beauty Queen of Leenane), a fascinating but understandably troubling short about a psychotic young man who mocks the recent deaths of his mother, a man’s wife, and a couple’s newborn child aboard a train to Dublin. Some people responded to the film in the same way we did to Final Destination 3, but unlike James Wong’s callous thriller, McDonagh’s short actively and critically concerns the way people respond to and cope with death. One person’s elation is another’s horror—a discrepancy shared both by the film’s characters and the audience we watched it with. Compared to Our Time Is Up and The Runaway, the Icelandic The Last Farm must have felt like watching Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice. It’s a slow-moving film, but it’s beautifully crafted and builds to a singularly powerful and devastating conclusion (a woman next to me whispered a shocked “Jesus” when she realized what was about to happen) that director Rúnar Rúnarsson earns through his evocative manipulation of landscape (the final tilt the camera makes prior the film’s fade-to-black is truly a revelation). Jón Sigurbjörnsson, as an old man who digs a grave outside his house for his deceased wife, conveys via his devastated face and decrepit, failing body the horror of old age and living the rest of his days without the love of his life. If voters recognize a correlation between the finale of this short and the end of Brokeback Mountain, Rúnarsson could prevail here. Otherwise, it’s probably The Runaway’s to lose.

Will Win: The Runaway

Should Win: The Last Farm

SOUND EDITING: With mise-en-scène taking a back seat at the Oscars to star power and Dolby fireworks, it’s hardly surprising to find that even the sound designers who are trained to know the difference between a sigh and a moan treat their branch’s nominations like great-great-granduncle Bip holding the horn to his ear after an H-bomb report and wheezing, “Did you say something, Ethel?” If it doesn’t smack them upside the head in 5.1, they don’t hear it at all. The noisiest film of the year isn’t in the running here, but you can still organize the nominees according to Crash’s stereophonic racial stereotypes, though not necessarily according to your initial first impressions. Some would no doubt accuse King Kong and its questionable native caricatures of standing in for Haggis’s black characters (who have a civilized conversation about racial profiling before stealing an SUV), but we’d align the film’s cluttered sonic workout with the ranting Iranian store owner—neither shut up. Memoirs of a Geisha is pretty far removed from Crash’s multitasking Asians…err, “entrepreneurs,” but its contrived stoicism certainly matches up with Michael Peña and Jennifer Esposito’s becalmed if peripheral Latinos. War of the Worlds’ Dakota Fanning might represent a strong corollary with Sandra Bullock’s auto-programmed Stepford Caucasian, but those terrifying tripod bullhorns that announce impending massacre sound like Haggis’s script itself. King Kong has this one wrapped up by a tirade, but that apocalyptic foley work in the Spielberg film is the only thing that gave us nearly as many nightmares as the prospect of having to discuss Crash in mixed company again.

Will Win: King Kong

Should Win: War of the Worlds

SOUND MIXING: After an Oscar season filled with more bitching than usual over the complete predictability of nearly every race, it’s almost refreshing to come across a category that could legitimately go a number of directions, given the admittedly limited consideration we expect most Oscar voters will accord the second sound category on their ballots. The award for Sound Mixing could end up making or breaking Oscar pools, so for the love of C.S. Lewis don’t cock this one up! If this category has an insider angle to consider, it’s the spirit of Susan Lucci hanging over Memoirs of a Geisha’s sound re-recording mixer Kevin O’Connell, who has spent the last two decades quietly (or, rather, extraordinarily loudly) racking up nominations for predominately octane-fuelled sonic bluster—Top Gun, Twister, Con Air, The Patriot. (What with his penchant for exclamation points, it’s no surprise to learn that he was reported to have performed uncredited script doctoring on one of Paul Haggis’s nine upcoming projects: a reenactment of the Clarence Thomas hearings with the sitting Justices portrayed by old Cassavetes troupe members possessed by the spirits of slain civil rights crusaders.) He’s been nominated 17 times now, all but two or three nods coming from actioneers. Wouldn’t it be just his luck to finally latch onto an extremely tactile movie that, for a change, people in the Academy actually seem to like, and then lose to the sort of hyperactive dynamite-parfait mixes that have made his Oscar career? Unfortunately for him, we don’t see much leeway for the three adventure candidates to cancel each other out. If Chronicles of Narnia is too milquetoast for its first two-thirds, and the unabated roar of War of the Worlds doesn’t even give you an opportunity to step back and assess the damage, than the dynamic range of King Kong’s three hours is just right. Poised to spoil, Walk the Line may very well sneak through the clutter, coasting on this category’s recent history of favoring music-heavy contenders. As the winner of the Cinema Audio Society’s award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Motion Picture, it’s likely the frontrunner here, but don’t be surprised if Geisha pulls a fast one.

