Will, Could, Should Win: Final Oscar Predictions

(WISH) — Various headlines have surrounded this season’s Academy Awards ceremony more than ever before. 

Here’s how it all went down:

  • After hitting an all-time low in ratings in 2018, this year’s ceremony will be shortened, keeping it at a “concise” three hours
  • The Academy continued its push for diversity amongst its voting members as this year’s new inductees were 49 percent women and 38 percent people of color
  • The Best Popular Film category was introduced and postponed just under a month later
  • Kevin Hart was announced as host but stepped down two days later amidst controversy over past homophobic comments, so there will be no host for the first time since 1989
  • It has become a tradition for all Original Song nominees to be performed live during the telecast. “Shallow” and “All the Stars” are announced as the only two performances during this year’s ceremony, causing backlash for failing to recognize all nominees. Producers, later, conceded and announced performances of the remaining three nominees (however, “All the Stars” will not be performed due to Kendrick Lamar’s work abroad)
  • To keep the ceremony at three hours, the Academy announces four categories will be awarded during commercial breaks (Film Editing, Cinematography, Makeup & Hairstyling, and Live-Action Short) but reversed its decision three days later following backlash from the industry and public 

All of this chatter and discussion, and there are still 24 awards to give out! 

Here’s my best bet at predicting the unpredictable 91st Academy Awards: 

Best Picture:

  • Black Panther
  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book
  • Roma
  • A Star Is Born
  • Vice

Will Win: Roma
Could Win: Green Book
Should Win: A Star Is Born

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You could make cases on each film as to why it will and why it won’t win. This is one of the most wide-open Best Picture ever: could a superhero or foreign language film be the first winners in their respective genres? 

Keeping the preferential ballot in mind, I’m sticking with my instincts and predicting Roma to win the night’s biggest award. 


  • Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman 
  • Pawel Pawlikowski – Cold War
  • Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
  • Alfonso Cuarón – Roma 
  • Adam McKay – Vice 

Will/Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
Could Win: Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman

Next to Original Song, this is one the easiest categories to predict as Cuarón gorgeously brought his passion project to life.

Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Christian Bale – Vice 
  • Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
  • Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate
  • Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody 
  • Viggo Mortensen – Green Book

Will Win: Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
Could/Should Win: Christian Bale – Vice

I previously thought some voters would refrain from recognizing Bohemian Rhapsody because of director Bryan Singer’s allegations of sexual assault with minors, but I’m beginning to think the opposite: the film will be awarded in multiple categories to spite Singer. 

Bale was my predicted winner throughout the awards season, but Malek seems to be this season’s young, beloved first-time acting winner. 

Actress in a Leading Role:

  • Yalitza Aparicio – Roma 
  • Glenn Close – The Wife
  • Olivia Colman – The Favourite 
  • Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born
  • Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Will Win: Glenn Close – The Wife
Could Win: Olivia Colman – The Favourite
Should Win: Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born

The seventh time will be the charm for 71-year-old Close following victories at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Sadly, Gaga’s buzz has faded as Colman’s loud, boisterous performance as Queen Anne plays potential spoiler.   

Actor in a Supporting Role:

  • Mahershala Ali – Green Book 
  • Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman 
  • Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born
  • Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me? 
  • Sam Rockwell – Vice 

Will/Should Win: Mahershala Ali – Green Book
Could Win: Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Ali is racing toward his second win in three years, although many consider this a co-lead performance alongside Viggo Mortensen. If someone is to take down this season’s surest acting victor, it’ll be Grant’s hilarious portrayal of a flamboyant drug dealer roped into assisting Lee Israel in forging letters.

Actress in a Supporting Role:

  • Amy Adams – Vice 
  • Marina de Tavira – Roma 
  • Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Emma Stone – The Favourite 
  • Rachel Weisz – The Favourite 

Will Win: Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
Could Win: Rachel Weisz – The Favourite
Should Win: Rachel Weisz & Emma Stone – The Favourite

If only the Academy could agree and award both Weisz & Stone for their co-lead/co-supporting performances as cousins fighting for the affection of Queen Anne. 

