I love the Oscars. I know they don’t always award—or even nominate—the right people and films. I know they have plenty of problems with diversity and inclusion and accepting new visions of what filmmaking can be. I know this year’s race and ceremony in particular have been a hot mess of controversy, bad decisions, and backpedaling.
So why is Oscar Sunday still one of my favorite days of the year?
It’s simple: I love movies, and Oscar Sunday is a day people set aside to celebrate movies. It’s a day to unabashedly and unashamedly care about movies. It’s a day to proudly be passionate about film. And for me, it’s even more special this year because this year rekindled my passion for film in a way I wasn’t expecting and yet in a way I desperately needed.
With the end of many of the TV shows that had been part of my life for so long, I found myself lost as a fangirl without a home. But then movies came back into my life, and they helped me find a part of myself that I lost when my enthusiasm for film waned in my 20s. I saw so many movies this year—including all but one of the year’s Best Picture nominees. (Sorry, Vice.) And in those hours spent in darkened theaters and on my couch, I remembered what it feels like to become completely transported and transformed by a movie. It’s unlike any other media experience you can have, and it brought the purest kind of joy into my life when I needed it most.
So no matter how mad I may be that Bradley Cooper was snubbed for a Best Director nomination or how annoyed I may be with all the changes—and then weird retractions of changes—to the ceremony itself, I haven’t been this excited about the Oscars since I was 17 years old and still dreaming of being a film critic. I’m more educated about these races than I’ve ever been. (Thanks in no small part to Collider’s amazing For Your Consideration videos, which I have watched religiously for months and have come to see as true bright spots of movie nerd enthusiasm in my life.) And I can’t wait to share my predictions with you this year because they come from a place of deep analysis and also genuine fangirl love, which is what NGN is all about.
I hope you share your picks for the night’s winners in the comments because I’m ready to start talking more about film around here! And as always, I’ll be live tweeting all the night’s festivities starting with the red carpet at 6 p.m. EST, so follow along on Twitter if you want to see my emotional breakdown over Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga singing “Shallow” in real time.
Without further ado, here are my picks for the winners in every category tonight (I tried to keep my thoughts short since I also added analysis for every category this year—not just the big ones)!
My Pick: Roma
My Thoughts: This is the most wide-open Best Picture race in years, and I think at least 5 of the 8 nominees have realistic chances to take home the win, especially with the preferential ballot system (which awards films that many people like rather than films that a smaller group love). Although my heart belongs to A Star Is Born, I’d love to see Black Panther break new ground with a win, and there’s plenty of support behind Green Book to make it possibly even the favorite at this point, I still think Roma is going to take home the night’s big prize. Roma is a gorgeous film that affirms the universality of themes like family, trauma, loss, and the strength of women while being stylistically in a class of its own. A win for Roma wouldn’t just be a win for a beautiful, unique movie, it would send a message about the stories we have in common being more important than the things that people want to use to divide us.
My Pick: Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
My Thoughts: Roma is Cuarón’s passion project, and his love for his subject matter comes through in his attention to detail throughout this film, using his unique directorial style to create a world that felt truly lived in. There aren’t a lot of locks this year, but I think this one is as close to a lock as it gets. He told a story only he could tell in a way that only he could tell it, and in doing so, he created a masterpiece.
My Pick: Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
My Thoughts: I know this is a huge long shot. I know Rami Malek is the clear frontrunner, with Christian Bale next in line, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and my heart wants Bradley Cooper…to finally get the recognition he deserves for spending years of his life creating a character who was equal parts self-destructive rockstar and vulnerable romantic lead. Not only did he deliver a breathtakingly sincere performance, he also learned to play music and sang his own songs live, in addition to co-writing and directing the film. I think there’s going to be a big surprise somewhere in the top categories, and I can’t shake the feeling that Cooper is going to be holding an Oscar before the night is done.
My Pick: Glenn Close (The Wife)
My Thoughts: This might be my favorite category of the night, with not a bad choice among this fantastically talented group of women. My heart longs for a three-way tie between Glenn Close, Lady Gaga, and Olivia Colman (and I can see a Colman upset possibly happening), but I think this is finally Close’s year. She’s breezed through most of the major precursors, delivering the kinds of speeches that stick in voters’ minds, and I imagine we’ll be seeing her deliver another one of those speeches tonight.
My Pick: Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
My Thoughts: Although I would argue that Ali is definitely more of a co-lead than a supporting actor, there’s no denying that his performance is the best thing about Green Book. The depth, humanity, and powerful emotion he brought to this role floored me, and he’s a safe bet after winning most of the major precursors on the path to Oscar gold.
My Pick: Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
My Thoughts: I sadly didn’t get to see King’s performance yet (Blame Buffalo, NY, for not having Beale Street in enough theaters!), but she’s got the momentum at this point, and the support for her work in this film seems universal. Adams or Weisz could pull off an upset, but I think King is pretty much a sure thing at this point.
