AP Oscar predictions: What will win, what should win
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AP Oscar predictions: What will win, what should win

Ahead of Sunday’s 91st Academy Awards, Associated Press Film Writers Lindsey Bahr and Jake Coyle share their predictions for a ceremony that has few sure things.

BEST PICTURE

The Nominees: “Black Panther,” ”BlacKkKlansman,” ”Bohemian Rhapsody,” ”The Favourite,” ”Green Book,” ”Roma,” ”A Star Is Born,” ”Vice”

BAHR:

Will Win: “Roma”

Should Win: “A Star Is Born”

Not to go all Sean Penn here, but “A Star Is Born” really should win best picture, even though it probably won’t. “Roma” is wonderful, but I fear it’s one of those films that won’t be re-watched or even talked about much 5 or 10 years from now, whereas “A Star Is Born” is not only great, but feels like a classic already. And that’s something special.

COYLE:

Will Win: “Roma”

Should Win: “Black Panther”

The guild wins, which usually point the way, have been all over the map making this a hard one to call. The momentum is with “Roma” thanks, in part, to an all-out blitz of a campaign from Netflix (which has eyes for an Oscar the way Jackson Maine wants another look at Ally) and because of, well, it’s a fairly astonishing movie. But “Black Panther” and the response it provoked epitomized the cultural height of movies, something some doubted was still possible. Wakanda for February 24.

BEST ACTRESS

The Nominees: Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”; Glenn Close, “The Wife”; Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”; Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”; Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

BAHR:

Will Win: Glenn Close, “The Wife”

Should Win: Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”

The conventional wisdom is that Glenn Close is overdue for an Oscar. Thankfully, she’s really wonderful in “The Wife,” as the dutifully supportive spouse of a newly-minted Nobel-winning writer. A “career Oscar” isn’t a bad sentiment and definitely not a “pity Oscar.” But love definitely has no limits when it comes to my own appreciation of Olivia Colman’s performance as Queen Anne in “The Favourite,” which could get passed over because Colman hasn’t been a fixture on the schmooze circuit (she was busy shooting “The Crown”! which is a totally reasonable excuse).

COYLE:

Will Win: Glenn Close, “The Wife”

Should Win: Glenn Close, “The Wife”

There’s not a bad choice in the bunch and many more, too, that didn’t make the cut. There may be room here for an upset from Colman, whose Queen Anne was a delirious heap of emotions. Surely there will be some voters who’d like to see Colman thank “my bitches” again at the Oscars. But it feels like this belongs to Close whose subtle performance in “The Wife” overflows with the kind of intricacy that can go (and, in Close’s case, often has gone) overlooked at the Academy Awards.

BEST ACTOR

The Nominees: Christian Bale, “Vice”; Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”; Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”; Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”; Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

BAHR:

Will Win: Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Should Win: Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”

That Rami Malek somehow became the consensus choice here still kind of baffles me, especially when there’s Bradley Cooper giving the performance of a lifetime as sad, sweet, awful and tragic Jackson Maine. He felt realer than the sanitized Freddie Mercury of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” that’s for sure.

COYLE

Will Win: Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Should Win: Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”

In an Oscars full of question marks, Malek’s win seems the most assured. His performance is the kind of showstopper that Oscar voters love. (Malek chews so much scenery they gave him extra teeth.) But another biopic, Julian Schnabel’s “At Eternity’s Gate,” featured a far more searching and deeply felt performance in Dafoe’s Vincent Van Gogh. For the second year straight, Dafoe (a nominee in 2018 for “The Florida Project”) won’t win an Oscar he deserves.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The Nominees: Amy Adams, “Vice”; Marina de Tavira, “Roma”; Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”; Emma Stone, “The Favourite”; Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

BAHR:

Will Win: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Should Win: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Sometimes will and should match up, and it definitely does for Regina King’s heart-wrenching turn as Sharon Rivers, protective and supportive mother and almost grandmother who will do whatever it takes to keep her daughter’s family intact. She is the foundation and beating heart of “If Beale Street Could Talk.”

COYLE:

Will Win: Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Should Win: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Regina King is the favourite and deservedly so, but there’s a sneaky chance for an upset here. King wasn’t nominated by the Screen Actors Guild, whose picks often correlate to the Oscars. That could leave open a window for Rachel Weisz, who won at the British Academy Film Awards. The love for “The Favourite” and its terrific cast could bubble up in a few categories, including this one.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

The Nominees: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”; Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”; Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”; Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”; Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

BAHR:

Will Win: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Should Win: Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”

At this point Mahershala Ali is the only safe way for “Green Book”-loving academy members to give the film an award, and it won’t be undeserved. Ali brings dignified complexity to the fascinating character of Dr. Don Shirley, but, much like “The Favourite,” it’s really a co-lead anyway. And is there a single image that can conjure up as many emotions as seeing a teary-eyed Sam Elliott backing out of the driveway where he’s just dropped off his troubled half-brother off at home for what could be the last time? It’s a perfect supporting performance.

COYLE

Will Win: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Should Win: Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

An unheralded avenue for a successful Oscar campaign, if you can pull it off, is starring concurrently in HBO’s “True Detective.” Just as Matthew McConaughey did a few years ago before winning for “Dallas Buyers Club,” Mahershala Ali is proving every Sunday how good he is. A win for Ali, two years after he took home the same Oscar for “Moonlight” (a, uh, different movie than “Green Book”) would be something to applaud. But so would an Oscar for Richard E. Grant, a brilliant character actor who has enjoyed the Oscar spotlight more than anyone.

