Oscar Predictions: Final Round - Will Win/Should Win

Billboards, Lady Bird, Darkest Hour, The Post, The Shape of Water, and I, Tonya
For every ‘yup’ there’s a ‘but.’ This year’s Best Picture race is an unlikely field. Some major stat looks to be broken since all the contenders have a bit of baggage that decreases the odds of a confident win. Get ready for the Oscars to break the Internet on Sunday night! Awards season ends its six-month grind of toxic mudslinging on March 4th when either Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri or The Shape of Water takes Best Picture. It’s a tight race with Get Out, Dunkirk, and Lady Bird having adoring fans, and after last year’s crazy finale, the memory of #OscarsSoWhite, the shadow of Harvey Weinstein, the stench of Donald Trump, and the energy of #TimesUp, it feels as if there are many factors percolating with the usual stats and precursors. With an open mind, let’s look at who will win and should win in the top categories!

Best Picture:

Ifs and buts are all over this category. Billboards doesn’t have that director nomination. (The last time a film won without that was Argo.) Shape of Water doesn’t have that SAG Ensemble nom. (The only film to win without that? Braveheart.) Get Out and Lady Bird have no below the line nominations and weren’t BAFTA Best Picture nominees. (The last time a Best Picture Oscar winner didn’t have a BAFTA nomination for Best Picture was Million Dollar Baby, and unlike Get Out and Lady Bird, it opened at the last second and didn’t send screeners.) Dunkirk doesn’t have nominations for acting or writing. (Last film to do manage that? 1932’s Grand Hotel.) Darkest Hour and The Post are missing directing and writing. (Also: Grand Hotel.) Phantom Thread isn’t up for Best Screenplay and skipped the festivals. (Beat that, Titanic.)

My attitude, however, is that we had to press the reset button once the preferential ballot and flexible 5-10 nominations came into play with the 2011 Oscars. You also can’t compare contemporary awards season against what won in 1932. I think Billboards has this one because the film is widely praised for its sharp writing and brilliant acting. Director Martin McDonagh was not nominated, but unlike Ben Affleck, he wasn’t winning Best Director even the film when was winning the top prize at events like the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and BAFTAs. The director prizes are all going to del Toro for The Shape of Water and, since the preferential ballot began, there’s been an uptick in Best Picture/Best Director splits with the showier, more visual effects driven productions taking the director prize with the less showy films nabbing the top gong. (See: Spotlight and The Revenant, Argo and Life of Pi, 12 Years a Slave and Gravity.) Add to this the surprise People’s Choice Award win for Billboards at TIFF over The Shape of Water, which was widely tipped as the favourite, along with the recent appearances of real billboards mimicking the film’s call-out to authority, and there is no denying that McDonagh’s dark comedy taps into an anxiety within the cultural consciousness unlike the other nominees. Don’t believe the Internet backlash. That’s just noise.

The Post doesn’t have a chance with only two nominations. But, heck, the last Best Picture to win only two Oscars was newsroom pic Spotlight. Go, Meryl!

«Will win: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
«I’d vote for: Since the preferential ballot asks for ranked preferences, my picks would go:
1) The Post 2) Dunkirk 3) The Shape of Water 4) Three Billboards 5) Call Me By Your Name 6) Lady Bird 7) Darkest Hour 8) Get Out 9) Phantom Thread.
«Should have been there: Wonderstruck, Faces Places, I, Tonya

Best Director:

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

For the reasons listed above, I think Guillermo del Toro will win for his richly layered and cinematically intoxicating fairy tale. I’m personally rooting for dark horse Christopher Nolan, who displayed astonishing technical and artistic mastery with the most ambitious and challenging production of the five. Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig made terrific films and while I think both Get Out and Lady Bird are strongest for their writing, the directors will certainly be back in this category in years to come.

«Will win: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
«I’d vote for: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
«Should have been there: Todd Haynes, Wonderstruck; Steven Spielberg, The Post; Agnès Varda and JR, Faces Places

The acting categories seem pretty much locked. The four frontrunners—Oldman, McDormand, Rockwell and Janney—collectively swept the major awards and will add Oscars to their Golden Globes, SAGs, Critics Choice Awards, and BAFTAs.

Best Actor:

The nominees: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name; Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out; Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread; Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour; Denzel Washington, That Terrible John Grisham-y Movie

Darkest Hour is Gary Oldman and he deserves to win for his transformative showstopper of a performance that disappears underneath gobs of make-up. He’s long overdue, and criminally underappreciated given that this is only his second nomination. Those factors make for stiff hurdles for his only real competitor, Timothée Chalamet, who could have won this any other year for his subtle and devastatingly bittersweet work in Call Me By Your Name.

«Will win: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
«I’d vote for: Oldman
«Should have been there: Bryan Cranston, Last Flag Flying; Tom Hanks, The Post

Best Actress:

The nominees: 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

We all know how this is going down. Frances McDormand’s savagely funny work in Billboards is leading the film to win Best Picture. If she loses, then maybe it’s to Sally Hawkins who could tip Shape to win with her magical and musical performance as a mute cleaner who fucks a fish. Any of these performances, like Chalamet, could have won any other year though. Saoirse Ronan? So funny and natural in Lady Bird! Margot Robbie? So brilliant and brave in I, Tonya – so good in fact, that in the history of her 21 nominations, this would only be the second time that I wouldn’t vote for the great Meryl Streep. Which says a lot about Robbie’s work, since Katherine Graham is easily top tier Streep.

