The B+ Oscar Ballot: Guide to the 91st Academy Awards

It’s Oscar night, folks. You know what that means.

I hope he does that every single day.

This is like, the one night a year where this site has a purpose. This started as an Oscar site and that’s still pretty much its bread and butter. That and movie recommendations. But I started this site with the Oscar Quest, and this article remains my extension of it. I write up all the categories, talk about what my favorites are and what I would vote for. And I also analyze all the categories and talk about how I think the night is gonna go based on all my experience doing this and my insane knowledge and research into this stuff. There’s way more information here than you need here, but this is my only excuse to be able to get it all out there, because when the hell else do I get to talk about this stuff?

I think you all know what this is and what it’s supposed to do. So I’m not gonna get into a flowery introduction. Everything you need to know my thoughts on this Oscar season is here. I am very open about putting my thoughts out there as they are at every moment in time, and this article will link to everything I’ve said about this season in one place. So you can literally see my feelings from beginning to end. I’m not secretive about this. My goal is to do it all in real time so you can all be as informed as possible and hopefully guess as good, if not better, than I do.

I’ll begin by saying my Oscar Central article is always there to be looked at. I chronicle every precursor along the way. I will pretty much relay most, if not all, of the information in this article, but it’s also all there as well should you want it. I’ve also done category breakdowns for all the categories over the past month. I will link to all those articles in the header of each category. Again, most of the information will be in my analysis of the category, but they’re all there if you want to go deeper. My point is — I’m crazy. No one does all this. I guarantee you no one else on the internet goes this deep with their Oscar coverage. I actually enjoy this shit. I can be just as wrong as the next person, but goddamnit if I’m not nerdier about the whole thing and slightly more entertaining than the next person.

So the way this article works is — I run down all 24 categories. I first tell you my own personal thoughts on them. How I’d rank each of the nominees, what I’d vote for, what I feel should have been nominated instead. I get that all out of the way right at the top. Then, I go into how we got this category, if there were any surprises as to how it turned out, if anything got left off, all of that. Then I get into what the important pieces of information are for picking the category. What precursors are relevant, what you normally need to take into account before picking. Then I break down the category based on everything we know. Each category is different and each has its little tricks and tools that can affect how you’d dissect it and analyze it. And once I do all that, I will tell you what film (or performance) is most likely to win, what its biggest competition is, and what film can play spoiler if somehow those first two nominees don’t end up winning. I also rank all the nominees in terms of their likelihood of winning, which is important for what I’ll talk about in a second. But after that, I will straight up tell you, “This is what I would take, and this is what you should take.” I am very clear about all of that. I will tell you what you should probably put on your ballot if you want the best chance of getting it right. And I will tell you what I’m taking, which is often more risk-taking, just because I don’t necessarily care about my own ballot anymore. But it’s all right there. So you can do whatever the hell you want. That’s the point. You have all the information there to listen to as much or as little

cary elwes GIF

You can probably guess as well or as poorly on your own, or by reading any number of Oscar prediction sites out there. Really you’re coming here for the atmosphere. I’m that weird dive bar you keep going to because you like the homely feel and because the bartender always gives you good pours and will sometimes be like “fuck it, this one’s on the house.” I’m also generally pretty sound. I feel like I’m usually in that 18-20 range each year. Which, out of 24, is good. 16 is a bad year for me, and that’s only happened once, and I think my best was 22 back in 2013. You should always expect to get at least 2-3 wrong at minimum. That’s just the price of admission. A perfect year is a bonus, not the expectation. Also, let me tell you — if anyone is picking the Oscars and gets anything less than 16 for more than a single year (because everyone is allowed a bad year), you shouldn’t be listening to them. We’re all working off the same information. Anyone can pick these things. If you’re not consistently able to get more than 2/3 of them right, then you’re picking on what you want to happen and not based on any credible data that’s in front of you. And I feel like, regardless of what I do on my personal ballot (which at this point I just do for shits and giggles), on the ballot I’m telling you to take, I feel like I get you around 18-20 most years. I feel like I do respectably by you.

The other thing you all should know — I’m beyond simply guessing winners. That doesn’t interest me anymore. I’m now about breaking down the categories. That’s why I give you rankings for each one, so I can say, “This is probably gonna win, and if that doesn’t win, then this will.” Because I think that’s the true test of whether or not someone can really look at these awards and see what’s going to happen.

In my entire history of doing this, there are only three categories (outside of the shorts categories, where really no one can say they truly know what’s gonna win) that straight up went wildly against my expectations. Best Editing 2011, Best Production Design 2012 and Best Visual Effects 2015. Editing 2011 is when we were thinking, “Will The Artist win? Will Hugo win? But The Descendants won the guild. What about that?” And then The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo won. The second category was one where we all figured, based on precursors, that it was Les Mis, Anna Karenina or Life of Pi, and then Lincoln won. And that last one is when we had The Revenant vs. Max Max vs. The Force Awakens vs. The Martian, and then Ex Machina came out of nowhere and won. The first two are not that crazy, and are really only a function of a lack of precursors and overcoming stiff competition. That last one is the only one that was a big “oh, holy shit” moment. Like when Adrien Brody win. The point is — almost nothing really comes as a surprise if you’re paying attention and know what you’re doing.

So, what I do now to test my abilities is what I call a Scorecard Ballot. It rates my ability to analyze a category and doesn’t penalize me for missing winners. Sure, the purest form of guessing is picking winners. But for someone like me, that’s too simplistic. This way, I have to look at all the nominees, and I have to know what the biggest contenders are. And it includes picking winners as part of it.

The way the Scorecard Ballot works — and you should totally do this for your Oscar parties on top of picking winners, because it’s a much more interesting exercise — you rank every category’s nominees based on their likelihood of winning. Best Picture is 1-8, Makeup & Hairstyling is 1-3 and everything else is 1-5. If you think it’s gonna win, it’s #1. Second choice is #2, and the film you think has no shot at winning becomes the lowest ranked choice. And then, when a winner is called, you score yourself. If your #1 won, you get 1 point. If the second choice won, 2 points. What you want is the lowest possible score out of 24. If all the #1s come in, you’re a perfect 24/24, and you’ve got a net zero. It’s almost like golf.

Fail Fun And Games GIF

The idea is that if you know what the major contenders are, you can be wrong on a pick and still do well. For me, most of the time, if the #1 doesn’t come in, the #2 is coming in. I’ll get a couple of #3s, but I feel like it’s not so common for me, especially in the bigger categories. Usually it’s in the tech categories. And outside of stuff like the shorts, it’s almost unheard of for a #4 or a #5 to come in. I already told you which categories had those, and they were such standout moments that I’ve remembered them all these years. So typically my score is gonna be pretty good.

Here are my scores going back to the beginning of this site:

  • 2011: +14 (38)
  • 2012: +10 (34)
  • 2013: +5 (29)
  • 2014: +8 (32)
  • 2015: +9 (33)
  • 2016: +11 (35)
  • 2017: +5 (29)

I really only focused on the Scorecard ballot from 2015, so anything before that is based on rankings I put in the articles. Still counting them, but I really only focused on doing it for the Scorecard from 2015 onward. It’s interesting to me that last year I tied for my personal best, since I don’t really remember last year as being a standout year for me. But I guess it goes to show how well I diagnosed all those categories.

Look, if you can guess 20/24 on your normal ballot, then it stands to reason that you shouldn’t be anything more than a +8 on the Scorecard ballot. Because at least two of those are tossups that didn’t go your way, maybe a #3 came in on a Sound category or something, and then you got burned with a #4 on a shorts category. That’s only a +7. To me, it really only fluctuates when more categories don’t go your way. But as long as you have it down to a 50/50, you shouldn’t end up too high on the Scorecard. That’s why I like doing it. I assume I’m gonna get everything wrong anyway. But this way, when I’m wrong I can go, “Yeah, figured that would be the other choice” and not feel bad about it.

Movie GIF

Anyway, let’s get into the year. This is one of those years where everything seemed pretty set all the way through, because there were a limited number of films that were in the discussion throughout the race. So the same movies ended up all over the ballot. For someone like me, there was no real surprise throughout the process. A few interesting turns of events, but nothing where I went, “Whoa.” However, depending on how some of these races shake out, this could potentially be the most interesting Oscars in a while. So we’ll see how it goes.

I start with Best Picture, because as much as I’d love to start with a completely random category, we pretty much have to go from the top down. That is, until they announce the order of the categories as they’re gonna present them, which would be a cool twist. I’d like to be able to talk about the categories in the order they’re gonna be announced. That would really make it fun, because that way I can, as I go, get a sense of running tallies and think, “So by this point, this film will have this many awards, so maybe this one will go this other way instead…”

hilarious the hangover GIF

Oh, but yeah, Best Picture. See, you get me going and I’ll just ramble on about this shit forever. Remember when I said I was gonna keep the introduction brief?

Best Picture

Black Panther


Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book


A Star Is Born


My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: A lot of times when doing this part I find myself at odds with my Top Ten list. People say, “Well, if it was your number whatever movie of the year how come you rank it higher for a vote than something that was lower than it on your list?” And it’s a conversation I have to have with myself every time I do this. But, to me, favorite doesn’t necessarily mean best. A lot of times I will vote for what my favorite movie is, and most of those times I also think it may be best. This is one of those years where what I consider the best movie for this award is not something I “ranked” as highly as most of the other films that are nominated.

To begin, six of the eight nominees are in my top ten, and The Favourite was my #12. The only movie nominated that didn’t come close to my Top Ten was Black Panther. Everyone knows my thoughts on that movie — liked it a lot, totally happy for it in terms of box office and culturally, don’t think it should be nominated here. Everyone is free to their own opinion, that’s mine. I feel like the Academy was basically bullied into voting for it because they feared being called racist if they didn’t (which is hilarious because that never stops them from nominating mostly white people every year). And I worry that its inclusion here will do more harm than good in the future. I also feel like, if they really cared about representation and nominating great cinema that also happens to feature a diverse cast… If Beale Street Could Talk or Blindspotting were perfectly acceptable alternatives. That said, I am very on board with the majority of this list. I can quibble about why the last one is on there, but overall, when 7 of the 8 nominees are among my 12 favorite movies of the year, obviously I’m gonna be okay with this.

If we were going by my official Top Ten rankings from the end of the year, then I’d have Green Book at #1, Vice at #2, BlacKkKlansman at #3, A Star Is Born at #4, Bohemian Rhapsody at #5, Roma at #6, The Favourite at #7 and Black Panther at #8. But, as I said, I don’t necessarily think ranking my ten favorite films and picking what I’d give an Oscar to the same thing. It’s not that simple. A Best Picture winner carries a different weight to it. Two years ago I loved La La Land. I spent that entire awards season saying, “Oh god, I hope it doesn’t win, because that’ll ruin it forever.” Why, because people would hate it for being what it is. The worst thing that could have happened to that movie was for it to have won Best Picture. Especially over Moonlight. This year, I almost feel the same way about Green Book. So my rankings here are a mix of what I feel the best films are that truly fit the bill of a Best Picture winner, what I truly thought the best pieces of cinema were, and, yes, what my favorites were. All wrapped up into a weird alchemy that I can’t put into words, but totally makes sense to me as I figure it out.

So, the way I figured this out was as such: Black Panther was always gonna be my #8 film, because it’s the one I don’t think should win, and it’s my least favorite of the nominees.

Next, at #7, I put Bohemian Rhapsody, because, while I loved it… it shouldn’t win. It’s awesome, it’s fun, but even I admit that it’s not the most amazing movie ever made. I remember 2004, Ray was nominated for Best Picture. It was a great movie and I liked it a lot. But I wouldn’t have voted for it. I’m fine with it being there, but I wouldn’t say it needed to win. Next, The Favourite. I loved it, and I think, if it were to win, I wouldn’t be so against it. But I would constantly think there were better choices to be had. This is more one where I feel I just liked other stuff more than it, so it ends up at #6. Vice then goes next at #5, since while I liked it a lot, and I think, despite its divisiveness, it is a fantastic piece of work all around, I don’t feel like it makes a good winner. So that, coupled with the fact that there are other movies on the list I liked more than it, it wouldn’t get my vote. #4 is A Star Is Born, which I loved. I love all of the versions of that story. That said, I don’t feel any particular urgency to vote for it for Best Picture. That’s one where, unless it was truly my favorite film on the list, I wouldn’t vote for it. And since it’s not my favorite film on this list, that’s where it goes.

The top three is where it got tough. I had to put BlacKkKlansman at 3, despite feeling like it would make a totally acceptable winner. There is an amazingness to that movie that is so singular to the vision of Spike Lee but also makes it an essential piece of filmmaking to today. It’s the kind of movie that feels like it’s going to hold up really well, because anyone can just watch it and enjoy it and see a snapshot of both the past and the (current) present. My sincere hope is that the very end of the movie is the only part that does feel dated, and that in the future people see that and go, “What was that all about?” because it’ll seem quaint that such things could still be happening and that maybe a measure of change was had. But something tells me, as with the message of the film, we’ve got a long way to go. I love the film, and I’d be happy with it as a winner, but I just can’t put it higher than #3. Then, #2, I feel so horrible about it, because I know it wouldn’t make a good winner. The historical comp for it is literally, on every level, Driving Miss Daisy, and yet Green Book… I loved it. I cannot explain it, but I’ve seen it like four times now, and I just really enjoy it. If I subscribed to the notion that Best Picture should be the most timely movie, then I’d have this at 3 and BlacKkKlansman at 2, but I have to take personal preference into account of these things, and I really like Green Book a lot. So that becomes my #2.

I’d have felt weirder with Green Book at #1, but fortunately I didn’t have to do that. Because to me, the greatest piece of cinema that was given to us this year is Roma. Alfonso Cuaron has made a masterpiece on every level. And it is stunning. On a simple rewatch level, Roma will never be my favorite movie of this year. But I am very aware that this is the best piece of filmmaking of 2018 and just what an achievement it is. It’s such an easy #1 for me on this list. The only potential conversation I would have had to have with myself is if they had nominated If Beale Street Could Talk. Short of that, Roma is the choice every time you give me this list.

My Vote: Roma

Should Have Been Nominated: If Beale Street Should Talk

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This year, the PGA was 8 for 8. This was a year where everyone was generally in agreement as to what the preferred films were. The only question was whether or not they’d sneak on a ninth nominee like we typically see most years. But that meant something like If Beale Street Could Talk, First Man or Mary Poppins Returns would get more overt support than we’d seen for them throughout the season. So in the end, we got the obvious choices. No real surprises whatsoever, unless you’re counting the fact that they left If Beale Street Could Talk off, which to me is just a horrendous decision considering they saw fit to include Black Panther.

I guess we’ll start this as we usually do, which is by discussing how Best Picture voting works. This is the only category with a preferential ballot. So we’ll need to explain why this category is different from all other categories.

Image result for why is this night different from all other nights gif

Shout out to my Jewish friends who knew what I was going for with that one. Ma nishma?

This is how the preferential ballot works:

Everyone is told to rank all eight films from 1-8, in order of their preference. Unless someone refuses to cast a vote for Best Picture, then there will be a #1 vote on every ballot. If one film gets more than 50% of the first place votes cast (50% + 1), then it wins Best Picture then and there. That’s a very unlikely outcome. The last consensus #1 I can think of is probably Return of the King. But even there, if we had more than five nominees and a preferential ballot, even that would have had trouble getting half the #1s in one go. So assuming we don’t get 50%+1, we’re tallying up all the first place votes.

There are about 7,200 members in the Academy, so assume all 7,200 cast a vote. Because how the hell you gonna try to figure otherwise? So 7,200 votes are cast for Best Picture and no film gets 3,601 #1 votes. One film has 1,800 votes, one has 1,650. One has 750. Whatever film is eighth on that list, with the least number of #1 votes, is out. That movie cannot win Best Picture. And say it had, I don’t know… 200 first place votes. Whatever film is #2 on those 200 ballots now gets those votes. That becomes the #1 for that ballot. So that’s another 60 votes for the current first place film with 1,800 votes, and so on. If that round puts the first choice over the top, then we’re done. Otherwise we continue.

Now we have 6 films left. Whatever’s got the second lowest amount of #1 votes is now out. Say that had 320 votes. Those 320 votes go to the #2 choice on those ballots. If the #2 choice on some of those happens to be the film that was already eliminated in the first round, then the #3 choice gets the votes. And the tallies for the 6 films left go up. And this continues until one nominee has 50%+1. In this case, 3,601 votes.

This sounds great on paper, but now we have to take into account is the people who will try to game the system. The person who only votes for a #1 and leaves the rest blank. Well, the minute their #1 gets eliminated, then their vote is gone. And that’s one less overall vote, and it actually makes it easier for the film they don’t want to win to win Best Picture. Now, there’s a chance they say, “I only want this film to win and if it doesn’t win, I don’t care what wins.” Well, then they get their wish.

Theoretically they could also vote 1-5 and not rank the rest. That is an option and technically that does game the system a little bit, but really the way they do their film the most service is by legitimately ranking all the nominees. If you really wanted to do damage to another film, you rank it #8 rather than not at all.

Also, the thing to note here — and it’s impossible to know how many times it’s happened (though I’d wager it happened a few times in the past couple years): a film can win Best Picture without getting the most initial #1 votes. Say one film has 27% after round one and another film has 24%. If the 24% film appears on the most ballots as #2 or #3, it’ll end up getting more votes overall than the other one, especially if the other one gets a lot of #8s and #9s.

The thing you need to take into account is — what film on the list is going to the be film that the most people liked? That’s it, really. What film will consistently be in peoples’ top 3 choices? There’s a legitimate chance that a film could finish the first round third on the list of first place votes, and as long as a lot of people put it as #2 or #3 on the other ballots, it could end up winning Best Picture. (Pretty sure Spotlight was a film like that.)

So that’s the complicated process. Generally you don’t need to think that hard about it, but it’s something that is gonna be a part of the process by which a winner is chosen. So if you wanna really cover your bases and think your way through everything, there’s your information. Otherwise you can just look at the precursors and pick. Mostly I find the preferential ballot helps when you’re thinking of the contender that will get a lot of #2 and #3 support over the film with the #1 muscle but a lot of detractors who will vote it low.

Onto the data: there are five precursors that hand out Best Picture (or equivalent) awards: PGA, BAFTA, BFCA, SAG and the Globes.

We’ll start with the PGA, since they have in the past been the most accurate predictor of Best Picture. They’ve been handing out awards since 1989. This is their 30th year. In the 29 previous years, the film that won the PGA went on to win Best Picture 20/29 times. That’s 69%.

nice GIF

If they miss this, they’re at a 2/3 percentage all time. Still pretty good. Though if they miss this one, then they’ve missed three of the past four years. And that means you can’t see them as automatic as you used to. But, at the moment, they’ve only missed Best Picture nine times. And those nine times are:

  • 1992, The Crying Game wins the PGA, Unforgiven wins the Oscar.
  • 1995, Apollo 13 wins the PGA, Braveheart wins the Oscar.
  • 1998, Saving Private Ryan wins the PGA, Shakespeare in Love wins the Oscar.
  • 2001, Moulin Rouge! wins the PGA, A Beautiful Mind wins the Oscar.
  • 2004, The Aviator wins the PGA, Million Dollar Baby wins the Oscar.
  • 2005, Brokeback Mountain wins the PGA, Crash wins the Oscar.
  • 2006, Little Miss Sunshine wins the PGA, The Departed wins the Oscar.
  • 2015, The Big Short wins the PGA, Spotlight wins the Oscar.
  • 2016, La La Land wins the PGA, Moonlight wins the Oscar.

They slipped in the mid-2000s, then went back to being bulletproof until 2015. Now it seems like they’re constantly missing. What’s interesting is that, 2015, you felt the PGA winner probably wouldn’t hold up, and it didn’t. 2016 seemed like an easy winner until it wasn’t. Though you knew that was a tossup. This year, we don’t really know, do we? I have an idea, but it’s one of those… well, we’ll get to that.

To prevent you from having to read a bunch more lists, we’ll keep it simple. Of the remaining four precursors (BAFTA, BFCA, SAG and the Globes), here’s which ones had the winner when the PGA did not:

  • 1998, BAFTA, SAG and the Globes had Shakespeare in Love (though the Globes also had Saving Private Ryan)
  • 2001, BFCA and the Globes had A Beautiful Mind (though the Globes also had Moulin Rouge)
  • 2005, SAG had Crash
  • 2006, BFCA had The Departed
  • 2015, BFCA and SAG had Spotlight
  • 2016, the Globes had Moonlight, but they also had La La Land

1998 was clearly a ‘one versus the other’ situation. 2001 is interesting. It’s before my time, but I suspect it had a lot to do with them not knowing what to do with Fellowship of the Ring, since two more of them were set to come out. Which funneled votes to other movies. 2005 was clearly an “anything but Brokeback” situation. (A good reminder that the Academy has to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to change. And another reminder that despite how backwards that decision may seem… Ang Lee did still win Best Director that year.) 2006, I’m shocked the Departed came through, in hindsight. But also, the votes were so split that year, I guess Scorsese winning Director was the rallying point for that. 2015, Spotlight was probably the choice all along, even if it felt like an open race with The Revenant and The Big Short. And 2016, it was La La Land versus Moonlight, even though the precursors made it seem really lopsided. Kind of a big upset, based on the numbers, but also not a surprise, since like 1998, it was a “one vs. the other” situation. It’s really more of an overall picture thing than “this precursor is gonna pick up the PGA’s slack when they miss.” Sometimes it’s just about what the combinations are.

Here’s a handy chart of how the past 20 years of precursors went. (Best Picture winners are in red.)

Year PGA BAFTA BFCA SAG Ensemble Golden Globes
2018 Green Book Roma  Roma Black Panther Bohemian Rhapsody (Drama)

Green Book (Comedy)

2017 The Shape of Water Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri The Shape of Water Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Drama)

Lady Bird (Comedy)

2016 La La Land La La Land La La Land Hidden Figures Moonlight (Drama)

La La Land (Comedy)

2015 The Big Short The Revenant Spotlight Spotlight The Revenant (Drama)

The Martian (Comedy)

2014 Birdman Boyhood Boyhood Birdman Boyhood (Drama)

Birdman (Comedy)

2013 12 Years a Slave and Gravity 12 Years a Slave 12 Years a Slave American Hustle 12 Years a Slave (Drama)

American Hustle (Comedy)

2012 Argo Argo Argo Argo Argo (Drama)

Les Misérables(Comedy)

2011 The Artist The Artist The Artist The Help The Descendants (Drama)

The Artist (Comedy)

2010 The King’s Speech The King’s Speech The Social Network The King’s Speech The Social Network(Drama)

The Kids Are All Right (Comedy)

2009 The Hurt Locker The Hurt Locker The Hurt Locker Inglourious Basterds Avatar
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire
2007 No Country for Old Men Atonement No Country for Old Men No Country for Old Men Atonement
2006 Little Miss Sunshine The Queen The Departed Little Miss Sunshine Babel
2005 Brokeback Mountain Brokeback Mountain Brokeback Mountain Crash Brokeback Mountain
2004 The Aviator The Aviator Sideways Sideways The Aviator (Drama)

Sideways (Comedy)

2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Drama)

Lost in Translation(Comedy)

2002 Chicago The Pianist Chicago Chicago The Hours (Drama)

Chicago (Comedy)

2001 Moulin Rouge! The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring A Beautiful Mind Gosford Park A Beautiful Mind (Drama)

Moulin Rouge! (Comedy)

2000 Gladiator Gladiator Gladiator Traffic Gladiator
1999 American Beauty American Beauty American Beauty American Beauty American Beauty
1998 Saving Private Ryan Shakespeare in Love Saving Private Ryan Shakespeare in Love Saving Private Ryan (Drama)

Shakespeare in Love (Comedy)

There are only four clean sweeps in 20 years. American Beauty, Return of the King, Slumdog Millionaire, Argo. If I gave you all the Best Picture winners of the past twenty years and asked which four were consensus winners for every precursor, you would have given me one of those and no way would you have the other three all at the same time. Mostly that’s to show you how rare a consensus really is and just how many different combinations there are on the road to Best Picture.

The big thing to note is that only one time in those twenty years did something miss all the precursors and come on to win Best Picture. And, really, because I think it’s important to note, let’s just get into that as a thing. I don’t want to limit it to just the past 20 years. Let’s go all the way back.

BFCA and SAG started giving out their Picture/Ensemble awards in 1995. The PGA started in 1989. BAFTA started in 1947. And the Globes started in 1943. So that’s 75 years of precursors. Right? The more recent we get, the more precursors we have. But even going back to 1943, for a few years we have at least one precursor. You know how many times a film won Best Picture with absolutely zero wins across those bodies? NINE.

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I let that go the first time, but you knew I couldn’t resist it the second time.

Here are the nine times:

  • 1943, Casablanca
  • 1953, From Here to Eternity
  • 1955, Marty
  • 1970, Patton
  • 1974, The Godfather Part II
  • 1978, Deer Hunter
  • 1992, Unforgiven
  • 1995, Braveheart
  • 2004, Million Dollar Baby

That’s it. And only two of those are in the era where we’ve had five precursors.

And for those who want the full breakdown of that, here it is:

  • 1943 was the first year of the Globes. They gave their Best Picture to The Song of Bernadette. There were no nominees, they just announced winners.
  • 1953, the Globes gave Best Picture to The Robe (again, no nominees, just winners) and BAFTA gave their Best Picture to Forbidden Games.
  • 1955, the Globes gave Best Picture to East of Eden (again, no nominees, just winners), which wasn’t nominated at the Oscars and BAFTA gave theirs to Richard III (also unnominated).
  • 1970, the Globes gave Best Picture to Love Story over Patton and BAFTA, a year behind, gave theirs to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
  • 1974, the Globes gave Best Picture to Chinatown over Godfather II and BAFTA gave theirs to Lacombe Lucien.
  • 1978, the Globes gave Best Picture to Midnight Express over Deer Hunter and BAFTA, a year behind, gave theirs to Julia.
  • 1992, the Globes gave Best Picture to Scent of a Woman over Unforgiven and BAFTA gave theirs to Howards End over Unforgiven. The Crying Game won the PGA.
  • 1995, the Globes, BAFTA and BFCA gave Best Picture to Sense and Sensibility (the Globes’ was over Braveheart). And Apollo 13 won the PGA and SAG.
  • 2004, The Aviator wins the PGA, BAFTA and the Globe, while Sideways wins BFCA and SAG.

What’s interesting to note is that only three times was the Best Picture winner even nominated for BAFTA in the right year. The Deer Hunter was nominated by BAFTA in 1979, after it had already won Best Picture. But the three times where the Best Picture winner was nominated and lost at BAFTA were From Here to Eternity, Marty and Unforgiven. The first two times, there were like twenty films nominated for Best Picture. It’s insane. And in the third, Unforgiven straight up lost to the British film.

Also, it’s been twice that something won without precursors since we’ve had five precursors, and one of them was the first year of two of them. The other time was the Clint Eastwood special of “come on late and finish strong” (which you’ll notice they tried to replicate with American Sniper and got pretty far with. They also tried it with The Mule this year… that didn’t work).

But really, twice in the era of five precursors. Which means that your precursors are pretty much gonna give you the information you need. Because in the Million Dollar Baby year, even though it didn’t win, you felt it coming on strong. Braveheart is before my time and I can’t really figure what happened there so we’re just gonna have to take it on face value. So really, twenty-five years, only once did it happen that I can’t really explain, and that’s simply because I was 7 at the time. So listen to the precursors. They’re probably right.

As a refresher:

  • PGA: Green Book
  • BAFTA: Roma
  • BFCA: Roma
  • SAG Ensemble: Black Panther
  • Globe (Drama): Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Globe (Comedy): Green Book

Looking at the precursors, your major two contenders are Roma and Green Book. Black Panther winning SAG was a foregone conclusion and means next to nothing. Some people try to play the “if it isn’t nominated for SAG Ensemble it can’t win” card. But Shape of Water wasn’t nominated there last year. And this year, Roma, Green Book and The Favourite all missed SAG Ensemble. If you’re really holding steady to that line of thinking, then your Best Picture winner will be either Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody or A Star Is Born. Good luck with that.

people good luck GIF

But, all that says that you should be picking between Roma and Green Book for Best Picture. You could make the Bohemian Rhapsody case, and maybe that will hold up, but to me, the only reason Bohemian Rhapsody even won the Globe is because Roma was ineligible for Best Picture due to it being a foreign language film (and they have some weird rule about that).

Things to note for those two choices — whichever wins (assuming one of them wins), a major historical stat is gonna come into play. Theoretically they could both lose to something else, and then we’re still dealing with a rare time when something lost all the precursors and still won. But odds are, a major stat is coming into play. Those stats are —

  • If Roma wins Best Picture, it will be only the 11th film ever to win Best Picture without an Editing nomination.
  • If Green Book wins Best Picture, it will be the fifth movie ever to win Best Picture without a Director nomination.

And if you’re playing the precursor game, Bohemian Rhapsody does not have a Best Director nomination either, and Black Panther doesn’t have either an Editing or Director nomination. So yeah. Big stats coming into play. A Star Is Born also has no Editing and no Director nomination. Vice has both, BlacKkKlansman has both and The Favourite has both. So based solely on those precedents, one of those three would normally be a presumed Best Picture winner. You can see what kind of interesting year we have here.

To break down those two stats more specifically: the ten films that have won Best Picture without being nominated for Editing are It Happened One Night, The Life of Emile Zola, Hamlet, Marty, Tom Jones, A Man for All Seasons, The Godfather Part II, Annie Hall, Ordinary People, Birdman. The only one that’s happened in the past 35 years was the one whose conceit was that it looked like it wasn’t edited at all. And the four films that won Best Picture without a Director nomination are Wings, Grand Hotel, Driving Miss Daisy and Argo. So yeah. That’s what we got. Only twice in the past 85 years. Though admittedly one of them was six years ago (and arguably the fact that it wasn’t nominated for Director was the rallying cry that got it to win Best Picture). It’s gonna be an interesting one. Both major contenders have pretty big historical factors going against them. But you have to take the year as it is.

