The curtain is closing on the film festival season, and movie lovers and critics have turned their attention to the 2019 Academy Awards. The festivals, including Sundance and Venice, gave moviegoers and critics, early access to many honorable Oscar considerations.
As the February event is one of the most talked about evenings of television — who could forget the 2017 Best Picture blunder — speculation for this year’s Oscar nominees has begun circulating. A few names of obvious frontrunners, such as the Bradley Cooper directed A Star is Born, have been spotlighted since their film festival debuts. However, in past years, judges have shifted from plenty of mainstream movies. This migration led to past low-budget Academy Award winners like Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight.
A host for this year’s Oscars has yet to be announced, but there are predictions for that too. Many believe that two-time host, Jimmy Kimmel, will be re-invited. But, what about the movies? It’s far too early to know who will take home an Academy Award for sure. However, thanks to the film festivals and acclamations some movies received in Venice and New York, predictions for top nominees have manifested.
The Ryan Coogler-directed Marvel film Black Panther made history not only with its dominant box office performance, the fifth-biggest of all time at 201.8 million dollars but with its keen eye for black oppression. Performances from Chadwick Bosman (Black Panther, aka T’Challa) Lupita N’yongo (Nakia), and Danai Gurira (Okoye) received immense critical acclaim and praise from fans, as the first superhero film to hold a predominantly black cast and an intensely fierce one at that. Not only was Black Panther beaming with black representation but T’Challa was also protected by a fleet of female warriors, only adding to the obvious evolution of Marvel films expressed in Coogler’s direction.
Secondly, Black Panther was credited with phenomenal visual effects that helped create an aesthetically awing image of Wakanda. Collectively making Black Panther an undoubtedly top-contender for Best Picture.
Given that with a recent surge in popular music videos of original songs from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born, it won’t be an easy win for the superhero franchise. Black Panther could also be up against First Man, If Beale Street Could Talk, and New York Film Festival-favorite The Favourite.
Director Damien Chazelle’s First Man, starring Ryan Gosling, has raised questions of a directorial nomination at the 91st Oscars since it was named opener at the Venice film festival. While some critics claimed that Chazelle’s collaboration with Gosling wasn’t as successful or strongly implemented on-screen as it was in La La Land, others raved about the pairs’ work in First Man.
Chazelle’s detail and technology used throughout the film exemplifies the accomplishment achieved by NASA and Armstrong himself (played by Gosling). First Man provides an undisclosed realization of the enormity of inherent dangers and failures the team encountered before the stars and stripes waved on the moon.
Chazelle may duke it out with Cooper’s directorial debut, starring Gaga, A Star is Born. Cooper’s film-remake astonished viewers and critics with the help of his own performance as a leading character, alongside Gaga. The film was released less than a month ago and has earned over 253 million dollars globally and continues to hold the number one spot on Billboard’s Top 200 chart for the third week in a row.
Legendary film director Steven Spielberg is also likely to be in the mix for his retro-futuristic film Ready Player One.
Alfonso Cuaron’s directed Roma gained immediate Oscar speculation at the Venice film festival and took home the Golden Lion prize. Yalitza Aparicio gave a memorable performance in the autobiographical drama, as Cleo, a maid to a sprawling middle-class family in the early ‘70s. Aparicio’s performance beautifully pairs with Cuaron’s attempt at a visual love letter to the woman who raised him.
Cuaron’s impressive directorial accolades, alongside his highly-applauded casting —especially that of Aparicio — make Roma a tough opponent in any category. Cuaron himself said that Roma “wouldn’t work” without the standout, newcomer Aparicio.
Other possible frontrunners include: Olivia Colman in The Favourite, Lady Gaga in A Star is Born and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?.
It’s no secret that since its early October release, A Star is Born has come thrashing its way into already well in-depth Oscars predictions — throwing many off course with Gaga’s belting voice and Cooper’s fresh approach to the previously remade film.
Cooper’s first directed film has proven to be a huge success and many critics have marveled at his on-screen chemistry with Gaga who plays a struggling artist. Cooper delivers an all-new vulnerability to Jack’s character (played in three other versions of the film), emphasizing the spiraling perspective of the performer, rather than of the audience, especially in the musical scenes.
If Cooper gets nominated for best director and actor, he’ll be the ninth person to be nominated for both for the same film. He would join some of Hollywood’s most elite such as Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood.
Three-time nominee William Dafoe is expected to follow up last year’s nomination for “The Florida Project,” with his performance as the mentally unstable Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate.
Additional frontrunner predictions include Ryan Gosling in First Man, Ethan Hawke in First Reformed and Viggo Mortensen in Green Book.