Oscar Marathon 2018: Final, full predictions for all 24 categories
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By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Three Billboards will dominate, if Shape of Water doesn't drown its competition, or if Dunkirk doesn't come swooping in. And hey, what about Get Out?
Though several of this year's Oscar races are seeming locks (see: all the acting races), many appear to be wide open — including the evening's big prize.
Now, I don't expect a repeat of last year's breathless, bizarre Best Picture confusion, but it feels to me like we won't know what film will win until the envelope is actually opened. And that's true in lots of the other categories for the 90th annual Academy Awards, airing at 7 p.m. Sunday on ABC.
That's where I hope to help you out. Not only am I a certified Oscars obsessive, I've seen all 59 of this year's nominated films, as I hope you've seen. If not, here are quick links to my thoughts on all of them:
- Abacus to Coco
- Darkest Hour to I, Tonya
- Kong: Skull Island to The Post
- Roman J. Israel, Esq. to Wonder
- Animated, live-action and documentary short films
And if you click the movie titles in each collection of nominees below, you can read my original reviews, either from when they were released theatrically or what I've written since nominations were announced Jan. 23.
The picks below are just my best guesses about which films will win. But because I love so many of the nominated films and performances so much, I couldn't help but to say who I think should win, too. And because I love turning you all on to new movies, I've even added in some films that I thought should have been nominated, as well.
Check at the end of the post for ballots from Jonathan Baker, Jason Crespin and Hillary Netardus, who chatted about the major categories with me in this video.
Follow me on Twitter (@chipchandler1) to keep up with my live tweeting of Sunday's ceremonies, and please interact! I love nothing more than talking movies and Oscars!
Will win:Get Out
Could win:The Shape of Water or Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should win:Call Me By Your Name
Snubbed:The Florida Project
I feel like I'm going out on a limb here, but hear me out: Best Picture is decided by a preferential balloting system. Basically, a film gets so many points for first-place votes, so many for second-place, and so on. So it's beneficial for a film to have a passionate fan base and to be a strong second-place choice for voters. Three Billboards, which is seen as the front runner, likely has a lot of first-place votes locked in, but will it factor strongly on ballots where it doesn't land at the top? My hunch, based on what I've read throughout the season, is that it doesn't — but a film like Get Out, which is also appealingly timely (and much better crafted) sure might. Also, I just can't stand Three Billboards.
And when we all know that up to 10 films can be nominated in this category, it makes me livid when a masterwork like Florida Project doesn't make the final cut.
Will win: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Could win: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Should win: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Snubbed: Tom Hanks, The Post
Chalamet gave my favorite performance of the year, bar none, but Oldman has history (Oscar generally doesn't recognize younger actors, unlike in the actress category), momentum, the Great Man narrative of his film and Oscar's predilection for biographical films, and that great makeup in his corner.
And alas, Hanks didn't score his first acting nomination in 17(!) years for his grounding, vibrant work as Ben Bradlee in The Post.
Will win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Could win: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Should win: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Snubbed: Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project; Vicky Krieps, Phantom Thread; Diane Kruger, In the Fade; Jennifer Lawrence, mother!
2017 was a bountiful year for good roles for women (just look at the number of actresses I considered to be snubbed). The most attention-grabbing was certainly McDormand's role in Three Billboards, a part crafted specifically for her and her strengths. And I won't begrudge her a second Oscar and I'll probably delight in her sure-to-be-brusque acceptance speech. But Ronan did equally amazing (if not so noisy) work in Lady Bird. I mean, McDormand said it herself in her Screen Actors Guild acceptance speech in January: "I also want to say, this is really great and I thank you… but there’s a lot of young ones comin’ up and they need doorstops too. Let’s think about that."
And speaking of those young ones: Prince gave a spectacular central performance in Florida, Krieps stole Phantom Thread from Daniel Day-Lewis and Kruger was absolutely mesmerizing as a grief-stricken in the German film In the Fade. And I know mother! continues to be extraordinarily divisive, and she certainly isn't lacking Oscar doorstops, but Lawrence was a goddess in every way in Darren Aronofsky's brilliant masterpiece.
The nominees: 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; and Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Will win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Could win: No one else
Should win: Willem Defoe, The Florida Project
Snubbed: Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name
The only thing in this category that stings more than Dafoe's rock-solid performance in The Florida Project not getting awarded are the dual snubs of Hammer and Stuhlbarg. Florida Project deserved more Oscar love than it got (see also: best picture, best director), but Dafoe's warm, grounding presence was especially worthy. Also, as much as I enjoy Rockwell in almost everything I've seen him do, even he couldn't make his character make sense in Three Billboards.
Will win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Could win: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Should win: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Snubbed: Holly Hunter, The Big Sick; Hong Chau, Downsizing; Michelle Pfeiffer, mother!
In the battle between two beloved character actresses best known for their work in TV and theater, Janney's very likely to come out on top over Metcalf. Janney's devilish, scene-stealing LaVona is precisely the kind of role most honored in this category. As with best actress, this category had a surfeit of possibilities, and I honestly can't decide who I'd leave out in place of any of my suggested nominees. I just wish there were room for them all.
