Although supporters of all eight Oscar nominees for Best Picture can draw a path to their film’s victory, the clear favorite among Gold Derby experts is Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma.” The black and white, Spanish-language movie is first on 20 of 24 experts’ handicaps, with “Black Panther” first on three and “Green Book” on one.
I’m among the 20 picking “Roma” to win best picture, but I am about to make the argument that it might end up converting just one of its 10 nominations — for Cuaron’s direction. On Sunday, BAFTA validated the quadfecta that 17 of us are currently predicting for “Roma” – wins for picture, directing, cinematography and foreign language film.
But Oscars BAFTAs do not make, and If you follow the Hollywood awards trail that got us to here, it’s actually odd that “Roma” is such a strong favorite.
It lost the important Producers Guild award to “Green Book,” the Golden Globe and Cinema Editors award for drama to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the Art Directors Guild award for period production design to “The Favourite,” the American Society of Cinematographers award to “Cold War,” and it wasn’t even nominated for the nearly essential Screen Actors Guild’s ensemble award.
“Roma” finally landed a big fish with the Directors Guild award for Cuaron, but no one doubted that it would. “Roma” is a masterpiece of personal filmmaking, a semi-autobiographical chunk of Cuaron’s childhood in Mexico City in the 1970s and the movie looks and feels like it was made then and there using modern film stock.
But the sum of the earlier Oscar indicators, combined with the thorny preferential voting system used for best picture, suggests that it may not have the widespread industry support it needs to match its BAFTA performance.
Here’s how a one-Oscar “Roma” night makes sense.
Acting: Its two acting nominees, Yalitza Aparacio as lead and Marina de Tavira as supporting, are longshots on their ballots and neither has won a thing.
Screenplay. The Writers Guild winners won’t be revealed until Sunday, but “The Favourite,” which won the BAFTA Sunday, is picked to win best original screenplay Oscar on 17 Gold Derby ballots with just two picking “Roma.”
Cinematography: This looked like a sure thing for Cuaron before Lukas Zal’s photography on another black and white foreign language film, “Cold War,” beat him out for the American Society of Cinematographers award this weekend. Cuaron bounced back a day later, winning the BAFTA.
Production design: The Art Directors Guild and BAFTA went with “The Favourite” and the Gold Derby panel is split between that picture and “Black Panther.” A “Roma” win here would be a giant upset and if it were to come early in the show, it would be a good sign of an impending sweep.
Sound editing and sound mixing: “Roma” has some very sophisticated sound editing and mixing, but the other nominees on both ballots are movies where sound is a far more pronounced – i.e., memorable — aspect. Even the movie with the least sound, “A Quiet Place,” is a better bet to win.
Foreign language film: Before Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Cold War” joined the party late in the season, picking up nominations for director, cinematography and foreign language film, “Roma” could have counted on taking this Oscar home. And all but four Gold Derby experts still say it will. But even with the BAFTA victory, it’s not the sure thing it looked to be a few weeks ago.
“Cold War” has thrown a couple of hurdles in front of “Roma,” mainly in how academy members show their love for one or both. Do they vote for “Roma” for best picture and “Cold War” for foreign language film? Or “Roma” for foreign, “Cold War” for cinematography and one of their other favorites for best picture?
If “Roma” was the clear-cut favorite that we Derbyites think it is, we’d expect academy members to vote a nearly straight “Roma” ticket, and some will. But there’s a surplus of beloved pictures on this year’s ballot and they are going to have voters breaking their pencils in frustration.
As expected, BAFTA gave the homegrown “The Favourite” the most awards, but managed to spread its largesse around, voting for the music for “A Star is Born,” sound for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” editing for “Vice,” adapted screenplay for “BlackKklansman,” and visual effects for “Black Panther.”
The Oscars are likely to get a fair spread, too, and maybe in a similar fashion. In the meantime, Cuaron is the story. He can become the first person to win Oscars for writing, directing, photographing and editing the same movie and “Roma” could become the first winner of both best picture and foreign language film.
If “Roma” were to end up with just one award for Cuaron’s direction, he’d be the first with that distinction since Mike Nichols for “The Graduate” in 1967 and before that, George Stevens for “Giant” in 1957.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on February 24. And join in the fierce debate over the 2019 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our movie forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.