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The B+ Oscar Ballot 2018: The Quick Picks

My giant Oscar Ballot article went up already, but for those of you who only pretend to care about me and really only care about my picks, here we are. This is the Cliff Notes version to that article.

Very simply: what should be on your ballot, what will win if that doesn’t win, what’s on my ballot, what my preference is for full transparency, what the likelihood of each nominee winning is, and a brief analysis of the category.

Here’s your Oscar cheat sheet:

Best Picture

What should be on your ballot: Roma

The alternate, should that not win: Green Book

What’s on my ballot: Roma

My personal choice: Roma

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Roma
  2. Green Book
  3. The Favourite
  4. BlacKkKlansman
  5. Bohemian Rhapsody
  6. Black Panther
  7. A Star Is Born
  8. Vice

Analysis:

Based on the precursors, this seems to be a Green Book vs. Roma situation. Green Book only has the PGA and the Globe for Comedy while Roma has BAFTA and BFCA. Roma was ineligible for the Globe otherwise it probably would have won that too. To me, this is an easy Roma win, but you never know just how much the industry is going to reject Netflix. The Favourite is a somewhat distant third choice, just because it couldn’t win BAFTA, which was basically its backyard I’m not sure anything else really has a shot at it without being a major surprise. I think the ‘Black Panther can win’ notion is a bit overblown, and I think that if you pick either Roma or Green Book you should be fine. I think it’s Roma, but you never know with these people.

Best Director

What should be on your ballot: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

The alternate, should that not win: Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite

What’s on my ballot: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

My personal choice: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
  2. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
  3. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
  4. Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
  5. Adam McKay, Vice

Analysis:

Cuaron’s got this on lockdown. The DGA winner has won the Oscar 90% of the time (94% of the time when they’ve actually been nominated for the Oscar), and Cuaron has won every single precursor there is, all in some form over these same contenders. This one’s his, and it’s one of the most guaranteed categories of the night.

Best Actor

What should be on your ballot: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

The alternate, should that not win: Christian Bale, Vice

What’s on my ballot: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

My personal choice: Christian Bale, Vice

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
  2. Christian Bale, Vice
  3. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
  4. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
  5. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Analysis:

So when the season started you thought this would be all Christian Bale. But Rami Malek won the Globe along with Bale and then took just about every other precursor along the way. He’s been campaigning hard and people seem to really like him. Malek has SAG, BAFTA and the Globe, while Bale only has BFCA and the Globe. On numbers alone, this is Malek’s. I’m not 100% convinced Bale still can’t pull it off, but all signs point to this being Malek’s. The comp for this year is 2014, when it was Eddie Redmayne vs. Michael Keaton. Same exact situation. Redmayne had SAG and BAFTA (which are the two you want), and Keaton only split the Globe and had BFCA, and you went into Oscar night going, “This clearly should be Redmayne’s but I feel like Keaton maybe could pull something off?” I don’t know if I’m buying it as much, though I’ll keep hope alive. I think this is all Malek here and should be a pretty easy winner.

Best Actress

What should be on your ballot: Glenn Close, The Wife

The alternate, should that not win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite

What’s on my ballot: Glenn Close, The Wife

My personal choice: Olivia Colman, The Favourite

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Glenn Close, The Wife
  2. Olivia Colman, The Favourite
  3. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
  4. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
  5. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Analysis:

It sure looks to be Glenn Close’s time. She’s got SAG, tied BFCA and won the Globe. Olivia Colman won BAFTA, but you knew that would happen. Gaga only has a tie with Close at BFCA and seems all but out of it. Close is the veteran who hasn’t won an Oscar and people are gonna vote to finally get her one. Colman remains a distant second choice who is theoretically possible but seems very unlikely. I’d call this 85/15 Close at this point. She seems like an easier winner than Malek, who seems pretty easy.

Best Supporting Actor

What should be on your ballot: Mahershala Ali, Green Book

The alternate, should that not win: Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born

What’s on my ballot: Mahershala Ali, Green Book

My personal choice: Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Mahershala Ali, Green Book
  2. Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
  3. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  4. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
  5. Sam Rockwell, Vice

Analysis:

Oh Mahershala’s not losing this. He won every single precursor over all these people. Sam Elliott maybe could sneak some votes, as could Richard E. Grant, but for Mahershala to lose it’s gonna be one of the biggest upsets of all time. So take the easy one and just lose with everyone else if it happens.

