Breaking down the Oscars

Aoibhín Bryant and Aine O'Boyle


Bohemian Rhapsody: The nomination of biopic of legendary rockstar Freddie Mercury from the band QUEEN has attracted controversy due to child sexual assault allegations against its first director, Bryan Singer. Although Singer was fired halfway through filming and replaced by (uncredited) director Dexter Fletcher, if BoRhap was to win Singer would also win the award.

The Favourite: Lanthimos’ wacky tragicomedy has not raked in the box office figures, with less than one fifth of Americans expressing interest in seeing it according to a YouGov poll. However, it has 10 nominations at the Academy Awards, more than any other film. It sweeped the BAFTAs, taking seven home.

Roma: The semi autobiographical film of Alfonso Cuarón has made headlines as the first Netflix film to be nominated. The film features a young live-in-maid working for a middle class family in Mexico City.  This film has been applauded as a love-letter to the women who raise Cuarón.

Blackkklansman: Directed by Spike Lee, the film is based on a true story where two officers, a black man and a Jewish man, go under cover in the Klu Klux Klan. The film exposes the racism rampant in the 1970s and casts a light on the KKK’s horrific ideals. It’s an important film to watch during such a divisive political time.

Black Panther: The first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture, however many believe this nomination to be a shallow attempt at fighting the #OscarsSoWhite image. Aoife O’Brien’s article in the last issue highlighted how Black Panther received the rest of their nominations in technical awards while best director, best actor and best screenplay were snubbed.

A Star is Born: The fourth adaption of the 1947 original, this love story left not a single dry tear while it played in theatres. With an outstanding soundtrack, it has been nominated for seven different awards by the Academy. Lady GaGa wows with her powerful vocals alongside Cooper’s precise direction.

Vice: This film starring Christian Bale as former US Vice President Dick Cheney has caused a division between democrats and republicans. A satirical in places piece, it has led to many standing back and reflecting on their own political opinions.

Green Book is a feel-good buddy movie where Italian American bouncer Tony Lip serves as personal valet to African American pianist Don Shirley as he embarks on a tour across the southern states of America during the 1960s, a time of rife racial tension. The film embraces how our differences only bring us closer.

Prediction: A lot of the films nominated this year seem to make a statement of some sort and tackle societal issues moreso than previous years. However, Roma seems the most likely to take home the gold this award season, being written, directed produced, shot and co-edited by Cuarón. His talent and dedication should be recognised.


Actor in a leading role

Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in Vice, rising through the relentless world of politics to consolidate his position as the most powerful Vice President in the history of the United States.

Bradley Cooper plays the role of Jackson Maine in A Star is Born, a washed up rockstar fading out of his glory days and lashing out at his wife as she rises to fame.

Willem Dafoe as the troubled artist, Vincent Van Gogh, experiencing breakthroughs in his creative blocks whilst living in Arles, despite his relentless mental instability.

Rami Malek pays homage to the iconic Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, highlighting the struggles the rockstar faced in balancing music and fame with his tumultuous private life.

Viggo Mortensen plays Tony Lip, an Italian-American bouncer whose racist beliefs are challenged when he drives a black pianist on a tour of the South.

Predictions: Within this extremely competitive category of Oscar nominees, the name dominating predictions is Christian Bale’s for his performance as Vice President of the US, Dick Cheney. Having previously picked up awards for Best Actor in a comedy in the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Golden Globes, it is no surprise that he is favourite to win in this transformative role. Despite the divided opinions surrounding Vice, Bale undoubtedly blew away audiences with his performance.

Actress in a Leading Role:

Olivia Colman excels as volatile Queen Anne in The Favourite, capable of both pathos and comedy. She won the BAFTA for Best Actress but will she get her hands on the Oscar?

Glenn Close in The Wife plays Joan Castleman, married to American novelist Joe Castelman, the film follows their relationship through the highs and lows of life.

Yallitza Aparico plays Cleodegaria Gutierrez in Roma, a live-in maid to a well-to-do family. Cleo undergoes many hardships as a working class woman of colour.

Lady GaGa is transcendent as Ally in A Star Is Born, her powerful vocals and superb acting skills add weight to the musical romantic drama.

Melissa McCarthy plays writer Leonore Carol “Lee” Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me?. Israel writes profiles on high achieving women but finds it difficult to get her work published, she turns to selling forged letters.

