After the abrupt December departure of actor-comedian Kevin Hart as scheduled Oscar host, this year’s Academy Awards show on ABC will look and sound much different. Expect even more Hollywood social lectures than ever and probably the lowest Oscar viewership on record.
The host-less Oscar telecast starts Sunday at 6 p.m.
Here are my selections for who’ll win this year’s Academy Awards, honoring the highest achievements in filmmaking:
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Academy Award winner for 2016’s “Moonlight”, Mahershala Ali masterfully portrays the affluent pianist Dr. Shirley as he and his newly hired white driver embark on a Deep South concert tour by car over a two-month period in 1962. Everyone who’s seen “Green Book” can easily understand why both Ali and Viggo Mortensen give two of the year’s best performances on film.
Other Nominees: Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman); Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born); Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?); and Sam Rockwell (Vice).
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
I expected stronger competition from “Incredibles 2” and “Isle of Dogs,” but neither came close to matching the fun and excitement in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” An easy call.
“Incredibles 2,” “Isle of Dogs,” “Mirai,” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”
It’s a slam-dunk victory here for “Roma”, the semi-autobiographical story tracing the life of director Alfonso Cuaron. The black-and-white storytelling skillfully timestamps the vast differences in lifestyles found within Mexico’s largest city—all from the perspective of a live-in housekeeper who experiences one bad break after another.
Other nominees: “Cold War,” “The Favourite,” “Never Look Away” and “A Star Is Born.”
With the largest opening weekend on record, “Avengers: Infinity War” provides a shocking smorgasbord of Marvel superheroes that appear in small, tasty platefuls of action and one-liners—all possible through amazing special effects.
Other nominees: “Christopher Robin,” “First Man,” “Ready Player One,” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences loves period time narratives. Although I couldn’t stand (or sit through until the end) of “The Favourite,” the story of an early 18th century relationship of two cousins trying to earn the label as “favourite” of Queen Anne of England, this dull film will do very well on Oscar night.
Other nominees: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Black Panther,” “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Mary Queen of Scots.”
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Aside from Best Picture, this category is the easiest to call. I’m 100 percent confident that Lynne Cheney couldn’t pick the real Dick Cheney from between star Christian Bale and her true lifelong hubby in “Vice.”
Other nominees: “Border” and “Mary Queen of Scots.”
Although snubbed for the most part this awards season, Bradley Cooper’s remake of the 1937 original “A Star is Born” will take home two Oscars. This is one of them.
Other nominees: “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “First Man” and “Roma.”
No problem here, Houston. The Apollo 11 movie “First Man” lands its only Oscar of the night. But don’t look for either Ai-Ling or Mildred Iatrou Morgan to plant an American flag on stage as they accept this well-deserved award.
Other nominees: “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “A Quiet Place” and “Roma.”
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
“If Beale Street Could Talk” tightly frames romance, innocence and family into steel-forged relationships. No screen role is more impressive than that of Regina King as Sharon Rivers, the mother to 19-year-old pregnant wife Tish, who watches as Tish’s husband faces baseless charges and racially charged incarceration. King’s career performance in this story encapsulates the heartfelt pain felt by all.
Other nominees: Amy Adams (Vice); Marina de Tavira (Roma); Emma Stone (The Favourite); and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite).
“Green Book” and “BlacKkKlansman” are far and away better films than “Vice” and both worthy of this 8.5-pound golden Oscar. But the political establishment and liberal bent of the latter will win this category and leave supporters cheering.
Other nominees: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite” and “Green Book.”
Tipping their hat to the period time piece “The Favourite,” Oscar voters prove that bland movies can still merit design appeal to the eye. Unfortunately, a more-deserving “Black Panther” ends up a distant second.
Other nominees: “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Roma.”
Once again, “Black Panther” comes up second after all the votes are tallied up. I’m alright with this win for the underrated “If Beale Street Could Talk”.
Other nominees: “Black Panther,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “Isle of Dogs” and “Mary Poppins Returns.”
One of the three simplest races to call, this one is a blowout victory for singer and songwriter Lady Gaga and her trio of music and lyrics experts Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt for their work on “Shallow.”
Other nominees: “All The Stars” (Black Panther); “I’ll Fight” (RBG); “The Place Where Lost Things Go” (Mary Poppins Returns); and “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs).
In today’s world of political divisiveness and constant media stoking of fear and violence, it’s important to follow the lead of the Colorado Springs Police Department back in 1972: Working together for common goals and compassion towards others. It will be ironic to hear controversial filmmaker Spike Lee fuel political discord during the acceptance speech for “BlaKkKlansman.”
Other nominees: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “A Star Is Born.”
Taking home another golden statuette on this evening, “The Favourite” has the best night aside from the ultra-successful “Roma”.
Other nominees: “First Reformed,” “Green Book,” “Roma” and “Vice.”
Award-winning director Alfonso Cuaron deserves credit for his filmmaking success in 2013’s “Gravity,” but each new film must be graded on its own merits oblivious to the director’s past work. Just as “Dumb and Dumber” director Peter Farrelly can hit a home run with the Oscar-worthy “Green Book” this year, Cuaron can have strikeouts along his movie journey. “Roma” is his first swing and miss. But Cuaron will still leave Sunday with the most accolades and golden figurines.
Other nominees: Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman); Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War); Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite); and Adam McKay (Vice).
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Glenn Close’s Golden Globe win in December might have surprised a lot of us. Her victory on Sunday for her work in “The Wife” won’t be nearly as shocking. Look for another tearful and deeply personal acceptance speech.
Other nominees: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma); Olivia Colman (The Favourite); Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born); and Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?).
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
My choice for Best Actor was a toss-up between Rami Malek and Viggo Mortensen, giving way to the latter after many back-and-forth discussions with others and replays of their stellar performances. The only reason I gave Mortensen the nod over Malek was because “Green Book” was my Best Picture selection of 2018.
Other nominees: Christian Bale (Vice); Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born); Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate); and Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody).
Two complete duds fall into this award category—with one of them winning the night’s top prize. Viewers of “Roma” can easily see Hollywood’s artistic attraction and the bonifide career risk Alfonso Cuaron took bringing this spectacle to the big screen.
Other nominees: “Black Panther,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite,” “Green Book,” “A Star Is Born” and “Vice.”