Will win: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Could win: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Should win: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Snubbed: Sean Baker, The Florida Project; Darren Aronofsky, mother!
If he weren't working in the sci-fi/fantasy realm, del Toro would probably be on his third or fourth nomination by now, but amazingly, this is his first nod. I don't think Shape of Water is his absolute best, but it sure does work brilliantly on every level. Nolan, also on his first nomination, definitely delivers his best, most assured work, and the path forward for fellow first-timers Gerwig and Peele (each only the fifth women and African-American directors ever nominated) is certainly bright. I wish room could have been made for Baker's heartfelt and Aronofsky's superb work, though.
Could win: The Breadwinner
Snubbed:The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales
For the past few years, this category has been one of my absolute favorites because of the spectacular range of idiosyncratic, thoroughly enjoyable films that it brings to my attention — The Illusionist in 2010, Ernest & Celestine in 2013, Song of the Sea and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya in 2014, My Life as a Zucchini and The Red Turtle in 2016. And this year, thanks to a rule change, we get stuck with Boss Baby and Ferdinand. Sigh.
Coco is one of the night's surest locks, but I hope you'll seek out Breadwinner on Netflix or (beginning Tuesday) on disc: It's both lovely and intense, a peek into a culture we all could stand to understand better. And please also look for the absolutely charming Big Bad Fox when it is released on digital and disc (no date has been announced yet). It's like a French Looney Tunes and made me laugh delightedly throughout.
Will win:Garden Party
Could win:Dear Basketball
Should win:Negative Space
Snubbed: I haven’t seen enough to speculate
Kobe Bryant's Dear Basketball may have this one locked up simply because, despite it all, he's a Los Angeles favorite and he's got lots of fans in the Oscar voting pool — not to mention the sheer value of name recognition and, to a lesser extent, respect for veteran animator Glen Keane. I'm hoping the wonderfully morbid Garden Party prevails, though.
The nominees: James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name; Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist; Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green, Logan; Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game; and Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, Mudbound
Will win: James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name
Could win: Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, Mudbound
Should win: James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name
Snubbed: Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, The Post
Ivory, one half of the legendary filmmaking team Merchant and Ivory, has never won an Oscar. It's galling. This is his year, though, thanks to his sublime adaptation of André Aciman’s 2007 novel, transforming it from an internal monologue to a restrained but wonderfully deep love story for the screen. He and filmmaker Agnés Varda (see documentary feature, below) are now the oldest-ever Oscar nominees at age 89 (she's eight days older). All of the scripts in this category are worthy nominees, though I wish The Post had been recognized for the way it takes a familiar story (the Pentagon Papers) and uses it as a frame for a woman coming into her own power.
The nominees: Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick; Jordan Peele, Get Out; Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird; Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water; and Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Will win: Jordan Peele, Get Out
Could win: Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should win: Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Snubbed: Darren Aronofsky, mother!
There are four excellent nominees in this category, and one steaming pile. The steaming pile has a good shot at winning, because it's 2018 and nothing's right. I have to go with Peele's brilliant Get Out script, though, because I can't stomach the thought of an insightful film about the perniciousness of racism losing out to one that barely even pays lip service to that concept, which it purports to be about as well. Can't do it. Also, Aronofsky's mother! is insane and I love it.
Will win: Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
Could win: Rachel Morrison, Mudbound
Should win: Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
Snubbed: Michael Seresin, War for the Planet of the Apes
With 14 nods, Roger Deakins is the most nominated cinematographer in Oscar history without a win — a streak that's finally (maybe?) about to come to an end, thanks to his typically astounding work on Blade Runner 2049. But another history-making nominee — Morrison, the first-ever female nominee in this category — could play spoiler. Meanwhile, I'm pouring one out for Seresin's work on War of the Planet of the Apes, one of the most gorgeous, haunting blockbusters I've ever seen.
Will win:Faces Places
Should win:Faces Places
Though I loved both Abacus and Aleppo, and not just because they aired on PBS, I fell head over heels for Faces Places, my belated first introduction to French new wave pioneer Agnés Varda — who, besides an honorary one, has never received an Oscar. There's just so much heart in her celebration (with artist JR) of the everyday people who live in the small French villages she visits in this film, and her elevation of them as the subjects of massive works of public art is so meaningful to me. That said, Icarus brought to light the Russian doping scandal and actualy made a major global impact, and it easily could take this prize, as well. And though I don't know where I'd squeeze it in, I'm shocked that Jane, a biographical portrait of primateologist Jane Goodall, didn't make the cut. It features footage long thought lost of her earliest days in Africa and explains better than anything I've seen just how impactful her work has been. You can check it out yourself when it airs at 7 p.m. March 12 on National Geographic Channel, cable channel 62.
Could win:Traffic Stop
Should win:Traffic Stop
Snubbed: I haven’t seen enough to speculate
This was a tougher pick than normal because for the first time in probably forever, there aren't any nominees about the Holocaust or the Middle East. I still tense up thinking about the injustice chronicled in Traffic Stop, and I am thoroughly enamored with Heaven is a Traffic Jam, but the timely, empathetic Heroin(e) will, I think, nose them both out.