The other thing I’ve been mentioning all along — Green Book has a PGA win, a Globes win for Musical/Comedy, was named Best Film by the National Board of Review and didn’t get a Best Director nomination. Do you know what the historical comp for that is? Driving Miss Daisy. Ain’t life funny sometimes?

hilarious batman GIF

The other way I like to get to my eventual conclusion is to figure out just how most people’s ballots are gonna look. Just one of those things that I feel helps me shore up my feelings, even if it’s ultimately meaningless. But you never know what someone is gonna find helpful. So I continue to do it.

If you don’t care about this part and just wanna get to my opinions, then skip right down to the gif from the 1994 film The Pagemaster.

Looking at the eight films in contention, if you had to figure what was gonna get the most #1 votes — Roma will get a lot. Green Book obviously will get a lot. The Favourite has to be getting some given the overall support of the film. A Star Is Born clearly has love out there. BlacKkKlansman must have enough support to not be dead last. That leaves three obvious contenders for what will get the least #1 votes: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody and Vice. I can’t assume Vice is the one that will get the least amount of #1 votes, because it has 8 overall nominations. But I also feel like it’s the least likely film to have the amount of overall support that would position it for a win. Bohemian Rhapsody, had it not won the Globe, I’d have straight up assumed that was #8. And Black Panther, I’ve said all along that I feel like its inclusion is for actual inclusion reasons and that the Academy for a large part doesn’t really think it’s that great a movie. So really what I’m wrestling with now is the amount of pure #1 votes vs. overall support. I guess it really doesn’t matter in the end because it all evens out. I don’t see a film that people will straight up dump eighth as a “fuck you.” Roma could be that film for the people who are really bitter about the whole Netflix thing. I can’t figure how many people that would be, but I feel like they have to be out there.

But in terms of what I know — I can’t see Bohemian Rhapsody being on a shit ton of #1 ballots and also being #2 or #3 on a great percentage of others. I just can’t. It’ll get its #1s and #2s, but I think most people will have it #5, #6 or lower. I think that puts it out early. Vice, like I said, it has to have the #1s to contend for a while, but how many people love it? And how many people will go, “It’s great, but it’s so goddamn depressing, I don’t want to vote for that”? I think that’s off pretty early too. And Black Panther — it’ll probably get some #1s, but I know the Academy is not as supportive of it as the nominations totals may suggest. It really feels like them going, “Okay, we got it, we put it on, now leave us alone.” I feel like a lot of people will have that at the bottom of their lists, and even if they feel like they have to give it something, it’ll be like, fifth, on their ballots. Maybe it hangs around a while, but I’m firmly convinced it has no shot at this. So I’m tossing all three of those off. I can’t figure out what order they’d go, but I’m tossing them all off.

And by that rationale, I really should toss off A Star Is Born next. Because without Director or Editing, that’s in the Black Panther position of being a historical first were it to win. Plus I think by now we all see that it peaked way too early and is on that downswing of being almost totally forgotten about. Were these awards given out over Thanksgiving, it would have won everything. But that’s not how the race works. There’s always one film that peaks too early. So in the broader picture, I don’t see how it can win. Clearly it still has support though. So you have to respect it enough to keep it in the middle of the list. But at this point it’s hard to see it really being a competitor for the win.

That leaves four films — the top two, BlacKkKlansman and The Favourite. BlacKkKlansman is that film that has had consistent support throughout the season, but you haven’t seen any kind of real love for it anywhere. I can’t see where all the #1s are coming from to get this to a win. However, I can see a fair amount of #2s, #3s and #4s. So I think that keeps it very much afloat. Can’t see it winning, but I can see it being there for a while. The Favourite, meanwhile… has to be liked. It got nominated for ten awards and won seven BAFTAs. It will get a lot of #2 votes from people. It will hang around. Is that enough? I don’t know. It couldn’t win any precursor, even BAFTA, where you’d think it would have won fairly easily. So that tells me it’s no higher than a third choice. Which brings us back to our original toss up.

GIF by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

I truly think your ballot is gonna have either Roma or Green Book on it. The question really becomes which one will go highest on the most ballots. The knock against Roma is Netflix. The knock against Green Book is that, in most cases you’d figure the people with Black Panther and BlacKkKlansman at the top of their ballot probably won’t have Green Book there. But, the old guard of the Academy is probably gonna be all about it, because it’s a very classical kind of movie. I think there’s an argument to be made for both of these films. Because of the changing guard of the Academy that’s going on, I would normally straight up say that The Favourite might even be your second choice here. But that complete lack of precursors is troubling.

Green Book only has the PGA going for it, and I find it interesting that SAG didn’t nominate it at all for Ensemble. Roma, to me, didn’t need Ensemble, so I don’t really count that as a knock against it. I also wonder if Roma didn’t get Ensemble at SAG because their cast was almost entirely not in the guild. Plus, with BAFTA going for Roma, and BFCA having Roma, and that Globes blank in Drama figuring to have been Roma’s if it could have been there… Roma just feels like the choice to me. I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong. But still, I think I’m gonna have this at #1 or #2 no matter what way it slices. Don’t see it going any deeper than that.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Roma. It just feels like the choice. I’m aware that BAFTA tends to be wrong more often than the PGA does, and maybe I’m walking into a trap. But with Director already likely going Roma’s way (and I’m also aware that Director and Picture have split four of the past six years), this just feels like the choice to me. I just feel like it’s the favorite. It feels like a fairly tight race, but something is just telling me that this currently has the edge. I am of the opinion that this would have won the Globe had it been able to be nominated for Best Picture, and I’m thinking that the reason it wasn’t nominated for SAG Ensemble is because most of its cast isn’t in SAG. Not that it would have won here or needed to, but that makes me think that it’s the most consensus choice out there and the only real thing it “lost” was the PGA, which I’m starting to think is because the producers are the most vocal body out there who doesn’t think a Netflix movie is a “real” movie. So yeah, I’m thinking this is the favorite to take it all down.

Biggest Competition: Green Book. The PGA is, at present, an almost 70% winner most of the time. That should automatically put a movie top two, depending on the precursors. This one, though… the only other thing it’s won is the Globe, so I’m not totally sold on this as a favorite as compared to Roma, which it can be argued that the reason it lost the two non-PGA precursors it did was because it wasn’t eligible to be nominated for them. Also, I’m starting to feel like, while the Academy is changing by getting younger and more diverse… how many producers does that include? I feel like the PGA is staying exactly the same, old and white. And that’s the reason they’re starting to get more stuff wrong. The Academy is admitting a lot of people. How many producers does that include? You know what I mean. That might be the answer to all of this and we might just need to look at the PGA as a more classical voting body than the Academy is now becoming. But anyway… this not being nominated for Director tells me a lot. Maybe it means nothing in the end because the Academy is hell bent on not awarding a Netflix movie Best Picture. But clearly, it’s a top two choice based on everything we’ve seen. I just can’t consider it the most likely winner based on everything in front of me. So it’s the second choice. There are really only two this year, so it’s not like it’s out of it.

Spoiler Alert: The Favourite. Because I couldn’t pick one otherwise. I don’t think Black Panther has the legs to get that far in the voting. Plus, without Editing and Director, that’s a choice if they go there. I don’t think A Star Is Born has the continued support to pick up those outside votes. There’s something about an “assumed” favorite that alters how people vote. They go, “This is gonna win, right?” and that affects their vote. They know what the top contenders are, and Star Is Born doesn’t have that aura to it anymore, so I don’t know if I can truly call that a spoiler. Plus, it’s the third one and none of the others have won any major precursors. BlacKkKlansman hasn’t shown me anything to say it should be here. No real major wins. This, at least, is tied for most overall nominations, and is coming off 7 BAFTA wins. I can’t call it any more than a spoiler without a win in the precursors, but it does feel like the spoiler, if anything does. (P.S. if you wanna play it totally by the numbers, then you put Bohemian Rhapsody here. But I just cannot see that being a serious win contender.) This will be #2 on a lot of ballots. That’s the kind of stuff that produces wins on a preferential ballot.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Roma

2. Green Book

3. The Favourite

4. BlacKkKlansman

5. Bohemian Rhapsody

6. A Star Is Born

7. Black Panther

8. Vice

If I Were a Betting Man: I’m taking Roma. I just feel like that’s gonna come away with it. I should also point out that I’m much more about the Scorecard Ballot now than I am just straight picking winners. So to me it’s not even that much of a choice. If I’ve got a 50/50, I feel okay no matter what comes in. Really all I care about is making sure I don’t have a surprise winner ranked too low on the ballot. But honestly without any real precursors there’s only so much you can guess. I’m very adamant in believing that Black Panther will not win, so I’m keeping it seventh. I should maybe have it higher, but no movie’s ever won without an Editing and Director nomination, not to mention it didn’t even get Screenplay. I should have it out and out eighth, but I really don’t see Vice coming in, so I’ll keep it seventh just in case they all collectively lose their minds and decide to ignore years of behavior and just listen to the internet. But still, I’m going all in on that not winning. I need to see that they went there. I don’t wanna be right just because I played it safe. I wanna be dead wrong on that if it happens. Bohemian Rhapsody I did have to put fifth, because that does have an Editing nomination and technically does have a precursor. And… we know why it didn’t get a Director nomination. There’s only been three times ever in the era of the PGA where something had zero precursors and won Best Picture. Two of them, as I said, are Clint Eastwood, and the other is Braveheart. Not seeing anything like those in here, so I feel confident going with Roma and Green Book at the top. Doubt I go below two on this. And like I said, I just feel like this is Roma’s to lose.

You Should Take: Roma. You can take Green Book if you want. Personally I’d rather take the one that makes the most sense to me and then if Green Book wins have that moment of minor surprise of, “Oh, okay, they went there.” Because there will be a bit of outrage if it comes in. It’ll be fake outrage directed entirely in the social media vacuum, and then the content aggregators they call journalists will pick it up and write thinkpieces about it, but it really won’t be that surprising a choice for them. The historical comp for it is DRIVING MISS DAISY. Which tells you everything you need to know about it in both the sense of how it could win and how people will feel about it if it does. And it’ll be right in line with what the PGA did, which is typically how these things go most years. This is not a normal year. A lot of weird shit is happening. You can take the movie that will be the 11th one ever to win without an Editing nomination or the one that would be the 5th one ever without a Director nomination. To me, I’ll take the Editing one, since I feel like I could explain that away by saying, “It’s a lot of long masters. What editing was really required?” It’s a very blasé answer, but at least I could explain it kinda. In a toss up, I’m giving the edge to Roma. That’s my gut. You do what you want, but that’s where I’m going.

On My Ballot: Roma

Best Director

Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman

Adam McKay, Vice

Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: This was a slightly surprising category for me. Not because of the inclusion of Pawlikowski. I’ve seen the Academy embrace foreign directors in this category lately. For me, it was the exclusion of Bradley Cooper and the inclusion of Adam McKay. I loved Vice, but I didn’t think they’d love it to the point of all these nominations. I was expecting like, two acting nominations, Makeup, Screenplay and maybe Picture/Editing. Not all this. But hey, at least it’s a solid show of support. Still, was not expecting Cooper off and both those two on. Personally I think Barry Jenkins being left off is the biggest slight of the year. And also the fact that Damien Chazelle’s work on First Man got completely ignored.

But as for what’s here… McKay I just wouldn’t take. I think he did fine, but I think the contributions of the script and the editing are the strength there. Maybe I watch it again and put him fourth. But for me he feels like fifth. Pawlikowski, I’ll keep him fourth for now. I wasn’t as in love with Cold War the film as I was with its cinematography. Or with Ida, for that matter. Maybe I’m conflating cinematography with direction and I do like McKay’s effort more than his. Either way, wouldn’t take either of them. Lanthimos, I think he did a fantastic job with The Favourite, but I just am not in love with the effort enough over the other two to take it.

Spike, I think he did a great job. I’d consider it in another year. I just watched it again the other day and I really wanna have the excuse to take it. But I don’t and I can’t. Because Cuaron’s the choice. What he achieves with Roma is remarkable. This is one of the most open and shut cases I’ve seen in a while. No one here comes close to Cuaron for me. There are other people who, had they been nominated, this may have been a discussion. But they aren’t, so Cuaron is the only choice here for me. (Also, I legit might have thought about putting Bradley Cooper as high as second were he nominated here. Which is something I was not expecting. Though in the end I’d have put Spike over him. Still, that says a lot to me.)

My Vote: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Should Have Been Nominated: Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This category is 3/5 the DGA list. Normally they’re 4/5. The expected category was Cuaron, Spike, Peter Farrelly, Bradley Cooper and then, for me, Yorgos. I figured McKay was the likely cast off. But they left both Farrelly and Cooper off, left McKay on, had Yorgos like I figured, and then put on Pawel Pawlikowski, who I didn’t even think was an option for them despite him having a BAFTA nomination. This is almost like 2012 in that they left off all the mainstream, obvious contenders and put on a foreign nominee we weren’t expecting. It’s the Directors branch. I’m not typically shocked by anything they do. But Yorgos on, Cooper off and Farrelly off was not a combination I was expecting. So there we are. If anything all it really did was make it easier for Cuaron to win. The minute you saw this category shaping up, you knew Cuaron was gonna walk away with it no matter how Best Picture went.

Pieces of trivia for this category:

  • There have been 29 foreign language nominees for Best Director (30 if you wanna count Letters from Iwo Jima as a foreign language nominee). The first was Jules Dassin in 1960 for Never on Sunday. Technically it only includes 24 directors, as Fellini was nominated four times and Bergman three times. But it’s only been 29 times ever, and no one’s won yet.
  • Spike Lee is only the sixth African-American director to be nominated (the other five are John Singleton, Lee Daniels, Steve McQueen, Barry Jenkins and Jordan Peele). Kinda nuts that he wasn’t the first (kinda nuts that there wasn’t a first before he had the opportunity to be the first), but at least he’s here (finally).
  • Cuaron’s nomination marks the eighth overall nomination for a Latin-American director (which includes his previous win, Inarritu’s three nominations and two wins, Guillermo’s win last year, Fernando Meirelles’ nomination and Hector Babenco’s nomination. Their percentage is pretty strong. It’ll be 5/8 if Cuaron takes this one down. And it’ll mean that five of the past six Best Director wins have gone to Cuaron, Inarritu or Guillermo, who are all best friends. That’s pretty fascinating.

Anyway, this category is pretty easy this year, so we won’t waste too much time. But I will waste some time, because I like the Oscars and I like talking about this shit. But if you don’t want to read all about the DGA and how great of a precursor it is, skip right on down to the gif from the music video from the New Radicals’ 1998 hit song “You Get What You Give.”

The DGA is the big precursor for this category, and I have to go over this stat ever year, because it bears repeating every year. The DGA Award has been given out 71 times. This year is the 71st. So in 70 previous years, only 7 times did the DGA winner not go on to win the Oscar. That means the minute someone wins the DGA, they have a 90% chance of winning the Oscar.

And, as we always do, we discuss the seven times the DGA winner and the Oscar winner differed:

  • 1968, Anthony Harvey won the DGA for The Lion in Winter, Carol Reed won the Oscar for Oliver!
  • 1972, Francis Ford Coppola won the DGA for The Godfather, Bob Fosse won the Oscar for Cabaret.
  • 1985, Stephen Spielberg won the DGA for The Color Purple, Sydney Pollack won the Oscar for Out of Africa. (Spielberg wasn’t nominated.)
  • 1995, Ron Howard won the DGA for Apollo 13, Mel Gibson won the Oscar for Braveheart. (Howard wasn’t nominated.)
  • 2000, Ang Lee won the DGA for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ridley Scott won the Oscar for Traffic.
  • 2002, Rob Marshall won the DGA for Chicago, Roman Polanski won the Oscar for The Pianist.
  • 2012, Ben Affleck won the DGA for Argo, Ang Lee won the Oscar for Life of Pi. (Affleck wasn’t nominated.)

(Note: Joseph L. Mankiewicz won the DGA in 1948 for A Letter to Three Wives and won the Oscar for it in 1949. So technically the years were wrong, but he did win. It was also the first DGA awards. In a way, it’s happened eight times, but in a way, not. It’s worth mentioning, though.)

Also worth mentioning is the fact that if you look at those seven times… three of the DGA winners weren’t even nominated for the Oscar. So if you were to assume that they would have won had they been nominated, then it’s 94% of the time. Or, I guess we can say — 94% of the time the DGA winner was nominated for the Oscar, they won. But we can stick with 90%. That about covers all the bases.

Putting a finer comb through the seven differences, here’s how BAFTA, BFCA and the Globes did in those seven years:

  • 2012 — Affleck won BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe. Clearly the lack of a nomination was a catalyst for him winning everything else.
  • 2002 — Roman Polanski wins BAFTA, he’s nominated for BFCA but loses to Spielberg (who was not nominated at the Oscars), and Martin Scorsese wins the Globe for Gangs. All I hear about that 2002 race was how The Pianist came on so strong at the end that it would have won Best Picture had there been a bit more time for campaigning.
  • 2000 — Ang Lee won BAFTA over a doubly-nominated Soderbergh and Best Picture-winning Ridley Scott. Soderbergh did win BFCA though. And Ang Lee won the Globe. Minor surprise Soderbergh managed to overcome two nominations to get enough support for one. Before my time, so maybe people saw it coming.
  • 1995 — Michael Radford won BAFTA over Mel Gibson. Mel Gibson, meanwhile, won both BFCA and the Globe. Which seemed to make his Oscar win a foregone conclusion once Ron Howard wasn’t nominated. (Or Ang Lee, for that matter.)
  • 1985 — BFCA wasn’t around before 1995 and BAFTA weirdly didn’t give out a Best Director award this year. So we’re left with the Globe, which went to John Huston for Prizzi’s Honor. So at that point, with no Spielberg, you’re left to assume the Best Picture favorite wins both, as it did.
  • 1972 — Bob Fosse wins the BAFTA and Coppola isn’t nominated there. Though Coppola does win the Globe over Fosse. Clearly that was a tossup going into Oscar night. Mostly what surprises me is how The Godfather managed the Picture win more than Fosse winning Director.
  • 1968 — Only the Globes and BAFTA are around, and BAFTA is a year off, so it’s really just the Globes. Which went to Paul Newman for Rachel, Rachel. So this one is totally unhelpful.

Really only the most recent ones are the only two that can help us, since the Oscars are all about recency. Total numbers and trends help, but only the 2000 and 2002 years feature a DGA winner who straight up lost the Oscar. In one case, the winner won BAFTA, and in the other, the winner only had BFCA. So one was a surprise (which may have had to do with the frontrunner being a foreign language nominee?) and the other you could have maybe called. Really though — you listen to the DGA. That’s the lesson here.

Music Video Dancing GIF

Fun fact: that music video was shot in the mall where I grew up.

This year, Alfonso Cuaron won the DGA. And he won BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe. So he’s won everything. Just like the last three years, this is a pretty open and shut case.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma. He’s won everything. The DGA alone makes him a 90% winner. No one else has remotely the support to take him down. And the movie is a visual masterpiece. No matter how Best Picture goes, this one’s his. Oh, but I guess that’s more for the section down there. All you needed was the DGA win to consider him the most likely to win.

Biggest Competition: Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman. Who else could it be? Pawlikowksi’s film clearly won’t have been seen by enough people, McKay’s not gonna get the votes to seriously contend, and will they just blindly vote for Yorgos? I think some people are voting for Spike because they wanna vote for Spike. The campaign for him is built on “this is his first nomination and Do the Right Thing was 30 years ago.” That will get him a few votes from people who don’t wanna vote Cuaron. So we’ll call him the second choice. Honestly I might say that Yorgos is the most likely beneficiary of the non-Roma votes, but at this point this seems like such a lock that it doesn’t even matter who the alternate is. But let’s call it Spike.

Spoiler Alert: Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite. How you gonna argue with this top three? Cuaron’s got it on lockdown, and if for some reason he loses, probably Yorgos makes the most sense as the likely winner. Spike would shock, but it would make some sense in a 2019 kinda way that people voted for him. Yorgos would be coming along with a surge of support for the film that we’ve yet to see by any branch except BAFTA, who still voted for Roma and Cuaron in Picture and Director. So at this point, you’re just looking at who best to put near the top of the Scorecard in case something crazy happens. It’s clearly Yorgos and Spike. And now that I’ve said all that I’m starting to think that maybe I should have had them swapped, only owing to the potential Picture win for The Favourite. Not that it really matters either way.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

2. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite

3. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman

4. Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War

5. Adam McKay, Vice

If I Were a Betting Man: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma. My one rule for picking Oscars: never overthink the easy ones. And I’ve yet to see a truly competitive Director category since 2012, the year where Affleck won everything and wasn’t nominated, so we had no idea what was gonna win. Maybe you can try to argue 2014, but even that you had to figure Inarritu was a lock given the showmanship of Birdman. The DGA basically gives you an easy winner every year, so just take it. Spend your time worrying about the hard stuff and take the gimmes.

You Should Take: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma. Take the easy ones where you can. There’s really no one that can beat him here.

On My Ballot: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Actor

Christian Bale, Vice

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: This is pretty much my preferred category. I love what Ryan Gosling did in First Man, but I didn’t need to see him nominated. Though there was the complete and utter ignoring of Hugh Jackman in The Front Runner, who is absolutely incredible there. But in terms of the people who hit precursors, these are the five I wanted to see. So I’m very pleased with this one. And I really like all five of these performances. Dafoe’s is the one I straight up wouldn’t take. He’s great, but I feel like in almost any year there’d always be at least two people I wanted to vote for over him. The rest, though… they could be the vote in other years. Viggo, I’m surprised at how much I loved that performance. He does a really great job there. Cooper is just quietly devastating all the way through, and I think people are underestimating just how incredible he is in that movie. I wish I could vote for him, because in another year, that is a performance I would take, no questions asked. But this year… as with Viggo, he ran into two really strong performances, so I can never consider him for the vote.

The two best performances here are Bale and Malek. They’re the only two performances where I straight forgot I was watching the actors. That’s automatic vote material for me. It doesn’t always happen. But when it does, especially when they’re playing real people, you vote for those performances. The tiebreaker to me was the fact that Malek, I only really forgot it was him toward the end at the Live Aid sequence. Bale, it was almost immediate. By the end of the first act and for the rest of the movie. That was Dick Cheney. So Bale’s the choice for me. I don’t even need to first guess that. He’s the choice.

My Vote: Christian Bale, Vice

Should Have Been Nominated: Ryan Gosling, First Man

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This one felt pretty obvious all the way. The top four (Bale, Cooper, Malek, Mortensen) were locked all the way through. Only the fifth spot was up for grabs. John David Washington got the SAG/BAFTA combo, but that one I never felt solid on as an actual nomination, just because I’ve seen the SAG/BAFTA combination not work out almost yearly since I started doing this, and the performance never felt like something they’d nominate. Ethan Hawke only had BFCA, and I never took him seriously, given his overall lack of Oscar success in the past. And Dafoe got BFCA and the Globe. And it’s Vincent Van Gogh, so I felt like he had the overall package that fit that spot, if that makes sense. I think we got the category that made the most sense.

Now that we’re in the acting categories, we know that SAG is first and foremost the major precursor. Everything else comes second. This is the first Best Actor race that seems moderately in question in a little while. It draws comparisons to 2014, which is really its biggest comp. Before that you have to go back to 2008 with one that was remotely close to a toss up.

SAG all-time has matched Best Actor 19/24 times. The five misses are:

  • 2000: Benicio Del Toro wins SAG for Traffic and Russell Crowe wins the Oscar for Gladiator. (It should also be noted that Benicio won Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars for Traffic. So in a way, SAG wasn’t entirely wrong.)
  • 2001: Russell Crowe wins SAG for A Beautiful Mind and Denzel won the Oscar for Training Day.
  • 2002: Daniel-Day-Lewis wins SAG for Gangs of New York and Adrien Brody wins the Oscar for The Pianist.
  • 2003: Johnny Depp wins SAG for Pirates of the Caribbean and Sean Penn wins the Oscar for Mystic River.
  • 2016: Denzel wins SAG for Fences and Casey Affleck wins the Oscar for Manchester by the Sea.

We’ll give them the Benicio one. That’s a category swap situation. We’ll call it 19/23 instead of 20/24, since technically they didn’t get it right so much as they didn’t get it wrong. Also interesting that they had it different four years in a row for the first four times ever and then not again until two years ago.

In the five years when SAG was wrong, BAFTA had the right winner only in 2016. They also had Crowe in 2001 and Day-Lewis in 2002. And 2003 they had Murray there. So really only 2016 did BAFTA pick it up, but recent is when you want them to get it right, so that’s good to know. BFCA, meanwhile — they had Crowe in 2000, they had Penn in 2003 and they had Affleck in 2016. So that’s 3/5 they picked up. They also had Crowe in 2001 with everyone else and they had Day-Lewis and Nicholson tie in 2002, so they were doubly wrong. The Globes, just to extend to all the precursors — they had Tom Hanks in 2000, Crowe in 2001, Nicholson in 2002, Penn and Murray split Drama/Comedy in 2003, and they had Affleck in 2016.

So to look at each of those five years:

  • 2000 — Del Toro wins SAG lead and goes Oscar Supporting. That opens up Best Actor. BAFTA goes off the board, Crowe wins BFCA and Hanks wins the Globe. That had to be one where you took the temperature of the room to see where it was going. I had to assume it was Crowe vs. Hanks with Crowe seeming like the favorite given the Best Picture win for Gladiator that was coming.
  • 2001 — Crowe won every single precursor, but I remember watching stuff leading up to Oscar night… Crowe was not making friends on the campaign trail and there was real growing support for Denzel going into Oscar night. You felt like that could happen while watching it. Or at least I did. Still, a real statistical anomaly, that one.
  • 2002 — Day-Lewis won SAG, BAFTA and tied for BFCA with Nicholson, who won the Globe too. That was a 50/50 race that turned into Adrien Brody out of nowhere. That was one of the biggest Oscar surprises of all time. People remember Roberto Benigni as being a surprise, but he won SAG. Brody came out of nowhere.
  • 2003 — SAG was gonna get that one wrong. That was Penn vs. Murray. Murray had BAFTA, Penn had BFCA and they split the Globe. Somehow Penn felt like he was gonna win because it was “his time.” That’s all I remember when seeing that year. Still, it was a 50/50 tossup.
  • 2016 — Affleck had everything but SAG. That, to me, was an easy one. SAG is a broad body and people like Denzel are beloved. That shit happens there. That year SAG was the red herring. Which might be the new thing going forward with them. We’ll see.

Really what it all means is, you look at SAG, then you add up everything as a whole to see where you’re at.

The precursors this year are as such:

  • SAG: Malek
  • BAFTA: Malek
  • BFCA: Bale
  • Globe (Drama): Malek
  • Globe (Comedy): Bale

It started off looking like Bale’s race, but Malek ended up with both SAG and BAFTA. Had he just won SAG, I’d have told you this was still Bale’s. Now, I don’t know. This one’s really tight. You have Malek, an American, winning BAFTA for playing a quintessentially British character, beating Bale, a Brit, playing a quintessentially American character. Does that matter? Does it not? I don’t know. But we know it’s a tossup between the two at this point, so that makes it slightly easier.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody. He’s got SAG and BAFTA. The last time someone won both SAG and BAFTA and lost the Oscar was 2002, and that was a shocker that wasn’t even being considered as a possibility. Then there was 2001, where one person swept everything and lost. Other than that it’s never happened. Numbers say he’s got this. I’m not totally sold on that. But I think you have to consider him the winner until he isn’t. I keep thinking BAFTA voted for the character and that explains that. But I still can’t explain SAG. It’s not like they voted against Bale, they just voted for Malek. The comp for this situation is 2014. Eddie Redmayne won SAG and BAFTA, split the Globe with Michael Keaton and Keaton won BFCA. That’s exactly what we have here. And Redmayne took down the Oscar that year. You gotta consider Malek the Redmayne in this scenario. He’s the favorite.

Biggest Competition: Christian Bale, Vice. It’s one or the other. No one else is even close to being in contention. Whoever isn’t your favorite is the second choice. You’re guaranteed to get #1 or #2 on this. So there’s that. We know what the credentials are for both of them. I’m not gonna waste time explaining why he’s the second choice because I did it already in explaining why Malek is the first choice. I’m gonna spend the rest of my time talking about the likelihood of him coming down with the Oscar. And I think that’s actually a stronger possibility than most people may suspect. It would really blow up SAG and BAFTA’s spots, but I could see it happening. I’d point to BAFTA being all about Freddie Mercury and come back to that 2016 refrain of how broad SAG is as a voting body and how it might just be a popularity contest now and not about the performance. (I know some people think that’s what this all is anyway, but SAG is really starting to get that feel sometimes lately.) The Academy still feels like it skews a bit older and slightly toward the veterans, as much as that’s been evening out in the past couple of years. I do think there’s a real chance Bale comes in, and I want to prepared you for that possible outcome, should it happen. Redmayne/Keaton felt like 75/25. This is more like, 60/40. I think Bale could still win this, and while it might be a minor eyebrow raiser, I don’t think we’d consider it a surprise by any stretch. But for the moment, I think you have to consider Malek as having the edge over Bale.

Spoiler Alert: Viggo Mortensen, Green Book. Probably, right? Because people love Viggo, people clearly love the movie, and you know Dafoe’s not getting any serious votes, so it’s either Viggo or Cooper for the third spot. Cooper might get sympathy votes for being left off Director, but also A Star Is Born has never won any acting awards, male or female, so I’ll use that as my reasoning as to why it’s probably Viggo as the third choice. Doesn’t matter, because if Malek doesn’t win, Bale will win, and if not, we’re all stone cold wrong and it doesn’t really matter, does it? And t that point it doesn’t matter that we were wrong, it’s about figuring out how we got to that situation. So put whoever you want here. I think it’s Viggo, for what that’s worth.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

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

If I Were a Betting Man: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody. I kept telling myself I was gonna take Bale here because I was feeling the upset, but honestly… seems like Malek’s gonna take it. Not gonna be too upset about it, even if I think Bale is the right choice for it. I think I’m just gonna take the percentages, go with Malek and then see if they vote for Bale. Put it this way, either I’m right, or Bale wins and I’m happier than I was about being right. Plus, Scorecard. It’s a #1 or a #2. I’m fine with that. That’s the beauty of this alternate measure for grading yourself. It’s about knowing who the proper contenders are rather than getting everything right.