My Pick: The Favourite
My Thoughts: This could go one of two ways. The Academy could give it to Green Book (and if it does, I think it will probably then take Best Picture, too), but I think they’re going to award the most “original” of the original screenplay nominees. This twist on the period piece genre is witty, bold, dark, and daring, and I’ve seen a movie like it before. It was a delicious feast of a film, and that all sprang from a brilliantly crafted script.
My Pick: BlacKkKlansman
My Thoughts: Spike Lee is going to finally win an Oscar tonight. And I think his best chance is Adapted Screenplay. BlacKkKlansman was such a smart film with a really strong sense of itself as a narrative. It was genuinely entertaining while also being genuinely upsetting, and the script worked that delicate balance perfectly.
My Pick: Roma
My Thoughts: There are many beautiful movies in this group of nominees, but how can you pick anyone but Alfonso Cuarón, whose decision to shoot Roma himself lent an intimate kind of affection to this deeply personal film? Sometimes the narrative behind a nominee is just as important as the work they did, and the story of Cuarón’s impassioned involvement with every aspect of this film is just as memorable as the beautiful moments he created on screen.
My Pick: Black Panther
My Thoughts: The costumes of Wakanda went such a long way toward creating a world that felt vibrant, fully developed, and unlike anything ever shown on screen before. This movie is winning at least one Oscar, and I expect it will be this one.
My Pick: RBG
My Thoughts: Free Solo might be the favorite at this point, but I can’t pick against one of my personal heroes (and the only documentary I saw this year). The movie itself was wonderful, but I think the public’s love for its subject will be the main thing that propels it to a victory—and a very pointed political statement in the process.
My Pick: Period. End of Sentence.
My Thoughts: Although I didn’t see any of the films in this category, Period. End of Sentence. is about the kind of subject that deserves attention in this time when women’s issues are finally becoming part of conversations around the world. This is a film that’s aiming to achieve something even more important than awards acclaim, but I still think it’s going to get that acclaim, too, especially because it’s available to so many people on Netflix.
My Pick: Bohemian Rhapsody
My Thoughts: I don’t think Bohemian Rhapsody was the best edited film of this bunch, but it was probably the film that needed the most editing. Turning the work of two different directors into one cohesive film was no small task, and I think voters are going to want to reward that feat.
Foreign Language Film
My Pick: Roma
My Thoughts: Part of me thinks voters might want to reward Cold War here if they’re going to give Roma Best Picture, but a louder part of me keeps arguing that if they think Roma is the Best Picture, it would be ridiculous for them to call something else the Best Foreign Language Film.
Makeup and Hairstyling
My Pick: Vice
My Thoughts: The makeup and hairstyling in Vice went a long way toward creating the transformations that many of the actors went through for this film, so I think that’s going to lead to a win in the vein of last year’s winner, Darkest Hour.
My Pick: If Beale Street Could Talk
My Thoughts: When people love a score with the passion that people love the Beale Street score, I can’t help but root for it to win.
My Pick: “Shallow” (A Star Is Born)
My Thoughts: Instead of asking if this clear favorite is going to win, let’s ask the real question: How hard am I going to cry when Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sing it?
My Pick: The Favourite
My Thoughts: The Favourite was a truly delicious film, and so much of its visual splendor came from its sumptuous production design. The way the tone of the film shifted with the room a scene was set in was brilliant; I could have spent forever admiring every detail of that world.
Animated Short Film
My Pick: Bao
My Thoughts: Bao is the short I’m sure the most voters actually saw, but more than that, it was an emotionally complex, beautiful story told in a fantastically creative way. It was Pixar at its best, and we all know the Academy loves when Pixar is at its best.
My Pick: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
My Thoughts: Despite what I said previously about the Academy and Pixar, I think the new kid on the block is going to win Animated Feature this year. I don’t know a single person who saw Into the Spider-Verse without falling deeply in love with it. Its creative storytelling and unique animation style are going to make it stand out from the pack of more traditional nominees.
Live Action Short Film
My Pick: Marguerite
My Thoughts: This is another one of the few categories I didn’t see any of the nominees in, but from what I’ve read, it seems Marguerite is the most uplifting nominee in this category—and sometimes you just want something positive to be recognized.
My Pick: Bohemian Rhapsody
My Thoughts: All I want is for A Quiet Place to win this award, but because Bohemian Rhapsody won the sound guild awards, I think it’s going to win at least one sound Oscar. Oscar voters like to give sound awards to movies that involve a lot of music, so I think the two movies that deal the most heavily with music are going to split the two sound categories.
My Pick: A Star Is Born
My Thoughts: The decision to have all the songs sung live in A Star Is Born created sound mixing magic, and Bradley Cooper always made sure to single out the sound mixing when talking about making this film. I hope that voters realize what a challenge mixing this movie must have been and how seamlessly it was done to make everything sound so organic and effortless.
My Pick: Avengers: Infinity War
My Thoughts: In what’s a close call between Infinity War and First Man, I think the more obvious visual effects are going to get the most attention. What the Marvel team was able to do to create such a compelling motion-capture performance from Josh Brolin as Thanos was nothing short of spectacular and is worthy of an Oscar victory.