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2007 Grammy Awards: Winner Predictions

Is there a general consensus in the industry that Mary J. Blige is owed something?

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2007 Grammy Awards: Winner Predictions

RECORD OF THE YEAR
“Be Without You,” Mary J. Blige
“You’re Beautiful,” James Blunt
“Not Ready To Make Nice,” Dixie Chicks
“Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley (Will Win)
“Put Your Records On,” Corinne Bailey Rae

Sal Cinquemani: Is there a general consensus in the industry that Mary J. Blige is owed something?
Jonathan Keefe: As though performing on the American Idol finale with that kid People profiled for getting dental veneers (Elliott, lest any of the “Yaminions” send me hate-mail) isn’t its own reward.
Eric Henderson: It plays out like so many other music stories: she starts getting props just for hanging around long enough for her music to be vapid and middlebrow.
Sal: “Crazy” is getting lots of AC attention, which means it’s reached critical mass-acceptance in the heartland. It’s crossed over in a big way.
Eric: Yeah, with the Closet Freak himself singing falsetto and Danger Mouse producing, “Crazy” is simultaneously as cutting edge and as Downy soft as you want it to be. Demographically speaking, it’s practically schizo in its appeal. Dixie Chicks are the only potential spoilers, if momentum snowballs their way.
Jonathan: “Crazy” does what “Hey Ya!,” “Crazy In Love,” and “Work It” before it couldn’t, becoming the first crossover pop single that owes a substantial debt to hip-hop to win Record of the Year. Had anything Timbaland produced been nominated, there would’ve been another one of the vote-splits that have allowed “Clocks,” “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams,” and that comatose Ray Charles/Norah Jones duet to win the last three years. This time, it’s the limp AC tracks—which fully covers both Blige and Dixie Chicks, conveniently enough—that split the votes, to the benefit of what happens to be the best “record” of the lot.
Eric: Did they nominate this instantly forgettable Corinne Bailey Rae tune because it validates the category’s title, when it would make more sense today to switch it to “Single of the Year” or “Track of the Year”?

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
(Will Win)Taking The Long Way, Dixie Chicks (Will Win)
St. Elsewhere, Gnarls Barkley
Continuum, John Mayer
Stadium Arcadium, Red Hot Chili Peppers
FutureSex/LoveSounds, Justin Timberlake

Sal: Justin’s album is the biggest seller here but a sexybacklash—and the fact that the academy hasn’t awarded a pop album in this category in a decade—could spoil things for him. He himself said the Chili Peppers will win but I don’t see that happening. Chicks with Dix, on the other hand, showed a different (that is, non-narcotic) kind of perseverance and survival, and while they haven’t been around as long as Anthony Kiedis’s West Coast band, Texas might be ripe for a comeback after everything Bush has done for its image. Now that America has come to its senses perhaps they should re-title this category We’re Sorry, You Were Right All Along And Now Here’s A Grammy.
Eric: Mary J. Blige is still scowling, somewhere. The only one I can see snatching it away from the Chicks is John Mayer, who seems to win almost every time he gets nominated. “Waiting On The World To Change” might pick up a few anti-Bush votes for those who prefer passive-aggressive political statements.
Jonathan: The easy answer is that the two urban-pop albums by Robin Gibb and Gnarls Barkley (both of which would be deserving winners, incidentally) cancel each other out, as do the dull VH1 rock albums by Red Hot Chili Peppers and Mayer, thereby keeping any one album from acting as a spoiler to The Dixie Chicks’ frontrunner status. The more accurate answer is that a vote for The Dixie Chicks is a vote for NARAS themselves, since The Dixie Chicks haven’t shut up (and sung) in the last year about wanting anything other than to be validated by openly left-leaning music industry veterans who only like country music when it doesn’t sound a damn thing like country music at all because they’re better people than those who do like country music. Begging this exact demographic for their approval didn’t work for Kanye West last year, but his album wasn’t as airquotes important as Taking the Long Way and the election results hadn’t yet confirmed that it’s safe to give major awards to liberals again.

