Final 2018 Oscar Predictions

The hour is almost upon us. Sunday night starting at 8 PM, Jimmy Kimmel will once again kickstart the biggest night in Hollywood (at least for those to whom things like awards matter, anyway); an event that takes place, strangely, in the middle of the LA afternoon, bringing out all the glitz and glamor of Tinsel Town.

Thing is, to me, little of that matters. I won’t take any time to watch the pre-awards show, take almost negative stock in who is wearing whom and frankly just want Kimmel to hit the stage to try to make jokes that appeal to massive audiences. I’m ready for the handing out of the first trophy (Best Supporting Actor, for some reason) and for the show to feel bloated and overlong by the middle section, before picking up steam into its final third, hopefully avoiding a fiasco like last year. And with this year’s show, we have a crop of nominees that could go in so many different directions, it’s really anybody’s guess who will walk out the big winner or the most decorated film of the night (not necessarily the same thing).

So since it’s anybody’s guess, I’ll venture a few myself. Because I am insane, I will select predictions and who I’d like to see win (again, not necessarily the same thing) for ALL TWENTY-FOUR OSCAR CATEGORIES, and add more details to some of the more notable awards. Strap in, folks, it’s about to get wild.

VISUAL EFFECTS

Blade Runner 2049

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Kong: Skull Island

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

War for the Planet of the Apes

Prediction: War for the Planet of the Apes

Preferred winner: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Commentary: I could really be good with either of these films, or even Blade Runner 2049, winning, but in this case I’m going with the film I liked the best since it’s essential a wash in the category.

COSTUME DESIGN

Beauty and the Beast

Darkest Hour

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water

Victoria and Abdul

Prediction: Beauty and the Beast

Preferred winner: Phantom Thread

Commentary: Feels odd that a film about fashion design isn’t getting more attention here.  No problem with the second highest grossing film of the year getting one here, though.

MAKEUP AND HAIR

Darkest Hour

Victoria and Abdul

Wonder

Prediction: Darkest Hour

Preferred winner: Meh

Commentary: History tells us that making someone old and/or fatter than they are goes well for this Oscar. See: Click is an Oscar-winning film.

ORIGINAL SONG

“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

Prediction: “Remember Me”

Preferred winner: “Mystery of Love”

Commentary: I haven’t heard any of these songs. This category is remarkably ridiculous in the best of years. I picked Stevens’ song mostly because I want to see him up on stage accepting an Oscar.

ORIGINAL SCORE

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

Prediction: The Shape of Water, unfortunately

Preferred winner: Phantom Thread or Dunkirk

Commentary: Nothing really wrong with Desplat’s score, it just doesn’t feel interesting or innovative to me, both adjectives with describe Zimmer and Greenwood’s scores. Both scores make the films tick (literally in Zimmer’s case) and ratchet up the tension and emotions of the films in which they are found. Williams is great, but he’s got a million Oscars now (note: it’s 5, with a total of 51 nominations, and a win for the original Star Wars already in tow) and I barely remember there being a score in Three Billboards. Pulling hard for an upset here.

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Beauty and the Beast

Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Prediction: Beauty and the Beast (but really, probably The Shape of Water)

Preferred winner: Blade Runner 2049 or Dunkirk

Commentary: These categories where TSoW is featured will tell us a lot about how much the Academy at large loves the film (I didn’t, but I don’t get a real vote), so the swing towards Beauty could tell us something; a win for something like Blade Runner 2049 or even Dunkirk tells us something else, although at that point it’ll be too early to tell (remember that year when Mad Max: Fury Road swept all these tech awards and then disappeared, for example?).

SOUND MIXING

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Prediction: Dunkirk

Preferred winner: Dunkirk

Commentary: I read recently that a Star Wars film has never won in this category, which I think is insane. Still, the sound in Dunkirk is enveloping and unsettling, just as it should be. The Academy loves to give these awards to war films, and Nolan’s film should fit nicely into that, even if it is an unorthodox war film.

