It’s Oscar week!!! I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am for all the fun leading up to the big show and for the first time ever in my life I got to enjoy every Best Picture nominee before the big show arrives this Sunday. The big event draws a lot of attention, well unless you’re a hard-core conservative these days, and I’m here to make my picks for who will walk away with the gold statuette in just a few days. These are my predictions for the 2018 Academy Awards!
Today I’m going through most of the major categories of the Oscars and picking who I believe is the most deserving winner and the most likely winner of each category. Some of them might be the same on both counts, and some might not even match my Golden Globe predictions, but regardless this preview of Hollywood’s biggest night is meant to present my personal opinion (who should win) and what I think the Academy will choose (who will win) based on the quality of the candidates and expert opinions. The only categories I will ignore in this post are short films, documentaries and foreign films, all categories I do not cover (for the most part) on Cinema Spotlight so I personally feel I have no right to judge them in the context of the Oscars either. Also I saved the best for last in this post so Director and Best Picture will be covered at the bottom if you want to scroll down and ignore everything else. You can also click on the links provided with the Best Picture candidates to read my review of all the nominees for the night’s biggest honor.
Please feel free to comment your predictions for the 90th annual Academy Awards in the comments and look for my recap of the show on Monday!
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”
SHOULD WIN: Saoirse Ronan
WILL WIN: Frances McDormand
Frances McDormand won the Globe for her work in “Three Billboards” and don’t get me wrong, she was a force to be reckoned with in that film. However, personally I believe Saoirse Ronan deserves the big prize for her incredible performance in “Lady Bird”. It was a career-making role and one filled with so much depth and emotional subtext that it can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. It’s not uncommon for the Globes and Oscars to agree in this category and the two top winners from the Globes remain the top contenders here. I feel like its McDormand’s night to shine and while I wouldn’t necessarily agree she is the most deserving, she IS a deserving top candidate for consideration. “Three Billboards” is nominated for many awards this year and, as you’ll see as you scroll, I feel the acting awards are where it will truly shine by the end of the night.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
- 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.”
SHOULD WIN: Gary Oldman
WILL WIN: Gary Oldman
With James Franco being unjustfully snubbed for his flawless portrayal of Tommy Wiseau in “The Disaster Artist” I had to go with the next best thing and honestly I think Gary Oldman was going to beat Franco anyway. Oldman’s take on Prime Minister Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” was flawless and perfected down to the smallest detail, including the makeup and mannerisms. Oldman has been long overdue for the Oscar and this year almost everyone has him pegged as the undeniable winner, but the odds of him losing to Timothée Chalamet remain better than a McDormand loss so that could make it interesting. Oldman won the Golden Globe and he won the hearts of moviegoers everywhere with one of the most complete performances of 2017. This, in my opinion, is a no brainer and would be one of the most shocking upsets of the night if anyone were to take it away from Oldman this time around. This is one pick I’m pretty confident will result in a win.
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”
SHOULD WIN: Laurie Metcalf
WILL WIN: Allison Janney
Janney won the Globe from seemingly out of nowhere and honestly after actually seeing “I,Tonya” I think she deserved it. If she can claim the Oscar she will earn that too and it’s probably the only award where “I, Tonya” could be considered a top contender on the surface. However I think Laurie Metcalf’s portrayal of a complex mother character in “Lady Bird” deserves more attention. In the end it will come down to several factors, not the least of which will be Academy’s preference in terms of tone because both of these ladies portrayed mother figures, but their characters and portrayals were exact opposites of each other, one a loving mother with hidden emotions and the other a violent one who wore her opinions on her sleeve. I think Janney’s was more out there, but personally I prefer the complexity and control of Metcalf’s mother figure. Either way I can’t really see any of the other three being horned over these two so I feel like at least one mother character will take home the award and experts have this one pretty close so I’d say it’s a 50/50 shot on who walks away smiling.
