AFI Sharpens The Oscar Focus

The AFI Film Awards came out with their 2019 honors today and they do things a little differently. This particular group names their favorite 10 pictures of the year without naming a winner. And their top films are the only category they bother with.

Today those ten movies were as follows: 1917, The Farewell, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Knives Out, Little Women, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Richard Jewell. 

So what’s to learn when it comes to Oscar pontificating? Let’s start with comparing this list to yesterday’s announcement of the National Board of Review’s 10 honored titles… eleven actually because their winner was The Irishman. The NBR’s different titles were Dolemite Is My Name, Ford v Ferrari, Uncut Gems, and Waves. Not on NBR’s list from AFI:  The Farewell and Little Women. 

Shared AFI/NBR pics: The Irishman, 1917, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Richard Jewell. If you think getting Picture mentions in both guarantees Oscar love, 2018 proved otherwise. Five films did just that last year and didn’t land Best Pictures nods: Eighth Grade, First Reformed, If Beale Street Could Talk, Mary Poppins Returns, and A Quiet Place.

Confused? Welcome to the world of awards speculation. As I see it currently, there are only two shared 2019 AFI/NBR features that could miss out on the big race: Knives Out and Richard Jewell. I’ll also take this opportunity to note that Parasite (which is looking decent for Best Pic attention) is ineligible for AFI since it’s a foreign film.

As for Best Pic hopefuls that landed no love from these groups, we have A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (I believe its chances are fading quickly) and Bombshell (not as convinced that it cannot rebound). It could get the 2018 Vice slot, which was ignored by AFI/NBR. There’s also Rocketman, which can hang on to the thought that it could be this year’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

When you look at the AFI list’s history over the past half decade, it is a fairly reliable barometer on certain directions the Academy will take. Last year, five out of the eventual eight nominees were on their list and that’s the lowest percentage. In 2016 and 2017, it was 7 for 9. In 2014 and 2015, it was 6 for 8. So you can pretty much bank on at least half of AFI’s list and probably a bit more landing Oscar nominations.

I’ll leave you with this: while Knives Out is certainly one of the most obvious candidates for something that could miss a Picture nod, I like its chances better than I ever have before. This could be a case of perfect timing as it just opened, had a much bigger debut than expected, and audiences and critics are singing its praises. I wouldn’t count it out. In fact, I suspect when I update my estimates on Monday – it will rank higher than ever before and enter my top 15 possibilities. That will knock a candidate out and Mister Rogers could be the unfortunate victim.

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: December 6th Edition

We’ve had Golden Globe nominations this morning and AFI’s top ten list on Tuesday, but my top 10 Best Picture picks for Oscar glory have stayed remarkably the same. In case you missed my recap of those major precursors, you can find them here:

Let’s get to the predictions, shall we?

Best Picture

1. A Star Is Born (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Green Book (PR: 4)

5. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 5)

6. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

7. Vice (PR: 7)

8. Black Panther (PR: 8)

9. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 9)

10. First Man (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

11. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 13)

12. First Reformed (PR: 11)

13. Eighth Grade (PR: 12)

14. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Widows (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Mary Queen of Scots

Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 1)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

4. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 4)

5. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: 6)

7. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 7)

8. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 8)

9. Rob Marshall, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 10)

10. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 9)

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 2)

3. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 3)

4. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 5)

5. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 7)

7. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 6)

8. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 8)

9. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 10)

10. Clint Eastwood, The Mule (PR: 9)

Best Actress

1. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 2)

2. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 4)

5. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 6)

7. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 7)

8. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back (PR: 9)

10. Rosamund Pike, A Private War (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Toni Collette, Hereditary

Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots

Best Supporting Actor

1. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 1)

2. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 3)

4. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 4)

5. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 6)

7. Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite (PR: 7)

8. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 8)

9. Russell Hornsby, The Hate U Give (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Daniel Kaluuya, Widows (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Steve Carell, Vice

Best Supporting Actress

1. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 2)

3. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 4)

5. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 6)

7. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: 10)

8. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

9. Marina De Tavira, Roma (PR: 7)

10. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 9)

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. BlacKkKlansman (PR: !)

2. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 3)

3. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

4. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. First Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Black Panther (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Widows (PR: 6)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 7)

9. Leave No Trace (PR: 10)

10. The Hate U Give (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Boy Erased

Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. Green Book (PR: 4)

4. Vice (PR: 6)

5. First Reformed (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Eighth Grade (PR: 5)

7. Private Life (PR: 8)

8. A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 9)

10. Ben Is Back (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Mule

Best Foreign Language Film

1. Roma (PR: 1)

2. Cold War (PR: 2)

3. Shoplifters (PR: 3)

4. Capernaum (PR: 4)

5. Girl (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Burning (PR: 5)

7. Never Look Away (PR: 6)

8. Border (PR: 7)

9. Birds of Passage (PR: 9)

10. I Am Not a Witch (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Guilty 

Best Animated Feature

1. Incredibles 2 (PR: 1)

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (PR: 3)

3. Isle of Dogs (PR: 2)

4. Ralph Breaks the Internet (PR: 4)

5. Mirai (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Smallfoot (PR: 6)

7. Ruben Brandt, Collector (PR: 9)

8. Early Man (PR: 7)

9. Lu Over the Wall (PR: 8)

10. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Tito and the Birds

Best Documentary Feature

1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (PR: 1)

2. Three Identical Strangers (PR: 2)

3. Free Solo (PR: 3)

4. RBG (PR: 4)

5. Minding the Gap (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Crime + Punishment (PR: 6)

7. Dark Money (PR: 8)

8. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (PR: 7)

