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MATTHEW LIEDKE ON FILM: Close and King are locks on Oscar night

Award season has only a few weeks left and that means the race for the ultimate prize is heating up.

The ultimate prize is, of course, an Academy Award, and over the next four weeks, I'll be breaking down who will likely win an Oscar, and who I thought missed out on a nomination. First up are the four acting categories.

Lead Actor

The nominees:

• Christian Bale in "Vice."

• Bradley Cooper in "A Star is Born."

• Willem Dafoe in "At Eternity's Gate."

• Rami Malek in "Bohemian Rhapsody."

• Viggo Mortensen in "Green Book."

Who will win: While Malek has earned a Golden Globe and the top honor from the Screen Actors Guild, I'm leaning toward Bale in this category. Bale was easily the best part of "Vice" and was another example of his ability to transform into a completely different person. While the winner of the SAG usually goes on to win the Oscar, it's not a sure thing. In 2016, Denzel Washington earned the guild award while Casey Affleck took home the top prize from the Academy. I see another scenario like that playing out on Oscar night with Bale winning over Malek, especially since the Academy has a history of enjoying historical performances that tie in with politics, like last year when Gary Oldman won for portraying Winston Churchill.

Who should win: I would be fine with Bale earning the award, but Cooper or Defoe shocking the world would also be a pleasant surprise.

Snubbed: Easiest decision I've had to make this year is picking who was snubbed in the nominations. Ethan Hawke, who starred in my favorite film of 2018, "First Reformed" didn't receive a nomination from the Academy and it's a real shame. Hawke gave a complex, intense and challenging performance that deserves so much more praise than it's getting.

Lead Actress

The nominees:

• Yalitza Aparicio in "Roma."

• Glenn Close in "The Wife."

• Olivia Colman in "The Favourite."

• Lady Gaga in "A Star is Born."

• Melissa McCarthy in "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"

Who will win: Glenn Close, and it's not even close. So far, Close has picked up a Critics' Choice award, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award. It's a great track record and sets up a nearly perfect path to an Oscar win. Lady Gaga and Olivia Colman have also received plenty of praise for their work, but considering what Close has won so far this season and the fact she hasn't earned an Oscar yet, this should be her year.

Who should win: This is one of those categories where the Academy got it right. It would be nice to see Close finally get an Oscar, but all the nominees are deserving.

Supporting Actor

The nominees:

• Mahershala Ali in "Green Book."

• Adam Driver in "BlackKklansman."

• Sam Elliott in "A Star is Born."

• Richard Grant in "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"

• Sam Rockwell in "Vice."

Who will win: Like Close, Ali has a very good chance for earning an Oscar based on his wins so far. He's won a Critics' Choice Award, a Golden Globe and the top supporting honor from the SAG. In this case, Ali has a very good chance at winning his second Oscar in the best supporting category. He earned his first with his work in "Moonlight."

Who should win: If I had to pick, I'd go with Grant. From my perspective, Grant gave the best performance in a true supporting role with his work in "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" He added so much to the film and was key in making the overall production work.

Snubbed: Amazingly, the Academy didn't nominate Timothee Chalamet for his work in "Beautiful Boy." I'd pick his performance over Rockwell's in "Vice." It's especially surprising since Chalamet received nominations from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Critics' Choice, the Golden Globes and the SAG.

Supporting Actress

The nominees:

• Amy Adams in "Vice."

• Marina de Tavira in "Roma."

• Regina King in "If Beale Street Could Talk."

• Emma Stone in "The Favourite."

• Rachel Weisz in "The Favourite."

Who will win: This is another scenario where the track record makes a convincing case for a frontrunner. King, who's won a Golden Globe, a National Board of Review award and a Critics' Choice Award. Another good sign was at the SAG awards. King wasn't nominated in that ceremony, yet her main competition didn't have any success that night either. Emily Blunt, who wasn't nominated for an Oscar, won the SAG supporting actress award for her work in "A Quiet Place." Since the SAG didn't select King's main competition for the winner, it sets up a good path for victory.

Who should win: I think King is the most deserving in this case, she was fantastic in "Beale Street." However, I wouldn't mind seeing either Stone or Weisz take the Oscar either, since they did give some of the best performances in 2018.

For more movie coverage, check out matthewliedkeonfilm.com for news and reviews.

Matthew Liedke

Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.

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