The BFG 2019 Oscar Prediction Post–Part One
Here we are again, my friends. The Oscars approach like an Uber X nobody ordered. Are we ready? It’s Oscar time!
That video hearkens back to a simpler time in the world, 1998, when Kevin Spacey wasn’t an alleged child rapist and Billy Crystal singing “It’s A Wonderful Night For Oscar” could be considered reliable mainstream entertainment. Now the Oscars don’t have a host because the host they chose said some un-choice things about gay people ten years ago. So the left hates them, and the right also hates them because Hollywood continues to make movies with controversial messages like “slavery was bad.” Regardless, if you love movies, or at least random facts about movies, then you have to love the Oscars.
This marks my first Oscar season as the editor-in-chief of a prestigious culture-review website, and I’m not about to miss out on the party. Mind you, no one’s actually invited me to any parties. But in my mind, I’m right there sitting next to whoever’s in Graydon Carter’s chair these days.
To celebrate, I’ve gathered the opinions and words of the finest film critics who were willing to contribute to this feature for free. They are, in no particular order: BFG chief film critic Stephen Garrett; legendary New York zine publisher Ayun Halliday; Pablo Gallaga, the phantom of the midnight movie; Jason Avant, a guy who lives in California; and me. This isn’t some schmoozy Slate Film Club where we send one another chummily pretentious notes about our mutual admiration. Other than Ayun, I’ve never met any of my fellow contributors. Regardless, their opinions are Bitcoin to me, and I respect them enormously as humans and as people who were willing to contribute to this feature for free. You should admire their acumen and their judgment, especially since those words basically mean the same thing in this context.
Today we present our panel picks for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Director. We’ll lead with Jason, because his last name starts with “A,” and we’ll end with me, because my name is mud. And now, ladies and gentlemen…
A Star Is Born
Jason Avant: Black Panther. Black Panther deserves to win because it’s the only Best Picture nominee that I saw.
Pablo Gallaga: The boring pick here is Roma, so I’m going to pick Bohemian Rhapsody just because I want to see how the Academy deals with the blowback against the cognitive dissonance it would take to give that film the win. How was it even nominated?
Stephen Garrett: Black Panther. The movie is more radical than BlacKkKlansman, more sentimental than Green Book, more self-celebratory than Bohemian Rhapsody, has just as many great female roles as The Favourite, and treats its politics with the same comic-book body slam as Vice. Plus, Roma is overrated and A Star Is Born peaked too soon.
Ayun Halliday: Roma. I agree with pretty much everything that’s been said about this film, both positive and negative, and can also recommend an ice cream stall in the mercado a couple of blocks away from the house in the film. That’s another way of saying I wonder if I would have liked the film as much if I hadn’t spent a couple of weeks in the immediate vicinity, totally besotted, last summer.
Neal Pollack: If we were to base this category on “movie that I will actually watch again,” then of course Black Panther would win. However, I don’t think Black Panther is the best movie of these nominated, even though it contains both of the best Waterfall Battle Royale scenes. I’ve actually seen all these movies. Vice was too all over the place to win, A Star Is Born was ridiculous, Roma is pretentious art-house fare. BlackKkKlansman had its strengths but got nominated because it’s politically of-the-moment. Bohemian Rhapsody is pop garbage. The only good part was the last 20 minutes, a long concert scene that featured Bob Geldof answering the phone. Green Book was a grandma movie about racism. This is a long way to say that I pick The Favourite because I found it visually interesting, excellently-written, and sly. There, five critics, four movies. That solves everything.
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Jason Avant: Willem Dafoe played The Green Goblin in the original Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man is an Avenger just like Black Panther, therefore Willem Dafoe deserves to win.
Pablo Gallaga: Bradley Cooper sang songs and peed himself. Big woop. Christian Motherfucking Bale BECAME Dick Cheney in no uncertain terms. We owe him an Oscar as a society as sort of like an apology, no?
Stephen Garrett: Christian Bale. Wait, that wasn’t Dick Cheney starring as himself in Vice? OK, give Bale another Oscar.
Ayun Halliday: It’s not hard to choose when you’ve only seen one of the nominated performances, though I feel bad that Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t get the nod in Hair and Makeup, as it took me seeing Rami Malek’s head blown up to 30′ tall to realize how truly wild Freddie Mercury’s teeth were.
Neal Pollack: I actually thought Cooper’s work, despite my many problems with this dumb movie, was really good and subtle, especially in the addiction recovery scenes toward the end. But it was nothing compared with what Bale did as Dick Cheney. He gave Cheney haters and Cheney lovers (who do exist), plenty on which to chew. One of the great performances of all time.
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Jason Avant: Lady Gaga appeared in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For as someone named “Bertha”. Josh Brolin is also in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. Josh Brolin played Thanos, Thanos killed Black Panther. Lady Gaga deserves to win because Thanos is scary and it must have been hard to act next to him.
Pablo Gallaga: It’s Lady Gaga’s moment. Let’s see how long it drags on.
Stephen Garrett: Glenn Close. Because that Golden Globe acceptance speech reminded everyone of their enduringly fatal attraction to the seven-time Oscar nominee. And, this year, she is not going to be ignored!
Ayun Halliday: Olivia Colman. Mid-December insomnia led me to stumble across her as the mom in the completely batshit Flowers, so you can imagine my joy when she cropped up as the childish and endearingly needy queen in The Favourite, which we chose for our family’s Christmas Day outing this year. I’d give it to her on the strength of her reaction to “You look like a badger” alone.
Neal Pollack: If Lady Gaga wins the Oscar, fuck it, I quit. Jason can edit the site. Then you’ll all be sorry. McCarthy was fantastic in a movie that no one saw outside of Manhattan or Brooklyn, so I won’t pick her because she’s not going to win. I will go with Olivia Colman, who was also excellent. If Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey can win Oscars–for the same damn movie–then they can sure as hell give an Oscar to Sophie from Peep Show.
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice
Jason Avant: Spike Lee also really liked Black Panther, so he should win.
Pablo Gallaga: Alfonso Cuarón will take home his second win for Best Director, but his first for a film without George Clooney playing an astronaut like he’s in a Nescafe commercial.
Stephen Garrett: Spike Lee. The godfather of modern black filmmaking made people like Jordan Peele and Barry Jenkins possible. It’s time for the big payback.
Ayun Halliday: Alfonso Cuarón. “Shimmering”, “pellucid, “lyrical”, “deeply immersive” … there’s a reason people are falling all over themselves to attach adjectives to that high def black-and-white, and this film makes a strong case that writers can and should direct their own work.
Neal Pollack: A Greek, a Pole, a Mexican, Spike Lee and the creator of Anchorman walk into a category. All four of the other nominees deserve this one more than Spike Lee does for this particular film. But I agree that they’re going to give it to him as a well-deserved lifetime achievement award. And I also agree with Ayun that writers should direct their own work, which is why I intend to direct the upcoming Netflix adaptation of Downward-Facing Death that I’m trying to will into being by typing these words.
We’ll pick this up next week with more categories. Hint: most of Jason’s picks are Black Panther-related.