Oscars 2018: Predicting the Winners

The 2018 Oscars are going to be handed out Sunday, with host Jimmy Kimmel once again holding court.

I have to say 2017 was a pretty banner year for quality movies all around. It felt like that last few years previous were a little dry as far as lots of movies to choose from, but not in 2017. Honestly, I’d be happy if any of the films nominated for Best Picture won the award or any of the actors.

Of course, last year’s Oscars was overshadowed by the huge flub at the end with the Best Picture mix-up. Pretty sure that won’t happen again. Here’s my take on what might take home gold tonight:

Best Picture

Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This list is so solid, truly. Dunkirk, The Post, Darkest Hour, these all have what it takes to win, while indie darlings like Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird deserved their spots. The inclusion of Phantom Thread took many by surprise, but it is also a worthy contender. The true race, however, has really boiled down to three movies: Three Billboards, The Shape of Water and Get Out.

Who will win? I’m torn. All three of these movies deserve the award for varying reasons. I think Get Out may be the odd man out since the Academy generally doesn’t go for horror – or pop culture – movies. The Shape of Water has all the makings of a Best Picture – cinematic beauty, love for old Hollywood, a romance (even if it’s a sort of odd one) – but it has only taken home the Producers Guild award. It also wasn’t nominated for Best Ensemble for the SAGs, which doesn’t bode well. So I’m going with Three Billboards since it’s won the most of the precursors so far, and it’s biting social commentary might fit well with the politically charged environment of today.

Best Actor

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Again, a good list. Both newbies Chalamet and Kaluuya should see their stars rise after their performances in Call Me and Get Out, respectively, while veterans Oldman, Day-Lewis and Washington are a given in any year, especially Day-Lewis, who has just retired from acting.

Who will win? There really only has been one choice from the very start of the awards season and that’s Oldman for his amazing turn as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. I think most of us Oscar prognosticators called it the minute the film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival last September. Not only is his physical transformation to play the legendary British prime minister uncanny, but Oldman fully embodies the man’s soul as well. It’s the actor’s moment to shine.

Best Actress

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post

It was also a banner year for excellent female performances. All these women did a tremendous job and quite honestly, the list could have included many more, like Jessica Chastain for Molly’s Game.

Who will win? Frances McDormand hasn’t lost one yet this season, so she will probably take home her second Best Actress Oscar (she won in 1997 for Fargo). It’s well deserved. Her performance as a mother wanting justice for her daughter’s murder is tough as nails. But I do want to give Sally Hawkins some love because I thought her beautiful turn as a mute woman who falls in love with the most unlikely of “men” just floored me.

Best Supporting Actor

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I love this lineup, too. Dafoe, Harrelson, and Jenkins ripped my heart out, while Plummer kept me glued to the screen.

Who will win? But Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards slayed me. I’ve adored Rockwell for years and years, but this is definitely his best performance to date as the racist cop who is able to find some redemption. Honestly, Three Billboards has one of the best endings (that and Call Me By Your Name).

Best Supporting Actress

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Such good performances from this list of women. Rapper Blige surprised us all with her acting skills, while Spencer gave another one of her superb sassy portrayals. Manville was a surprise inclusion for Phantom Thread, but I can see why she made the cut, playing the sister of Day-Lewis eccentric fashion designer and the real brains behind the operation. Metcalf, too, played her controlling mother in Lady Bird in a brilliant understated manner.

Who will win? Allison Janney has it in the bag. Her turn as the bird-loving, truly horrible mother to Tonya Harding in I, Tonya just had everyone in stitches. It’s a tour-de-force performance.

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out

Another list that everyone cheers about, with its mix of new and old, representing the full spectrum. Gerwig and Peele’s inclusion particularly stand out as testaments to how things in Hollywood are (hopefully) changing.

Who will win? That being said, the Oscar is going to Del Toro, hands down. His cinematic craft is unparalleled with The Shape of Water for both its technical achievements, the pure love of movies, and the fantastical elements the director has been known for. Shout out to Nolan, as well, for his technical mastery with Dunkirk.

Adapted Screenplay:

Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green – LT
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

These are all excellent scripts. Sorkin scores again with Molly’s Game, while Williams and Rees hit hard with Mudbound. And I love that Logan is included here because that was one of the best superhero movies ever.

Who will win? But veteran James Ivory is finally going to win his Oscar for the beautifully poignant Call Me By Your Name. The director of Howard’s End and A Room with a View has never won if you can believe that. It’s his time.

Original Screenplay

The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh

I’d literally give the Oscar to all five of these nominees, especially Nanjiani and Gordon’s hilariously sweet The Big Sick, but alas only one can win.

Who will win? Peele for Get Out. The movie just means too much to the popular and cinematic vernacular and if the Academy is going to recognize and honor it, this is the category it will win.

Other winners I’m predicting:

Animated Feature: Coco. Nothing really could top this Pixar gem, except maybe long-shot Loving Vincent.

Cinematography: Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049. The guy has been nominated a jillion times and this is finally going to be his year – and it isn’t just a career award, either. Blade Runner 2049 is a visual masterpiece.

Best Documentary Feature: Faces Places. This strange look at director Agnes Varda and photographer/muralist J.R. as they travel through rural France and form an unlikely friendship is just fascinating.

Best Foreign Language Film: A Fantastic Woman. A film about a transgender woman dealing with the death of an old boyfriend is not only relevant but powerful.

Film Editing: This was actually tough to decide between Baby Driver and Dunkirk, but I went with Dunkirk because the film’s narrative is literally designed by the editing.

Sound Editing and Sound Mixing: Dunkirk for editing because the Academy loves war sounds and Baby Driver for mixing because of the clever use of music with all those great car/action sequences.

Production Design: The Shape of Water. The sets in this film are inspired. But do want to give a shout out to Darkest Hour for recreating the British War Room and Buckingham Palace during WWII.

Original Score: Alexandre Desplat’s haunting and gorgeous score for The Shape of Water. Makes me tear up a little.

Original Song: This is a race between the “Me” songs, but I’m going with the inspirational “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman over “Remember Me” from Coco.

Makeup and Hair: No contest. Darkest Hour.

Costume Design: This Oscar has typically gone to period pieces, something like Victoria and Abdul, but a film about a fashion designer in 1950s London has to take the prize. So, it’s Mark Bridges for Phantom Thread.

Visual Effects: I’ve been getting this wrong every year because I always choose the monkeys, but come on. This was the third War for the Planet of the Apes and it still blows my mind what they do to make the apes looks so real. Give it to them already.

The 90th Academy Awards will be presented tonight on ABC at 5PM PST/8PM EST. Let’s see how close I get.

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