SONG OF THE YEAR
“Be Without You,” Mary J. Blige
“Jesus, Take The Wheel,” Carrie Underwood
“Not Ready To Make Nice,” Dixie Chicks
“Put Your Records On,” Corinne Bailey Rae
“you’re Beautiful,” James Blunt (Will Win)

Sal: You’ve got red-state country (Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take The Wheel”) vs. blue-state country (Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready To Make Nice”). It’s like the ‘04 election all over again.
Eric: Unless Dixie Chicks win, in which case it’s the ‘06 election all over again.
Sal: People seem to love Mary’s single, but a win for that song would be a real slap in the face to Mariah and “We Belong Together,” without which “Be Without You” wouldn’t be.
Jonathan: True, but does NARAS really feel so bad about slapping Mariah around? But, like Mariah last year, I think Blige will be shut out of the General Field awards.
Eric: The only one I can rule out is Carrie Underwood’s, since she had no hand in writing the song. Otherwise, “you’re Beautiful” seems like it has the “tomorrow’s lounge lizard standards” vibe that seems to win this category so often.
Jonathan: It’s impossible to imagine any jazz singers trying to croon “Not Ready to Make Nice” 10 years from now. Add that to the fact that this category hasn’t gone to a “country” song since 1982 and has gone to a woman just twice in the last 10 years (Shawn Colvin in 1997 and Alicia Keys in 2001, as Norah Jones didn’t write “Don’t Know Why”), and Blunt has to be considered the slight favorite.

BEST NEW ARTIST
James Blunt
Chris Brown
Imogen Heap
Corinne Bailey Rae
Carrie Underwood (Will Win)

Sal: I’m a little baffled by Imogen Heap’s inclusion here. She’s been around since the late ‘90s, released an album with her band Frou Frou in 2002, and her latest solo record came out during last year’s Grammy eligibility period. Still, she probably deserves to win in this lot.
Eric: Not only that, but Carrie Underwood won American Idol the season before last. But it’s all part and parcel of the category that, in awards show terms, has about as much relevance as winning Miss Golden Globe.
Jonathan: Underwood is the most likely of the five to maintain a lengthy career, but that doesn’t mean she’s given any real clues to this point as to the type of “artist” she is beyond “one who can sell 5 million albums that she had a minimal amount of creative input in crafting.” Even though part of me thinks that they might as well just give the Grammy to Simon Cowell for recognizing exactly how marketable Underwood is, I still think she’ll take this one. Imogen Heap can take consolation in being able to do this.
Sal: Let’s see how a Grammy nomination and inevitable mainstream attention will ruin that kind of talent.

BEST FEMALE POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE
“Ain’t No Other Man,” Christina Aguilera (Will Win)
“Unwritten,” Natasha Bedingfield
“You Can Close Your Eyes,” Sheryl Crow
“Stupid Girls,” Pink
“Black Horse And The Cherry Tree,” KT Tunstall

Eric: You can close your eyes and still know that Sheryl Crow will be nominated in this category from now until she decides to have a Nelly Furtado makeover.
Jonathan: She’s definitely replaced Bonnie Raitt as the perennial fifth nominee here, getting in for something that was heard by the exact number of people needed to get her on the shortlist and leaving the rest of us to wonder how that manages to be a bigger number than the total of people who voted for Madonna.
Sal: For the same reason Cee-Lo and Dangermouse will go home with enough Grammy gold for both their mantles, dark horse KT Tunstall could secure a surprise win. Tunstall’s music has been a fixture on AC radio (and half a dozen TV shows) since the ailing Virgin Records started pushing the Scottish singer-songwriter down our throats a year ago. She’s nothing special and she’s got no other nominations (not even a Best New Artist nod, despite being one of the nominee announcers), but her only real competition, Christina Aguilera, hasn’t exactly blown up the charts.
Jonathan: I’d go with “Black Horse & The Cherry Tree” here if not for the fact that Corinne Bailey Rae took all three of the General Field nominations that I thought Tunstall would receive. I wouldn’t be surprised were she to win (and she’d be my close-second choice, behind Pink), but I think Aguilera is the safer bet, since she’s the only one who also landed a nomination for Best Pop Album. Listening to “Ain’t No Other Man,” though, you can actually hear her vocal cords turning into scar tissue.
Sal: “Ain’t No Other Man” is the obvious choice for those who interpret the vocal performance categories literally (i.e. the loudest vocals), but Pink delivered a scathing, sneer of a performance with “Stupid Girls.” She should win solely for “My only concern: Will it fuck up my hair?!”
Eric: I sort of dig the utter transparency of Natasha Bedingfield’s nomination for one of the most generically pop songs in years. It harkens back to the days of Natalie Imbruglia and…well, Christina Aguilera’s first few nominations. The song appropriately stresses a book with nothing yet written in it. The performance is so utterly invisible I doubt even Pink would bother taking aim. It’s pop that takes no chances, makes no gains, and dissolves on contact. I don’t know that enough people appreciate how hard it is to hate a single that barely exists.
Sal: Hey, easy there, Eric. I know the fine lady who wrote that song. She had one of the most unrealized pop careers in the early ‘90s, which I guess is better than being a one-hit wonder. Right, Natasha?

