author: quinn bell | a&c writer
Golden statues for days / Prayitno via Flickr
Billy Crystal and Neil Patrick Harris were both unavailable. I suppose.
Just three weeks after the Super Bowl comes February’s other big television event: the Academy Awards. This year, the Oscars are going hostless, thanks to a strong public outcry over years-old homophobic tweets by would-be host Kevin Hart. You know, the kind of tweets that threaten boys who play with dolls, or the ones conflating the AIDS crisis with the LGBTQ+ community. Hart refused to apologize again, arguing that he had already gone through the news cycle about it enough times, apologizing to the internet. He did, however, quickly step down over the controversy, saying that he did not want to make the night about him.
After weeks of wondering who would host the Oscars this year, it was announced that the ceremony would go on without a host — the first time this has happened in 30 years. Instead, the awards night will be more reliant on individual comedic skits. This could be an excellent way to test out many potential future hosts, giving Hollywood’s funny people a chance to make us laugh without being under too much pressure to perform all night.
There might also be more of an emphasis on musical acts. Although they’re notorious for being fairly lacklustre (or even terrible) every year, I for one am excited for at least some of the music this time around. The five songs nominated for Best Song will all be performed this year. Jennifer Hudson’s powerful “I’ll Fight” (from RBG), “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” (from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), and “The Place Where Lost Things Go” (sung by Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns) will all be featured, all with the possibility of a special guest appearance. Kendrick Lamar & SZA’s “All the Stars” (Black Panther) will also be performed, and will quite possibly win. Or, it would have won, had it not been for Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” (from A Star is Born). Gaga and Cooper will be performing “Shallow” live at the Oscars and I swear if the whole theatre doesn’t tear up, something is wrong in the world.
Enough about what might be going on between nominations; it’s time to take a look at who’s been chosen for what. The two films standing out right from the beginning are Roma and The Favourite, a British comedy. Each feature film has been nominated for 10 awards, including Best Picture. Roma is a monochromatic foreign film out of Mexico, following a rich family’s young maid as she perseveres through personal and national hardship. It’s quite pretty (making it a favourite for Best Cinematography), but it’s also pretty long and artsy, which could hurt its chances for Best Picture.
Also nominated for Best Picture is Black Panther. Black Panther stands out for being the first superhero movie to be selected for a Best Picture nomination, according to ABC News. Other films nominated include BlacKkKlansman (great), Bohemian Rhapsody (great), A Star is Born (great again), and Vice (really great). It’s a tough competition in 2019.
There are some big names nominated for Best Actress and Actor, as well as for the supporting categories. Examples of the most well-known include Lady Gaga, Melissa McCarthy, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Rami Malek, Viggo Mortensen, Adam Driver, Sam Rockwell, Amy Adams, and Emma Stone. Two actresses from Roma made it into these categories as well, Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira. I’d say they also stand a strong chance in the running.
What about some of the categories that sometimes get overlooked? Best Makeup and Hair, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing, and Best Score — these are all less flashy than Best Actress, maybe, but they can really make a film extraordinary.
Best Makeup and Hair has only three nominees: Border, Mary Queen of Scots, and Vice. Vice has to win this one: Christian Bale was literally former Vice-President Dick Cheney and it was amazing. If there were an award for best casting, Vice would also be a strong contender there.
In 2019, Best Costume Design also has a pretty clear winner, I think, and that’s Black Panther. The film is a visual catalogue of afro-futurism. Designer Ruth E. Carter has been nominated before (Malcolm X in ’92 and Amistad in ’97). Twenty-one years later and clearly still on a roll, she’s created thousands of amazing costumes for Marvel.
Next up is the award for Best Sound Editing. Sound editing can be quite subtle, and yet it is essential for making a film both believable and exciting. This year, however, there was one film that utilized sound editing to the best of its horrifying abilities: A Quiet Place. Creaks, screams, footsteps, radio crackle… eek. All these sounds are scary enough in an everyday horror film, but in a movie where almost nobody speaks, they’re freaking terrifying.
Finally, a look at Best Score. Isle of Dogs wins, and you all know it. Also nominated are BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, If Beale Street Could Talk, and Mary Poppins Returns.
Catch the 2019 Academy Awards on Feb. 24, on ABC.