Prior to the Oscar season, one award you could say Atonement had a firm grip on without sounding like a chronic masturbator, or the cat lady from The Simpsons, was this one. How could it lose? Adapted by Christopher Hampton, so doting of poets and painters and popping bodices, from a revered novel by the very writerly Ian McEwan, Atonement is about an author who atones for her sins through, you got it, adaptation. But what was meta on the page became fetish in cinematic form, so the clackety-freakin’-clack of Briony’s typewriter, like that infernal word—oh, that infernal word!—that shall not be spoken, only seen, in all its Couriered glory, many feet high and wide, became not only an aphrodisiac for the Anthony Minghella sect but a nightmare for anyone who has ever had the displeasure of being on the receiving end of an Avril Lavigne fan’s weapon of choice: the Caps Lock key! So, with WGA’s cold shoulder tantamount to “WUT THE FUCK IS UR FUCKING PROBLEM U FUCKING BITCH! WUT THE HELL!! U SUCK SO BAD!! U DUN EVEN NOE HER YET UR MAKIN FUN OF HER!! SHE GOT TALENT…AND U DONT SO FUCK OF AND SHUT UR MOUTH BITCH!,” this one has been reduced to a race between No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, by most accounts the only two films that have (at least should have) a stake on the Best Picture prize, and if I discount The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, in spite of its interest in the ALSKDJFHGZMZNCBVQPOWIUEYRT’s of our language, it’s because Julian Schnabel’s own use of the Caps Lock function behind the camera is the star of that fashion show. Not that the majority of AMPAS voters contemplate the process of adaptation when casting their votes here, but the race between No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood may be decided by those who do. Keith Uhlich of The House Next Door, in a recent podcast over at Movie Geeks United! fittingly says that Joel and Ethan Coen’s very faithful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men comes close to a book on tape; as for There Will Be Blood, the five people in the world who’ve read Upton Sinclair’s Oil! seem to think Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation is so lose that a nomination in the Original Screenplay category would have been more fitting. I’ll concede that Anderson took more liberties, if not risks, and while a vote for There Will Be Blood is also a vote for Daniel Day-Lewis’s Plainview bringing movie geeks everywhere to the yard with his arsenal of potent quotables, is there really any stopping what’s coming at this point?
Will Win: No Country for Old Men
Should Win: No Country for Old Men
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.
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
Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing
For appealing to voters’ nostalgia for drunken karaoke nights of yore, one film has the upper hand here.
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
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.
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