My Oscars 2019 Predictions

So, it’s almost time for the Oscars 2019. It’ll be the first night in 5 years where I don’t stay up horribly late to watch it (doing it alone is no fun!), but seeing as I’ve seen almost all of the biggest nominees, I thought I’d try and predict who will win. As is always the case with the Oscars, there are certain categories where I know my favourite won’t win, or where they aren’t even nominated!

So…….here goes!

1. Best Picture

This is an interesting one, as personally I’d have voted for Can You Ever Forgive Me, but as it’s not on the shortlist, I think this comes down to two frontrunners – Green Book, or Roma. I keep changing my mind about this. I know there has been controversy, but knowing none of that when I first saw it back in October, I really enjoyed Green Book and can see it appealing to a wider range of voters. Having said that, Roma is picking up a lot of steam and won at the BAFTAs, so it could be a groundbreaking night for foreign films in this category and also for Netflix. I’m truly torn, but final prediction is: Green Book.

2. Best Director

As much as I’d like to see Spike Lee finally win an Oscar for directing, I think this is going to Alfonso Cuaron for Roma.

3. Actress in a Leading Role

The more films I watched between October and now, the stronger the field of potential nominees in this category became. The five finalists could have been joined by Rosamund Pike for A Private War and Nicole Kidman for a truly stunning performance in Destroyer. I’m still a little shocked at how little awards attention that film received to be honest and no doubt others I’ve forgotten. From the five women nominated, my vote would go to Melissa McCarthy, who I thought was superb in Can You Ever Forgive Me. Yet, this is clearly between Glenn Close and Olivia Colman. Would I love to see Olivia on that stage? Of course, but I think it’s going to be Glenn Close’s night. She was excellent in a film that didn’t really do much for me, but seeing as she’s missed out so many times, she’ll get this to remedy that oversight.

4. Actor in a Leading Role

I’m assuming this will come down to either Rami Malek or Christian Bale. Personally, I’d give it to Bale, but I’m guessing it’ll be Malek’s night.

5. Actress in a Supporting Role

Although I’ve yet to see If Beale Street Could Talk (it’s only been out here a week and I have a cold!), I’m putting my bet on Regina King and that’s fine with me, as she’s always superb (most recently for me in Netflix’s series Seven Seconds).

6. Actor in a Supporting Role

This is a strong category too and as much as I’d be thrilled to see Richard E Grant receive this, just to see his reaction and also because he was fantastic in this role, I think it’ll be a second win in this category for Mahershala Ali and to be honest, that’s fine with me, as I found his performance in Green Book deeply moving. It stayed with me long after I’d left the cinema and he’s more than earned it.

7. Adapted Screenplay

This could go in a number of ways, but I’m wondering if this will be where Spike Lee is awarded with a win, seeing as I doubt he’ll get best director.

8. Original Screenplay

I have no idea about this one! It could be any of them, so I’m going to go with The Favourite, as it’s clearly a popular film, but one I don’t see taking home any of the bigger awards.

9. Original Song

This isn’t even a race is it? This is Lady Gaga’s.

10. Original Score

This is another category I’m finding hard to call. I loved the music in BlacKkKlansman and I’ve yet to see If Beale Street Could Talk, which I know is the favourite of many people. I’d probably vote for Black Panther, for a score that became instantly recognisable and evoked a whole culture in just a few short notes. I’ve no idea really, but I’ll go with BlacKkKlansman.

11. Animated Feature Film

I haven’t seen them all, but I’m fairly confident in saying this is going to be a guaranteed Marvel win for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

12. Documentary Feature

I’ve only seen RBG and Free Solo, so if I had to choose it would be between these two. I thoroughly enjoyed RBG, but I’m rooting for the breathtaking Free Solo. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you do!

13. Cinematography

In some years this has been more obvious to me (The Revenant springs immediately to mind) and this year I think it’ll be another win for Roma’s Alfonso Cuaron.

14. Visual Effects

I still think Avengers: Infinity War should have been in the Best Picture category. Not all films can pull off such a satisfying narrative for so many characters, but seeing as it has missed out on that, I hope it gets at least some recognition here!

15. Costume Design

My prediction here is for The Favourite, as costume dramas seem to always do well in such categories, but I’d love it to go to Black Panther.

16. Makeup & Hairstyling

This has to go to Vice, for the tremendous work helping transform Christian Bale in to Dick Cheney.

17. Production Design

I’ve no idea on the frontrunners here, but my vote would go to Black Panther.

18. Film Editing

My immediate response is that Vice should win, as so much of that film’s style is down to the editing. Yet, knowing all the behind the scenes difficulties on Bohemian Rhapsody, perhaps this will succeed in this category.

19 & 20. Sound Editing & Sound Mixing

I admit, every year I have to look up what the difference is between these two categories. Having reminded myself yet again, I’m going to say that Editing will go to Bohemian Rhapsody and Mixing to First Man, the film in which the importance of sound truly came across to me.

……………………………

As I haven’t seen any of the film shorts, it would be unfair for me to make a wild guess, so I’ll leave it at that. It’ll be interesting to wake up tomorrow and see how many I got right!

 

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Film Review – A Star Is Born (2018) – Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga take hold of your emotions and don’t let go, in this incredible film

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Last night, I had the opportunity to watch a preview of one of the year’s most anticipated films and I have to say, I was not prepared for the emotional response it would illicit from me. So viscerally real is the emotional gut punch this film delivers, that I left the cinema feeling as if I’d just experienced a story first hand, as is often the case following a powerful theatre show. It is almost as if you are standing backstage watching the story take place in front of your eyes.

