With the 72nd British Academy Film Awards happening this Sunday, it’s finally time to run down the year’s nominees.
This process will get a lot easier once BAFTA and the collective UK film distribution head honchos have their heads forcibly knocked together by the Oscars moving to this very spot on the calendar starting next year, with any luck. Then again, I also operated under the mistaken delusion that those new Diversity Regulations would actually combat #BAFTAsSoWhiteAndMale, and that the massive flameouts of this year’s prospective Awards Season contenders would force a decent nominee list that looked a little outside the box and celebrated Minority, Female, and Genre cinema, all of which carried 2018 on their backs pretty much singlehandedly. LOL, it turns out. LOL to both of those hopes and aspirations. Spoilers for this inbound wall of text: the 2019 BAFTA nominations are a load of absolute ass.
Still, the 72nd BAFTAs are happening on Sunday from a (tape-delayed despite it being 2019) 8PM start with Joanna Lumley back behind the rostrum despite last year’s ghastly snoozefest, so I guess we better make peace with Green Book taking home another Best Film trophy before the tragedy actually happens. I’ve been running down these nominations for the past five years, this makes my sixth, and this is easily the direst slate of nominees I’ve had to deal with so far, more so than even 2016 when Best Actor included Bryan Cranston in Trumbo and Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl. The best thing I can say about 2019’s slate is that at least the nominees are simultaneously so safe yet so baffling that many of the major (televised) categories don’t have obvious frontrunners. That’s not so good for my potential cumulative predicting record, 35-12 after last year’s performance where I ran a clean sweep – and then did it again at the Oscars; if I’d actually bet money on getting them all right, this year’s piece would be coming to you from my own private island – but I’m gonna endeavour to bring you victories in your office betting pool regardless! As usual, I’ll be running through the main categories, telling you should win, who might win, and then getting very cross over the countless snubs of films that apparently just weren’t as good as Bohemian goddamn Rhapsody. Let’s get it.
Best Animated Film
Who Should Win: Not only should Spider-Verse win Best Animated, it should be up for Best Production Design, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Directors, and Best Film. Not joking. I really did place this obscenely too low on my Top 20 which is one more regret I’ll be taking to my grave.
Who Will Win: The Disney/Pixar Award. Both BAFTA and AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) have given away the Best Animated Feature gong to a film not made by either Walt Disney Animation Studios or Pixar less than a third of the time in the history of each (AMPAS predates BAFTA on this front by five years), and I see little sign of that changing this year even with the cresting wave of Spider-Verse hype from everybody who’s seen it. Kubo only took it in 2017 cos there were three Disney/Pixar nominees so the votes were inevitably split, LEGO Movie took it in 2015 as a sneaky middle-finger to AMPAS for not even nominating it, Rango won in 2012 cos Pixar didn’t release a film in 2011 – “what about Cars 2?” THEY DIDN’T RELEASE A FILM IN 2011 – and Happy Feet won in 2006 because its only real competition was Cars. People loved Incredibles II and I get why, even if I was meh on it, so look for Bird to take home the trophy he should’ve won the first time but didn’t cos this award didn’t exist then.
Other Notes: Did a whole bunch of research this year for a potential other Thing I’ll tell you about should anything come of it, so I know this category is opt-in on voting and always at risk of not happening – it’s actually supposed to be canned if less than eight films submit themselves for eligibility – hence why it’s between three and five nominees, but my stance is still that you can get this category to the standard five without breaking a sweat and the only reason it never does is because of snobbery. Keep Isle of Dogs and Spider-Verse, sub out Incredibles for the actual other great animated superhero movie of 2018 in the form of Teen Titans GO! To the Movies (admittedly a super-long shot but not an undeserving one), add in Mamoru Hosada’s Mirai both because it’s fantastic and because it addresses the issue of this category having never nominated a Japanese film before, and finally make room for Cartoon Saloon’s sensational The Breadwinner which may have been a 2017 film but didn’t receive a UK release until May 2018 which makes it eligible and therefore snubbed for no good reason just like every other Cartoon Saloon effort so far. Try forking harder, dammit.
