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.
Best Production Design is not necessarily the easiest Oscar category to predict in any given year, but there are clear signposts that make a film’s production design “Oscar worthy.” Period settings. Visually-striking set dressing. Something lavish, or else something historical.
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.
The costume design in the 2019 race is, all around, very good. And the nominees run the gamut of generic representation. Fantastical period piece musical. Western pastiche. Semi-futurist science fiction. 18th century British period piece. A 16th century British/Scottish period piece, as well.
Update 2/5: As award season continues, it appears as though the stock of A Star is Born is dropping and dropping. While I still think it has an outside shot at Best Picture, Roma has risen to take its place as the consensus front-runner. The Best Picture race is rather up in the air, given the split voting from the guilds, but Roma and Green Book are rising to the top of the heap, with upset potential from the likes of Blackkklansman and The Favourite.
Oscar season is in full swing, and the Best Picture race is heating up fast. Green Book is on the rise. A Star is Born might be on the decline. Can Roma sweep? Will Black Panther upset?
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.