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”
SHOULD WIN: Sam Rockwell
WILL WIN: Sam Rockwell
Like the Best Actor category this one seems undeniable. Despite controversy over his character’s portrayal as a quick-to-change racist cop in “Three Billboards”, Rockwell has received most of the buzz over a male performance in 2017 second only to Gary Oldman in terms of award’s season hype. And, in my opinion, he deserves it. Rockwell is a talented actor and one who truly tends to embrace his roles, good or bad. Here he fully embodied a cop who struggles with emotional stresses that manifest themselves in abusive and racist tendencies and while there are plenty of good performances in this category there are few that can hold a candle to the weight of this role and I don’t see the Academy doing anything creative here. This one feels like a deserving shoe-in.
- “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
SHOULD WIN: “Get Out”
WILL WIN: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
For those who don’t know this award is given to the original story screenplay instead of one that was an adapted work (which has its own award you’ll find just below this one). So the movies in this category are original concepts and if you saw the movie then you’ll know Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” is the most deserving by far. With a creepy premise that tackles social issues of society in a tasteful and creative way, the film featured one of 2017’s most epic original stories, but unfortunately I’m not sure if that makes it a shoe-in for the honor. “Three Billboard” deserves to be at least considered and it looks like it will be a nail biter between this and “Get Out”. “Three Billboards” was an equally epic story that mixed chaotic storytelling with social themes and might be a bit closer to what the Academy tends to look for. I think this will be a tough category and one that could define what’s to come for the rest of the show if certain nominees do come out on top, but my guess is “Get Out” will come close but lose to “Three Billboards” in the end. Plus “Three Billboards” won the Globe for screenplay so…yeah…
- “Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory
- “The Disaster Artist,” Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
- “Logan,” Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
- “Molly’s Game,” Aaron Sorkin
- “Mudbound,” Virgil Williams and Dee Rees
SHOULD WIN: “Logan”
WILL WIN: “Call Me By Your Name”
The adapted screenplay award honors the screenplay formed from an outside property, like a novel, short film or series. However no comic book adaptation has ever won the honor and I think that deserves to change especially after the masterpiece that was “Logan” in 2017. “Logan’s” screenplay was magnificent, ditching the limits of its comic book counterpart and film continuity to tell a complete, compelling and emotionally driven tale of redemption and mortality. But…I’m going to go out on a limb (sarcastically) and say this probably won’t win over Academy voters who never tend to really embrace Marvel films…although DC has a few victories under its belt. No, I think this will be the one award that best picture nominee “Call Me by Your Name” has in the bag and so do the experts who actually put “Logan” basically dead last in terms of likelihood of a win. Adapted from a novel, this film might be the biggest underdog in the night’s top category, but it’s the only one nominated for the top honor that is featured in this lineup. There’s some great competition here, but in the end I think it’s more likely than not the fantastic film tackling themes of love and sexual identity will win out here and that “Logan”, despite my own love for the film, will be just another could have been Oscar opportunity for Marvel.
- “Blade Runner 2049,” Roger Deakins
- “Darkest Hour,” Bruno Delbonnel
- “Dunkirk,” Hoyte van Hoytema
- “Mudbound,” Rachel Morrison
- “The Shape of Water,” Dan Laustsen
SHOULD WIN: Blade Runner 2049
WILL WIN: Blade Runner 2049
This category to me is interesting because four of these films seem to be on pretty even ground and if it weren’t for one movie here this could have probably been one of the night’s most competitive categories. But, I think it’s going to be no contest that the heavy favorite, “Blade Runner 2049”, which packs beautifully rendered futuristic scenery and atmospheric design, will take the statuette. The lighting and color palettes are unmatched and the film was one of the best looking movies of the year overall and I don’t believe anyone can deny that. The closest competition will be “Dunkirk” and I do think it will give “Blade Runner 2049” a run for its money matching the sci-fi epic with gritty realism shot for shot. However, I’m sticking to my guns on this one. “Blade Runner 2049” for the win!
