Who Should (And Will) Win At the Oscars? – Part 2

Having already addressed the nomination for the ‘What’s’ of this years Oscar’s, in part 2 of 2 Francis takes a look at who should win at this year’s upcoming event, once more taking a look at the nominees, who likely will win, who should win, and who they believe to be the dark horse of the relevant category.

Best Director
Alfonso Cuarón
Yorgos Lanthimos
The Favourite
Spike Lee
Adam McKay
Pawel Pawlikowski
Cold War

Each of the directors nominated in this category exhibit a form of storytelling that is simultaneously intricate and unique. Although the Academy has once again failed to recognise the impressive works of female directors in 2018 (i.e. Lynne Ramsay, Marielle Heller), the work of these five nominees are still worthy of acclaim.

Once again, Alfonso Cuarón’s magnum opus seems set to take home the award, utilising sweeping landscapes, a healthy dose of monochrome, and some of the finest tracking shots you will ever witness on screen to provide a film that is as expansive as it is intimate.

Despite his notoriety in the American film industry, this marks Spike Lee’s first nomination for Best Director, andBlacKkKlansman represents a real return to form by perfectly balancing the absurdity and the horror of the subject matter.

Yorgos Lanthimos fully embraces the quirkiness of The Favourite’s script, while adding his own signature blend of directorial flourishes (if you love fish-eye lenses, you’ll be a fan).

Pawel Pawlikowski’s work hearkens back to a golden age of European cinema while also capturing the essence of an incredible love story.

And Finally, Adam McKay returns with a unique style (displayed in 2015’s The Big Short), although at times gets lost in its strong political views.

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón – Roma

Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón – Roma

Dark Horse: Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman

Best Actor:

Christian Bale
Bradley Cooper
Willem Dafoe
At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek
Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen
Green Book

This particular race for Leading Actor is one of the most interesting in recent years, mostly owing to the variety in each performance.

Thus far, fortune seems to have been favouring Rami Malek’s stint as legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Although Bohemian Rhapsody had a host of issues, Malek’s performance was by no means one of them, and his incredible dedication to the flamboyant yet troubled character really allowed him to exhibit his incredible acting range.

Malek’s main competition seems to be Christian Bale in Vice. From the inspirational to the infamous, Bale’s portrayal of American Vice President Dick Cheney is terrifying – both due to the character itself and the actor’s insane physical transformation. Unrecognisable, Christian Bale provides a performance that is meticulous and nuanced beneath the layers of prosthetics and additional bulk (the actor gained over 40 lbs. for the role).

Viggo Mortensen too packed on the pounds for Green Book, in which he is reliably excellent and frequently hilarious as the Italian-American bouncer-come-chauffeur.

The exceptionally talented Willem Dafoe scores his first Oscar nomination in this category for his touching portrayal of Vincent van Gogh, yet the film doesn’t seem to have picked up enough traction beyond the actor’s performance, making it unlikely that he will claim the prize.

Bradley Cooper, meanwhile, is left as the only actor in this category not portraying a real-life figure. While his drug-addled gruff characterisation in A Star Is Born does elicit some touching moments, his overall portrayal feels at times a bit too self-indulgent (considering Cooper also directed the film).

Will Win: Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody

Should Win: Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody

Dark Horse: Christian Bale – Vice

Best Actress:

Yalitza Aparicio
Glenn Close
The Wife
Olivia Colman
The Favourite
Lady Gaga
A Star is Born
Melissa McCarthy
Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Each character arch of these nominees are incredibly well-pronounced, despite the vast differences in each character’s intentions and status.

With the prominence of the Me Too campaign in Hollywood, Glenn Close’s of a so-called “kingmaker” in The Wife feels like a natural fit, and the Academy are always keen to respond to relevant and current social issues. Playing a wife finally tired of a lifetime of putting her husband’s successes before her own, this also seems the perfect opportunity to reward Close’s lengthy and varied acting career (this being her 7th Oscar nomination).

However, due simply to the dramatic range she demonstrates on screen, my personal favourite is Olivia Colman. As Queen Anne, Colman is fragile, funny, intense, devious and mad as a box of cats – all, very often, without having to say a single word. Her recent win at the BAFTAs may also provide her with the edge.

Yalitza Aparicio’s nomination in Roma came as a welcome surprise for the star’s acting debut, in which she brings an incredible sense of subtlety and sensitivity to a role with relatively little dialogue. It’s great to see Melissa McCarthy more of a dramatic role, and while her emotional range is perhaps not given the best opportunity to flourish, her chemistry with Richard E. Grant is an undeniable highlight.

Finally, Lady Gaga surprisingly and thankfully displays a considerable emotional range, yet jarringly appears too at home on the stage, which plays against the character’s personal arc.

Will Win: Glenn Close – The Wife

Should Win: Olivia Colman – The Favourite

Dark Horse: Yalitza Aparicio – Roma

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali
Green Book
Adam Drive
Sam Elliot
A Star is Born
Richard E. Grant
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell

A spectacular array of talent is on show in this category, although some front-runners have emerged despite the strength of each performance.

Mahershala Ali appears set to claim success at this stage, having topped the category at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes and SAGs. This would mean Ali’s second win in three years, having won for his touching portrayal in 2016’s Moonlight. In Green Book, Ali exposes his more comedic side, acting as the perfect foil for Viggo Mortensen, and also deftly handles the weighted sections of the script.

However, I think that standout performance in this category is Richard E. Grant. Despite his vibrant presence in British cinema since the 1980s, Grant has never captured an American audience – until now, that is. As the effortlessly charismatic Jack Hock, Grant draws charm from the rogue swindler and makes the audience genuinely sympathise with the role. And a win for Grant would make up for his wonderful portrayal in Withnail and I being shockingly overlooked.

Adam Driver is the standout performance in BlacKkKlansman, suitably deadpan and wickedly funny while still managing to exacerbate some of the film’s more tense moments, whilst Sam Rockwell, last year’s winner, returns with his wickedly entertaining role as former President George W. Bush. Yet regrettably the film doesn’t provide him with enough screen time to pose a threat in this category, nor does A Star is Born provide Sam Elliott enough of an opportunity to make a lasting impression.

Will Win: Mahershala Ali – Green Book

Should Win: Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Dark Horse: Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams
Marina de Tavira
Regina King
If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone
The Favourite
Rachel Weisz
The Favourite

The strength of the competition in this category is undeniable, yet The Favourite having two (very deserving) nominees may create something of an upset. Both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz provide powerhouse performances in the film – the former perfectly maintains an English accent and a meticulously complex performance, while the latter is delightfully devilish and wickedly cunning. However, both (particularly Stone) feel more like leading performances – more so indeed than Olivia Colman. Because of this, and that two nominees will likely split votes, it’s likely that neither actress will leave with the award.

Instead, Regina King stands as the more predictable winner, her standout performance in If Beale Street Could Talk being the real highlight of the film. Amy Adams, too, could equally snatch victory on the night. Over the past decade, Amy Adams has traded in a considerable number of award-worthy performances, and her scene-stealing turn as Lynne Cheney in Vice would be a great way to recognise this. Marina de Tavira also gives a sensitive performance as Roma’s matriarch, capitalising on the character’s crippling loneliness.

Will Win: Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk

Should Win: Emma Stone – The Favourite

Dark Horse: Amy Adams – Vice

As ever, this article, and the previous, present solely my own humble opinion, but I’d love to hear yours – whether you agree or not!

Francis Simmon

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