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Oscar Predictions 2019: Who Will Win, Who Should Win, and Who Should Have Been Nominated

The craziest awards season in … maybe ever will finally come to a close on Sunday when the winners for the 91st Annual Academy Awards are announced. As weird as the year has been in terms of the actual show (Kevin Hart! Awards During Commercials!), the awards themselves have reflected the WTF nature of the program. Usually, Oscar pundits can look at what are called the precursor awards—the critics groups, the Golden Globes, the guilds – and have a pretty good idea what’s going to win. Not this year. Good luck using the guilds to win your Oscar pool because, for the first time ever, all of them went to a different film. The actors went with “Black Panther,” the directors went with “Roma,” the producers went with “Green Book,” and the writers went with “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “Eighth Grade,” which wasn’t even nominated for Best Screenplay at the Oscars

To say this year is unpredictable would be a massive understatement. With that in mind, my predictions below (with some of my thoughts all the way down to technical categories) of what “Will Win” are as conservative as they can possibly be. When things get this haywire, it’s often logical to try to take the only clear route you can see. In other words, some of these will be wrong. Probably more than most years. And if you really want to win your Oscar pool, you should use this as a base and then try to find the 2-3 that go unpredictable. Good luck. 


Most years, this race comes down to two, maybe three, films that could possibly win. Think “The Shape of Water” vs. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” or “La La Land” vs. “Moonlight.” This year? There’s legitimately SIX movies that could win this. A win for “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Vice” would be a stunner, but the other six would not. The Screen Actors Guild has the most in-common body with the Academy and they went with “Black Panther.” The producers loved “Green Book,” and it feels like an Oscar winner from a half-century ago. Could you really deny the possibility that the crowd favorite “A Star is Born” sneaks through and takes the big prize? It’s possible. And yet I come back to the idea that when things are this close that overall quality will win out. I hope so. I’m not strong enough for what it means if “Green Book” wins.

Will/Should Win: “Roma”

Should Have Been Nominated: “If Beale Street Could Talk


For a very long time, it was safest to bet that director and picture would align, although that’s been notably different in recent years. “The Revenant” won Director; “Spotlight” won Picture. “La La Land” won Director; “Moonlight” won Picture. If there’s a split here, I suspect it’s to Spike Lee, who Academy members will want to finally recognize, although I think that urge comes more strongly in the writing categories, and we have an old-fashioned match this year with Cuaron’s deeply personal vision winning over voters enough to take the top two prizes.

Will/Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”

Should Have Been Nominated: Ryan Coogler, “Black Panther”


Of the big six (Picture, Director, and the four Acting ones), this one feels like the strongest lock as the man who played Freddie Mercury has been building up steam to this award for a few months now. The Academy loves it when actors play real people and this award almost certainly comes down to Malek or Christian Bale, and there just seems to be more goodwill toward “Bohemian Rhapsody” than “Vice” at this moment, even with the allegations against the latter film’s director. Play a real person, win an Oscar. It’s a depressingly reliable formula.

Will Win: Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Should Win: Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”

Should Have Been Nominated: Ethan Hawke, “First Reformed


If the biopic is the most tried-and-true Oscar narrative, a close second would be the “overdue” award, which has helped people like Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Kate Winslet, and Julianne Moore win their only Oscars for films that practically no one would argue contain their career-best performance. Riding that wave this year is Glenn Close, nominated a stunning seven times, including this year. In a year with no other clear frontrunner, Close will get a Lifetime Achievement Award in the form of a Best Actress one with a wave of support for the very-well-liked “The Favourite” the only thing that could spoil her party.

Will Win: Glenn Close, “The Wife”

Should Win: Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Should Have Been Nominated: Toni Collette, “Hereditary


People can’t seem to agree on so many things about Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book,” but they all come to common ground on one thing: not only is Mahershala Ali phenomenal in the film, but he’s handled this controversial awards season with class. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also got a likely Emmy winner unfolding right now on HBO too in the third season of “True Detective.” He’ll barely squeak out a win over who I think should win the award.

Will Win: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Should Win: Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Should Have Been Nominated: Steven Yeun, “Burning”


In years this unpredictable, we often get a total shocker in the supporting categories (think Marcia Gay Harden for “Pollock”), and so there’s a part of me that thinks this goes to Rachel Weisz for “The Favourite” instead of the perceived, well, favorite. As I said in the intro though, I’m sticking with the general consensus picks for this feature, and that seems to be Regina King. Although literally nothing would surprise me here.