BEST MALE POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE
“you’re Beautiful,” James Blunt (Will Win)
“Save Room,” John Legend
“Waiting On The World To Change,” John Mayer
“Jenny Wren,” Paul McCartney
“Bad Day,” Daniel Powter

Sal: This category could go in several directions: James Blunt had Grammy stamped on his ass even before “you’re Beautiful” started getting play in the U.S.; John Mayer is a perennial favorite (he’s been nominated and won twice in this category); Sir Paul McCartney’s been nominated four times here but has never won; and, though it makes our stomachs turn (and hopefully the academy’s as well), “Bad Day” is the biggest hit of the bunch.
Eric: A vote for “Bad Day” (i.e. “Love Theme from United 93”) is essentially a vote for American Idol. And, Kelly Clarkson aside, Grammy has shown admirable resistance to the juggernaut.
Jonathan: This one’s tough to call—there’s a solid case for each of the nominees, with the possible exception of Legend, actually winning. The category often favors a veteran artist when there’s more than one radio hit in the running, and, unlike some of the recent wins by Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, and Sting, McCartney’s “Jenny Wren” would make a fine choice. Despite the fact that Mayer has won this category on his last two nominations, it just seems like Blunt is supposed to win. But that was also our rationale in picking Gwen Stefani last year.

BEST POP PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP WITH VOCALS
“My Humps,” The Black Eyed Peas
“I Will Follow You Into The Dark,” Death Cab for Cutie
“Over My Head (Cable Car),” The Fray (Will Win)
“Is It Any Wonder?,” Keane
“Stickwitu,” The Pussycat Dolls

Eric: The Pussycat Dolls were nominated for the only song in which they don’t sound like wind-up toys, which should work against them. When people want to jack off to pop, they usually prefer the robotic to the clingy.
Jonathan: I call bullshit on the Pussycat Dolls’ nomination on the grounds that only one member of the “Duo or Group” was anywhere near the studio when the song was recorded.
Eric: Didn’t “My Humps” get a nomination last year?
Sal: “My Humps” gets a nomination every year. Best Novelty Butt Song.
Eric: I love that category. Diana Krall is a shoo-in.
Jonathan: I found Black-Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get Retarded” truly offensive until “My Humps” came along to recast it as Will-dot-I-dot-Am and Stacy’s personal anthem of self-empowerment. Mercifully, “My Humps” is too divisive to win this. Keane would be the best choice, but it’ll go to The Fray. And I’d love to know how NARAS decided that one of their two soundalike singles is “Pop” and one is “Rock.”

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM
Back to Basics, Christina Aguilera
Back to Bedlam, James Blunt
The River In Reverse, Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
Continuum, John Mayer
FutureSex/LoveSounds, Justin Timberlake (Will Win)

Eric: The Pop Album category has the consistency of Cream of Wheat. Sometimes they go with lumpy, stalwart mandarins of the music industry (i.e. the James Taylor route), and other times they opt for the smoothest, ooziest choice in the line-up.
Jonathan: No artist has won this category more than once, which could hurt Timberlake if the Academy actually looks up their own voting trends online. Breakaway proved that an album can win here over two Album Of The Year nominees, but neither Blunt nor Aguilera have the combo of sales figures and general feelings of goodwill that gave Clarkson the win last year, so it’s hard to see either of them pulling an upset. Since the Costello/Toussaint album really isn’t all that great, and Mayer has another, more interesting album nominated for Best Rock Album, it looks like Grammy will, quite rightly, give it up to Omeletteville.

