Roger Ebert Home

The State of the 2019 Oscar Race After the Golden Globes

As Film Twitter comes to terms with the fact that “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Green Book” won Best Picture awards at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, Oscar pundits are scrambling to read the tea leaves as to what this all means. Just because the Academy Awards have become increasingly less predictable doesn’t mean people are going to stop trying to predict them. The changing body of the Academy has led to a few more surprises than usual in the last few years—and the wide-open race this year could up the number of “shocks” on nomination morning—but there are still some easily-defined tiers of likely, possible, and dark horse nominees for the best in cinema from 2018. Could Toni Collette sneak in for “Hereditary”? What about Ethan Hawke for “First Reformed”? And what on Earth is going to win Best Picture NOW?!?! Let’s break down the major categories and we’ll come back the day before the nominations with a full, final prediction list.

"Roma" / Netflix


Is it possible there are only two locks here? Two films that everyone agrees are certainly going to be nominated? At this point in the typical Oscar season, we can usually define six to seven locks but there’s a giant gray area under the agreed-upon two films most likely to win this prize: “A Star is Born” and “Roma.” 

What happens after you pencil those in? “Vice” seemed very likely after the love from the Academy for “The Big Short” and how well its subject matter aligns with most voter’s political leanings, but critics weren’t exactly kind to the film. Speaking of films that audiences (and possibly voters) seem to be embracing more than critics, the two Globe winners have to at least be considered “possible,” with most predicting “Green Book” gets in. Some are still fighting the “Bohemian Rhapsody” nod, but the film's immense popularity and Globe win will undeniably give it some steam. If it doesn't get a BP nod, it would be the first Best Picture Drama winner from the Globes to miss since 1963, and that's when there were only five slots. I think it gets in. That’s five, which is technically all they have to nominate, but there will likely be at least eight. 

What’s left? Could “Black Panther” be the first Marvel movie nominated for Best Picture? I’m almost tempted to move this to the locked tier (although the lack of an editing nomination from the guild is weird), so I think so. “BlacKkKlansman” has done well all awards season and I truly believe Spike Lee is getting a Best Director nod, and that will help push it into this group as well. Another strong contender in other categories in “The Favourite” means it likely rides the support into the big one. 

Do they stop at eight? Maybe. Call it hopeful thinking, but I’m not giving up on “If Beale Street Could Talk” yet. I just can’t.

“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“A Star is Born”

On the bubble: “Crazy Rich Asians,” “First Man,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “A Quiet Place

Bradley Cooper, "A Star is Born" / Warner Bros. Pictures


If “Roma” and “A Star is Born” are the frontrunners to win Best Picture, their directors are likely to appear here. It also feels like the Academy is going to take this chance to finally nominate Spike Lee, almost three decades later for the egregious snub for his work on “Do the Right Thing.” That’s three that feel like locks. After that? It gets hazy. This category almost always consists of five directors from the Picture line-up as its hard to have enough support to appear here but not in Picture. We can rule out the committee that directed “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which leaves Yorgos Lanthimos, Barry Jenkins, Ryan Coogler, Peter Farrelly, and Adam McKay. “Vice” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” are sliding away while Farrelly’s GG speech is likely to be in voters' minds. As crazy as it will make some people, I think he’s in. And I believe that the hit Marvel movie "Black Panther" is going to be a much bigger part of this year’s nominees than some of my colleagues, so I’m going with Coogler.

Ryan Coogler, “Black Panther”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star is Born”
Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
Peter Farrelly, “Green Book”
Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

On the bubble: Yorgos Lanthimos, "The Favourite"; Barry Jenkins, "If Beale Street Could Talk"; Adam McKay, "Vice"; Damien Chazelle, "First Man" 

Rami Malek, "Bohemian Rhapsody" / 20th Century Fox


Let’s start with who has been winning key precursor awards. This week, Christian Bale and Rami Malek took home Golden Globes, merely cementing their locked status. It would be a shock if either of them missed here, and I expect one of them to be the Oscar winner. Academy members love it when actors play real people. Six of the last eight winners were for biopics. We can likely add either Dick Cheney or Freddie Mercury to the list that includes Winston Churchill, Stephen Hawking, and Abraham Lincoln.