SOUND EDITING

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Prediction: Dunkirk

Preferred winner: Dunkirk

Commentary: It’s actually strange to see these categories match up exactly, but I think the  winner is the same for both. It’s just phenomenal work on all fronts (pun intended).

FILM EDITING

Baby Driver

Dunkirk

I, Tonya

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Prediction: Baby Driver

Preferred winner: Baby Driver (great with Dunkirk, too)

Commentary: The quirky, rock-and-roll quality of the editing in Baby Driver is similar to the jazzy editing in Whiplash, the winner from a few years ago. It’s note-perfect, and makes a lot of sense here.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)

The Insult (Lebanon)

Loveless (Russia)

On Body and Soul (Hungary)

The Square (Sweden)

Prediction: It’s a guess, because I haven’t seen any of them, but I’ll go with The Square

Commentary: I have no dog in this fight. Maybe I root for Ikea?

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

DeKalb Elementary

The Eleven O’Clock

My Nephew Emmett

The Silent Child

Watu Wote/All of Us

Prediction: Shrug emoji; DeKalb Elementary as a random guess.

Commentary: Now starts a string of films/shorts I have no idea about. This is where Oscar pools are won and lost; on random guesses.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Edith+Eddie

Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405

Heroin(e)

Knife Skills

Traffic Stop

Prediction/Commentary: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 is both a great title and something I’m glad will not be true.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Faces Places

Icarus

Last Men in Aleppo

Strong Island

Prediction/Commentary: I’ve heard a lot about Last Men in Aleppo, so let’s go with that.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins

Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel

Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema

Mudbound, Rachel Morrison

The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen

Prediction: Blade Runner 2049

Preferred winner: Blade Runner 2049 (Dunkirk in second)

Commentary: It’s time to give Deakins his due and his Oscar. For all its faults, Blade Runner is a gorgeous film and well deserved of a victory here (though, to be fair, so were Skyfall, True Grit and No County for Old Men, if not more).

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

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

Prediction: Get Out

Preferred winner: Lady Bird or The Big Sick

Commentary: Two things. First, I don’t think Peele’s film is going to win anywhere else, so this is a way for the Academy to acknowledge it (even if I think it’s pretty overrated); so while I don’t think it’s that deserving and that the screenplay is the thing dragging it along most, I expect to see Get Out win. Second, either of my preferred winners are worthy, and I actually pretty bummed not to see more from The Big Sick, but a win here for Gerwig could be telling about how much the voters like Lady Bird.

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, Virgil Williams & Dee Rees

Prediction: Call Me By Your Name

Preferred winner: Logan

Commentary: A lot like Get Out, I think this essentially it for Call Me By Your Name, which came into the world around this time last year to rapturous adoration and has sort of dissipated in the conversation since. Logan, on the other hand, is a superhero movie that really isn’t; its characters are so grounded and seem so real, if it weren’t for the adamantium claws and telepathy, the film wouldn’t function as a superhero movie at all. It would show a lot of good faith by the Academy to not only nominate, but award a trophy to a film of its massive success in a category like this.

ANIMATED SHORT

Dear Basketball

Garden Party

Lou

Negative Space

Revolting Rhymes

Prediction/Commentary: Again, no real idea here, other than I hope that we don’t have to start calling Kobe Bryant an Oscar winner. Go for Garden Party or Revolving Rhymes, just for fun.

ANIMATED FEATURE

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner

Coco

Ferdinand

Loving Vincent

Prediction/Commentary: Coco. I caught a few minutes of the end of The Boss Baby and it is remarkably dumb, but that is because it is expressly written to entertain children, especially those under 5 (my three-year-old finds it incredibly impressive). I just don’t see a world where Pixar loses this one.

