Predictions for the 90th Academy Awards
Which film will claim this year’s Oscar for Best Picture? Your guess might be as good as ours, given that this race is the most wide-open in recent memory. The two movies that have been jostling for pole position throughout the award circuit are The Shape of Water, which leads all nominated films with a staggering 13 nominations, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which won the Golden Globe for Best Drama. But if ever there was a year for an upset, this would be it. Jordan Peele’s hit Get Out, and Greta Gerwig’s highly-acclaimed Lady Bird, undoubtedly could claim the show’s top honor — combined with other impressive films such as Dunkirk and The Post, 2018 is arguably the deepest Best Picture field we can remember.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of other intriguing storylines to watch for on Sunday. Will Christopher Nolan claim his first Oscar for Best Director against Guillermo del Toro? Who will take home the night’s top acting prizes? And are we in store for another moment as memorable as last year’s envelope mix-up?
Without further ado, here are our predictions for the major categories at this year’s Oscar’s, based on the order in which they will likely be announced on Sunday (For a full list of nominees, see here).
Best Supporting Actor
Should win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Will win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has captured major awards such as Best Film at the BAFTA Awards — largely thanks to a terrific acting ensemble that features the favorite in this category: Sam Rockwell. His performance as an immature, violent, and often heinous police officer has been widely acclaimed, especially for his success at also evoking a surprising (and perhaps even controversial) amount of empathy for his character. Some critics are advocating for the likes of William Dafoe, as well as Rockwell’s co-star, Woody Harrelson, to claim this category. But chances are Rockwell comes away with this award.
Best Supporting Actress
Should win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Will win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Allison Janney is widely considered to be the favorite for her performance in I, Tonya. Janney, who was once a figure skater herself, captures the eviscerating and relentless mother of Tonya Harding. Janney’s performance has been lauded, capturing every detail of her character’s indomitable presence. Laurie Metcalf still has a legitimate chance to upset Janney, and steal the victory, but we believe Janney has the momentum and requisite performance to win the award in her first career Oscar nomination.
Should win: Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Will win: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Tough to side against Oldman — considering he does a masterful job playing the venerable Winston Churchill (albeit with the help of a makeup team that undoubtedly deserves an Oscar) — but it’s surprising that Oldman is such a heavy favorite, considering the remarkable performance that 22-year-old Chalamet gives in Call Me By Your Name. The film, which follows a gay romance between a 24-year-old graduate student and a 17-year-old (played by Chalamet), may have fallen out of favor with respect to the Best Picture race, but Chalamet’s performance is arguably more impressive than Oldman’s, as he’s tasked with speaking multiple languages, playing a convincing music protege, and seducing Armie Hammer. That’s a lot to ask for someone as young as Chalamet, but it won’t be enough to win against the equally-deserving Oldman (thanks largely to the powerful and riveting speeches he gives in Darkest Hour).
Should win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Will win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
As Emma Stone was last year for her role in La La Land, Frances McDormand is essentially a lock to win Best Actress. She has already dominated the entire awards circuit — rightfully so based on how she undeniably played one of the most intimidating and memorable characters of the year. It is too bad, however, that Sally Hawkins will likely fall short in this category; as her role as a mute woman who falls in love with a bizarre fish monster in The Shape of Water was undoubtedly one of the main reasons why people were able to get on board with the whole “woman falls in love with a bizarre-looking fish monster” concept (she also arguably conveys a wider range of emotions than McDormand despite being placed in a more difficult circumstance).
Should win: Jordan Peele, Get Out
Will win: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
What a terrific group of nominees! I mean, Christopher Nolan is arguably each of our favorite director, and we’re still not placing him first out of this group despite his extraordinarily-crafted Dunkirk. We think the award should go to Peele instead because, for starters, how cool would it be to actually see L’Carpetron Dookmarriot win this award? But anyway, Peele is definitely deserving; he was easily the main reason why Get Out was able to successfully blend multiple genres in a way that few films, if any, have ever before. This created an experience that effectively served as thoughtful social commentary as well as terrific, suspenseful entertainment.
Regardless, Guillermo del Toro is the heavy favorite in this category despite a recent plagiarism allegation. However, neither of us have any problem with this choice, largely because (as mentioned when discussing Hawkins earlier) del Toro successfully got people on board with a truly bizarre concept. And it was damn good too! A ridiculous concept told with that much conviction and artistic flair deserves to have its director honored, even if he isn’t necessarily even the most deserving director out of this year’s nominees.
Should win: Dunkirk
Will win: Get Out
As mentioned, this year’s Best Picture race is one of the closest races in recent memory. There are a handful of films that could foreseeably take home the Oscars’ biggest award. Between Three Billboards, Get Out, Lady Bird, and The Shape of Water in particular, the field is stacked.
However, there is another movie which should be part of the conversation, despite its slim chances to win. That movie is Christopher Nolan’s WWII drama, Dunkirk. There are several elements as to why Dunkirk exhibits Best Picture material, and some reasons as to why it doesn’t.
First and foremost: very rarely can movies create as much suspense and anticipation from such little dialogue. Dunkirk is a exhibition on beautiful shots, seamlessly blending first person experiences with third person panoramics. Nolan’s work puts audience members in a trance, whisking them through time into a key historical moment, through a lens of depressed optimism.
However, Dunkirk is not without its faults. Little dialogue combined with the lack of a notable lead performance makes the movie harder to rally behind from an awards perspective — especially when compared to its competitors. Additionally, the movie does not seek to make any social commentary, or shed light on underexposed experiences (something also characteristic in its competitors).
Ultimately, Dunkirk is listed in this article as “should win” to voice an argument for it, not to say it should win outright, as the competition is incredibly stiff this year.
Our pick to win the coveted Best Picture award, however, is Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Peele’s phenomenal directing debut is brimming with creativity and boldness throughout the length of the film. As mentioned briefly above, Peele deftly uses the horror genre to display social commentary in a very clear manner, detailing the experiences many African-Americans go through on a daily basis by taking it to very calculated extremes. Additionally, strong acting performances bring to life a phenomenal screenplay, adding further proof to how this movie executes at every level.
None of the other contending nominees can make quite the same claims. Dunkirk won’t win because it isn’t compelling enough, at least in the minds of awards voters. Lady Bird doesn’t offer the same level of creativity and execution that Get Out does. Three Billboards, though it has won many of the major awards preceding the Oscars, might be too divisive for the Academy crowd. Perhaps the closest competitor, therefore, is The Shape of Water, which executes such a bizarre concept so well that it is a compelling choice. If not for plagiarism accusations it would be our pick, but those claims could be enough to knock it off the top spot.
Get Out was both the most daring and interesting film of the year, and because it also seems to have the fewest faults of all the other top nominees, we think it will win Best Picture at the 90th Academy Awards.