The Movie Guru: Pregame analysis for Hollywood’s version of the Super Bowl
For movie fans, the lead-up to the Academy Awards is as exciting as finding out who’s going to be in the Super Bowl. Though this year’s nominees have been announced, that’s only part of the story. The remainder of it can be found in the rest of the 2019 awards season, a tale of surprise wins and contentious decisions that rivals any football game.
The “Black Panther” surprise
There were gasps all over Hollywood when “Black Panther” was among the nominees for this year’s Best Picture Academy Award. It’s the first superhero movie to get such a nod, and a rare example of a “popular” movie getting considered for an award. The cast also won best ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, though that award came several days after its Oscar nomination was announced.
The move, however, might not herald as much change as some audience members hope. While the movie received other nominations in addition to best picture, not a single one was in key acting or directing categories. That dramatically lessens the movie’s chance to make an impact on the big day, especially when its odds of winning the top prize are already relatively low.
Dark horses shining bright
This season is more proof than ever that buzz isn’t the most reliable indicator of who’s going to win. Late last year, critics pegged the trio of actresses at the heart of “The Favourite” as the women to beat: Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. Though Coleman won a Golden Globe and the cast got an ensemble award at Critics Choice Awards, Glenn Close has edged Coleman out in individual awards for her work in “The Wife.” Weisz and Stone are up in the supporting actress category, but it’s been almost impossible to beat Regina King for her performance in “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
Critics also weren’t kind to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which suffered by association to controversial director Bryan Singer. That didn’t stop the movie from winning a Golden Globe, or star Rami Malek from claiming both a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award. While the movie might be a long shot for best picture, Malek has a solid chance for a best actor win.
A throne at risk
Traditionally, the best animated film has been the least surprising category at the Oscars. Disney always wins, especially after it merged with Pixar, and the only excitement came when they had two nominees in the category. With “Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” among the nominees, this year seems like a lock.
At least, it does until you look at the rest of this year’s awards season and the Academy Awards’ own history. Sony Animation’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” swung in and grabbed the victory at both the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards, only two of the accolades it’s managed this season. When you add the fact that the Oscar category isn’t kind to sequels — “Toy Story 3” being the only sequel to ever win — it’s likely that this year will see the crowning of a new king.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Anthony’s documentary film project chronicles post-war activities of the 10th Mountain Division.