Though competition is high, clear Oscar winners still shine

February 12, 2019 — by Neeti Badve

It’s that time of year again. With the Golden Globe winners already announced, film fanatics and industry professionals are amped up for the Oscars on Feb. 24. As this story is written in early February, we still don’t know who will host “the biggest night in cinema.” At the same time, there are a handful of impressive contenders vying for top awards, especially in the signature Best Picture category.

The movies of 2018 brought us groundbreaking animation in new Marvel releases and unprecedented representation within cinema from movies like “Crazy Rich Asians” to “Black Panther.” 2018 gave the movie-goers films that actually mean something to them, that start a conversation. From revealing the truth of conversion therapy in “Boy Erased” to profiling police brutality against African Americans in “The Hate U Give,” 2018 pioneered a new standard for the film industry in the coming years.

As for The Oscars themselves, the award show had a rough start this year when Kevin Hart backed out on Dec. 7, just 48 hours after he announced he would be hosting the Oscars. After his controversial tweets regarding offensive tweets against the LGBTQ+ community and lack of proper apology, his decision to back out was final.

When nominations were announced in January,  there were several prominent snubs; notable examples include Bradley Cooper being left out of the best director category and Timothée Chalamet out of the supporting actors category for his heart-wrenching performance in “Beautiful Boy.”

Critics everywhere thought that Cooper had a chance to win directing honors for “A Star is Born,” and many are outraged and confused at the Academy’s decision to not even include him as an option. Nevertheless, the show must go on.

Because many viewers normally feel lost or confused with the sheer number of nominations and awards during the ceremony, here is a quick preview of what you can expect out of the night’s biggest categories.

Starting with the supporting actresses, although it is concerning that she was not nominated at Screen Actors Guild (SAG) or British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), Regina King can still walk away with the Oscar for “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Winning an Oscar without these prior nominations hasn’t been done before, but if anyone can do it, King can. Her poignant role as a black mother in the early ‘70s garnered all sorts of praise and even a Golden Globe win.

Moving on to Supporting Actor, performance-wise, Mahershala Ali appears to be in the lead, and his Golden Globe win bodes well. However, his movie “Green Book” has been under fire for falsely portraying pianist Dr. Shirley, Ali’s character. The negative attention could potentially decrease his chances, which leaves us looking at the other contenders such as Richard E. Grant. With 20 wins already this award season for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Grant’s disarming and unrestrained role surely lands him in second place.

As for Best Actress, the award appears to be a race between Lady Gaga and Glenn Close. Close’s performance as the shy and brilliant wife behind a Nobel prize-winning husband’s work in “The Wife” deserves accolades. She expertly portrayed a woman’s relationship with attention in the public, having to choose between being visible or invisible, and for that, she should win the Oscar.

Although both the Best Actress and Best Actor categories are cutthroat, I think the award will either go to Christian Bale or Bradley Cooper. Bale pulls ahead of all the others with his 40-pound weight gain and heavy makeup for his role as Dick Cheney in “Vice.”

Especially since he was snubbed for Best Director, Cooper’s chances of winning Best Actor have skyrocketed. He has been a frontrunner throughout the awards season for his performance as the alcoholic and drug addict musician Jackson Maine, but Bale’s overwhelming commitment to his chilling and deep-voiced Dick Cheney should put up a great fight and potentially put him in the lead.

Last but not least, the battle for Best Picture seems to come down to two outstanding films, each of which left viewers in tears with its excellent and unique storytelling.

On one side is “Roma.” Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, this vivid portrait of a domestic worker’s journey in Mexico City in the 1970s forces the audience to reflect on the hardships of political turmoil amidst domestic strife and an unforgiving social hierarchy. Partially based on Cuarón’s own life growing up in Mexico City, this is his most personal project to date, and it shows through the amount of detail placed in each scene.

Standing strong at the other end of the battlefield is “A Star Is Born.” As Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, although it doesn’t seem like it because it is so well done, the movie depicts the struggling and complex journey of love, drugs, alcohol and sacrifice when in the limelight. Both him and co-star Lady Gaga deliver moving and artistic performances, making this movie a fierce competitor.

In my opinion, Cuarón will receive Best Director, while “A Star Is Born” will receive Best Picture. Cuarón’s personal touches to the movie are the reason it is so powerful and unforgettable, yet the film might have trouble winning Best Picture because of the Academy’s complicated relationship with Netflix.

Another problem the film could face is that it is in a foreign language, meaning votes could be siphoned away within the Academy to the Foreign Film category.

All things aside, “A Star Is Born” deserves the Oscar Best Picture win. With its ever-increasing loyal fanbase, widespread critical acclaim and heartbreaking vision, the movie finds a way to entertain its audience by making them laugh and cheer, but also by making them break down and cry. Its raw and authentic showcase of physical and emotional suffering from alcohol addiction and the struggle for fame is definitely worthy of the win.

Now, with all the major winners and categories discussed, can we give Timothée Chalamet an Oscar for merely existing in all his glorious beauty?

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