Falling off: First Man, Widows
Rising star: Mary Poppins Returns
The skinny: This sucks. Two of the years best movies had disappointing box office runs, and now are getting passed over for awards right and left. Widows inexplicably didn’t get a SAG nomination for its incredible ensemble cast, and it feels like First Man is done for in above-the-line categories (except Supporting Actress). That’s a real shame. It’s somewhere in my top 3 for the year currently, and it’s a leap forward for Damien Chazelle, who won Best Director for his previous film. And I guess Bohemian Rhapsody love is real, which is absolutely baffling. But hey, Mary Poppins Returns might sneak in. Cool cool cool. (And yes, I am finally relenting, and putting Black Panther in my Best Picture predictions.)
Falling off: Damien Chazelle, Steve McQueen
Rising star: Spike Lee (again)
The skinny: Second verse, same as the first. If the Black Klansman resurgence is real, Spike really could get his first nomination for Best Director. But that would likely come at the expense of another black filmmaker (Barry Jenkins) or Greek freak Yorgos Lanthimos, one of the most distinct working filmmakers, who’s just made his best film yet.
Falling off: Ryan Gosling, Lucas Hedges, Steve Carell
Rising star: John C. Reilly, Stan & Ollie or The Sisters Brothers
The skinny: Don’t worry about Ethan Hawke’s Golden Globes (or possible SAG) snub. Hawke is a respected, twice-nominated actor who’s putting in the work of promoting his stellar performance in a movie the Academy will have multiple chances to see. I’d be shocked if he won, but he’ll be in the thick of it. Malek and Mortensen move in, ascending ahead of the leads of Boy Erased and Beautiful Boy, neither of which has set the indie cinema world on fire. And only if more people had seen Stan & Ollie or The Sisters Brothers, John C. Reilly could have had his first Oscar nod since Chicago.
Falling off: Viola Davis, Felicity Jones
Rising star: Rosamund Pike, A Private War
The skinny: The Widows oversight is so bad even Viola Davis is feeling the effects of it. This is feeling more and more like our five, though the Golden Globes nod (and a possible SAG nod) for Rosamund Pike is raising her profile. She’s giving one of the five best performances of the year, so she should be more in the conversation. And poor Felicity Jones. What seemed like a forgone conclusion – playing young Ruth Bader Ginsburg – is evaporating, just like our democracy.
Falling off: None
Rising star: Steven Yeun, Burning
The skinny: It would take something major to happen for any of these five to fall off at this point. Former Walking Dead star Steve Yeun is getting major looks from critics’ groups for his mysterious performance in South Korea’s official entry Burning. But the only shot he’ll have is if Burning is shortlisted for Best Foreign Language Film. If that happens, and the support is wider than it appears, all bets are off, and it might even sneak into the Best Adapted Screenplay race.
Falling off: Nicole Kidman
Rising star: Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots
The skinny: It’s a sign of a competitive year when Nicole Kidman has two chances and finds herself on the outside looking in in both categories. King, Stone and Weisz are locks, and Adams and Foy are pretty close to locks themselves. Even if Mary Queen of Scots now seems like a lock for just Costume Design and Hair & Make-Up, the surprise SAG nod for Margot Robbie puts her back in the conversation, mostly for the scene where the one of the most beautiful women in the world looks slightly less stunning when she removes her wig.
Falling off: Green Book, Sorry to Bother You
Rising star: A Quiet Place
The skinny: Green Book‘s script, co-written by Tony Vallelonga’s son, has taken plenty of flack for not being accurate, and that’s sunk better historical dramas. So it takes a hit here, and it’s got plenty of competition. But don’t be surprised if it has enough support to fight its way back into the final slate. Despite last year’s embrace of Get Out, don’t expect A Quiet Place to overtake both Green Book and these other five. Still, it would be the only reasonable place to nominate a respected, popular horror movie in a major category. (It will have to settle for some technical nods instead.)
Falling off: Widows
Rising star: Leave No Trace
The skinny: You’d think the Widows stans would nominate it here, but Gillian Flynn somehow missed out with her last script, and Gone Girl was a massive hit! (The Academy doesn’t make sense sometimes.) So it falls off, and Black Klansman moves back into the category, though historical accuracy criticisms mean it’s not a guarantee. There is a bit of a groundswell of support for Leave No Trace, all in major categories, including for director Debra Granik. I don’t think it will be enough to get it over the hump, but this seems like the perfect “loved the film, but only nominated its script” movie.
Falling off: The Grinch
Rising star: Mirai
The skinny: I’m going to predict two stop-motion entries in this category. Though The Grinch has made nearly 30 times as much money as Early Man, it feels like a film that would have filled out the five in the early days, but now feels a little too inconsequential to make the cut. (I say this knowing full well The Boss Baby and Ferdinand made it last year.) Mirai is your standard GKIDS entry, but might struggle given the weirdness of this category’s nomination process. The film most in danger, unfortunately, is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It’s the best of the bunch, but similar in many ways to The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, both of which were inexplicably left out in past years.