Outstanding British Film
Who Should Win: Fucking anything other than Bohemian shitting Rhapsody, that’s for sure. Jesus goddamn Christ, BAFTA, what the fuck is wrong with you? It’s not going to win (we’ll get to that in a sec), but I hope somebody on your shadowy Brit Film Jury has been kept up at night in cold sweats over the fact that Bryan Singer received validation from an awards body in the year 2019 despite all those many, many allegations. (EDIT: Literal hours before this post was scheduled to go live, BAFTA finally rescinded Singer’s nomination, so that’s that.) Anyway, I’m leaning more towards The Favourite out of it and You Were Never Really Here, primarily for the kick of finally fully enjoying a Yorgos Lanthimos movie – turns out all he had to do for me to finally come on board was have someone else write the scripts – but a You Were Never win would vindicate Lynne Ramsay’s bewildering snub in Best Director. Both would make fine winners.
Who Will Win: The Favourite is the only one of these six nominated for Best Film, it’s winning here. The only time in the last decade where a Best Film nominee didn’t also win Outstanding British Film was in 2010 where Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank upset Lone Scherfig’s An Education – in fact, this was a common occurrence back in the 00s, but I guess they must’ve changed how voting in this category works since then as they’ve otherwise matched up when applicable this decade. Nominees were half picked by Jury and half picked by BAFTA members writing in with everyone opting-in to watch the six nominees voting for the winner, so since The Favourite cracked Best Film and Bohemian pissing Rhapsody did not that gives the edge to The Favourite. Thank Christ.
Other Notes: Well, if you wanted an idea of how ill-defined and threadbare those new BFI Diversity Standards are, which were supposed to greatly open up the diversity in nominees for this category and Outstanding British Debut (but apparently no others) by disqualifying any film which doesn’t meet two or more of the guidelines: Bohemian cockpussing Rhapsody, everybody! What a crock of shit. Since those guidelines are looser than expected, that makes the omission of Adrian Shergold’s difficult, messy, yet enrapturing Funny Cow an actual snub instead of a disqualification. And I know for a fact that you assholes saw Widows since Viola Davis got a nomination, so why the fork is it not here also? Bohemian starfucking Rhapsody… you may as well have nominated Walk Like a Panther! Fuck outta here!
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Cold War (Janusz Głowacki & Paweł Pawlikowski), Green Book (Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly & Nick Vallelonga), Roma (Alfonso Cuarón), The Favourite (Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara), Vice (Adam McKay)
Who Should Win: Err… The Favourite, I guess? Heads up for the rest of this article, I thought Roma was fine but also I have not thought about it since December 12th, the day it dropped on Netflix and I watched it, so I am baffled about the “modern classic” tags being thrown around it. Vice was an utter mess with a truly mystifying tag that destroys any traces of good it sporadically banked up to that point. Green Book was a cartoon that genuinely stopped its climax for three minutes to do a Not All Cops #BlueLivesMatter detour, plus a fundamental misunderstanding of how racism works (and that whole “maybe it’s all a giant disrespectful lie” thing). Cold War… may be good? I still haven’t seen Cold War, I’m yet to found a version with subtitles and it obviously did not play near me because I seemingly live in the backwoods. So, yeah, The Favourite by default? It’s a great screenplay, at least.
Who Will Win: A good indicator of who’s taking home Best Film comes from which of the nominees wins their respective Screenplay category, and what bones my prediction for this year is that the two films with the best shot, Roma and Green Book, are operating under the same umbrella because, technically, Green Book isn’t based on any one particular source. I’m still sceptical that Roma will take home Best Film for reasons we’ll get to, but also BAFTA are not in the habit of handing out consolation prizes; if they did, then maybe Jordan Peele or Greta Gerwig would have one more BAFTA on their shelves than the zero they currently do. I’m punting a guess at Green Book taking this one even with the… everything surrounding it. Settle in for a long night, folks. Maybe we’ll get lucky and the ceremony director will accidentally cut to Spike Lee’s “I am so done with this racist-ass shit” face as he gets ‘Nam-style flashbacks to 30 years ago when this shit was called Driving Miss Daisy!
