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‘Roma,’ ‘Green Book’ Oscar favorites

/ 06:26 AM February 25, 2019
‘Roma,’ ‘Green Book’ Oscar favorites

BEST PIC NOMINEE Yalitza Aparicio (center) appears in a scene from Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” which is nominated for an Oscar for both best foreign language film and best picture. —AP

LOS ANGELES — Hollywood’s A-listers will hit the red carpet on Sunday (Monday in Manila) for the Oscars — the climax of a long, eventful awards season that could yield some big surprises.

Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white cinematic ode to his childhood, “Roma,” leads with 10 nominations and is a firm favorite for the coveted best picture Academy Award.

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If it does win, it will be the first foreign language film, and the first from streaming giant Netflix, to earn the honor.

But civil rights dramedy “Green Book” has overcome controversy to remain on the radar, and could benefit from the Academy’s complex preferential voting system to snatch the top prize.

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2 biopics

Hot on their heels are a variety of films, from offbeat royal romp “The Favourite” (also with 10 nominations), to Spike Lee’s race drama “BlacKkKlansman,” to crowd pleasers like superhero flick “Black Panther” and musical romance “A Star Is Born.”

Two biopics — “Vice” about former US Vice President Dick Cheney and “Bohemian Rhapsody” about the band Queen — round out the list of contenders for best picture.

7,900 voting members

The 7,900-odd voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had bold choices in front of them—traditional art-house Oscar bait, and big, rousing blockbusters.

All will be revealed at Dolby Theatre, in a ceremony beamed around the world to millions of show biz fans, with a twist—there will be no host for the first time in three decades.

The academy opted to take the risk after comedian Kevin Hart withdrew from the gig in the face of a firestorm over past controversial tweets that were slammed as homophobic.

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Queen opens the show with singer Adam Lambert fronting the iconic band.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper will sing their power ballad “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” during the awards telecast. Songstresses Jennifer Hudson, Bette Midler and Gillian Welch will also perform.

Early favorites

For top acting honors, Christian Bale’s transformation into Cheney for “Vice” gave him the early lead in the Oscars race, and several statuettes.

But Rami Malek won respect from his peers—and a Golden Globe, Bafta and a Screen Actors Guild award—for his spellbinding turn as late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.

“In Christian Bale’s, I see an incredible actorly thing, but with Rami Malek, you see a role that just really connected with audiences,” said Variety’s chief film critic Peter Debruge.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the newcomer disrupts in this case.”

The best actress race has a clear favorite: Glenn Close, who has swept the prizes for her gripping work in “The Wife” as a woman on the edge when her author husband wins the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Lady Gaga wowed fans and critics with her turn in “A Star is Born,” and Yalitza Aparicio’s nomination for her first acting role in “Roma” earned praise. But it looks to be Close’s night.

“It is not her strongest role, but it is an opportunity for her to really own a small film, to carry it on her shoulders, and to remind the industry that here is one of our real treasures as an actress,” Debruge said.

Mahershala Ali (“Green Book” and Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) are the odds-on favorites in the supporting acting categories.

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TAGS: Academy Awards, Greenbook, Oscar Awards, Roma
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