On the Scene 2/22: And the Academy Award goes to….

My favorite night is upon us! What I personally wait for each and every year is finally here. After weeks of making sure to see film after film, it all comes down to the night of the 24th. The 91st Academy Awards, the first with no host, is one that offers hope and promise for new and budding stars. But which ones deserve to be recognized?

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Nominees: “The Favourite,” written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara; “First Reformed,” written by Paul Schrader; “Green Book,” written by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly; “Roma,” written by Alfonso Cuarón; “Vice,” written by Adam McKay
Winner: “Green Book,” written by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly
Nick Vallelonga takes the true, original story of his father Tony’s journey driving famed, black musician Dr. Don Shirley throughout the Deep South in the 1960s. A script that tackles racism, homosexuality and humanity that came from real life events deserves this award. This would be their first Academy Award.
Honorable Mention: “Roma,” written by Alfonso Cuarón
Cuarón writes the story of a year in the life of a Mexican housekeeper who finds herself accidentally pregnant during the Mexican Dirty War throughout the 1970s.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Nominees:“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” written by Joel and Ethan Coen; “BlacKkKlansman,” written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee; “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” written by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty; “If Beale Street Could Talk,” written for the screen by Barry Jenkins; “A Star is Born,” written by Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper and Will Fetters
Winner: “BlacKkKlansman,” written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee
New Jersey natives Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz brought the true, inspiring story of Ron Stallworth, a black detective in the 1970s who worked with Jewish detective Flip Zimmerman in an effort to take down the Ku Klux Klan. A suspenseful film through and through, “BlacKKKlansman” was a true joy to watch. This would be their first Academy Award.
Honorable Mention: “If Beale Street Could Talk,” written for the by Barry Jenkins.
Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins takes James Baldwin’s novel of the same name and brings the story that sparks the conversation of America’s justice system to screen.

Directing
Nominees: “BlacKkKlansman,” directed by Spike Lee; “Cold War,” directed by Paweł Pawlikowski; “The Favourite,” directed by Yorgos Lanthimos; “Roma,” diected by Alfonso Cuarón; “Vice,” directed by Adam McKay
Winner: “BlacKkKlansman,” directed by Spike Lee
After many years of being snubbed, Lee will finally hold his Oscar. He does such a wonderful job at bringing this true story to life. From every camera angle to the overall aesthetic of the film, Lee earned this award. This would be his first Academy Award.
Honorable Mention: “The Favourite,” directed by Yorgos Lanthimos.
Lanthimos brought a hilarious story of an 18th century queen to life as she is caught in the middle of a love triangle with a governess and a servant.

Cinematography
Nominees: “Cold War,” Lukas Zal; “The Favourite,” Robbie Ryan; “Never Look Away,” Caleb Deschanel; “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón; “A Star is Born,” Matthew Libatique
Winner: “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
Honestly, I did not enjoy “Roma” in the least bit. I felt it was boring, drawn out and just hard to get through. The one redeeming quality of this film was the cinematography. It had beautiful landscape shots of Mexico and I felt amazed by the scenes. The film was also shot in black and white, which really made you feel as if you were in the ‘70s. This would be his third Academy Award.
Honorable Mention: “The Favourite,” Robbie Ryan
Taking place on the grounds of a castle in England, “The Favourite” was nice to watch. From the rolling hills to the wind blowing onto high cut grass, “The Favourite” made a name for itself in this category.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominees: Amy Adams, “Vice;” Marina de Tavira, “Roma;” Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk;” Emma Stone, “The Favourite;” Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”
Winner: Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Stone, who played a conniving servant, was truly remarkable in “The Favourite” and completely stole the show. She is smart, witty and downright hilarious and, in my opinion, should run away with the award. This would be her second Academy Award.
Honorable Mention: N/A- Stone has no competition.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominees: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book;” Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman;” Sam Elliot, “A Star is Born;” Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Sam Rockwell, “Vice”
Winner: Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Portraying a Jewish detective in the 1970s, who joins a black detective for a plan to take down the Ku Klux Klan, Driver did a spectacular job with his portrayal. Showing that equality is something that is fought for in many different cultures, Driver pushes the limit with his performance. This would be his first Academy Award.
Honorable Mention: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
This award will sincerely be a toss-up. Both Ali and Driver deserve an Oscar for their performances, but both cannot take one home. Ali was fantastic as always, but I do feel that Driver has the edge.

Actress in a Leading Role
Nominees: Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma;” Glenn Close, “The Wife;” Olivia Colman, “The Favourite;” Lady Gaga, “A Star is Born;” Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Winner: Lady Gaga, “A Star is Born”
Per last week’s “On The Scene – Does Gaga even come Close?” I went into great detail on why Lady Gaga deserves this award over all else. Her stunning performance gives audiences reasons that show she is not just a pop star anymore, but an incredible actress. This would be her first Academy Award.
Honorable Mention: Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Close, who out of the remaining nominees, seems to be the only one who actually performed her role well, will ultimately fall short once again as she misses out on her seventh Oscar.

Actor in a Leading Role
Nominees: Christian Bale, “Vice;” Bradley Cooper, “A Star is Born;” Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate;” Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody;” Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
Winner: Christian Bale, “Vice”
Vice, which was ultimately a biased biopic depicting former United States Vice President Dick Cheney, was a snooze fest. Though, Bale seems to save the film from absolute failure with his impeccable performance as Cheney. Bale, who put on an act like no other, deserves this award hands down. For more of my thoughts about Bale and McKay’s biopic see, “On The Scene – Is ‘Vice’ worth the votes?” This would be his second Academy Award.
Honorable Mention: N/A- Bale should take off running with this award.
Honorable Question: How could Bradley Cooper and his dreadful “performance” ever be recognized by the Academy?

Best Picture
Nominees: “Black Panther;” “BlacKkKlansman;” “Bohemian Rhapsody;” “The Favourite;” “Green Book;” “Roma;” “A Star is Born;” “Vice”
Winner: “Green Book”
Nick Vallelonga’s father’s story was one that literally brought tears to my eyes. An Italian bouncer working to put food on his family’s table each and every day takes a job as a driver for black, classical pianist Dr. Don Shirley in the 1960s. Shirley, who is aiming to bring culture and diversity to ignorant American minds, opts for his tour to be throughout the Deep South. “Green Book” shows the true story of an eventual lifelong friendship stemming from acceptance.

The 91st Academy Awards are at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24 on ABC.

Ken Downey Jr. is the Features Editor for Time OFF and Packet Publications. This is the fifth in a series of weekly columns focusing on arts and entertainment. He can be contacted at kdowney@newspapermediagroup.com.