Other Notes: Hope you’re not playing a drinking game based on recurring phrases and sentiments in my writing cos otherwise this next phrase will be the sole reason for your liver failing by the time we’re done: strip it out and start from scratch. Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You should be here. Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You should be in all the categories, quite honestly, but I’m not going to pretend that third act twist won’t have blown its chances of breaking into any other major categories. Nevertheless, it should be here. As should Ari Aster’s Hereditary, particularly since the screenplay is sans that expository voiceover at the end which A24 forced on because even indie darlings can treat audiences like idiots. Even with Tracey, I do think Isle of Dogs deserves a spot here as one of the Wes Anderson collective’s most vulnerable and politically-charged screenplays to date. Cory Finlay’s Thoroughbreds may not fit here since it is technically based on an unproduced play, but it at least deserves recognition in one of these categories, so go with Paul Schraeder’s near-career-best work on First Reformed. Then plonk The Favourite back in (and sub out one of the replacements for Cold War should that film be as good as I’ve heard) and you’ve got a nominee list actually worthy of something.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: A Star is Born (Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters & Eric Roth), BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel & Kevin Willmott), Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener & Jeff Whitty), First Man (Josh Singer), If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)
Who Should Win: One of these things is not like the other, one of these things does not belong! As much as I want to get pissy over the fact that this particular shortlist clearly demonstrates that at least one branch of BAFTA saw the actual good films that came out last year, I’m gonna be honest and admit that I’m happy with anything other than A Star is Born taking this one home. Cat is STACKED, son! A part of me wants it to be First Man as an implied ginormous middle-finger towards Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book and other such biopics that frequently bend the truth or lie for “dramatic effect” since Singer’s script proves that a devotion to the facts as they definitely happened does not make for a less interesting or fulfilling film, it just means you gotta work harder. But I’d be genuinely happy with all but one of these, maybe leaning more towards Beale Street if I have to pick a favourite.
Who Will Win: It is either A Star is Born or BlacKkKlansman in the great decider over whether the former film is secretly cursed or not. I think we’ve all been taken aback by Star’s bottling of it whenever the actual ceremony has turned up this Awards Season, almost like it’s getting nominated because that’s just what happens to Star is Born movies but nobody actually likes it enough to carry it across the finish line. This was meant to be a slam dunk, and instead Green Book and Glenn Close are stealing all of its thunder. Weird. Since BAFTA don’t do Best Original Song – no, I don’t know why, either – I think there’s a strong chance this could be the consolation prize Star takes home on the night… but also BAFTA don’t do consolation prizes, so maybe it’ll finally go to Spike Lee… except this would also be a consolation prize since BlacKkKlansman sure-as-shirt ain’t winning anything else. See what I mean by “safe yet baffling,” now? With my rep on the line, let’s risk it with BlacKkKlansman.
