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Your Oscars ballot for all 24 categories — with tips from a pro

Your Oscars ballot for all 24 categories — with tips from a pro
Marco Graf as Pepe, left, Daniela Demesa as Sofi, Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marina de Tavira as Sofia, Diego Cortina Autrey as Toño, Carlos Peralta Jacobson as Paco in "Roma." (Carlos Somonte)

Late to your Oscars pool? Here’s a quick guide to the most likely winners. And if we’re wrong, well, it’s an honor just to play along, right?

Best picture

o “Black Panther”

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o “BlacKkKlansman”

o “Bohemian Rhapsody”

o “The Favourite”

o “Green Book”

o “Roma”

o “A Star Is Born”

o “Vice”

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And the winner is: “Roma” picked up 10 noms, including two for acting. That across-the-board support speaks to its strength, though I’ve also heard from many academy members who couldn’t get through it and fail to understand what all the fuss is about. Many of those naysayers are voting for “Green Book,” a throwback film that wears its emotions and good intentions on its sleeve. “Black Panther” and (wince) “Bohemian Rhapsody” have pockets of support too. I’m sticking with “Roma” in the belief that its artistry will win out.

Director

o Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”

o Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”

o Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

o Adam McKay, “Vice”

o Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”

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Alfonso Cuarón
Alfonso Cuarón (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

And the winner is: Cuarón won the Directors Guild honor — along with every other prize. There’s no reason to suspect he won’t prevail here too.

Lead actor

o Christian Bale, “Vice”

o Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”

o Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”

o Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

o Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

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Rami Malek
Rami Malek (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

And the winner is: Even voters who don’t like “Bohemian Rhapsody” are able to separate their disdain for the film from their appreciation for Malek’s sweat-soaked turn. His win here over Cooper — who actually did his own singing and delivered a much more powerful turn — will be one of those Oscars that age badly over the years.

Lead actress

o Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”

o Glenn Close, “The Wife”

o Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”

o Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”

o Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

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Glenn Close
Glenn Close (Michael Nagle / For The Times)

And the winner is: Close pretty much locked in the Oscar when she delivered that spectacular speech at the Golden Globes. But Colman gave a great speech that night too and has plenty of fans for her sublime and spirited turn as Queen Anne in “The Favourite.” Give the edge to Close but it’s not a done deal.

Supporting actor

o Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

o Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”

o Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”

o Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

o Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

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Mahershala Ali
Mahershala Ali (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

And the winner is: Elliott would make for a sentimental spoiler, and Grant has been a delight this awards season. But the popular Ali has won all the precursors and is a strong bet to win his second Oscar in three years for a turn that even “Green Book” detractors admire.

Supporting actress

o Amy Adams, “Vice”

o Marina de Tavira, “Roma”

o Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

o Emma Stone, “The Favourite”

o Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

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Regina King
Regina King (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

And the winner is: The well-respected King will likely win for her work in a film that many feel should have earned more nominations. If you’re looking for an upset, consider Weisz, who won the BAFTA prize and has surpassed Stone as the film’s favorite (sorry, it couldn’t be helped) in this category.

Original screenplay

o “The Favourite,” written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara

o “First Reformed,” written by Paul Schrader

o “Green Book,” written by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly

o “Roma,” written by Alfonso Cuarón

o “Vice,” written by Adam McKay

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Screenwriters Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
Screenwriters Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (Ben Stansall / AFP/Getty Images)

And the winner is: Witty, wicked and delightfully absurd, “The Favourite” receives its due here. Side note: If “Green Book” triumphs, you can go ahead and figure it’ll take best picture too.

Adapted screenplay

o “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

o “BlacKkKlansman,” written by Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee

o “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty

o “If Beale Street Could Talk,” written for the screen by Barry Jenkins

o “A Star Is Born,” screenplay by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters

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"BlacKkKlansman" co-writer Kevin Willmott, left, and director Spike Lee
"BlacKkKlansman" co-writer Kevin Willmott, left, and director Spike Lee (Michael Nagle / For The Times)

And the winner is: With Cuarón winning director, this becomes the spot to give Lee his first Oscar for the blistering “BlacKkKlansman.” Message to the telecast’s producers: Good luck playing him off the stage!