You Should Take: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody. Because everything says he’s gonna win it. You can’t vote scared. So either take the favorite or go for Bale and see if he comes in. It’s a 50/50 choice, and I’m telling you to take the one more likely to come in. Nothing overly complicated about this one.

On My Ballot: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Actress

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Glenn Close, The Wife

Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: I am not a fan of this category, but that’s a factor of this being one of the weakest Best Actress years I’ve seen in a while. I feel like I say that most years, but this one literally only had about six choices for it. And one of them was Emily Blunt, who was basically a supporting character in her own movie. And two of the best lead performances of the year went supporting, so there’s that too. I personally thought the best lead performance of the year was Helena Howard in Madeline’s Madeline, but no one even knows that movie exists. The category itself is fine. I’m just not particularly in love with any of the performances. McCarthy is just fine. I didn’t see anything overly amazing in that performance. It just felt like her not trying to be funny. Still felt like Melissa McCarthy. So she’s fifth for me. Aparicio felt completely real and had some really nice moments in the performance. Not something I’d want to vote for though. She’s third on performance for me.

Glenn Close is worth an Oscar over her career, but I did not particularly like her movie and I thought her performance was just fine. Not something I wanna vote for. Fourth on performance, and I’d consider putting her third on the vote, even though in the end I’d still take Aparicio over her. Gaga — good performance, amazing singing. She completely owns the role. I think she’s worth the nomination, not sure I’d want to take her unless I had to. I almost have to, though, given the category. Olivia Colman, meanwhile, is incredible in The Favourite. Personally I feel like Stone and Weisz are the leads there and Colman is Supporting, given that she’s off-screen a bunch as the other two fight for their place in her life. Plus, she’s got the easiest role of the three. But whatever, they did what they did. If this is the category I’m given, I’ll take Colman. Best of a bad situation.

My Vote: Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Should Have Been Nominated: Helena Howard, Madeline’s Madeline

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Best Actress this year was a lot like Best Actor in that four of the five were locked all the way through. Close, Colman, Gaga and McCarthy hit basically every precursor and were foregone conclusions for the list. But that fifth spot… no one had any idea who it would be. Emily Blunt was nominated for SAG, Viola Davis for BAFTA, but they didn’t feel totally solid. Viola only having BAFTA didn’t seem remotely like a possibility, and Blunt, you wondered how she could have missed BAFTA which is basically her backyard and seemed assured. So I never felt comfortable thinking either was the nominee and couldn’t figure out what they were gonna do. Turns out, the reason I couldn’t really tell what the deal was is because Yalitza Aparicio was gonna get on all along. And she’s not in SAG. Usually when you can’t figure out what the deal is or why there isn’t a clear cut fifth contender, it’s because there’s a non-SAG nominee that’s probably getting on. And there you have it. Now you get the category that makes the most sense. Hey, at least we get a year without Meryl, right?

Meryl Streep Omg GIF by BAFTA

In terms of the precursors, it’s an acting category, so there’s SAG and then there’s everything else. SAG is 17/24 all-time in Best Actress. The seven misses (does that count as a pun?) are:

  • 1994, Jodie Foster won SAG for Nell and Jessica Lange won the Oscar for Blue Sky.
  • 1999, Annette Bening won SAG for American Beauty and Hilary Swank won the Oscar for Boys Don’t Cry.
  • 2001, Jennifer Connelly won SAG for A Beautiful Mind and Halle Berry won the Oscar for Monster’s Ball. (Note: Connelly won the Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance. So not totally wrong.)
  • 2002, Renee Zellweger won SAG for Chicago and Nicole Kidman won the Oscar for The Hours.
  • 2007, Julie Christie won SAG for Away from Her and Marion Cotillard won the Oscar for La Vie en Rose.
  • 2008, Meryl Streep won SAG for Doubt and Kate Winslet won the Oscar for The Reader. (Note: Winslet won SAG Supporting Actress for the same performance. So again, not totally wrong.)
  • 2011, Viola Davis won SAG for The Help and Meryl won the Oscar for The Iron Lady.

Like Best Actor, we have category discrepancies. Two of them! So really it’s only 5 they got straight up wrong. If we want, we can call it 17/22. (Or 19/24, if we want to assume that if all was right, they’d have gotten them correct.) Still, only five times, that’s not bad.

In terms of BAFTA, BFCA and the Globes:

  • BAFTA had Meryl in 2011, Winslet in 2008, Cotillard in 2007, and Kidman in 2002. Which… christ. That’s everything that matters. They also did have Bening in 1999 and got that wrong with SAG and had neither two contenders in 1994.
  • BFCA, meanwhile… they didn’t exist in 1994, so that’s out. But otherwise, they had Swank in 1999, and nothing else.
  • Now, the Globes — had Lange in 1994, Swank in 1999, split Kidman and Zellweger in 2002, split Christie and Cotillard in 2007, had Winslet in 2008 (but for a different film. She won Supporting Actress for the right film there as well) and had Meryl in 2011. So yeah, the Globes… more helpful than you’d think.

But, looking at that BAFTA had the winner all but one time, and that one time that person won the Globe and BFCA. So the precursors are usually gonna tell you how it’s gonna turn out. Especially since Best Actress, of all the categories, is about the perception of “this is her time.” This is the one acting category that always feels most swayed by public sentiment. (Look at what’s probably gonna happen this year. No one even saw that movie and they’re gonna vote for her because it’s finally “her time.”)

This year, we’ve got a nice little split among the precursors, though you can clearly demarcate who the favorite is, who the second choice is and who the spoiler is. So that’s helpful.

  • SAG: Close
  • BAFTA: Colman
  • BFCA: (TIE) Close & Gaga
  • Globe (Drama): Close
  • Globe (Comedy): Colman

Glenn Close won SAG, BFCA and the Globe. Colman has BAFTA and the Globe, and Gaga has a BFCA tie only. That’s really everything you need, isn’t it?

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Glenn Close, The Wife. SAG alone would normally put her as first choice. But the fact that she’s got BFCA and the Globe cements that status. The fact that she lost BAFTA to a British actress for a quintessentially British role also does not work against her. In a year like this, it makes sense for them to reward the veteran who had never won and always felt like she should have. Maybe you can make a case she won’t win, but she’s gotta be looked at as the favorite to do so until that point.

Biggest Competition: Olivia Colman, The Favourite. Because of the BAFTA win. And her film is tied for the most nominations. Of course she’s the second choice. Can she win? Dunno. I guess it’s possible. But I feel like the BAFTA win is a British thing, which they tend to do, and her only other precursor she split with Glenn Close. Can’t see her as anything more than a second choice with a not impossible possibility of coming.

Spoiler Alert: Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born. She tied BFCA, so that’s something. I thought she’d take the Globe too and make this race more interesting, but she didn’t. Plus, this role has never won an Oscar, from Janet Gaynor to Judy Garland. Hard to see her as really having the numbers to take this down. But you can’t put her lower than third. You just can’t. Don’t get caught assume it won’t happen. But also don’t feel any compulsion to take it. There’s no momentum here and the nomination is the reward. Not to mention, they’re gonna give her one for Song, so they won’t feel any compulsion to vote for her here unless they truly love the performance and won’t take Close as the veteran because she’ll have theoretically less chances to win one of these than Gaga will.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

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?

If I Were a Betting Man: Glenn Close, The Wife. It’s not a particularly interesting race, but it feels fairly cut and dry. Close has everything you want to see out of a winner, and her not winning BAFTA is easily explained. I think she’s got it. I can’t even make the case for Colman in that her film momentum will carry her across, because her film seems like it’s gonna lose most of its categories. I’d call this like 80/20 that Close takes it. I’m not going against her.

You Should Take: Glenn Close, The Wife. Don’t see how you make the case that it’s Colman over Close. You could play a hunch if you want, but I don’t see it. To me the hunch is better played in Best Actor for Bale over Malek. But that’s just me. You do what you want. I’m saying I think this is Glenn Close in a fairly easy one. This to me feels a lot like that 2014 category with Julianne Moore, where it wasn’t particularly interesting, there wasn’t a real consensus outside of “let’s give it to the person we like who hasn’t won before.” I’m sticking with that happening again. The only difference is that one was locked. This one just feels mostly closed.

On My Ballot: Glenn Close, The Wife

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born

Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Sam Rockwell, Vice

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: Not a terrible category. There were only six people in the precursors throughout the race, and I liked four of them. Wouldn’t have necessarily nominated some of them, but as far as a category goes, I’m cool with it. They missed some great performances in Beale Street (Colman Domingo and Bryan Tyree Henry specifically) and The Hate U Give (Russell Hornsby), and Robert Forster, who delivers an incredible performance in What They Had, which was so grossly overlooked all around this year. This one, though, I like all the actors. Rockwell as Bush was surprisingly solid. Would I have gone so far as to nominate him for it? No. But he won last year and there’s that three year period afterward where people seem to get other nominations. And he came along with the film. Get it, wouldn’t take it.

Driver — really solid. Delivers a really good performance. Wouldn’t vote for him. Richard E. Grant — great actor, great performance. I liked the other ones better. He’s third best for me here and would probably be fourth in other years. Mahershala Ali — really a lead. Incredible performance, but he’s a co-lead. Would I still take him? Absolutely. Best performance in the category is the best performance. It’s not my fault he’s in the wrong category. But… Sam Elliott, man. I’m not even factoring in this being his first nomination and a career’s worth of work. I truly thought he gave an incredible performance. From start to finish, that was the best supporting performance I saw this year. He’s my vote.

My Vote: Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born

Should Have Been Nominated: Robert Forster, What They Had

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This feels like a lot of those Supporting Actor categories from previous years where it was mostly locked all the way through and there were only like six contenders for it. It was Ali, Grant, Driver, and then Sam Elliott, Sam Rockwell and Timothee Chalamet for the last two spots. Chalamet hit every other list, so he seemed safe, even though the other two nominees had films with more overall support. Sam Elliott missed BAFTA and Sam Rockwell missed SAG. You figured it would be one or the other for that last spot, and then both ended up getting on and leaving Chalamet off. So there you have it. Nothing too surprising and five from six, ultimately. What’s interesting to me is that three of these nominees are first time nominees and the other two got their first nominations within the past two years. It’s a fresh category.

Anyway, another acting category, which means SAG is the main precursor. This is the one where they’re least helpful, for whatever reason. All time they’re 15/24. Though one of them is the Benicio Del Toro swap. Still, eight times outside of that is a lot as compared to the other acting categories. However, they are 8/10 the past ten years, with one of them being a case where the Oscar winner wasn’t nominated for SAG and the other being a case where the SAG winner wasn’t nominated for the Oscar. So that’s pretty damn good.

Here’s the full list of misses:

  • Ed Harris in 1995 for Apollo 13. Kevin Spacey won the Oscar for The Usual Suspects.
  • Robert Duvall in 1998 for A Civil Action. James Coburn won the Oscar for Affliction.
  • Albert Finney in 2000 for Erin Brockovich. Benicio Del Toro won the Oscar for Traffic. (He won Best Actor for SAG that year.)
  • Ian McKellen in 2001 Fellowship of the Ring. Jim Broadbent won the Oscar for Iris.
  • Christopher Walken in 2002 for Catch Me If You Can. Chris Cooper won the Oscar for Adaptation.
  • Paul Giamatti in 2005 for Cinderella Man. George Clooney won the Oscar for Syriana.
  • Eddie Murphy in 2006 for Dreamgirls. Alan Arkin won the Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine.
  • Tommy Lee Jones in 2012 for Lincoln. Christoph Waltz won the Oscar for Django Unchained. (Waltz wasn’t nominated for SAG.)
  • Idris Elba in 2015 for Beasts of No Nation. Mark Rylance won the Oscar for Bridge of Spies. (Elba wasn’t nominated for the Oscar.)

Because I’ve done it for the other categories…

  • BAFTA did have Mark Rylance in 2015, Christoph Waltz in 2012, Alan Arkin in 2006, Jim Broadbent in 2001, and Benicio in 2000.
  • BFCA had a Spacey/Harris tie in 1995 and Cooper in 2002.
  • The Globes — Benicio in 2000, Broadbent in 2001, Cooper in 2002, Clooney in 2005 and Waltz in 2012. The Globes have legitimately proven themselves a better acting precursor than BFCA.

What that all tells me, though, is that the only year they all got wrong is 1998. Other than that, someone had the winner.

This year, though, is just like last year, in that the same person won every single precursor. Mahershala Ali has SAG, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe. So what more do we need to know?

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book. He’s won every precursor and he’s a co-lead. Gonna take a lot for him not to win this. But even until that happens, he’s the most likely one to win.

Biggest Competition: Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born. I just feel like it’s him. I feel like he’s got the most emotionally satisfying of the rest of the performances. Plus the veteran factor working for him. Though I guess both upset contenders have that. But at this point, when someone’s won every precursor, you’re really just guessing what you think the second choice is. How can you really know? I think it’s him.

Spoiler Alert: Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?. If Elliott isn’t the second choice, it’s Grant. He’s been nominated everywhere, while Elliott missed BAFTA. Still, neither has won anything, so how can you really parse who’s gonna get the votes Ali isn’t getting? I cant tell you that Rockwell probably doesn’t have a whole lot of support this year and Driver feels like he’s just along for the ride with his movie. So the top three seems pretty obvious to me. You rank 2 and 3 how you want, but you know who’s winning this, so it’s really just an ‘in case of emergency’ situation.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

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

If I Were a Betting Man: Mahershala Ali, Green Book. He’s hit every precursor. This one’s the most locked of all the acting categories. There’s nothing you need to think about here. Take the obvious and if you’re doing a Scorecard, align it so that way if it doesn’t come in, you’re best covered. Otherwise, this one’s easy.

You Should Take: Mahershala Ali, Green Book. SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, the Globe. And his film could win Best Picture. Which is just a cherry on top. He’s winning this. Move on.

On My Ballot: Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, Vice

Marina de Tavira, Roma

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Emma Stone, The Favourite

Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: The category fraud makes this one bearable. Otherwise, whoo boy, this would be a weak one. Stone and Weisz buoy this category into respectability. Amy Adams is completely along for the ride with her film. Which… why does that always happen to her? Doubt, American Hustle, The Master, shit, The Fighter… every nomination but Junebug it fells like she’s just sort of along for the ride. Granted, most of the time she’s worth the nomination, but this one feels like she doesn’t have a whole lot to do in the movie. I know they’re selling it as strong. I just felt like it’s “and wife (played by Amy Adams).” I felt that way for The Master too. Easy fifth choice for me. Marina de Tavira is quite good, and I liked the performance a lot. Wouldn’t vote for her though.

Regina King is a tough one… she’s fantastic, and I want to be able to vote for this performance because I loved the film so much, but every time I see it all I can think is, “Is that really all there is?” There’s so little of the performance there that you want her to have more screen time just so you can vote for her. So I can’t vote for it as much as I’m down for her to win this. Plus, to me three of the best female performances of the year are from The Favourite, so those are always gonna be at the top of my list. So the vote is between the two of those. And between Stone and Weisz, I prefer Stone’s performance, so she becomes the vote. I have no problem splitting this vote in the absence of someone I liked better. So Emma Stone’s my choice.

My Vote: Emma Stone, The Favourite

Should Have Been Nominated: Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This was another category, like Best Actress, where four of them felt locked and you weren’t sure where the fifth spot would go. However, we had an interesting situation where Regina King wasn’t nominated for either SAG or BAFTA, yet everyone felt like she was probably gonna win the category. So it was kinda like when you’re driving and the GPS goes out, but you also know where you need to go, so you don’t really need it, but you wish you had it. No one thought Regina King would be left off the final list given the competition. We all just proceeded as if she was gonna, and lo and behold, here we are. That fifth spot, though. Margot Robbie got SAG and BAFTA for Mary Queen of Scots, but the film didn’t land and all and no one particularly liked it. So she almost became the “I guess so” fifth choice. Emily Blunt got nominated for SAG for A Quiet Place, but no one really saw that happening. The only other contender was maybe Claire Foy for First Man, but you wondered where the support was coming from. So you were left wondering where this was gonna go. Turns out, there was the hidden foreign contender who came right in and made you go, after the fact, “Oh, yeah… that makes sense.” That’s the beauty of doing this every year. Something like this happens and it adds another wrinkle to your arsenal of thinking about these categories. Now, I’ll be able to make sure I look for the potential foreign nominee who didn’t get nominated for SAG who can get on.

Anyway, last acting category, so we’re back at SAG for the last time. They’re 17/24 all time with Supporting Actress, which is also where they’re at on Best Actress. And again there are the two category swap situations, so they’ve only been straight up wrong five times.

  • 1995, Kate Winslet wins SAG for Sense and Sensibility. Mira Sorvino wins the Oscar for Mighty Aphrodite.
  • 1996, Lauren Bacall wins SAG for The Mirror Has Two Faces. Juliette Binoche wins the Oscar for The English Patient.
  • 1998, Kathy Bates wins SAG for Primary Colors. Judi Dench wins the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love.
  • 2000, Judi Dench wins SAG for Chocolat. Marcia Gay Harden wins the Oscar for Pollock.
  • 2001, Helen Mirren wins SAG for Gosford Park. Jennifer Connelly wins the Oscar for A Beautiful Mind (she won SAG Best Actress).
  • 2007, Ruby Dee wins SAG for American Gangster. Tilda Swinton wins the Oscar for Michael Clayton.
  • 2008, Kate Winslet (who won Best Actress at the Oscars) wins SAG for The Reader. Penelope Cruz wins the Oscar for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

This also means SAG is 9/10 the past decade, with the one miss being a category swap. That’s gonna be rendered moot this year, because SAG went to someone who isn’t nominated. But if you take out 2001 and 2008, and note that in 2000, Marcia Gay Harden is one of two people ever to not be nominated at SAG and win the Oscar (Christoph Waltz is the other), they’re pretty good. (And it looks like we might be adding a third name to that list this year.)

The other three precursors, here’s their history with the seven SAG misses:

  • BAFTA had Binoche in 1996, had Dench in 1998, had Connelly in 2001, had Tilda in 2007 and had Cruz in 2008.
  • BFCA and BAFTA had Sorvino in 1995 and Connelly in 2001.

BAFTA is savage here. They missed only 1995 and 2000. And in 1995, the other two clearly had Sorvino as the favorite, while in 2000, every single award went to different people. Judi/SAG, McDormand/BFCA, Hudson/Globe, Julie Walters/BAFTA. And then Marcia Gay Harden came in to beat them all.

You’re all following all these historical statistics closely, right?

This year poses an interesting scenario. But let’s set up the precursors before we get into it:

  • SAG: Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place
  • BAFTA: Weisz
  • BFCA: King
  • Globe: King

So SAG is going to be wrong this year. And Regina King, who won BFCA and the Globe was also not nominated at either SAG or BAFTA. Interesting, right?

So you have a category where Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Amy Adams were nominated for every award and the only precursor that was won was Weisz winning BAFTA. And Marina de Tavira being nominated with zero precursors. I think there’s really only one way to see this one playing out. So I’m gonna get into it and you can either agree or disagree.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk. She’s got the two precursors she was nominated for. I can’t hold the other two as working against her, but also… they didn’t nominate her. Which is a bit weird. But also… even though she wasn’t nominated for SAG, none of her competitors win. And BAFTA… well, we’ll get to that in a second. It’s hard for me not to look at her as the most likely winner because her major competition involves a clear vote split. So with the most precursors so far, I’m calling he the likely winner.

Biggest Competition: Rachel Weisz, The Favourite. She’s got BAFTA. So that automatically makes her the second choice. King has two precursors, she has one. However, she’s going up against another nominee from her film. Hard to see her definitively being the one everyone rallies around. Her winning BAFTA helps, but she’s British in a British movie and the costar she beat was an American. And King wasn’t up for BAFTA. So to me, that was a nearly foregone conclusion that she’d win there. So I don’t think that tells me she’s got the support to win the Oscar so much as it tells me that, in this category, if it’s not Regina King, I can at least point to something that says she’s a second choice. Though, I may also point out that there’s only ever been two people who won the Oscar ever who weren’t nominated at SAG. So should you want to vote for Weisz, that’s your rationalization. Still, I think she’s a second choice in this one. I think that’s clear.

Spoiler Alert: Emma Stone, The Favourite. de Tavira has no precursors and I don’t think she’s got votes. And Amy Adams clearly is just kinda there. I don’t see people taking her. There’s no groundswell support of “we need to take her.” So the only other contender is Stone. Because, look at me. I thought King’s performance was too slight for me to want to vote for. And I loved The Favourite and the performances therein. So I was picking between Weisz and Stone. And I preferred Stone. There have to be some people whose thinking is exactly the same. So I’m thinking, if this is a tight race, she’s more likely than Amy Adams and Marina de Tavira to get those stray votes. So she becomes the third choice. Hard to call her anything higher without a precursor, though.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

2. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

3. Emma Stone, The Favourite

4. Amy Adams, Vice

5. Marina de Tavira, Roma

If I Were a Betting Man: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk. I feel this is 60/40 hers. Now that’s not 60/40 over another contender like the other races are. This is 60/40 her vs. the field. This is one of those, “If it’s not her, I can’t quite call it.” So I’ll take her and see who can beat her, if anyone. The only other person I could say making an educated case for is Rachel Weisz because at least BAFTA is there. But this is a more American situation (the UK contingent at the Oscars only goes so far) and she’s got Emma Stone as competition (and she just won Best Actress and is really liked). So since I don’t see any situation that makes sense that isn’t Regina King winning, I’m gonna take Regina King.

You Should Take: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk. Unless you can find an argument where you truly feel it’s gonna go to someone else (I was gonna say Rachel Weisz, but hey, if you truly see something crazy coming in and can support it with an argument that most people won’t say is reaching…) go ahead. But I’m saying take the choice that makes the most sense. At this point it doesn’t really matter that the performance isn’t as meaty as you think it is, because here it’s all about the category and the perception of the performance and the actress. And I think she’s got everything she needs for a win. Of all the acting categories, this is the one that could throw the biggest surprise, but you can’t plan for it. So I’m taking King and seeing how it all plays out.

On My Ballot: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Original Screenplay

The Favourite

First Reformed

Green Book



My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: Good category. Happy for Paul Schrader that he got his first nomination after Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Last Temptation and Bringing Out the Dead. Wouldn’t vote for his movie, though. Wasn’t a huge fan, not for me. Roma — doesn’t feel like a movie that had a script so much as a vision, so I can’t vote for it for it’s script. Feels like Cuaron had pages of what he wanted, and more or less let his actors live in the frame. So I’m not voting for it here. Vice — love Adam McKay, love what he did here. I’m sure that script was heavy duty work and he put so much research into it. Not my favorite script, though, felt kinda clunky at times. So he’s third. No fault of his, though.

To me, the two best jobs are Green Book and The Favourite. I still can’t believe Green Book didn’t turn out to be a VOD movie. That was such an impressive achievement that really won me over in how it didn’t feel like the movie we thought we were all geting. But The Favourite… my god. That reinvents a genre. You can make period pieces again because of that. Nothing will be as extreme as it is, but man, did they knock that out of the park. Everything about that script is perfect. That’s my vote.

My Vote: The Favourite

Should Have Been Nominated: Blindspotting

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This is another one — four nominees were pretty locked and you had a good idea which others were in contention for the fifth spot. You had Green Book, The Favourite, Roma and Vice. You knew they’d make it. And then there was First Reformed, Eighth Grade and A Quiet Place. All had the mixed bag of other precursors. The Favourite was ineligible for WGA, so Eighth Grade and A Quiet Place got on there. All three managed to get on BFCA, because BFCA basically gives you the entire gamut of who’s in contention most of the time. For me, looking at them, I figured Eighth Grade was the least likely of the three. But I figured A Quiet Place was most likely, given that it managed an acting nomination at SAG and was gonna likely get at least one Sound nomination (which it got). However, the big thing for First Reformed is that BFCA gave it a win in Screenplay. And only once did something win BFCA and not be nominated at the Oscars (Gone Girl, which was a big snub that year, having gotten every single precursor and then being left off in the end). So that alone should have meant it was gonna be the fifth nominee. But still, a pretty straightforward one where there’s nothing too egregious on any level. And it gave us Paul Schrader’s first Oscar nomination, which is a good thing.

This is a good place to note: Alfonso Cuaron is nominated across five categories this year. I guess technically four, since I’m not sure the Foreign Language category counts specifically for him… but come on. He’s nominated for Best Picture as a producer, Best Director, here as writer and Best Cinematography. Maybe that’s why Roma didn’t get an Editing nomination.

Anyway, in terms of precursors, you have the WGA as the main one. The only tricky thing with them is that some years, some films are ineligible there, so that has to be taken into account when you pick. Then there’s BAFTA, BFCA and, to a lesser extent, the Globes (because they only have a single Screenplay category. And they’re the Globes, let’s face it).

Here are the last 20 WGA Original Screenplay winners:

  • 2017: Get Out
  • 2016: Moonlight (It won Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars and Manchester by the Sea won Original)
  • 2015: Spotlight
  • 2014: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Birdman was ineligible)
  • 2013: Her
  • 2012: Zero Dark Thirty (Django Unchained was ineligible)
  • 2011: Midnight in Paris
  • 2010: Inception (The King’s Speech was ineligible)
  • 2009: The Hurt Locker
  • 2008: Milk
  • 2007: Juno
  • 2006: Little Miss Sunshine
  • 2005: Crash
  • 2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • 2003: Lost in Translation
  • 2002: Bowling for Columbine (Talk to Her was ineligible)
  • 2001: Gosford Park
  • 2000: You Can Count on Me (lost to Almost Famous)
  • 1999: American Beauty
  • 1998: Shakespeare in Love

They’re 14/20 overall, with 4 ineligibles and one category swap. Which means only once did they straight up pick one script over another and were wrong about it. And that was all the way back in 2000. Not bad at all.

  • BAFTA, going back 20 years, is 11/20. However, they did have Almost Famous, Talk to Her, The King’s Speech, Django and Manchester by the Sea as winners. They picked up all but one of the six WGA misses. The only one they got wrong with the WGA was Birdman.
  • BFCA is a weird one. They had separate categories from 1997-2000, during which they went 4/4 in Original. Then from 2001-2008, they had a single Screenplay category. They are 3/5 in those years when an original screenplay won (2005-2007. 2001, Memento won and then lost the Oscar and 2003, In America won and then lost the Oscar). And then they went back to a normal system since 2009. And in that time, they are 8/9, with the only miss being 2009 where they had Quentin, who lost to The Hurt Locker.
  • The Globes only has the single Screenplay category. They are 14/20 the past 20 years, but that’s split between Original and Adapted winners at the Oscars. Of note is that they are on an 0-3 run currently.

So yeah, typically you’re gonna know between the main three who your contenders are and can usually narrow it down to one or another.

Also, I think we should note, because it comes into play every year, and in this year, both are original. Of 90 previous Best Picture winners (we can go 91 if you want to include Sunrise, but I’ll leave that out for now), 58 of them have won Best Screenplay. The 31 that did not win for their screenplays are: Wings, The Broadway Melody, All Quiet on the Western Front, Grand Hotel, Cavalcade, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Great Ziegfeld, You Can’t Take It With You, Rebecca, How Green Was My Valley, Gentleman’s Agreement, Hamlet, All the King’s Men, The Greatest Show on Earth, Ben-Hur, West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Oliver!, Rocky, The Deer Hunter, Platoon, Unforgiven, Braveheart, The English Patient, Titanic, Gladiator, Chicago, Million Dollar Baby, The Artist, The Shape of Water

And of those 32 films, nine of them — Wings, Broadway Melody, Grand Hotel, Cavalcade, Great Ziegfeld, Hamlet, Greatest Show on Earth, Sound of Music and Titanic — were not nominated for Screenplay. Which means that only 23 times has a Best Picture been nominated for Best Screenplay and lost. It’s also only happened five times in the past twenty years. So keep that in mind. It’s not scripture, but definitely do think about it.

I guess it’s also worth noting, of those 23 times when the Best Picture winner was nominated and lost Screenplay, 21 of them involved the Best Picture losing to a fellow Best Picture nominee. 17 of those times were adapted screenplays, with only four (Rocky, Deer Hunter, Platoon and Unforgiven) being original. Not sure if that means anything, but now you know. Guess it really just means that if a Best Picture winner is based on an original screenplay, it’s probably going to win. Looking at what lost — two war movies and a western. And the fourth was up against Network, an all-time Screenplay. Fair enough.

Also of note: the two times a Best Picture winner lost screenplay to a non-Best Picture nominee were 1995 and 1996. Braveheart lost Original Screenplay to The Usual Suspects and The English Patient lost Adapted Screenplay to Sling Blade. However, in both of those situations, the eventual winner did have a precursor — Usual Suspects won BAFTA and Sling Blade won the WGA.

The point is — listen to the precursors, and look heavily for Best Picture winner/contender to take Screenplay. It’s rare for a Screenplay winner to not also be nominated for Best Picture. Moreso Adapted than here, but still.

Precursors for this one are as follows:

  • WGA: Eighth Grade (The Favourite was ineligible for the WGA)
  • BAFTA: The Favourite
  • BFCA: First Reformed
  • Globe: Green Book

This one should be fairly easy to parse.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: The Favourite. The WGA had a chance to give it to Green Book blamelessly and didn’t take it. That says a lot to me. That tells me this was the choice and they couldn’t vote for it because it wasn’t eligible. It’s got BAFTA, and what is it, only once since 2000 did something lose at the WGA and go on to win the Oscar, and that was Almost Famous. In 2000. So how can you consider Green Book the favorite to win after that? It’s clearly all setting up for this to win the Oscar and be another WGA ineligible to win. Gotta see this as top dog the way the precursors played out.