Other Notes: Every one of those movies bar my punching bag deserves to be there, so the question becomes what do we cycle out A Star is Born with? We’re not exactly lacking in contenders, after all. Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn’s update, recontextualization and pruning of Widows into a deep yet propulsive two-hour film is the thing of screenplay dreams. Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim may have shorn Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians of much of its satirical bite but the screenplay still goes off like fireworks anyway. Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini turned My Abandonment into the haunting Leave No Trace – those last two being films that deserved way more awards love than they’ve gotten. Alex Garland’s Annihilation was probably screwed over by going straight-to-Netflix in the UK (breaking eligibility rules), but that screenplay was sensational. There’s the aforementioned Thoroughbreds if that fit here, the Coen Brothers’ Ballad of Buster Scruggs supposedly came under the Adapted umbrella, Lynne Ramsay’s elliptical You Were Never Really Here, Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole’s Black Panther, Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman’s Spider-Verse… It’s a testament to this category that all of these missed out and I’m not too upset about that fact.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Mahershala Ali as Don Shirley (Green Book), Timothée Chalamet as Nic Sheff (Beautiful Boy), Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman (BlacKkKlansman), Richard E. Grant as Jack Hock (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush (Vice)
Who Should Win: Honestly? I’m leaning towards Richard E. Grant. Adam Driver was great as Flip, don’t get me wrong, but I also can’t shake the sneaking suspicion that he was nominated and John David Washington was not (especially when you see that Best Actor line-up) for the same reason Sylvester Stallone was Creed’s only major nomination and Straight Outta Compton only received screenplay nods at various awards ceremonies which is behaviour I don’t want to encourage. Even setting that aside, though, Grant is absolutely delightful in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, a charming ruffian who is impossible to resist even as it becomes obvious that he’s got a fuck-up side that is pathological and quietly insidious.
Who Will Win: Mahershala Ali finally gets the BAFTA he was supposed to win two years ago before Vince Russo hijacked the BAFTA writer’s room and they gave it to *checks notes* Dev Patel for Lion?! What?! …shit, maybe it’ll go to Grant after all. That wasn’t just a snub, that was a pie-off! Save for something similarly inexplicable this go-around, like the BAFTA being contested not via votes but a wrestling match under Judy Bagwell on a Forklift rules, this is probably going to go to Ali anyway. Perhaps with a “sorry we dun goofed!” post-it attached and reparations for making him appear in Green Book.
Other Notes: Ali was very good in Green Book, to be fair, playing that film’s nonsensical interpretation of Don Shirley to the best of his ability. Chalamet was also the best part of the otherwise underwhelming Beautiful Boy but not what I’d class as a Best unless we’re applying that to cute boys since dude is a legit snack. Rockwell, meanwhile, was barely in Vice regardless of the perfect casting. So, replace those three with Daniel Kaluuya’s chilling work in Widows (a total 180 from his deservedly-nominated turn in Get Out last year), Alex Wolff’s traumatised load-bearing in Hereditary – Toni Collette hogged all the oxygen about performances in that film for herself, quite understandably, but Wolff was almost on her level – and Michael B. Jordan’s revelatory turn as Killmonger in Black Panther, one that I would normally throw the phrase “career-best” at except that Jordan just keeps getting better and better as his time with Ryan Coogler goes on.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney (Vice), Claire Foy as Janet Armstrong (First Man), Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I (Mary, Queen of Scots), Emma Stone as Abigail Hill (The Favourite), Rachel Weisz as Sarah Churchill (The Favourite)
Who Should Win: Well, this is an underwhelming list. What’s most telling is that Margot Robbie got nominated and, whilst she is easily the best part of the otherwise interminable Mary, Queen of Scots, fact is you could cut her physical presence from the film entirely and lose absolutely nothing as a result. I’m always against having two nominees per film because, even in the very rare occasions where it is deserved (such as here), it feels kind of like cheating and a lack of imagination to do so. Nevertheless, Rachel Weisz was especially fantastic in The Favourite so I’ll root for her. Tip of the cap also to Claire Foy for bringing such an intensity to the stock Supportive Wife Suffering in Silence role that she forcibly pulls the character of Janet into being one of First Man’s most compelling aspects.
Who Will Win: Total shot in the dark, here. Regina King’s the one who’s currently waltzing her way towards the Oscar at month’s end, but we’ve already established that nobody at BAFTA watched Beale Street – only read it and listened to its soundtrack, *grumblegrumble* – so we’ve got a real turkey shoot since Margot Robbie took King’s spot despite having no chance of winning the thing. Considering that, I reckon it might come down to Foy and Weisz since Emma Stone won Best Actress just two years ago and we are dealing with a potential home turf advantage. Weisz is the lifer who has somehow yet to win a trophy whilst Foy is the new hotness preparing to strike out for a career far away from The Crown and, since this was my first intro to her due to not watching The Crown, may actually have the talent to make it work. My guess is that Weisz finally takes home a statue on Sunday, if only cos Foy’s career is just getting started.
