The nominations for the 91stannual Academy Awards are out, showcasing the best in American and global filmmaking. This is the third consecutive year that I have written the Oscar preview, and I can surely say that this year’s selection is by far the most interesting and varied we have had for a while. That also includes this year’s great uncertainty of which film is set to dominate. Last year’s ceremony saw the four acting awards set in stone, by precursor awards, before the ceremony had even begun- Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Allison Janney for I Tonya, and Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour- were not surprising victors. The Shape of Water was eventually victorious in Picture and Director, after the previous frontrunner, Three Billboards, began to decline in favour due its controversies.
Despite 2018 being the best year for British cinemas since 1970, the probable Best Picture frontrunner is Netflix’s ‘Roma’. This extraordinary film leads the pack with 10 nominations, including a nomination for Best Director for Alfonso Cauran, previous Oscar winner for ‘Gravity’, which he is sure to win again. Also nominated is the lead actress Yalitza Aparicio, in her debut film, who puts in a beautifully nuanced and subtle performance as Libo, the nanny who took care of Alfonso Cauran, in this autobiographical tale. As well as a surprise nomination in supporting actress for Maria de Tavira, who plays the mother of Cauran. Roma is a technical masterpiece and is a real showcase of how to master the craft of cinematography and production design. It’s a display of Roma’s success that this film has swept nominations, when it was released at a similar time to ‘Bird Box’, a mediocre film that Netflix was arguably promoting more to appeal to its more mainstream demographic. However, Roma would be a well-deserved Best Picture win, even if nothing more than as a reminder to audiences that cinema is still an art form as well as a form of modern entertainment.
Also picking up 10 nominations is Yorgos Lanthimos’ stunning ‘The Favourite’. This follows his previous critical hits ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ and ‘The Lobster’, which are equally as eclectic and quirky- perhaps a little too much so for the Academy. ‘The Favourite’ follows the final years of Queen Anne’s reign, amongst the tensions caused by the arrival of new maid, Abigail, played by Emma Stone. Olivia Colman is electric as Queen Anne; this is surely the role of her career, and she would be more than deserving to receive the Best Actress award. As would, Stone and Rachel Weisz in Supporting Actress- the actresses in ‘The Favourite’ are the heart of the film, and it would be devastating to see no prizes taken home among them.
The main rival to Olivia Colman is Glenn Close in her career-high role in ‘The Wife’. She has picked up all the precursor awards, so seems like a shoe-in for the prize. However, this would perhaps be an honour to her overall body of work, moreso than her sole performance on this film. I think Colman and Lady Gaga overshadow her. Lady Gaga was once a frontrunner for this award, for her powerful performance in ‘A Star Is Born’, but she has recently lost momentum along with the film itself. ‘A Star Is Born’ performed well in the nominations, and has a very Oscar-bait subject matter of an underdog musician going against the odds to make it big in the music industry. However, the film failed to pick up a nomination in the Best Director category for Bradley Cooper, which famously rules it out for Best Picture.
A big theme of this year’s nominations is racial inclusivity. ‘Black Panther’ became the first Marvel film to be nominated for Best Picture, and rightly so. This film diverts from the banal clichés typical of Marvel, and presents a truly imaginative setting, in the island of Wakanda. ‘Black Panther’ is honoured among nominations for is stunning production design, costumes and soundtrack album by Kendrick Lamar. Also nominated is ‘Blackkklansman’, Spike Lee’s excellent return to form. John David Washington stars as the first black police officer in Colorado, who with the help of a fellow white officer, played wonderfully by the nominated Adam Driver, aim to expose the work of the KKK. Blackkklansman tells this story wonderfully with the help of Lee’s solid direction and screenplay. It’s also made all the more powerful with its comparison to Trump’s America that makes the climax all the more emotional. And finally, Barry Jenkins’ beautiful relationship drama ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ sadly failed to gain a Best Picture nomination, but actress-of-the-minute Regina King, is likely to win in Supporting Actress.
Yet, controversy is unsurprisingly also a theme among this year’s nominations. Both Golden Globe Best Picture winners ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Green Book’, have recently come under fire so are unlikely to be contenders to win the Academy Award. Freddie Mercury biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, which was a surprising nomination in the first place due to its mixed reviews, had its director Brian Singer fired during the film’s production, and it hasn’t been able to shake this controversy since. But Rami Malek is nonetheless a strong contender for best actor, against Christian Bale for his transformative role as Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s comedy ‘Vice’.
This year’s Academy Awards nominees are definitely more interesting than the average year, and a more interesting and eclectic selection of films have been considered. At the time of writing there is still no host chosen, so a hostless Oscars ceremony will definitely be one to watch. Expect as much drama and controversy as ever. The 91stAcademy Awards will broadcast on Sunday 24thFebruary.
WILL WIN- ROMA
SHOULD WIN- THE FAVOURITE
WIN WILL- ALFONSO CAURAN- ROMA
SHOULD WIN- ALFONSO CAURAN- ROMA
WILL WIN- GLENN CLOSE- THE WIFE
SHOULD WIN- LADY GAGA- A STAR IS BORN
WILL WIN- RAMI MALEK- BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
SHOULD WIN- CHRISTIAN BALE- VICE
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
WILL WIN- MAHERSHALA ALI- GREEN BOOK
SHOULD WIN- MAHERSHALA ALI- GREEN BOOK
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
WILL WIN- REGINA KING- IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
SHOULD WIN- EMMA STONE- THE FAVOURITE
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
WILL WIN- THE FAVOURITE
SHOULD WIN- THE FAVOURITE
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
WILL WIN- BLACKKKLANSMAN
SHOULD WIN- BLACKKKLANSMAN