2019 Oscar race starts shaping up


Creative Commons

STAYING IN THE SPOTLIGHT. The annual Academy Awards, more commonly known as the Oscars, has recently been struggling to retain viewing rates, as they have continued to decrease each year. This year, the Oscars will shorten its run-time from three and a half hours to three hours, and will introduce a Popular Film category in the coming years. “We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and President John Bailey in an open letter to Academy voters.

The last few months of the calendar year are a big time for movies.  Blockbusters and family features attempt to capitalize on the holidays, while small budget dramas try to appeal to critics in order to generate that awards season buzz.

Now that many of this year’s award hopefuls are starting to release, it is time to take a look at these movies and decide what categories they could be nominated for at the upcoming Academy Awards taking place on Feb. 24, 2019.

“A Star is Born”

Release date: Out now

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga

Director: Cooper

This year’s hottest contender is the latest adaptation of the classic 1937 movie musical that follows an up-and-comer falling in love with an established superstar.  The film has been showered with positive acclaim from filmgoers and critics alike.

Cooper and Gaga are expected to be nominated in the Best Actor and Actress categories respectively, with Gaga potentially taking home the latter award.

However, Cooper could also land a Best Director nomination for his first directorial effort.

The film is also up for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, and, seeing how it is a musical, Best Original Song.

The Academy has been known to heavily recognize musicals (see 2016’s “La La Land”), so expect “A Star is Born” to rack up a lot of nominations this year.

“First Man”

Release date: Out now

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy

Director: Damien Chazelle

Another big contender for many nominations is Chazelle’s film about Neil Armstrong and the first manned landing on the Moon.

The film is sure to get nominated for a lot of technical awards, including Best Editing and Best Visual Effects, but “First Man” has also been proven to compete in the big categories.

Gosling will most likely be nominated for his portrayal of Armstrong, and Foy could compete in the Best Supporting Actress race as Armstrong’s wife.  Chazelle, who won Best Director for “La La Land,” is again in the race for that award, as well as for Best Picture.

If the big names attached to the film are not enough to generate buzz from Academy voters, then the special effects and technical elements will.

Films set in space do very well in these categories, so it should be no surprise that “First Man” dominates the competition there.

“If Beale Street Could Talk”

Release date: Nov. 30

Staring: Kiki Layne, Regina King

Director: Barry Jenkins

The adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel comes from Jenkins, perhaps best known for directing the 2017 Best Picture winner, “Moonlight.” Like “Moonlight”, “Beale Street” offers a deeper look into African-American culture.

Nominations for Best Director and Best Picture are sure bets considering Jenkins’ history with the Academy, and while newcomer Layne may have a shot in the Best Actress race, a nomination for King in the Supporting category seems to be more likely.

After the Best Picture mixup in 2017 with “La La Land” and Chazelle, it will be interesting to see how Jenkins fares against the “First Man” helmer a second time.


Release date: Dec. 25

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams

Director: Adam McKay

Best known for directing comedies such as “Anchorman” and “Talladega Nights,” McKay ventured into drama with “The Big Short,” which actually earned him the Best Original Screenplay award at the 2016 Oscars.

One of the only award contenders to not appear at a film festival this year, “Vice” has yet to be seen by critics, so whether it will truly be a frontrunner or not remains to be seen.

If the film is received positively, expect it making a big splash in the main categories.

Bale could easily be nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of Vice President Dick Cheney, and nominations for “Best Picture” and Best Director” for McKay seem likely too.

“Green Book”

Release Date: Nov. 21

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali

Director: Peter Farrelly

This film was not on anyone’s radar until it unexpectedly won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September. Since then, the period piece about a black pianist and his white cab driver has skyrocketed to the top of the Oscar watch list.

While Farrelly may not get a Best Director nod, Mortensen and Ali are poised to snag some for Best Actor and Supporting Actor respectively.  

A Best Picture nomination also seems likely for the film.

Considering that nine films in the past decade who have won the TIFF People’s Choice Award have gone on to win Best Picture, “Green Book” may actually have a shot at winning the top prize.

Time will tell, however, as the nominations for the 2019 Academy Awards will be announced sometime this January.

The 2019 Oscar ceremonies will air Feb. 24, 2019 on ABC. A host for the event has yet to be announced.