Oscars 2019 Predictions: Who Will Win Best Picture, Actor and Actress – The New York Times
Oscars Predictions

Oscars 2019 Predictions: Who Will Win Best Picture, Actor and Actress – The New York Times

The Carpetbagger

Our expert has been closely following the races and the voters, all season. Here’s what he thinks will happen at the ceremony on Sunday.

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Yalitza Aparicio in a scene from “Roma.”CreditCreditNetflix

This crazy, mixed-up Oscar season comes to a close with Sunday night’s ceremony, which will forgo a host and, after plenty of controversy, still present all 24 categories on the air. But which movie is poised to win the biggest race of them all and take the Oscar for best picture?

Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white art film “Roma” is a critical favorite that took the top trophy from the Directors Guild of America, but a foreign-language film has never won best picture, let alone one distributed by the insurgent streaming service Netflix. Many Oscar voters love the racial-issues dramedy “Green Book,” which was given top honors by the oft-predictive Producers Guild of America, but the film couldn’t even nab a best-director nomination.

So though we’ve got two ostensible front-runners, this is still anybody’s game: After all, “A Star Is Born” once looked unbeatable, too, and now it’s limping to the finish line with a scant few trophies under its belt.

[After reading the predictions, fill out your Oscar ballot.]

“Roma”

“A Star Is Born”

“BlacKkKlansman”

“Black Panther”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“The Favourite”

“Green Book”

“Vice”

Of the other contenders, a win for Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” or the Marvel phenomenon “Black Panther” would be historic. Royal comedy “The Favourite” rode across-the-board support to 10 nominations. The two music-driven dramas, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “A Star Is Born,” claim passionate fans and equally engaged detractors. And a vote for the Dick Cheney indictment “Vice” would at least send a political message.

With all that in mind, I still think the industry prizes given to “Roma” add up to a best-picture win that will prove to be a game-changing moment for Netflix. If a streamer can taken the top Oscar, then all bets are off.

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Close is on her seventh Oscar nomination.CreditGraeme Hunter/Sony Pictures Classics, via Associated Press

Glenn Close “The Wife”

Yalitza Aparicio “Roma”

Olivia Colman “The Favourite”

Lady Gaga “A Star Is Born”

Melissa McCarthy “Can You Ever Forgive Me”

A seven-time Oscar nominee, Glenn Close is poised to pick up her first statuette for her finely crafted work as a secretive spouse in “The Wife.” It’s been ages since Close had a showcase role like this, and the 71-year-old actress galvanized voters further after a moving, personal Golden Globe acceptance speech in January. Her primary competition is first-time nominee Olivia Colman, who just won Bafta’s top prize for playing the queen in “The Favourite” and is fronting one of the night’s most nominated films.

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Malek could be one of the youngest best-actor recipients in recent years.Credit20th Century Fox

Rami Malek “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Christian Bale “Vice”

Bradley Cooper “A Star Is Born”

Willem Dafoe “At Eternity’s Gate”

Viggo Mortensen “Green Book”

Oscar voters are suckers for a transformation, and this category offers two ostentatious examples in Rami Malek, who played the Queen frontman Freddie Mercury with real swagger in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and Christian Bale, who was unrecognizable as Dick Cheney in “Vice.” Malek has been one of this season’s most willing and able campaigners, and his film is a box-office sensation, so the 37-year-old actor is poised to become one of the youngest recipients of this award in recent memory.

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King might prevail in a tight race.CreditTatum Mangus/Annapurna Pictures, via Associated Press

Regina King “If Beale Street Could Talk

Amy Adams “Vice”

Emma Stone “The Favourite”

Marina de Tavira “Roma”

Rachel Weisz “The Favourite”

This category promises to be one of the night’s most suspenseful races. The “If Beale Street Could Talk” star Regina King won the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award, but she wasn’t even nominated by the Screen Actors Guild or Bafta. The latter group gave its prize to Rachel Weisz, who hails from a best-picture nominee but may split votes with “The Favourite” co-star Emma Stone. And then there’s “Vice” nominee Amy Adams, whose Oscar win is long overdue. My guess is King will prevail: At the recent Oscar nominees’ luncheon, she and Mahershala Ali were the two most applauded contenders.

