The 90th Academy Awards: My Picks and Predictions

Happy Oscar weekend! As is my annual tradition on this blog, it’s now time for me to make my predictions on which films will take home the Academy Award. And for the top eight categories (the four for acting, the two screenplay categories, Best Director, and of course, Best Picture), I’ll be including which of the nominees I’d pick for my own ballot. So without further ado, my thoughts on this year’s Oscar nominees…

Best Picture

First, my personal ranking of the nominees, from best to worst:

  1. Get Out
  2. Phantom Thread
  3. Lady Bird
  4. Call Me by Your Name
  5. The Post
  6. The Shape of Water
  7. Dunkirk
  8. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  9. Darkest Hour

This year’s ranking can basically be broken up into three tiers, with the top three being a sort of rough ranking, as I’ve gone back and forth on my personal favorite film of 2017 being between Get Out, Phantom Thread, and Lady Bird. The second tier of movies, Call Me by Your Name, The Post, and The Shape of Water, are also all movies I enjoyed a lot. As for the bottom three, I think they’re fine movies to varying degrees, though I believe there were plenty of other movies that should have gotten in as a Best Picture nominee over Darkest Hour.

Now for my actual prediction, this was easily the toughest one out of all the categories this year for me to call, especially with the preferential ballot system in play. While Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has won Best Picture at most of the major awards ceremonies, I’m quite certain it won’t win here, because of its divisiveness and since it missed the Best Director nomination. The Shape of Water seems to be the next best logical choice, as it did win the PGA for Best Picture, but I don’t think voters feel as passionately for it as, say, Get Out, which of course, has been out the longest out of all the nominees (released more than a year ago). Even if voters aren’t giving the film their #1 spot on their ballots, I think they’re still ranking the film very highly, and I believe out of all the nominees, the preferential ballot works the most in its favor. This prediction is also a bit of wishful thinking, so I fully expect my choice here to be wrong! But here’s to hoping for the best result Sunday night.

My Pick: Get Out
My Prediction: Get Out

Best Director

Nominees (in alphabetical order by movie):

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

Best Director is easily my favorite category this year! I’m a big Paul Thomas Anderson fan, so I was very happy on Oscar nomination morning when his name was announced. My personal favorites from this category though have to be Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig, both of who turned out wonderful films the first time behind the camera (in Gerwig’s case, the first time by herself). My far-fetched, highly unlikely Oscar wish would be for a tie between the two here (or in Best Original Screenplay; more on that later), but ties have happened in the past, so you never know… But with Guillermo del Toro sweeping this category at previous awards ceremonies, I think this Oscar is his to lose. The possible spoiler would be Christopher Nolan.

My Pick: Jordan Peele, Get Out
My Prediction: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Best Actor

Nominees (in alphabetical order by last name):

  • 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.

The clear frontrunner for Best Actor is Gary Oldman, though I have to say, he gives my least favorite performance of the nominees. Generally, I’m not a fan of showy performances such as the one he gave in Darkest Hour. The real standouts for me in this category have to be Daniel Kaluuya and Timothée Chalamet, with both giving great, subdued performances in their respective films. As is the trend with all the acting frontrunners this year, Oldman has won all the major precursor awards, so I’m sure he’ll win Sunday night. But I could see Chalamet pulling an Adrien Brody with a surprise win.

My Pick: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
My Prediction: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Actress

Nominees (in alphabetical order by last name):

  • 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

Generally speaking for me, Best Actress is the strongest of the four acting categories, and this year it’s stacked with some really good performances, all worthy of an Oscar nomination. While the Academy loves nominating Meryl Streep almost anytime she shows up in a movie, I think her 21st nomination is warranted this year, as she gives one of her better performances in recent years. The frontrunner here is the other nominee who’s won previously, Frances McDormand. I don’t know who would win though if the Oscar doesn’t go to her; it’s a seemingly tight race between the other three nominees. I personally would love to see Saoirse Ronan take this one on what’s amazingly already her third Academy Award nomination.

