Artsy or safe? Dann Gire predicts 'Roma' will win Best Picture Oscar
Only one movie can possibly stop Alfonso Cuarón's "Roma" from making history by winning both the Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film Academy Awards Sunday night.
During any other year, "Green Book" would be the movie to bet big bucks on for Best Picture.
It possesses everything that Academy voters traditionally demand of a motion picture to be worthy of their most highly prized Oscar:
1) It deals with an important social issue (racial bigotry)
2) Its actors and director deliver the goods superbly
3) It's based on a true story
Granted, 2018's Big Enchilada went to a bizarre romantic fantasy involving a dancing Creature From the Black Lagoon, "The Shape of Water," a strong deviation from the Academy's norm.
"Green Book" couldn't be a better pick for Best Picture if a focus group had created it from surefire, can't-lose material scratch. It's the "Driving Miss Daisy" of the 21st century with a racially reversed driver/passenger team.
("Driving Miss Daisy," by the way, won the Best Picture Oscar without benefit of a Best Director nomination, and "Green Book" director Peter Farrelly has none.)
So "Green Book" would be the movie to beat at this year's Oscars contest. And it likely will be -- by a cinematic tsunami sucking up practically every Best Picture/Director award in the free world.
Yes, not everybody loves "Roma," Cuarón's plotless, highly personal tribute to the women who raised him and loved him in Mexico City during the early 1970s.
But a kajillion film critics groups do (including the Chicago Film Critics Association), and so do Golden Globes voters.
The question Sunday night's show will answer: Will Academy members go with the tidal wave of critical support for the artsy "Roma" or fall back on the tried-and-true, crowd-pleasing safer bet?
If "Roma" can't pull off this twofer Oscar miracle, no movie can. I say it will.
Either way, Cuarón will be delivering an acceptance speech for his Best Directing Oscar Sunday night having won the same honor earlier for his 2013 popular outer space thriller "Gravity."
Meanwhile, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences leadership has been nothing short of a public relations disaster with misjudgements piling up like bodies in a Dario Argento horror movie.
Last year, Academy bosses, bowing to criticism that the Oscars ignore more commercially successful movies in favor of more artistically worthy ones, announced a new 25th Oscar category: Best Popular Film.
Of course, this undermined the whole appeal of the Oscars as the industry's highest recognition of a motion picture's craftsmanship and quality, not its marketability.
After a firestorm of protest, Academy leaders quickly rescinded the stupidest idea they ever hatched -- except for the next one coming up.
Then they decided that to save time (as sure as politicians promise to lower taxes, Oscars producers swear they'll shorten the awards show), only two of the five Original Song nominees will be sung during the ABC-TV broadcast.
You guessed it. More protests. The Academy bosses quickly caved again.
But they hadn't yet concluded their campaign of senseless self-destruction.
Next, they announced that four award categories -- cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling and live-action shorts -- will not be broadcast on TV, but announced during commercial breaks, consequently driving viewers to livestream the Oscars online, thereby diminishing the TV ratings the Academy intended to bolster.
More outrage, now with heavyweight Oscar winners such as Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro and Emmanuel Lubezki entering the fray.
Academy leaders quickly sounded the retreat. Again.
They did hold on to one time-cutting idea. For the first time since 1989, the Oscars will have no host to deliver a lengthy monologue, crack jokes between awards and introduce presenters.
And the show will still go over three hours. Tradition.
So here go the rest of my fearless Oscar predictions with dissenting opinions where applicable. Just remember there's always a chance for a surprise or two, say "Black Panther" wins Best Picture.
Actress: Glenn Close for "The Wife"
Actor: Rami Malek for "Bohemian Rhapsody" (Deserves to win: Christian Bale for "Vice")
Supporting Actress: Regina King for "If Beale Street Could Talk"
Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali for "Green Book"
Foreign Language Film: "Roma"
Production Design: "The Favourite" (Deserves to win: "Black Panther")
Original Score: "If Beale Street Could Talk" (Deserves to win: "BlacKkKlansman")
Original Song: "Shallow" from "A Star is Born"
Original Screenplay: "The Favourite" (Deserves to win: "Vice")
Adapted Screenplay: "BlacKkKlansman"
Costume Design: "The Favourite"
Makeup & Hairstyling: "Vice"
Sound Mixing: "A Star is Born"
Sound Editing: "First Man"
Visual Effects: "Avengers: Infinity War" (Deserves to win: "First Man")
Animated Feature Film: "Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse" (Deserves to win: "Isle of Dogs")
Animated Short: "Bao"
Live-Action Short: "Marguerite"
Documentary Feature: "Free Solo"
Documentary Short: "Black Sheep" (Deserves to win: "Period. End of Sentence")