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Ali has swept the precursor awards in this category.CreditUniversal Studios

Mahershala Ali Green Book”

Adam Driver “BlacKkKlansman”

Sam Elliott “A Star Is Born”

Richard E. Grant “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Sam Rockwell “Vice”

Can Mahershala Ali become the second black actor after Denzel Washington to win more than one Oscar for acting? All signs point to yes, as Ali has swept the precursors this season for his work as the gifted pianist Don Shirley in “Green Book.” Only two things are working against him: Ali won this same category two years ago for “Moonlight,” and voters may not be in such a hurry to reward him again so soon, while “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” star Richard E. Grant has charmed his fair share of admirers on the awards circuit and could prove to be a dark-horse winner.

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Cuarón on set with Yalitza Aparicio. His direction has been honored often this season.CreditCarlos Somonte/Netflix, via Associated Press

Alfonso Cuarón “Roma”

Yorgos Lanthimos “The Favourite”

Spike Lee “BlacKkKlansman”

Adam McKay “Vice”

Pawel Pawlikowski “Cold War”

Though Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”) and Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) have seen their films win best picture, neither man won the best director Oscar. This presents a clear path for Spike Lee to become the first black filmmaker to triumph in this category, except that he is up against Alfonso Cuarón, who has taken every major directing prize this season. While the academy has more of an imperative to reward Lee, who has famously never won a competitive Oscar, Cuarón will be tough to topple.

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CreditMagnolia Pictures, via Associated Press

“RBG”

“Free Solo”

“Hale County This Morning, This Evening”

“Minding the Gap”

“Of Fathers and Sons”

Last year’s biggest documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” was also one of Oscar’s biggest snubs. In its wake, two other breakout hits are best positioned to win this Oscar: the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG,” which also scored a nomination for original song, and the breathtaking rock-climber story “Free Solo.” The latter is more of a cinematic feat, but checking the box for “RBG” lets voters throw their weight behind the indefatigable Supreme Court justice herself.

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“The Favourite,” with Rachel Weisz, left, and Olivia Colman, has wit going for it.CreditYorgos Lanthimos/20th Century Fox

“The Favourite”

“First Reformed”

“Green Book”

“Roma”

“Vice”

“Green Book” won the Golden Globe, “The Favourite” scored with Bafta, and the Writers Guild gave their top prize in this category to Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade,” a film the Oscars didn’t even nominate. The race will likely come down to “Green Book” and “The Favourite,” and the latter’s malicious wit gives it the edge. Still, if “Green Book” pulls off a win here early in the night, that could presage an eventual best-picture victory.

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The academy could use this category to honor Spike Lee, a co-writer of “BlacKkKlansman” (starring John David Washington, left, and Adam Driver).CreditDavid Lee/Focus Features

✓ “BlacKkKlansman”

“A Star Is Born”

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

“If Beale Street Could Talk”

The screenplay Oscar often goes to an auteur the academy is not quite hip enough to reward in the directing category, like Jordan Peele, Spike Jonze or Sofia Coppola. I wonder, then, if the adapted-screenplay race might be the safest place for voters to reward Spike Lee, one of four credited writers of “BlacKkKlansman.” Still, don’t count out Writers Guild winner “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” which has its passionate fans and is, in its own larcenous way, about the very act of adaptation itself.

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“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” has picked up all the big animation prizes so far.CreditSony Pictures Releasing

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

“Incredibles 2”

“Isle of Dogs”

“Mirai”

“Ralph Breaks the Internet”

Pixar’s superhero sequel “Incredibles 2” is the highest-grossing animated film of all time, and its director, Brad Bird, has won this category twice, including for the first “Incredibles.” That’s formidable competition, and yet the contender with all the momentum is “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which came late in the year but has picked up all the big animation prizes. Even if “Black Panther” doesn’t take home best picture, expect at least one Marvel superhero to triumph on Oscar night.

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“Roma” may well win this category for Mexico.CreditCarlos Somonte/Netflix

“Roma” Mexico

“Capernaum” Lebanon

“Cold War” Poland

“Never Look Away” Germany

“Shoplifters” Japan

This is one of the strongest foreign-film lineups in recent memory, and in any other year, all of these movies would have the profile of a winner, including the Palme d’Or winner “Shoplifters,” Lebanon’s moving “Capernaum,” and “Cold War” and “Never Look Away,” which both scored cinematography nominations as well. (“Cold War” even cracked the race for best director.) Still, in a year when “Roma” could make history as the first foreign-language film to win best picture, it would seem outrageous for the movie to miss this prize on its path to victory.

