For the record: we all three agree on 14 categories: Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Costumes, Editing, Production Design, Makeup, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, and Animated Short (these last two find us breaking against the grain of pundit consensus).
We only have a three-way split in one category: Original Screenplay.
This is the hardest year to predict since I can’t think of when. Not just Best Picture, which is an insoluble problem that probably won’t be clear until the minute the envelope is opened (unless there’s a full-on The Shape of Water sweep), but very nearly all of the categories outside of the acting quartet, and Adapted Screenplay, and Animated Feature. Just about the only thing I can be sure of is that nothing I have a rooting interest in will distinguish itself.
(NB: for “should have been here” below, I’m trying to limit myself to things that had the remotest chance of being nominated, with only a couple of exceptions where I couldn’t help myself.
Quite an extraordinary thing: nine nominees, and not one of them can possibly win. That being said, if Three Billboards had a Best Director nomination, it would be the obvious frontrunner; likewise, if The Shape of Water had been nominated for Best Ensemble at the SAG awards, it would seem virtually unstoppable. No other film came that close to having a clear path to victory, so I feel comfortable saying it’s between those (I can’t bring myself to see Get Out as neck-and-neck, the way some pundits are; if nothing else, the fact that it’s a horror film can’t count in its favor). On Shape‘s side: nomination count, Best Director nod and probable win, and it doesn’t need to win Best Original Screenplay. On Three Billboards‘s side: two almost guaranteed acting wins, a greater sense of political importance, and it might win Best Original Screenplay. My head says Shape, my gut says Three Billboards, and I almost always do better when I predict from my head.
This one is comparatively easy: either Nolan or del Toro, and del Toro’s film has a substantially better shot at Best Picture than Nolan’s. Though I can imagine something deranged like Get Out in Picture and Dunkirk here. It’s been that kind of year.
Timothée Chalamet seems to get a whole lot of audience love whenever he wins anything, but Oldman is a legend doing the thing legends do to win.
Will Win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should Win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should have been here: Vicky Krieps, Phantom Thread
Sally Hawkins would need a Shape sweep, and Saoirse Ronan needed Lady Bird to survive the “but it’s so light!” anti-campaign that has clearly taken firm hold. McDormand wins her second Oscar, and for her best performance since the first, no less.
Rockwell is certainly my least favorite of the five, but there you have it. Dafoe seemed so strong so recently, but momentum is momentum.
As Lady Bird‘s only strong chance at a win, I can see Laurie Metcalf pulling out a win; it’s definitely the most open of the four acting categories. But Janney’s march through the precursors was absolute.
There’s a minor chance that Mudbound might be able to surprise, but this is about as locked as this weird year gets.
Who the fuck knows. Get Out probably can’t win anything else without winning this first, so that’s an argument if they want to recognise it somewhere. Three Billboards might have a chance at Picture without this; but I feel like if you vote for that film in Picture, you probably feel silly if you don’t vote for it here. And do more people vote for Three Billboards in Picture than Get Out? This is the next-hardest category after Best Picture.
I will never predict Deakins, even if I think he’s got a great shot, because I don’t want to jinx him. Still, while Blade Runner 2049 has a good chance at either of the standard pairings with this category (Cinematography + Production Design, Cinematography + Visual Effects; maybe even all three), it’s up against three Best Picture nominees, and I can see any of them taking it. Shape is probably the easiest one to mark down if you’re not thinking too hard, though I contend that Dunkirk is prettier and represents the higher degree of difficulty, so I’d be wholly unsurprised to see that one here.
The film about clothing also has the showiest clothes, more or less. It should be a no-brainer, but the Academy that gave this award to Alice in Wonderland in 2010 is, I am afraid, more than capable of giving this award to Beauty and the Beast now.
With the two Best Picture frontrunners in the mix, it feels like this ought to go to one of those, but this category very frequently doubles as “Most Complicated Story Structure”, and Dunkirk takes that title in a heartbeat.
Will Win: The Shape of Water (Paul D. Austerberry / Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau)
Should Win: Blade Runner 2049 (Dennis Gassner / Alessandra Querzola)
Should have been here: The Post (Rick Carter / Rena DeAngelo)
Partially because I feel like if I predict Shape for Picture, I want to shore it up with a few craft wins. Partially because I can’t go Blade Runner 2049 without predicting a package win with Cinematography, and I won’t do that. Partially because Rob likes it best, and I think Rob has more in common with the average Oscar voter than I do.
