The B+ Oscar Ballot 2019: The Cheat Sheet

So this is the quick version of the giant article I posted this morning. The Oscars are on in two hours, and just so you don’t have to go back and reference the giant article if you don’t want to (though you should, there are nice colors and gifs and everything, and I put some real effort into it), I’m giving you the abridged version of it all.

I used to do this in two articles, but I’m just gonna do it in one, since I always put the rankings here anyway, so I’ll just make that section my official ‘Scorecard’ entry for this year. (And if you don’t know what that is, go read the big article. It’ll explain it. And it’s something I recommend you start doing if you’re serious about trying to guess Oscar winners. It’s so much better than just a straight ballot.)

Anyway, here’s your Oscar cheat sheet for later on:

Best Picture

What should be on your ballot: 1917

The alternate, should that not win: Parasite

What’s on my ballot: 1917

My personal choice: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. 1917
  2. Parasite
  3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  4. The Irishman
  5. Jojo Rabbit
  6. Joker
  7. Little Women
  8. Marriage Story
  9. Ford v Ferrari

Analysis: The real choices here are either 1917 or Parasite. Once Upon a Time has a small shot, but it’s hard to see that ultimately coming in. 1917 has the major precursor wins (SAG, BAFTA), while Parasite has the overall love and support of something that could sneak in and win despite that (a la Moonlight). Once Upon a Time is more of a third choice. Playing it smart means taking 1917, Parasite would be to take a hunch and think it can pull the upset.

Best Director

What should be on your ballot: Sam Mendes, 1917

The alternate, should that not win: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

What’s on my ballot: Sam Mendes, 1917

My personal choice: Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Sam Mendes, 1917
  2. Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
  3. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  4. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
  5. Todd Phillips, Joker

Analysis: Sam Mendes won the DGA, and the DGA winner has won this all but seven times ever. It’s hard not to see him coming in here. Even if you’re going Parasite in Best Picture, Bong Joon-ho feels like an uphill battle to try to take here (even if it might be theoretically possible). Odds are 90+% historically on Mendes here.

Best Actor

What should be on your ballot: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

The alternate, should that not win: Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

What’s on my ballot: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

My personal choice: Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
  2. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  3. Adam Driver, Marriage Story
  4. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
  5. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

Analysis: Joaquin has won every precursor, and at this point, there’s almost no way he can lose.

Best Actress

What should be on your ballot: Renée Zellweger, Judy

The alternate, should that not win: Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

What’s on my ballot: Renée Zellweger, Judy

My personal choice: Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Renée Zellweger, Judy
  2. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
  3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
  4. Charlize Theron, Bombshell
  5. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

Analysis: Renée has swept all the precursors and is essentially a stone cold lock.

Best Supporting Actor

What should be on your ballot: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The alternate, should that not win: Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

What’s on my ballot: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

My personal choice: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  3. Joe Pesci, The Irishman
  4. Al Pacino, The Irishman
  5. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes

Analysis: Brad’s won all the precursors, and been charming as hell along the way. It’s his.

Best Supporting Actress

What should be on your ballot: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

The alternate, should that not win: Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

What’s on my ballot: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

My personal choice: Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story
  2. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
  3. Margot Robbie, Bombshell
  4. Florence Pugh, Little Women
  5. Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell

Analysis: Laura Dern’s won everything. Yet another one where it seems like she can’t lose.

Best Original Screenplay

What should be on your ballot: Parasite

The alternate, should that not win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

What’s on my ballot: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

My personal choice: Knives Out

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Parasite
  2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  3. 1917
  4. Marriage Story
  5. Knives Out

Analysis: It’s either Parasite or Once Upon a Time. They’ve pretty much split the major precursors. Once Upon a Time has BFCA and the Globe, while Parasite has WGA and BAFTA. Though Once Upon a Time was ineligible for the WGA, so we’ll never know if it could or would have won that instead. You can make a case for taking either. The overall love for Parasite makes me think ultimately that it’s gonna win in the end. I’m putting Quentin on my ballot just because I like taking personal choices on mine, if only to crystalize the fact that I’m giving you the smarter/more likely choices instead. But this is one where you can make a case for two options, though I think the smart money is on Parasite.