For those who, like me, have not seen any of the previous three versions of this story, A Star Is Born sees internationally successful musician and singer, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), struggling with the pressures of a career in the spotlight, the worsening of his tinnitus problem and toughest of all, an addiction to drugs and alcohol.  One night, after a concert, he stumbles in to a bar and is captivated by the raw vocal talent of Ally (Lady Gaga) and the two have an immediate connection.

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What follows is an incredibly moving exploration of two careers at opposite ends of the spectrum – as one takes flight, the other falls to earth and how the pain and heartbreak of addiction affects not just the addict, but those closest to them.

The question I’ve been asked most since seeing the film is whether Lady Gaga can act. The answer is an emphatic yes and she delivers a confident, beautiful performance as Ally, from her early, slightly nervous interactions with Jackson, to a woman taking a hold of her chance at success and shining. I admit, I’d wondered whether I’d be able to see past the extravagant image we all know her for so well. Yet, the film perfectly takes those pre-conceptions and discards them, as we see Ally first perform La Vie En Rose, on stage at a drag show, in full make-up, only for this to be stripped away, in part literally by Jackson, to reveal the person underneath and you soon forget she’s ever anyone else.

It’s no surprise her vocals are stunning, from the intimate gig, to the vast stadiums, but Lady Gaga also brings the soul of her character to the forefront, as we see her struggle to first believe her good fortune, before also finding herself in love with a man she’s trying so desperately to help. Many have wondered whether she’d be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand (both of whom have starred in previous versions). They needn’t have worried and I fully expect award nominations for her performance, which will no doubt introduce her to a whole new audience.

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Another key to the success of this film is the chemistry between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. From their very first scene together, you can feel the connection between them and it certainly adds credibility to a story in which two people almost instantly fall in love. It doesn’t feel contrived or forced. You believe the passion and love they share, which is essential if you are going to invest in the journey of these two characters. Watching them move through the highs and lows, I felt as if I was observing real lives; that’s how strong their relationship on screen is and the trust and affection they clearly have for each other as actors feeds in to their performances. Together, they make you laugh and cry.

As for Bradley Cooper’s performance in the film, in my opinion, it’s his finest performance to date and should undoubtably earn him a fifth Oscar nomination. Not only does he look different, but his voice is lower and more importantly, he is able to convey the complex palette of emotions that are constantly battling within Jackson as an addict. The combination of his hearing difficulties and need to rely on drugs and alcohol to simply exist in the touring world he inhabits have made him a lonely figure and it’s a joy to see the difference meeting Ally brings to his life. You see the light in his eyes at having a new reason to live. Jackson, in the hands of Cooper, is a gentle soul, struggling to keep going and the vulnerability he brings to the role is utterly heart-wrenching to watch, as we see a man with so many personal demons he’s trying to overcome and I confess, there were moments so emotionally raw, that I could barely watch. At this point in time, I can’t imagine a finer performance beating him to next year’s Oscar and 24 hours after watching the film, his astounding performance is still on my mind.

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The film also draws on strong supporting performances, most notably from Sam Elliott, who plays Jackson’s older brother Bobby, who stepped in to the role of the father figure his brother never had, due to their father’s own problems with alcohol and this relationship forms another touching facet of the story. Bringing a lightness and humour to the film is Andrew Dice Clay, as Ally’s father, whose pride and utter joy at her success brought a smile to my face.

A Star Is Born is also the directorial debut of Cooper and what a superb achievement it is. Yes, it’s perhaps a little too long and drags slightly in places, but it’s clear that Cooper had a strong eye and clear vision of what he wanted to bring to the screen. His choices in certain scenes, whether the framing, or the focus on which the camera rests in order to maximise both the stunning scale of the bigger moments and the quiet intimacy in others, is certainly impressive. If this is what he can achieve with his first film, I cannot wait to see what else we’ll see from him in the future.

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A film centring on the love and lives of two singers, also required a strong soundtrack and the original songs written for the film are stunning and crucially, filmed live for the scenes. This decision adds yet more authenticity to the piece, as we see Cooper and Lady Gaga performing in front of audiences at actual venues (including Coachella in California and Glastonbury in the UK). The biggest surprise musically, is perhaps the vocal ability of Cooper, who has a fantastic voice and you can sense the pleasure the two leads had performing together. As well as Lady Gaga and Cooper, collaborators include Luke Nelson, Mark Ronson, Dave Cobb, Diane Warren, Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter. I can easily see the film vying against itself in the original song category at next year’s Oscars!

The film isn’t perfect of course. I’ve mentioned it’s a little too long and although my view may be clouded by his later decisions, which left me so angry, the character of Ally’s manager seems rather two-dimensional.

That being said, my response to A Star Is Born is overwhelmingly positive. In fact it exceeded all my expectations, delivering not just a wonderful love story, but also a very real, painful and heartbreaking insight in to the struggles so many people suffer when caught up in cycles of addiction. Writers Eric Roth, Will Fetters and Cooper himself, have taken a classic story and brought it in to the twenty first century, ensuring it feels utterly relevant for today’s world. I laughed, I smiled, I held my breath during both the highs and lows and I shed quite a few tears. This is a film that will stay with me for a long time and I’ll be returning to see it again at the earliest opportunity.

A Star Is Born opens in cinemas in the UK on 3rd October and the USA on 5th October. Running time: 136 minutes. You can watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/nSbzyEJ8X9E