The 91st Annual Academy Award Nominations: First Impressions and Preliminary Predictions

It’s official: The 5th Annual Sylvester Oscar Challenge is up and running! Every year it is filled with twists, turns, trash talking, ruined friendships, bizarre baggage between various members and $100 cash for the overall champion. Even if you never watch movies, but want a free chance to win $100 by randomly guessing the winners, the link is below:


Now after that shameless plug for my highly competitive pool, let’s talk about some of the winners and losers of this year’s Oscar nominees, and my preliminary predictions for the major categories deemed worth more than one point per correct prediction in my annual challenge. As a reference, click here for the link to all of the 2019 nominees.

For those with the patience to read through all of this, I will also be giving you some hints as to how you can win FREE POINTS in this year’s rendition of my pool. Also, keep in mind, ALL of my predictions are subject to change, and by no means are set in stone.




Winners: At the outset, these are the ones who can go home happy after learning about the nominations:


“Roma”: It has10 nominations, including a supporting actress nomination from Marina de Tavira as the mother of the main character’s family she served as a maid for. I did not see this coming (though in retrospect, I should have. It was very well deserved considering the character was very convincing and sympathetic). The only category it, surprisingly, missed out on was “Best Editing” but even then, nobody saw that as a major contender.


“The Favourite”: I hate to say it, but…  It secured 10 nominations, including a nod (even 2 in one case) for literally every major category related to acting, screenplay, director, picture and editing. If that does not constitute a winner at the outset, I don’t know what does.


“Vice”: Coming in HOT with eight nominees, “Vice” looks poised to contend in just about every major category, including “Best Picture”, “Best Director”, “Best Actor”, “Best Supporting Actress”, “Best Original Screenplay” and “Best Editing.”


“Cold War”: I had never heard of this film before, but after it secured a “Best Director” nomination (completely out of left field) it looks like I should’ve known what this film was. Director Pawel Pawilkowski: 1, me: 0.


“Black Panther”: The glass ceiling for super hero movies has finally shattered. For the first time ever, a Marvel movie is nominated for “Best Picture,” and that’s not including the six other nominations it received. “Black Panther” won BIG in this regard.


Spike Lee: After decades of not making the cut for “Best Picture” or “Best Director” at the Oscars, he FINALLY DID IT. Lee’s work for “BlacKkKlansmen” landed him in both those categories for the first time in his life. He made it everyone. He can rest easy for now.


“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”: I only watched the first 15 minutes of this film. I liked it, but I assumed it was just one of those fun little Netflix films that nobody would care about. I was wrong. It earned not one, not two, but THREE nominations for “Best Original Song,” “Best Costume Design” and “Best Adapted Screenplay,” of all things. I don’t envision it winning anything, but then again, I didn’t envision it getting nominated for anything either. So, note to the Coen brothers: I’M TELLING YOU THERE’S A CHANCE you could win.


“Bohemian Rhapsody”: After it won “Best Drama” at the Globes, I figured it would get nominated. However, prior to that, I thought it would take nothing short of a miracle for it to get the coveted “Best Picture” nomination. Well, folks, that miracle happened. It also secured 4 other nominations for Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in “Best Actor,” “Best Sound Editing,” “Best Sound Mixing” and even the deceptively important “Best Editing” category. Big wins all around for Queen.


Losers: If I were involved in these films, I would be PISSED about the results… But not that pissed because I would still be rolling in the Benjamins:


First Man: Not only did it lose out on some of the main categories many anticipated some recognition in such as “Best Picture,” Claire Foy for “Best Supporting Actress” and “Best Adapted Screenplay,” it also got snubbed in what I thought was its best bets to win: “Best Editing” and despite winning the Golden Globe for “Best Score,” it didn’t even get nominated in this category from the Academy. With only four nominations in aesthetic categories, it could still walk home with something (I have an idea of what it could be, though it’s classified), but their film definitely just took one giant leap back in terms of recognition/prestige.


“If Beale Street Could Talk”: WOW, not going to lie, I thought for sure I would be writing today about how I saw ALL of the nominees for “Best Picture” except this one. It turns out I can proudly say that I saw every nominee in that category this year now after this shocking snub. Just… Wow. It could still take home two awards, so it may not lose out completely, but still… Chalk this up as an L.


“A Star is Born”: It’s bizarre to put this in the category of “losers” after it landed eight nominations, but at the end of the day, it missed out on two key categories I saw it as potential contenders in: Bradley Cooper as “Best Director” and “Best Production Design.” Considering its drubbing at the Globes along with these losses, I don’t see it boding well at this point for “A Star is Born.”