Best Adapted Screenplay

What should be on your ballot: Jojo Rabbit

The alternate, should that not win: Little Women

What’s on my ballot: Little Women

My personal choice: Little Women

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Jojo Rabbit
  2. Little Women
  3. The Irishman
  4. Joker
  5. The Two Popes

Analysis: Only Little Women and Jojo have won any form of precursors. Little Women started off strong, with BFCA and a USC Scripter win, but Jojo rebounded to win both the WGA and BAFTA, which are the two important ones to have won. Plus, Jojo has the aura of cleverness about it, while I worry about Little Women’s chances in an open vote, given some people seemingly having trouble with the timelines, and the fact that it doesn’t have that ‘pop’ that will make some old white people wanna vote for it. So I think Jojo has to be the choice, even though I put Greta on my ballot because it’s the one winner I’d like to see come in of any of the categories this year.

Best Editing

What should be on your ballot: Ford v Ferrari

The alternate, should that not win: Parasite

What’s on my ballot: Ford v Ferrari

My personal choice: Ford v Ferrari

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Ford v Ferrari
  2. Parasite
  3. Jojo Rabbit
  4. The Irishman
  5. Joker

Analysis: This is the one category where I truly couldn’t tell you for sure what’s gonna win. Ford v Ferrari is the car movie, so that makes a lot of sense. It won BAFTA, which is a big win for it. Meanwhile, the Editors guild split their votes between Parasite and Jojo. Jojo is a lesser choice, just because it won there for Comedy, and the Comedy winner at the guild has only won one time ever (that was Chicago, 17 years ago). I don’t think you can rationalize taking Joker here and while I’m always afraid of Thelma, it’s hard to see Irishman winning, when the biggest complaint about that film is it’s length. So really, it’s probably a 50/50 tossup between Parasite and Ford v Ferrari. I truly couldn’t tell you which would win, so I erred on the side of ‘obvious’ editing (car races). You can legitimately make a case both ways, though. And if you took Parasite in Picture, you may wanna consider taking it here, too, since more often than not, these categories do tend to link up. Broadly speaking, Ford v Ferrari makes the most sense and is probably the safest choice, but this is the one major category where I can see something more surprising coming in.

Best Cinematography

What should be on your ballot: 1917

The alternate, should that not win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

What’s on my ballot: 1917

My personal choice: 1917

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. 1917
  2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  3. Joker
  4. The Lighthouse
  5. The Irishman

Analysis: This is Roger Deakins all the way. He swept every precursor and he shot a war film to look like it was done in one take. This one’s easy.

Best Original Score

What should be on your ballot: Joker

The alternate, should that not win: 1917

What’s on my ballot: Joker

My personal choice: Little Women

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Joker
  2. 1917
  3. Little Women
  4. Marriage Story
  5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Analysis: Joker’s swept all the precursors, so it’s hard to think it’s gonna lose here. We’re gonna get just the fourth woman ever to have won this category. And, if for some reason it’s not Joker, the only real contender that makes sense to me as a winner is 1917, given the Best Picture of it all. Little Women is the best score, but I can’t imagine people actually listened to stuff enough to bother taking it. There’s only been one time in 20 years where something won every Score precursor and lost, so I think you can take Joker without concern here.

Best Original Song

What should be on your ballot: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from Rocketman

The alternate, should that not win: “Into the Unknown,” from Frozen II

What’s on my ballot: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from Rocketman

My personal choice: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from Rocketman

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from Rocketman
  2. “Into the Unknown,” from Frozen II
  3. “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” from Toy Story 4
  4. “Stand Up,” from Harriet
  5. “I’m Standing with You,” from Breakthrough

Analysis: This feels like a 50/50 tossup between Elton and Frozen. Nobody’s seen Breakthrough or cares about that song. I can’t imagine the Harriet song actually wins. And Randy Newman has won before for Toy Story, but he also lost twice for Toy Story and that song isn’t really all that great. People know Frozen and Disney and that might swing it some votes. But if I’m stepping back and thinking where the broad voters are gonna go, Elton feels like the right choice. So that’s why I think he’s the safest choice here, even if they could just default to the animated choice like they did with Coco in 2017. But I think it’ll be Elton. Though, like I said, you could take either one and feel pretty good about it.