9. Science Fair (PR: 10)

10. Quincy (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Amazing Grace

Best Film Editing

1. First Man (PR: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 3)

3. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

4. The Favourite (PR: 5)

5. Black Panther (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Vice (PR: 8)

7. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 9)

8. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 10)

9. Green Book (PR: 7)

10. Widows (PR: 6)

Best Cinematography

1. Roma (PR: 1)

2. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 4)

3. First Man (PR: 2)

4. The Favourite (PR: 3)

5. A Star Is Born (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Black Panther (PR: 6)

7. Cold War (PR: 7)

8. Widows (PR: 9)

9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 8)

10. Vice (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Green Book

Best Production Design

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Black Panther (PR: 2)

3. First Man (PR: 3)

4. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 4)

5. Roma (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 5)

7. A Star Is Born (PR: 7)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

9. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PR: 9)

10. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Best Costume Design

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Black Panther (PR: 2)

3. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

4. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 3)

5. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. A Star Is Born (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Colette (PR: 5)

8. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PR: 6)

9. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

1. Black Panther (PR: 1)

2. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 2)

3. Vice (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

4. Stan & Ollie (PR: 6)

5. The Favourite (PR: 5)

6. Colette (PR: 7)

7. A Star Is Born (PR: 8)

8. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 4)

9. Deadpool 2 (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Solo: A Star Wars Story (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

A Wrinkle in Time

Best Sound Editing

1. First Man (PR: 1)

2. A Quiet Place (PR: 4)

3. A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

4. Black Panther (PR: 2)

5. Roma (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Incredibles 2 (PR: 7)

7. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 6)

8. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Solo: A Star Wars Story (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ready Player One (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:


Avengers: Infinity War

Best Sound Mixing 

1. First Man (PR: 1)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. A Quiet Place (PR: 5)

4. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 4)

5. Black Panther (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 6)

7. Roma (PR: 7)

8. Incredibles 2 (PR: 8)

9. Solo: A Star Wars Story (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ready Player One (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Avengers: Infinity War

Best Visual Effects

1. First Man (PR: 2)

2. Avengers: Infinity War (PR: 1)

3. Ready Player One (PR: 3)

4. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 4)

5. Black Panther (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Solo: A Star Wars Story (PR: 8)

7. A Quiet Place (PR: 9)

8. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Incredibles 2 (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ant-Man and the Wasp (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:


A Wrinkle in Time

Best Original Score

1. First Man (PR: 2)

2. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

3. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 3)

4. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

5. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Isle of Dogs (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Colette (PR: 7)

8. Widows (PR: 6)

9. Black Panther (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Incredibles 2 (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs


Best Original Song

1. “The Shallow” from A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” from Mary Poppins Returns (PR: Not Ranked)

3. “All the Stars” from Black Panther (PR: 4)

4. “I’ll Fight” from RBG (PR: 3)

5. “Girl in the Movies” from Dumplin’ (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Revelation” from Boy Erased (PR: 9)

7. “Time for Change” from On the Basis of Sex (PR: 5)

8. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 2)

9. “We Won’t Move” from The Hate U Give (PR: 6)

10. “I’ll Never Love Again” from A Star Is Born (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

“Gravity” from Free Solo 

And that correlates to the following movies getting this number of nominations:

11 Nominations

A Star Is Born

10 Nominations

The Favourite, First Man

9 Nominations

Black Panther

8 Nominations

Mary Poppins Returns, Roma

6 Nominations

If Beale Street Could Talk

5 Nominations

BlacKkKlansman, Vice

4 Nominations

Green Book

3 Nominations

Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Mary Queen of Scots

2 Nominations

A Quiet Place, First Reformed, RBG

1 Nomination

Bohemian Rhapsody, The Wife, Beautiful Boy, Cold War, Shoplifters, Capernaum, Girl, Incredibles 2, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Isle of Dogs, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Mirai, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Three Identical Strangers, Free Solo, Minding the Gap, Crazy Rich Asians, Avengers: Infinity War, Ready Player One, Dumplin’ 


AFI Picks Favourites

The American Film Institute (AFI) unveiled their list of the top 10 pictures of the year and it’s often seen as a harbinger of potential things to come at the Oscars. Here are the films they selected as their finest:


Black Panther

Eight Grade

The Favourite

First Reformed

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Mary Poppins Returns

A Quiet Place

A Star Is Born 

First off, we should keep in mind that this is the American Film Institute. Therefore Roma is nowhere to be found and not eligible. It has high probability to make the Academy’s Best Picture selections.

Taking a look at the last three years of AFI picks, 7 of their honorees in 2015 and 2016 scored a Best Picture nod at the big race. Last year, it was six. I would automatically say five films here seem safe for Oscar inclusion: BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, and A Star Is Born.

AFI has a habit of occasionally honoring blockbusters that don’t make it to the golden dance. Over the past three cycles, that includes Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Straight Outta Compton, Inside Out, and Wonder Woman. That same rule could apply to Black Panther, Mary Poppins Returns, or A Quiet Place. That said, Panther and Poppins stand solid chances for Best Picture recognition. That gets us to seven.

First Reformed and Eighth Grade are far more questionable, though both have made strong showings in precursors (especially the former).

The glaring omissions are Vice and First Man – two films I have consistently projected for Academy nominations. I don’t see that changing yet. Three more that could have been boosted by AFI, but were not: Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Crazy Rich Asians, and Widows. 

All in all, my aforementioned analysis indicates seven could end up being the number of nominees here that move onto Oscar glory.