With the 91st Academy Awards just days away, awards season is coming to an unceremonious end. That is unless the Academy has something up its sleeve after angering viewers at every turn. There will be no host, all categories will be presented during the telecast, and there is no Most Popular category. All of this backlash for a broadcast dedicated to handing gold trophies out to famous people.
I don’t think there is an awful lot to say about the 2019 races for Best Original Song and Best Original Score. One is barely a race, and the other has a standout front-runner with only minor competition.
This isn’t to say that the two categories are complete locks, but they are both pretty darn close.
What is often the operative question with the two sound categories is whether or not they will go to the same film. More often than not, if a film stands out for either editing or mixing, it also stands out in the other.
This year, I think there is a case to be made for both the split and the sweep.
Across the two 2019 writing categories, I think there are seven high quality scripts. There are two-to-three that are damn near brilliant. But that holds no bearing on the task at hand, which is to suss out exactly which scripts have a chance at taking home the trophy.
Four of the five Oscar nominees for Best Cinematography have received nominations before. Alfonso Cuaron has won two, albeit not for cinematography. Caleb Deschanel has been nominated a whopping six times. The only outlier here is Robbie Ryan, who makes a convincing case for himself in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite.
It is a category stacked to the gills with talent. Somehow, though, I believe it is not that close of a race.
Generally, the Best Screenplay categories are filled with Best Picture hopefuls and, when there is room, one or two “honorable mention” choices. These are films that don’t necessarily get the love they might deserve in other categories, but the WGA and the Academy want to honor their merits in some way.
In the Original Screenplay category, this is something like The Big Sick or 20th Century Women. Both are great films that could have competed in other categories, but for one reason or another didn’t quite make the cut. For whatever reason, the screenwriting branch seems to be more forgiving of these clever little films.
There were a lot of visually appealing films in 2018. Films with a diversity of aesthetic styles. There’s something disorienting in First Man. Something queasy in The Favourite. Something slow and crafty in Roma. Something sumptuous and classical in Cold War. Etcetera. Etcetera.
With that being said, narrowing down the final Oscar shortlist to five is no short order. And with the American Society of Cinematographers not dropping their nominees in this category until January 7, we’re flying a bit blind here. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.