Could Alfonso Cuarón's “Roma” win Best Picture at the Academy Awards?

Alfonso Cuaron (L) speaks with Boo Junfeng during the 'ROMA' Screening and Live Streaming Q&A event at Bugis Plus on December 20, 2018 in Singapore.

The upcoming Academy Awards ceremony is drawing ever closer, and predictions are now in full swing.

At the moment, the current favourite to win Best Picture on February 25 is Bradley Cooper’s heartbreaking directorial-debut A Star Is Born. The film has proved a huge success with critics and audiences alike, and only continues to build momentum as we enter this exciting awards season. Some have also speculated that Yorgos Lanthimos’ new film The Favourite could earn an important nomination. The film is a comedy set in 18th century England starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz; Lanthimos has impressed recently with The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, so it very well could be his year. Nevertheless, it’s clear that A Star Is Born has the edge.

Perhaps most surprising is that Alfonso Cuarón’s Netflix distributed foreign-language film Roma has been in the Best Picture discussion. The director of such films as Gravity, Children of Men and Y Tu Mama Tambien is certainly a skilled filmmaker, and his latest is one of his best efforts to date, marking his departure from Hollywood and his return to Mexico City. The film is a semi-autobiographical account of the city Cuarón grew up in during the early 1970’s, and centres on one of the housemaids - Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) - to a middle-class family. 

- Scott Stuber, Gabriela Rodriguez, Alfonso Cuaron, Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira and Nico Celis attend Los Angeles Premiere Of Alfonso Cuaron's 'Roma' at American Cinematheque's...- Scott Stuber, Gabriela Rodriguez, Alfonso Cuaron, Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira and Nico Celis attend Los Angeles Premiere Of Alfonso Cuaron's 'Roma' at American Cinematheque's...

It’s a beautifully personal portrait of humanity and family, which also captures the social turmoil and political tensions of the time. As expected from a Cuarón film, the cinematography and camerawork are sublime, and it certainly stands as one of the most visually striking films of the year. Its biggest triumph, however, is the character study at its centre. This is Aparicio’s first performance, and she is utterly transfixing, communicating such depth and beauty. It seems that most audiences agree, as so many have hailed it as the greatest cinematic achievement of the year. Despite the praise it has received, it still comes as a surprise that it could be nominated and potentially win Best Picture.

Most would expect it to win Best Foreign Language Film, although admittedly it would have hot competition from the Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters. Nevertheless, it has invaded the grander conversation. It’s terrific that it has entered the conversation, and it certainly deserves a nomination within the category, but it’s still hard to believe that it could take home the honour. Foreign language films have been nominated for Best Picture in the past, but have never won. If Roma managed to do so, it would be a historical evening, and one enthusiastically discussed for a very long time. We’ll have to see, but one thing is for sure: it’s going to be an interesting evening.

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