BEST DANCE RECORDING
“Suffer Well,” Depeche Mode
“Ooh La La,” Goldfrapp
“Get Together,” Madonna
“I’m With Stupid,” Pet Shop Boys
“SexyBack,” Justin Timberlake & Timbaland (Will Win)

Sal: Warner Bros. submitted Madonna’s “Hung Up” for Female Pop Vocal Performance instead of Best Dance Recording, the same course of action that landed Kylie Minogue’s “Come Into My World” a nomination—and a win—here instead of the more popular “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.” It wasn’t such a long shot considering many thought “Hung Up” was a viable Record Of The Year contender, but “Get Together” is unlikely to beat “SexyBack,” the obligatory ass song of the year.
Eric: I agree, “SexyBack” is the assiest song of the bunch. By that, I mean it’s the best. Considering Goldfrapp’s catchy appropriation of Blondie’s “Call Me” got nominated, I’m a little disappointed Rihanna’s full-on theft (glamorous, Bonnie and Clyde-style theft) of “Tainted Love” didn’t manage to knock off either Depeche Mode or Pet Shop Boys.
Jonathan: The point in Hard Candy when I realized it was complete and utter bullshit is when Kitty Pryde snarls, “I fucking hate Goldfrapp,” at an incapacitated Patrick Wilson, completely missing the point of how well Goldfrapp do their denial-of-genuine-emotion thing. It’s a waste of energy to hate ice, especially if you need it to numb someone’s balls later.

BEST DANCE/ELECTRONIC ALBUM
Supernature, Goldfrapp
Confessions On A Dance Floor, Madonna (Will Win)
A Lively Mind, Oakenfold
Fundamental, Pet Shop Boys
The Garden, Zero 7

Sal: I can’t believe Oakenfold got a dance album nod. It’s a fucking rock album…and a bad one. I couldn’t even bring myself to review it.
Jonathan: Tai sings! Because someone, this one time, told her she sounds like Pink! She does that same soul-killing giggle in the song that she does in all of her soul-killing rom-coms!
Eric: Is Zero 7 dance? I thought they were indie-pop or something.
Sal: The name of category is Electronic/Dance.
Eric: That distinction throws me, especially when paired with Best Dance Recording, which is explicitly “dance.”
Sal: A.K.A. Novelty Butt Song. Madonna should be redeemed here. Warner Bros. wisely submitted Confessions in this category instead of the more competitive Pop Vocal Album.
Jonathan: Since the dance categories’ short history shows that NARAS has absolutely no idea what the hell they’re voting for, the simple fact that Madonna’s album has the word “dance” right there in the title should be enough to win. Which, since The Knife and Vitalic weren’t on the radar, I’m fine with, though I wouldn’t have voted for “Get Together” in the previous category.
Eric: I actually hope Zero 7 wins here. Not necessarily because it’s my favorite album of this group (though it is), but because as long as they insist on “legitimizing” this category by not limiting themselves to dance music alone, I want them to select winners that best reflect their distaste for the genre. There’s not a four-to-the-floor moment in The Garden, and I think they want it that way.

BEST ROCK SONG
“Chasing Cars,” Snow Patrol (Will Win)
“Dani California,” Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Lookin’ For A Leader,” Neil Young
“Someday Baby,” Bob Dylan
“When You Were Young,” The Killers

Sal: I think Tom Petty should win a Grammy for “Dani California.”
Eric: I’m hoping Brian Setzer gets his due for “Someday Baby.”
Sal: But you know I’d stunt for The Killers, if only for that one lyric about Jesus talking like a gentleman. Anything but Neil Young’s “Lookin’ For A Leader,” thanks.
Jonathan: I’ve already stated my take on the Dylan v. Flowers throwdown, but I don’t think either will win here—“Chasing Cars” has been all over the radio for the duration of the voting period.

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Arctic Monkeys
At War With The Mystics, The Flaming Lips
St. Elsewhere, Gnarls Barkley (Will Win)
Show Your Bones, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Eraser, Thom Yorke

Sal: The Arctic Monkeys’ album is my favorite of the bunch. Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ album disappointed me, not because it was deemed a shot at the mainstream, but because it did so half-assed.
Eric: The Arctic Monkeys look the best. Still, I’m sort of embarrassed to admit that it took a not-particularly-beloved album that devoted over seven minutes of running time to what the band called “The Sound Of Failure” for me to start really digging The Flaming Lips. So, naturally, it’s by far the lowest ranking album over at the Jackin’ Pop poll. Maybe if TV On the Radio had managed to sneak in here, I could’ve gone with the critical mass.
Jonathan: In the past few years, I would’ve gladly replaced the general Album Of The Year line-up with the one NARAS came up with for this category. Not so, this year. Yorke’s album grew on me over the course of the year, while YYY’s cooled a bit. The Flaming Lips’ album isn’t as bad as the reviews made it out to be, but it’s a definite step down from their previous two outings. And I like both of Franz Ferdinand’s albums, which lost in this category, a whole lot better than the Arctic Monkeys’ good but wildly overhyped debut. Which leaves Gnarls Barkley. I don’t really agree with the genre placement, but it’s the best album of the lot, and it’s rare for an Album Of The Year nominee to lose here.