Best Supporting Actress

What should be on your ballot: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

The alternate, should that not win: Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

What’s on my ballot: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

My personal choice: Emma Stone, The Favourite

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
  2. Emma Stone, The Favourite
  3. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
  4. Amy Adams, Vice
  5. Marina de Tavira, Roma

Analysis:

Interesting one, because Regina King wasn’t nominated at either SAG or BAFTA. Which is unheard of for someone who seems like a surefire winner. Stone and Weisz have been on every precursor list and the only winner throughout was Weisz winning BAFTA, which was pretty much a given, since she’s the British one of the two and The Favourite is a British film. The vote split factor is huge, though. And Amy Adams has lost every single precursor and I can’t see her coming in. But de Tavira winning would be one of the biggest shockers of all time. So really, it’s just Regina King. Unless you think they’re gonna split that Favourite vote, which I do not think they’re gonna do. This has the potential to be one of those crazy upsets that come out of nowhere, but I couldn’t pick who it is if it’s not Regina King, so just take Regina King and see what happens.

Best Original Screenplay

What should be on your ballot: The Favourite

The alternate, should that not win: Green Book

What’s on my ballot: The Favourite

My personal choice: The Favourite

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. The Favourite
  2. Green Book
  3. Roma
  4. First Reformed
  5. Vice

Analysis:

Green Book seemed like a semi-easy winner once it won the Globe. You thought it would steamroll ahead and win everything. But First Reformed won BFCA, and then The Favourite won BAFTA. And at the WGA, when The Favourite was ineligible and you thought Green Book would notch an easy win… it still lost. So that tells me that The Favourite is gonna be the script they all vote for. It was gonna be a 50/50 choice either way, but The Favourite has had more overt support throughout the race, so you gotta figure that to be the choice. Though if you’re gonna take Green Book for Best Picture, it would be really weird to see it not also win here. So you may need to take both if you’re gonna do that. Even Crash won Best Screenplay. Remember that.

Best Adapted Screenplay

What should be on your ballot: BlacKkKlansman

The alternate, should that not win: If Beale Street Could Talk

What’s on my ballot: If Beale Street Could Talk

My personal choice: If Beale Street Could Talk

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. BlacKkKlansman
  2. If Beale Street Could Talk
  3. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  4. A Star Is Born
  5. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Analysis:

This is one where each script won a different precursor. Beale Street won BFCA, BlacKkKlansman won BAFTA and Can You Ever Forgive Me? won the WGA. So it’s a three-way split going into Oscar night. I made my decision as such: I don’t think enough people will vote en masse for Can You Ever Forgive Me? I just don’t. And then, I know there’s love for Beale Street out there and I originally thought Jenkins would win. But he lost WGA. And Spike — I think some people are gonna want to get Spike his Oscar, and I found an interesting trend throughout history in that only three times did a Best Picture nominee lose Adapted Screenplay to a non-Best Picture nominee. Once in 1952 and then in 1996 and 1998. That’s it. So I’m just gonna side with history and say they give Spike his Oscar. Though I still personally think Beale Street is gonna win myself. But I think Spike’s the safest choice, given that his film is the most nominated of the three major contenders.

Best Editing

What should be on your ballot: Vice

The alternate, should that not win: Bohemian Rhapsody

What’s on my ballot: Vice

My personal choice: BlacKkKlansman

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Vice
  2. Bohemian Rhapsody
  3. The Favourite
  4. Green Book
  5. BlacKkKlansman

Analysis:

In a year where the presumed Best Picture winner isn’t nominated, the alternate Best Picture winner should not win Editing (it shouldn’t, but also no one thinks it will), you gotta look to 2011 and The Artist to see the comp for this one. When you have a fairly pedestrian editing job for the Best Picture favorite and the alternates are just kind of hanging around, you gotta look to, “What’s the most edited film”? Where’s the flashy editing? And the answer is Vice and Bohemian Rhapsody. One of the two of them should win. Which? I don’t know. I feel like it’s gonna be Vice, just because people remember all the things it did and all the tricks McKay pulled. But Bohemian Rhapsody has all those music montages. It’s a pure 50/50. Vice won BAFTA and Bohemian Rhapsody won ACE. You could make a case for either, but my gut says go with the Brits and take Vice.