- “Baby Driver,” Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
- “Dunkirk,” Lee Smith
- “I, Tonya,” Tatiana S. Riegel
- “The Shape of Water,” Sidney Wolinsky
- “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Jon Gregory
SHOULD WIN: “Baby Driver”
WILL WIN: “Dunkirk”
The past two years have seen a chaotic film (“Mad Max: Fury Road”) and a war film (“Hacksaw Ridge”) win the film editing honor and I think you’ll see two similar films, the chaotic and stylish “Baby Driver” and the war epic “Dunkirk”, battle it out for the gold this time around. In my opinion “Baby Driver” deserves it more. It was a beautifully filmed piece that played with camera angles and perspectives brilliantly to produce a unique car-chase heist film like few before it. However, “Dunkirk” has one thing going for it and that’s its separate timelines edited together as one story. While I personally found this to be a detriment to the film most people lauded it as brilliant and it’s hard to see the Academy turning a blind eye to that. “Dunkirk” didn’t even need any real schmoozing to earn any love in this category. It earned it all on its own and while I think “Baby Driver” SHOULD get the win, if “Dunkirk” does win as expected I won’t be disappointed.
- “Baby Driver,” Julian Slater
- “Blade Runner 2049,” Mark Mangini, Theo Green
- “Dunkirk,” Alex Gibson, Richard King
- “The Shape of Water,” Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
- “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood
SHOULD WIN: “Blade Runner 2049”
WILL WIN: “Dunkirk”
This one is a tough one for me because I have a feeling I’m going to be wrong on who will win. Right now “Baby Driver” and “Dunkirk” are the leading candidates for this award with “Blade Runner 2049” an underdog. I think the sci-fi epic deserves it the most, but it has some tough competition with the musically booming “Baby Driver” and the epic “Dunkirk” both providing insane use of sound mixing to pull it off. However I’m going to go out on a limb and say that “Blade Runner 2049” could be the top prize winner here. Like its predecessor, “2049” was unique and majestic in its sound design, however “Dunkirk” did a fantastic job in balancing the chaos of war and the epic sound design in that film echoed the chaos and fear as well as the significance of time (the entire movie is overlaid with a ticked watch sound) of the siege we were watching unfold. I believe “Dunkirk” will win, but I do think it has to truly earn this one over its two closest rivals.
- “Baby Driver,” Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
- “Blade Runner 2049,” Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
- “Dunkirk,” Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
- “The Shape of Water,” Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
- “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick
SHOULD WIN: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
WILL WIN: “Dunkirk”
I’m taking a bit of a different road on sound mixing than I did on sound editing. While the overall sound design in “Blade Runner: 2049” was magnificent, the sound mixing, which IS a different art, was much more impressive in “The Last Jedi” which saw many different futuristic and mechanical sounds mixed into the project to bring to life the world of “Star Wars” once again. This is one of my least favorite awards categories because I feel it is redundant to Sound Editing in some ways, but it has its own merits and while I don’t agree with the pick I think the Academy will honor “Dunkirk” for this award as well for its mixing of explosions, chaos and firefights into its presentation flawlessly. The two sound-based awards don’t always match, but I think this year they will and maybe I’ll be surprised. I can’t ignore “Baby Driver” as a contender here too so it’s possible, hell maybe even probable, that my picks here will both find themselves on the outside looking in because “Baby Driver” would be just as deserving.