Will win:DeKalb Elementary
Could win:The Silent Child
Should win:DeKalb Elementary
Snubbed: I haven’t seen enough to speculate
In this batch of great to mostly great films, I have to think that the timely DeKalb Elementary, about a potential school shooting that's foiled by a caring receptionist, will strike a chord with the most voters. Click the links above to see how you can watch all of the films yourself.
Foreign Language Film
Will win:A Fantastic Woman
Could win: The Square
Should win:A Fantastic Woman
Snubbed:In the Fade, BPM
On Body and Soul and The Insult just didn't work for me, Loveless was almost impossibly grim and while I appreciated the effort in The Square, its relentless cynicism was just too off-putting. But that doesn't mean I'm picking A Fantastic Woman by default. On the contrary, this eye-opening film about a trans woman and her constant battle for her own humanity is profound and glorious.
Will win: Dunkirk
Could win:Baby Driver
Snubbed:Call Me By Your Name, Get Out
I've gone back and forth on this one for a while. Shape of Water has a strong shot because of the overall support (13 nominations, the year's most) that the film enjoys, plus the fact that it's a solid contender for Best Picture. Baby Driver displays the most dynamic editing in the batch, perfectly syncing its arresting car chases with its killer soundtrack. But Dunkirk also lives and dies by its editing (by Lee Smith), and since it's a Best Picture nominee, too, I think that cinches it.
Could win: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Should win:Baby Driver
Sound editing rewards all of the extra stuff that's added in during post-production — the sounds of explosions and crashes and lightsabers, etc. War movies typically do well in this category, so I'm going with the World War II movie in this batch. (That Holdo Maneuver, though.) I thought Wonder Woman might have crept in here, thanks to its World War I battle scenes.
Will win:Baby Driver
Should win:Baby Driver
Snubbed:The Greatest Showman, Phantom Thread
And this award recognizes the overall soundscape of a film and the work by designers who make the balance just right. It's where you often see movie musicals nominated, and since Baby Driver is as close to a musical as any of the ones selected (Greatest Showman didn't make the cut), I'm thinking it'll get the nod. But if you've seen Phantom Thread, you'll wonder, too, how Alma's buttering of her crunchy toast didn't merit inclusion here.
Will win:The Shape of Water
Could win: Blade Runner 2049
Should win:The Shape of Water
These nominees are all eye-catching in their own way, so I'm playing it safe and betting that Shape of Water's sheer number of nominations will help it prevail here.
The nominees: Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk; Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread; Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water; John Williams, Star Wars: The Last Jedi; and Carter Burwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Will win: Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
Could win: Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
Should win: Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
Snubbed: John Debney, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, The Greatest Showman; Hans Zimmer, Blade Runner 2049
Without Radiohead alum Greenwood's score, I don't know that the alternately hysterical and horrifying Phantom Thread would have landed so well. It's that good. But Desplat should ride the wave of the Water, I think.
Will win: “Remember Me”
Could win: “Stand Up for Something,” "This Is Me"
Should win: “Remember Me”
Snubbed:“Visions of Gideon” from Call Me By Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
"This Is Me" is the one that really broke through to the mainstream, and "Mighty River" benefits from being part of an historic first — an acting nominee (Mary J. Blige) also picking up a song nomination. Plus, Diane Warren has still somehow never won an Oscar, and this time she's teaming with a recent Oscar winner, Common, for her song from Marshall. And don't even get me started on the gloriousness of "Mystery of Love" and all of Sufjan Stevens' contributions to CMBYN. But the Frozen team of Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez should prevail because of how pivotal "Remember Me" is to the plot of Coco —not to mention how many tears it spawned. If you want to listen to all of these, click the song titles for a link to YouTube videos, and look for all of these songs to be performed live at the Oscars.
Makeup and Hair
Will win: Darkest Hour
Should win:Darkest Hour
Snubbed:I, Tonya, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Ah, the redheaded stepchild of the Oscars, the only category still limited every year to just three nominees. There should have been room to recognize Margot Robbie's transformation and the giddy alien designs in Guardians. But no matter: Darkest Hour is the surest of sure bets.
Will win:Phantom Thread
Could win:The Shape of Water
Should win:Phantom Thread
Snubbed:I, Tonya; The Post; A Ghost Story
Hmm, a Best Picture nominee about a costume designer? Could there be any other choice than Phantom Thread? I think not. But I would have loved to see recognition for the perfectly tacky ice-skating couture of I, Tonya, Katherine Graham's phenomenal gold caftan in The Post and Amarillo native Annell Brodeur's simply perfect spectral sheath in A Ghost Story.
Will win:War for the Planet of the Apes
Could win:Blade Runner 2049
Should win:War for the Planet of the Apes
Snubbed:Alien: Covenant, Okja
After two previous tries, the team behind the remarkable Apes franchise should finally score a win, especially since none of the Best Picture nominees factored in here. Alas, the kissing Fassbenders of Alien: Covenant and the sweetly lumbering beast of Okja went unrecognized.
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