You don’t need yet another Oscars prediction post. There’s plenty of those all over the internet. Instead, I’ve gone through the 24 categories and laid out the best- and worst-case scenarios for all of them, based on the history of the category, or something notable about the nominee, or anything that makes the winner stand out, for both good and bad. In other words, what makes the most (and least) interesting story? Again, this isn’t a prediction post, although occasionally my personal biases will show — it’s a “let’s get through a host-less, three-hour-plus ceremony with the least amount of dull air” post.
Best Visual Effects
Avengers: Infinity War
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Best Case: Never forget: The DC Extended Universe has more Oscars than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is hilarious (especially because the DCEU’s one win is for Suicide Squad!), and I kind of hope the MCU goes zero-for-eight during this year’s ceremony, seven goose eggs for Black Panther and bupkis for Avengers: Infinity War. Fittingly, the MCU is also zero-for-eight in this category, dating back to when Iron Man lost to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Besides the Suicide Squad thing, the best case for Best Visual Effects is Ready Player One, if only for the [film critic voice] totally dope Shining sequence.
Worst Case: I spent a lot of time as a kid (too much time!) wondering what the Kessel Run looked like, and how the Millennium Falcon made it in less than twelve parsecs. It did not look like the CGI gloop in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Best Film Editing
Best Case: This is a two-film race between BlacKkKlansman and The Favourite (the balance between comedy and drama does not work in Green Book and Vice, and that has a lot to do with the editing; we’ll get to Bohemian Rhapsody). I’m giving a slight best case nod to BlacKkKlansman, though. I can still hear the audible gasps in the theater when the movie cut from the in-universe flaming cross to real-life footage from the Unite the Right Rally. Harrowing, powerful.
Worst Case: Bohemian Rhapsody.
Best Costume Design
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen of Scots
Best Case: “There’s so much beauty around Africa and it’s so diverse. There are so many things that you don’t know that you probably would be surprised about,” Black Panther costume designer Ruth E. Carter told CNN. “So, to me, it was inspiring to be able to present Africa in so many ways, with different tribes and different color palettes, and use beauty, just plain old beauty, as my guide.” I’m being 100 percent genuine when I say: give Black Panther the Oscar.
Worst Case: Any film that isn’t Black Panther? (Double sorry to Sandy Powell, who’s nominated for both The Favourite and Mary Poppins Returns.)
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Mary Queen of Scots
Best Case: Greg Cannom, one-third of the makeup and hairstyling team behind Vice, is a three-time winner in this category. His award-worthy efforts: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Mrs. Doubtfire. If he wins again this weekend, he’ll have Oscars for providing the makeup/hair for history’s two greatest monsters: Dick Cheney and Mrs. Doubtfire.
Worst Case: Mary Queen of Scots, for what they did to Margot Robbie.
Never Look Away
A Star Is Born
Best Case: Caleb Deschanel is a six-time Oscar nominee, most recently for the three-hour-long German film Never Look Away, and he’s also Zooey and Emily’s dad. That’s a good hook for someone who might not otherwise care about this category (including the Academy itself — Best Cinematography was going to be handed out during a commercial break, a bad decision that has since been undone), but here’s a better one: A Star is Born‘s Matthew Libatique (and frequent Darren Aronofsky collaborator) directed the music videos for “Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman, “What U See Is What U Get” by Xzbit, and “The View” by Lou Reed and Metallica. Now that’s range.
Worst Case: Alfonso Cuarón not only wrote and directed Roma, he also produced, edited, and shot the black-and-white stunner. Stop making the rest of Hollywood (and everyone else) look so lazy, dude.
Best Production Design
Mary Poppins Returns
Best Case: Roma. That’s some fine-looking dog poop.
Worst Case: Come to think of it, does dog poop count as production design? I’m not sure (we ask the tough questions here at Uproxx). Well, if the award doesn’t go to Roma or Black Panther — Hannah Beachler is the first female production designer for a Marvel film, and the first African-American to be nominated in this category — the worst-case scenario is, uh, Mary Poppins Returns or First Man. At least The Favourite has bunny poop.