2019 Movie Preview

Us peele

Awards season is finally done. There is a lot to celebrate (Spike! Olivia! Regina!), but it was one of the most punishing seasons I can remember, culminating in an embarrassing Best Picture win for Green Book. What better time, then, to look toward the new year, full of new movies and endless possibilities! I know the cycle will repeat itself, and I will be tired of the conversation that will develop around all these movies by the time we hit 2020, but for now, these represent the promise of stimulating, exciting cinema to be enjoyed in 2019.

The Movies I’m Most Excited For:

Us (opens March 22) – How could you not be excited for Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out, one of the most exciting studio releases of the last ten years? This one finds Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke facing off against evil copies of themselves, or something like that. The trailer was almost identical to the Get Out trailer, but I trust that’s just the marketing machine and Oscar-winning Peele has the clout and vision to do something wholly unique with his second movie.

Her Smell (opens April 12) – I find Alex Ross Perry to be a very exciting director, and I absolutely love Elisabeth Moss. Word out of last year’s New York Film Festival (where the movie premiered) is that this movie is a career height for both of them. Moss plays an unravelling rockstar, which sounds right up my alley.

John Wick: Chapter 3 (opens May 17) – The John Wick trilogy comes to a close? If you remember, the second movie ended with John Wick on the run from literally every assassin in the world, so expect this to be a action-packed extravaganza. We are here for legend Keanu Reeves, of course, but check out this cast: Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Jason Mantzoukas, Laurence Fishburne, Anjelica Huston, and Mark Dacascos a.k.a. the Chairman from Iron Chef America!

Ad Astra (opens May 24) – The movie I’m most looking forward to was supposed to open at the end of last year before being pushed to May. James Gray, one of my favorite directors, follows up The Lost City of Z with a science fiction epic. If that weren’t enough, it stars three of our best actors: Brad Pitt, Ruth Negga, and Tommy Lee Jones.

Little Women (opens December 25) – Greta Gerwig follows the success of her delightful Lady Bird with an adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic. I’ll be very interested to see Gerwig work in a period setting -and with a literary adaptation to boot. The cast includes Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pough, Timothee Chalamet, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep.

Dolor y Gloria (release date TBD) – It’s been a while since Pedro Almodóvar made a true masterpiece. We are hoping this movie, which reunites the director with Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas -both of whom became big stars thanks to their roles in Almodovar movies- will prove to be one of his best. The Spanish release of the movie is set for March, so I expect it to play Cannes in the spring and open in the U.S. sometime in the Fall.

Uncut Gems (release date TBD) – The Safdie brothers, responsible for Good Time, follow up that incredible movie with a story set in New York’s diamond district. Adam Sandler plays the lead character, a jeweler with a gambling addictions, and is joined by Pom Klementiff, Lakeith Stanfield and The Weeknd. This will probably debut at Cannes, so I’m hoping for a late summer release, just like Good Time got.

Untitled Noah Baumbach Project (release date TBD) – This one is about a family dealing with divorce, which sounds about right for a Noah Baumbach project. I love Baumbach, however, and will see whatever he does next. The cast, which includes Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, and Laura Dern only makes me more excited.

The Lighthouse (release date TBD) – Robert Eggers, who debuted a couple years ago with The Witch, returns with a horror story starring Willem Dafoe as a lighthouse keeper. I don’t know about you, but that description is enough to sell me on the movie.

The French Dispatch – Wes Anderson started filming his latest movie in the fall of last year. The plot of the movie is unknown, but it’s supposedly set in France after World War II. As usual, Anderson has assembled a cast full of stars, including Saoirse Ronan, Natalie Portman, Timothee Chalamet, Benicio Del Toro, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Lea Seydoux and, of course, Bill Murray. I love Anderson, but remains to be seen if the movie will be done in time to be released in 2019.

Deadwood (release date TBD) – Technically television, but Deadwood is one of the best tv series I have ever seen and it sadly got cancelled before created David Milch could properly put a bow on his masterpiece. More than ten years later, however, he will be able to tie loose ends in a television movie that will air on HBO sometime in the Spring. So if you’ve never seen this show, now is the time to catch up.