Best Production Design

What should be on your ballot: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The alternate, should that not win: 1917

What’s on my ballot: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

My personal choice: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  2. 1917
  3. Parasite
  4. The Irishman
  5. Jojo Rabbit

Analysis: Hard to see Once Upon a Time losing this. It won basically every precursor and is 1969 Los Angeles and looks great. La La Land isn’t even period and won this category three years ago (though it did have some fantasy sequences on some of the musical numbers). 1917 and Parasite are the only two other logical choices here, with 1917 being trenches and war (though it’s also outside, which is a knock against it) and Parasite is basically two houses and contemporary, which doesn’t tend to get those broad votes. I think Once Upon a Time should be an easy winner in this one.

Best Costume Design

What should be on your ballot: Little Women

The alternate, should that not win: Jojo Rabbit

What’s on my ballot: Little Women

My personal choice: Little Women

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Little Women
  2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  3. Jojo Rabbit
  4. Joker
  5. The Irishman

Analysis: This one isn’t locked by any stretch, but you can usually end up doing well just by picking what the obvious costumes are. Irishman and Joker don’t flash ‘costumes’ when you think about them. Jojo technically has the guild as a precursor, but it just doesn’t shout ‘costumes’ to me, plus I think people are gonna dismiss it as just ‘Nazi uniforms’ and not vote for it. So while it does have a precursor, I’m thinking that’s only third choice. Once Upon a Time, despite zero precursor wins, feels like the second choice just because it does flash ‘costumes’ a little bit when you think about it. But that only reaffirms to me the idea that Little Women is going to win. It’s won BAFTA, and if you wanna knock Once Upon a Time for not being nominated at the guild, you have to say the same for Little Women, because it also wasn’t nominated there. So I think, in a clean category, the two obvious ‘costumes’ movies are Little Women and Once Upon a Time, with Little Women being the more obvious choice if you were just broadly voting.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

What should be on your ballot: Bombshell

The alternate, should that not win: Judy

What’s on my ballot: Bombshell

My personal choice: Bombshell

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Bombshell
  2. Judy
  3. Joker
  4. 1917
  5. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Analysis: Bombshell is the obvious winner here. It’s swept the nominal precursors you have for this category, but generally you can figure it out just by glancing and figuring out which one they’re gonna vote for. This has actors looking like who they’re playing and Lithgow in a pretty convincing fat suit. The only other choice that would make sense is Judy, since Renée is gonna win and some people will vote for it on the ‘transformation’ aspect (which got stuff like The Iron Lady to win here in the past). Joker is just clown makeup and 1917 is just war stuff, so while they could win, I think the smarter money’s on the stuff that feels more transformative. Bombshell feels like the easy winner and safest choice here.

Image result for roger ailes bombshell gif

Best Visual Effects

What should be on your ballot: 1917

The alternate, should that not win: The Irishman

What’s on my ballot: The Irishman

My personal choice: The Irishman

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. 1917
  2. The Irishman
  3. The Lion King
  4. Avengers: Endgame
  5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Analysis: The constant refrain here is that non-Best Picture nominees (and less ‘classy’ films) never win this category, and since Star Wars (aka in the ‘modern’ effects age), it’s only happened once (2015, one of the all-time shockers). So 1917 and Irishman are the two big fish in a little pond. DO NOT take Star Wars and DO NOT take Avengers (even if I’d give Avengers a tiny chance at coming in, you still don’t wanna play those odds). The Lion King is the only choice you could maybe make a case for, since the guild went all in on it and it is, legitimately, a stunning visual achievement. But still, smart money is always the two bigger, classier films. So really it just comes down to which of the two you feel more comfortable taking. Irishman won at the guild, but it’s the de-aging, which maybe some people don’t like. 1917, Best Picture favorite, war movie, won BAFTA. Gonna be hard not to see that coming in, even though this feels like one of the more legitimate 50/50s out there. Smarter money’s on 1917. I took Irishman just because it made more sense to me, but it’s hard to tell you not to take the presumed Best Picture winner here.