Animated feature

o “Incredibles 2”

o “Isle of Dogs”

o “Mirai”

o “Ralph Breaks the Internet”

o “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

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Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse."
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse." (Sony Pictures Animation)

And the winner is: “Spider-Man” has swung through the awards season with ease.

Documentary feature

o “Free Solo”

o “Hale County This Morning, This Evening”

o “Minding the Gap”

o “Of Fathers and Sons”

o “RBG”

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Alex Honnold atop Yosemite's Lower Cathedral in "Free Solo."
Alex Honnold atop Yosemite's Lower Cathedral in "Free Solo." (Samuel Crossley / National Geographic)

And the winner is: I’ve been calling this for “RBG” all season, figuring love for the film’s subject would carry it to a win. But leading up to the Oscars, “Free Solo” has been taking prize after prize, most recently the BAFTA — and it’s the better film. So I’m jumping on the bandwagon for National Geographic’s thrilling climbing doc.

Foreign-language feature

o “Capernaum”

o “Cold War”

o “Never Look Away”

o “Roma”

o “Shoplifters”

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Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo in "Roma."
Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo in "Roma." (Carlos Somonte / Netflix)

And the winner is: “Roma” wins easy … but this Oscar might also complicate its chances for best picture.

Cinematography

o “Cold War”

o “The Favourite”

o “Never Look Away”

o “Roma”

o “A Star Is Born”

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Director Alfonso Cuarón, left, and Yalitza Aparicio on the set of "Roma."
Director Alfonso Cuarón, left, and Yalitza Aparicio on the set of "Roma." (Carlos Somonte / AP)

And the winner is: Another Oscar for Cuarón, the first time a director has won for serving as his own director of photography.

Film editing

o “BlacKkKlansman”

o “Bohemian Rhapsody”

o “The Favourite”

o “Green Book”

o “Vice”

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Film editor Hank Corwin, an Oscar nominee for his work on "Vice."
Film editor Hank Corwin, an Oscar nominee for his work on "Vice." (Ana Venegas / For The Times)

And the winner is: This is more a matter of “most” rather than best, meaning it’s down to a battle between the hyperactive “Bohemian Rhapsody” vs. “Vice.” There’s a case to made for “Bohemian Rhapsody” if you figure the movie was a mess and was “saved” in the editing room. But I think the more considered “Vice” will prevail.

Costume design

o “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

o “Black Panther”

o “The Favourite”

o “Mary Poppins Returns”

o “Mary Queen of Scots”

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Ruth Carter
Ruth Carter (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

And the winner is: It feels counterintuitive to bet against three-time winner Sandy Powell for a costume drama (“The Favourite”), but Ruth E. Carter is overdue, and her work on “Black Panther” is terrific.

Makeup and hairstyling

o “Border”

o “Mary Queen of Scots”

o “Vice”

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Christian Bale portrays Dick Cheney in a scene from "Vice."
Christian Bale portrays Dick Cheney in a scene from "Vice." (Greig Fraser / Annapurna Pictures)

And the winner is: Transforming Christian Bale into Dick Cheney makes this a no-brainer, particularly with three-time Oscar winner Greg Cannom among the nominees.

Production design

o “Black Panther”

o “The Favourite”

o “First Man”

o “Mary Poppins Returns”

o “Roma”

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A scene from the period drama "The Favourite."
A scene from the period drama "The Favourite." (Fox Searchlight)

And the winner is: “Black Panther” and “The Favourite” both won prizes from the Art Directors Guild, making this a toss-up. Fantasy films (“Avatar,” “Alice in Wonderland”) have won this Oscar in the last decade, and if “Panther” won, Hannah Beachler would become the first black woman to win this Oscar. But it’s hard to pick against those opulent sets seen in “The Favourite.” (You’ll find me comatose on one of those immense canopy beds after the Oscars are over.)

