2018 Oscar Predictions

I have seen all of the movies for the major categories and many in the minor categories for the Oscars this year. I am going to tell you who I would like to see win and who I think will actually win in each of the major categories with some commentaries on some of the others. I’m going to not pick winners for the technical categories even if I’ve seen all the movies for some of them. For example, I don’t know anything about sound mixing, so how can I tell you which I thought was best even though I saw all the movies. I will start with the categories where I have incomplete information and build up to the categories where I have seen all the movies.

Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast – Did Not See
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria & Abdul – Did Not See

Who I Would Like to See Win: Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a fastidious dressmaker. The costumes produced for the movie are exquisite. Actual seamstresses from actual famous clothiers worked as extras and in minor roles in the film. The attention to detail from Paul Thomas Anderson and Day-Lewis make this a lock for the costume design Oscar.

Who Will Win: Phantom Thread

Writing (Original Screenplay)

The Big Sick – Did Not See
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Who I Would Like to See Win: Get Out

I feel like Get Out is going to get snubbed all night. Get Out is particularly doomed because of genre bias and the fact that some academy members have already admitted they didn’t even see it. Get Out is particularly deserving here. The story is remarkably original. It is a story about race told in a way that I can guarantee you haven’t seen before. It is exciting, has a dramatic climax, and a twist you probably won’t see coming.

Who Will Win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a great story that has a few really dramatic twists and turns. It is a much more conventional story than Get Out and I think it is going to have a big night as a result. The Shape of Water has likely precluded itself from winning this category because of plagiarism accusations that have been leveled at Guillermo del Toro. I haven’t followed the story at all, but that will probably be enough to scare most people off.

Production Design

Beauty and the Beast – Did Not See
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water

Who I Would Like to See Win: Blade Runner 2049

All of these movies were impressive from a production standpoint, but creating the world of Blade Runner is incredibly challenging. Blade Runner blended CGI with sets more than any other movie on this list. The environments needed to be futuristic, but also in keeping with the original. Some of it needed to be very distinct yet nearly entirely in the dark. All of the movies had significant conventional elements or significant flaws that really irked me. The size of parliament in Darkest Hour makes it seem like they meet in a broom closet. The Shape of Water has some impressive elements regarding the creature, but a lot of the other elements were solidly conventional and just had great lighting.

Who Will Win: Darkest Hour

Aside from parliament, Darkest Hour does a fine job outfitting its characters, assembling a movie that feels like it fits the time period. It does a better job of this than Dunkirk. The work done to Gary Oldman to get him to play Churchill will probably be factored in here and the set pieces, not the least of which Winston’s meals, are going to stack up to an Oscar win.

Music (Original Score)

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

Who I Would Like to See Win: Dunkirk

Dunkirk was a move away from the atonal mess Hans Zimmer has been producing as of late. Instead of loud noises we were presented with actual music. It was also very effective in driving the story. Anything that will move movie soundtracks away from blaring noise and calling it music would be great in my book. Give him the Oscar, maybe that will help.

Who Will Win: The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water should win this for the tap dancing scene alone.

Directing

Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water

Who I Would Like to See Win: The Shape of Water

This is one of the few big categories that did not net any nominations for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. This was likely over some casting decisions made by the director. The Shape of Water is the most genre bending movie in this category. It does a lot of different things during its running time and does all of them well. Dunkirk, Lady Bird, and Phantom Thread are all very good, but very much genre films. Get Out bends the mold, bust not as much as The Shape of Water. The Shape of Water required a lot of fluidity and a lot of different skill. I think it should win Guillermo del Toro a best director Oscar.

Who Will Win: The Shape of Water

Actress in a Supporting Role

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

Who I Would Like to See Win: Allison Janney – I, Tonya

Allison Janney was phenomenal as Tonya Harding’s acerbic mother in I, Tonya. The makeup, the interactions with her pet bird, her parenting…skills are all horrifying and eye opening. If people wonder how Tonya Harding got the way she was look no further. Janney’s performance is standout in a weak field. The other performances were rather lackluster. No one stood out. Octavia Spencer played a similar character to at least two previous roles. I feel like she is in danger of being typecast or maybe already has been. Laurie Metcalf and Lesley Manville were solid if unremarkable. Mary J. Blige was downright non-existent in Mudbound. I have no idea why she was nominated.

Who Will Win: Allison Janney – I, Tonya

Actor in a Supporting Role

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

Who I Would Like to See Win: Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World

All the Money in the World was not a great film. It dragged on and had repetitive scenes that needed to be edited out of the movie. But, Christopher Plummer was great as the parsimonious John Paul Getty in a short notice call up no less. Kevin Spacey was originally cast to play the role and had shot all of his scenes. Spacey played the character in a vindictive fashion and then Spacey was blown away in last year’s sex scandals. Plummer was called in and did a different treatment of the character. He portrayed Getty as a man with more internal problems and damaged psychology than someone who was maliciously neglecting the kidnapping of his grandson. He saved the movie and did a great job. I think this is also deserving as a lifetime achievement award for Plummer. He has been acting in roles big and small since the 1950s and has only ever been nominated for an Oscar once. I think it is time that a screen legend gets his due.