BEST FEMALE R&B VOCAL PERFORMANCE
“Ring The Alarm,” Beyoncé
“Be Without You,” Mary J. Blige (Will Win)
“Don’t Forget About Us,” Mariah Carey
“Day Dreaming,” Natalie Cole
“I Am Not My Hair,” India.Arie

Eric: I know the video shouldn’t have any pull in deciding the winner here, but if Beyoncé had brought anything resembling the histrionics she demonstrated in “Ring The Alarm” to Dreamgirls—aside from the fact that it would drastically alter her character—people would be going “Jennifer who?” Mary J. Blige may write in about 24 point on her laptop, but Beyoncé‘s the one who delivers in all caps. Thankfully, she’s not doing it in a love ballad for a change.
Sal:It’s the best vocal performance here, without a doubt. And I’m basing that solely on the bridge. And the chinchilla coats. I’m leaving the disembodied “I Am Not My Hair” jokes to you, Eric.
Eric: India.Arie is not her hair. She’s not the average girl from your video. She spends an awful lot of time not being things.
Jonathan: I’m usually in the booster club at The Mary J. Blige School Of Losing One’s Shit In Lieu Of Proper Singing, but, yeah, “Ring The Alarm” one-ups her on that on front.
Sal: Who’s going to win, Mary’s copy of “We Belong Together” or Mariah’s?
Jonathan: Mary will still win because she’s overdue, but I do wonder if we’re underestimating Natalie Cole.

BEST MALE R&B VOCAL PERFORMANCE
“Heaven,” John Legend
“So Sick,” Ne-Yo
“Black Sweat,” Prince
“I Call It Love,” Lionel Richie
“Got You Home,” Luther Vandross (Will Win)

Sal: Singing from the grave never lost anyone a Grammy, and the academy loves them some Luther, but I was pretty impressed with Prince’s performance on “Black Sweat.” It’s the first Prince song I’ve liked in years and he is, after all, a living legend. Unlike John Legend, who, despite his name and song title, is neither a legend nor dead yet. Oh, whatever, they should just give it to Lionel Richie because I’m sure Nicole will be dead soon and that counts, right? Besides, “I Call It Love” and Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” are basically the same song anyway. A win for one is a score for both.
Jonathan: I do hope Prince gets to accept one of Justin Timberlake’s awards, since I doubt he’s going to win any of his own.
Eric: I hope Prince kicks Justin’s ass for his short joke at the Golden Globes…I mean, provided he can reach Justin’s ass.

BEST RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION
“Smack That,” Akon Featuring Eminem
“Deja vu,” Beyoncé Featuring Jay-Z
“Shake That,” Eminem Featuring Nate Dogg
“Unpredictable,” Jamie Foxx Featuring Ludacris
“My Love,” Justin Timberlake Featuring T.I. (Will Win)

Sal: I know there’s a “Shake That”/“Smack That”/“Deja Vu” joke in my head somewhere but it’s being smothered to death by the perpetual inanity of this category.
Eric: I don’t know about you two, but this is my favorite category. I get my conversation-ending epigrams from it every year. If only they had managed to make room for “Jiggle Dat,” “Sniff It,” “Twerk Out,” and “Fuck Me,” I’d be set until 2010.
Jonathan: I will never in my life come up with anything better than “Twerk Out.”

BEST RAP ALBUM
Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor, Lupe Fiasco
Release Therapy, Ludacris (Will Win)
In My Mind, Pharrell
Game Theory, The Roots
King, T.I.