Best Cinematography

What should be on your ballot: Roma

The alternate, should that not win: Cold War

What’s on my ballot: Roma

My personal choice: Roma

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Roma
  2. Cold War
  3. The Favourite
  4. A Star Is Born
  5. Never Look Away

Analysis:

I mean, this is obviously gonna be Roma’s. Look for Cold War to upset it in Foreign Language Film if anywhere. Not here. The Favourite is a sneaky third choice, but how can you think Roma won’t walk away with this one? So just take Roma and take the L if it loses.

Best Original Score

What should be on your ballot: If Beale Street Could Talk

The alternate, should that not win: Black Panther

What’s on my ballot: If Beale Street Could Talk

My personal choice: If Beale Street Could Talk

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. If Beale Street Could Talk
  2. Black Panther
  3. Mary Poppins Returns
  4. Isle of Dogs
  5. BlacKkKlansman

Analysis:

We’re in a year where none of the nominees have precursors. There are only three to guide us, BFCA, BAFTA and the Globe. BAFTA went to A Star Is Born (because their award is Best Music and not Score), and the other two went to First Man. So we’re literally just looking at the category and guessing what the most people are gonna vote for. That said, most people would assume it’s gonna be Black Panther. But I think it’s gonna be Beale Street. I think objectively that’s the best score of 2018 and I just think people are gonna go back and vote for that. You could easily take Black Panther and be justified. I’d tell you if you have either on your ballot you will be fine. I don’t think BlacKkKlansman will get votes, I don’t think there’s any urgency to vote for Desplat again for another Wes Anderson score, especially since it isn’t nominated for all the Oscars Grand Budapest was nominated for. And Mary Poppins — I don’t see them rallying around that. I think it’s either Beale Street or Black Panther, and in the absence of precursors I couldn’t tell you which it’s gonna be. Pick one and hope for the best.

Best Original Song

What should be on your ballot: “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born

The alternate, should that not win: “All the Stars,” from Black Panther

What’s on my ballot: “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born

My personal choice: “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born
  2. “All the Stars,” from Black Panther
  3. “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  4. “The Place Where the Lost Things Go,” from Mary Poppins Returns
  5. “I’ll Fight,” from RBG

Analysis:

“Shallow” will win this and it’s one of the three most locked categories of the night. Don’t fuck around, take the easy ones where you can get them.

Best Production Design

What should be on your ballot: The Favourite

The alternate, should that not win: Black Panther

What’s on my ballot:  The Favourite

My personal choice: The Favourite

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. The Favourite
  2. Black Panther
  3. Mary Poppins Returns
  4. Roma
  5. First Man

Analysis:

The Favourite and Black Panther split all the precursors. They split ADG, The Favourite won BAFTA, Black Panther won BFCA. The Favourite has the two big ones you want to see, and I suspect that will be the winner. Wouldn’t shock me if Black Panther won, but you have superhero movie vs. big period piece with gorgeous sets. I think we know what’s more likely to win, so take that one.

Best Costume Design

What should be on your ballot: The Favourite

The alternate, should that not win: Black Panther

What’s on my ballot: The Favourite

My personal choice: The Favourite

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. The Favourite
  2. Black Panther
  3. Mary Poppins Returns
  4. Mary Queen of Scots
  5. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Analysis:

Another one. The Favourite and Black Panther have split all the important stuff, and I think we all know, this above all other categories, is about period costumes and frills. I don’t see how you can feel totally confident in assuming Black Panther will win over this. I say take this and then on the 30% Black Panther comes in, just be wrong. Of all the categories for The Favourite to win, this should be the most obvious.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

What should be on your ballot: Vice

The alternate, should that not win: Mary Queen of Scots

What’s on my ballot: Vice

My personal choice: Vice

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Vice
  2. Mary Queen of Scots
  3. Border

Analysis:

Vice is gonna win this, and anyone just glancing at a ballot who hasn’t even seen these movies knows that.

