an amateur’s guide to the 2019 oscars

Catherine Goodrich ‘20

 On February 24 the 2019 Oscars will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. There were some curveballs (RIP Paddington 2 and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) and with movies Roma and The Favourite nominated for ten awards each, this awards ceremony could turn out to be quite the event. My opinions are incredibly unsophisticated and biased, but if all you saw in 2018 was Black Panther and are looking for a novice’s thoughts on other nominees I hope this guide helps scratch that itch. Here’s a category by category run-down of this year’s Oscars:

Adapted Screenplay

This is a notable award given to a movie with screenplay adapted from another source (books, previous films, historical events). Nominees like BlacKKKlansman, If Beale Street Could Talk, and The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs all have a great plot and sound writing. I haven’t seen Can You Ever Forgive Me? so I can’t attest to its merit but it has a 98% on rotten tomatoes. In my opinion, the last nominee, A Star is Born, had some predictable and occasionally cringey dialogue.

Original Screenplay

The pairing to Adapted Screenplay, Original Screenplay is a category encompassing the best films with screenplay that wasn’t based on any other source. The nominees are Green Book, First Reformed, Vice, Roma, and The Favourite.

Best Picture

This is arguably the most notorious Oscar award and I’m pretty bitter that neither Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse or If Beale Street Could Talk were nominated. There’s ten spots with only eight films nominated so it was entirely doable. Call me unrefined, but I genuinely think Spider-Man was the best movie released in 2018. This aside, I think Roma will likely win with an honorable mention going to The Favourite. I liked both Bohemian Rhapsody (despite some butchering of Freddie Mercury’s life narrative) and BlacKKKlansman, but they’re not the prestigious films the academy usually chooses for this highly coveted award. Black Panther was an absolute turning point for Marvel and the No. 1 box office hit this year but unfortunately I don’t think it will make the cut either.


This just might be the year Spike Lee (BlacKKKlansman) wins an Oscar and I’m not mad about it.

Supporting Actress

This category had some notable names such as Amy Adams (Vice) and Emma Stone (The Favourite), as well as an unexpected nominee, Marina de Tavira (Roma). This is a cop-out but I generally liked all of the actresses nominated and I think it could be anyone’s game.

Supporting Actor

Sam Rockwell (Vice) and Adam Driver (BlacKKKlansman) are my two preferences for this award. Personally, Adam Driver is one of my favorite actors and I’m hoping BlacKKKlansman gets some well-deserved recognition.

Lead Actor

I haven’t seen At Eternity’s Gate or Green Book but Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born), Christian Bale (Vice), and Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) all did well. Malek played Freddie Mercury with admirable spunk and energy so I’m cheering for him.

Lead Actress

Big names like Lady Gaga (A Star is Born) and Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) made the list along with Glenn Close (The Wife) and Olivia Colman (The Favourite). Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) was completely unexpected considering Roma is her first film and I’m all for a surprise victory.

Original Score

Historically, this award has gone to distinguished movies like La La Land and Shape Of Water. This is another category with great nominees but I’m rooting for If Beale Street Could Talk. It’s worth mentioning that BlacKKKlansman, Black Panther, and Isle of Dogs had incredible scores as well.

Original Song

It’s important I address that I’m impartial to anything that remotely resembles Bluegrass. “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs) is impeccable with great lyrics and use of harmonica. Here’s to an underdog.

Best Documentary Feature

Without a doubt I’m pulling for Free Solo. It did fairly well in the box office and has gained some major coverage. I’m a long time fan of both photographers and filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, who created a documentary based on climber Alex Honnold, who successfully climbed El Capitan without a rope. This is a massive feat and an incredible story. I’m elated this film has been nominated and I’m strongly hoping it wins.

Animated Feature

The nominees for this category were fairly expected and I think Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse has got it in the bag. Isle of Dogs is a fantastic movie and I think Wes Anderson did an impressive job, but Spider-Man’s animation was stunning and its dialogue and plot is unbeatable. Incredibles 2 was solid but something no one was really asking for. My hope for animated movies is that they continue in an original direction like Spider-Man and Isle of Dogs instead of producing sequels.

2018 was an interesting year, with Marvel movies and animated films reaching new heights. You may have noticed I’ve completely left out the categories that deal with the technicalities of films (film editing, sound mixing, etc.), mainly because I don’t know the first thing about the mechanics of cinematography. I hardly know anything about acting and screenplay so I’m certainly not going to spectate on visual effects. For further insight on the making of Isle of Dogs I’d highly recommend Virginia Gray’s piece on stop motion, in addition to Ashton Dudley’s review of Bohemian Rhapsody for a deeper perception of a major nominee.