Will Win: Walk the Line

Should Win: War of the Worlds

VISUAL EFFECTS: What does it say that Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, the only film to tie King Kong’s four nominations from the Visual Effects Society, couldn’t score a nomination here? Probably that the voters in this category couldn’t care less how good a film’s effects are if the film itself is as insulting to one’s intelligence as the fantastical flurries of lilywhite snow that fall to the ground at the end of Crash. Case in point: War of the Worlds appears here after failing to be recognized by the VES in its most important category, Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture, suggesting the Academy appreciates Spielberg’s elegantly-wasted evocation of an alien apocalypse to any toy that recently whisked across George Lucas’s and J.K. Rowling’s universes. But while such less-is-more f/x work may get a film an Oscar nomination, a quick glimpse at past winners in this category reveals that the spoils almost always go to films that truly put a light to their fireworks factories. King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe went mano-a-mano at the box office several months ago; both did equally well in spite of their mixed notices, meaning the one that prevails here will be the one that does a better job beating its chest. We like The Chronicles of Narnia better than King Kong, but we can’t imagine even C.S. Lewis thinking his Jesus lion holds a candle to Peter Jackson’s overgrown ape, deadly bugs and rampaging dinosaurs. Assuming no one thinks Tilda Swinton is her own special effect, this is Kong’s reward for falling on his big fat ass.

Will Win: King Kong

Should Win: War of the Worlds

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: If the screenplay for A History of Violence had anywhere near as much ambition as David Cronenberg’s reptilian direction, the film might’ve been a serious contender for Best Adapted Screenplay. Now this category’s intrigue rests on an interesting conundrum. Given how everything threatens to go all gay on us at the Kodak Theatre, you have to wonder who voters would rather send to the podium here. Larry McMurtry (with Diana Ossana, who will likely win a trophy for producing Brokeback Mountain) has his signature on the category’s overtly gay screenplay. Then again, he is competing against playwright Tony Kushner, whose Angels in America is arguably the most significant piece of gay literature in recent history and whose script for Munich includes a sex scene that’s a great deal queerer than anything in Brokeback Mountain. While I (and most definitely not my Oscar-predicting tag-teammate Ed) mean that as a compliment, voters and the same outspoken majority who disliked the last 20 minutes of A.I. will surely beg to differ. The comparisons don’t end in the sack: Brokeback Mountain and Munich both share a narrative structure, beginning with a surprisingly satisfying initial transgression followed by an increasingly fragmented progression of frustrated interludes and thwarted catharses. Munich winds up on a veritable orgasm and afterglows in cognitive dissonance. Brokeback Mountain’s coda opts for the much easier-to-swallow taste of bittersweet regret, the political implications no more difficult to parse than a hypothetical Choose Your Own Adventure book written by Paul Haggis. There’s absolutely no doubt that Oscar voters with their sights set on global-scale politics, or anyone with serious reservations over rewarding “I wish I could quit you,” will glom toward The Constant Gardener, a.k.a. The Sub-Saharan Redemption, where Morgan Freeman’s Red might find out that hope indeed can make it across that distant border, so long as there are conscientious Anglo-Saxons willing to lend a helping hand. Of course, if it were up to writers alone, Capote would probably take it in a walk for all it flatters the spirit of the unscrupulous but still gallant journalistic ideal. Lucky for Dan Futterman he has support from the Academy’s actor branch as well, which makes his script the most likely to spoil Brokeback Mountain’s momentum here. But the WGA’s recent award to McMurtry and Ossana suggests that’s a dimming possibility.

Will Win: Brokeback Mountain

Should Win: Munich

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Got Haggis? AMPAS does! Crash’s mantra is laid out in the opening minutes of the film like a thick piece of cheese being hoisted to the heavens—even if there was a golden ticket inside, the film’s fans wouldn’t have to dig too deep in order to find it. I quote: “In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.” Some of the sanest people in the world are confusing Paul Haggis’s art-house Afterschool Special for modern-age poetry, and though we think it’s all pretty ridiculous, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t relate to this one part on some level. We don’t like being touched, but even behind the metal and glass that guards the Slant Magazine office, we sometimes feel like crashing into other publications, just so we can feel something. You may ask, “Why is Crash a shoe-in here?” Because, silly, Entertainment Weekly thinks Matt Dillon’s character “boasts the best character arc of the year.” It’s easy to see how dunderheads who prefer to see events in a film pan out along schematic lines can confuse this sort of epic-scale, Screenplay 101 bullshit for greatness, let alone reality. Everyone has their favorite quotes from the film, and they trade them with fellow Crash-heads like authentic baseball cards. Our favorite? The casually tossed-off retro delight of “There’s a Chinaman under the truck!” Earth to Dave Karger! Let’s say we catch you talking to a friend outside the EW building on Broadway and 53rd Street after a matinee screening of The Color Purple next door. We slap you around a bit before sticking a few fingers up your butthole and running away. A few days later we see you outside Boy’s Room vomiting up a storm, hands-to-the-heavens Indian techno music blasting from the bar, and Amanda Lepore beating the living daylights out of you while trying to take your invisibility cloak. Throw a few “Why God!“s our way and we’ll gladly help a sister out, but that’s not going to stop us from wanting to shoot your ass…with fake bullets. In short: Saving a black person from a car accident will not make a freedom fighter out of a white supremacist. Watch your back around anyone who tells you otherwise, because chances are they employ Chinapeople to dust off their ivory towers.

Will Win: Crash

Should Win: The Squid and the Whale

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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

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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Awards

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

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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Awards

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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Awards

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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Awards

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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Awards

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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Awards

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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Awards

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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