Other Notes: I have it on authority that Bleeker Street were running Thomasin McKenzie from Leave No Trace under Supporting, which is patently absurd as anyone who saw Leave No Trace can attest, but regardless of semantics she really should’ve been nominated. Elizabeth Debicki in Widows should be up here and you can replace her name with any of the supporting women in Widows and still get a true statement of fact. Awkwafina gave not one but two breakout supporting performances in 2018 (Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians) so some love would not have gone amiss. Sticking on the Crazy train, Michelle Yeoh did dramatic-best work in there and if BAFTA could recognise her for Crouching Tiger almost 20 years ago then they could’ve recognised her for this. Whichever one of Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy ends up fitting the definition of Supporting in Thoroughbreds deserved a shot at getting nominated, ditto Tessa Thompson for Sorry to Bother You or Creed II, Blake Lively was a wicked revelation in the criminally-underrated A Simple Favor, and Regina King obviously has no excuse not being here. I feel like I’m stretching a bit, but that’s mainly cos my favourite female performances of last year (which were often my fave performances period) were all leads so hang on a few for that clusterfork.
Nominees: Christian Bale as Dick Cheney (Vice), Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel (Stan & Ollie), Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine (A Star is Born), Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury (Bohemian Rhapsody), Viggo Mortensen as Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Green Book)
Who Should Win: None of them? My dudes, it should not be this bloody hard to put together a Best Actor category year after year! Last year was the first time in forever that I didn’t totally hate the list and that was because it had a grand total of TWO deserving nominees! The best they’ve gotten in the past six years is two out of five! I guess, since I have to pick someone and abstaining is for those who haven’t seen all the nominees, I’ll go for Steve Coogan? But, like, why is Steve Coogan here? Would it seriously have killed you all to nominate a minority other than Rami Malek?!
Who Will Win: Bubblewrap all my shit, folks, because this one is Malek’s to lose. There is still a chance that Christian Bale might receive the Gary Oldman treatment – the lifer who has somehow never won before (Geoffrey Rush won the BAFTA in 2011, Bale won the Oscar) almost unrecognisably portraying a famous historical figure behind 30lbs of prosthetics and double that in weight gain – but his Cheney doesn’t bluster and blather like Oldman’s Churchill did. There’s not enough Acting going on for the tastes of most awards bodies. But Malek? Malek pulled off the Eddie Redmayne stunt of a (supposedly because I found him cartoonishly woeful with his overdone accent and dollar-store prosthetic teeth) uncanny impersonation that got many people saying nonsense like “he was so much like Freddie!” despite having absolutely no soul behind the eyes. It’s the kind of performance that sets one’s career up for life, in any case, and it attracts awards like flies to a bug-light. Y’all are lucky I don’t have Twitter anymore.
Other Notes: Strip this shit bare, fumigate it for several days, then start from scratch. John David Washington should be here for BlacKkKlansman, as should Lakeith Stanfield for Sorry to Bother You. Ethan Hawke put in a career-best turn in First Reformed that has been entirely overlooked by major national awards bodies although at least has been cleaning up in more regional ones. Daveed Diggs was a revelation in Blindspotting, another film criminally snubbed by every major awards body this past year – in fact, I’ll just say it right now to save time: in a year that provided Sorry to Bother You, The Hate U Give, Widows, Black Panther, Blindspotting, Beale Street, and BlacKkKlansman, there is zero fucking excuse for nominating Green Book in any capacity. Finally, either send some love Marcello Fonte’s way for his painful yet rootable work in Dogman or to Joaquin Phoenix for his mesmeric and intense turn in You Were Never Really Here. See! It’s not hard to put together a Best Actor category that doesn’t suck ass!
