Best Adapted Screenplay – A Star is Born
For Adapted Screenplay, the addition of the Coen Brothers proved surprising. They may be Oscar favorites but their Netflix film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, wasn't present in many awards conversations. And while BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me? and If Beale Street Could Talk would all be admirable winners, this may be the one opportunity the Academy has to reward A Star Is Born in a major category. Bradley Cooper's omission from Best Director was one of the major surprises given how inevitable his nomination seemed, so this would be a way to reward him, especially if Malek takes Best Actor over him. There’s a lot of industry appreciation for how Cooper and company took on one of Hollywood’s most iconic stories for the modern age.
Best Original Screenplay – The Favourite
Writer Deborah Davis had been working on the script for The Favourite, on the battle of control for the court of Queen Anne, as early as 1998. 20 years later, it finally found its way to the big screen under the direction of the celebrated and very esoteric Yorgos Lanthimos, a man whose cinematic style does not necessarily seem compatible with period drama. The Favourite is an ideal mix of classic historical intrigue and Lanthimos' dry wit and unnerving absurdity. Lanthimos’ work is often more recognized in terms of its screenplays than his direction, which could push Davis and co-writer Tony McNamara to the win.
Read More: The Favourite: True Story & Ending Explained
Best Animated Feature – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Typically, the Best Animated Feature category can be predicted by one simple question: is there a Disney or Pixar film nominated? If so, that’s winning. This is a category where voters can get a little lazy, rewarding the bigger names over the ones whose artistic merit deserves the credit. So, under those circumstances, it would be easy to call this year’s prize for Incredibles 2: it’s the sequel to an Oscar-winning movie, made by Pixar and one with over $1 billion in the bank. However, this year, it seems foolish to write off Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It’s a commercial hit, a critical darling, it won the Golden Globe and it has a massive amount of momentum in its corner. It’s also helped by Black Panther’s presence in this year’s nominees, meaning the superhero stigma of awards seasons past can’t hurt it as much. There’s a reason so many people were predicting Into the Spider-Verse for Best Picture glory. Even though it didn’t get nominated there, it’s helped to set a new standard for the medium and that deserves to be recognized.
Best Cinematography – Roma
Roma has a slew of technical nominations this year, and deservedly so, but its stark and layered black and white cinematography is one of the film’s most beautiful elements. It’s also all the work of Alfonso Cuarón himself, as he took on the mantle of being his own film’s cinematographer. This is not unusual – last year, Paul Thomas Anderson was the cinematographer on Phantom Thread – but it remains uncommon for a reason. It’s technically difficult and physically demanding work to juggling alongside directorial duties. If Best Picture is likely, so is this.
Best Editing – The Favourite
The editing category this year is one of the weirdest selection of nominees. Nothing about Green Book's editing was especially interesting and Bohemian Rhapsody was frequently called out by critics for its messiness. These additions seem all the more confusing given the omissions, such as Roma (co-edited by Cuarón), First Man, or Joe Bini’s stellar work on You Were Never Really Here. The lack of expected front-runners makes this category tougher to predict, but the Academy always love a period drama and The Favourite comes with the benefit of being directed in an unexpectedly modern fashion that requires a deft editorial vision. The flashier the work, the more likely it is to get an Oscar.
Best Score – If Beale Street Could Talk
This year's nominees for Best Score feature a few familiar names, like Alexandre Desplat and Marc Shaiman. But it's in the less familiar names where the magic truly lies. Ludwig Göransson, a regular collaborator with Ryan Coogler, landed a nomination for his work on Black Panther while Terence Blanchard, who has worked with Spike Lee for close to 30 years, landed his first nomination for BlacKkKlansman. However, the most talked about score of the year has been Nicholas Britell's work on If Beale Street Could Talk.