King may have missed a nomination at both the SAG Awards and British Academy Film and Television Arts Awards, but she’s nearly swept the regional awards circuit and following three recent Primetime Emmy wins, will earn her first Oscar win on her first nomination. 

Adapted Screenplay:

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Joel Cohen, Ethan Cohen
  • BlacKkKlansman – Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
  • If Beale Street Could Talk – Barry Jenkins
  • A Star Is Born – Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters

Will Win: BlacKkKlansman – Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
Could Win: Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
Should Win: If Beale Street Could Talk – Barry Jenkins

Can You Ever Forgive Me? surprisingly claimed the equivalent prize at the Writers Guild Awards last weekend, but there’s never been a better opportunity to award longtime, respected filmmaker Spike Lee. 

Original Screenplay:

  • The Favourite – Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
  • First Reformed – Paul Schrader
  • Green Book – Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
  • Roma – Alfonso Cuarón
  • Vice – Adam McKay

Will Win: The Favourite – Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
Could/Should Win: Green Book – Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly 

A win here has potential of foreshadowing a Best Picture win later in the night. Criticism and backlash continues surrounding Green Book, but there may be more supporters than detractors. The Favourite is an originally comical interpretation on history and clearly has support across the board as it leads in nominations, alongside Roma

Animated Feature:

  • Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs 
  • Mirai
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet 
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 

Will Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 
Could Win: Incredibles 2
Should Win: Isle of Dogs

In the battle of two superhero animated adventures, the comic book-based flick should easily continue its swing through the awards season. 


  • Cold War 
  • The Favourite 
  • Never Look Away 
  • Roma
  • A Star Is Born

Will/Should Win: Roma
Could Win: Cold War

Although the American Society of Cinematographers gave the award to Łukasz Żal for his work on Cold War, Alfonso Cuarón became the first director nominated for shooting his own film and conveys so much emotion in his long-takes with exquisite detail. 

Costume Design:

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs 
  • Black Panther 
  • The Favourite 
  • Mary Poppins Returns 
  • Mary Queen of Scots 

Will Win: Black Panther
Could Win: The Favourite
Should Win: Mary Queen of Scots

Period films are a heavy “favourite” in this category for their illustrious, grand costumes, but I can’t help but feel The Favourite and Mary Queen of Scots will split votes. Ruth E. Carter referenced multiple African ethnic groups in creating the costumes for the various tribes and people by helping envision the global movement of Wakanda. 

Documentary (Feature):

  • Free Solo
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening
  • Minding the Gap 
  • Of Fathers and Sons 
  • RBG 

Will/Should Win: Free Solo
Could Win: RBG
Should Win: Minding the Gap

I keep going back and forth if the Academy will recognize the revolutionary “Notorious R.B.G.” or rock climber Alex Honnold’s journey to become the first person to free solo climb El Capitan at Yosemite National Park. I’ll stick with with the politics-free, safer choice. 

Documentary (Short Subject):

  • “Black Sheep” 
  • “End Game” 
  • “Lifeboat” 
  • “A Night at the Garden” 
  • “Period. End of Sentence.” 

Will/Should Win: “Period. End of Sentence.”
Could Win: “Lifeboat”

I will be truly shocked if “A Night at the Garden” wins because it is simply archival footage from 1939. Any of the other four nominees can win, but I’m sticking with the female-empowering “Period. End of Sentence.”

Film Editing:

  • BlacKkKlansman 
  • Bohemian Rhapsody 
  • Green Book 
  • The Favourite
  • Vice 

Will/Should Win: Vice
Could Win: Bohemian Rhapsody

Any of these five Best Picture nominees could win here, and I wouldn’t be shocked – that’s how close this category appears. I think voters will recognize the unique non-linear structuring behind Vice in continually shifting tones and remaining ambiguous. 

Foreign Language Film:

  • Capernaum (Lebanon)
  • Cold War (Poland)
  • Never Look Away (Germany)
  • Roma (Mexico)
  • Shoplifters (Japan)

Will/Should Win: Roma (Mexico)
Could Win: Cold War (Poland)

Alfonso Cuarón will earn Mexico its first Foreign Language Film victory after nine nominations. A scenario I’ve entertained is awarding Cold War for Foreign Language Film and Roma for Best Picture to spread the wealth but don’t bank on it. 