Detective Pikachu (opens May 10) – I’m not totally sure why Pikachu sounds like Ryan Reynolds, but I would be lying if I didn’t say the trailer to this movie speaks to my soul. Is my excitement the result of being relentlessly advertised to? A side-effect of being eight years old at the height of Pokemon fever? Or is it simply that Pikachu looks so damn cute? I don’t know the answer, I only know I’m going to watch the hell out of this.

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Predicting the Oscar Winners 2018

Oscar winner 18

Best Picture

  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book
  • Roma
  • A Star is Born
  • Vice 

I’m choosing to believe this exhausting awards season can be redeemed. I am choosing to believe that Roma can become the first ever non English-language movie to win Best Picture. Because that would be awesome, and because that would move the Academy -and the conversation about film- forward instead of backward. That being said, I have this sinking feeling that that musical biopic directed by a sex offender might end up getting the award because people seem to love it for a bizarre reason I cannot comprehend. I am also hearing rumblings that Black Panther is getting a lot of love from voters. If Roma were to lose, I’d much rather it be to the one comic book movie whose win would actually mean something.
Will Win: Roma

Director

  • Alfonso Caurón (Roma)
  • Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)
  • Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
  • Adam McKay (Vice)
  • Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)

This one seems like a done deal for Cuarón. That the people running the campaign for Spike Lee, a legend in his own right, couldn’t make him the front-runner when no black director has ever won before is a little baffling, giving how much love there is for BlacKkKlansman. 
Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
  • Glenn Close (The Wife)
  • Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
  • Lady Gaga (A Star is Born)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Glenn Close has been nominated seven times and has never won, looks like it’s her time. Traditionally, I would wonder if anyone has even seen The Wife, but with a legend like Close, I don’t think it matters. People will vote for her even if they haven’t seen the movie. Now, I wonder, if people actually watch the thing and discover the movie’s a big pile of nothing… who would they vote for then? Maybe Olivia Colman has a shot?
Will Win: Glenn Close

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Christian Bale (Vice)
  • Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born)
  • Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
  • Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
  • Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

After five or so years of underwhelming choices, this has easily become my least favorite category. I wrote extensively about why. Let’s just say I don’t love any of these performances, and am shocked that Rami Malek’s toothy impression has been sweeping the circuit the way it has. 
Will Win: 
Rami Malek

Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams (Vice)
  • Marina de Tavira (Roma)
  • Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
  • Emma Stone (The Favourite)
  • Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

This race has been wild. Regina King won the Globe, Emily Blunt (who obviously didn’t even get nominated) took the SAG, and Rachel Weisz took the BAFTA. It feels like it could go any which way, with King and Weisz the most likely winners and Marina de Tavira as a wild card. Weisz already has an Oscar, so I’m giving Regina the edge. Besides, who doesn’t want to give Regina King an Oscar? She’s just awesome.  
Will Win: 
Regina King

Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
  • Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
  • Sam Elliott (A Star is Born)
  • Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
  • Sam Rockwell (Vice)

Ok, this is the category in which I’ve decided to go wild this year. Mahershala Ali has won practically every major award show, and a win for him seems like the least controversial way to reward Green Book, but he already won an Oscar a mere two years ago. It is incredibly hard to win two Oscars, especially in such close succession. That stat, and the sheer number of comments I’ve seen from industry people loving on Richard E. Grant makes me feel like an upset could be in the works. All signs point to Mahershala, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Grant.
Will Win: Richard E. Grant

Original Screenplay

  • The Favourite (Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara)
  • First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
  • Green Book (Nick Vallelonga, Pater Farrelly)
  • Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • Vice (Adam McKay)

This looks like a battle royale between Green Book and The Favourite. Given the controversy surrounding Green Book‘s Nick Vallenlonga’s islamophobic tweets that broke about a month ago, and just the general amount of (rightful) controversy that’s surrounded the movie since its release, I’m giving the edge to The Favourite –not to dismiss the fact that it is a far better screenplay.
Will Win: The Favourite

Adapted Screenplay

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)
  • BlacKkKlansman (Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee)
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)
  • A Star is Born (Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters)