BEST DIRECTOR

Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan

Get Out, Jordan Peele

Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig

Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson

The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro

Prediction: Guillermo del Toro

Preferred winner: Nolan, followed by Gerwig and PTA

Commentary: Look, I have nothing against del Toro, and honestly think he’s a great, imaginative filmmaker. I just didn’t think much of The Shape of Water, which feels like a more mainstream attempt at the adult fairy tale he talked about way back when he release Pan’s Labyrinth, which, to my eyes, is a far better, more interesting film with much more at stake. This is also a bizarre category that nobody really knows how to predict, other than the fact that del Toro has pretty much swept like-minded awards throughout the last few months. I’m always going to root for Nolan, a first-time nominee in this category, and feel he’s overlooked because he’s not only incredibly talented, but also directs blockbusters. If he wins, I think we can pretty much assume the Best Picture category has gone an unforeseen direction, too.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Prediction: Allison Janney

Preferred winner: Laurie Metcalf

Commentary: Janney has been a runaway winner in this category most of the awards season, but for me she doesn’t factor into the narrative of I, Tonya enough to justify her scenery-chewing performance win here. In terms of that, Metcalf’s performance is both more important and nuanced, so I’d like to see her come out the winner when it’s all said and done.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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

Prediction: Sam Rockwell

Preferred winner: Rockwell is fine, although I wasn’t enamored with any of those I saw (unseen: Dafoe and Plummer)

Commentary: Speaking of scenery-chewing performances, that’s what Rockwell is doing here, although his is more essential to keeping the plot of Three Billboards moving along, even if the ending feels a little cheap and unearned. To me there were other, better performances in other, better movies (I continue to beat the snub-drum for Tracy Letts, who plays Saoirse Ronan’s father in Lady Bird in a thoughtful, charming and subtle manner that the film requires), but since this is what we’ve got, I’m okay with Rockwell, who is always a fun and interesting performer, no matter the film he’s in.

BEST ACTRESS

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

Prediction: Frances McDormand

Preferred winner: Saoirse Ronan

Commentary: Nothing against McDormand–she’s strong and terrifying and remarkable and the best thing in Three Billboards–but I’m ready to see Ronan take home one of these things. It’s weird to think an actress is due at 23, but this is already her third nomination–for her incredible supporting turn in Atonement and her wildly underrated leading role in Brooklyn–and yet Lady Bird might be her best and most interesting performance to date. Even if she loses this year, I’ve no doubt she’ll be back and will eventually win an Oscar; I just think it should be this year.

BEST ACTOR

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.

Prediction: Gary Oldman

Preferred winner: Daniel Day-Lewis

Commentary: I don’t get it. Are we ignoring Day-Lewis’s performance simply because of the “been there, done that” element of it? Because that hasn’t stopped us before, and I really think it shouldn’t here. That said, while I haven’t seen Oldman’s performance, I have no issue giving him an award for a role that is tailor-made for such a thing (see: Day-Lewis’ last Oscar win for Lincoln). He’s a gifted actor who is well deserving of recognition, I’m just not sure we should dismiss the grade, anger and nuance of Day-Lewis just because he’s always this excellent.

BEST PICTURE

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

Prediction: The Shape of Water

Preferred winners: Dunkirk or Lady Bird or Phantom Thread

Commentary: There doesn’t seem to be a lot of mystery to this, where the race seems to be between The Shape of Water and Golden Globe Best Picture (Drama) winner Three Billboards. I was underwhelmed by both, and can’t believe it’s all going to end in a whimper like this, after what is shaping up to be a pretty good, well-divided show. I placed my preferred winners in order of preference, but also in terms of what I think is most likely. The Academy obviously liked Phantom Thread a great deal more than many expected, and it does stand a chance to win in a few other areas, but Lady Bird is starting to get the feeling of a “happy to be here” film, which is sad, because the film is engaging and charming in ways that other nominees simply are not, including the supposed front-runners. If this were a few years ago, Dunkirk would win in a landslide, but the timbre of Academy voters has changed, leaving the film on less than stable footing. However, if a situation arises where various guilds and groups in the Academy divide the vote amongst the two in the lead going into the final turn, Dunkirk feels like a movie that is well-respected enough to slip in and take the whole thing, thanks in part to this bizarre preferential voting system. I could see a scenario where Shape and Billboards get more first place votes than Dunkirk, but end up losing to the latter because it takes all second and third place votes. Depending on how the math works out, that seems like an opportunity for Nolan’s film to win, even if that seems like a longer shot than it likely should be.

 

 

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