Well, he doesn’t really look like Winston Churchill, but he looks even less like Gary Oldman.
This category has been on a weird kick of giving first-timers wins, despite being hugely reluctant to give first-timer’s nominations, and that helps Greenwood (so does the extraordinary beauty of his score). But if there’s even a glimmer of a Shape sweep, this is one of the first places it manifests; and if there’s not a Shape sweep, this is one of the places you can still easily throw it a bone.
The smart play is “Remember Me”, but I feel like people admire that song, and they love “This Is Me.” Either one seems pretty likely.
Baby Driver has the whole music angle, and this category does love a musical, but predicting the sound categories to go together feels right this year, and I’m close to 100% certain about Sound Editing.
A category that almost always goes for war films, and it’s this particular Best Picture-nominated war film’s single best hope for a win. Best not to over-think it.
The absence of a Best Picture winner complicates this. Do we go with Last Jedi, because it’s a Star Wars? Blade Runner 2049, for sheer scale, and being the most “prestigious” of the nominees? War for the POTA to commemorate the series? Pessimism tells me that it won’t be the last one, but after that I’m just guessing.
Foreign Language Feature
Will Win: A Fantastic Woman
Should Win: I have not seen all of the nominees
In a close race between A Fantastic Woman, The Square, and The Insult, I feel like the first has the most “important” logline, and also the most passionate fans. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen two of those three, and I despise predicting from a position of ignorance like that.
The night’s only absolute lock.
It feels like a two-film race: Faces Places has the adorable and cultishly beloved Agnès Varda, Icarus is newsy. Last Men in Aleppo is probably a close third. I confess that my tiebreaker was that not predicting Faces Places would save me from being disappointed if it loses.
Will Win: Edith+Eddie
Should Win: Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
That one that makes you saddest is Edith+Eddie and the one that makes you happiest is Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, so I suppose it’s probably between those, though if they’re of a mind to break for something that feels more explicitly important, the very fine Heroin(e) is just right around the corner. I don’t see any chance it’s one of the other two – Traffic Stop is the nominee that most speaks about Our Contemporary Moment, but it’s also arguably the worst-made of the bunch.
Will Win: Negative Space
Should Win: Negative Space
“Tim’s least-favorite wins” puts the win securely in Revolting Rhymes‘s corner, but it’s been a while since that was a reliable predictor. I’m a little confused why so many pundits are predicting Dear Basketball – it’s a short whose appeal seems strictly limited to people who appreciate Disney-style 2D character animation on a technical level, and there is absolutely no evidence that the Academy has a sizable population of such types (I guess the other appeal is for Lakers fans who can overlook what a shitty person Kobe Bryant is, and I cannot speak to the size of that population). But there’s no particular reason for it to be any of these; stylistically, I suppose that Negative Space is the most distinctive, and it probably has the biggest emotional punch of the five; it makes me feel nervous as hell to predict my favorite of the nominees to win, but it’s a weird year.
Will Win: DeKalb Elementary
Should Win: The Eleven O’Clock
If I’m writing these predictions three weeks ago, I jot down The Silent Child without another thought. Unfortunately, two weeks ago, the United States witnessed the latest mass shooting at a school, right when Oscar voting was getting into full swing. As crass as it is to say or think, this unmistakably changes the Oscar calculus, because DeKalb Elementary is about a school shooting deferred by the sympathetic ear of a brave school secretary. Whether this actually makes sense as a tribute to the tragedy is besides the point – it’s the Oscars – but I feel like this pretty much makes it a horse race between DeKalb for the voters who believe this award needs to go to very serious films, and The Eleven O’Clock for those who like it to go to more optimistic, upbeat fare. This isn’t to say that the latter film can’t win, because this category has been known to go upbeat, but it’s been a few years.
I’m ready to lock-in my picks for 2018 coming off a strong 2017 where I swept the floor with the rest of the AE crew. This year, I have even more of the Oscar contenders under my belt, but I’m a little worried being informed may actually hurt my final result.
The nail in the coffin for Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri came when Martin McDonagh didn’t get the nod for Best Director. While not a certainty, it looks like The Shape of Water has this wrapped up.
What was lacking for me in the believability of the romance department was made-up by the stunning visuals, production design and solid acting of this film. His vision was realized, so I guess you have to give him credit. That being said, my heart is still with Martin McDonagh on this one, despite not being nominated for the category.
