Oscars predictions 2019: Who will win and who should win at the Academy Awards

'Green Book' and 'Roma' vie for the night's top prize, but this year's award season has taught us to expect the unexpected 

Oscars 2019: Nominations for Best Picture

It’s the night every film fan has been waiting for. The 2019 Academy Awards are just around the corner and – disasters involving hosts, musical performances, and categories announced during commercial breaks aside – it’s shaping up to be a particularly exciting ceremony.

For the first time ever, each of the major US entertainment guild awards have gone to a different film: the Producers plumped for Green Book, the Directors for Roma, the Screen Actors for Black Panther, while the Sound Editors went for Bohemian Rhapsody and The Favourite, and the Writers for Eighth Grade and Can You Ever Forgive Me?.

Alongside the Baftas and (to some extent) the Golden Globes, the guild awards are typically the biggest indicators of who will win the Best Picture award on Oscars night. This year, however, it’s anyone’s guess. Here’s ours.

Best Picture

Will win: Roma
Should win: Roma

Roma Offical Trailer 2

Awards experts have generally whittled down this year’s awards race to two contenders: Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma and Peter Farrelly’s Green Book. It’s a fascinating showdown, considering the two films have come to represent an increasing divide within the Academy itself. Green Book is a film that lends itself to the traditional Academy: it’s a crowd pleaser with a simple moral message of putting our differences to the side.

However, it’s also a film that’s faced heavy criticism. Its story of a friendship between two real-life figures, black jazz musician Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his white driver Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), has been criticised for showing the experiences of black Americans in the segregated South through a white perspective, with the film ignoring the realities of racism in order to deliver a neat story about Tony’s redemption as a racist man who learns to become a more tolerant person.

These are criticisms the older Academy members may ignore (the voting base in 2014 was 94 per cent white, while the average age was also 63), but the organisation has made a conscious effort to bring in a younger, more diverse demographic of members ever since the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of 2015 and 2016. A demographic that’s far more likely to look kindly on Roma, which, if it wins, will break two monumental records: it would be the first foreign language film to win Best Picture in the history of the Academy Awards, while also marking the first Best Picture win for Netflix (and for any streaming service, for that matter).

It’s an unconventional choice. However, the two years that have passed since the Academy’s move to broaden its membership have seen unconventional winners in Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. Add to that, Roma won Best Film at the Baftas, even though the voting patterns of its members tend to sway towards more conventional choices and, furthermore, it was up against a major British production in The Favourite.

This has to be Roma’s year, surely? Cuarón takes the intimate story of a maid in Mexico City in the 1970s and weaves it into the wider narrative of the country’s history. It’s masterful work.

Best Director

Will win: Alfonso Cuarón
Should win: Alfonso Cuarón

Frontrunner: ‘Roma’ director Alfonso Cuarón 

Unless the stars are truly aligned against Roma on Oscar night, it looks very likely that Cuarón will win Best Director, regardless of whether the film picks up Best Picture or not. Farrelly simply lacks the same level of auteur stamp when it comes to Green Book, with much of the film’s success being credited to the film’s two stars, Mortensen and Ali.

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Spike Lee has finally secured his first, long overdue Oscar nomination for Best Director, so there’s a small chance voters will jump at the chance to reward one of cinema’s greats, but his film, BlacKkKlansman, has failed to pick up much steam on the awards trail this season. Cuarón, meanwhile, picked up the Golden Globe and the Bafta for Best Director, while also winning the top prize at the Directors Guild Awards. In a night full of uncertainty, this category seems to be one of few safe bets.

Best Actress

Will win: Glenn Close, The Wife
Should win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite

The Wife - Trailer

The case of the career Oscar is about to strike again. Although the awards race started out with three main contenders – Glenn Close for The Wife, Lady Gaga for A Star is Born, and Olivia Colman for The Favourite – Close has now moved firmly ahead of the pack. The Wife failed to pick up nominations elsewhere and received a strong, but not particularly enthusiastic, reception from critics. However, Close’s performance is enough of a wonder to rise above the film itself, while also reminding voters of what a stellar CV she has, with this being her seventh nomination without a win.

It’s likely that Academy members have recognised that Close is finally due some recognition. She’s already won a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Home advantage helped Olivia Colman pick up the Bafta. Not that the Baftas were misguided in their choice since, purely on the basis of the nominated performance, Colman’s handling of Queen Anne’s various comedies and tragedies in The Favourite soars above any other film performance this year.

Will win: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Should win: Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born

Bohemian Rhapsody teaser trailer

Award voters simply can’t resist a performance based on a real person, reducing this year’s Best Actor race to a contest for the best impersonation. While Christian Bale’s take on Dick Cheney in Vice has been a heavy contender for the majority of awards season, Rami Malek’s win at the Baftas for his performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody has pretty much sealed this category up. He also boasts wins at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, only further cementing his position as the one to beat. It’s a shame, however, as Bradley Cooper’s layered, sensitive turn as an alcoholic country singer in A Star is Born has been brutally swept aside; his performance may not be as flashy, but it’s filled with small nuances that are largely lacking in this year’s other Best Actor nominees.

It should be mentioned, crucially, that Academy voters are making their decision in the light of the allegations facing Bohemian Rhapsody’s director, Bryan Singer. Last month, The Atlantic published multiple accusations that Singer had sexually abused underage boys. The director denies all allegations. Whether the Academy sees fit to reward the film in any way will, inevitably, make a statement about how the film industry reckons with the work of alleged abusers.

Best Supporting Actress

Will win: Regina King
Should win: Regina King

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) - trailer

Regina King’s race to become the frontrunner in this category hit an odd speed bump at the Baftas, where she failed to even land a nomination for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk – the prize, in the end, went to Rachel Weisz for The Favourite, who remains her stiffest competition.

Weisz has the advantage. As Queen Anne’s close confidante, Sarah Churchill, she delivers what is essentially a leading performance in her film. It’s a case of blatant “category fraud”, where both Weisz and her co-star Emma Stone have been shifted out of the leading actor category to give Colman the best shot possible. However, Weisz has failed to win any other major awards this season; King won the Golden Globe, while Emily Blunt, who is not nominated for an Oscar, won the Screen Actors Guild Award for A Quiet Place. The mood has generally shifted towards King winning here. Although Weisz is undoubtedly excellent, King has far more to capture in her role as a mother fighting for her daughter’s happiness, and shows skilful restraint.

Best Supporting Actor

Will win: Mahershala Ali
Should win: Richard E Grant

Green Book trailer

There’s room for surprise in this category, considering Green Book’s status as a frontrunner isn’t quite guaranteed. However, Mahershala Ali has picked up all the key awards: the Golden Globe, the Bafta, and the Screen Actors Guild Award. Although there’s been a lot of good will behind Richard E Grant’s awards campaign, for his performance in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the fact he failed to win at the Baftas has shrunk his hopes of winning now to an outside chance. Certainly, his fragile but sparkling turn as raconteur and petty criminal Jack Hock, in Marielle Heller’s biopic about the literary forger Lee Israel, would be a sublime choice.

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