But who will be “honored just to be nominated”? The “Green Book” love will almost certainly push in both performers in the film. If Farrelly is getting a director nod, no way Mortensen and Ali miss. Similarly, love for “A Star is Born” pushes Bradley Cooper in here too, leaving only one spot open. I’m going to be the optimist and say that in a shallow field of contenders, the critical darling of the awards season, Ethan Hawke, is getting in. If you look at the incredible number of critics awards he’s won this year, it would be kind of shocking if he doesn’t.

Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star is Born”
Ethan Hawke, “First Reformed”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

On the bubble: Ryan Gosling, "First Man"; Willem Dafoe, "At Eternity's Gate"; John David Washington, "BlacKkKlansman" 

Glenn Close, "The Wife" / Sony Pictures Classics


Both winners on Golden Globe Sunday—Olivia Colman & Glenn Close—gave phenomenal speeches and received rapturous applause, and the Oscar winner will almost certainly be one of them. They are locks.

Who fills out the category? Her hardcore fans may be unhappy that Close stole her Golden Globe but there’s so much love for Lady Gaga that she feels like a lock too. As does Melissa McCarthy, a well-liked actress and former nominee playing against type. The Academy has always loved when comedic performers switch to drama. She’s in.

The fifth nominee could be a number of people, but the widespread love for “Roma” feels like it could carry in Yalitza Aparicio. What do foreign-language Best Picture nominees like “Il Postino,” “Life is Beautiful” and “Amour” all have in common? They all got an acting nomination too.

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?

On the bubble: Toni Collette, "Hereditary"; Emily Blunt, "A Quiet Place"

Mahershala Ali, "Green Book" / Universal Pictures


This may be the category on nominations morning where we see the most surprises. A lot like Best Picture after its top two maybes, it feels like there’s a hazy, gray field aside from the pair of locks of Mahershala Ali and Richard E. Grant. One of those two are winning.

Who fills out the category? Does “Vice” still have enough support to push in Sam Rockwell or even Steve Carell? Speaking of Carell, do enough people remember “Beautiful Boy” to still vote for Timothée Chalamet? Sam Elliott missed with the HFPA, does he miss here? Adam Driver keeps popping up for “BlacKkKlansman.” Could this lead to the first Oscar nod for Kylo Ren? And, speaking of blockbusters, was there a better performance in one this year than Michael B. Jordan?

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Timothée Chalamet, “Beautiful Boy”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Michael B. Jordan, “Black Panther”

On the bubble: Sam Elliott, "A Star is Born"; Sam Rockwell, "Vice" 

Regina King, "If Beale Street Could Talk" / Annapurna Pictures


Possibly the thinnest category of the year, this may be the one in which there is universal agreement on the final five just due to lack of competition. Regina King, despite missing a SAG nomination, still feels like the frontrunner, especially after a great Globes speech. And it’s pretty clear now that both ladies from “The Favourite” are getting in, even if you think their being here is a bit of category fraud. It’s a very well-liked film and they’re both former winners. Amy Adams is going to land her sixth nomination, and first since “American Hustle,” for her portrayal of Lynne Cheney. Count on it. And this is the place where a film once considered a frontrunner in categories like Best Picture and Best Director will finally get an above-the-line nomination for the excellent Claire Foy.

Amy Adams, “Vice”
Claire Foy, “First Man”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

On the bubble: Nicole Kidman, "Boy Erased"; Michelle Yeoh, "Crazy Rich Asians" 

We’ll do all the categories in a final predictions piece on January 21st, the morning before the nominations are announced. 

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.

Latest blog posts

Latest reviews

We Grown Now
Blood for Dust
Dusk for a Hitman
Stress Positions
Hard Miles


comments powered by Disqus