Nominees: Glenn Close as Joan Castleman (The Wife), Olivia Colman as Queen Anne (The Favourite), Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlings (Widows), Lady Gaga as Ally Maine (A Star is Born), Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Who Should Win: At least the one nomination Widows did manage to notch is an inarguably deserved one. Viola Davis’ entire career can be effectively summarised as “the best part of whatever she appears in” and that is still true even when talking about a movie as exceptional as Widows. Hell, she should take this simply for that final shot. Where the grief and resentment and pain that the film has been running on up until that point finally sputters out and is replaced by something hopeful and warm, with Davis playing it in such a masterful way that it breaks me each and every time. We do not deserve her, quite frankly.
Who Will Win: Every Awards Season, one specific nomination keeps cropping up over and over again for no immediately discernible reason. A real outside-the-box pick you assume nobody else actually saw yet keeps racking up the nominations, sometimes even the wins, that it inexplicably becomes the year’s frontrunner in spite of the film it’s contained in receiving absolute zero attention in any other area. Cynical bastards, therefore, might assume this is only happening because we’ve had a collective realisation that [x nominee] despite being a bonafide legend has yet to be anointed with an award, and the giant hubbub around this one aspect in an otherwise unremarkable film is less because it’s Just That Good and more a chance to finally right a perceived wrong. In so many words, this is likely why Glenn Close has become the frontrunner for her work in the… fine (it’s fine) The Wife and why she’s probably about to become an Oscar winner barring a last-minute surprise. You shouldn’t count out Olivia Colman here at the BAFTAs, because what self-respecting Brit doesn’t adore Olivia Colman, but I think Close has it sewn up here too. She’s… fine in The Wife, which itself is… fine, I just don’t get any of this.
Other Notes: Like I said earlier and in my Top 10 Performances piece, 2018 belonged to the women and I could fill this list out at least three times over with potential picks. Any combination of the following is acceptable so long as Toni Collette takes home the statue for her bone-chilling work in Hereditary when all is said and done. Keep Davis, Colman, and McCarthy – who’s not quite career-best in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, cos Spy still exists, but gets pretty damn close. British flavour can be found in the form of Maxine Peake’s central performance as the titular Funny Cow, keeping that film firmly on rails at all times primarily off her own back. Constance Wu and Lana Condor both demonstrated how important a fantastic central performance is to a rom-com in Crazy Rich Asians and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before respectively. If we’re giving Christian Bale points for extreme physical transformations, how’s about we give Charlize Theron a nod for her work in Tully since she does so in service of a character and a proper performance? I already shouted out Thomasin McKenzie but I’ll do so again in the category she truly belonged in, ditto Olivia Cooke/Anya Taylor-Joy. Amandla Stenberg for The Hate U Give, KiKi Layne for Beale Street, Yalitza Aparicio for Roma (the one truly outstanding part of that film), Emily Blunt for Mary Poppins Returns, Nicole Kidman for Destroyer…
Nominees: Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born), Alfonso Cuarón (Roma), Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman), Paweł Pawlikowski (Cold War)
Who Should Win: Spike Lee had never been nominated for Best Director before this year. That is truly astonishing. He’s technically a prior BAFTA winner, having received a special award in 2002 for outstanding contributions to cinema, but he’s never once been nominated for a real BAFTA until this year. That at least ends this Sunday, but BAFTA should go the further nine yards and hand him the gong too whilst there. Did you know Steve McQueen is the only other Black person in the Academy’s 72-year history to be nominated for Best Director, and that was five years ago?
Who Will Win: Momentum dictates that Alfonso Cuarón becomes a two-time winner given that Roma has become the only real challenge to Green Book this Awards Season and Cuarón took home both the top prize at the Director’s Guild Awards last month and the Golden Globes where Roma was barred from entering into Best Drama – foreign language films aren’t allowed to also run for either Best Picture categories because some of Awards Season’s racism/xenophobia isn’t merely implicit. But I can also see BAFTA finally redressing one of their biggest sore spots – THEY DIDN’T EVEN NOMINATE JORDAN PEELE LAST YEAR – by giving the prize to Lee since he has no shot at the Oscars in two weeks and Best Film is probably going to Green Book. Then again, 2 black nominees across 51 awards ceremonies. Somehow, I doubt BAFTA actually give a fuck about their image. Cuarón.
