The only thing that’s likely to surprise you at this year’s Oscar ceremonies is the fact that for the first time since 1989 it won’t have a host, only presenters. Other than that you don’t need a crystal ball to forecast what’s going to happen. The favourites in all the main categories are so odds-on they’re virtually unbackable.
Thus Roma is going to win Best Film and Alfonso Cuarón will be Best Director for it. Rami Malek will win Best Actor for playing Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody and Glenn Close will finally get her Best Actress gong for The Wife after being bridesmaid at the Oscar wedding so many times.
Amy Adams, another perennial bridesmaid, looks unlikely to break her duck for Vice. Regina King is way ahead of her in the running for If Beale Street Could Talk. I said a few weeks ago that I thought King’s performance here was a bit obvious. I felt the same way about Mahershala Ali’s one in The Green Book. But he’s probably going to win Best Supporting Actor for this – to go with the one he already has for Moonlight.
It’s possible Adams could sneak up on the blind side for Vice and Christian Bale pull the carpet from under Malek’s feet in the Best Actor category for the same film. If such shocks transpired, the bookies would cry into their beers. But the public would have some real drama for a change, instead of the manufactured kind where winners give tearjerker speeches thanking everyone they met since the day they were born.
Remember Gyyneth Paltrow? Roberto Benigni? Kate Winslet? Octavia Spencer? Halle Berry? Sally Field? These people could power Niagara Falls with their waterworks.
At the end of the day it’s a self-congratulatory event where the industry pats itself on the back for how wonderful it is. But all too often its pyramidic nature means the usual suspects get the gravy and many superior independent films get brushed under the carpet.
I’ve stopped enjoying it in recent years for these reasons. There’s an air of preciousness about it, an air of ‘You must like this film because we do.’ Which is always going to turn me in the other direction.
We know politics plays a part in the ceremonies too, and that the Golden Globes are often a better barometer of quality. Then again, who can say for sure what’s ‘best’ in anything to do with the arts? As Woody Allen says, it’s not like running a race in the Olympics. Where aesthetics are concerned, opinions always come into play.
Oscar’s history is littered with bad choices for any number of reasons: contribution, life achievement, debts owed, sympathy votes, favouritism, fashionable themes and not least finance. Like everything else in life, it costs a lot of money to mount a campaign.
But I’ll probably watch the thing anyway next Monday night. Like most bad habits, it’s hard to resist.