“Widows”: After sifting there befuddled about a 2 and a half hour heist movie that made little sense to me, it looks like I am not the only one that felt that way about this film. “Widows” received literally nothing in terms of nominations at this year’s Academy Awards. I guess it wasn’t just me being uninformed, but a bigger problem with the film altogether. That puts the score at Me: 1, Director Steve McQueen: at least $1,000,000 higher in net worth than me.


Preliminary Predictions: Before I delve into these, I am going to preface that I am predicting what I think WILL win in these categories, not what I think SHOULD win. For those opinions, stay tuned for my Brutally Honest Anonymous Oscar Ballot, where I pretend to be a member of the Academy and cast my ballot as to the performances I think were most deserving in each category. For now, here is what I think will win in the main categories (I’m not going to reveal ALL my picks, those are top secret):


Best Picture (5 points) – “Roma”: Considering the number of nominations it received, the all-around quality of the film, the strong symbolism behind the plot and its appeal to the art community at large, “Roma” is a strong favorite to win it all this year. While I adored “Green Book” and my heart wants it to win, objectively speaking, my head is going with “Roma.” That being said, it also did not earn a nomination in “Best Editing,” and the last time a “Best Picture” winner did not earn AT LEAST a nomination in that category was 1980. My prediction is definitely subject to change, but for now, I’m going to stick with my gut.


Best Director (4 points) – Alfonso Cuaron for “Roma”: Cuaron worked incredibly hard on this passion project of his, is well liked within the Academy and crafted something special. He is by far the best of all the nominees.


Best Actor (3 points) – Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in “Vice”: Bale’s transformation should land him the nod. If they rewarded Gary Oldman for his transformation, odds are they will reward Bale too.


Best Actress (3 points) – Glenn Close as some character I don’t know in “The Wife”: Should I be predicting winners for performances I’ve never seen? Well, no… But, given that Glenn Close has won every actress award so far leading up the Academy Awards, and given her heartwarming speech at the Golden Globes, it looks like hers to lose at this point. This category ultimately boils down to her, Lady Gaga in “A Star is Born” and (*sigh*) Olivia Colman in “The Favourite.”


Best Supporting Actress (2 points) – Regina King as some character I don’t know in “If Beale Street Could Talk” – Take everything I just said about Glenn Close and apply it here. However, watch out for Amy Adams as second lady Lynne Cheney to play the role of “spoiler.”


Best Supporting Actor (2 points) – Mahershala Ali as Dr. Richard Shirley in “Green Book”: Objectively speaking, Ali was by FAR the best of all the nominees in this category. Barring any type of scandal, he should take this one home.


Best Original Screenplay (2 Points) – “Green Book”: Many of the experts are going with “The Favourite” and I know I said that I was looking at this from an objective standpoint. But…. I just can’t do it. I cannot in good faith pick “The Favourite” to win anything. It was just too weird for me. Plus, it lost to “Green Book” at the Golden Globes, so there’s a logical alternative to predict. Screw it, I’m going with my heart on this one.  


Best Adapted Screenplay (2 Points) – “BlacKkKlansmen”: This one created very vivid and quick-witted dialogue. Plus, the Academy will most likely be looking to reward this film for its fearless attempt to go political on President Donald Trump. This is the best category for them to do that in.


Best Animated Feature (2 Points) -  “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse”: It was an incredibly original film across the board that SHOULD be rewarded for its work.


FREE POINTS: These are the following three categories where if you pick them as your winners in my pool, you WILL get it right and score a point. I guarantee it. If some other film by some miracle ends up winning one of these, text me the secret code “WRONG” and I will proceed to refund you all zero dollars you spent entering my pool.


Best Hairstyling/Make-up – “Vice”: If you do not pick “Vice” for this category, you are throwing a point out the window. They did an incredible job, and I don’t even recognize the other two throwaway nominees.


Best Foreign Language Film – “Roma” – Yes, “Cold War” got nominated for “Best Director” out of nowhere and also happens to be a foreign language film, but “Roma” was the only foreign language film nominated for “Best Picture.” Lock that one in on your form and don’t look back.


Best Original Song – “Shallow” from “A Star is Born” – This one is a super powerful hit that will be a shoe in to win.


On a final note: for those who are interested, you can check out all of my reviews for the eight “Best Picture” nominees below:


“Green Book”


“A Star is Born”




“Black Panther”




“Bohemian Rhapsody”


“The Favourite”


Vice – I promise I have seen this movie and the review will be out soon, so stay tuned!