Best Sound Editing

What should be on your ballot: 1917

The alternate, should that not win: Ford v Ferrari

What’s on my ballot: 1917

My personal choice: Ford v Ferrari

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. 1917
  2. Ford v Ferrari
  3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  4. Joker
  5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Analysis: Okay, so Sound categories — vote on them together, and don’t split them unless you’re absolutely certain. And this year, with two obvious ‘sound’ films at the top and the Best Picture favorite here, you’re basically set. DO NOT take anything but 1917 or Ford v Ferrari in this category, of all categories. In Sound Editing, it’s one or the other. They basically split all the precursors between them — 1917 won BAFTA and one of the two Sound Editors guild awards, while Ford v Ferrari won the other Sound Editors award and won CAS, the Mixers guild. 1917 comes out a slight favorite, just because it’s a war movie and is likely gonna win Best Picture. It feels like the smart choice here, even if Ford v Ferrari could take it. You could take either, but why would you not take the more obvious choice?

Best Sound Mixing

What should be on your ballot: 1917

The alternate, should that not win: Ford v Ferrari

What’s on my ballot: Ford v Ferrari

My personal choice: Ford v Ferrari

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. 1917
  2. Ford v Ferrari
  3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  4. Joker
  5. Ad Astra

Analysis: As I said — you never wanna split the Sound categories. Because if they split the wrong way, you’re doubly screwed. If you take 1917 in both automatically (and 7/10 years this past decade, the Sound categories went the same way in both, so odds favor them doubling up), you have a higher likelihood of getting at least one right. Mixing, though, slightly more complicated than the others, just because Once Upon a Time enters in as a possibility. It’s music-heavy, and music heavy films tend to do well here. But this year, with two big ‘sound’ choices, I think that gets drowned out. I’m putting Ford v Ferrari on my ballot just to show you what happens when you split the Sound categories, and while you could make the case for it being the choice, all the smart money’s on 1917 winning both. It makes total sense there and as a Best Picture favorite, you can just see people checking it off in both places. So take it in both and you’re probably gonna get two categories right.

Best Animated Feature

What should be on your ballot: Toy Story 4

The alternate, should that not win: Klaus

What’s on my ballot: Toy Story 4

My personal choice: Toy Story 4

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Toy Story 4
  2. Klaus
  3. Missing Link
  4. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  5. I Lost My Body

Analysis: The Animated Feature category almost always defaults one way — to Disney/Pixar. The only times Disney and Pixar lose here is when there’s a really big and obvious crowd favorite to beat it: Shrek, Happy Feet, Into the Spider-Verse. See what I mean? Do you see one of those this year? I do not. While Klaus did win the BAFTA and did win most of the Annie Awards, in an open vote, with people who generally don’t watch this stuff, doesn’t it feel like most of the votes are just gonna default to Pixar? So I think the smart money is on taking that until it loses. Is it a stone cold lock? Historically, yeah. But otherwise, no. But I can’t see making a legitimate case for the old white people, who are locked into their ways, to suddenly vote differently despite having a long history of just taking Disney/Pixar regardless (remember Brave? Remember Big Hero 6?). You wanna go opposite, go ahead. I’m saying take it until the wheels fall off.

Best International Feature

What should be on your ballot: Parasite

The alternate, should that not win: Pain and Glory

What’s on my ballot: Parasite

My personal choice: Parasite

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Parasite
  2. Pain and Glory
  3. Les Misérables
  4. Honeyland
  5. Corpus Christi

Analysis: Parasite is nominated for Best Picture. Do you really think it’s gonna lose here?

