Posted Feb 20 2019

Last Word Calls The Oscars 2019

Yesterday saw the close of voting for this year’s Academy Awards, the most tumultuous in living memory. First off, they announced the introduction of the new Popular Oscar award. Everyone said “That’s a stupid idea” - so they backed down. Then Kevin Hart was in as host. Then, due to a history of homophobia, and – more importantly – shit jokes, he “walked away “ – Hollywood-lingo for “was fired.” Then they decided to help keep the always overrunning ceremony shorter they would hand out four of the awards (including Cinematography and Editing) off air during the ad breaks. Everyone said “That’s a stupid idea” - so they backed down. Again.

By now they were careening towards a disastrous Sunday night with a hostless event. And we all remember the last time that happened - Rob Lowe fucked Snow White! (Apparently.) Not looking good. That was until they landed the Queen booking. Brian, Rog and Adam Lambert have been booked to play, and if the Oscar producers don’t open the show with an undoubtedly triumphant Bohemian Rhapsody (or maybe even a Live Aid-esque medley of the hits) then they truly are irredeemable idiots. Let the Queen rule and audiences – both in and outside of the building – will forget there was never a host. We’ll see.

Now to the movies themselves. And it’s been …shall we say…not the best year ever. At first it appeared there were no clear leaders, and then, when they emerged, they weren’t always easy to get all that excited over. There was a distinct #OscarsSoBlack vibe to the Best Picture lists, with Panthers and Klansmen both being nominated. Not to be left out in the colour category, Green Book moved into pole position – except for its non-nominated director. And, wall or no wall, Mexico was well represented by the omnipresent Roma. But do the stalwarts of the Academy really want to give top prize to a Netflix movie, a streaming system that many see as threatening the very existence of Hollywood itself? (Rather than seeing it as a company that is now making the movies Hollywood no longer makes itself.)

In the interests of diversity, Oscar has been opening it arms to many new members over the last couple of years, so it’s not as easy to predict the Oscars as it was back when it was largely 70-plus old bigoted white men dominating the vote.

But we here at Last Word Castle like a challenge – so here we go again, letting you know NOW what will happen THEN. Feel free to take these tips to the bookies – don’t mention insider trading.

So, without further ado, and in something vaguely approaching reverse order – here we go again. And we start with –

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – For the BAFTAs we predicted that Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone would split the vote and cancel each other out – clearly didn’t happen, with Weisz walking away with the face for The Fave. However, we do see this happening on this side of the pond, and whilst Amy Adams is a long overdue favourite, there’s a feeling that Vice didn’t do enough with her. Plus, Regina King has had a fab awards season story with many people having forgotten what a terrific actress she is – only to be reminded by Beale Street. So she goes home with her new best uncle Oscar.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Sam Rockwell just won. Adam Driver will happen in time. Everyone loves Sam Elliot and will he ever get his due? Not as Bradly Cooper’s older brother, sadly. Of the two remaining – we would dearly love to see the dearly lovable Richard E(mergency) Grant walk away with this – has anyone ever purely enjoyed Awards Season as much as this splendid man? – but it’s been Mahershala Ali’s all winter long and we don’t see things changing anytime soon. Making him a two-timer.

BEST ANIMATED FILM – Saw Incredibles II and fully expected Pixar to be making some more space in their fit-to-bustin’ trophy cabinet…and then the Spider-Verse opened up. It may be over-wrought, over loud, and over-done – but it’s taking home an Oscar this Sunday, repeating the success it’s been having all season long. (We’d have gone for Isle Of Dogs personally.)

BEST CINEMATOGRPAHY – Now, that it’s no longer being handed out during the ads – Alfonso takes this one, becoming the first director to win for shooting his own film. And undoubtedly apologizing to Emmanuel Lubezki for doing him out of a job.

BEST EDITING – Now, that it’s no longer being handed out during the ads  - Often a precursor of Best Pic – but not tonight. Vice is a serious contender – but we’re going out on a limb here and saying John Ottman lands this for his sterling work on Bo Rap. Not only did he actually improve on the sheer beauty and world-conquering grandeur of Queen at Live Aid, but he managed to take a movie that lost one director, didn’t bother to credit another, and make the whole thing look genuinely seamless. Surely that deserves some gold?

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN/COSTUME DESIGN – There’s no denying there’s a certain decrepit beauty to Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, and we see this being acknowledged in both these categories, particularly for Sandy Powell’s brilliant as ever costume work.