Biggest Competition: Green Book. If it’s gonna win Best Picture, it will win this. I can’t see a situation where it loses here and then goes on to win Best Picture. That said, I don’t have it winning Picture, so this is back to being the toss up I had it as before. What does it say that it didn’t win the WGA when The Favourite wasn’t even eligible for it? That tells me the writers didn’t think it was that amazing a script. Of course, the Oscar voting body is bigger and broader, but it clearly doesn’t mean great things for this. If it couldn’t win the WGA in an easier race, I can’t consider this the top contender for the Oscar. I just can’t.

Spoiler Alert: Roma. Really, if we’re playing it strictly by the numbers, then First Reformed should be here. But 1) I don’t think we’re getting down this far, and 2) I’m siding toward Best Picture winner/nominee over non Best Picture nominee. I think BFCA is critics and that has nothing to do with the Academy at large. Some people may wanna vote for Paul Schrader, but those people will be far outweighed by the ones who take one of those first two nominees. Still, I err on the side of Best Picture over anything else here, so I’m putting Roma third. I consider it the most likely Best Picture winner, so I’m keeping it third. I don’t see it winning, but I also don’t see First Reformed or Vice winning either, so it really doesn’t matter that much.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. The Favourite

2. Green Book

3. Roma

4. First Reformed

5. Vice

If I Were a Betting Man: The Favourite. It’s this or Green Book. Complete toss up. Either can win. I have a hard time thinking it will be Green Book unless Green Book also wins Best Picture, just because Green Book couldn’t even manage to win the WGA in a category where The Favourite wasn’t eligible. Neither won BFCA either, so all we have is The Favourite winning BAFTA and having ten nominations to Green Book’s five. I don’t think this is a slam dunk, automatic winner, but at this point it’s gotta be like 55/45 and more than that on paper. I think the potential overall Green Book support could carry that one home, but I can’t take my mind off that WGA loss. That wasn’t good. So let’s take the one with a precursor.

You Should Take: The Favourite. You could take Green Book. That’s not a bad decision. I just think right now it’s really difficult to trust Green Book as a winner. If you’re taking Green Book in Picture, you almost have to take it here as well. But if you’re figuring Roma to win Picture, as I am, then The Favourite becomes a much easier choice here, since it won BAFTA and wasn’t eligible at WGA. And if you think it can upset for Best Picture, then you have to take it here. It would be insane to not do that. Most signs point to this as the winner. It’s not a gimme, but it sure looks on pretty solid ground.

On My Ballot: The Favourite

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs


Can You Ever Forgive Me?

If Beale Street Could Talk

A Star Is Born

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: We’ll start by saying that I’m amazed with the complete lack of respect for The Front Runner, which is better than at least two scripts on this list. That said, the category’s not bad. I will never begrudge a Coen brothers nomination. That said, this feels like their unreleased material being thrown together for an album. Definitely am not voting for that. Can You Ever Forgive Me? — ehh. Not for me. Not voting for it. Star Is Born, I’m really impressed by the job they did with that script, but I didn’t love it over the other two nominees, so it becomes a third choice. Truly great job there, though.

For me, it’s either Beale Street or BlacKkKlansman. I love both of those, and both are worthy winners. But for me, while BlacKkKlansman totally works, I’m just so in love with what Barry Jenkins achieved with Beale Street that I can’t ignore it. That is gonna be my vote every time. That movie is just sublimely beautiful on every conceivable level (and maybe a few inconceivable ones). I can’t go wrong with either, so I’m gonna take my favorite of the two.

My Vote: If Beale Street Could Talk

Should Have Been Nominated: The Front Runner

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This was pretty much the category we expected. The only difference was that we figured they’d sell out on Black Panther and put it here as the fifth choice. Instead, they nominated the Coens. Which is like when Meryl gets nominated. It’s body over work over specific instance after a certain point. Nothing too surprising here. This is their seventh nomination, by the way. And you’d be surprised which ones were nominated and which weren’t. One of their nominations is for something they didn’t even direct (Bridge of Spies). Also interesting, their nominations are four Adapted, three Original. We tend to see them as writing mostly original scripts.

This category also means that six of the eight Best Picture nominees were nominated for their screenplays, with Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody being the two omissions. Honestly, those are the two I’d, at first glance, feel are the two that have the least shot at winning Best Picture. So that’s not too surprising to me.

This category is just like Original in terms of precursors. WGA, BAFTA, BFCA and then the Globe.

Here are your last 20 WGA winners:

  • 2017: Call Me By Your Name
  • 2016: Arrival (Moonlight won for Original)
  • 2015: The Big Short
  • 2014: The Imitation Game
  • 2013: Captain Phillips (12 Years a Slave was ineligible)
  • 2012: Argo
  • 2011: The Descendants
  • 2010: The Social Network
  • 2009: Up in the Air (lost to Precious)
  • 2008: Slumdog Millionaire 
  • 2007: No Country for Old Men
  • 2006: The Departed
  • 2005: Brokeback Mountain
  • 2004: Sideways
  • 2003: American Splendor (lost to Return of the King)
  • 2002: The Hours (The Pianist was ineligible)
  • 2001: A Beautiful Mind
  • 2000: Traffic
  • 1999: Election (lost to The Cider House Rules)
  • 1998: Out of Sight (lost to Gods and Monsters)

13/20 overall, with two ineligibles and a category swap. Which means four straight up misses. Two of them are before 2000, and one of the others involves the Return of the King sweep. So in the past 15 years, only two straight up misses, with one being the sweep year and the other being one everyone got wrong. Not bad.

  • BAFTA, meanwhile… not great. 8/20. They are 2 of the past 3, so I guess we have something to look positive on. Just to show you how much they march to the beat of their own drum, Shrek won Adapted Screenplay for them. Shrek. Return of the King is the only one they picked up that the WGA missed.
  • BFCA — they were 4/6 before they split the Screenplay categories in 2001. Between 2001 and 2008, an adapted screenplay won their category three times, and they were 2/3 in regard to the Oscars. Adaptation/Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (it was for Best Writer, and Charlie Kaufman won it) did not win the Oscar, while Sideways and Slumdog Millionaire did. Since 2009, they are 4/9. 12 Years a Slave is the only one they picked up that the WGA missed.
  • The Globes… the last adapted screenplay to win for them was The Social Network. They are 7/10 going back 20 years when adapted screenplays win there, though. Of the three misses, About Schmidt wasn’t nominated at the Oscars, and then they had The Queen wrong (which BAFTA also had) and Up in the Air wrong with everyone else. So not terrible, but also not helpful to us because an original screenplay won there this year.

Oh, and I guess there’s also the USC Scripter, which is usually a good marker for adapted screenplays. However, this year, Leave No Trace won, and it wasn’t nominated. That’s the first Scripter winner since A Civil Action in 1998 to not be nominated for the Oscar. And only the third time that’s happened ever. Which is interesting. It’ll also be the first Scripter winner to not win the Oscar since Up in the Air. They had a nice run going.

Since we’ve learned that if the WGA doesn’t have it, then you’re kinda just pissing into the wind and hoping to not get hit, here’s what the precursors gave us this year:

  • WGA: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • BAFTA: BlacKkKlansman
  • BFCA: If Beale Street Could Talk

That’s it. That’s all we have.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: BlacKkKlansman. They’ve been very vocal this entire season about this being Spike Lee’s first Director nomination and his first Screenplay nomination since Do the Right Thing 29 years ago. There’s definitely gonna be people who are gonna vote to get Spike his Oscar. And it’s also got BAFTA. Which isn’t perfect historically, but is something. It’s also got a Best Picture nomination and six overall nominations. Fun fact that I stated back in Original but didn’t really dwell on: the last non-Best Picture nominee to win for Adapted Screenplay was Gods and Monsters 20 years ago. Then there was Sling Blade in 1996. And… holy shit… wow… The Bad and the Beautiful in 1952 before that. And that’s it. Ever. Three times, ever. In 90 years. Fucking wow. How did I not notice that before? So yeah, this is the most likely winner, and if you wanna argue, take it up with history.

Biggest Competition: Can You Ever Forgive Me?. This became the second choice on paper the minute it won the WGA. Now, arguably based on that it should be first choice, but I still don’t see this winning and am probably gonna go so far as to have it all the way as far as third on my Scorecard. But I’m stupid like that sometimes. Still, the case for this as the Oscar winner is this: the WGA winner in Adapted Screenplay has gone on to win the Oscar 13/20 years since 1998. Two of those years, the Oscar winner was WGA ineligible, one of them the WGA Original winner won Adapted at the Oscars, one of them involved a Best Picture sweep vote, and the other two were 1998 and 1999. That’s a really compelling case for this as a winner. However, no other precursors, and that Best Picture stat up there means I can’t call it the top contender no matter what. And since I’m just not feeling this in an open vote, I will probably end up ranking it third and taking my chances.

Spoiler Alert: If Beale Street Could Talk. Barry Jenkins won this category two years ago for Moonlight and returns with potentially an even more compelling case for a win. He’s got a BFCA win, which is helpful. But the film only has three nominations, and missed out on a lot of support. So I don’t know where the votes are coming from per se. This is a very open category, and without another precursor, I’m not sure I can clearly state that this is gonna win. BFCA isn’t exactly great at Screenplay either. I can’t, in good conscience, say this is on paper better than a third choice. Still might not stop me from taking it though. Just saying.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

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

If I Were a Betting Man: If Beale Street Could Talk. Because I don’t care about my own ballot and I’m going for it. I gotta take some chances. I’m all about the Scorecard ballot now anyway, and you see that I only have this as #2 there. I know what I’m doing. This ballot is meaningless to me. It’s partly smart picking with a couple that I just want to happen. Because what’s the fun if you can’t take a few chances? I think this could legitimately win. All the numbers are against it, so I’m not thinking it will. But man, would it make me so happy if I got this right.

You Should Take: BlacKkKlansman. This has the most compelling argument for a win. It lost WGA, which is interesting and may mean something. But it did win BAFTA, and that stat about how only three times ever did a non-Best Picture nominee win Adapted Screenplay is pretty damn convincing. Oh, and the notion that people are gonna get to get Spike an Oscar — also pretty compelling. I think in a three film race, this one has the most going for it to the most voters. So I say take this.

On My Ballot: If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Editing


Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book


My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: I wish they’d given me First Man at least. Fuck the rest of these, give me the space movie with the great technical specs. But okay. This is what we have. Green Book is the most classically edited and felt kinda pedestrian to me. Not taking it. Vice, my biggest gripe about it was how choppy the first act was, so I just can’t bring myself to vote for it. The Favourite… solid all around, not sure I’d want to vote for it. Bohemian Rhapsody, makes total sense, especially since I’m sure they had a lot of work to do to get it in that shape. But give me BlacKkKlansman. Why not? It’s got a lot of cool things going on there, plus a movie with a kind of fun, satisfying ending that then turns on a dime and really makes you realize the gravity of the situation… I gotta take that.

My Vote: BlacKkKlansman

Should Have Been Nominated: First Man

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This category went kinda sideways, didn’t it?

I regret nothing.

You figure that Best Picture is gonna play a huge role in the shaping of the category. Naturally. So First Man being left off is one thing. You have five Best Picture nominees here, and in that scenario, I get it. But… Roma is left off. And A Star Is Born is left off. The latter makes sense, but the film that you think is gonna win? That’s interesting. Makes me feel like, as I’ve said for most of the year, there’s no real “great” choice/film and it’s all just compromise choices. So everyone’s just kind of out to sea and there’s no real consensus anywhere. Either that or they just didn’t want to nominate Cuaron in every category when there are actual people whose careers are that category who wouldn’t be nominated if he were. So yeah, other than the Roma omission, I’m not overly surprised by this one.

The big precursor for Editing is ACE. They’ve given out awards since 1961. They’re 39/57 (68%) all-time. In the past 30, they are 22/30 (73%). In the past 20, they are 15/20 (75%) and in the past ten they are 6/10. And they’re only two for their past five. Oh, and of note, they’ve, since 2000, split their categories into Dramatic and Comedy/Musical. And in that time, only one Comedy/Musical winner has gone on to win the Oscar, and that’s Chicago.

Here are their 18 all-time misses, for the sake of having all the information at your disposal. Should you not care about this information, skip right on down to the gif of Busta Rhymes saying “trick or treat, motherfucker” to Michael Myers.

  • 2016: Arrival wins ACE Dramatic, La La Land wins ACE Comedic, Hacksaw Ridge wins the Oscar.
  • 2014: Boyhood wins ACE Dramatic, The Grand Budapest Hotel wins ACE Comedic, Whiplash wins the Oscar.
  • 2013: Captain Phillips wins ACE Dramatic, American Hustle wins ACE Comedic, Gravity wins the Oscar.
  • 2011: The Descendants wins ACE Dramatic, The Artist wins ACE Comedic, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo wins the Oscar.
  • 2000: Gladiator wins ACE Dramatic, Almost Famous wins ACE Comedic, Traffic wins the Oscar.
  • 1995: Braveheart wins ACE, Apollo 13 wins the Oscar.
  • 1989: Glory wins ACE, Born on the Fourth of July wins the Oscar.
  • 1988: Rain Man and Mississippi Burning tie for ACE, Who Framed Roger Rabbit wins the Oscar.
  • 1984: Amadeus wins ACE, The Killing Fields wins the Oscar.
  • 1983: WarGames wins ACE, The Right Stuff wins the Oscar.
  • 1977: The Turning Point wins ACE, Star Wars wins the Oscar.
  • 1974: The Longest Yard wins ACE, The Towering Inferno wins the Oscar.
  • 1971: Summer of ’42 wins ACE, The French Connection wins the Oscar.
  • 1969: Hello, Dolly! wins ACE, wins the Oscar.
  • 1967: The Dirty Dozen wins ACE, In the Heat of the Night wins the Oscar.
  • 1966: Fantastic Voyage wins ACE, Grand Prix wins the Oscar.
  • 1962: The Longest Day wins ACE, Lawrence of Arabia wins the Oscar.
  • 1961: The Parent Trap wins ACE, West Side Story wins the Oscar.

Specifically looking at those instances, BAFTA (who only started giving out editing awards in 1968) had the winners in 1984 (Killing Fields), 2014 (Whiplash) and 2016 (Hacksaw Ridge). BFCA (who only started giving out awards in 2009) had the winners in 2011 (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and 2013 (Gravity). So the good news is, in the past 15 years, every time the guild missed, BAFTA or BFCA had it.

Also, just to get a sense — on their own, BAFTA is 11/50. That’s right. 11/50. They were 0 for their first 16 until they got The Killing Fields right. Though that’s their only one right in their first 20 years. They are 1/20 through 1988. Though granted, a lot of their winners before the past 25 years were a year off. Like, JFK won BAFTA Editing in 1992 and won the Oscar in 1991. They really only synched up starting in 1993. So that is of note. In the past 30 years, BAFTA is 10/30. So they got better. And, they are 7 for their past 10, and 8/11 going back to 2007. I guess Is should point out, the only categories they got right before 2007 were 1984, The Killing Fields, 1993, Schindler’s List and 1996, The English Patient. But they are 8 for their past 11 and of the three they got wrong — Senna in 2011 wasn’t nominated for the Oscar, Rush in 2013 wasn’t nominated for the Oscar, and last year they just got Baby Driver wrong. So that’s not bad. Oh, and BFCA is 4/9 in their entire history.

So really, it’s the guild, it’s BAFTA and then maybe BFCA or common sense. But probably one of the two guilds.

Your precursors this year are:

  • ACE Dramatic: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • ACE Comedic: The Favourite
  • BAFTA: Vice
  • BFCA: First Man

BFCA is gonna be wrong because First Man wasn’t nominated. Other than that, the ACE Comedy winner has only won once since it became a category in 2000, and not once in the past 15 years.

Oh, and I guess to expound on a stat I brought up earlier (because it will factor into my decision-making), Best Picture winners have been nominated for Best Editing all but ten times. Best Pictures have won Best Editing 34 times, which is only 38% all-time. The last Best Picture winner to win Editing was Argo, and only seven have won in the past 20 years. So it’s not a given, though usually an Editing win can tip a Best Picture win later in the night for the right film. I also have a stat about non-Best Picture nominees in Editing, but it’s not gonna come into play this year, so we’ll skip it.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Vice. This was nominated in ACE Comedy and lost, which to me arguably helps its case, given that the ACE Comedy winner has only won Best Editing once ever. This has BAFTA and feels like the “most” edited film of the year. And I’m looking at this one a lot like 2011, where, without a slam dunk winner, they went for the “most” edited movie. And just glancing at this one, I feel like it’s a tossup. And since this has the more overall nominations than its competition, I’m calling it the favorite. It’s a 50/50 choice, though. So don’t pay too much attention to this being here and not next.

Biggest Competition: Bohemian Rhapsody. It won the guild, which is a big deal. But it lost BAFTA, which is interesting to me. That’s the reason I’m not totally sold on this automatically winning the Oscar. If it couldn’t win at “home” so to speak, why would I think it’s automatically gonna take down the Oscar? That said, it feels like this or Vice wins it, because they are the “most” edited films. This has a lot of music montages and it’s clear (especially on the rewatch) that they did a lot of work to make this movie work. It looks like there’s a very bad version of this movie just around the corner and they did the lord’s work in salvaging it. But still, this and Vice have the precursors, so they’re the two major competitors. Everything else has its own argument for the third spot, but not for anything above.

Spoiler Alert: Green Book. I’m not totally sold on this as a third choice, but my argument for putting it here visually is that it keeps you honest. You can’t just look at this as its own category. I mean, we all should, but historically, you can’t. If this has a chance at Best Picture, then it could win here. That’s all you need to know. I know The Favourite has the precursor in ACE Comedy, but that winner’s only won one time ever, and I just can’t see people going, “You know what The Favourite had that was great? Editing.” It’s only gonna get that vote if you sweep vote it. So I’m not sold on that being a serious contender. I’m also not totally sold that I’m not gonna put Green Book fourth and say it straight up won’t win Editing even if it does win Best Picture, because it’s the most pedestrian of the bunch. The last film that felt “pedestrian” to win Editing… Argo at least had some flashy sequences. It’s Crash, but even there they juggled a bunch of storylines, so you kinda got it. Outside of those two, you gotta go a long way to see something that isn’t a larger scale movie or movie with some sort of action or snazziness to it that won Editing. So yeah. I’m putting it here because, if you think it’s going to win Best Picture, this could be the category that tips it, and you have to give it its due respect here. To me, I’m not sure it wins, and I’m not sure it wins this even if it does (if it’s gonna win, I feel like it wins Picture, Screenplay and Supporting Actor and nothing else). I feel like I’m gonna put BlacKkKlansman over it, because at least that had snappy editing and could catch a view votes. Though the fact that we’re not totally sure here tells you this one could go four or five deep. So be prepared for something crazy to come in. Which is why I’m selling out on “most” editing this year, because this i starting to remind me of the 2011 year where Dragon Tattoo won out of nowhere.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Vice

2. Bohemian Rhapsody

3. BlacKkKlansman

4. Green Book

5. The Favourite

If I Were a Betting Man: Vice feels like it’s gonna win. I almost took Bohemian Rhapsody here just to have something different, and I still might by tonight. I think it’s a tossup between the two of them in the end. I wanna just take Bohemian Rhapsody on my ballot, but I care so little about my ballot that it doesn’t even matter to me. So I’ll take Vice and stick with the idea of the “most edited” movie. Especially since it goes all over the map. It goes backwards, forwards, does all sorts of different little tricks. I think they’re gonna vote for it. So let’s take it.

You Should Take: Vice. It’s either this or Bohemian Rhapsody. BAFTA had Vice over Bohemian, which I think was the deciding factor for me to say to take it. Not that BAFTA is particularly good picking Editing winners, but it’s a tossup and I’m covered on the Scorecard. So I say stick with the ‘most’ edited movie with 8 nominations over the other one with the great montages that only has 5. Though I will say you could legitimately make a case for either, so you can easily go opposite me if you want. This is one where it’s not as cut and dry as some of the other categories. But I do think it’s either Vice or Bohemian here, and I think I’d give Vice a (very) slight advantage.

On My Ballot: Vice

Best Cinematography

Cold War

The Favourite

Never Look Away


A Star Is Born

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: Solid category. Not sure where Never Look Away came from, but okay. (I mean, I do know where it came from… they wanted to nominate Caleb Deschanel. But esoterically.) The Favourite definitely makes some interesting choices, but I think they work. I like it. I’m glad it’s here. The lack of a First Man or Beale Street nomination though is curious, but when I agree with four of these straight up and can probably accept the fifth one even if I’m not the biggest fan of it, I can’t quibble that much. Cinematography is typically one of those where there are usually more choices than the category can hold. So unless there’s something egregious, it’s usually okay. And this year, we got a good category.

A Star Is Born I’m glad they nominated just because they really made it look intimate and didn’t do the obvious stuff you’d expect with a story like that. So I’m very happy it’s here even though I know most people wouldn’t look to vote for it. Although I think we all know the best cinematography of the year is in the two black and white films. Roma and Cold War both look stunning. Both are near automatic winners in most years. And here they are, up against one another. Truly you could take either one and not feel any regret over your choice. I’ll take Roma just because I was slightly more in awe of what they pulled off there over Cold War. It’s almost a no-lose situation, though, with the two of them.

My Vote: Roma

Should Have Been Nominated: First Man

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This category was 4/5 locked all the way through. No one could have seen Never Look Away coming and it’s just one of those nominations surprises that happen. Outside of that, everyone saw Roma, Cold War and The Favourite happening. A Star Is Born seemed like a likely candidate. But First Man hit all the precursors and still managed to get left off. So that was a minor surprise. (Is this some leftover Chazelle backlash from when La La Land won all those technical awards? I notice they left it off the two big categories it won, Score and Cinematography.) But other than that, all pretty standard stuff for them. And ultimately pretty good choices too. So that’s always a plus.

proud bill murray GIF

For most of these tech categories, the guild is the major precursor, and then BAFTA and BFCA. Here, the guild is ASC. ASC is only 14/32 all time. BAFTA isn’t much better. They’re 16/32 all time, so at least they’re at 50%. BFCA only started in 2009, but they are 8/9 all-time. Their one miss, curiously enough, was a tie in 2011 where both of their winners were wrong.

I made a chart to show how all these precursors did, going back to the start of ASC in 1986 (Oscar winners in red and anything with an * wasn’t nominated at the Oscars):

2017 Blade Runner 2049 Blade Runner 2049 Blade Runner 2049
2016 Lion La La Land La La Land
2015 The Revenant The Revenant The Revenant
2014 Birdman Birdman Birdman
2013 Gravity Gravity Gravity
2012 Skyfall Life of Pi Life of Pi
2011 The Tree of Life The Artist The Tree of Life & War Horse (TIE)
2010 Inception True Grit Inception
2009 The White Ribbon The Hurt Locker Avatar
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire  
2007 There Will Be Blood No Country for Old Men  
2006 Children of Men Children of Men  
2005 Memoirs of a Geisha Memoirs of a Geisha  
2004 A Very Long Engagement Collateral*  
2003 Seabiscuit The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King*  
2002 Road to Perdition Road to Perdition  
2001 The Man Who Wasn’t There The Man Who Wasn’t There  
2000 The Patriot Gladiator  
1999 American Beauty American Beauty  
1998 The Thin Red Line Elizabeth  
1997 Titanic The Wings of the Dove  
1996 The English Patient The English Patient  
1995 Braveheart Braveheart  
1994 The Shawshank Redemption Interview with the Vampire*  
1993 Searching for Bobby Fischer Schindler’s List  
1992 Hoffa The Last of the Mohicans*  
1991 Bugsy Cyrano de Bergerac*  
1990 Dances with Wolves The Sheltering Sky*  
1989 Blaze Mississippi Burning  
1988 Tequila Sunrise Empire of the Sun  
1987 Empire of the Sun Jean de Florette*  
1986 Peggy Sue Got Married Out of Africa

In the years where none of the precursor winners won the Oscar, the Oscar winners were:

  • 2011, Hugo
  • 2006, Pan’s Labyrinth
  • 2004, The Aviator
  • 2003, Master and Commander
  • 2001, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • 2000, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • 1998, Saving Private Ryan
  • 1994, Legends of the Fall
  • 1992, A River Runs Through It
  • 1991, JFK
  • 1989, Glory
  • 1988, Mississippi Burning (Note: BAFTA was right, but a year off. So not really.)
  • 1987, The Last Emperor
  • 1986, The Mission (Note: Same thing with BAFTA.)

Really all you need to get out of that is… they’re not always trustworthy, so generally just go with your gut in this category. This year, fortunately, we have an easy one, so there’s not a whole lot you need to stress over.

  • ASC: Cold War
  • BAFTA: Roma
  • BFCA: Roma

So yeah. The consensus winner and the cinematographers going with the actual cinematographer over the director doing his own cinematography. I think we know how to figure out this one.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Roma. Does anyone look at this category and not think, “Well, they’re probably gonna give it to Roma”? Now, I’m not saying that doesn’t mean something else can’t win. But don’t you automatically know who the favorite is here just by glancing at it? It makes total sense. And no matter if you think it can lose or not, you have to consider it the favorite. As a whole, the Academy isn’t savvy enough to have the biases the guild is gonna have. This is your favorite, and we’ll discuss whether or not it can lose down below.

Biggest Competition: Cold War. It won the guild. It’s nominated for Best Director. People saw it, people thinks it looks gorgeous. Obviously if there’s a contender here that isn’t Roma, it’s this. Look at everything else. It doesn’t stand a chance against these two titans. If it’s not Roma, it’s gonna be Cold War. It’s pretty clear cut, this year.

Spoiler Alert: The Favourite. Never Look Away does not have the votes in an open race. Most people haven’t even seen it. And A Star Is Born… seems unlikely next to the other two. This one at least has some interesting things going on that might get it votes from people who either are tired of the top two or just don’t like voting for black and white movies. People are gonna remember the fish-eye stuff. I don’t think that’s enough to spur an upset, but if it’s gonna be anything as the third choice, I think it’s probably this.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Roma

2. Cold War

3. The Favourite

4. A Star Is Born

5. Never Look Away

If I Were a Betting Man: Roma. I hate when my rationale behind it is “look at it,” but, look at it. It’s clearly the winner here. Maybe somehow there could be enough people who are tired of it winning everything and somehow rally around Cold War, but that’s assuming this is the category they decide not to reward it and not elsewhere and that enough people have seen Cold War to take it. I’m gonna stick with Roma. Voters typically vote for what makes sense, and this makes the most sense of anything.

You Should Take: Roma. Don’t mess around. You wanna take Cold War, go ahead. I’d rather take the one that’s basically guaranteed to win it. Using the guild as rationale only goes so far when they’re right less than 50% of the time. Take Roma. It’s gonna win.

On My Ballot: Roma

Best Original Score

Black Panther


If Beale Street Could Talk

Isle of Dogs

Mary Poppins Returns

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: They shortlisted 15. Would I have nominated these five? No. No I would not have. I’d have put First Man on here, I’d have put Vice on here. But I agree with three of the five, so that’s cool. Not crazy about BlacKkKlansman, but Terence Blanchard is getting his first nomination. I love his 25th Hour score. Isle of Dogs is Desplat doing more Wes Anderson. It sounds exactly like his last three scores for Wes, just with more taiko drums because it’s Japan. Desplat is my favorite working composer, so I’m fine with him being nominated, but he didn’t need this. I thought Vice’s score took way more chances, even if it meant a double Nicholas Britell nomination. But First Man — why’d they leave that off? That score is incredible. But whatever, we have the category we have.

I already told you which two I wouldn’t vote for. The other three — totally worthy. Black Panther is a very nice score, with a great central theme. Not gonna vote for it, but it’s a worthy nominee. Mary Poppins is lovely and is just a great score. Overall I like it better than Black Panther, but in a year where those are the two top choices, I’m not sure I don’t take Black Panther over it. But it doesn’t matter, since the best score of the year is nominated here, and that’s If Beale Street Could Talk. That score is just incredible. I’ve listened to it in full probably a dozen times in the past month. It’ll honestly be a travesty if that score doesn’t win this category. It is the best piece of film music of 2018.

My Vote: If Beale Street Could Talk

Should Have Been Nominated: First Man

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Time for some aural arguments.

Jim Carrey Thank You GIF

This category was way easier and much less interesting once they shortlisted 15 of the scores. Usually you have a list of like 90-110 that are eligible and then you can whittle it down to about 30 that make some kind of sense, and then you use your precursors to figure out the top like, twelve. Here, you pretty much knew what the main contenders were and there was a lot less suspense about the whole thing.

The shortlist was: Annihilation, Avengers: Infinity War, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Crazy Rich Asians, The Death of Stalin, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, First Man, If Beale Street Could Talk, Isle of Dogs, Mary Poppins Returns, A Quiet Place, Ready Player One, Vice. And just by looking at them, you really could eliminate about half of it. You knew Mary Poppins, Isle of Dogs and Beale Street would get on. Black Panther was also just about a gimme. First Man you assumed would get on. That was five. That made sense. And in the end they put BlacKkKlansman on instead. So there we are. Most of this was self-explanatory, they just left off one of the most lauded scores of the year.

There are no real precursors here. The only groups that give out Score awards are BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe. But this year, all of them went to stuff that wasn’t nominated, so none of it matters.

But I do have a chart that goes over all the precursors going back to 2000. So I’ll put it here, just to show you how rare this year’s situation is.

(Anything in red was not nominated — or eligible, in some cases — at the Oscars.)