Best Documentary Feature

What should be on your ballot: American Factory

The alternate, should that not win: For Sama

What’s on my ballot: American Factory

My personal choice: For Sama

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. American Factory
  2. For Sama
  3. The Cave
  4. Honeyland
  5. The Edge of Democracy

Analysis: Okay, so these last four categories could legitimately go any way. You just assume you’re gonna get these wrong and then hope for the best. Here, there are three main choices. Each has its pluses and minuses. The Cave has the political factor going for it, with the director not being allowed in the country to promote the film. That helped The Salesman win Foreign Language Film a few years ago. It could happen, I’m just not sure I feel the momentum on that one. For Sama is a legitimate contender. It got nominated for 4 BAFTAs and is generally known and liked a lot. But also, non-English language docs haven’t won here in a long time. It’s been 15 years since something won that’s not primarily in English. Does that matter? No, but also not no. You know what I mean? American Factory seems to have it all. People seem to really like it, it’s won precursor awards, been on legitimate people’s top ten lists. It’s on Netflix, which means it’s easy for them to watch. And also — the Obamas’ production company made it. I think that might sway a couple of voters into taking it. So to me, even though it’s a tight race, American Factory seems to have everything going for it to win this one. I think that’s the choice.

Best Documentary Short

What should be on your ballot: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)

The alternate, should that not win: St. Louis Superman

What’s on my ballot: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)

My personal choice: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
  2. St. Louis Superman
  3. In the Absence
  4. Walk Run Cha-Cha
  5. Life Overtakes Me

Analysis: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone literally has everything you’d want to see in a category like this. They like people in third-world countries overcoming their surroundings to make art or do something progressive. Here, it’s oppressed girls learning to skateboard, read and write, even though once they reach a certain age, they’re basically gonna be sold off into marriage. I think this is the obvious choice. Sure, it can lose. But you almost never have something you can be as confident about as you can in this. Otherwise, knowing them, watch Walk Run Cha-Cha win instead. Just because I dismissed it doesn’t mean it won’t get the votes. That’s the one that’ll for sure bite me in the ass. It happens almost every year. St. Louis Superman, on paper, is everything they want, even though I don’t feel like it’ll win. And In the Absence is, perhaps, the strongest remaining contender on the list, but it’s really depressing, since you’re basically watching people die in real time. That’s a tough call, since I think people wanna feel better about themselves. Which is why I think you take the obvious choice and just let something beat you. This one has it all, in terms of what usually wins here.

Image result for learning to skateboard in a warzone gif

Best Live Action Short

What should be on your ballot: The Neighbors’ Window

The alternate, should that not win: Nefta Football Club

What’s on my ballot: The Neighbors’ Window

My personal choice: The Neighbors’ Window

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. The Neighbors’ Window
  2. Nefta Football Club
  3. A Sister
  4. Saria
  5. Brotherhood

Analysis: The move in Live Action Short is always look for quirky or funny. That’s almost always won here, unless you have a year where one of those isn’t present, like last year. Which means I can’t see Saria or Brotherhood taking it in the end. A Sister is really well done and really tense, and while it can win, it doesn’t fit a winner of the category as readily as the other two. Nefta Football Club has the punchline at the end of it and will generally leave a smile on your face, which makes it a possible contender. But The Neighbors’ Window… oh my god. That is exactly what wins this category most years. The quirky ‘we can see our neighbors having sex!” angle, and seeing that affect their lives and their marriage, and then the emotional twist at the end, leading to the ending of ‘but we were watching you the whole time!” This is the total package in the category. You almost have to take that and just let it lose.

Image result for the neighbors window short

Best Animated Short

What should be on your ballot: Hair Love

The alternate, should that not win: Kitbull

What’s on my ballot: Hair Love

My personal choice: Hair Love

Scorecard rankings (aka how likely each nominee is to win):

  1. Hair Love
  2. Kitbull
  3. Mémorable
  4. Sister
  5. Dcera

Analysis: The beauty of this category is knowing it’s really only gonna go one of two ways. Either they default to Pixar and take Kitbull or Hair Love wins. Kitbull is the first Pixar short nominated here in a while that wasn’t released in front of a feature, which might hurt its chances. Hair Love, meanwhile, was in front of a feature, has big voices supporting it, had a children’s book made from it, and just feels like the right choice here. It’s a 50/50, but I think Hair Love makes more sense as the winner.

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