Prediction: Although there are excellent acting chops across the board, it seems like Olivia Colman stands heads and shoulders above the rest. Comedic timing is not to be dismissed as what makes a great actress.


Actress in a supporting role

Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney in Vice, portrayed in her role as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities after a lifetime of supporting her husband Dick’s political career.

Marina de Tavira plays Sra. Sofia, the mother of four lively children in Roma, who struggles to maintain illusions of normality as her marriage fails.

Regina King portrays Sharon Rivers in If Beale Street Could Talk, a devoted Mother, determined to support her pregnant daughter whose fiancé has been wrongfully imprisoned.

Emma Stone plays the role of Abigail in The Favourite, a disenfranchised aristocrat who must start over in the court of Queen Anne of whom she hopes will bring her back to her former glory.

Rachel Weisz plays Lady Sarah in The Favourite, the Duchess of Marlborough, whose complex and advantageous relationship with Queen Anne is threatened by her scheming cousin.



For this category, the predictions show a close tie between Regina King for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk and Amy Adams in Vice. King has never before won an Oscar and is facing Adams who has been nominated five times but gone home empty handed each time. Kings previous win at the Golden Globes has put her in an advantageous position over Adams and according to Gold Derby “she certainly passed her Oscar audition with her heartfelt acceptance speech”.


Best supporting male:

Adam Driver in Blackkklansman plays Flip Zimmerman, a non practicing Jew who must under cover into the ranks of the Klu Klux Klan.

Previous winner of the same award, Mahershali Ali is up again for his portayol of so and so in Green Book, a classical pianist touring the American south.

Sam Elliott as Bobby is the brother to Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine in A Star is Born, creating a powerful sibling dynamic.

This is Richard E. Grant’s first ever Oscar nomination as Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, he helps Melissa McCarthey’s character in her schemes of forging letters to make easy money.

Sam Rockwell is the 43rd President of the United States in Vice, Rockwell plays George W. Bush as dim-witted and easily manipulated, a pawn in Dick Cheney’s plans.

Prediction: Ali has already won the hat trick of  winning the same category in the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards and the SAG awards, it is very unlikely that anyone is gone to take Ali’s place from the top.



Best Director:

Spike lee has previously picked up nominations in 1990 in the categories of Best Screenplay for Do The Right Thing (1989), and in 1998 for Best Documentary for 4 Little Girls (1997). His current nomination is for Best Director of BlacKkKlansman, the story of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American cop in Colarado as he and Jewish officer, Flip Zimmerman attempt to infiltrate the local branch of the Klu Klux Klan.

Pawlikowski picks up his first Academy Award nomination for Cold War, set in 1949 as pianist Wiktor scouts for talent to form a musical ensemble and embarks upon a romantic relationship with Zula, the singer and dancer he discovers. The movie follows their turbulent relationship over the next decade as they travel throughout a politically divided Europe in the midst of turmoil.

Lanthimos’ Academy Award Achievements currently amount to three oscar nominations, the first being in 2015 with The Lobster for Best Original Screenplay and the other two nominations being for The Favourite in this years awards under the categories of Best Director and Best Motion Picture of the Year. The Favourite, set in the 1700’s follows the power struggle between two cousins as they fight to rule Great Britain on behalf of their senile aunt, Queen Anne.

Mexican filmmaker, Alfonso Cuarón is no stranger to the academy awards. Having previously won two Oscars in 2014 for Gravity in the categories of Best Director and Best Film Editing and being nominated for 8 others since 2003. Roma, set in Mexico City in the 1970’s, follows the story of Cleo, a maid for a middle-class doctor as she cares for their four lively children in the midst of personal and political upheaval.

Having previously racked up an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2016 with The Big Short, it is no surprise that Adam McKay has been a name dominating the nominations this year, with one of his three nominations this year being for Best Directing of Vice. The film follows the career of Dick Cheney as he rises through politics and becomes George W. Bush’s vice president, all the while discovering the power that lies behind the throne.



Cuarón, a familiar face amongst Academy Award winners, is favourite to win Best Director. Having written, edited and directed Roma by himself, the Oscar would indeed be a deserved one in recognising Cuarón’s vision come to life as he draws on his own memories and experiences to create this cinematic masterpiece.


Aoibhín Bryant and Aine O’Boyle
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