Year Oscar BAFTA Globe BFCA
2018   A Star Is Born First Man First Man
2017  The Shape of Water The Shape of Water The Shape of Water The Shape of Water
2016 La La Land La La Land La La Land La La Land
2015 The Hateful Eight The Hateful Eight The Hateful Eight The Hateful Eight
2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel The Grand Budapest Hotel The Theory of Everything Birdman
2013 Gravity Gravity All Is Lost Gravity
2012 Life of Pi Skyfall Life of Pi Lincoln
2011 The Artist The Artist The Artist The Artist
2010 The Social Network The King’s Speech The Social Network The Social Network
2009 Up Up Up Up
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire
2007 Atonement La Vie en Rose Atonement There Will Be Blood
2006 Babel Babel The Painted Veil The Illusionist
2005 Brokeback Mountain Memoirs of a Geisha Memoirs of a Geisha Memoirs of a Geisha
2004 Finding Neverland The Motorcycle Diaries The Aviator The Aviator
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Cold Mountain The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2002 Frida The Hours Frida Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Minority Report
2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Moulin Rouge! Moulin Rouge! The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Gladiator Gladiator

2004 is the only year where all the precursors went to stuff that wasn’t nominated. So now we’re literally trying to guess what people are gonna think the best pieces of music were. No analysis required there. Let’s just get into it.

Image result for chappelle beautiful gif

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: If Beale Street Could Talk. This is the best score of the year. I have to figure people will, if they listen to the scores, vote for this one. I know most people would consider the next nominee the most likely winner, but without any precursors to go around, it’s all just guesswork. So I’m saying this is the most likely winner, even though I think it could go another way.

Biggest Competition: Black Panther. It’s got seven nominations. If they really did care about it, they’ll look to a category where they can vote for it and feel okay. This is one of those categories. I’m giving this two categories where it feels like it could win if they all decide to vote for it somewhere. This is one of them. I would not be remotely surprised if this won. I think they’re gonna take this or Beale Street. But without any precursors, what do you do? It’s just guesswork.

Spoiler Alert: Mary Poppins Returns. Because look at what’s left. The animated movie — only six of those have won ever, and five of them were Disney Renaissance films — BlacKkKlansman, which would be a weird pull for them, and Mary Poppins, a movie built on music. I’ll take Mary Poppins. This will get votes for sheer fact that some of the older folk will remember the original and go for the music, figuring it’s just the same as the other. I don’t think this will win, I think it’s one of those top two contenders, but if there is a spoiler to be had, this is probably it.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. If Beale Street Could Talk

2. Black Panther

3. Mary Poppins Returns

4. Isle of Dogs

5. BlacKkKlansman

If I Were a Betting Man: If Beale Street Could Talk. So my reasoning behind this one is as such: they send all the scores to Academy members. So Oscar voters are in possession of all five of these scores. Assuming they listened to them all (or just remembered them from seeing all the films, assuming they saw all the films) — lot of assumptions there — I can’t see how they don’t vote for this. It’s either that or they’re just taking Black Panther here because they feel like they should give it something for diversity reasons. I think this could go either way, but I’m sticking with my guns and saying this wins. Could be wrong, but this is what I’m going for.

You Should Take: If Beale Street Could Talk. I don’t know what to tell you to take. I think you should take either this or Black Panther. I feel like most people will instinctively take Black Panther. And they may end up being right. I’m saying take Beale Street, but I could easily be wrong. I truly don’t know. My gut says Beale Street, and I’ve learned to trust that. But we’ll see. I’m covered on my Scorecard either way, unless something totally random comes in. I say go with your instinct. Whether that’s Black Panther or I guess even Isle of Dogs. I don’t see how most of you wouldn’t take one of those top two, but you can justify most stuff in the absence of precursors. My instinct says this wins, so that’s what I’m telling you to take. There we are.

On My Ballot: If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Original Song

“All the Stars,” from Black Panther

“I’ll Fight,” from RBG

“Shallow,” from A Star Is Born

“The Place Where the Lost Things Go,” from Mary Poppins Returns

“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: Not a terrible category, all things considered. I’m happy about this, because it makes me think that their tweaking of the voting system might have gotten us to the point where the songs that most people like will end up being nominated. That said, they did fuck up by only giving us a shortlist of 15 and not the full eligibles list. There are few things I enjoy more each year than going through all 80-something eligible songs. Give us the full list first, then shortlist it a month later. But on that list of 15 songs, I can’t really argue with what they did. I’m not that big a fan of the Black Panther song as a “movie song,” but that’s just me. I feel like that’s a regular song that they just put on the end credits that has really nothing to do with the movie. It’s a good song, though, so there’s that. I loved the song from Sorry to Bother You and felt like that was more memorable than at least two of these. I also think Suspiria should have gotten here. But that’s more a personal choice than anything.

I think the RBG song is absolutely fine and worth being here, even though I’d never vote for it. I don’t love any of the songs in Poppins outside of maybe “Trip a Little Light Fantastic,” which is probably still too long and nowhere near as memorable as anything in the original film. But it should be nominated for the history of the category. It’s one of the few songs that truly upholds the purpose of the category itself. “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” is just awesome. It’s not the most amazingly written song ever, but it perfectly fits within the movie and is a damn fun tune. Still, though — we know what this category is about. It’s “Shallow” and then it’s everyone else. It’s the best song here. We can quibble about whether or not it’s the best song in that movie, but none of the other songs were shortlisted or nominated. In this category, there’s only one choice, and it’s not even close.

My Vote: “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born

Should Have Been Nominated: “Suspirium,” from Suspiria

– – – – –

The Analysis:

I’m starting to think this category might be fully turned around. Remember when they hit their dark point of 2011 under the old voting system? It used to be a weird thing where people would vote for songs with a rating from 6-10 in increments of .5, and in order to be nominated, a song had to first hit the threshold of an aggregate 8.25 rating and then be one of the top five rated songs. But that meant sometimes we didn’t get a full five songs, and clearly was the victim of biases, as you know some of the bigger songs were deliberately kept out by people sandbagging them in the voting process. And then in 2011, we ended up with only two nominees in the category, both of which sucked and one of which wasn’t even the best song in its own movie. Then they changed the system to one where people just ranked their five favorite songs and the ones with the most votes got nominated. And that seems to have mostly turned things around and gotten us decent to good categories over the past five years.

Of the shortlist, I think most of us could have given you the majority of this category. The only real question was whether or not one or both Poppins songs would make it on. But it doesn’t matter, this is one of those where — as long as they didn’t leave an egregious choice off, which they didn’t, we’re just getting into what’s here and what can win. But we already know that so this will be quick.

Here are your five nominees:

“All the Stars” — It’s from Black Panther, which gives it a certain amount of support. You could consider this the second choice in the category. Especially since when they originally said they were only gonna perform two of the nominees at the ceremony, this was one of the two. So it’s definitely something you could maybe consider. It would also make Kendrick Lamar one of only a few people to win both a Pulitzer Prize and an Oscar, a list that includes (but is not limited to) Marvin Hamlisch, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sidney Howard, John Patrick Shanley, Horton Foote and Stephen Sondheim.

“I’ll Fight” — It’s written by Diane Warren and is an anthem song. Weirdly too traditional for them, which is not something I thought I’d be saying. Warren is currently 0-9 at the Oscars. Previous nominees include “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” from Mannequin, “Because You Loved Me,” from Up Close and Personal, “How Do I Live” from Con Air, and “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” from Armageddon. All of that was basically my way of filling space for this one, because there’s really no chance she wins this. I can’t even pretend like this has any shot.

“The Place Where the Lost Things Go” — It’s a slow ballad. Makes sense on paper. Poppins song and all. I feel like more people will have enjoyed “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” to this, but you know, it might get votes based solely on what it is.” Maybe.

Also, how has not a single person put together a gif of this movie and the guy from Pirates of the Caribbean saying, “‘ello, Poppins”? Must I have all the good ideas?

“Shallow” — You know a studio knows they have this category in the bag when they only submit one song so as to funnel all the votes to it. This shit is the biggest no-brainer in a while. Well… since “City of Stars.” And “Glory.” And “Let It Go.” There tend to be a lot of no brainers in this category. But come on. You know what this is. Don’t mess around.

“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” — This song is awesome. It might get some votes because people were so amused by it. It’s pretty simple, but it’s a cowboy song. That makes sense. Not sure how this can win, but it’s awesome, so there’s that.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born. I mean, fucking really. Do you need me to say anything here?

Biggest Competition: “All the Stars,” from Black Panther. The hardest part about this category is figuring how the rest of the category ranks. I’m gonna assume this would be the second choice, but this is one of those… “Shallow” won’t get enough people voting against it to lose, so you’re just guessing which will get the most of the stray votes. I guess it’s this. Purely because of the film and because some people thought the song was awesome. So let’s say this is the second choice.

Spoiler Alert: “The Place Where the Lost Things Go,” from Mary Poppins Returns. It’s the musical. And because I don’t think any of us see the Buster Scruggs song really winning. It definitely looks good on paper as a third choice, even though I can’t really see a whole lot of people truly thinking this is the best choice in the category.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born

2. “All the Stars,” from Black Panther

3. “The Place Where the Lost Things Go,” from Mary Poppins Returns

4. “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

5. “I’ll Fight,” from RBG

If I Were a Betting Man: “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born. Because I’m not an idiot.

You Should Take: “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born. Good luck to everyone taking something else and hoping that one comes in.

On My Ballot: “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born

Best Production Design

Black Panther

The Favourite

First Man

Mary Poppins Returns


My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: This is the one where I got the category I wanted to see. So I’m happy with that. I wouldn’t vote for Black Panther, just because a lot of it is aided by CGI and that diminishes it for me. First Man — space movies are so hard to vote for. Not to mention the Earth stuff is pretty boring for long sections. It’s just muted 60s sets. Nothing too exciting. So that’s another “nomination but no vote.” Roma — the sets and stuff were fantastic, but I don’t think I’d vote for it. Just didn’t wow me as much as other aspects of the film did. Though well worth the nomination. To me, it’s either Mary Poppins or The Favourite. And honestly, that palace… I gotta take The Favourite, as much as I’d like to want to look at Poppins as the choice. But man, everything about those sets was just stunning and I could have spent another hour just looking around everything they set up there. I know most of that stuff was probably just already there, but Production Design is how you use it. And damn, did they use it well.

My Vote: The Favourite

Should Have Been Nominated: This is honestly my ideal category.

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This ended up being the obvious category. The Favourite, First Man, Mary Poppins and Roma hit all the guilds, and Black Panther only missed BAFTA, but was obviously going to make it. You could have maybe talked yourself into other movies as a fifth choice, but these five were the ones that made the most sense. And I think this was the ideal category, so that worked out.

The major guild for Production Design is ADG, who is 14/22 all-time. I feel like most tech guilds hover around 60%, so that’s not so far off the norm. BAFTA is 9/22 in those same years, and BFCA (which only started handing out awards in 2009) is 7/9. The only two they missed are the years where surprises came in.

Here’s a chart showing all of those precursors (with the Oscar winners in red):

2018 The Favourite (Period)

Black Panther (Fantasy)

The Favourite Black Panther
2017 The Shape of Water (Period) & Blade Runner 2049 (Fantasy) The Shape of Water The Shape of Water
2016 La La Land (Contemporary) & Passengers (Fantasy) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them La La Land
2015 Mad Max: Fury Road (Fantasy) & The Revenant (Period) & The Martian(Contemporary) Mad Max: Fury Road Mad Max: Fury Road
2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel (Period) The Grand Budapest Hotel The Grand Budapest Hotel
2013 The Great Gatsby (Period) & Gravity(Fantasy) & Her(Contemporary) The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby
2012 Anna Karenina (Period) & Life of Pi (Fantasy) Les Misérables Anna Karenina
2011 Hugo (Period) & Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Fantasy) Hugo Hugo
2010 The King’s Speech (Period) & Inception (Fantasy) Inception Inception
2009 Avatar (Fantasy) & Sherlock Holmes (Period) Avatar Avatar
2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Period) & The Dark Knight (Fantasy) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button  
2007 There Will Be Blood (Period) & The Golden Compass (Fantasy) Atonement  
2006 Pan’s Labyrinth (Fantasy) Children of Men  
2005 Memoirs of a Geisha Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire  
2004 A Series of Unfortunate Events The Aviator  
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World  
2002 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Road to Perdition  
2001 Moulin Rouge! Amélie  
2000 Gladiator Gladiator  
1999 Sleepy Hollow Sleepy Hollow  
1998 What Dreams May Come The Truman Show  
1997 Titanic Romeo + Juliet  
1996 The English Patient Richard III  

The big thing you should take away from that chart is… when there’s consensus, go with it.

Also, for informational purposes, in the years where the Oscar winner did not hit precursors, those winners were:

  • 2000, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • 2002, Chicago
  • 2007, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • 2010, Alice in Wonderland
  • 2012, Lincoln

Two of those are Tim Burton films, one is a Best Picture winner and the other two were Best Picture nominees (though granted, other Best Picture nominees were in play both of those years, so that’s not the biggest factor in them winning).

You know a fun fact I discovered last year? The Production Design category goes back to the very first Oscars. That’s not the fact. But it is interesting. The fact is, since the first Oscars, a total of 124 films were either the most nominated film of their year or tied for the most nominations. And only 29 of them were not nominated for Production Design: In Old Arizona (1928)*, The Champ (1931), Lady for a Day (1933), One Night of Love (1934)*, Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)*, You Can’t Take It With You (1938)*, Mrs. Miniver (1942)*, Going My Way (1944), The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)*, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)*, Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)*, From Here to Eternity (1953)*, The Defiant Ones (1958), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), The Last Picture ShowThe French Connection (1971), The Godfather (1972), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)*, Network & Rocky (1976)*, Julia (1977), The Deer Hunter (1978), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Raging Bull (1980), Platoon (1986), Braveheart (1995)*, American Beauty (1999)*, Brokeback Mountain (2005)*, No Country for Old Men (2007), The Hurt Locker (2009), Birdman (2014)

(Anything on that list without an * was tied for most overall nominations. The ones with an * that are multiple mean they were the only films tied for most nominations.)

Mostly I just think it’s fascinating that films that end up with the most overall nominations are usually nominated for Production Design. And that’s the case this year for both the two films with the most overall nominations. I don’t know if it necessarily means anything, but it’s interesting as shit to me. Especially since, looking at the ones that missed going back 40 years… they’re all either contemporary or take place mostly outdoors. The Godfather is really the one I look at and go, “Man, how did that happen?” Other than that… Bonnie and Clyde… lotta outdoors stuff. Last Picture Show… kind of a sparse town. It’s really when you hit that From Here to Eternity back period that you’re in a different kind of era for nominees. But everything after that, really just the one that seems weird for them. I’m sure there’s some illuminating tidbit about the Academy and their tastes in that notion, but maybe that light will turn on after a few more years of sitting with this stat.

Now the part that makes it slightly more relevant, in 47 of those years did the most nominated film actually win Production Design. Meaning 47 times ever in the history of the Oscars, which is literally an average of every other year. Actually even better than that, since there have only been 90 Oscar ceremonies. They’d have to miss this year and next year to lower that percentage to an even 50%.

Anyway, here are this year’s precursors:

  • ADG Period: The Favourite
  • ADG Fantasy: Black Panther
  • BAFTA: The Favourite
  • BFCA: Black Panther

Oh, and The Favourite is tied for most nominations this year. Just saying. But aside from that, only two movies split all the precursors. So we’re pretty set here in parsing this one.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: The Favourite. It won ADG and BAFTA, it’s the most nominated film of the year, and it takes place inside royal palaces. In the toss up of films that won precursors, this one clearly has the edge. It’s also won the two main precursors. So that makes it the favorite. Might not win, but it’s definitely the most likely winner of this category.

Biggest Competition: Black Panther. It’s the only other movie with precursors. It’s got ADG along with The Favourite, and it won BFCA. BFCA feels like it gave the movie every award (even though I know empirically it only gave it three awards), and I’m not sure how much the Academy will look to reward it in a category like this. But, it’s got precursors alongside The Favourite, so it’s clearly the second choice.

Spoiler Alert: Roma. Just looking at everything else, I’m sticking with the film that’s likely to win Best Picture and is tied for most nominations. Maybe Mary Poppins is the more likely choice based on the fact that it’s got garish sets and stuff, but I don’t think anything other than the first two are gonna win this, so I don’t know how much this spot matters. My guess is, if it comes down to the two that Mary Poppins is likely the spoiler, but I’m putting this here because you do have to respect it as a possibility. It’s not likely, but it is possible.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. The Favourite

2. Black Panther

3. Mary Poppins Returns

4. Roma

5. First Man

If I Were a Betting Man: The Favourite. It’s got ADG and BAFTA. It’s the most nominated film of the year, and just look at the sets in it. Black Panther someone could not vote for because part of it is CGI. There’s really no knock against this other than, “I don’t want to vote for it.” And I just don’t know how much this category makes sense for Black Panther. Think of it this way — there’s a pocket of the Academy who will blindly vote for it for everything. There’s a pocket of the Academy who will vote for it for nothing. In between are the people who will vote for what they think makes the most sense in the category. (Which seems to be the prevailing body within the Academy, judging from the past few years. They don’t really sweep vote anymore. The wealth is generally spread around and things typically only win in the categories that “make sense” as opposed to everywhere.) I feel like, were you to look at Black Panther’s categories in an agnostic way… this is middle of the pack. To me, the two most likely categories for it are Score and Costume Design. Then in the middle there’s this. The Sound categories seem unlikely but I guess are possible, and then in the “probably not gonna happen” category are Picture and Song. This is the one that theoretically could happen for it, but when you look at the history of the Oscars and these precursors, I’m not sure how The Favourite doesn’t run away with this. I’m treating this like it’s a 50/50, but it’s probably more a 70/30.

You Should Take: The Favourite. Don’t mess around here. The Favourite and Black Panther both hit the guild, but Period is much more important than Fantasy most of the time. And BFCA… they’re solid here, but I feel like they went all in on Black Panther in a lot of ways. So I don’t know how much I wanna listen to that. I think this is The Favourite all the way. You wanna take Black Panther go ahead. But I think the numbers and the general eye test says it’s The Favourite that wins this, however close the race may be.

On My Ballot: The Favourite

Best Costume Design

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Black Panther

The Favourite

Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Queen of Scots

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: Solid category. Buster Scruggs was my least favorite, just because westerns tend to have the most muted, least interesting costumes. Surprisingly Mary Queen of Scots did not blow me away with its costumes as I thought it might from the trailer. It was just kind of okay, with nothing overly standout for me. Mary Poppins — all around the costumes there were quite lovely. But, wouldn’t vote for it. Black Panther — the costumes were the highlight of the movie for me. Everyone looked fantastic all the way through, and I would not be ashamed to vote for it in this category of any of the ones it’s nominated in. However — The Favourite is the choice. The costumes are absolutely luscious there all around, and while I know this is feeding into the stereotype of this category being all about the frilly period stuff… I really like the frilly period stuff in this one. So I’m taking The Favourite.

My Vote: The Favourite

Should Have Been Nominated: BlacKkKlansman

– – – – –

The Analysis:

I feel like I’ve said this for almost every category but Best Director, but… this one was pretty straightforward all the way through. The Favourite, Mary Poppins and Mary Queen of Scots hit everything. And you just assumed Black Panther would get on. I figured Bohemian Rhapsody would hit the last spot, since it got all the precursors, but instead, Buster Scruggs got on. So okay. The Oscars are never automatic, so one minor swap is not the craziest thing in the world, especially when it’s the spot that seems the least “solid.” If The Favourite or Mary Poppins got left off, you’d go, “Whoa.” But Bohemian Rhapsody being left off despite all three precursors… okay. Another category that pretty much went as expected with minor differences. Though I will say what’s interesting to me is the fact that Buster Scruggs missed the guild entirely but hit BAFTA, and yet somehow got support across three categories. Weird to me, since there are other Coen brothers movies (like Llewyn Davis) that got practically no support. The Oscars are a weird beast.

Anyway, this is a tech category, so precursors are the guild, which is CDG, BAFTA and BFCA. I say this so casually, but this is like young people now, taking the internet for granted… imagine people who were insane enough to try to pick the Oscars back in the early days. There was like, nothing except the Globes and maybe BAFTA. We’re practically spoiled now with all this information. These are the advanced analytics days of the Oscars. Though I guess, were there people trying to pick the Oscars back then? Did the race between Around the World in 80 Days and Giant get that much prediction coverage?

CDG is 10/20 all-time. BAFTA, all-time, is awful, but they are 9 of their last 10. And surprisingly, the one miss was them going with Jackie over Fantastic Beasts and Fantastic Beasts winning the Oscar. Go figure. And then BFCA is 8/9 all-time, also only missing Jackie. That loss definitely one of those that came out of nowhere.

But yeah, point is, use common sense, because it’s costumes and you know what they like, then look at the precursors.

Here’s a table to show you how often in the past 20 years the precursors didn’t help (Oscar winners in red).

2017 The Shape of Water (Period) Phantom Thread Phantom Thread
2016 La La Land (Contemporary) Jackie Jackie
2015 The Danish Girl(Period) & Mad Max: Fury Road (Fantasy) Mad Max: Fury Road Mad Max: Fury Road
2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel (Period) & Into the Woods (Fantasy) The Grand Budapest Hotel The Grand Budapest Hotel
2013 12 Years a Slave (Period) The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby
2012 Anna Karenina (Period) & Mirror Mirror (Fantasy) Anna Karenina Anna Karenina
2011 W.E. (Period) The Artist The Artist
2010 The King’s Speech (Period) & Alice in Wonderland (Fantasy) Alice in Wonderland Alice in Wonderland
2009 The Young Victoria (Period) & The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (Fantasy) The Young Victoria The Young Victoria
2008 The Duchess (Period) The Duchess  
2007 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Period) La Vie en Rose  
2006 Curse of the Golden Flower (Period) &

The Queen(Contemporary)

Pan’s Labyrinth  
2005 Memoirs of a Geisha Memoirs of a Geisha  
2004 A Series of Unfortunate Events Vera Drake  
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World  
2002 Chicago The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers  
2001 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Gosford Park  
2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon  
1999 Sleepy Hollow Sleepy Hollow  
1998 Pleasantville Velvet Goldmine  

Look at BAFTA. Two misses since 2005. And only three times in the past 15 where something came in without winning the precursors. But, to look at them in totality, here are all the times something won without precursors:

  • 1998, Shakespeare in Love
  • 1999, Topsy-Turvy
  • 2000, Gladiator
  • 2001, Moulin Rouge!
  • 2004, The Aviator
  • 2007, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

The weird thing to me is that at least three or four of those are just intuitive. So I think what the moral of that is… just look at the category, trust your gut, but use the precursors as a guidepost. If you look at them and still go, “I feel like this is still gonna win,” then you might not be entirely wrong. It’s one of those that, while the data helps, you also jus have to look at the category and judge it based on what you see.

Also, here’s a nice gif:

I’ll explain that in a minute. But look at it. Isn’t it beautiful?

This year’s precursors are:

  • CDG (Period): The Favourite
  • CDG (Fantasy): Black Panther
  • BAFTA: The Favourite
  • BFCA: Black Panther

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: The Favourite. Frills, man. You know how that goes. It won CDG Period and it won BAFTA. It’s got royal costumes and it’s exactly what they go for here. It’s the most likely winner, and you know it.

Biggest Competition: Black Panther. This could still legitimately win. Just because it’s the second choice doesn’t mean anything other than the other choice is more classically what they vote for in this category. This is very much in play and this category is just as much a 50/50 as Production Design is, if not more so. If anything’s beating The Favourite here, it’s this.

Spoiler Alert: Mary Poppins Returns. So the reason I put that Mary Queen of Scots gif up there was because I knew it had no shot and tried to hard to find a way to make that the spoiler just so I could put that gif here. But if we’re being honest, the true spoiler is Mary Poppins. It had a lot of bright and colorful costumes and people saw them and it has four overall nominations. Mary Queen of Scots doesn’t have a costumes showcase, no one seemed to connect with it, and it only has the two nominations that are almost token nominations (the same two that Victoria & Abdul got last year. Which I’m sure you all remember really well). I don’t think anything wins below those first two, but if it’s anything, it’s probably this.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. The Favourite

2. Black Panther

3. Mary Poppins Returns

4. Mary Queen of Scots

5. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

If I Were a Betting Man: The Favourite. I think you know why. Frilly period costumes always win here. They haven’t in recent years just because there haven’t been that many top shelf movies with those kinds of costumes. That’s the other thing you need to realize — it’s not just frills. It’s frills in a classy movie that they liked. There’s no way you’re telling me this has ten nominations and isn’t walking home with at least one or two. This and Production Design make the most sense. And Screenplay. Of course, Black Panther is in a similar boat in that it’s also got a bunch of nominations, though I’m not sure the expectations of wins is necessarily there. This is one of those categories they could throw to it. Hell, Fantastic Beasts beat Jackie. Things happen. You could definitely make a legitimate case for it to win here. But I think we all know what the score is in Costume Design. Take the obvious choice and then just be wrong if they go Black Panther.

You Should Take: The Favourite. My purpose here is to tell you to take the best choice for you to most likely get the category right. This is the best choice. You could take Black Panther if you really think it’s gonna win. Be my guest. It could definitely come in. But if I had to pick one category for The Favourite to win — this is it. So I’m saying go with that.

On My Ballot: The Favourite

Best Makeup & Hairstyling


Mary Queen of Scots


My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: Suspiria should be here. For Tilda alone. I’m fine with Border, now having seen it, but man, Suspiria got hosed. That said, Border does feature trolls sprouting penises out of nowhere, so I guess that’s something. Wouldn’t take it, but at least we got some troll dick in there, am I right guys? Mary Queen of Scots has great hairstyling, and I’d mark that as a second choice, if only because the hairstyling of it all tends to get lost in this category to prosthetics so much of the time. The winner, though, is Vice. And I think we all understand why. Because Christian Bale was Dick Cheney. It’s insane how good he looked. Plus, they made Rockwell look like W. Which is also pretty nuts. They deserve this one a thousand percent.

My Vote: Vice

Should Have Been Nominated: Suspiria

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Makeup & Hairstyling is one of those categories where, most years, the analysis is “This one’s going to win.”

In terms of how we got this category — seven films were shortlisted. We assumed Vice would get on. After that, Mary Queen of Scots seemed likely. Black Panther also seemed likely. Of the rest — you didn’t really see Bohemian Rhapsody making it unless it had insane support all over the place (and for what, really? Brian’s curls?), Stan & Ollie was a legitimate possibility because of the fat suit, Suspiria should have made it but you figured it probably wouldn’t given the overall reception of the film and Border was the foreign film that no one saw, so you had no idea how to treat it. And, like most other years, the foreign film made it on. So you had Vice and Mary Queen of Scots and Border made the third spot over Black Panther. I’m not particularly upset, because I assumed they knew what they were doing and are going for the best examples of their craft. And then I saw Border. And all that troll dick.

Anyway, I think we all figure this one’s an open and shut case. Vice won BFCA for Makeup, BAFTA went off the board, and at the Makeup & Hairstylists Guild, Vice won for Period/Character Makeup and Special Effects Makeup, while Mary Queen of Scots won for Period Hairstyling. I think we all know the score for this.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Vice. Christian Bale became Dick Cheney. And while this isn’t quite Gary Oldman or Meryl Streep winning and taking the makeup team with him (just because we’re not certain Bale will win at the moment), the makeup team will win. It’s an insane transformation, and in a category like this, it’s clear where all the votes are gonna go.

Biggest Competition: Mary Queen of Scots. Yes. If it’s not Vice, it’ll be this. Because no one will have seen Border to vote for it. I’m honestly wondering if enough people have seen this to vote for it. But even so, this one is pretty demarcated, between first choice, second choice and third choice.

Spoiler Alert: Border. That’s the beauty of this category. Only three nominees. So they’re all in contention. This is the third choice because no one saw it. They never sent it out as a screener for Academy members and I only got to see if because it’s finally coming out on VOD/DVD around now. Clearly they don’t expect this to win so they didn’t bother campaigning for it in the category. It’s the third choice. You can usually feel momentum for something like this if it has a shot. This does not have a shot.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Vice

2. Mary Queen of Scots

3. Border

If I Were a Betting Man: Vice. I mean, really? Do I need to explain this? Can’t you just look at the nominees and know what’s gonna win on principle? This has 8 nominations, can still win Best Actor, and has Christian Bale looking exactly like Dick Cheney. Of course it’s going to win. You don’t need me to tell you that.

You Should Take: Vice. Because do you really think the Academy, who by and large hasn’t seen at least one of these nominees, is gonna vote en masse for something else? Dude, take the easy ones where you can get them.

On My Ballot: Vice

Best Visual Effects

Avengers: Infinity War

Christopher Robin

First Man

Ready Player One

Solo: A Star Wars Story

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: Of the shortlist, we got one of the categories I dislike the least. The five shortlisted films that didn’t make it are Ant-Man, Black Panther, Jurassic World, Mary Poppins and Welcome to Marwen. Black Panther is the only one I’d have been upset about, had it made it on. Because I thought the effects of that movie were subpar for Marvel standards, which are pretty so-so to begin with. I thought Ant-Man’s effects were fun, and the Quantum Realm stuff is really where those movies shine. Mary Poppins did awesome stuff, and I personally would have nominated it. Marwen looked nice, but I didn’t need to see it get on. And Jurassic World — more dinosaurs. We get it. This category… it works for me.

Solo is Star Wars and those always make it on. Makes sense. Not something I’d ever vote for, but I’m cool with it being there. Christopher Robin, that was nice. Never gonna be the vote for me, but it’s cute. So sure. Avengers — makes total sense. It’s so big and grandiose that you almost have to nominate it on principle. First Man, I’m a sucker for anything with practical effects, and they made them look seamless here. So I’m a huge fan of that being on here. And that was, for a long time, gonna be my vote. But I thought about how much of that movie took place on earth, versus the fact that at least half of Ready Player One takes place inside this video game, and looks stunning… I had to switch the vote. I know I’m all about the practical effects, but if we’re talking about what I truly thought the best overall effects were, it’s Ready Player One for me. So there we are.

