Best and worst of awards season 2019

An awards season narrative with new developments every day is reflective of an industry in transition.

Best: Mahershala Ali’s handling of “Green Book” controversy

There’s been no shortage of smear campaigns this year, mostly directed at “Green Book” and the sins of its creators. The film took some heat after screenwriter Nick Vallelonga’s anti-Muslim tweet was revealed and the family of Don Shirley denounced the entire project. Also, co-lead Viggo Mortensen uttered the N-word at a press event. It was Mahershala Ali’s consistently open and mature dialogue that aided him in winning Best Supporting Actor for his work, despite these incidents and some concern about the film’s treatment of race.

Worst: Lack of female director nominations

Those who thought Greta Gerwig’s directing nomination last year was the start of something new, including myself, were wrong. Debra Granik (“Leave No Trace”), Marielle Heller (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) and Tamara Jenkins (“Private Life”) were all more deserving of the last slot given to Adam McKay (“Vice”) who has already been nominated. Maybe next year, with Gerwig’s star-studded adaptation of “Little Women,” we will see another woman make it in the category.

Best: Lady Gaga’s promotional efforts

Lady Gaga did everything mostly right on the campaign trail this year. She was engaging, highly dedicated and willing to discuss her project with anyone who asked. These are qualities of an artist who is passionate about the work they produce. Sure, her emotions occasionally got the best of her and she used the “100 people in a room” saying over and over again, but one must think of how grueling a press tour lasting for several months actually is. Judging by the reaction to her performance of “Shallow” at the Oscars, Gaga honored her film with a strong sense of first-timer pride that her fellow nominees found contagious and inspiring.

Worst: Bradley Cooper’s promotional efforts

Unlike his “A Star is Born” co-star, Bradley Cooper is all about letting the work speak for itself. His approach, while noble, did not translate to awards traction. The fact that he wasn’t nominated for Best Director means he had that Best Actor trophy in the bag. I don’t think there are many men in Hollywood who worked as hard as he did last year, but that work doesn’t end when the movie comes out. If Cooper would’ve talked himself up as a director half as much as Jonah Hill did for “Mid90s,” he would’ve got in. Looking forward, it’s doubtful that was his last shot at the gold.

Best: Elsie Fisher’s pantsuits

The likelihood of Elsie Fisher getting a Best Actress nomination for her work in “Eighth Grade” was next to none. She is too young and too new, but that didn’t stop her from becoming everyone’s favorite newbie at awards events. Her win for Breakthrough Actor at the Gotham Awards was a deserved moment of celebration and one of many where the actress got to show off her extravagant collection of pantsuits. As a presenter at the Golden Globes and the Oscars, she’s the cutest thing since Jacob Tremblay of “Room.”

Worst: Christian Bale’s acceptance speeches

I don’t know why Christian Bale acts the way he does on TV. Maybe it has to do with how good he is on film. Either way, how he presented himself to the public was uncomfortable enough to mention. The “Vice” star made some off-the-cuff remarks about the administration and his own public persona before thanking Satan for inspiration during an acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. Bale’s tone-deaf outing here and at the Critics’ Choice Awards might’ve been the last thing Rami Malek needed to steal the big prize. The odd behavior and quirky comments worked better from Olivia Colman.

Edited by Joe Cross | jcross@themaneater.com

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