Other Notes: As I said back in my Top 20 for 2018, I could and arguably should make this list consist of just Black filmmakers since they were responsible for all of the year’s best films – Steve McQueen (seriously WHERE THE FUCK IS STEVE MCQUEEN), Boots Riley, Ryan Coogler, Barry Jenkins, and yes Spike Lee – but let’s instead just keep Lee, McQueen, and Jenkins whilst filling up the other two spots with another overlooked group: women. In the entire 51-year history of this award, only 4 women have been nominated for Best Director (Jane Campion, Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, and Lynne Ramsay) and that is also unacceptable given this past year. There’s the aforementioned Ramsey with her unbearably intense You Were Never Really Here, but she was also nearly upstaged at her own game by first-timer Coralie Fargeat with Revenge. Desiree Akhavan pulled off a masterclass tonal balancing act on The Miseducation of Cameron Post, whilst Crystal Moselle did wonderful understated work on the underseen Skate Kitchen, and Marielle Heller slyly subverted Oscar Bait tropes for the wickedly fun Can You Ever Forgive Me? Karyn Kusama’s direction is what pulled Destroyer as high as it did in spite of the anchor (script) dragging it down, and Debra Granik should be getting showered in financing offers after Leave No Trace. If forced, let’s go with Fargeat and Akhavan. Then if you want to eject one of those five for a White man – treating this like a real category instead of a political statement – add either Ari Aster for Hereditary or the Spider-Verse folks (Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsay and Rodney Rothman) cos have you seen those films?
Nominees: A Star is Born, BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, Roma, The Favourite
Who Should Win: It was the only one on my Top 20 and, much as I liked The Favourite, would still have been the only one on my Top 20 even if everything had released on time so obviously I’m rooting for BlacKkKlansman. Honestly, if the end result to this whole Awards Season is anything but the reincarnated spirit of Driving Miss Daisy being vanquished by a Spike Lee joint as payback thirty years in the making, then what are we really doing here?
Who Will Win: Dogfight between Green Book and Roma. A Star is Born was supposed to be the big obvious victor across this entire godforsaken Awards Season, but it’s been perennially incapable of converting nominations into wins, likely because the spectre of La La Land/Moonlight is still hanging around. The Favourite is this year’s bench-filler like Dunkirk in 2018 and Arrival in 2017, the one that’s just happy to be here on the strength of everyone liking it but not quite enough to ever get it a big trophy. BlacKkKlansman I am fairly certain is here in the vain hope nobody calls BAFTA racist again, and because it was successful relative to its budget but not a blockbuster (hence why Black Panther is nowhere in sight), with no chance of taking home the top prize. That leaves Roma, which everybody loves but is operating from the likely fatal handicap of being a Netflix Original Movie, and Green Book, which everybody will yell at them over for extremely obvious reasons. My heart says Roma because they at least had the good sense to give the 1990 prize to Goodfellas instead of Driving Miss Daisy; my head says Green Book because they gave the 1990 prize to Goodfellas instead of Driving Miss Daisy and that kind of luck can’t always swing back round. I’m going to set myself up for heartbreak and say Roma even though I know it’ll be Green Book. Bonus bet on whether Spike Lee responds to the latter’s victory by storming the stage and throwing a trash can through a window.
Other Notes: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, If Beale Street Could Talk, Sorry to Bother You, Widows. That’s what the line-up should look like. That’s what my line-up would look like and what my Top 5 would have looked like were Beale Street released in the UK in 2018 instead of three days before the ceremony in a limited capacity because Entertainment One clearly thought more highly of BAFTA voters than that collective deserved. What a miserable safe line-up of official nominees. I guess the bright side is at least Bohemian anal-cheesing Rhapsody didn’t break into here? Look, it’s 2019 and I really do need to savour what victories come my way, no matter how small.