- “Beauty and the Beast,” Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer
- “Blade Runner 2049,” Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
- “Darkest Hour,” Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
- “Dunkirk,” Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
- “The Shape of Water,” Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau
SHOULD WIN: “Blade Runner 2049”
WILL WIN: “Blade Runner 2049”
I know “The Shape of Water”, a very deserving film, is an early favorite but my observations have this as one of the more unpredictable awards in the show this year and I think it will go to the close-running second favorite, “Blade Runner 2049”, a film with set pieces and designs that were out of this world. We’ve seen more futuristic and sci-fi films get love in this category before, specifically with “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Avatar” so “Blade Runner 2049” is far from out of the question. “The Shape of Water” though could be tough to defeat. It’s beautifully filmed with great period-accurate interiors and a well-designed government facility as its backdrop worthy of respect and is the category frontrunner, but it’s far from a runaway winner. I like to think the Academy will buck predictability and award the more visually stunning film here, but there have been more down-to-earth set and production designs awarded than creative ones over the years so this one is a tough call. In the end I think “Blade Runner 2049” will squeak by.
- “Blade Runner 2049,” John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
- “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
- “Kong: Skull Island,” Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
- “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan
- “War for the Planet of the Apes,” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist
SHOULD WIN: “Blade Runner 2049”
WILL WIN: “War for the Planet of the Apes”
This one I was extremely torn on because I honestly think both “Blade Runner 2049” and “War for the Planet of the Apes” are just so deserving of this award. “War for the Planet of the Apes” continued Andy Serkis’ amazing take on Caesar the ape with groundbreaking motion capture and believable designs for the computer generated apes. On the other hand “Blade Runner 2049” leaned heavily on human characters with the visuals being incorporated into the set pieces and presentation. Both are exceptional films in their own right, but I’d personally like to see “Blade Runner” take the win. In the end though “War for the Planet of the Apes” feels like the more likely candidate and has the odds in its favor going into Sunday. It’s important to remember though that the previous two “Apes” movies did not receive their Oscars. In fact one of them lost to “Interstellar”, a similarly stunning sci-fi adventure to “Blade Runner”. So this award could swing either way very easily.
- “Dunkirk,” Hans Zimmer
- “Phantom Thread,” Jonny Greenwood
- “The Shape of Water,” Alexandre Desplat
- “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” John Williams
- “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Carter Burwell
SHOULD WIN: “The Shape of Water”
WILL WIN: “The Shape of Water”
I love a lot of the scores in this category, especially “Phantom Thread’s”, but there’s not much competition here. “The Shape of Water’s” score was not only one of my personal favorites from 2017, but one of the highlights of the film critically. It has just the right amount of nostalgia and old-fashion spice that the Academy tends to love which is why I think “Phantom Thread” is realistically the only true competition against this score. There are a lot of good musical works in the running but “The Shape of Water’s” fantastic musical accompaniment builds on the story, matches the period of the tale and even adds some depth to the narrative. There’s not a whole lot more to say here. This seems like a no brainer if there ever was one.
- “Mighty River” from “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige
- “Mystery of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name,” Sufjan Stevens
- “Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
- “Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” Diane Warren, Common
- “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
SHOULD WIN: “Remember Me”
WILL WIN: “Remember Me”
I was wrong with the Golden Globes but I don’t think I will be here. I loved “The Greatest Showman”, but “This is Me”, considered a sentimental favorite, is Oscar bait songwriting if there ever was one. It is from the same guys that did “La La Land’s” music and won this award last year, but I feel like “Remember Me”, which has a substantial pre-awards lead in polls as of this writing, will take its rightful place atop this group of worthy songs. To me “This is Me” isn’t even the best song on “The Greatest Showman’s” soundtrack, but it’s the song they chose to push due to its themes. “Remember Me” however is much more subtle and has relevance to the film’s plot and is even used as a plot devise. I know the Academy doesn’t always vote based on these factors, but I think this time Pixar’s latest masterpiece will gets its due credit.
- “Darkest Hour,” Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
- “Victoria and Abdul,” Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
- “Wonder,” Arjen Tuiten
SHOULD WIN: “Darkest Hour”
WILL WIN: “Darkest Hour”
One of the smaller awards will go to the most obvious winner of the night. There’s no topping it. Only three nominees and “Darkest Hour” is by far the leading contender. David Malinowski, Kazuhiro Tsuji and Lucy Sibbick did a tremendous job making Gary Oldman’s makeup look realistic and natural, helping him pretty much become Winston Churchill in this biopic. “Wonder” is a sentimental favorite for this award as well, but I don’t think it has a chance and I’m not alone. “Darkest Hour” will win, plain and simple.
