13. Best Production Design: The Favourite
Best Production Design, like Best Costume Design, is going to be between The Favourite and Black Panther. Like the aforementioned category, it’s not going to be an easy prediction. In fact, it’s one of the tightest races of the night. GoldDerby, an aggregating site which takes predictions from numerous experts, says that 16 people have The Favourite as their top choice while 17 people have Black Panther. There’s also one outlier who thinks Roma will take it, but the point is, it’s basically 50/50.
These Oscar predicting experts aren’t crazy. There really isn’t a whole lot of evidence pointing one way or the other. It’s almost unfair to pick The Favourite because it’s borderline misleading. It has been selected because, out of those two, the period setting may help The Favourite out, but it’s really freakin’ close.
14. Best Score: Black Panther
Since 2000, only two movies have ever won Best Original Score without a Best Picture nomination: The Hateful Eight and Frida. Among pundits, the current frontrunner in this category is If Beale Street Could Talk, but does it really stand a chance with that statistic? Obviously, the answer is yes, but it stands less of a chance than many people seem to believe. It’s definitely a contender, but it’s hardly a cut and dried frontrunner.
In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a cut and dried frontrunner. The one movie that dominated the precursors (First Man) was left out of the category entirely. Because of this baffling snub, we’re left to fend for ourselves and throw out a wild guess. Most people love the score in If Beale Street Could Talk, which is probably why it’s the current frontrunner, but the stats just don’t add up. That’s why we’ve decided to go with Black Panther.
It was selected over Beale Street for two big reasons. First, it managed to win a Grammy over last year’s winner, The Shape of Water. Second, it has that much needed Best Picture nomination. This should be enough to push it toward victory. Whether or not this is the most deserving winner is up for debate, but it’s definitely the most likely.
15. Best Song: Shallow – A Star Is Born
The movie once touted as a Best Picture frontrunner may leave the night with a single award. A couple months ago, people claimed that this movie was the definitive Oscar threat. It was the movie that everyone had to watch out for, but times have changed. Lady Gaga’s frontrunner status diminished after Glenn Close began to dominate. Bradley Cooper didn’t even earn a Best Director nomination. Hell, it’s starting to seem like Bohemian Rhapsody has a better chance of the biggest award of the night.
None of this means A Star Is Born is a bad movie. On the contrary, it’s a movie that absolutely shouldn’t leave the night empty-handed. Luckily it won’t. It may not be the Oscar favorite that it once was, but Shallow is going to win Best Song, and there’s no ifs ands or buts about it.
It’s easy to be confident about this particular category because the song has won countless awards, including a Grammy. Now, keep in mind that Grammys aren’t exactly the most trustworthy Oscar precursors, but the movie has also won a Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Award, and Satellite Award. In other words, an Oscar in this category seems like a sure bet.
16. Best Sound Editing: First Man
First Man may have been snubbed in a majority of categories, but it seems likely to win at least one technical award. This particular article predicts that it will leave the night with two wins, but that’s hardly a sure thing. Of the two predictions, this one seems more likely. The other predicted win is notoriously foggier thanks to the (sort of) recent Ex Machina win and Black Panther snub.
The category for Best Sound Editing tends to go for movies like First Man. It’s a big budget spectacle characterized by immersive sound effects that transport viewers to the movie’s world. Certain scenes seem designed to win this movie Oscars in as many technical categories as possible. Unfortunately, it didn’t pick up nominations in all of the technical categories, but this movie won’t go down without a fight. Expect it to at least pick up this award during the ceremony.
17. Best Sound Mixing: Bohemian Rhapsody
Most people don’t have any idea what the difference is between the two sound categories, but there are quite a few differences. In terms of predicting the categories, it’s best to be aware that blockbusters and action movies are far more likely to win the editing category while musicals and movies about music tend to win the mixing category. Back in 2014, for example, American Sniper took home the award for Best Sound Editing while Whiplash won for Best Sound Mixing. This kind of knowledge becomes handy when trying to figure out which movie will win in which category.
With the thought process of “musicals do better,” it seems to be a close match between Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born. Pundits seem to be leaning toward the latter, but with a recent Cinema Audio Society award under its belt, Rhapsody might be the safer choice. This is especially true when you consider the fact that Bohemian Rhapsody has been racking up more precursor wins in a lot of major categories. Given the surprisingly low amount of overall Oscar nominations, A Star Is Born might struggle in most of the categories that originally seemed like sure bets.
18. Best Visual Effects: First Man
First Man has the edge over Avengers: Infinity War solely because there’s seems to be a little more respect for the movie in the eyes of Oscar voters. While it was snubbed in some of the major categories, it did manage to pick up four technical nominations. Also, while Infinity War has been an absolute slam dunk according to the general public, critics were a little more divided.