Jonathan: I know it wasn’t a good year for popular rap, but Pharrell? Honestly?
Sal: Pharrell’s album was practically unlistenable—save for that track featuring Gwen, and only because the fact that she agreed to such a degrading, monotonous cameo was downright mesmerizing.
Jonathan: This one’s tough because three big name acts (Eminem, OutKast, and Kanye West) have won the last seven years with albums worthy of the praise. This year, Luda’s the biggest name by a pretty substantial margin, but (and this could be my residual disgust for anything even tangentially connected to Crash rearing its head) his album isn’t even close to the quality of Game Theory or Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor, which probably would’ve made my year-end Top 10 had I not picked it up just a few days before we published our lists. Lupe Fiasco’s nominations were a pleasant surprise, so it’s possible that he could win, but T.I.‘s King has the best balance of commercial impact and critical support that’s required to win this category.
Sal: I love how it was Jonathan, and not Eric, who managed to work a jab at Crash into our Grammy predictions.
Jonathan: I figured Eric had sent his invisibility cloak to the dry-cleaners.
Eric: I’m saving up for this year’s Oscar predictions. That said, Ludacris will win this one in a country-fried chicken-n-beer.

BEST COUNTRY SONG
“Every Mile A Memory,” Dierks Bentley
“I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today,” Gretchen Wilson
“Jesus, Take The Wheel,” Carrie Underwood (Will Win)
“Like Red on a Rose,” Alan Jackson
“What Hurts The Most,” Rascal Flatts

Eric: Country music, I don’t feel like loving you today. Someone else take the wheel.
Jonathan: That “Not Ready To Make Nice” was left out here has some pundits setting up camp on the grassy knoll, worried that bloc voting in Nashville will keep the Dixie Chicks from winning in the Country field. This ignores both that the country music industry flat-out doesn’t care what the Grammys do since they already have two awards shows to honor the Nashville boys club, and that the Grammys are not a figure skating competition. “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today” is easily the best-written song of the nominees, but it’s hard to tell, thanks to Wilson, whose performance of the ballad is so affected that she might as well be singing in a British accent. Matraca Berg has been one of the best singer-songwriters in Nashville for some two decades now, and a win here would be some long-overdue recognition. Which means, obviously, that she has the longest of the long-shots to win against Song of the Year nominee “Jesus, Take The Wheel,” which is one deus ex machina away from being a song about criminal charges for child endangerment and vehicular manslaughter.

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM
Taking The Long Way, Dixie Chicks (Will Win)
Like Red on a Rose, Alan Jackson
The Road To Here, Little Big Town
You Don’t Know Me: The Songs Of Cindy Walker, Willie Nelson
Your Man, Josh Turner

Jonathan: One super important thing I ignored in making my prediction for this category last year is that, when it comes to the Grammys, you never bet against Alison Krauss. That she produced Jackson’s well-reviewed Like Red on a Rose could position that album as the only possible spoiler in this category (she produced Nickel Creek’s Grammy-winning This Side, so there’s precedent). Thing is, Jackson’s album of stylish adult pop has alienated his fanbase almost as much as the Dixie Chicks have theirs. He’d still be a deserving winner—as would Willie Nelson, nominated for one of the few things he’s done in the last five years that doesn’t actively undermine his status as a genre legend. Turner could upset Vince Gill in the Male Vocal Performance category, but there’s not much to his album beyond its two hit singles. Little Big Town’s singles are pretty great, but the album nomination is a stretch. Not that any of this matters. The Dixie Chicks won this award months before their album was even released.

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

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

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Roma
Photo: Netflix

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

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

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

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Picture

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

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Green Book
Photo: Universal Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

Will Win: Green Book

Could Win: Roma or BlacKkKlansman

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Adapted Screenplay

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

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BlacKkKlansman
Photo: Focus Features

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

Will Win: BlacKkKlansman

Could Win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Original Screenplay

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

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Green Book
Photo: Universal Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

Will Win: Green Book

Could Win: The Favourite

Should Win: First Reformed

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing

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

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20th Century Fox
Photo: 20th Century Fox

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

Will Win: Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody

Could Win: A Star Is Born

Should Win: First Man

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

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

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First Man
Photo: Universal Pictures

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

Will Win: First Man

Could Win: A Quiet Place

Should Win: First Man

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Actress

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

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Glenn Close
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

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

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

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

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

Will Win: Glenn Close, The Wife

Could Win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Should Win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite

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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Film Editing

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

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Bohemian Rhapsody
Photo: 20th Century Fox

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

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

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

Will Win: Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody

Could Win: BlacKkKlansman

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

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