Score

o “Black Panther”

o “BlacKkKlansman”

o “If Beale Street Could Talk”

o “Isle of Dogs”

o “Mary Poppins Returns”

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KiKi Layne and Stephan James play lovers in "If Beale Street Could Talk."
KiKi Layne and Stephan James play lovers in "If Beale Street Could Talk." (Tatum Mangus / Annapurna Pictures)

And the winner is: You have to go back 16 years to “Frida” to find the last original score winner that didn’t come from a best picture nominee. Is Nicholas Britell’s rapturous, jazz-informed score that good to overcome that history? Yes. Yes it is. But considering the past, don’t be surprised if “BlacKkKlansman” or “Black Panther” prevails.

Song

o “All the Stars”

o “I’ll Fight”

o “The Place Where Lost Things Go”

o “Shallow”

o “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings”

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Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in a scene from "A Star Is Born."
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in a scene from "A Star Is Born." (Warner Bros. Pictures)

And the winner is: “Shallow.” One last time: “Haaaaaa-ahhhh-ahhh-ohhhh-ahhaaaaaa-ahhhh-ahhh-ohhhh-ah!!!”

Sound editing

o “Black Panther”

o “Bohemian Rhapsody”

o “First Man”

o “A Quiet Place”

o “Roma”

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Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong in "First Man."
Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong in "First Man." (Daniel McFadden / Universal)

And the winner is: Each of the nominees has a plausible path to victory. I’ll go with “First Man,” as space movies have a history of taking flight here.

Sound mixing

o “Black Panther”

o “Bohemian Rhapsody”

o “First Man”

o “Roma”

o “A Star Is Born”

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Gwilym Lee, Rami Malek and Joe Mazzello in "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Gwilym Lee, Rami Malek and Joe Mazzello in "Bohemian Rhapsody." (Alex Bailey/Twentieth Century Fox)

And the winner is: Music is always a plus in this category, so I’m leaning toward “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which has run laps around “A Star Is Born” (including sound prizes) this awards season.

Visual effects

o “Avengers: Infinity War”

o “Christopher Robin”

o “First Man”

o “Ready Player One”

o “Solo: A Star Wars Story”

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Benedict Cumberbatch, left, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo and Benedict Wong in a scene from "Avengers: Infinity War."
Benedict Cumberbatch, left, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo and Benedict Wong in a scene from "Avengers: Infinity War." (Chuck Zlotnick / Marvel Studios)

And the winner is: Marvel has never won this category. That changes this year with “Avengers,” though “First Man” looms as a spoiler for its out-of-this-world effects work.

Animated short

o “Animal Behaviour”

o “Bao”

o “Late Afternoon”

o “One Small Step”

o “Weekends”

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A mother cuddles her little "dumpling" - only in this case, the endearment is literal - in the short film "Bao," the first Pixar film directed by a woman to be nominated.
A mother cuddles her little "dumpling" - only in this case, the endearment is literal - in the short film "Bao," the first Pixar film directed by a woman to be nominated. (Walt Disney Studios / Pixar Animation Studios)

And the winner is: “Bao,” Pixar’s tear-jerker, is the favorite, but the surreal “Weekends” could be poised for an upset.

Documentary short

o “Black Sheep”

o “End Game”

o “Lifeboat”

o “A Night at the Garden”

o “Period. End of Sentence”

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A scene from the documentary short "Period. End of Sentence" directed by Rayka Zehtabchi.
A scene from the documentary short "Period. End of Sentence" directed by Rayka Zehtabchi. (Shorts TV)

And the winner is: “Period. End of Sentence” is an inspiring look at rural Indian women combating cultural taboos. You can probably add an Oscar to the pile of awards it has already won, though the affecting hospice doc “End Game” has a lot of support too.

Live-action short

o “Detainment”

o “Fauve”

o “Marguerite”

o “Mother”

o “Skin”

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And the winner is: “Marguerite” and “Fauve” are the best of the nominees. I’ll give the edge to the tender “Marguerite” for its melancholy look at a terminally ill woman contemplating a lost love.

Beatrice Picard in a scene from the short film "Marguerite."
Beatrice Picard in a scene from the short film "Marguerite." (Shorts TV)
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