My Vote: Ready Player One

Should Have Been Nominated: Mary Poppins Returns

– – – – –

The Analysis:

There were ten shortlisted films, and outside of Black Panther not making it, there were no real surprises here. I’ve said consistently throughout the race that Black Panther’s effects were subpar for Marvel standards, which aren’t even up to Academy standards most of the time, but apparently no one agreed with me. Fortunately, VES left Black Panther off their nominees list and the branch left them off here. So that made me happy, because it made me feel like at least they were all about the purpose of the category and looking at pure effects over zeitgeist. But yeah… First Man, Ready Player One and Avengers were guaranteed. I assumed Star Wars would make it, just because I think all but one of those made it on the final category. And then I had to assume they’d be lame and nominate Black Panther, even though I said all along that Christopher Robin would be the film that made it if something else got left off. So when they left off Black Panther and put the five I suspected, I wasn’t remotely surprised.

Because this is another tech category, we’re in the same territory — guild (VES), BAFTA, BFCA.

The main VES category is called “Best Effects” colloquially (by me. I have no idea what anyone else calls it. But how many people are referring to the main Visual Effects Society category colloquially besides me?). And the film that’s won Best Effects has won the Oscar 10 of the past 16 years. Here are the six times the winner has lost the Oscar.

  • 2004: Prisoner of Azkaban wins Best Effects, but loses the Oscar to Spider-Man 2.
  • 2007: Transformers wins Best Effects but loses the Oscar to The Golden Compass.
  • 2011: Rise of the Planet of the Apes wins Best Effects but loses the Oscar to Hugo.
  • 2014: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes wins Best Effects but loses the Oscar to Interstellar.
  • 2015: The Force Awakens wins Best Effects but loses the Oscar to Ex Machina.
  • 2017: War for the Planet of the Apes wins Best Effects but loses the Oscar to Blade Runner 2049.

Of note there — Hugo won Best Supporting Effects at VES. Also, the other five films that won the Oscar except for Ex Machina were nominated for and lost Best Effects. Ex Machina is the only movie to not be nominated at VES at all and then go on to win the Oscar. Also of note, BAFTA gave their Visual Effects award to The Golden Compass, Interstellar and Blade Runner. Which leaves only two years not covered by some sort of precursor, and one of them was the biggest Oscar shocker of the past decade and the other is almost 15 years ago. Point is, generally you listen to the winners.

Here’s something I did last year that I’ll keep here because it might be helpful. It’s a list of how many awards each Oscar nominee got at each ceremony, to show the correlation between VES wins and Oscar wins (the * means that film won the Oscar for Visual Effects):

  • 2002: The Two Towers* — 8 awards; Attack of the Clones — 1 award
  • 2003: Return of the King* — 4 awards; Pirates of the Caribbean — 2 awards; Master and Commander — 1 award
  • 2004: Spider-Man 2* — 3 awards; Prisoner of Azkaban — 2 awards
  • 2005: King Kong* — 3 awards; War of the Worlds — 3 awards
  • 2006: Dead Man’s Chest* — 6 awards
  • 2007: Transformers — 4 awards; At World’s End — 2 awards
  • 2008: Benjamin Button* — 4 awards; The Dark Knight — 3 awards
  • 2009: Avatar* — 5 awards; District 9 — 1 award
  • 2010: Inception* — 4 awards; Deathly Hallows Part 1 — 1 award
  • 2011: Rise of the Planet of the Apes — 2 awards; Hugo* — 2 awards; Dark of the Moon — 2 awards
  • 2012: Life of Pi* — 4 awards; Avengers — 2 awards; The Hobbit — 1 award
  • 2013: Gravity* — 6 awards; The Lone Ranger — 1 award; The Hobbit — 1 award
  • 2014: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes — 3 awards; Days of Future Past — 2 awards; Interstellar* — 1 award
  • 2015: The Force Awakens — 4 awards; The Revenant — 3 awards; Mad Max — 1 award
  • 2016: The Jungle Book* — 5 awards; Deepwater Horizon — 2 awards; Kubo — 1 award; Doctor Strange — 1 award
  • 2017: War for the Planet of the Apes — 4 awards; Blade Runner 2049* — 2 awards; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — 1 award

The film that won the most awards at VES (or tied for the most awards) has gone on to win the Oscar all but four times. Two of those involve Planet of the Apes films, the third involves the biggest Oscar shocker in years and the fourth involves another relative surprise. So yeah. Not an insignificant detail.

Meanwhile, here’s how BAFTA has done in the history of VES:

  • 2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • 2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 2004: The Day After Tomorrow
  • 2005: King Kong
  • 2006: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
  • 2007: The Golden Compass
  • 2008: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • 2009: Avatar
  • 2010: Inception
  • 2011: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • 2012: Life of Pi
  • 2013: Gravity
  • 2014: Interstellar
  • 2015: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • 2016: The Jungle Book
  • 2017: Blade Runner 2049

They’ve only missed three times, and they straight up picked up The Golden Compass, Interstellar and Blade Runner, leaving only the Ex Machina year as the true shocker that absolutely nobody could have predicted. The precursors literally cover you on this category. That and the fact that, until Ex Machina came in, a Best Picture nominee had never lost to a non-Best Picture nominee in the Visual Effects category. Most years it tends to be really obvious.

Oh, and BFCA:

  • 2009: Avatar
  • 2010: Inception
  • 2011: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • 2012: Life of Pi
  • 2013: Gravity
  • 2014: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • 2015: Mad Max: Fury Road
  • 2016: The Jungle Book
  • 2017: War for the Planet of the Apes

So aside from 2015 and them taking Apes every time, they’re almost always right too.

Now, with all that information at your disposal, knowing that only once in 15 years did something not presaged by the precursors come in, here’s what we have this year:


  • Avengers: Infinity War wins 4 awards: Best Effects, Animated Character, Composting and Effects Simulations.
  • Ready Player One wins 2 awards: Created Environment and Virtual Cinematography
  • First man wins 1 award: Supporting Effects

And BAFTA and BFCA both went to Black Panther. Which is unhelpful.

So we’re left with just VES as a guiding post. And I’m not sure just how helpful they’re gonna be in an open vote. So, like Score, I feel like I’m flying blind in a lot of ways. Not all ways, but in a lot of them.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: First Man. I just have to say the film with the most overall nominations is the most likely to win here. They have a history of giving the “classiest” film this award. The two years I want to point to here are the three years with Apes movies — Hugo, Interstellar, Blade Runner. This feels like that. They went for the film with the pedigree over the one a lot of people (even the guild) felt had truly exemplary visual effects. This is a space movie that people will have saw, and I feel like it’s just the one where all the votes are gonna go. I could be wrong, but this feels like the favorite to me. As much as I did appreciate the lack of a Black Panther nomination in this category, it does make it harder to predict. That would have just blanket won this category regardless of quality of effects next to the other nominees. And because of that, we now don’t have BAFTA or BFCA to guide us. It’s just the guild, which is helpful, but not guaranteed. But my history of doing this tells me that this should be considered the most likely to win. You can be slavish to the numbers or you can trust your gut. My gut says this one.

Biggest Competition: Ready Player One. If I’m trusting my gut for one, I’m going all in on it for the others. I think this is the second choice. It’s got two VES wins, so it’s not like this is coming out of nowhere to you numbers people. Plus, it’s Spielberg. I think enough people saw this, and I feel like a bunch of people, should they decide First Man isn’t getting their vote, will go, “Oh, I did like that Shining sequence.” Plus, the effects are fantastic. Maybe they dismiss it as too much of a CGI fest, which is usually not their cup of tea. That’s possible. And it didn’t win anywhere else and has no other nominations. Here’s something you should know: The Jungle Book is the only (and when I say only, that includes The Golden Compass) Visual Effects winner since Death Becomes Her in 1992 to win Visual Effects have no other Oscar nominations. It’s also only one of three Visual Effects winners in the modern (post Star Wars) era to do this. Death Becomes Her is the second and Innerspace is the third. So in the past 30 years, it’s happened twice. (And, if we care, Innerspace beat Predator that year, and they both only had one nomination, so they physically couldn’t vote for something with more than one nomination.) Every other winner had at least one other Oscar nomination.

Oh, but I’m not done. You thought I was gonna rest my case there. No. I went back to the beginning. We normally split Visual Effects into two time periods, one pre-Star Wars and one post. Because it’s a wildly different category in both eras, the only category really that has that kind of distinct divide. But for the sake of this I’m treating the category as a whole the way I would any other category. The first competitive Visual Effects category was in 1939. That means this will be its 80th year. Of course, some years in there only had honorary awards and one or two didn’t give out an award at all, but still. 80 years. You know how many films won Visual Effects in competitive categories and weren’t nominated anywhere else? Eight. I Wanted Wings (1941), Crash Dive (1943), Blithe Spirit (1945), Mighty Joe Young (1949), The Enemy Below (1957) (it weirdly only won for its audio effects, not is visual. The category was, at the time, called Best Special Effects, but historically they count it as Visual Effects), Tom Thumb (1958), The Time Machine (1960) and Thunderball (1965). So that’s only 11 times ever that something won Visual Effects without being nominated in another category. And, of those, only I Wanted Wings, Crash Dive and Thunderball were in categories with another nominee that had more than one nomination. Meaning only five times ever did a film with a single nomination beat a film (or films) with multiple nominations) in this category. Which is all to tell you why this is the second choice here and not the first.

Spoiler Alert: Avengers: Infinity War. I already know that putting this here is gonna piss off the people who feel the need to defend Marvel at all costs. I don’t care. I’m here to figure out what’s gonna win. And Marvel has never won this category. The guild is the guild. And sure, you wanna listen solely to the numbers, then take this. But it couldn’t win any of the other two precursors. And there’s still the notion that Marvel is just CGI and the Academy doesn’t take the films seriously. I don’t know if more than like 50% of the Academy even saw this movie. I know that’s a cynical attitude, but how wrong on that do we think I am? I think the truth is closer to my number than whatever one you’ve got.

Here’s my reasoning for this being third — if Black Panther gets nominated we all assume it’s winning this category, hands down. Right? Same category as this, swap one of the two we haven’t talked about for Black Panther. In that scenario, Black Panther is the first choice, First Man the second, and Ready Player One the third. Or this is still third. And in my scenario, everything else that happened is exactly the same. Black Panther didn’t get nominated at VES and Infinity War walked away with the four awards. In that scenario, is there anyone saying Infinity War has any kind of a shot in this category? So then now, in the absence of Black Panther being here, why is this all of a sudden the movie that’s gonna win this? I’m listening. Because I think the only argument you can make is about what you thought of its effects and that it made a lot of money. That’s not good enough for me. I’ve got so much history that shows the Academy doesn’t vote for stuff like this. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen or can’t happen. It means that it rightly should be considered a third choice. I don’t see why that’s so difficult for people to comprehend.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. First Man

2. Ready Player One

3. Avengers: Infinity War

4. Christopher Robin

5. Solo: A Star Wars Story

If I Were a Betting Man: First Man. This is one where, I truly don’t know what they’re gonna do, and I’m just gonna go all in on this and be wrong. I feel how I feel about this category and the Academy’s voting methods for it, and I’m just gonna go down with that ship if need be. I also can’t make a compelling case that the Academy will, en masse, vote for Ready Player One or Infinity War. Maybe they will. I just feel like most casual voters, who only watched a handful of the big films and didn’t watch a lot of the other stuff, when looking at this category, will just take First Man because it’s nominated elsewhere and has the feel of a classier movie than the rest of them. So that’s where I’m going.

You Should Take: First Man. Because I have to tell you to take something. And I can’t wrap my head around any of the other ones. This is starting to have a feel of 2015 all over again. Which means… DO NOT SLEEP ON CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. I’m serious about that. That’s really starting to have that Ex Machina type of feel, where if the top three split all the votes, that could easily sneak right in there. I have to keep it fourth just on precursors, but that is a legitimate contender here and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. That said, if there are four films you could legitimately make a case for… or even three, if Christopher Robin is just a sleeper pick that has long odds and a big payoff if it comes in… what do you do? Ready Player One has the best effects in the category, I felt. First Man’s effects are meant to look very real and grounded, and I don’t know if that’s what they wanna vote for. Avengers is just a bit CGI fest. They typically don’t go for CGI fests here. Blade Runner, Jungle Book, Ex Machina, Interstellar, Gravity, Life of Pi, Hugo, Inception, even Avatar… they like when the effects are just a part of the world of the film and not showy and over the top. (Well, Avatar… but that was more a landmark situation than anything else.) And, let’s be honest, Thanos is a giant walking cartoon. That, to me, just doesn’t feel like them, even if it did win the most awards at the guild. Ready Player One could happen, and that would be an interesting one to try to rationalize how it won after the fact. But to me, the simplest explanation is often the right one, and to me, the obvious way this is gonna go is that they’re just gonna vote for the space movie because it felt like you were on the moon in that third act. So I say take that and just take the L if they go elsewhere. (Also, how about that Death Becomes Her stat up there? Wasn’t that such a great pull? I can make a case with the best of them for these awards. Very often wrong, but damn do I sound convinced that I’m not.)

On My Ballot: First Man

Best Sound Editing

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man

A Quiet Place


My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: It’s hard to really have thoughts on the Sound categories. I’m not exactly one to go, “Oh man, that sound design was incredible.” I don’t really have a trained ear for all that. Mostly it comes down to one or two that I actively remember. This year, there was only one movie where I’d say, “That was amazing sound design.” And that was First Man. That movie is all about the sound, and I hope it wins both awards. Because the work they did on that is incredible. The rest of this category — Bohemian Rhapsody for Mixing? Okay. I guess. A Quiet Place — isn’t most of that movie no one talking and using sign language? Does that count as editing? I don’t know. Black Panther is just superhero noise. And Roma does have fantastic sound. Not sure I’d want to vote for it. First Man absolutely dwarfs everything in this category and it’s not even close for me. It’s First Man and then everything else.

My Vote: First Man

Should Have Been Nominated: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

– – – – –

The Analysis:

So here we are at the Sound categories. These categories are kind of like tiger wrangling. Which is to say, you know to take care while doing it and you generally have a handle on how to do it in safest possible way and usually it goes without fuss and is fine, but any given time you could get mauled. That’s how I treat them.

Also, you notice that I say ‘them’, because the Sound categories must be taken as one. You vote separately, but you have to consider them as a single entity up until the moment of actual voting. There’s no other way to do it.

To get the “how we got here” stuff out of the way, this one was very straightforward. First Man and A Quiet Place hit every precursor and got three MPSE nominations. Bohemian Rhapsody hit everything and got two MPSE nominations. Roma got three MPSE nominations but nothing else. And Black Panther got two MPSE nominations and a CAS nomination. So basically, these five were right there for everything you wanted to see. A Star Is Born hit everything Bohemian Rhapsody did, but you figured for that to only get Mixing. I also figured Bohemian Rhapsody to only get Mixing too, but here we are. The only moderate surprise, if you wanna call it that, was Roma getting on both Sound categories. But I saw that happening. Maybe I didn’t see it so much in Mixing, but I definitely saw it here. So this, to me… the only thing that made me go, “That’s interesting” for this one was the double Bohemian Rhapsody nomination. Otherwise, this all made total sense.

Okay, so cool. And like I said, you gotta take the Sound categories together. So feel free to dip on down to Mixing and then come back up. I’ll wait.

funny movie waiting GIF by hero0fwar

So for this category specifically, the precursors are: MPSE, BAFTA and CAS. That’s both sound guilds and BAFTA, which only has one Sound category. So really you’re playing the guilds off each other, seeing what BAFTA did and trying to configure that to the two Oscar categories and then just sort of winging it based on what makes sense.

To start with MPSE, they have three main categories: Sound Effects and Foley (SFX+Foley), Dialogue+ADR, and Music. The order I listed them in is generally the order of importance, though really you should just look at what wins each of them, crosslist with CAS and then see everything laid out in front of you before you decide what the real order of importance is.

MPSE has been handing out awards since 1991, though the Oscar category for Sound Editing has only had five nominees in it since 2006. So really we’re only looking at the past decade for anything truly helpful. But, since I’m crazy, I’m gonna give you everything. So if you don’t care about 1991-2005, you can just skip down to the gif I’ve inserted of Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot Gritty and continue reading from there.

  • 1991: Barton Fink wins SFX+Foley. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves wins Dialogue+ADR. Terminator 2: Judgment Day wins the Oscar for Sound Editing, beating Backdraft and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. So, MPSE has nothing to do with the Oscars, and the obvious choice wins.
  • 1992 – Under Siege wins SFX+Foley. Alien 3 wins Dialogue+ADR. Bram Stoker’s Dracula wins the Oscar over Under Siege and Aladdin. No comment on any of that.
  • 1993 – Jurassic Park wins SFX+Foley. Schindler’s List wins Dialogue+ADR. Jurassic Park wins the Oscar over Cliffhanger and the Fugitive. Pretty obvious choice.
  • 1994 – Speed wins SFX+Foley. Forrest Gump wins Dialogue+ADR. Speed wins the Oscar over Gump and Clear and Present Danger. This is somewhat telling. The action film beats the Oscar film with war scenes.
  • 1995 – Braveheart and Crimson Tide tie for SFX+Foley. Crimson Tide wins for Dialogue+ADR. Braveheart wins the Oscar over Crimson Tide and Batman Forever. Best Picture movie with battle scenes over action/sub movie. Understandable.
  • 1996 – We’re skipping this one, because it’s totally random. You can go look it up, but trust me, it’s irrelevant.
  • 1997 – Titanic wins both MPSE categories and the Oscar.
  • 1998 – Saving Private Ryan wins both MPSE categories and the Oscar.
  • 1999 – The Matrix wins SFX+Foley. American Beauty wins Dialogue+ADR. The Matrix pretty obviously wins the Oscar.
  • 2000 – Gladiator wins SFX+Foley. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon wins Dialogue+ADR. The Oscar category consists only of two nominees: U-571 and Space CowboysU-571 obviously wins.
  • 2001 – Black Hawk Down wins both MPSE categories. The Oscar category consists only of Pearl Harbor and Monsters, Inc. Clearly Pearl Harbor wins.
  • 2002 – Road to Perdition (a spirited choice) wins SFX+Foley. Gangs of New York wins Dialogue+ADR. Two Towers wins the Oscar, beating Road to Perdition and Minority Report. This is the only Rings film to win Sound Editing. Why? Big ass fucking battle scene.
  • 2003 – Master and Commander wins SFX+Foley. Pirates of the Caribbean wins Dialogue+ADR. In the Oscar category, Master and Commander beats Pirates and Finding Nemo (which won MPSE for Animation).
  • 2004 – The Aviator wins SFX+Foley. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind wins Dialogue+ADR. The Incredibles wins the Oscar, beating The Polar Express and Spider-Man 2. Weird category.
  • 2005 – War of the Worlds wins SFX+Foley. Memoirs of a Geisha wins Dialogue+ADR. King Kong wins the Oscar, beating War of the Worlds and GeishaIn hindsight, of course it did.

Ice Hockey Dancing GIF by NHL

After 2005, Sound Editing expanded to five nominees in the category. This is where MPSE really starts to matter more.

  • 2006: Letters from Iwo Jima wins SFX+Foley and Dialogue+ADR. Apocalypto wins Music. Letters wins the Oscar.
  • 2007: The Bourne Ultimatum wins SFX+Foley and Dialogue+ADR and wins both Sound Oscars.

In 2008, MPSE introduces many of the awards we see now. They get much more specific.

  • 2008: The Dark Knight wins SFX+Foley and Music. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button wins Dialogue+ADR. The Dark Knight wins the Oscar. (Note: This year also had a category called Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue & ADR. Which was basically Sound Mixing. Slumdog Millionaire won that en route to a Sound Mixing win at the Oscars.)
  • 2009: Avatar wins SFX+Foley and Music. Inglourious Basterds won Dialogue+ADR. The Hurt Locker wins both Sound Oscars.
  • 2010: Inception wins SFX+Foley and Music. The Social Network wins Dialogue+ADR. That convoluted ‘Mixing’ category goes to Toy Story 3Inception wins both Sound Oscars.
  • 2011: War Horse wins SFX+Foley. Hugo wins Music. Hugo wins both Sound Oscars.
  • 2012: Skyfall wins SFX+Foley. Life of Pi wins Dialogue+ADR and Music. The Oscar is a TIE between Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty.
  • 2013: Gravity wins SFX+Foley. Captain Phillips wins Dialogue+ADR. Gravity wins both Sound Oscars.
  • 2014: American Sniper wins SFX+Foley. Unbroken wins Dialogue+ADR. Birdman wins Music. American Sniper wins the Oscar.
  • 2015: SFX+Foley is a TIE between The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury RoadThe Force Awakens wins Music. Mad Max wins both Sound Oscars.
  • 2016: Hacksaw Ridge wins SFX+Foley and Dialogue+ADR. La La Land wins Music. Somehow Arrival wins the Editing Oscar and Hacksaw Ridge wins Mixing (while also losing CAS to La La Land). Figure that shit out.
  • 2017: Blade Runner 2049 wins SFX+Foley. War for the Planet of the Apes wins Dialogue+ADR. Dunkirk wins Music. Dunkirk wins both Sound Oscars.

Note: Only twice has a film won more than one MPSE Award and not won the Oscar. Those two times were for Avatar and Hacksaw Ridge. And also, the SFX+Foley winner is 8/12 in winning the Oscar since 2006.

Now, let’s get into BAFTA, since they also have a Sound category. But it’s a single category, that combines both Editing and Mixing… so it’s kind of Mixing, but it’s also a category.

Here are their winners from the past 20 years, along with which (if any) Sound Oscars that film won, noted in the parentheticals:

  • 2017, Dunkirk (Editing and Mixing)
  • 2016, Arrival (Editing)
  • 2015, The Revenant
  • 2014, Whiplash (Mixing)
  • 2013, Gravity (Editing and Mixing)
  • 2012, Les Miserables (Mixing)
  • 2011, Hugo (Editing and Mixing)
  • 2010, Inception (Editing and Mixing)
  • 2009, The Hurt Locker (Editing and Mixing)
  • 2008, Slumdog Millionaire (Mixing)
  • 2007, The Bourne Ultimatum (Editing and Mixing)
  • 2006, Casino Royale (*NOT NOMINATED*)
  • 2005, Walk the Line
  • 2004, Ray (Mixing)
  • 2003, Master and Commander (Editing)
  • 2002, Chicago (Mixing)
  • 2001, Moulin Rouge!
  • 2000, Almost Famous (*NOT NOMINATED*)
  • 1999, The Matrix (Editing and Mixing)
  • 1998, Saving Private Ryan (Editing and Mixing)
  • 1997, L.A. Confidential
  • 1996, Shine (*NOT NOMINATED*)
  • 1995, Braveheart (Editing)
  • 1994, Speed (Editing and Mixing)
  • 1993, The Fugitive

So in 25, 18 of BAFTA’s winners won at least one Sound category at the Oscars, with 9 of them winning both. They’re also 15 for the past 20 and 9 of the past 10. There are three years where the BAFTA winner wasn’t nominated in either Sound category at the Oscars, so that leaves only five years where they lost at the Oscars. In those five years, three of them (1993, 1997 and 2015) lost to a film that won both Sound categories. Only The Fugitive and The Revenant were nominated in both Sound categories and lost both. The other three (L.A. Confidential, Moulin Rouge and Walk the Line) were all nominated in Mixing and lost.

Though I guess it should also be noted that only three of those years involve the BAFTA winner winning only Sound Editing. Most of the time the BAFTA winner wins Mixing or both. Only Braveheart, Master and Commander and Arrival won just Editing. Arrival is the one that completely boggles my mind and I don’t think I’ll ever make sense of what happened that year. Master and Commander got lucky that Return of the King didn’t get nominated there/probably would have won both Sound categories had Return of the King not been nominated. And Braveheart got lucky that Apollo 13 didn’t make Editing, otherwise it probably would have lost there too. (It’s important to note that in both those last two cases, the Editing category only had three nominees.) Still, though, important to note that BAFTA helps more so with Mixing than it does Editing, assuming the Sound categories split.

Okay, so cool. I will once again give you a chance to go down and read Mixing before finishing this. Because we’re about to get into the Editing specific portion, and it helps to know what I’m thinking for Mixing so it all makes sense.

So your precursors this year went as follows:


  • SFX+Foley: A Quiet Place
  • Dialogue+ADR: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Musical: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Foreign Language: Roma

BAFTA: Bohemian Rhapsody

CAS: Bohemian Rhapsody

This year is absolutely fascinating.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Bohemian Rhapsody. Has to be considered the most likely to win. It won two MPSE awards. Granted, one of them was Music in a Musical, which is barely a category, but Dialogue+ADR is nothing to scoff at. It also won BAFTA and CAS. Granted, those two are more for Mixing, but with absolutely no wins for First Man anywhere, I can’t consider anything but this the most likely winner. Do I think it’s a 100% lock? No. Not at all. But it’s gotta be the favorite with all that guild and precursor support.

Biggest Competition: First Man. It’s the best sound design of they year. Surely some people will notice that. But, it’s not a Best Picture nominee and doesn’t have the overall support Bohemian Rhapsody has. And as you see in most other years, they tend to just vote for things in both Sound categories for lack of differentiating. Or maybe we just had a run of films with great sound work that needed to win both. Still, I can’t call this a first choice anymore, but I can still call it a second and a definite contender. Look, since 2006, only one film won a Sound category without winning a single precursor, and that was Zero Dark Thirty, which won on a tie. Taking it back 20 years, there are five more. Two are Lord of the Rings movies and one is King Kong. So Peter Jackson. Three times. The other two are Pearl Harbor and U-571, which won Sound Editing categories in which there were two nominees. So yeah, it’s rare. This has to be second choice at best.

Spoiler Alert: A Quiet Place. It won SFX+Foley at MPSE. That winner has won 8 of the past 12 Oscar categories, which is impressive since that’s in the era of five nominees in both Sound categories. But, it’s only nominated here and nowhere else. The last film to win Sound Editing as its sole nomination was The Ghost and the Darkness in 1996, in a category with only three nominees and the other two being Daylight and Eraser, both of which were also only nominated for Sound Editing and nowhere else. And the only other time it’s happened ever was Goldfinger in 1964, and there were only two nominees in the category. The other nominee that year was The Lively Set, which also was not nominated anywhere else. So, basically, in years where things are nominated in Sound Editing with multiple nominations, they’ve always beaten a film whose sole nomination is Sound Editing. So it’s an interesting situation. the SFX+Foley win makes this a big contender, and history says this really has no shot. But also… do we think Roma wins without any real precursors? It’s got MPSE Foreign Language Film, but that’s a new category that only started recently. If they really liked it, they’d have voted for it in one of the main categories, where it was nominated. And then Black Panther… no precursor support, and how do you split the Sound categories for that? So this feels like it has to be the third choice. But also, I don’t know what the fuck they’re gonna do with this category.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Bohemian Rhapsody

2. First Man

3. A Quiet Place

4. Black Panther

5. Roma

If I Were a Betting Man: First Man. I still think it’s gonna win. I can’t explain why, but I do. I just think that Bohemian Rhapsody winning CAS and BAFTA means it’s a lock for Mixing. And its MPSE wins were Music in a Musical, which The Greatest Showman won last year, so that’s not really that important. And it won Dialogue+ADR, which is a secondary category for them. I mean, sure, as a full picture, it’s impressive the amount of precursors it got, and maybe I’m just convinced that a musical like that won’t win both Sound categories because it’s never happened before. But that’s not the worst thing to hold onto. This is a fucking space movie! There are real sequences where the sound takes center stage. I think this can still win, and I think that maybe MPSE was a red herring. So I’m gonna stick with my gut and go with this on my ballot. I’m not gonna make you come along with me, but I’m still feeling like this is gonna come in. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s A Quiet Place. That I’ll at least accept, because that just means I was convinced Bohemian Rhapsody wasn’t gonna win both Sound categories and was right. But also, I am ignoring my mantra and splitting the Sound categories and setting myself up for almost certain disaster because of it. But that’s me. I’m stupid. Maybe someone will learn from it.

You Should Take: Bohemian Rhapsody. I can’t, in good conscience, tell you to take anything other than Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s got the majority of both Sound guilds and it won BAFTA. I have to figure that it’ll win Mixing, but I also can’t think of a better option on paper than this in Editing. First Man should win, but it’s won nothing so far. And A Quiet Place, maybe you could take that on a hunch, but I can’t tell you to take that because only twice ever did something win Sound Editing as its sole nomination, and one of those two times was 54 years ago and the other was 22 years ago. So I can only tell you one of two things — either to go with me and just take First Man figuring it’s the only logical choice for Sound Editing despite zero precursor wins, or take the Best Picture nominee that’s basically swept the Sound precursors and is in a category that has given its award to only one non-Best Picture nominee since the category expanded to five nominees in 2006 and four times ever. (The four times were 2007, Bourne Ultimatum beating both There Will Be Blood and No Country; 1994, Speed beating Forrest Gump; 1993, Jurassic Park beating The Fugitive; and 1967, The Dirty Dozen beating In the Heat of the Night. All but the last year involved one film winning both Sound categories. Also Speed and Bourne both won BAFTA Sound and all three of those first three won SFX+Foley too. So you saw them coming.) So yeah, I’m telling you to just take Bohemian Rhapsody in both and see where that gets you.

On My Ballot: First Man

Best Sound Mixing

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man


A Star Is Born

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: Mixing is less clear cut than Editing. Editing, to me, is more about the effects-heavy movies, most of the time. Mixing can be about other things. It doesn’t have to be explosions. Sometimes it could just be a cacophony of sound, like Birdman. That was great sound design. Here, we have two musicals, so those obviously will contend. A Star Is Born does a great job of mixing the music in with the sound. As does Bohemian Rhapsody. But I thought Roma had fantastic sound work as well, and I’ve already said I think First Man has the best sound design of the year, so that’s gonna be my vote regardless. The other three are all sort of jumbled in that 2-3-4 range, but First Man is the choice for me every day of the week in this one.