«Will win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards
«I’d vote for: Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
«Should have been there: Cate Blanchett, Manifesto

Best Supporting Actor:

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; Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Dafoe was the bigger critical favourite, but Rockwell walloped him in the awards that count. While Rockwell’s character has been the source of the most ire against Billboards—namely, criticism that his hotheaded racist cop is redeemed in the end—the backlash isn’t really fair. Dixon isn’t redeemed at the end. He simply realizes that he needs to change, and don’t we all need to believe that is possible?

«Will win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
«I’d vote for: Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
«Should have been there: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, BPM (Beats Per Minute); Armie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name

Best Supporting Actress:

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

Rarely have I sat through a festival with the experience of seeing a performance explode as an Oscar favourite. That performance was Allison Janney in I, Tonya. Everyone went in to see a contender in Margot Robbie, and while she delivered, the buzz from the world premiere and after was for Janney. She is acerbically funny as the monstrous mother of Tonya Harding, but there’s a subtle pain to her performance that elevates it. Just look at the jealous and resentment with which she views her own daughter. LaVona hates Tonya for getting the attention her mother her, which feeds their family’s cycle of anger and violence. Some critics say Laurie Metcalf will win here, but I think the show of support for Metcalf in the critics’ prizes phase, while warranted, was more advocacy than anything else. Manville’s been gaining critical support for her brilliantly restrained work in Phantom Thread, which a lot of critics couldn’t see in early stages, and might be taking some votes away from Metcalf. Octavia Spencer is great, but this performance demands repeat viewing to appreciate, while Blige’s nomination is her award. There’s no beating Janney. She’s a respected character actress who has worked in a ton of movies (The Hours, American Beauty, The Help, Juno) and her effort on the campaign trail has been widely applauded to boot. 6.0!

«Will win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
«I’d vote for: Janney
«Should have been there: Rosamund Pike, Hostiles

And onto the rest!

Best Documentary

Strong Island

«Will win: Last Men in Aleppo
«I’d vote for: Faces Places
«Should have been there: Step, Kedi
Read a rundown at POV of which docs will win/should win 

Best Foreign Language Film

Chile - A Fantastic Woman
Hungary – On Body and Soul
Lebanon - The Insult
Russia - Loveless
Sweden - The Square

«Will win: The Insult
«I’d vote for: On Body and Soul
«Should have been there: First They Killed My Father

Best Animated Film

The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Loving Vincent

«Will win: Coco
«I’d vote for: The Breadwinner
«Should have been there: Window Horses

Best Adapted Screenplay

Call Me By Your Name – James Ivory
The Disaster Artist - Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Logan - Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Molly's Game - Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound – Dee Rees, Virgil Williams

«Will win: Call Me By Your Name
«I’d vote for: Call Me By Your Name
«Should have been there: Wonderstruck

Best Original Screenplay

The Big Sick - Kumail Nanjali and Emily Gordon
Get Out - Jordan Peele
Lady Bird - Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water - Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri - Martin McDonagh

«Will win: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
«I’d vote for: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
«Should have been there: The Post; I, Tonya

Best Cinematography

Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

«Will win: Blade Runner
«I’d vote for: Blade Runner
«Should have been there: Wonderstruck

Best Film Editing

Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

«Will win: Dunkirk
«I’d vote for: Dunkirk
«Should have been there: Jane, The Post

Best Original Score

Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

«Will win: The Shape of Water
«I’d vote for: Dunkirk
«Should have been there: Wonderstruck, Jane

Best Song

Call Me My Your Name – “The Mystery of Love
Coco, “Remember Me
The Greatest Showman - This is Me
Marshall - "Stand Up for Something"
Mudbound - "Mighty River"

«Will win: "This is Me"
«I’d vote for: "This is Me"
«Should have been there: "Jump" from Step; "Visions of Gideon" from Call Me By Your Name

Best Costumes

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria & Abdul

«Will win: Phantom Thread
«I’d vote for: Phantom Thread
«Should have been there: I, Tonya; The Post

Best Make-up

Darkest Hour
Victoria & Abdul

«Will win: Darkest Hour
«I’d vote for: Darkest Hour
«Should have been there: The Shape of Water

Best Production Design

Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

«Will win: The Shape of Water
«I’d vote for: Blade Runner 2049
«Should have been there: The Greatest Showman, The Post

Best Sound Mixing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

«Will win: Dunkirk
«I’d vote for: Dunkirk

Best Sound Editing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

«Will win: Dunkirk
«I’d vote for: Dunkirk

Best Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

«Will win: Blade Runner 2049
«I’d vote for: Blade Runner 2049
«Should have been there: The Shape of Water

Best Documentary (Short Subject)

Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

«Will win: Edith+Eddie
«I’d vote for: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405

Best Live Action Short

DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O'Clock
My Nephew Emmett 
The Silent Child
Watu Wote - All of Us

«Will win: My Nephew Emmett
«I’d vote for: My Nephew Emmett

Best Animated Short

Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

«Will win: Revolting Rhymes
«I’d vote for: Negative Space

What do you think will win? Which Oscar contenders are you rooting for?