You would think that Oscar voters would actually vote for the best looking movie, but that’s not always how things work. They actually tend to ignore good looking movies that lack in other areas. That’s precisely why the other three nominees don’t stand a chance. Ready Player One in particular features breathtaking visuals, but the movie didn’t exactly click from a critical perspective. Avengers: Infinity War definitely has more fans than Ready Player One, Christopher Robin, and Solo: A Star Wars Story, but this still seems like one of those years where the overall critical acclaim pushes a movie to victory.
19. Best Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
There was a time when this looked like a pretty simple victory for Pixar, and then Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse came out and blew everyone’s pants off. Not only is this the best reviewed superhero movie of the year, it’s also one of the best reviewed superhero movies ever. Yeah, Black Panther nabbed the Best Picture nomination, but Into the Spider-Verse is a success in its own way. It’s a more lighthearted stab at the genre that didn’t need an aggressive Best Picture campaign to win the hearts of millions. This will be a well-deserved victory.
This isn’t to say the other movies in the category are bad. In fact, the category is looking really good this year with movies like The Incredibles 2 and Isle of Dogs. There’s just something so unique about Into the Spider-Verse. It innovates in ways that none of us could have expected. It’s because of this innovation that it seems like a lock in its category. Any other winner will be a huge surprise.
20. Best Documentary Feature: Free Solo
In a perfect world, Minding the Gap would easily take this award home, but it’s not a perfect world. Minding the Gap isn’t conventional enough to win this award, and that’s a damn shame. If you look back, you’ll realize that the Oscars have never given the Best Documentary award to a movie like Minding the Gap. Sadly, that isn’t changing this year.
While Minding the Gap is the real winner here, the Oscars will likely go for either Free Solo or RBG. Both of these documentaries are perfectly respectable. Hell, Free Solo is actually really good. In fact, it’s good enough and safe enough to pick up the award Sunday night. It doesn’t break new ground per se, but it tells an inspirational story and it tells the story well. While RBG could upset, Free Solo seems like the safe bet.
21. Best Foreign Language Film: Roma
Surprise! The frontrunner for Best Foreign Language Film also has a Best Picture nomination. Remember when Amour nabbed a Best Picture nomination back in 2012? It wound up winning in this category as well. If voters think it’s one of the eight best movies of the year, then they’ll probably think it’s the best overall foreign movie. This is especially true when you consider the fact that, in most circles, Roma is considered the frontrunner in the Best Picture category as well.
The closest thing to a threat is Cold War, and that’s beyond a longshot. Though the movie earned a surprise Best Director nom, it didn’t pick up the extremely helpful Best Picture nomination that Roma so effortlessly earned. Honestly, expect outrage if Roma somehow loses this award. It’s the frontrunner by a wide margin.
22. Best Animated Short: Bao
The short categories are the hardest to predict for countless reasons. For one there are practically no precursor awards that can help pundits pinpoint a frontrunner. Other categories benefit from the guilds that frequently match up with the eventual Oscar winners. To add to that, the shorts aren’t as readily available to the viewing public, so it’s hard for people to predict based on their own subjective opinion. Basically, these categories are giant question marks, so take the predictions with a grain of salt.
Still, out of every short category, the animated one tends to be the easiest to predict, and that’s because the Oscars usually go for the most high profile nominee. This year, that would be Bao, which played right before The Incredibles 2. Disney and Pixar shorts tend to dominate in this category, and it’s easy to see why. They are, more often than not, well-worth the sub-fifteen-minute time commitment. Bao is no exception.
The only obstacle may be that this short is incredibly similar to One Small Step. They both take Boyhood-esque looks at growing up, and they’re both successful. That being said, Bao has the Pixar brand behind it as well as strong symbolism that’s lacking from its aforementioned competition. That should ultimately lead to an easy victory.
23. Best Documentary Short: End Game
As far as most pundits can tell, this is a three-way battle between End Game, Black Sheep, and Period. End of Sentence. A Night at the Garden and Lifeboat weren’t even predicted to earn a nomination, so they don’t seem like viable threats. Unfortunately, that still means that there are three high-quality shorts to choose from. Though all of them stand a chance, we’re leaning toward End Game, a Netflix original documentary about terminally ill men and women.
End Game paints a poignant picture that strives to make impactful statements about life and death. It’s heavy stuff, and that’s exactly why voters should flock to it. It’s also worth noting that Netflix documentary shorts have become pretty popular with Oscar voters, so that’s an added bonus. Still, there’s a lot of competition here, so don’t be surprised if the award goes to a different short.
24. Best Live Action Short: Fauve
Finally, we’ve come to the hardest category to predict, period. Best Live Action Short is such a mystery, it almost seems easier to pull a name out of a hat. There’s nothing that really helps pundits predict the eventual winner of this category. Big budget studios rarely, if ever, produce live action shorts, precursor awards are practically nonexistent, and nobody really hypes up any of these bite-sized movies.
Taste of Cinema has decided to go with Fauve, but the choice is an absolute crap shoot. This movie has been chosen solely because of the thought-provoking moral questions that eventually arise. Beyond that, it’s hard to confidently label this movie a frontrunner. It just happens to stand out because of the gut-wrenching themes and powerful performances.