Had DDL worn a fat suit or some prosthetics, he would be riding all of the buzz. He gives another memorable performance filled with subtlety that outshines the over-the-top take of Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. Don’t get me wrong, I thought Oldman delivers as Churchill, but he’s just screaming the entire time.
If I had one lock, this would be it. No one touches Frances’s turn as the bereaved, but head strong mother on a mission.
A long time coming for a well-deserved recipient. The only thing that could derail this victory would be punishing the Sam for portraying a racist with a character arc.
Much like Oldman vs. Daniel Day-Lewis, I’d prefer to reward Laurie Metcalf for her all of the nuanced subtleties of her performance versus Allison Janney’s caricature. Granted she may not be far off from the person she is portraying, it’s not much of a stretch from what I’ve seen her do in other movies.
I could look at this movie all-day. That’s about how long it takes to watch it too.
It’s a movie about couture, so yeah…it’s going to win…and what beautiful couture at that!
This is one of two main things that stood out to me about this movie. I couldn’t help but feel drawn into the environment. The tank area and the apartment were breathtaking.
Not a strong category this year. Honestly, I’m tempted to have GOTG on here.
I mentioned there were two things that stood out to me for this movie. Other than production design, the score was beautiful.
Don’t get me wrong, I love “Remember Me”; a song that has at least 3 different meanings depending on who is singing it and in which way. The problem here is I can’t get “This Is Me” out of my head and you have to give it up to any song that infectious.
I still tear up thinking about this movie. Far and away the best animated movie. Full disclosure I have not watched Loving Vincent.
I haven’t seen any of these, but given Tim can’t stop talking about this, I suppose that means something. Either he really likes it, or he is playing me for a fool with the long con.
Will Win: Heroin(e)
Should Win: Heroin(e)
Will Win: Negative Space
Should Win: Negative Space
Will Win: DeKalb Elementary
Should Win: DeKalb Elementary
I’ve mulled over and over in my mind if the academy is going to go arty or political this year, and after tossing the coin it landed on political. But The Shape of Water is political, too… I’ll go with overt political… Bah…
I get what Del Toro was trying to do, but it doesn’t mean that I have to like it. There is no chance for Get Out but I’ll be darned if it doesn’t deserve the attention.
I watched some old clips of Winston Churchill’s speeches and Gary Oldman’s mumbled-drunken portrayl is really, really remarkable. But, since it was boring I’ll give the nod to wishing Kaluuya would win.
Will win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should have been here: Melanie Lynskey, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Seriously, if you missed I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore, it’s worth seeing.
Will win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should have been here: Armie Hammer, Rob Morgan, Michael Stuhlbarg
So many top notch performances in a supporting role this year, but Rockwell man, so much hatred and empathy and anger and empathy and rage and empathy, towards him.
I keep feeling like for all the positive praise that Lady Bird got that it should be showing up on my picks, but for as much as I loved Metcalf’s performance, Allison Janney steals the show.
I’m still in the midst of the grieving process from this film.
Don’t judge me, MOTOE was really, really cinemato-rific.
The conundrum I’m faced with is do we consider the blue aquaman suit a costume? Or is that really thick make-up? I think it matters. And, we really shouldn’t underscore the simplicity of a costume that only requires a bedsheet with two eye holes.
I was really tempted to put Beauty and the Beast just to infuriate Tim, but because I want to win, I’ll take the safer bet.
Maybe this is answering my earlier question, re: the aqua man suit must be considered a costume…
Despite the fact that John Williams scores all start to sound a bit the same, they are every bit the best part of the Star Wars films, but somehow I think it’s like “John Williams is too good, we gotta give somebody else a chance” so we’ll give it to Hans.
I’m relistening to each and every nominated song and now typing through tears. My gawd, “Remember Me” you’re a cruel b. And crap, “Mystery of Love” you were mezmerizing. Mary J. Blige… can I just be you. Ugh…
I’m having flashbacks to last year when I started to think how does anybody distiguish the winners in these categories…
Foreign Language Feature
Will win: A Fantastic Woman
Should win: A Fantastic Woman
Oh, I hope so hard that Agnes Varda gets this!
Will win: Edith+Eddie
Should win: Edith+Eddie
Will win: Negative Space
Should win: Revolting Rhymes
Should have been here: World of Tomorrow, Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts
Tim cried at WoTE2, how is it not on here?!
Will win: The Silent Child
Should win: The Silent Child