Best Visual Effects

What should be on your ballot: First Man

The alternate, should that not win: Ready Player One

What’s on my ballot: First Man

My personal choice: Ready Player One

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. First Man
  2. Ready Player One
  3. Avengers: Infinity War
  4. Christopher Robin
  5. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Analysis:

Okay, so this is one where I’m playing the history card. In the history of Visual Effects, specifically in the post Star Wars era (which is really the only one that matters for our purposes), only three films have won Visual Effects without being nominated for any other awards. Innerspace in 1987, Death Becomes Her in 1992 and The Jungle Book in 2016. The Jungle Book we all knew was gonna win, and the films it beat with multiple nominations were Deepwater Horizon, Kubo and Rogue One. Kubo was Animated and the other two got Sound nominations. And we all knew Jungle Book was winning. And the other two times were 25-30 years ago. So it’s rare. All that is me saying — Avengers won the guild, and that usually helps, but this is an open vote. Ready Player One only got nominated here. First Man has four nominations. I think they’re gonna vote for the film with the most nominations, you’d figure. Otherwise there is no real way to guess how this is gonna go. Black Panther won the other precursors and wasn’t nominated at the guild or here. So you’re guessing what the average person would vote for given this ballot. Hell, Christopher Robin could win. You don’t know. I say take the movie with the most nominations because historically they pick the classiest choice in the category. You could still take Ready Player One or Avengers, but Marvel’s never won this category and it seems weird to assume they’ll just start voting for them now.

Best Sound Editing

What should be on your ballot: Bohemian Rhapsody

The alternate, should that not win: First Man

What’s on my ballot: First Man

My personal choice: First Man

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody
  2. First Man
  3. A Quiet Place
  4. Roma
  5. Black Panther

Analysis:

Bohemian Rhapsody basically dominated all the sound guilds and precursor awards. It winning in Sound Editing seems totally weird to me, but it’s got all the data to back it up, and splitting the Sound categories is usually a huge risk. If you take it in both, you’ll either get both right or you’ll go 1/2, which in the Sound categories should be expected. I think First Man is gonna take it, personally, just because it’s the space movie with the best sound. But it won zero precursors so I’m just playing a hunch more than anything. A Quiet Place won the big guild award, which is what usually produces the winner here, but just know that the last film to win Sound Editing as its only nomination happened in 1996 in a category with two nominees in it. Seems like a big hill to climb for it. I’m saying go Bohemian Rhapsody to play it totally safe, and if you wanna play the hunch with me, take First Man. Not sure anything else makes a whole lot of sense.

Best Sound Mixing

What should be on your ballot: Bohemian Rhapsody

The alternate, should that not win: First Man

What’s on my ballot: Bohemian Rhapsody

My personal choice: First Man

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody
  2. First Man
  3. A Star Is Born
  4. Roma
  5. Black Panther

Analysis:

When it comes to Mixing, assume the musical wins unless there’s a big action movie or whatever that’s gonna win both. Given how all the precursors went, I can’t assume First Man will win both (or any, for that matter). And while in November/December, you figured A Star Is Born would walk away with this category, Bohemian Rhapsody has emerged as the one that’s gonna win it. It basically swept the sound guilds and won at BAFTA, which is a joint Sound award but is more Mixing than anything. So if you’re gonna take Bohemian Rhapsody anywhere, take it here. The worst that happens is First Man wins both. But that seems so unlikely. I think the two scenarios you’re working from are: 1) Bohemian wins both Sound categories, or 2) Bohemian wins Mixing and First Man wins Editing. Of course, what you don’t want is a scenario similar to 2016, where Bohemian wins Editing, First Man wins Mixing, and you get totally fucked because you split them the other way. So do what you want, but just know, if I’m putting money on anything, it’s Bohemian winning Mixing and not knowing how Editing will turn out.

Best Animated Feature

What should be on your ballot: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

The alternate, should that not win: Incredibles 2

What’s on my ballot: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

My personal choice: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  2. Incredibles 2
  3. Isle of Dogs
  4. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  5. Mirai

Analysis:

This is one of the biggest locks of the night. It won every precursor, even precursors that don’t give out animated Best Picture awards (it won a sound guild award, etc), and it’s got the word of mouth to overcome the people who just blindly vote for Pixar every year. It’s winning.