This looks like Spike Lee’s consolation prize when BlacKkKlansman doesn’t win either Director or Best Picture and I’m going to be very happy if that’s the case. Spike is a legend, he should have an Oscar on his mantle.
Will Win: BlacKkKlansman

Animated Film

  • Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Mirai
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Spider-Man: into the Spider-Verse

This looks pretty much like a done deal, and I’m quite happy about it. That yet another Spider-Man movie could bring something truly fresh and exciting to the world of animation is a very deserving accomplishment.
Will Win: Spider-Man: into the Spider-Verse

Foreign Film

  • Capernaum (Lebanon)
  • Cold War (Poland)
  • Never Look Away (Germany)
  • Roma (Mexico)
  • Shoplifters (Japan)

Roma might win Best Picture, so it surely will win this in a cakewalk, right? I mean, the last three times a movie has been nominated in both categories, it has always won. I don’t see a reason for that trend to stop now.
Will Win: Roma

Documentary Feature

  • Fathers and Sons
  • Free Solo
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening
  • Minding the Gap
  • RBG

Here is where I stump for Minding the Gap, one of my favorite movies of last year, about a group of skater kids trying to break free from the cycle of abuse in their family history. It’s a wonderful movie, that you can see right now on Hulu, but the kind of thing that rarely wins over flashier documentaries. Speaking of which, you don’t get much flashier than a dude climbing a mountain with no protection whatsoever. No, not Tom Cruise. It’s the real-life subject of Free Solo, your likely winner.
Will Win: Free Solo

Cinematography

  • Cold War (Lukasz Zal)
  • The Favourite (Robbie Ryan)
  • Never Look Away (Caleb Deschanel)
  • Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • A Star is Born (Matthew Libatique)

Two black and white foreign language movies duking out an Oscar win in 2019? Not that unlikely when you realize the Cinematography branch loves to throw a bone to almost any movie that uses black and white (who could forget the ground-breaking Oscar-nominated cinematography of Alexander Payne’s Nebraska?). Cold War won the Cinematographer’s Guild award, but Roma is an obvious titanic achievement. I think the Best Picture nominee gets the edge.
Will Win: Roma

Costume Design

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Mary Zophres)
  • Black Panther (Ruth E. Carter)
  • The Favourite (Sandy Powell)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Sandy Powell)
  • Mary Queen of Scots (Alexandra Byrne)

There is no one I’m rooting for more strongly than for Ruth Carter. The Black Panther costumes are absolutely incredible, and she is particularly deserving after such a long and excellent career. But then you have Sandy Powell, who is a powerhouse in this category -and one of the most influential living costume designers- doing great period work -which the Academy loves- in The Favourite. Sandy is a legend, but I’m pulling for Ruth. I just don’t want to jinx it.
Will Win: The Favourite

Film Editing

  • BlacKkKlansman (Barry Alexander Brown)
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (John Ottman)
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book 
  • Vice (Hank Corwin)

This category has been a mess all season. With no clear front-runner in sight, it could really go to any of the nominees. This could be a win for BlacKkKlansman, which is definitely a beloved movie. Vice strikes me as the most “flashy” editing in the category, and a very possible winnerAt the end of the day, though, I have the feeling that Bohemian Rhapsody‘s troubled production history and commercial success could be seen as a feat of editing, as if John Ottman had stitched a severed corpse back together. The result was a horrendous Frankenstein monster, but I guess it’s the thought that counts.
Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody

Makeup and Hair

  • Border
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • Vice

Probably the easiest category to call this year. Being the only of the three nominees to be nominated for Best Picture gives Vice the immediate edge. And while we’re in the topic: why is this still the only category to not have five nominees? It’s not like makeup isn’t a part of every single movie ever made.
Will Win: Vice

Original Score

  • BlacKkKlansman (Terence Blanchard)
  • Black Panther (Ludwig Göransson)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell)
  • Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)

