A live audience joined us this past Sunday, February 17, one week before the 91st Academy Awards, as KPCC In Person convened AirTalk’s FilmWeek critics for its 17th annual Oscar preview event. This year, host Larry Mantle and the critics returned to the stage of the historic Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
There was no clear front-runner emerging in any of the big categories, and the best picture race looked to be the biggest toss-up of all. Noteworthy contenders included films from familiar names like Alfonso Cuarón, who wrote, shot, and directed his now Oscar-nominated film “Roma,” Adam McKay, who is back in the conversation for his Dick Cheney biopic “Vice”; and Spike Lee with his latest film “BlacKkKlansman” about a black police officer who tries to infiltrate a KKK chapter.
Newer contenders include Ryan Coogler who hopes to turn the box office success of “Black Panther” into awards season gold, Bradley Cooper who wrote, directed, and starred in the reboot of “A Star Is Born”; and Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, whose film “The Favourite” has garnered plenty of praise for powerhouse performances by stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.
Built in 1927 by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith, the Theatre at Ace Hotel was originally known as the United Artists Theatre. At the groundbreaking ceremony, Fairbanks said he hoped the theater would always be a reminder that Los Angeles is the center of production of the film industry. More than 90 years later, on the very same stage, Larry and the critics discussed and debated this year’s contenders for the major Oscar categories.
For more analysis on the categories from the critics click here
Peter Rainer, film critic for KPCC and the Christian Science Monitor