Anybody who cares about film will be switching on cable news or logging on to the social media accounts of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when the Oscars release their nominations on Tuesday, January 22. The nominees will be announced in two installments. The first half, starting at 5:20 am Pacific Time/8:20 am Eastern (9:20 pm local time) will cover the nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Actress, and craft categories like Costume Design, Film Editing, Original Score, and Sound Mixing and Editing. The second half, starting at 5:30:30 am PT/8:30:30 am ET (9:30:30 pm local time)—yes, the Oscars are OC enough to choreograph these things down to the half-minute—will include the rest of the categories. Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani and Black-ish’s Tracee Ellis Ross will read the nominees rosters, which means the Oscars nomination announcements will have exactly two more hosts than the Oscars ceremony itself.
Those are the facts. And now on to the speculation: Welcome to my first effort at predicting who in Hollywood will wake up to exciting news on January 22. In case you missed it, the Oscars widened the race for Best Picture to 10 titles back in 2010, while keeping the rest of the categories to the usual five. Predicting the top three nominees (or top five for Best Picture) is easy enough if you keep an eye on the bellwether awards. It’s filling in those last few slots that’s tricky, because those are the ones that can be displaced by the contenders nipping at their heels. There’s also Oscar’s proclivity for surprising even the most jaded of observers. For instance, even though Best Picture nominees can have a maximum of 10 contenders, the Academy hasn’t actually filled all of the slots since they announced the new ruling in 2009, usually settling for eight to nine nominees. To hedge my bets, I’ve included one or two spoilers per category.
Okay, enough with the intro. Here are my nominee predictions for the major races:
A Star Is Born
If Beale Street Could Talk
Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Poppins Returns
I’m going with eight nominees this year because frankly, the field of excellence for film this year has been fallow. (The fact that I had to rank Green Book so high, or include Bohemian Rhapsody in my spoilers list, is a testament to that.)
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Peter Farrelly, Green Book
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk; Ryan Coogler, Black Panther
This is the category where I’m actively rooting for the spoilers to get in, because Peter Farrelly and his old-fashioned, White Savior/Magical Negro take on race is just…ugh.
Glenn Close, The Wife
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma; Toni Collette, Hereditary
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman; Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
High-profile wins at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards (where he won twice!) mean that Christian Bale is a shoo-in. Ethan Hawke may be a long shot but, hey, I loved his performance.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Amy Adams, Vice
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Claire Foy, First Man
Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians; Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place
This looks like a solid, spoiler-free category. All five actresses have been consistently nominated in the bellwether awards (except for a lack of a nod for Regina King at the Screen Actors Guild Awards—a headscatcher). But a surge for Crazy Rich Asians could conceivably carry Michelle Yeoh over the finish line and relegate box-office underperformer First Man to the craft categories.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Rockwell, Vice; Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters, A Star Is Born
Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole, Black Panther
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly, Green Book
Adam McKay, Vice
Paul Schrader, First Reformed
Eighth Grade; A Quiet Place
Between the two screenplay categories, original screenplay is by far the more interesting. Even the spoilers are noteworthy.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Cold War (Poland)
Burning (South Korea)
Never Look Away (Germany); The Guilty (Denmark)
Even though well-reviewed and high-profile, Burning might find itself knocked out by growing industry support for Never Look Away, which was loosely based on the life of German artist Gerhard Richter.