It’s the biggest award on the biggest night in entertainment: Best Picture at the Academy Awards. With eight very unique nominees on the ballot this year, there are many different ways this can go. Will voters go for the rock ‘n’ roll biopic about the legendary king of Queen? A socially-conscious tale about a black officer of the law infiltrating the KKK? Or dare we say it…a Marvel superhero film?
Here’s a brief rundown of the nominees followed by industry indicators and predictions as to what could happen tonight. And the nominees are:
The Favourite, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Lanthimos’ deliciously dark period piece tells the story of cousins Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail (Emma Stone) as they battle their way to becoming Queen Anne’s prized pet. There’s verbal beef, physical seduction, and even a shocking poisoning spell as relations between the two family members grow colder and colder. It’s a combination of 18th-century storytelling mixed with elements of a modern-day soap that in the end turns out to be more All About Eve than Dallas.
Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler
Mystical technology, a fictional African kingdom, and an army of strong female characters, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther swooped in delivering the hero we needed at the exact moment we needed him. Never has a superhero movie been more socially-conscious and important, proving with its predominantly black cast that representation matters and that an afro-futurist fable can break social barriers…and the box office.
Green Book, directed by Peter Farrelly
In Peter Farrelly’s latest, the real-life bond between a black classical jazz pianist and a brash Italian-American New Yorker takes center stage when Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) agrees to take a job driving Don Shirley on tour in the 1962 South. The relationship between the two makes for an amusing buddy-comedy, but also has far deeper implications about our societal similarities and the lengths we’ll go to defend a friend in need.
Bohemian Rhapsody, directed by Bryan Singer
Rami Malek takes on the enigma that is Freddie Mercury in a biopic about Queen’s rise to fame and glory. While it’s a good, well-paced film that follows the band from its youthful bar-playing days to their performance on the grand stage of Live Aid in 1985, Malek’s performance takes this Rhapsody to the next level.
Vice, directed by Adam McKay
Adam McKay’s Vice tells the tale of one of the most polarizing Veeps of our time, former vice president Dick Cheney. Turning the story into a black comedy, McKay breaks the fourth wall and includes heaps of pop culture references to boot, setting the stage for one of the most entertaining biopics of recent years. Bale’s virtually unrecognizable performance lifts up an already powerful film that’s equal parts horrifying and hilarious.
Roma, directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma is the antithesis of superheroes and super singers. It’s the story of a year in the life of a working-class housekeeper in a 1970’s Mexico City. Yalitza Aparicio plays Cleo, a humble woman who’s just trying to get by and navigate the harsher elements and social politics of her country at the time. It may be quieter than a Marvel movie, but it’s equally as powerful.
A Star Is Born, directed by Bradley Cooper
One would think that the fourth version of the same story might detract from its effect, but Bradley Cooper’s film about a rugged rock star and his talented, up and coming ingénue packs an even harder punch than its predecessors. The passion of the film’s songwriters and the characters’ true-to-life struggles leap off the screen making it one of the year’s most relatable stories of new love and mental illness.
BlacKkKlansman, directed by Spike Lee
Spike Lee’s latest tells the true story of Colorado Springs’ first black police officer who infiltrated his way into the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970’s. The movie works to show parallels between racism in the ’70s and the hate that still exists today (as evidenced by Charlottesville, Va. in 2017), helping deliver one of the most topical and frightening films of the year.
Who’s Already Won Big This Year?
Green Book and Roma seem to be two of the biggest frontrunners in this year’s competition. Farrelly’s film snagged the highest awards at both the Producers Guild Awards and the Golden Globes, while Cuarón’s Roma was top dog at the Directors Guild Awards, the BAFTAs, and the Critics Choice Awards. Black Panther secured the highest honor at the Screen Actors Guild awards winning Outstanding Performance By a Cast in a Motion Picture, though seems to be one of the longshots (along with Bohemian Rhapsody) going into tonight’s Oscars ceremony. While stranger things have happened in Oscars past, it seems unlikely that Panther would secure a win from this particular Academy, even despite a big push to diversify its nominations, recipients, and membership.
While many critics have been speculating that this year’s Best Picture category is a race between Green Book and Roma, the diversity among the nominees could mean it’s anyone’s trophy to snatch. If Roma wins, however, it’ll become the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture in the history of the Academy Awards and also the first Netflix film to take the cake, setting two much-needed precedents in the industry. Despite the fact that a win for Black Panther or BlacKkKlansman would be a historic triumph (or that my personal favorite is The Favourite), our prediction is that Cuarón’s critically acclaimed Roma will win out.