My Pick: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
My Prediction: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees (in alphabetical order by last name):

  • 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

While having more than one actor nominated for the same movie can often spell disaster for them (with votes being split between them, and thereby canceling each other out), this is another category that’s practically locked in for Sam Rockwell to win. He’s an actor I always enjoy seeing on screen, so I’ll be happy to see him win his first Oscar. My personal favorite though is Willem Dafoe’s quiet work in The Florida Project, who’s the most likely upset here.

My Pick: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
My Prediction: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees (in alphabetical order by last name):

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

Though all the acting categories are seemingly locked up, this one feels the most vulnerable for an upset of the four. While I like Allison Janney, I’m not a big fan of her work in I, Tonya, another case where I find the performance is a little too hammy for my taste. Her toughest opponent here has to be Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird, who actually gives one of my favorite performances out of any of the acting nominees this year. I’m really hoping my prediction is wrong here and that she takes the gold home, but I think ultimately it will go to Janney.

My Pick: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
My Prediction: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees (in alphabetical order):

  • The Big Sick
  • Get Out
  • Lady Bird
  • The Shape of Water
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A really solid line-up for Best Original Screenplay this year, with four of the five nominees also up for Best Picture. I was happy to see The Big Sick nominated here (though sadly it didn’t make the cut anywhere else), as it was one of my favorite movies of 2017. As I mentioned for Best Director, I’d love to see either Get Out or Lady Bird take this one, though I’m certain the former will be the film that ultimately wins here (which could likely be the film’s only win of the night). Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has a good chance of winning here as well, but I think it’s hard to resist the fresh and socially relevant concept behind Jordan Peele’s screenplay.

My Pick: Get Out
My Prediction: Get Out

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees (in alphabetical order):

  • Call Me by Your Name
  • The Disaster Artist
  • Logan
  • Molly’s Game
  • Mudbound

Prior to the nomination announcement, Call Me by Your Name was the only real lock to get in, so with that said, I believe James Ivory will finally take home an Oscar. This category is otherwise filled with a really interesting bunch of movies that are all quite different from one another, all of which I felt were very worthy nominations. And though I didn’t see the movie until after it earned its Oscar nomination, I do like seeing Logan here, as superhero movies very rarely make it into the major categories (the only ones that come to mind are The Incredibles for Best Original Screenplay and The Dark Knight for Best Supporting Actor, which Heath Ledger famously won posthumously). Anyway, I’ll be very glad to see Call Me by Your Name walk away with at least one Oscar.

My Pick: Call Me by Your Name
My Prediction: Call Me by Your Name

And now the rest of my predictions…

  • Best Animated Feature Film: Coco
  • Best Foreign Language Film: A Fantastic Woman
  • Best Documentary Feature: Faces Places
  • Best Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049
  • Best Film Editing: Dunkirk
  • Best Production Design: The Shape of Water
  • Best Costume Design: Phantom Thread
  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Darkest Hour
  • Best Original Score: The Shape of Water
  • Best Original Song: “Remember Me” from Coco
  • Best Sound Editing: Dunkirk
  • Best Sound Mixing: Baby Driver
  • Best Visual Effects: War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Best Animated Short Film: Dear Basketball
  • Best Documentary Short Film: Heroin(e)
  • Best Live Action Short Film: DeKalb Elementary

One surprise win I’d really love to see that I didn’t predict would be Phantom Thread for Best Original Score, but I’m sure the mystical tunes from The Shape of Water will win over voters as it has at previous award shows. A couple of categories that I was on the fence about were Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing, as I feel like it’s a close call between Dunkirk and Baby Driver so I can see one or the other winning in either of those.

Overall, I think the Oscars will be well-distributed among the nominees, with my prediction being The Shape of Water winning the most, though with just three wins from its 13 nominations. And sadly, my predictions point to Lady Bird going home empty-handed. While I like being right in my predictions, I prefer to see surprise wins during the show, so I’ll be glad to be wrong on some of these (that is, if the right movie is rewarded…). Anyway, with it being the 90th Academy Awards, it’s sure to be an exciting night, no matter who wins or loses.

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