My logic here is that anyone who actually watched If Beale Street Could Talk will require less than three minutes to determine that it deserves to win this award. The question is how many people will have seen it. Black Panther could get this one. As could BlacKkKlansman, which would be great since it would mean a win for the great Terence Blanchard on his first nomination after decades of great work.
Will Win: If Beale Street Could Talk

Original Song

  • “All the Stars” (Black Panther)
  • “I’ll Fight” (RBG)
  • “The Place Where Lost Things Go” (Mary Poppins Returns)
  • “Shallow” (A Star is Born)
  • “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs)

“Shallow” is the obvious win, although A Star is Born has underperformed so consistently this season that I’ve heard some people suggest the Black Panther song might win instead. But that just seems a little too rude to actually happen.
Will Win: “Shallow”

Production Design

  • Black Panther (Hannah Beachler)
  • The Favourite (Fiona Crombie)
  • First Man (Nathan Crowley)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (John Myhre)
  • Roma (Eugenio Caballero)

I don’t know what the hell is going on in this category. The Favourite is period costumes which tend to to do well, Hannah Beachler could become the first African American to win in this category if Black Panther has enough support, and I’m thinking I’m just going to go with Roma on the hunch that Cinematography and Production Design often go together at the Oscars.
Will Win: Roma

Sound Mixing

  • Black Panther 
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • First Man
  • Roma 
  • A Star is Born

Traditionally, this category loves musicals. Yes, La La Land mysteriously didn’t win this category a couple years ago, and you have two musicals competing against each other. But the way in which Bohemian Rhapsody has been embraced while A Star is Born has pretty much bit the dust at every awards show presents a clear front-runner here. Besides, the reason people like Bohemian Rhapsody is because they like Queen’s music, so…
Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody

Sound Editing

  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody 
  • First Man
  • A Quiet Place
  • Roma 

This is another category that could go any which way. First Man is the most obvious “sound effects” achievement, in the way the rattling and cracking of the spaceships are used to create tension, but this award is voted for by the whole Academy not just sound people, and First Man isn’t particularly beloved. That’s why I’m leaning toward Black Panther, because it has to win something, doesn’t it?
Will Win: Black Panther

Visual Effects

  • Avengers: Infinity War 
  • Christopher Robin
  • First Man
  • Ready Player One 
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story 

Now this is the category that I expected to be Black Panther’s consolation prize, and it wasn’t even nominated. Had it win, it would’ve won this in a cakewalk, since movies nominated for Best Picture have a big advantage here. They benefit from having a little more prestige than your standard effects-heavy fair. That’s why I’m thinking the Avengers, despite having the most effects, will probably lose to First Man, on account that the latter was probably closer to a Best Picture nomination than the former. 
Will Win: 
First Man

Animated Short

  • Animal Behavior
  • Bao
  • Late Afternoon
  • One Small Step
  • Weekends

Ever since this category opened up the voting to the Academy as a whole and not just a selected group, Pixar and Disney shorts have done much better than they used to. Bao screened in front of Incredibles 2, and generated a lot of talk. Not everyone was into it, but it had people talking, and it will definitely be the short most people will have seen. Watch out for Late Afternoon, though, the most emotional of the shorts whose soft and clean aesthetic might stand out in this crop.
Will Win: Bao

Documentary Short

  • Black Sheep
  • End Game
  • Lifeboat
  • A Night in the Garden
  • Period. End of Sentence. 

A Night at the Garden is a very short chilling documentary made up of footage of a Nazi rally that took place at Madison Square Garden in 1939The topicality of Nazis in America might be enough to give it the win, but it being so short (only 7 minutes) might be a disadvantage ( (you can watch it right now on Vimeo). I think the most likely winner is, then, Period. End of Sentence, about an Indian village in which women empower themselves by making their own sanitary pads, which is the one I’ve heard most people talk about (perhaps because Netflix is behind it, and you can watch it there right now as well).
Will Win: Period. End of Sentence. 

Live Action Short

  • Detainment
  • Fauve
  • Marguerite
  • Mother
  • Skin

I was thinking this was going to be the year I finally watch the live action shorts, and then I learned they were all about dead children. I’m going with the one that seems to have the least amount of dead children.
Will Win: Marguerite