Will/Should Win: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk"

Should Have Been Nominated: Claire Foy, “First Man”


It’s finally time for Spike Lee to get that Oscar, nearly three decades after he should have won every prize for which he was eligible for “Do the Right Thing.” I expect him to give one of the best speeches of the night too. Don’t miss that one.

Will/Should Win: “BlacKkKlansman”

Should Have Been Nominated: “Burning”


Some people seem to think this is where “Green Book” gathers steam, and if it does win here, there’s reason to be nervous that it has enough support to take the top prize too. However, I think the last couple of weeks of bad press were enough to sink it, and allow a film that even its detractors agree is strong in this department to sneak in and take it.

Will Win: “The Favourite”

Should Win: “First Reformed”

Should Have Been Nominated: “Eighth Grade”


For most of the year, it looked like Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” would be a slam-dunk winner here. Not only was it a relatively weak year for animation, but the Pixar hit made a bajillion dollars on the back of rave reviews. And then a little movie about Miles Morales came along. Since the release of “Spider-Verse,” the narrative has changed so much that it would actually be a surprise to see Disney take this prize this year.

Will/Should Win: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Should Have Been Nominated: “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies”


The non-fiction category at the Oscar remains one of the toughest to predict. Honestly, you could throw a dart here among the three most widely-seen nominees, “Free Solo,” “RBG,” and “Minding the Gap.” I’m going with the safest pick, but crossing my fingers for Bing Liu.

Will Win: “Free Solo”

Should Win: “Minding the Gap”

Should Have Been Nominated: “Bisbee ‘17”


Would I be surprised if something really weird happened and “Roma” won Best Picture but lost here to “Cold War”? Nope. People putting Cuaron and his film at the top of their ballot may also want to spread the wealth to another clearly-loved film. It could happen – but I’m not quite ready to predict it.

Will/Should Win: “Roma”

Should Have Been Nominated: “Burning”


The winner of the American Society of Cinematographers Award has matched up with Oscar five of the last eight years. That would mean that this goes to Łukasz Żal for “Cold War.” Again, that wouldn’t surprise me, but I can’t go there. I just think there’s too much love for the look of “Roma,” and fellow directors will take the chance to give this award to the director of his own film for the first time in Academy history.

Will/Should Win: “Roma”

Should Have Been Nominated: “First Man”


Never count out Sandy Powell, especially for a film as gorgeously designed as the one by Yorgos Lanthimos. Not only did she win the “Excellence in Period Film” award from her guild this week, but she’s won the Oscar for costume design three other times, but not since 2009’s “The Young Victoria.” She’s been nominated a stunning 14 times, including twice this year. Oh, that’s the third time she’s been a double nominee in a single year, by the way. She’s a legend and she’s getting her fourth Oscar.

Will/Should Win: “The Favourite”

Should Have Been Nominated: “If Beale Street Could Talk”


It’s eye-rolling to consider that the two frontrunners here are films that most critics derided for their shoddy editing. Even the Twitterverse lost their mind over the quick-cut approach of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and I personally couldn’t stand the rhythm of “Vice.” However, it’s likely one of them wins here. Why “Bohemian”? A narrative has built up in Hollywood that John Ottman had to save the film when Singer walked away. This will be his prize for doing so.

Will Win: “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Should Win: “BlacKkKlansman”

Should Have Been Nominated: “Widows”


Will Win: “Vice”

Should Win: “Border”

Should Have Been Nominated: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”


Will Win: “The Favourite”

Should Win: “Black Panther”

Should Have Been Nominated: “Hereditary”


Will/Should Win: “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Should Have Been Nominated: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”


Will Win: “Shallow” from “A Star is Born”

Should Win: “All the Stars” from “Black Panther”

Should Have Been Nominated: Anything from “Vox Lux”


Will/Should Win: “First Man”

Should Have Been Nominated: “Mission Impossible: Fallout”


Will Win: “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Should Win: “A Star is Born”

Should Have Been Nominated: “Annihilation”


Will Win: “Avengers: Infinity War”

Should Win: “Ready Player One”

Should Have Been Nominated: “Annihilation”

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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