Who Will Win: Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Rockwell’s performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was shockingly barbaric and crude. The way he carries himself and then attempts to redeem himself after being disfigured is going to win him this award.

Actress in a Leading Role

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

Who I Would Like to See Win: Margot Robbie – I, Tonya

Robbie did a fantastic job portraying Tonya Harding at different points in her life. She portrayed her as a fit young athlete and as a mid-40s dumpster fire. She did a great job with both. She also had to learn to ice skate from scratch for the role. She couldn’t just be passable at it either. She needed to be excellent. This role was very dynamic because of the way the script was written and the way they movie was shot. Robbie did a great job in this role.

Who Will Win: Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Robbie was great, but McDormand was at least as good, but likely better. McDormand plays a grieving mother who wants answers to who murdered her child. She runs the gamut of emotions and also pulls off a Clint Eastwood-like performance in the movies key scenes. McDormand made the movie, so she should win this award.

Actor in a Leading Role

Timothee 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.

Who I Would Like to See Win: Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out

Daniel Kaluuya had a breakout performance in Get Out that put both himself and director Jordan Peele on a much larger radar. Kaluuya worked masterfully in this horror movie project and gave the role gravity. He experiences loss, betrayal, confusion, and the hypnosis scenes require a striking performance with very little external stimulation. Those scenes were masterfully done.

Who Will Win: Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

It is surprising that Oldman has not received more glaring rebukes over his behavior (abuse allegations) and comments (defending other actors racist comments) from an Academy that was quick to browbeat many others this year. I don’t think Oldman deserves this award. The only two worthy nominees in this category are Kaluuya or Day-Lewis who is always a master at work. Chalamet showed incredible promise with the movies I have seen him in this year, but his turn in Call Me By Your Name and the movie as a whole is not worthy of Oscar contention. Oldman’s performance is largely the work of prosthesis. Once you get past Oldman’s shocking transformation I didn’t find his performance to really be all that powerful and at times I didn’t find it to be much like the Winston Churchill I have read about. With that said, I think he will walk away for this as the academy seems very impressed by Oldman.

Best Picture Nominees

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 was a strong year for best picture nominees. In my opinion five of them are worthy of potentially winning the award. Let’s start with the films that aren’t.

The Post is completely unworthy of an Oscar nomination when a far superior film in I, Tonya did not receive one. The Post received one additional nomination for Meryl Streep which is an academy joke. I, Tonya received multiple award nominations including Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, but doesn’t get a best picture nomination? Absurd. The Post is a decent movie, but nothing Oscar worthy. Streep’s dreary performance and her feminist worship scene is dreadful.

Call Me By Your Name does not have enough conflict to make it really interesting or to make it an Oscar contender. Timothee Chalamet was fairly impressive in a break out role, but the character was also required to do strange things that were not interesting to watch and did not improve the film.

Lady Bird was very well done, but was also a fairly typical coming of age drama that didn’t really have too much to make it stand out from other movies in the same category. I liked it, but I expect it to come up empty at the Oscars.

Darkest Hour was worthy of a nomination because a lot of the exceptional work that went into the movie, but ultimately it just doesn’t have enough parts to put it over the top. Oldman is alright, but none of the other performances stand out. The overall production value is fantastic and the makeup artists did a phenomenal job on Oldman. But, in a year where you have two movies about the Dunkirk evacuation, you really need to be the better one to win best picture.

The other films have arguable merits for winning best picture.

Phantom Thread gives us another phenomenal performance by Daniel Day-Lewis and another great directorial outing from Paul Thomas Anderson. Vicky Krieps was good as a newcomer in the lead, but at times dragged the film down. Much like Darkest Hour, the costuming and production value were top notch. This is Daniel Day-Lewis’s retirement film and that puts it in position to stage an upset at the Oscars.

Get Out has got a lot of love already and I think I have said enough about it. Ultimately, it won’t win and it probably doesn’t deserve to. But, it is a great film that is getting overlooked too much because of its horror genre tag. With that said, it deserves to win for elevating the horror genre. It brings gravity, serious topics, and strong performances to a genre renowned for its level of blood and guts.

Dunkirk has strong performances in many small roles, a fantastic score, beautiful direction and cinematography, and this year I don’t think it will be enough. Despite being strong in practically every area it lacks one standout performance to put it over the top.

The Shape of Water is the movie I would love to see win best picture. It is a period piece with sci-fi elements. A science fiction movie has never won best picture despite some clear cases where it should have happened before. It has so many genre bending moments and when you realize exactly where the movie is going to go it becomes very exciting. It is a great movie and in other years it might have won.

But, with that said…

This year’s best picture will be Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It has a phenomenal cast that perfectly and realistically captures the essence of life in the fictional town of Ebbing, Missouri. Everything about the movie feels authentic. As our lead protagonist tries to find the person who raped and murdered her daughter you root for her, but you also know how futile it could be. No one in town wants to deal with her problem and no one wants their boat rocked. All of this turns the town into a powder keg and the end result of the movie is a masterwork.

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