Makeup and Hair:

  • Border
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • Vice

Will/Should Win: Vice
Could Win: Border

If a Best Picture nominee is also nominated in this category, it has gone on to win every time since 2009, when the lineup was expanded. I’ll stick with that stat, especially knowing it’s rewarding the unrecognizable physical transformation Christian Bale underwent to play Dick Cheney. 

Music (Original Score):

  • Black Panther 
  • BlacKkKlansman
  • If Beale Street Could Talk 
  • Isle of Dogs 
  • Mary Poppins Returns 

Will Win: BlacKkKlansman
Could Win: Black Panther
Should Win: If Beale Street Could Talk

This tight race seems to be between the first three alphabetically-listed nominees: Black Panther recently won for Best Soundtrack For Visual Media at the Grammys, BlacKkKlansman’s score mixes jazz with R&B by recreating classic action music from the time period, and If Beale Street Could Talk picked up the most regional awards for its gorgeous, entrancing love-themed score. 

Music (Original Song):

  • “All The Stars” from Black Panther
  • “I’ll Fight” from RBG 
  • “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns 
  • “Shallow” from A Star Is Born 
  • “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs 

Will/Could/Should Win: “Shallow” from A Star Is Born

The surest victory of the night. You can’t think of A Star Is Born without this anthem, which will earn Lady Gaga her first Oscar. 

Production Design:

  • Black Panther 
  • First Man 
  • The Favourite 
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • Roma 

Will Win: The Favourite
Could Win: Black Panther
Should Win: Mary Poppins Returns

You can’t help but marvel at the immaculate set designs (and use of natural light) of Queen Anne’s castle in The Favourite, but Hannah Beachler’s creation of Wakanda could help her become the first African-American, male or female, winner in this category. 

Short Film (Animated):

  • “Animal Behaviour” 
  • “Bao” 
  • “Late Afternoon” 
  • “One Small Step” 
  • “Weekends”

Will Win: “Bao”
Could Win: “Weekends”
Should Win: “Animal Behaviour”

The most widely visible short will likely win here. “Weekends” and “Late Afternoon” stand out for covering real-life dilemmas, but the cultural symbolism in Pixar’s “Bao” is too irresistibly infectious. 

Short Film (Live Action): 

  • “Detainment” 
  • “Fauve” 
  • “Marguerite” 
  • “Mother” 
  • “Skin” 

Will Win: “Marguerite”
Could Win: “Skin”
Should Win: “Marguerite”

“Marguerite” is easily the happiest watch amongst the nominees, which should help in its win over four thrillers. 

Sound Editing:

  • Black Panther 
  • Bohemian Rhapsody 
  • First Man 
  • A Quiet Place 
  • Roma 

Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody 
Could Win: Black Panther
Should Win: A Quiet Place

Not to confuse the two, sound editors obtain sound effects to appropriately fill with the dialogue/action, and sound mixers blend all sounds together in postproduction by seamlessly layering them. 

It’s typically best to predict one film to win both awards, and Bohemian Rhapsody seems likeliest to sweep the sound categories.  

Sound Mixing:

  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • First Man
  • Roma
  • A Star Is Born

Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Could/Should Win: A Star Is Born

A Best Picture nominee has won this category for the last 10 years, so I’m going to eliminate First Man.

Musical films also tend to do well here, as Chicago, Dreamgirls, and Les Misérables all claiming the prize in their respective years, so I see this as a race between Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born, giving the slightest of edges to the former for its epic Live Aid recreation. 

Visual Effects:

  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Christopher Robin
  • First Man
  • Ready Player One
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story

Will Win: Avengers: Infinity War
Could Win: First Man
Should Win: Ready Player One

Ready Player One should be winning this in a cakewalk for its car race sequence through a virtual Manhattan at the beginning of the film, but Disney will take the podium for assembling its team of superheroes for the first part of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Three finale.