My Vote: First Man

Should Have Been Nominated: Ready Player One

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Okay, so presumably you’ve already read Editing. Or you’re popping down like I said to read this. Either way, welcome.

the simpsons hello GIF

To get the category portion done first — this one went about as expected. You knew Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born would make it on here, if any Sound category. First Man was a lock for both. I thought A Quiet Place would get both Sound categories just because it hit everything it could have hit. But they left it odf in favor of Black Panther and Roma. Which makes sense. And we get a year where the Sound categories matched 4/5, which has almost become the norm in recent years. Last year was the first time ever they matched 5/5. But the 4/5 makes sense, with Quiet Place getting Editing and Star Is Born getting Mixing and all that making a lot of sense.

All right, now let’s get into the important stuff. We’ll start, because it has to go somewhere, with how many times a film has won both Editing and Mixing. It’s been 18 times ever, though that first one had a non-competitive win, so it’s somewhat dicey.

  • 1966, Grand Prix
  • 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark (the Editing win was a special achievement award and there was no official category)
  • 1982, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  • 1983, The Right Stuff
  • 1991, Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • 1993, Jurassic Park
  • 1994, Speed
  • 1997, Titanic
  • 1998, Saving Private Ryan
  • 1999, The Matrix
  • 2005, King Kong
  • 2007, The Bourne Ultimatum
  • 2009, The Hurt Locker
  • 2010, Inception
  • 2011, Hugo
  • 2013, Gravity
  • 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road
  • 2017, Dunkirk

Now, 18 times ever isn’t really that big a deal, since Sound Editing wasn’t a category until 1963 and they didn’t even give them out a bunch of the years in between that and 1981. It really only started becoming a category once Raiders came out. So if we count Raiders as one, it’s happened in 17 of 37 years, which is 46% of the time. Though it has happened in six of the past ten years, so there is that. And going back to 2006, when there were five nominees in both categories, it’s 7/12.

Focusing solely on those five years where the Sound categories did split since they became five nominees each:

  • 2006 — Dreamgirls, a musical, won Mixing
  • 2008 — Slumdog Millionaire, a film with a lot of music, won Mixing
  • 2012 — Les Mis, a musical, won Mixing
  • 2014 — Whiplash, a music film, won Mixing
  • 2016 — the Hacksaw/Arrival thing that I’ve yet to make sense of happened

So what you see as a trend — the big sound movie can win both, or if there is a split, the film with a lot of music will win Mixing. So far there hasn’t been a music-heavy film that won both Sound categories. Which is what factored into my Editing decision.

You guys know my refrain when we get to this section of the ballot: “Don’t split the Sound categories, Mike.” It’s because about half the time something manages to win both. Most of the time, it makes sense for winning both. This year is interesting, in that I can make a compelling case that it both will and won’t happen. And I truly don’t know which way it’s gonna go.

Image result for one dog goes one way gif

But, just so you’re aware, the reason you don’t want to split the Sound categories is so you don’t get caught in a situation like I had in 2016. Which was — you had three main contenders in the two Sound categories: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge and La La Land. Now, the musical, you assume, is really only coming into play for Sound Mixing. And then Editing, you figure it could go to either of the two, but Hacksaw Ridge is a war movie. That seems like the obvious choice. So I took Hacksaw Ridge in Editing and La La Land in Mixing. Then Hacksaw Ridge won Mixing and Arrival won Editing and I went 0-2. Had I put Hacksaw Ridge in both, I could have salvaged it and went 1-1, which honestly isn’t that bad in the Sound categories. Splitting them opens you up to potential disaster. So you have to play it smart and be prepared for things to go horribly wrong.

Now, as for Mixing specifically, the major guild is CAS. Then we look at BAFTA, since that’s a single category with a focus on Mixing, and then we look at MPSE, since all the sound designers funnel into a single branch when it comes to the Oscars.

CAS has been giving out awards since 1993. Here’s how they’ve done vs. the Sound Mixing category:

  • 1993: The Fugitive (Jurassic Park wins the Oscar)
  • 1994: Forrest Gump (Speed wins the Oscar)
  • 1995: Apollo 13
  • 1996: The English Patient
  • 1997: Titanic
  • 1998: Saving Private Ryan
  • 1999: The Matrix
  • 2000: Gladiator
  • 2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Black Hawk Down wins the Oscar)
  • 2002: Road to Perdition (Chicago wins the Oscar)
  • 2003: Master and Commander (Return of the King wins the Oscar)
  • 2004: The Aviator (Ray wins the Oscar)
  • 2005: Walk the Line (King Kong wins the Oscar)
  • 2006: Dreamgirls
  • 2007: No Country for Old Men (The Bourne Ultimatum wins the Oscar)
  • 2008: Slumdog Millionaire
  • 2009: The Hurt Locker
  • 2010: True Grit (Inception wins the Oscar)
  • 2011: Hugo
  • 2012: Les Miserables
  • 2013: Gravity
  • 2014: Birdman (Whiplash wins the Oscar)
  • 2015: The Revenant (Mad Max wins the Oscar)
  • 2016: La La Land (Hacksaw Ridge wins the Oscar)
  • 2017: Dunkirk

That’s 13/25 all-time. So just about 50%. And half of the 12 misses (1993, 1994, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2015) involve a film winning both Sound categories at the Oscars. The other six — Black Hawk Down is presaged by MPSE, where it won both categories. Chicago is a musical that won Best Picture. Return of the King swept. Ray is a musical. And Hacksaw I just can’t explain at all. So typically you can understand when they miss most of the time. They’re also 7/12 since both Sound categories became five nominees. Seems like they’re trending upward.

Oh, and BAFTA. I wrote up the BAFTA list back up there in Editing. They are 14/25 in the past 25 years. That is, 14 of the past 25 BAFTA Sound winners went on to win Sound Mixing at the Oscars. That’s 56%. Though, they are 8/10 in the past 10. The two misses are The Revanant, which lost to Mad Max in both Sound categories, and Arrival, which won Editing and not Mixing. Still, not bad.

So, here’s where we are: we’ve got all that information and these precursors:

CAS: Bohemian Rhapsody

BAFTA: Bohemian Rhapsody


  • SFX+Foley: A Quiet Place
  • Dialogue+ADR: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Musical: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Foreign Language: Roma

You already know what I’m doing with Editing and I’ve basically already told you what I’m doing here. This year, Mixing is the easier of the two to figure out.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Bohemian Rhapsody. It won CAS, BAFTA and has two MPSE wins. And it’s a Best Picture nominee that’s got lots of songs in it. How much easier does this need to get? If you want further justification of this as a first choice, since 1993 when CAS started, CAS and BAFTA both had the same winner 12 times. 8 of those times did the winner go on to win the Oscar for Mixing. Only one of those four came since 2006, and it was The Revenant losing to Mad Max, which I think we all saw coming despite the precursors. So yeah, I’m very comfortable calling this the favorite in this category.

Biggest Competition: First Man. It’s a space movie. It could still win Editing. It’s definitely in contention even if it doesn’t end up winning. I don’t have confidence in it here as I did a month ago. A month ago it was “probably winning both, but definitely taking Editing and maybe losing Mixing of one of the musicals.” Now, it might lose both to Bohemian Rhapsody. Man, how the tide has turned. But yeah, if anything’s a second choice, it’s this.

Spoiler Alert: A Star Is Born. Weird how it seemed like this could have won the category once upon a time. Also, had the perception of this film been slightly different than it is, it would have been a major contender here, rather than a third choice and basically an afterthought in the category. It’s a musical, so I’ll put it here. But it has no precursors and I can’t make a case for either Roma or Black Panther in this spot. I can’t see how anyone en masse takes Roma in either Sound category, and I can’t see Black Panther being voted in one Sound category and not the other. So that’s one where either I assume people take it in neither or take it in both. And either way, I don’t see it having the votes to actually win, so I’ll stick with this as a third choice. I think this is 80/20 Bohemian Rhapsody over First Man at this point.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Bohemian Rhapsody

2. First Man

3. A Star Is Born

4. Black Panther

5. Roma

If I Were a Betting Man: Bohemian Rhapsody. CAS, BAFTA and two MPSE wins. And it’s a musical with a lot of montages and concert scenes. How can you not figure this wins here? And with First Man not winning any precursors, I can’t assume it’s gonna win both. So if it wins anything, it’s Editing and that’s it. And it’ll be like 2014, with the American Sniper/Whiplash Editing/Mixing split. Only difference is, those were both Best Picture nominees. This is the only Best Picture nominee in that scenario. So you gotta figure this is more likely to take both and then maybe it gets beat in Editing since it doesn’t make as much sense in Editing as it does here. But the important part of that statement is the acknowledgement of how much sense it makes here. So I’m taking that sense.

You Should Take: Bohemian Rhapsody. Because there’s no overly compelling argument for why this isn’t one of the top ten most locked categories of the night. Maybe First Man can still win one or both of the Sound categories. It’s looking pretty unlikely, and this has that film by two overall nominations and four overall precursors. I think you gotta take this here. If you wanna do something interesting, look elsewhere in Editing. Not here. This one seems pretty set.

On My Ballot: Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Animated Feature

Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs


Ralph Breaks the Internet

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: I absolutely hated the crop of animated movies this year. Disney and Pixar both did sequels, which just soured me at the top. And add to that the fact that you can count the amount of good American animated movies not made by Disney or Pixar over the past twenty years on two hands and can count the great ones on one (if it’s even more than zero, which it might not be), you’re left with what’s guaranteed to be a weak year. Japan had a bunch of anime eligible, but anime has never really been my genre, and the fact that I managed to like two of them is actually a pretty big deal. The year was so bad that I’d have straight up nominated 80% of this category. And Incredibles 2 and Mirai are, in most other years, take it or leave it films for me. But that’s how shitty this one was. Fortunately they got the category mostly right so it’s not gonna look as bad as the crop of choices was. I will also take this moment to shout out The Night Is Short Walk On Girl, a great animated movie about a girl going out on a bender. I’d have nominated that here in a heartbeat.

Anyway, this category. Ralph Breaks the Internet was my #1 Unforgivable movie of the year, so I think you know where I stand on that one. Mirai was cute but the nomination is the reward. Happy for it, but not a chance. Incredibles 2 — take it or leave it. I’m not a huge fan of the first one (which is to say, it’s good, but I’ve got loads of Pixar stuff I like better), and this one was just fine. I even put Mirai over it in the rankings because I’d rather see it win over a Pixar sequel. Isle of Dogs, meanwhile, great. Wes Anderson, lot of fun, looks fantastic. Might be racist, but whatever. I grew up with 80 years of Disney movies. I know the score. But honestly… as much as I want Wes Anderson to get an Oscar, and as much as Isle of Dogs was a fantastic movie… Into the Spider-Verse did something fresh. It was fun. It looked great. I’ve seen Wes Anderson do that movie before. I haven’t seen a studio outside of Disney Pixar make a movie where I went, “Wow, that looks amazing.” So I will go along with the crowd and vote for Into the Spider-Verse. My knock against it is that it’s not the best written film ever and people are calling it a masterpiece. But honestly, none of these have particularly groundbreaking stories to them. Isle of Dogs just feels like it borders on Wes Anderson parody at times. It’s no Fantastic Mr. Fox. So I’ll take Spider-Verse. I’m happy with that.

My Vote: Isle of Dogs

Should Have Been Nominated: The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Arguably we got the least shitty category we could have gotten. Of course, that’s going along with the assumption that the Academy would never actually watch and/or nominate some of the more interesting foreign entries this year, like Tito and the Birds and The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl. I’m thinking more in terms of — The Grinch or Smallfoot could have gotten on here. So, all things considered, I actually look fondly on this category, even if I don’t care for the majority of the nominees in any lasting way. So maybe the rules change isn’t going to ruin the category. Just maybe make it broader, which to me is a bad thing, but maybe not so much for people at large.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this category. Most years, Disney/Pixar is the automatic winner. I could get into how they chose these nominees and all that, but who needs it. You know the deal.

Into the Spider-Verse has won every precursor there is and goes into this as big a favorite to win as you can get out of something that wasn’t made by Disney or Pixar. And its only real competition from Disney/Pixar are sequels, which most of the time they wouldn’t even nominate here, let alone vote for. So yeah, this one’s pretty cut and dry and we’re already so deep into this, I don’t need to make this any longer than it needs to be.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I mean, it’s the favorite. BAFTA, the Globe, BFCA… it’s won everything. It even swept the Annie Awards, winning every category in which it was nominated. You really don’t need me to justify why this is here. So I’ll just end by saying this is looking to become only the sixth non-Disney/Pixar movie to win this category. The other five winners are: Shrek, Spirited Away, Wallace and Gromit, Happy Feet and Rango.

Biggest Competition: Incredibles 2. If anything’s gonna take Spider-Verse down, it’s gonna be this. Sometimes voting for Pixar is muscle memory. But at this point, Spider-Verse has been so out there and has such word of mouth that I don’t even think it’s possible this can win. Maybe some people will still go there, but this is an afterthought at this juncture.

Spoiler Alert: Isle of Dogs. Call it my Futura Bold Prediction, but I think this is the third choice over Ralph Breaks the Internet. But also, if Incredibles 2 is an afterthought, what are the rest of these? They’re the “et al” of this sentence. This has no chance to win this. No precursors, no real overt show of love out there. You can’t even use the Score nomination to its advantage to say it has a shot. It’s not happening. This category is Spider-Verse all the way.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

2. Incredibles 2

3. Isle of Dogs

4. Ralph Breaks the Internet

5. Mirai

If I Were a Betting Man: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I’m not stupid. It’s gonna win. It won everything, everyone likes it, everyone’s hearing about how awesome it is. It has the right kind of buzz about it, and that will carry it to an easy win. Don’t be shocked if somehow it loses to Pixar, but also don’t expect that to happen either.

You Should Take: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Unless you’re somehow not trying to guess the most winners, that is. You know my mantra about this — take the easy ones and worry about the hard ones. This is an easy one.

On My Ballot: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Foreign Language Film


Cold War

Never Look Away



My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: It’s almost unfair that Roma gets to be in this category. I know it counts and all, but it’s kind of unfair. What if there was just a rule that you could be nominated in Foreign Language unless you get a Best Picture nomination? I guess that’s also unfair. Because the equivalent there is — Toy Story 3 is nominated for Best Picture but then gets kicked off Animation because it was liked enough to be nominated in the big category. Still, though… big fish in a little pond. Granted, there’s a decent-sized fish alongside of it, since Cold War has three nominations including Director. And then Never Look Away also is on Cinematography with Roma and Cold War, which might be a first. I haven’t looked, but three Foreign Language nominees with multiple nominations can’t have happened all too often. That said, I’m very okay with this category.

Some years they feel like they make weird choices. This one I get, and I even liked four of the five films. Wasn’t a huge fan of Never Look Away, but I get why it’s here. Clearly the branch liked it. And honestly I liked The Guilty and would have put that on over it, but I didn’t need to see that here. So I’m fine with this. (Full disclosure, I have not seen either Ayka or Birds of Passage. Birds of Passage just opened in LA last week, so unless it got nominated, there was no chance I was gonna be able to see it before now. And the other shortlisted film, Burning, was fine. I wouldn’t have nominated it, but it was solid.) I did like Capernaum quite a bit, but I wouldn’t have taken it over the other three choices. Shoplifters was lovely and in a weaker year would have contended for the choice. But it’s obvious Roma and Cold War are the two big fish here. And Roma… it’s my Best Picture vote. I have to take it here. I can’t not vote for it just because I’m voting for it elsewhere. That’s no fair. I liked Cold War a lot, but Roma is Roma. So Roma’s the vote.

My Vote: Roma

Should Have Been Nominated: I’m okay with this. But I did like The Guilty.

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Foreign Language Film is one of those categories where most of the hard stuff happens in the early part of the process. We have no idea how they end up with their shortlist. There are usually about 90 submissions each year. I don’t know who is tasked with watching all of them, or if they even do, but eventually we get a shortlist of 9 films. Six of them were voted on as the most liked by the branch, and three of them were just put there by the senior committee of the branch. Which is crazy. What criteria is there to put stuff on? Most years I feel like it’s just because the country is submitting for the first time and they want to give them incentive to keep doing it. But they’re straight up just putting stuff on there, which feels like it’s open to all sorts of corruption. Not to mention the fact that most of the time people feel like they pick the wrong movies and the best stuff is constantly left off. But anyway, then we get our category of five, and by the time that happens, we’re usually pretty sure what’s going to win.

And that’s where we are this year. Your probable Best Picture winner is in this category and it has ten overall nominations. Oh, and it’s won every precursor award there is for this category. This one’s pretty easy.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Roma. Because yes, it is.

Biggest Competition: Cold War. It’s got a Best Director nomination and a Cinematography nomination. In another year this would be the biggest slam dunk winner ever. Here, you’re trying to think of ways in which people will somehow not vote for Roma and put their votes into this. No matter how you slice it or figure out that scenario, you have to admit this is the second choice.

Spoiler Alert: Never Look Away. It’s got a Cinematography nomination. I might say that if people watched all the films, that Shoplifters and Capernaum would be more liked and more likely to get votes. But, three important things to stay about that. 1) That’s assuming people even watch the films 2) That’s assuming they’d vote for them over Roma or Cold War if they even watched them, and 3) This was the only one of the remaining films I was able to find a cool gif for. I’m kidding on that last one (slightly. It was the only one for a bit, but Shoplifters is out now and I could have put that here had I felt like it). But honestly, I don’t think we get past those first two. The argument against Roma losing is already a slight one. So to say that it’s not gonna be Cold War that beats it is a whole other issue. So let’s just go with conventional wisdom and say that the films with other nominations are most likely to win this category. Normally a second nomination is enough for something to win the category. There are 12 outside nominations for the films in this category.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Roma

2. Cold War

3. Never Look Away

4. Shoplifters

5. Capernaum

If I Were a Betting Man: I’m taking Roma until it loses. I’m not talking myself into doing something stupid. I’ve got Cold War second on the Scorecard. I’m covered.

You Should Take: Roma. Why make life harder for yourself? Think of all the mental gymnastics you have to do to make sense of that other pick. Why not put all that energy to a more difficult category and just be wrong with the rest of us if it happens.

On My Ballot: Roma

Best Documentary Feature

Free Solo

Hale County This Morning, This Evening

Minding the Gap

Of Fathers and Sons


My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: Well, I think we know what my thoughts on this one are going to be, given that Won’t You Be My Neighbor? was my number one movie of the year. But don’t worry, I’m not gonna rail against how shitty the Documentary branch is, because I half expected them to not nominate it. This branch has repeatedly shown that it doesn’t know its ass from its elbow, leaving off arguably the best documentary almost every year. Remember 2014? The Roger Ebert documentary? Didn’t nominate it. They didn’t nominate Three Identical Strangers either, which is another one people loved. And instead we were left with a shitty category. This one at least is a halfway decent category, even if you haven’t heard of a few of them.

RBG everyone knows, and it’s the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary that’s arguably better than the biopic they also made this year. Free Solo is the mountain climber movie about the guy who climbed El Capitan without any safety equipment. Mostly it’s a portrait of this guy and what it takes to even want to attempt something like this. Hale County is basically a montage film. Pretty much, someone took cameras and filmed a community over a year and then edited into a giant montage. No real narrative, it just shows you these people. It’s quite good. Of Fathers and Sons is about a guy who went and embedded himself with a radical Islamic family and filmed them. That’s it. It’s fascinating.

And Minding the Gap is about kids skateboarding… and I guess, getting into the same cycles of the people around them. That one I wasn’t a huge fan of. Hale County is a community being who they are and Minding the Gap is how the community is basically swallowing these kids whole. Overall, in the absence of the best documentary of the year, I guess my vote is RBG. I liked Free Solo too, but I’d rather put my vote toward RBG. I did like four of the docs here, but it just feels like a letdown of a category because of my utter disappointment with this branch and their continued backwards voting.

My Vote: RBG

Should Have Been Nominated: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Here’s how this works: the Documentary branch shortlists 15 films, and then they pick 5 for the category. And routinely they leave the best documentaries off their category, because apparently they don’t want people to care about their category.

I told myself I’m not gonna talk about how we got this category because it would only lead to me shitting on the branch. So we’re just gonna analyze the five we have.

Free Solo — Documentary about Alex Honnold, a dedicated climber who decided he wanted to “free solo” El Capitan. Which means climb it without any sort of safety equipment. It’s almost Man on Wire but without the heist aspect. And instead long stretches about how this dude just does not relate to people and only tolerates his girlfriend because “she doesn’t take up too much room in the van.”

Hale County This Morning, This Evening — A nice montage-style film of clips of a community. The filmmakers spent like a year around these people, shot a bunch of footage and edited into a nice portrait of this town. It’s very nice.

Minding the Gap — A documentary about three friends who skateboard and how they’re getting pulled into the cycle of abuse and addiction of those around them.

Of Fathers and Sons — About a filmmaker who embedded himself with a radical Islamic family and filmed them.

RBG — About Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her life and story, how she went from a lawyer crusading for equal gender rights to a Supreme Court justice and cultural icon.

So yeah, those are the five. I have to figure that most people who are only casually into this stuff have only heard of two, maybe three of these. That’s usually all you need to figure out how this one’s gonna go.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Free Solo. I’ve come around on this being the likely winner. It was the idea that it was like Man on Wire that really did it for me. Because I kept saying — people were selling this on the thrill of the climb, but there’s not much of the climb in there. And I realized, it’s only partially about the climb. It’s also about this guy and the kind of mentality it takes to do something like this. It also won BAFTA, won for editing at ACE, won for sound mixing at CAS, won three awards including Best Cinematography at the BFCA Documentary Awards…. you get the point. I mean, sure, a lot of that was fait accompli, since it’s about a mountain climber. But you see what I mean. People really like this. And while BAFTA picking it isn’t a sure thing, it helps. I feel like this will get votes enough to win. So I’m calling it the favorite.

el capitan rock climbing GIF by Madman Films

Biggest Competition: RBG. If it’s not Free Solo, it’s this. I’m still not sure this doesn’t win. Because this is, while a love letter, a political statement for them too. Also, it being a love letter to her is meaningless to me, because what was Won’t You Be My Neighbor? I think they could easily vote for this. The lack of a BAFTA win doesn’t deter me from it, just because it’s an American subject. And also… BAFTA… they brought back the Documentary category in 2011, and since then they’re 3/6. Not bad, not great. This one could go either way. The obvious though is that either this or Free Solo will win. So on that alone, I’m good.

Exercise Workout GIF - Exercise Workout Train GIFs

Spoiler Alert: Minding the Gap. Because this is the one that most people will have heard of. No one knows what Of Fathers and Sons is and you’d have to watch it and want to vote for it over the others in order for that to be a contender. A tall order for this Academy. And Hale County… maybe it has some recognition, but I doubt enough people will have seen it and want to vote for it to consider it a contender. So on name value alone, this is the third choice. But I don’t think we get that far with this. Documentary is usually a ‘one or the other’ scenario.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Free Solo

2. RBG

3. Minding the Gap

4. Hale County This Morning, This Evening

5. Of Fathers and Sons

If I Were a Betting Man: RBG. I’m still thinking they do it. I’m not gonna tell you to come along with me, since I think Free Solo is probably the safer choice, but I’m gonna stick with RBG. I also always do weird shit like this on my own ballot because I don’t care about my ballot. You’ll see that I have Free Solo #1 in my rankings and I’m willingly taking the #2. What do I care? If it comes in, I get a #2. I only get worried when a #4 comes in when I thought the category only went two deep. So I’m taking this. We’ll see if it happens.

You Should Take: Free Solo. I think it’s the likely winner, and I think it’s the safe choice. And I’m gonna be honest, after these past three weeks, I’d feel bad telling you to take RBG knowing this had the feeling of the probable winner. I think it’s a 50/50, and I think Free Solo has a slight edge. You can truly take either, but I think if you want to play the smarter choice, it’s this one.

On My Ballot: RBG

We Are Certainly Here To Stay Ruth Bader Ginsburg GIF

Best Documentary Short

Black Sheep

End Game


A Night at the Garden

Period. End of Sentence.

My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: Of the ten shortlisted docs, I ended up being able to see 7 of them. I was interested in the other three and wonder if two of them were worth putting on over some of these. But the three I haven’t seen weren’t nominated (’63 Boycott, Women of the Gulag and Los Comandos), so I can’t say for sure. But the one that shows a Civil Rights boycott and compares it to modern day protests seemed like it was good, and the one about volunteers in Mexico working as EMTs who have to encounter unthinkable violence every day also looked good. Women of the Gulag could have went either way, but the other two seem like they were solid enough to be nominated. They also didn’t nominate My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes, which was the best-named contender this year. I almost wish it made it purely on the title alone, but sadly the doc doesn’t come near the amazingness of that title. And then there was Zion, which I am so glad they didn’t nominate because it’s not even a documentary. It’s just like, “Hey, here’s a kid who was born without a lower half of his body and he’s on the wrestling team.” There’s no information, there’s no backstory about him or his family. Just, “This is him, and he’s on the team.” You gotta give me more than that.(I will also be the one who takes the bullet in the name of comedy. I am aware that my review of that documentary is that it is “not fully formed.” But you know what? The only reason I can make that joke is because that kid is a fucking beast on the wrestling mat.) So instead, we have this list.

Lifeboat is another Syrian refugee film, about a boat of volunteers saving refugees stuck on the water. Wasn’t for me. End Game is another one of those Netflix hospital docs, like Extremis a few years ago. It’s about end of life decisions. Didn’t amount to much of anything for me. A Night at the Garden is just ten minutes of restored footage from a Nazi rally held in Madison Square Garden exactly 80 years ago this past Wednesday. Very fascinating, but it felt more like a restoration project than a documentary. The point, of course, is that thousands of people went to this thing, and one can easily see the parallels between that and the current day presidential rallies. Then Black Sheep is a racial doc, about a black family who moves out of London because of racial violence, only to encounter the same kind of racism where they move. So it goes from “you may get killed on the way home from school” to “these kids are going to be racist and bully you every day.” And eventually the boy changes who he is to sort of fit in with these people. It’s very interesting. And then there’s Period. End of Sentence. which is about a group of Indian women who begin making and selling sanitary napkins to try to combat the stigma against menstruation in the country. It’s easily the best short in the category, and is my vote.

My Vote: Period. End of Sentence.

Should Have Been Nominated: ’63 Boycott

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This is one of those categories where no one really cares how we ended up with this category. They shortlist 10, we get 5 of them on the list. They’re all usually pretty boring and no one really cares about them.

The only insight I can provide for this category is the past decade of winners, which clearly shows you what they gravitate toward when they vote on this one:

  • 2017: Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (about a mentally ill woman overcoming her illness to create art)
  • 2016: The White Helmets (about the Syrian Civil War)
  • 2015: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (about honor killing in the Middle East)
  • 2014: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (about suicide prevention hotlines for vets with PTSD)
  • 2013: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Elderly Holocaust survivor used music to overcome the horrors)
  • 2012: Inocente (Immigrant, homeless girl in Los Angeles rises above her situation to be an artist)
  • 2011: Saving Face (doctor who performs surgeries on Middle Eastern women who have acid thrown in their faces)
  • 2010: Strangers No More (about a preschool in Israel where children of all races and religions learn together)
  • 2009: Music by Prudence (about a severely disabled African woman who overcomes her disability to become a singer)
  • 2008: Smile Pinki (about a poor Indian girl with a cleft palate who gets surgery to correct it, which changes her life)

They like people overcoming stuff to make art, and they like things based on current issues, so they can pretend like they’ve done their part in correcting them.

This year’s nominees are:

Black Sheep — Black family moves out of the big city because of racial violence and still encounters racism even in their new home. We see the effect of this racism on the main boy’s development into an adult.

End Game — About end of life decisions people have to make at hospitals and how difficult they often are.

Lifeboat — About volunteers going out to save refugees stuck out on the water.

A Night at the Garden — Found footage from a Nazi rally held in Madison Square Garden in 1939.

Period. End of Sentence. — About Indian women who start making and selling sanitary napkins, to help overcome the stigma of menstruation and help out Indian women who are often uneducated about it due to India’s male dominated social structure.

Pretty obvious what the contenders are, isn’t it?

Also, fortunately for us all five are available to watch online, so all of those links up there will take you to the full shorts, should you want to watch them. I think that always helps me try to guess what’s gonna win, because I can put myself in a voter’s shoes. So they are there for you to watch, should you want to.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Period. End of Sentence. Aside from the fact that it just sounds like the winner, I think it’s the best short in the bunch. Oh, and even though this would have been my most likely winner outside of this, one of the producers of this documentary is Netflix’s publicist who runs all of their Oscar campaigns and is basically moving heaven and earth to get Roma a Best Picture win. Oh, and she previously ran campaigns for La La Land and Moonlight, and all the Harvey stuff back in the day when he would get nominations and wins galore. So not only does this make the most sense, but it has one of the biggest Oscar campaigners out there behind it. I think it’s probably going to win, guys.

Biggest Competition: End Game. It’s Netflix, so that’ll get it votes. I can’t see how people necessarily see this one and go, “I have to take it,” but you have to consider this a top contender because it’s Netflix and will have had the most eyeballs on it of most of the rest of this category. So we’ll call it a second choice. It doesn’t totally fit here (bearing a lot of similarities to Extremis, which lost this category a few years ago), but it’s gotta be respected as a contender.

Spoiler Alert: Black Sheep. It’s the one that has to deal with race. I can’t not put it near the top of the rankings. It’s Documentary Short, so theoretically anything can win and we have no idea. But I feel comfortable calling this a third choice. Maybe it’ll end up winning. That’s very possible. If it’s not Period. End of Sentence. then it could go anywhere. In terms of the “one sentence” pitches that make the most sense, these are the top three. A Night at the Garden is just ten minutes of old footage, and I can’t see people rushing to vote for that, and Lifeboat is the Syrian refugee crisis, which I feel like they’re over at this point. So I feel comfortable saying these three are the likely three to take it down.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Period. End of Sentence.