Best Foreign Language Film

What should be on your ballot: Roma

The alternate, should that not win: Cold War

What’s on my ballot: Roma

My personal choice: Roma

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Roma
  2. Cold War
  3. Never Look Away
  4. Shoplifters
  5. Capernaum

Analysis:

You could see a 2006 scenario, where Pan’s Labyrinth wins every Oscar it’s nominated for except Foreign Language Film. But that’s if they decide they’re gonna go that way. The, “We’re giving it Picture, so why vote for it here too?” But that’s assuming they’re giving it Picture. They might not vote it there and use this as the consolation prize. I don’t think you can figure it loses though, so you’re gonna have to take it, assume it’s one of the biggest locks of all time, and just lose if you’re gonna lose. There’s no dishonor in missing this. You cannot think the movie with 10 nominations that is probably gonna win Best Picture will lose here. You just can’t.

Best Documentary Feature

What should be on your ballot: Free Solo

The alternate, should that not win: RBG

What’s on my ballot: RBG

My personal choice: RBG

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Free Solo
  2. RBG
  3. Hale County This Morning, This Evening
  4. Of Fathers and Sons
  5. Minding the Gap

Analysis:

I thought this would be an easy win for RBG, but it’s looking like Free Solo will take this down. Not sure it will, and I think RBG could come in. I’m voting for it just to be difficult and because I don’t care about my ballot. But I think Free Solo has to be the one you think will win and put on yours. Truly, you can take one or the other and maybe you’re right. Because none of us really know. But I think Free Solo is the most likely winner and the one to take if you want the best chance of getting it right.

el capitan rock climbing GIF by Madman Films

Best Documentary Short

What should be on your ballot: Period. End of Sentence.

The alternate, should that not win: End Game

What’s on my ballot: Period. End of Sentence.

My personal choice: Period. End of Sentence.

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Period. End of Sentence.
  2. End Game
  3. Black Sheep
  4. Lifeboat
  5. A Night at the Garden

Analysis:

Period. End of Sentence is gonna win this. It’s the one that fits with what they vote for, and it was produced by the publicist in charge of all of Netflix’s Oscar campaigns. So basically the person who is out there trying to will Roma into a Best Picture win. Do you really think peoples’ ears won’t be caught by, “Oh, and vote for my short too”? I think it’s winning. End Game is also Netflix, so I’d consider that. But Period. End of Sentence is everything you’d want out of this category before you factor in the Netflix angle. So take that.

Best Live Action Short

What should be on your ballot: Marguerite

The alternate, should that not win: Detainment

What’s on my ballot: Marguerite

My personal choice: Detainment

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Marguerite
  2. Detainment
  3. Skin
  4. Fauve
  5. Mother

Analysis:

Truly don’t know what the hell to do with this one. All the nominees aren’t great and none of them fit the bill for what they usually look for. The closest is Marguerite, because it’s the only one that doesn’t leave you wanting to blow your brains out. So that’s why I’m saying it’s gonna win. Because I don’t know what the hell they vote for otherwise. This category is a pure tossup between all five, and it’s a total crap shoot. Good luck. I say, Marguerite is the one that’s moderately cute and hopeful, Detainment has the best performances (but some controversy because some people in the UK are saying they’re making these boys out to be sympathetic even though they murdered another child), Skin is being made into a movie and might get votes, and Fauve looks the best and feels like it theoretically could also win. Not sure Mother stands any chance since it’s all setup and not really in the execution. I’m saying go Marguerite, but basically you’re just guessing and hoping for the best. This is the one category that everyone should expect to get wrong each year. So just keep assuming that and feel happy if you hit it.

Best Animated Short

What should be on your ballot: Bao

The alternate, should that not win: One Small Step

What’s on my ballot: Bao

My personal choice: One Small Step

The likelihood of each nominee winning:

  1. Bao
  2. One Small Step
  3. Weekends
  4. Late Afternoon
  5. Animal Behaviour

Analysis:

Pixar should walk away with this one. They don’t usually win this category, but this short is pretty undeniable. Animal Behaviour won’t win in an open vote and neither will Late Afternoon. Weekends is great and will get votes, but it’ll be tough to get the stray kinda votes needed to win. One Small Step matches Bao every step of the way for emotionality and all the stuff they like to vote for (and in my mind, surpasses it, but that’s a personal feeling), but Bao has the Pixar factor going for it. I think either could win, but I’m just gonna assume this is Pixar. But we’ll see. I’d be very happy to see One Small Step take it, but even I have Pixar on my ballot because I just can’t see how they pass this one up. This is exactly what they like to vote for in this category.

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