DIRECTOR

The Nominees: Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”; Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”; Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”; Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”; Adam McKay, “Vice”

BAHR:

Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”

Should Win: Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Cuaron did an astonishing job writing, directing and shooting “Roma,” which feels like an epic although it’s in fact a very small and contained story. But it is Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” that is the big, cinematic achievement to be celebrated in the directing category. Lee has made it more than the sum of its parts, more than just a great movie: It’s a rollicking, unforgettable indictment of the deplorable foundation of the film industry and the country.

COYLE

Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”

Should Win: Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Alfonso Cuaron’s achievement in “Roma” is staggering in the precision of its obsessiveness. But who wouldn’t want to see Spike Lee win? “BlacKkKlansman” is equally as chalk-full of Lee’s own passions and perfectly synthesizes the themes that have long propelled the filmmaker. Also, with the Knicks this bad, Lee deserves to catch a break.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The Nominees: “The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara; “First Reformed,” Paul Schrader; “Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly; “Roma,” Alfonso Cuaron; “Vice,” Adam McKay

BAHR

Will Win: “The Favourite”

Should Win: “The Favourite”

The Writers Guild of America provided no help here, since the winning original screenplay (Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade”) wasn’t even nominated. This is really a tough one that could, reasonably, go any way. While I think Paul Schrader has a shot, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara are the perfect consensus pick for “The Favourite.” I just hope they bring Horatio, the fastest duck in the city, with them to accept.

COYLE

Will Win: “Green Book”

Should Win: “First Reformed”

This will be a telling award that could signify how strong the support is throughout the academy for “Green Book.” But if we’re handing out career Oscars, how has Paul Schrader not gotten swept up in that? I mean, the 72-year-old filmmaker (a first-time nominee) only wrote “Taxi Driver,” ”Raging Bull” and “American Gigolo.” The stellar “First Reformed” is a grand summation for Schrader, full of “Taxi Driver” echoes. This should be a no-brainer.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Nominees: “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 and Jeff Whitty; “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins; “A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters

BAHR

Will Win: “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Should Win: “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

I was worried that this one would be shut out completely, but the late-game WGA win gave me hope that Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty’s crackling screenplay hasn’t been forgotten.

COYLE

Will Win: “BlacKkKlansman”

Should Win: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

A win here would assure Lee of his first (and long-overdue) non-honorary Oscar. Joel and Ethan Coen have won twice before for their scripts but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still the best in the business, as they showed once again with their six-part anthology of fate in a wanton Wild West.

DOCUMENTARY

The Nominees: “Free Solo,” Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi; “Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” RaMell Ross; “Minding the Gap,” Bing Liu; “Of Fathers and Sons,” Talal Derki; “RBG,” Betsy West, Julie Cohen

BAHR

Will Win: “RBG”

Should Win: “Minding the Gap”

“RBG” is great, but the one that stuck with me in this very strong batch of documentaries is Bing Liu’s “Ming the Gap,” a lyrical portrait of three young men, bonded by the freedom of the skateboard, growing up in an America that doesn’t hold much promise for them.

COYLE:

Will Win: “Free Solo”

Should Win: “Hale County This Morning, This Evening”

This is probably a toss-up between “Free Solo” and “RBG,” the latter of which had the fortune of seeing its iconic subject make a dramatic return to the Supreme Court bench just as Oscar voting was winding down. But don’t forget about “Hale County,” RaMell Ross’s cinematic poem of rural African-American life in Alabama. Its luminous images keep glowing long after the movie has finished.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Nominees: “Capernaum” (Lebanon); “Cold War” (Poland); “Never Look Away” (Germany); “Roma” (Mexico); “Shoplifters” (Japan)

BAHR

Will Win: “Cold War”

Should Win: “Cold War”

Although it would make a certain amount of sense for “Roma” to win both best picture and best foreign language film, I think some voters are going to assume “Roma” will win the big one and possibly divide the riches and favour the runner-up, the immensely deserving “Cold War,” which also incidentally was my favourite film of 2018.

COYLE

Will Win: “Roma”

Should Win: “Shoplifters”

“Roma” deserves the many accolades it has received. But its lock-step awards-season sweep has obscured a tremendously good bunch of foreign language nominees, several of which — including “Cold War,” ”Shoplifters” and the overlooked “Burning” — I favour. Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters,” which won Cannes’ Palme d’Or, is made with such delicacy that you never see its profundity coming. You might never think of family the same way again — which is, ironically, part of the message of “Roma,” too.

ANIMATED FEATURE

The Nominees: “Incredibles 2,” ”Isle of Dogs,” ”Mirai,” ”Ralph Breaks the Internet,” ”Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,”

BAHR

Will Win: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Should Win: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

“Spider-Verse” will and should win because, frankly, it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen in this animation category before. There are a lot of good and even great films in here, but they’re all familiar in some way — except for “Spider-Verse.”

COYLE

Will Win: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Should Win: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

The game-changing “Spider-Verse” has it in the bag, though I’m tempted to make a case for Brad Bird’s “Incredibles 2.” A win would so please Jack-Jack.

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Follow Lindsey Bahr on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/ldbahr and Jake Coyle at http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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For full coverage of the Oscars, visit: https://apnews.com/AcademyAwards

Lindsey Bahr And Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

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