BEST HAIR AND MAKE UP – This could easily also have gone to The Fave (as it did at the BAFTAs) – but bizarrely they weren’t nom’d here. So take a bow that expert team behind turning Bale into Cheney in Vice.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – Is this where the much slighted Mary Poppins Returns gets some love? The Panther also needs some of course, what with it being “revolutionary” and all. We’d have gone for Justin Hurwitz’ brilliant work on First Man but he wasn’t even nominated. And they’re not going to notice the quiet brilliance of Alexandre Desplat’s work on Isle of Dogs. So it’s a Nanny Vs a Panther face off – and we think Mary just nabs it.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Shallow – all the way. No one else was ever really a contender. But we all knew that! Gaga gets gold!

BEST SOUND EDITING/BEST SOUND MIXING – The brilliant sound design of First Man deserves these two. But the Academy has chosen to shun it. And them sound people, they love them so Bo Rap. So we see Queen happy that they showed up tonight. And – presumably – blew the roof off the dump.

BEST DOCUMENTARY – RBG has had two movies out and about her this year, so seems like a leader. But could this be a case of Supreme Court Judge overkill? And is there an American and Oscar in general feeling to avoid all things political? (Trust us, Vice is not winning Best Film – and it should.) So given that everyone feels they’re teetering on the edge and hanging on by their bare fingertips – Free Solo wins.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – Personally, here at LW, we think it should have been up for Best Picture. But this is where The Avengers Assemble to pick up some statuesque love and glory.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – And now to the conundrum. There is undoubtedly a feeling amongst the Academy voters that – once again – Alfonso has delivered with Roma. But can they live with giving a Best Picture award to a Netflix film? Even the recently anointed young ‘uns may take some umbridge at that. So this becomes the salve – Roma wins Best Foreign Language and everyone goes home happy. Hopefully.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Or, as we’re calling it this year – The About Fucking Time Award! He should be winning more than this (Picture and Director anyone?) but here is where the Academy finally wises up to one of the greatest American filmmakers of all time and gives Spike Lee (and his co-writers) some much overdue recognition. Will his speech get political? Is Prince Purple? (As he recently said.)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – This is a harder call. The Favourite led with a whole bunch o’ noms, but is only cleaning up on the tech side. So this could be the moment where it gets to play the in the big leagues. But Green Book is on course to win the biggie, so an accompanying nod in the Screenplay category would make sense. We feel The Fave should be the fave but it’s also the kind of movie that may well have left the old guard of the Academy a tad cold. So the much easier, accessible – though still beautifully written – Green Book takes this one home.

And so we come to what are technically referred to as “the biggies!”

BEST ACTOR – As soon as we saw Vice, we thought Christian Bale had this. As did many others. But Rami Malek has been like an atom bomb about to oh, oh, oh, oh, oh explode! And Mr Fahrenheit will tonight cap a season of remarkable success adding to his Robot-ic Emmy win with a newly appointed Oscar. Deserved, too.

BEST ACTRESS – Obviously we here at Last Word Castle have an Olivia Colman bias. And she deserves to win. But this is where sentiment outweighs moral decency and Glenn Close – FINALLY – gets her due. And it is due. And well earned with a terrific turn in The Wife. Should have won for The World According To Garp, but better late than…

BEST DIRECTOR – Oh please, please, please upset the apple cart and give it to Spike. The man has made some of the best and richest American movies (and we pointedly say “American” and not “African American”) of the last 40 years and, unlike many of his contemporaries, BlacKKKlansman is one that stands with his finest work. No small thing to say.

But they won’t. It goes to (and equally deserving) friend of the site Alfonso Cuaron. For Roma. The way he’s going you’d think he was about to nab the big one. But…

BEST PICTURE – So the Blacks are out of it – Panther and Klansman that is. Vice could but is too edgy for these times. Bo Rap is too commercial and The Fave is just too out there. Can’t give it to a remake of a remake of a remake – sorry Bradders, and, as we all know, Roma just bought the Foreign Language runner up prize (don’t see it that way, Alfonso – you’re Best Director. Again.)

So Green Book – the new, woke Driving Miss Daisy – takes home Best Picture. And – as they used to say – why not? It’s a great film, even if in some ways it is the one that offers least resistance.

And – bar the envelopes getting mixed up – it’s all over for another year. And by “another year” we mean “roughly two to three weeks” before the whole damn things starts up again.

As ever, we’re pretty sure we’re 100% right on everything above – so feel free to re-mortgage the house and put some bets on – there’ still time.

But, as ever, all the Academy can do between now and Sunday night is get it wrong. (Warning potential gamblers – they have been known to do this in years past.)

Come back Sunday to see how it all plays out, when we’ll be desperately trying to stay awake as the Last Word team live-blogs the whole thing – let’s just hope someone brings the donuts.


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