Best Actress: Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Yes, it will likely be Lady Gaga for A Star is Born. And she is great in the movie, no taking that away from her. But as a hugely gifted recording artist who was always told she didn’t look the part playing a hugely gifted recording artist who is told she doesn’t look the part, Gaga did have a bit of an unfair advantage. Colman’s compelling, Golden Globe-winning depiction of a spoilt, vulnerable, ruthless Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’ hilarious movie is a masterclass in deadpan pathos. And she’s definitely never been a real ruthless monarch. Not in this life, anyway.
Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Both Weisz, who won in this category in 2006 for The Constant Gardener, and her co-star, 2017’s Best Actress winner Emma Stone, should score nominations here. But this really is Weisz’s movie; in the hands of a different actor, Lady Sarah – friend, secret lover, manipulator, part-time regent for the Queen of England – would likely have been overdone or underplayed, but Weisz manages to make her enchanting and dislikeable all at once. Special mention to Claire Foy for her restrained, military-wife dignity in First Man, and Regina King, who is astounding in If Beale Street Could Talk. But, for me, Weisz crosses the line first.
Best Actor: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
In the real world, the accolade will probably go to Academy darling Ryan Gosling for his beautifully restrained tribute to Neil Armstrong in Damian Chazelle’s biopic First Man, itself another Academy favorite. Or possibly to Christian Bale, who snatched the Golden Globe for Best Comedy Actor for his superb transformation into Dick Cheney in Vice. Or Steve Carell, whose portrayal of a desperate father trying to ‘save’ his son from addiction in Beautiful Boy will never really leave us. But Malek’s perfect portrayal of Freddie Mercury – arguably the most beloved figure in pop-cultural history – has brought such unbridled, incomparable joy to so many people that he deserves the win.
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Ali is bewitching in Peter Farrelly’s Green Book, based on the true story of African-American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley as he tours the American South in the 1960s. Viggo Mortensen plays his rough-diamond Italian-American driver and bodyguard and, as well as addressing racism and prejudice, the film is also a beautiful buddy-bonding trip. Less demanding of its audience than Moonlight, for which Ali won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2017, but weightier than his other 2018 Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, Green Book strikes the perfect balance. Timothée Chalamet is heartbreaking as a drug addict in Beautiful Boy, but Ali’s quiet dignity deserves the prize.
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Alfonso ‘Gravity’ Cuarón takes us back to the Mexico of his childhood in a film that is more work of art than cinematic entertainment. And yet it is absorbing, enthralling, bewitching poetry in motion. Yes, if it’s about the popular vote, maybe the Oscar would go to Bradley Cooper for his directorial debut A Star is Born, a critical and commercial hit: the music, the pathos, the chemistry, the tears – it’s all there. But somehow, something is missing. A stroke of genius, perhaps – and Cuarón has that in spades.
Best Picture: Black Panther
It may not score a nomination – no superhero movie ever does in the prestige categories – let alone win the little gold bookend, but it should. From a structural point of view, Ryan Coogler’s Marvel movie is pretty much perfect: the script, the directing, the casting, the story – and it delivered a powerful political message to a hungry audience with no apology and no aggression. Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Damian Chazelle’s First Man, Adam McKay’s Vice and Peter Farrelly’s Green Book are all improbably good contenders, but Black Panther wins film of the year on creative, conceptual and commercial points. Plus, the soundtrack deserves a nod, too.
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