2. End Game

3. Black Sheep

4. Lifeboat

5. A Night at the Garden

If I Were a Betting Man: Period. End of Sentence. I generally do pretty well here taking the one that feels like the one that would normally win this category. It’s either the one that highlights the most important/interesting issue, or the one that tugs at the heart strings. And in Hollywood, that means, “Oh wow, look at this person overcoming this thing to make art. Just like all of us do.” There’s none of that this year, so it’s purely the issue. And “women in India banding together to make sanitary napkins because of a deeply rooted stigma from a male-dominated society” fits right in with everything else that’s won. End Game, Black Sheep… yeah, I guess… but not as much as this.

You Should Take: Period. End of Sentence. So everything I said up there is why you should take this. And also — like I said, Netflix’s Oscar campaign person produced this. If she can get people to vote for Roma, she can get people to vote for this. Most people would just vote for this without even seeing it just out of support. I think you gotta take this.

On My Ballot: Period. End of Sentence

Best Live-Action Short






My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: This is the worst Live-Action Short category I’ve seen in a while. At least there’s always one kinda cute one or one that is clearly better than the rest. This one… nothing. They’re all fucking downers. There’s not a single uplifting one in the bunch. I don’t even really like them all that much, either. Skin feels like some sort of depressing O. Henry story. Or I guess, a Twilight Zone. Racist man beats up black guy in parking lot. Gets kidnapped by black guy’s friends and tattooed all over his body so his skin looks black. He goes back home, is mistaken for a black man and shot by his own son. Doesn’t add up for me. They turned it into a feature, so I’m curious to see how that’s gonna go. Marguerite is about an old woman who finds out her female caretaker has a girlfriend and all these old memories of hers begin to resurface, namely that she had feelings for a friend of hers, but because of the era, was unable to act on them. Basically ends with the caretaker kissing the woman and laying in bed with her, I guess out of an act of solidarity.

Mother is not so much a Twilight Zone episode so much as it’s one of those “the moment no parent wants to happen.” Which is, woman gets a call from her five year old son, who is supposed to be on a trip with his father. The boy says he’s on a beach, has no real idea where, there’s no one else around, and Dad hasn’t come back for a long time. Oh, and the phone battery is dying. So the mother has to scramble to figure out where he is and how to help without having any information whatsoever. Could be amazing, but the short doesn’t stick the landing. It just ends on an ambiguous note, with the mother rushing out to just start driving and looking at any beach where her son could be. But that’s after a crazy turn where the boy says “I see a man,” and then the man starts approaching him, so the mother tells the boy to run away. So we’re left not knowing if the man was there to help or a predator. Very weird short.

Then Fauve is a couple of kids playing around an abandoned train and in a quarry. They’re just sort of fucking around, playing a game of their own design. But eventually it becomes serious when one of them gets stuck in quicksand. And… let’s just say it doesn’t end too well. It’s a pretty harrowing short. Though like most of these, I wonder what the point of it was. And then there’s Detainment, which is taken from the real police transcripts of a murder from the 90s, where two ten year olds abducted a two year old, tortured and killed him. So it’s mostly these kids being interrogated and eventually admitting to doing it. It’s… the performances are really good. Some say it humanizes killers. Mostly I think it dramatizes the entire situation. This is the only one that made me at least go, “Whoa, those performances are good.” So I feel like maybe that’s my vote? Because everything else feels weirdly not fully formed. I don’t like anything here, and I think this is one of the overall weakest Live-Action Shorts categories I’ve ever seen. So we’ll take the film that at least feels most like a complete story.

My Vote: Detainment

Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Time for Live Action Short analysis! YEAH!!!!!!!!

This is the worst category to pick. Because you never know. And this year especially, we really don’t know. This is the Ratatouille of categories — anything can win.

I wasn’t totally in love with the crop of shortlisted films this year, and in the end we got a pretty boring category that I truly don’t know what to do with.

The only analysis I can give you here is a list of the past ten winners of the category and then what each short this year is about:

  • 2017: The Silent Child — A deaf girl is completely ignored by her family because they think she’s dumb and can’t communicate. A social worker comes and teaches the girl how to communicate and opens up a new world for her.
  • 2016: Sing — a young girl joins her school choir, which gives off the air of greatness and inclusion, only to find out that the teacher tells the kids who are not the best singers to just mouth the words, manipulating them into doing what she wants. Eventually the kids join in and all refuse to sing during a major competition to get back at the teacher.
  • 2015: Stutterer — A lonely with a stutter forms an online relationship with a woman, but is worried about meeting her in real life because he thinks she won’t be able to deal with his disability. He then decides to start practicing sign language, so he can pretend he’s deaf and be able to communicate that way. Eventually, when he does meet the girl, he discovers that she is actually deaf, and won’t be able to hear his stutter anyway.
  • 2014: The Phone Call — A recently widowed man calls a suicide hotline and says he has taken a bunch of pills and will die soon and simply wants someone to talk to as it happens. The woman on the phone tries to keep him talking long enough to find out where he is in order to save him as well as talk him out of his decision.
  • 2013: Helium — A young, dying boy in the hospital befriends the janitor, who tells the boy stories of a fantastical realm that is an alternative to Heaven. Eventually, as the boy is dying, the janitor is prevented from seeing him. Thanks to a nice nurse, the janitor is taken in to see the boy just before he dies, so he can finish telling him the story. The film ends from the boy’s point of view, as he ascends into the fantasy world of Helium that the janitor told him about.
  • 2012: Curfew — A man in the process of a suicide attempt gets a call from his estranged sister, who asks him to look after her daughter for her. He agrees and goes to watch the little girl for the night. The two initially want little to do with one another, but eventually bond over the course of the night. They go to a bowling alley, and at one point, a musical number breaks out. They ended up turning this into a feature, called Before I Disappear, which was also quite good.
  • 2011: The Shore — Two childhood friends meet 25 years later, after a disagreement caused by the problems of Northern Ireland in the 90s.
  • 2010: God of Love — A man, desperately in love with a woman who wants nothing to do with him, wishes for a woman to love him, and then is given a pack of “love darts.” He tests one to make sure they work, and then plans the most romantic night ever, designed to get the girl to stay in love with him after the effects of the dart wear off. He begins using the darts on other women, but nothing fulfills him. He thinks of plans to get the other woman to love him (convincing her she’s diabetic, so she’ll have to keep pricking herself with the arrows in order to remain in love with him), but ultimately he sees that his best friend is the one who is really in love with the girl, and she with him, so he uses the dart to get the two of them together. And because of his selfless deed, he then comes home to find Cupid’s bow and arrow at his door, anointing him as his successor.
  • 2009: The New Tenants — About a couple who moves into a new apartment and get into a comedic chain of murderous events. It’s like a comedy version of Polanski’s The Tenant (which itself might be a dark comedy).
  • 2008: Toyland — A mother lies to her son about where the Nazis are taking their Jewish neighbors. She says they went to “Toyland,” not realizing that he wants to go there too. The boy ends up sneaking off so he can go to Toyland with the neighbors, leading to the mother hurrying to get her child back before… well, you know.

This one clearly doesn’t have the track record of Documentary Short, but it does tell you they tend to like kids and movies with cute endings or movies that can be expanded into features. Typically if it’s uplifting or life-affirming in some way, it does better.

Here are this year’s nominees:

Detainment — Two ten year-old boys are detained by police under suspicion of abducting and murdering a toddler. A true story based on interview transcripts and records from the James Bulger case which shocked the world in 1993.

Fauve — Set in a surface mine, two boys sink into a seemingly innocent power game with Mother Nature as the sole observer…

Marguerite — An aging woman and her nurse develop a friendship that inspires her to unearth unacknowledged longing and thus help her make peace with her past.

Mother — While at home in her apartment with her own mother in Spain, a woman gets a phone call from her six-year-old son, who’s on holiday in France with his father. Every parent’s nightmare ensues.

Skin — A small supermarket in a blue collar town, a black man smiles at a 10 year old white boy across the checkout aisle. This innocuous moment sends two gangs into a ruthless war that ends with a shocking backlash.

I truly don’t know what to do here, and it’s sort of become a tradition that this is the last category I end up writing up. Because I don’t know what the hell to do, and if I make a decision days early, that just means I have days of constantly thinking about it and changing my mind. This way I just think through it, day-of, make my decision and just be done with it.

Put it this way, you’re probably gonna get this wrong. You don’t know anything. None of us know anything. The most that can happen is you get lucky. That is the only way to approach this category every year.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Marguerite. It’s the only one that isn’t depressing as shit. It’s not fully formed, but it’s the only one with a glimmer of what they usually go for here. I suspect anyone with any idea of how this category goes is also gonna say this is the most likely winner. I don’t like following just that, but in absence of anything else, what can you do? Gotta put the one that’s not a downer first here.

Biggest Competition: Detainment. It’s got the best acting, but there’s some controversy about it in the UK. Not sure that matters or will affect anything, but it’s there. I can’t call this the favorite just because it’s hard to think people en masse will vote for a movie about kids who kidnap, torture and kill a smaller kid. So second choice I guess, only because it feels like the most complete short of a bad bunch.

Spoiler Alert: Skin. Honestly this is my #3 only because it’s the one I don’t want to get caught not having in the middle of the pack should it win. It’s already being turned into a movie. It feels like it takes some pretty big logic leaps, but maybe people will vote for it. I don’t know what the hell is gonna happen here. I suspect Mother won’t win, but outside of that, I don’t know what will. Hell, Fauve could win. I do not know. So this one’s purely a toss up in every single way.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Marguerite

2. Detainment

3. Skin

4. Fauve

5. Mother

If I Were a Betting Man: Marguerite. I guess I’m just telling you to take the one that’s the least depressing. The only straight up depressing one they chose in the pat was The Phone Call, which had Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent in it and admittedly was very good. Everything here — ehh. And no real stars. So honestly I think you just have to go with the one that is less of a downer than the others. It’s the only one that won’t make them wanna kill themselves, which I suspect goes a long way.

You Should Take: Marguerite. It’s a four deep category, probably even five deep. Assume you’re gonna get it wrong and truly take whatever the hell you want. I do not know this one and I’m hoping for the best. Marguerite is the only one I can rationalize that makes any sort of sense. After that, it’s pure guessing and who the hell knows what comes in.

On My Ballot: Marguerite

Best Animated Short

Animal Behaviour


Late Afternoon

One Small Step


My Rankings:

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

My Thoughts: I loved this year’s crop of animated shorts. There were ten on the shortlist, and I feel like I’d have been okay with like, nine of them being nominated. In a vacuum, of course. I had my favorites. But in general I really liked most of them. Of course, the one I’m not that big a fan of (Animal Behaviour) ended up getting nominated, but it is what it is. But, of the ones that didn’t make this list — Pepe le Morse was okay. Like watching a Sundance indie but animated. Bird Karma was fun, if slight. Age of Sail is another fantastic Google Spotlight short, similar to Pearl a few years ago in that you could also see it 360, which is just awesome. Bilby was also a lot of fun. A DreamWorks short that functions like the Pixar shorts do for their films. That was really solid. And then Lost & Found, the one that I felt was robbed of a nomination. A gorgeous stop-motion film about stuffed animals. Do yourself a favor and see that one.

But anyway, this category. I already said I’m not the biggest fan of Animal Behaviour. Late Afternoon was quite good, with some gorgeous hand-drawn animation. Wouldn’t vote for it, but I’m glad they put it on. Weekends is a terrific short that I think won a lot of acclaim throughout the year. A product of a child going through a divorce and taking those memories with him and putting them into his art. Fantastic work. That might have been the vote for me in another year. But then there are the other two.

First, Pixar. Literally almost any other year, Bao would by my vote and it wouldn’t be close. That movie is so well put together, and it’s a beautiful portrait of parenthood and empty nest syndrome and learning to let your child become their own person. It’s absolutely beautiful, and when it probably wins, it will be well deserved. That said, when I saw One Small Step for the first time, it destroyed me. It made me actually weep. Bao made me cry, but One Small Step made me weep. I fell so hard in love with that short that I am taking that all the way. Bao is incredible and would be most people’s vote, but One Small Step is the one that I really just cannot pass up. It is AMAZING.

My Vote: One Small Step

Should Have Been Nominated: Lost & Found

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Not much to say here. They nominated an almost all-great category. They could have had an amazing category, but instead they have a category that is well above average in relation to the past couple of years.

Not really a whole lot of analysis to be had here. You just kind of look at the five and guess how the Academy is gonna vote. The only real help I can give you is a list of the last ten winners:

  • 2017: Dear Basketball — Kobe Bryant’s ode to his sport.
  • 2016: Piper — Pixar’s short about the bird who is afraid of the water.
  • 2015: Bear Story — A bear tells the story of his life through a little mechanical machine. Utterly heartbreaking.
  • 2014: Feast — A story told from the perspective of a very hungry dog.
  • 2013: M. Hublot — A man with OCD creates a steampunk house in order to be kept to himself. Though he soon gets a robot dog, which turns his life upside down.
  • 2012: Paperman — We’ve all seen this, right? A man courts a woman using paper planes. It’s incredible.
  • 2011: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore — Beautiful story about a librarian in a place where the books come to life.
  • 2010: The Lost Thing — A boy in a dystopian future discovers a lost creature and is determined to help it find its place.
  • 2009: Logorama — the entire film is comprised of logos and characters that are brands of corporations. It’s brilliant.
  • 2008: La Maison en Petits Cubes — a widower, after his town is flooded, builds extra levels onto his house. However, after he loses his pipe into the lower levels of his home, he begins looking for it and reliving scenes from his life.

They definitely have a type. Either something that is clearly the best or most interesting, or the one that’s going to emotionally rip their hearts out.

Nothing but respect for my president.

Your nominees this year are:

Animal Behaviour — A bunch of animals go to therapy.

Bao — A woman’s dumpling comes to life and we watch it grow up. A movie about parent-child relationships, empty nest syndrome and learning to let your children become their own people.

Late Afternoon — A old woman in the midst of losing her memory, drifts between recollections of her childhood during afternoon tea.

One Small Step — The story of a young girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut.

Weekends — A man’s recollections of his childhood and having to spend time between divorced parents.

Watch the ones that are up while you can. No telling when they’re gonna be taken down. That said, just on that alone you should know what the major contenders are.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Bao. The rule for this, every year is, Pixar is the favorite until it loses. Granted, Pixar does not have a very good history of winning this category. But they still need to be the de facto favorite. Pixar has only won this category four times: Tin Toy, Geri’s Game, For the Birds and Piper. But this is arguably one of their greatest pieces of work. So this one actually should take down the category. Either way, this is the short the most people will have heard of/seen, and it might be the most emotionally affecting short in the group. And, it’s Pixar. So it’s the most likely to win.

Biggest Competition: One Small Step. The thing you look for in the shorts is — what are the most emotionally affecting shorts? The ones that will make you feel something? That’s usually what wins. And this one is that. This one arguably could be that more so than Bao. I’m not totally convinced this doesn’t have a legitimate shot at the win, assuming people manage to watch all the shorts. The reason I gave you that list of the past ten winners is to show you what they generally go for. This is that. So it’s a contender.

Image result for one small step gif

Spoiler Alert: Weekends. This is the most feted short in the category. It’s won a bunch of big festival and guild awards throughout the year. It’s also a really strong piece of work. In a way, it’s animated Roma. A man’s recollection of his childhood, shown in very specific moments strung together in a way that makes it feel like a memory. Plus, of the remaining films — Animal Behaviour is not the kind of thing that wins this category, and Late Afternoon is nice, but I don’t see them voting for it. This feels like the third choice if we even manage to get this far.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Bao

2. One Small Step

3. Weekends

4. Late Afternoon

5. Animal Behaviour

If I Were a Betting Man: Bao. When Pixar hits, they hit home runs. This is a home run. I think when you look at these shorts, the two that have everything this category is all about and have what voters usually look for are this and One Small Step. And if it’s between them, I’ll go with the one that more people are likely to have seen. This is kind of like 2016, where to me the best short was Pearl, but they voted for Piper because it looked incredible and was Pixar and they all knew it and saw it. I think this might be the same.

You Should Take: Bao. I think you take the obvious choice and see if they go elsewhere. This is playing it safe, but usually playing it safe in this category gets you a win. If it’s not this, I think it’s either One Small Step or possibly Weekends. But I think this is the winner. You watched all five. Doesn’t this strike you as the kind of thing they vote for?

On My Ballot: Bao

– – – – – – – – – –

One more thing I like to provide you with (ain’t I nice?), now that the picks are out of the way, is a breakdown of how I see the night shaking out. I take each film with enough nominations to matter and go through all the nominations and say, “It will win this, it’s in contention for this, it could win this I guess, it will not win this.” The idea is to look macro once all the micro decisions were made and say, “If this is how it all goes down, this is what that means.” Picking each category one at a time is one thing, but sometimes you step back and go, “Did I really just say A Star Is Born is gonna win five Oscars?” And then it gives you the chance to reevaluate, because it sure doesn’t seem like that’s how it’s gonna shake out. Basically, this is my “what if” ending to the Oscars.

Here’s what I’ve got for this year:

The Favourite
10 nominations

Will win: Costume Design
Will likely win: Original Screenplay, Production Design
Could win: Actress, Supporting Actress (Weisz), Picture
Won’t win: Director, Supporting Actress (Stone), Editing, Cinematography

I think this probably wins 2-3 minimum. I can’t see it going home completely empty handed. I feel like either Costume Design or Production Design is a lock, if not both of them. It could lose one or both to Black Panther, theoretically, but I think it’s going home with at least one of those. And I think it’s probably gonna take Screenplay too. The way it loses Screenplay is if Green Book pulls off Best Picture and Screenplay goes with it. In my mind, though, The Favourite probably takes all three. I think no matter how you slice it, it’s losing 4-5 of its nominations. I don’t see any movie winning more than 4 total this year. Maybe it’s got an outside Picture play, but the acting categories are open, but uphill battles. I say it’s those three at the top with maybe a long shot Picture play as the fourth. Though I guess of the two acting nominations, I would expect Weisz to come in more than Colman, if we’re putting them in order. If they somehow go all in on this, 4 seems like the number, and if it manages 5, then that’s one of the bigger consensuses I’ve seen in a few years. I think this winning 3 is where I’m expecting it, though. Any less, then they went in on Black Panther. Any more, it probably won Best Picture or snuck in an acting win.

10 nominations

Will win: Director, Cinematography, Foreign Language Film
Will likely win: Picture
Could win: Original Screenplay
Won’t win: Actress, Supporting Actress, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing

It should have three in the bag, easily. Director seems like a total lock, and if it loses Cinematography or Foreign Language Film, then Cold War is getting that win. I think Roma’s got all three. And I think it’s winning Picture fairly easily too. So to me, that’s 4 wins. That would make it the film with the most wins, and put this as almost a carbon copy of last year, where we ended up with one film winning four, one winning three, and a bunch of twos. Though this year we may end up with multiple threes. We’ll see. Still, it’s gonna be one of those years.

I think Roma has a long shot chance at Screenplay, especially if they decide they don’t wanna vote for Green Book and somehow don’t take The Favourite. I don’t see it coming in, but I wouldn’t entirely rule it out either. I don’t think it can win either of the acting awards, Production Design would mean it has to beat both The Favourite and Black Panther, which would be a surprise to say the least. And the Sound categories would really be interesting if they somehow went there. I’m thinking 4 wins is what you’re getting for this, and 3 if it loses Best Picture.

A Star Is Born
8 nominations

Will win: Original Song
Will likely win:
Could win: Actress, Sound Mixing
Won’t win: Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography

It definitely peaked too early. Still managed 8 nominations, but now it’s ending up with 1 win instead of two and possibly 3-4. It will win Song, but outside of that it feels like an afterthought in the rest of its races.

Picture is all but out at this point, especially with it having missed both a Director and Editing nomination. Cooper would have to overcome Malek, Bale in Actor, and I just don’t see that happening. Sam Elliott does not seem like he’s gonna get a veteran swell of votes to beat Mahershala, That would be one of the all time Oscar surprises if that somehow happened. Adapted Screenplay… it’s gotta beat BlacKkKlansman, If Beale Street Could Talk and Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which all won precursors over it. Though I guess the one thing in its favor there is that only three times ever did a non-Best Picture nominee win for Adapted Screenplay, which I guess technically means it could happen. But I wouldn’t expect it. And Cinematography… beating Roma and Cold War is a tall order. And it’s up against The Favourite, which may also have more support than it. Not seeing any of those.

Actress is the only one where I’d give it a minor chance. Theoretically Gaga could still get votes. Not sure I see I coming through, but if I had to say any race where theoretically it could still win, that would be the one. Sound Mixing should have been the one, and were this two months ago, this would have been almost a de facto winner or second choice. Now, Bohemian Rhapsody has totally stolen its thunder, and First Man is also still there. I guess it could happen, but it’s looking very unlikely. 1 win is almost certainly how this one ends up, and maximum 2 wins on a complete surprise somewhere.

8 nominations

Will win: Makeup & Hairstyling
Will likely win: Editing
Could win: Actor
Won’t win: Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay

Interesting. This has everything you want to see a Best Picture nominee get. And it looks like it might do okay in the end. I’m thinking 2 wins. Possibly only 1. The Big Short only managed 1 win, so the fact that this could end up with 3 is impressive.

Makeup & Hairstyling it has in the bag and everyone knows it. So automatically it’s going home with 1. Editing seems very likely, even though it could theoretically lose to Bohemian Rhapsody (or maybe BlacKkKlansman or even The Favourite or Green Book if they go all in on a Picture play). I suspect it’ll likely win, but it is kind of a toss up between that and Bohemian, so it could also easily lose. Actor seems unlikely at this point, given the precursor support for Malek, but I’m not totally ruling it out. Unlikely though. And Picture, Director, the Supporting nominations and Screenplay… don’t see those coming through.

This ends up anywhere from 1-3 wins. 2 seems like the sweet spot, though it could only be 1. And if it gets only 1, both of those other wins should go right to Bohemian Rhapsody.

Black Panther
7 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Original Score, Production Design, Costume Design
Won’t win: Picture, Original Song, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing

7 nominations, and I’m not sure it’s a lock to win any. I don’t see Picture coming in. Song seems very unlikely against “Shallow,” and I can’t see how it wins either Sound category without winning both, and I’m not sure where those votes would come from.

I think it’s in play for Costume Design, Production Design and Score. Not sure it’s the favorite to win any of them, but if it wins any or all of them, I’m not that surprised. So I think 0-3 wins is the range for this, and while I think it’s 0, I’m assuming 1 or 2 is probably the most likely scenario.

6 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Adapted Screenplay, Editing
Won’t win: Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Original Score

This, if you asked me a few weeks ago, was going home empty-handed. I still don’t think it can win Score, Supporting Actor, Director or Picture. I think it theoretically is in play for Editing, just because the category doesn’t have a slam dunk winner at the moment. I think that’s unlikely, but I think that could happen.

The place I see it potentially getting a win is in Adapted Screenplay. It’s the most likely winner to me among the three, having the most overall support in the other categories and being a chance for them to get Spike his Oscar. So while I want to say it’s “likely to win” that one, I don’t know if anything is likely to win. I think there are three that could win. So ultimately I think this one either goes home empty handed or wins Adapted Screenplay and goes home with just that.

Bohemian Rhapsody
5 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win: Actor, Sound Mixing
Could win: Editing, Sound Editing
Won’t win: Picture

From a movie that people weren’t sure about to something that theoretically could walk away with four wins out of its five nominations. And honestly, are we sure Picture is totally out? I mean, yeah, it probably is, but right now, it should win Actor, it should win Sound Mixing. It’s the favorite to win Sound Editing, which is a very tight race. It could beat Vice for Editing. That’s four. I think 2 is the baseline for this, and 3 is totally possible. I don’t know if it gets 4, but that’s also on the table. I’m thinking Actor and the two Sound categories makes the most sense. Or maybe Editing instead of Sound Editing. All four seems like a stretch. But 2 wins or 3 wins feels about right.

Green Book
5 nominations

Will win: Supporting Actor
Will likely win:
Could win: Picture, Original Screenplay, Editing
Won’t win: Actor

This is guaranteed to win at least one award in Supporting Actor. Past that, we don’t really know, do we? This is the biggest wild card of the bunch. Could win Editing if it’s gonna win Picture. Seems unlikely, but it could. They’ve done that in the past. Picture, it’s top two choices based on the PGA win. Not sure it will win Picture, but it’s in play for it. And if it wins Picture, why would it not also win Screenplay? The only one you know it won’t win is Actor. Outside of that, 1 is the minimum and 4 is the max. I originally said it would be 2, but Screenplay is looking really dicey after that WGA loss. So I think this is just 1 win. But do not sleep on this for more. How this does dictates a lot of the other races.

First Man
4 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win: Visual Effects
Could win: Sound Mixing, Sound Editing
Won’t win: Production Design

I once thought this would win three of its four nominations. Now… maybe one? 0 wins is a definite possibility for this. It’s the favorite for Visual Effects only because it’s the biggest fish in that category. It could still lose to Ready Player One or Avengers very easily. And the Sound categories, which seemed like gimmes going into the race… it should lose Mixing to Bohemian Rhapsody and maybe can pull an upset in Sound Editing, but that’s also looking less likely as time goes on. My gut says it still can and will. Personally, I’d only count on this for 1 win, which can easily become 0 or 2.

Mary Poppins Returns
4 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Original Score, Production Design
Won’t win: Original Song, Costume Design

This should for sure go home empty-handed. Production Design and Costumes should go to either The Favourite or Black Panther. We know this won’t win Song. Score? I guess it’s possible, but that would mean they voted for it over both Beale Street and Black Panther, which seems unlikely. It feels like a third choice in all of its races. So I guess a surprise could happen, but I’m planning for this to win nothing.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
3 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win:
Won’t win: Adapted Screenplay, Original Song, Costume Design

I think we’re all surprised it even got nominated. At best Song was the place you thought it might get. Costumes… okay, sure. Adapted Screenplay was a bit of a surprise outside of knowing who the writers were. It’s got like, no shot at any of its categories. “Shallow” is walking away with Song, Costumes this is the fifth choice and it’s not even a question, and Screenplay, I guess anything can win, but I find it really difficult that they’re just gonna vote for this. So, 0 wins seems pretty assured.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?
3 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Adapted Screenplay
Won’t win: Actress, Supporting Actor

This isn’t a factor in either of its acting races. Grant is maybe the one who could potentially surprise, but Ali seems totally locked there and beat Grant in every single precursor. Screenplay is the one where I’d look for it to potentially get a win. It won the WGA, which is a big notch in its belt. Not sure how it fares against BlacKkKlansman and Beale Street, but it’s firmly in that race. So 0 wins or 1 win. That’s it for this.

Cold War
3 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Cinematography, Foreign Language Film
Won’t win: Director

The problem is that it’s going to lose to Roma in all of its categories. Cinematography theoretically is the one it could win based on the precursors, since it won the guild over Roma, but the guild does that stuff all the time. Personally I think if there’s anywhere it could really win, it’s Foreign Language Film. Because I remember that Pan’s Labyrinth year. It won all the categories it was up for outside of Foreign Language Film, and then it lost to The Lives of Others. And I think it’s because people sort of adopt Roma as an American film because it made the “big category.” Cold War is also in Director, but I think that’s still looked at as foreign. I’m not saying it’s remotely going to happen, but there’s a chance that people vote against Roma here because they’re voting for it elsewhere. Of course, that might be offset by people not voting for Roma in Best Picture thinking Foreign Language Film will be its reward. So, I expect Cold War to win nothing, but 1 win is not out of the realm of possibility.

If Beale Street Could Talk
3 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win: Supporting Actress
Could win: Adapted Screenplay, Original Score
Won’t win:

This is in play for all three of its nominations. It could win all three. I’m not sure it does, but it could. I expect Supporting Actress to come through. Adapted Screenplay seems like it’s less likely to happen, but still could. Score… no idea. This will go anywhere from 0-3. 3 for 3 seems unlikely even though it’s possible. I’d expect Supporting Actress and Score, personally. So 2 wins. Maybe it’s only the 1. That’s also possible. 1-2, seems right, and personally I think it’ll be 2.

The rest:

  • The Wife will win Best Actress for Glenn Close
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will win Best Animated Feature (even if I’m not entirely ruling out Incredibles 2)
  • Ready Player One or Avengers: Infinity War could win Visual Effects, even though I think First Man still has it.

Everything else is Documentary or Shorts. So we’re pretty much covered on big stuff.

Final tally as I see it:

  • Roma — 4 wins (Picture, Director, Cinematography, Foreign Language Film)
  • The Favourite — 3 wins (Original Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk — 2 wins (Supporting Actress, Original Score)
  • Bohemian Rhapsody — 2 wins (Actor, Sound Mixing)
  • First Man — 2 wins (Visual Effects, Sound Editing)
  • Vice — 2 wins (Editing, Makeup & Hairstyling)
  • BlacKkKlansman — 1 win (Adapted Screenplay)
  • Green Book — 1 win (Supporting Actor)
  • A Star Is Born — 1 win (Original Song)
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — 1 win (Animated Feature)
  • The Wife — 1 win (Actress)

I fee like I’m gonna straight up be wrong on some of those. Black Panther can win anywhere from 1-3 Oscars. Bohemian Rhapsody can easily take Sound Editing. Beale Street could go 0-3 or 3-3. I have no idea. That’s why it’s guessing, folks. Nobody knows anything. I’m just assuming this is how things go, otherwise this will be live footage of my ballot tonight:

I think this is a good time to finally mention — I just wrote over 50,000 words on all this shit and not once did I make a favorite/Favourite joke. Because you can always count on me to make unique bad jokes, and not the bad jokes everyone else is making.

Now, go enjoy your Oscars. And remember, when you’re gonna complain about the length of the show, they tried to make it shorter and you all got upset about it. Twice.

– – – – – – – – – –

One response

  1. “Braveheart is before my time and I can’t really figure what happened there so we’re just gonna have to take it on face value.”

    Blame the Director’s branch for snubbing Ron Howard and Ang Lee, and blame the Academy as a whole for not loving either Apollo 13 or Sense & Sensibility enough to help them overcome their lack of Directing nods.

    February 24, 2019 at 9:48 am

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