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With the director fired, the editor is getting a lot of credit for salvaging “Bohemian Rhapsody.”CreditAlex Bailey/Twentieth Century Fox, via Associated Press

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“BlacKkKlansman”

“The Favourite”

“Green Book”

“Vice”

Action films have dominated this category for the last few years, but none were nominated this time. Of these five contenders, “Vice” is the most aggressively edited by its very nature, because director Adam McKay employs so much high-concept crosscutting. Many of my fellow pundits expect it to win, but I suspect “Bohemian Rhapsody” will pull out a shock victory, since many in the industry credit the editor John Ottman with salvaging the footage from a difficult shoot from which the original director Bryan Singer was fired.

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A “Roma” win in this category would be the first for a director shooting his own film.CreditNetflix

“Roma”

“Cold War”

“The Favourite”

“Never Look Away”

“A Star Is Born”

Initially, the academy had planned to give out this Oscar during a commercial break, and I suspect that’s because the front-runner is Cuarón, who is likely to dominate the telecast with multiple acceptance speeches. Now that the academy has bent to the industry backlash and reinstated this category in the regular part of the broadcast, you can expect Cuarón to make Oscar history as the first director to win the cinematography award for shooting his own film.

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“The Favourite’s” cinematography was a good showcase for its production design.CreditAtsushi Nishijima/20th Century Fox

“The Favourite”

“Black Panther”

“First Man”

“Mary Poppins Returns”

“Roma”

Cinematography and production design ought to work in concert, and the eccentric lensing favored by “The Favourite” director Yorgos Lanthimos and his director of photography, Robbie Ryan, provide a great showcase for the film’s sets, which take up much more of the fish-eye frame than they might on a conventionally shot movie. Voters also tend to prefer lavish period films here, which gives “The Favourite” the edge over the futuristic “Black Panther.”

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A scene from “First Man,” the Neil Armstrong biopic.CreditUniversal Pictures

“First Man”

“Avengers: Infinity War”

“Christopher Robin”

“Ready Player One”

“Solo: A Star Wars Story”

The Visual Effects Society gave its main prize to “Avengers: Infinity War,” which juggled dozens of computer-aided heroes and a motion-captured villain, but Oscar has not rewarded a superhero film here since “Spider-Man 2” came out 15 years ago. That favors “First Man,” which failed to make the best-picture cut but at least had the heft of a contender, unlike fellow nominees “Ready Player One,” “Christopher Robin” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

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The jazz artist Terence Blanchard composed the score for “BlacKkKlansman.”CreditDavid Lee/Focus Features

“BlacKkKlansman”

“Black Panther”

“If Beale Street Could Talk”

“Isle of Dogs”

“Mary Poppins Returns”

For my money, none of last year’s scores were as beautiful as the love-soaked swoon composed by Nicholas Britell for “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Then again, Jonny Greenwood’s “Phantom Thread” score was the clear standout the year before, and it lost to “The Shape of Water.” This is all to say that though anything could happen in this category, the Oscar will probably go to the film with the most best-picture heat, winnowing the field to “Black Panther” and “BlacKkKlansman.” In a close race, I’m picking Terence Blanchard’s distinctive compositions for “BlacKkKlansman.”

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Lady Gaga is unlikely to miss out on this one.CreditWarner Bros., via Associated Press

“Shallow” “A Star Is Born”

“All the Stars” “Black Panther”

“I’ll Fight” “RBG”

“The Place Where Lost Things Go” “Mary Poppins Returns”

“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

I will let out a note as prolonged as Lady Gaga’s melismatic trailer howl if anything but “Shallow” wins this Oscar. It is the centerpiece duet of “A Star Is Born,” the source material for one of last year’s most iconic movie scenes and an irresistible earworm, so how could it not win? Well, just to play devil’s advocate: If voters wanted to truly put an exclamation point on the award-season underperformance of “A Star Is Born,” they could deprive Bradley Cooper’s former front-runner of the only Oscar it is likely to take. But the academy wouldn’t stoop to such a troll move, would it?