- “Beauty and the Beast,” Jacqueline Durran
- “Darkest Hour,” Jacqueline Durran
- “Phantom Thread,” Mark Bridges
- “The Shape of Water,” Luis Sequeira
- “Victoria and Abdul,” Consolata Boyle
SHOULD WIN: “Phantom Thread”
WILL WIN: “Phantom Thread”
Like the makeup design award this one feels cut and dry. It’s pretty much down to “Beauty and the Beast’ and “Phantom Thread”, but I feel like this is the one award where the later will win in the end. The entire plot is designed around fashion and while “Beauty and the Beast” did a fantastic job replicating and building on the costumes from the original Disney animated film, “Phantom Thread’s” costumes looked more natural and professional and when your entire film is based around the concept of fashion you better pu’l that aspect off to perfection. “Phantom Thread” is not only the most deserving, it’s my own personal pick as the costumes to me were some of the most thoughtfully and meticulously designed of 2017. “Phantom Thread” by a landslide
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
- “The Boss Baby,” Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
- “The Breadwinner,” Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
- “Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
- “Ferdinand,” Carlos Saldanha
- “Loving Vincent,” Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman
SHOULD WIN: “Coco”
WILL WIN: “Coco”
Not much to say here that hasn’t been said already about this fantastic Pixar film. “Coco” was the best animated movie by far in 2017 and sadly Warner Bros. brilliant “The Lego Batman Movie” was snubbed so “Coco” really has no competition. Nearly every poll I’ve seen has “Coco” ahead by a wide margin and rightfully so. It was a return to form for Pixar and a colorful, fun and emotionally heavy film that worked for both the young and the old. Pixar has won numerous animated feature awards in the past. Expect them to add another one to their resume on Sunday.
- “Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
- “Get Out,” Jordan Peele
- “Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
- “Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
- “The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro
SHOULD WIN: Guillermo Del Toro
WILL WIN: Guillermo Del Toro
This is a tough category, but I’m going to stick with my Golden Globes guess that also came through then. Del Toro is the odds on favorite to win in this category in almost every poll I’ve seen and I want him to win in. For a directorial award I think it’s all about who is able to use their visionary talent to bring a story to life to the fullest. Del Toro did just that and while “The Shape of Water” might have a tough time shining for Best Picture (more on that in a moment) I think Del Toro himself will shine for his directorial work without a doubt. Christopher Nolan is the next closest director of merit in polls, but I don’t see “Dunkirk” getting as much love as people thought a few months ago. In my opinion Del Toro is the most deserving and the most likely to win one of the night’s biggest awards.
SHOULD WIN: “Lady Bird”
WILL WIN: “The Shape of Water”
Before I go farther I want to say I know my personal pick, “Lady Bird”, probably won’t win, but I can dream can’t I? It was my favorite movie of 2017 so of course I’m going to say it should win. However the real question here is who WILL win and I’m betting on “The Shape of Water” to topple the Golden Globe winning favorite “Three Billboards”. It’s in no way a guarantee that “Three Billboards” will win. The Globes don’t always translate into Oscar success. However you can’t deny the buzz around the film. I see a lot of polls saying the top three favorites in the category, “Three Billboards”, “The Shape of Water” and “Get Out” are very close in terms of potential to win. While it’s possible “Get Out” could leap frog the other two and even less likely that “Lady Bird” will jump to the top spot, it seems “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards” will be the ones to watch for the night’s top honor. While it would be easy to say that “Three Billboards” will live up to its potential there truly is no telling what will happen with the night’s top honor. Personally I’m gonna take my chance and say that “The Shape of Water” will finally shine the way many expected before the Globes at the end of 2017 and beat out “Three Billboards” in the closest decision of the night.