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The concert finale in “Bohemian Rhapsody” will help its chances in this category.CreditAlex Bailey/20th Century Fox

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“Black Panther”

“First Man”

“Roma”

“A Star Is Born”

This Oscar tends to go to war films and movie musicals, and in the absence of any soldiers’ stories, we’ve got two song-laden contenders in “A Star Is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Cooper made the better film, but “Bohemian Rhapsody” has all the momentum, and it ends with a multisong concert that will clinch this win.

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Apparently even the academy doesn’t get the difference between sound mixing and editing, which should help “Bohemian Rhapsody.”CreditAlex Bailey/20TH Century Fox

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“A Quiet Place”

“Black Panther”

“First Man”

“Roma”

Sound editing is different from sound mixing in that it honors the creations of sounds, rather than how they are woven together in an aural landscape. Few movies had as strong a focus on sound as the horror thriller “A Quiet Place,” while the creaky shuttles in “First Man” drove home just how perilous the mission to the moon really was. Still, I think many Oscar voters won’t quite grok the difference between these sound categories, and they’ll simply pick “Bohemian Rhapsody” for both.

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The royal looks of “The Favourite” will probably prevail.CreditAtsushi Nishijima/Fox Searchlight Films, via Associated Press

“The Favourite”

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

“Black Panther”

“Mary Poppins Returns”

“Mary Queen of Scots”

If you gave the vote to all the kids who dressed up on Halloween as Killmonger, T’Challa or the Dora Milaje, “Black Panther” would win in a walk. Alas, this Oscar almost always goes to royal period pieces, so I am predicting “The Favourite” will triumph in a close race. I’ve got nothing against those luscious costumes, I just happen to believe that the long-overdue “Black Panther” designer Ruth E. Carter should win the Academy Award for Angela Bassett’s hat alone. I mean, did you see that?

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Voters will probably pick Christian Bale’s transformation in “Vice.” CreditMatt Kennedy/Annapurna Pictures

“Vice”

“Border”

“Mary Queen of Scots”

This Oscar almost always goes to the team that worked on a best-picture contender or a performance that is likely to win an Oscar, which eliminates “Mary Queen of Scots” and the beguilingly offbeat “Border.” We’d at least have a more interesting race if “Suspiria” had been nominated for its transformation of Tilda Swinton into an elderly man, but given the field as it stands, “Vice” is the clear winner for encasing Christian Bale in Dick Cheney’s visage.

“Bao”

“Animal Behaviour”

“Late Afternoon”

“One Small Step”

“Weekends”

Though they are all animated in strikingly different ways, several of this year’s short nominees have an undeniably Pixar feel to them, in that they telescope the span of an entire life into a single heart-tugging montage. Of them, the actual Pixar short has the best chance at winning: Domee Shi’s “Bao,” which played before “Incredibles 2,” is a clever film about a Chinese-Canadian woman who pours her love for her son into the food she makes, with surprising results.

“Skin”

“Detainment”

“Fauve”

“Marguerite”

“Mother”

Mad respect to anyone who can make it through all five of these shorts, a beautifully shot but brutal lot in which nearly every story is about children in distress. Two nominees I think voters may respond to are “Fauve,” a harrowing story about two boys encountering quicksand, and “Skin,” a good-looking but incredibly obvious parable about race that stars Hollywood actors like Danielle Macdonald and Jonathan Tucker. “Marguerite” is a wistful story about an elderly woman that will win points for harming no children, but I wonder if it may be too slight to win. “Skin,” for all its familiarity, probably has the inside track.

“Period. End of Sentence.”

“A Night at the Garden”

“Black Sheep”

“End Game”

“Lifeboat”

This is the strongest of this year’s three short-film crops. Some voters may be drawn to “A Night at the Garden,” a documentary using footage of a 1939 Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden since it recently made headlines when Fox News refused to run an ad for it. Still, the two strongest entries are probably the ones pushed by Netflix: “Period. End of Sentence.,” an empowering story of Indian women manufacturing sanitary pads, and “End Game,” about an end-of-life care facility. The former, with its welcome moments of lightness and humor, may prove to be Oscar’s pick.

Kyle Buchanan, a Los Angeles-based pop culture reporter, writes the Carpetbagger column. He was previously a senior editor at Vulture, New York Magazine’s entertainment website, where he covered the movie industry. @kylebuchanan

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