We have only a few weeks left before the 90th Oscar nominations are announced, and it suddenly dawned on me that I haven’t posted a fully contemplative list of my predictions. So, in response to the list of shortlists I posted on Sunday, and before we actually have a consensus come next Sunday with the Globes, allow me to take the opportunity to post my complete list of predictions for this year’s Academy Award ceremony. I will be breaking this article into two parts: updating the predictions I’ve posted, and publishing my predictions for the rest of the nominees. So let’s not waste any more time – let’s see how things look!
Updating The Big Eight
Man, have things gone back and forth these past few weeks. Theoretically, there are seven films in contention for Best Picture. Logically, there are only three: Get Out, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards. This is an odd trio to have – Three Billboards is likely the safest bet, but the backlash is coming in hot against it, and while it should still be nominated, it likely can’t win. Lady Bird has gotten most, but not all of the predicators it needs, but even if it did, it would still feel fairly light in the wake of Moonlight. And statistically, Get Out should be the film to win it all, but…I mean, come on. Horror rarely does well here, horror-comedy never does well, and the fact it is a largely African-American cast and crew doesn’t bode well historically (I mean, it is only recently that 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight had success). We don’t know what the new Academy’s voting breakdown will be, but one thing’s for sure: it’s truly going to shake things up. Meanwhile, despite statistically being out of the running, we can’t overlook technical marvels like Call Me By Your Name, The Post, The Shape of Water, or especially Dunkirk, each of which could potentially change history with a victory. None of these are really out-there predictions, but here’s where I change things up: these are the only seven films I’m predicting. That’s right, due to the crazy nature of the year, I don’t think any other film will receive the 5% necessary to qualify for an Oscar nomination. If I’m wrong, expect it to be The Big Sick, Darkest Hour, Mudbound, The Florida Project, or Phantom Thread, in that order. But at the moment, I can’t see a strong enough case for any of these films to make it in.
As for the acting categories, things are no less simple. Sure, Best Actress is pretty much a done-deal, bar an Amy Adams-esque snub, with nods for Sally Hawkins, Frances McDormand, Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, and Meryl Streep, but every other category has two locks and a series of question marks. Take Best Actor: while Gary Oldman and Timothée Chalamet are locked in a battle for the Oscar, the other three are completely up in the air. I’d say despite his SAG snub, Daniel Day-Lewis is probably safe, but the other two? That could be anyone. Tom Hanks hasn’t been nominated in almost twenty years, so he could sneak in there. Jake Gyllenhaal is still well liked, and is looking for a next nom, but he hasn’t appeared anywhere this season, and has sort have fallen off the map. And while I can’t wrap my head around it, statistically speaking, Daniel Kaluuya seems incredibly safe for Get Out. However, I’m going with the two safest nominees, because I just don’t feel confident. So that means that the iffy-but-deserving James Franco and Denzel Washington are my predicted nominees for this category. Similarly, Best Supporting Actor and Actress offer up two locks and a mess of maybes: Willem Dafoe (the eventual winner, you can take that to the bank), Sam Rockwell, Laurie Metcalf, and Allison Janney. After this, things are a bit hazier. For Supporting Actor, I’d say Richard Jenkins feels safe – he’s a well-liked actor in a well-loved movie. Armie Hammer also feels likely – while that SAG snub hurts, he’s still a generally pleasant actor in a great role, and he should manage to fill out a weak field. But that fifth slot? It’s doubtful my last predictions of Jason Mitchell and Ray Romano will make any sort of impact, considering their absence throughout the rest of the season. Patrick Stewart and Michael Stuhlbarg have raked up some notices, but neither feel entirely safe. And while Woody Harrelson and Steve Carell made an appearance in the SAG Awards, neither feels like eventual nominee. Therefore, I’m going out on a limb: Christopher Plummer. He’s old, he’s great, and he has the added bonus of The Story – the fact he filmed the role two weeks before the film’s release in order to make a statement against abuse in Hollywood (*cough, Kevin Spacey*). The Academy will take notice. Meanwhile, Supporting Actress is in a similar boat. While Mary J. Blige SHOULD make it in on her own merits (should the Netflix snub be finally overturned), and Hong Chau truly does stand out in a terrible film, that fifth slot doesn’t feel safe. Tiffany Haddish would be great, but unlikely, and Lesley Manville just hasn’t caught on the way she should. I would say the only threat is Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water, but she doesn’t quite have the same impact she had in The Help or Hidden Figures. So I’m going to play it safe (and happy) with a prediction for Holly Hunter for The Big Sick. That way, should the screenplay and the film be snubbed, it can still go home with one nomination.
And then we have the behind-the-scenes stuff. Don’t expect many changes here. Nolan and del Toro are locked in a close battle for Best Director, and unless the DGA REALLY shakes things up, Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele should fall away. As for the fifth slot, there’s a few different ways things could go. If The Florida Project makes a big play, expect Sean Baker to be nominated. If the Netflix Curse falls away, look for Dee Rees. If a certain someone starts tweeting when the Academy gets their ballots, expect Steven Spielberg to be nominated. And if Three Billboards is going to win, expect Martin McDonagh to get in (and it is possible any of these contenders will get in above Peele, Gerwig, or both, as African-Americans and women have an uphill climb in this category). However, I’m thinking that the Academy will appreciate the artistic achievement of Call Me By Your Name, and therefore Luca Guadagnino will sneak in. Meanwhile, the top four screenplays remain unchanged (Shape of Water, Lady Bird, Get Out, Three Billboards), and while The Post, The Big Sick, and The Florida Project are all in contention, I’m still sticking with Phantom Thread – it seems right up the Academy’s alley for this category. And while I’m still predicting Name, Disaster Artist, and Mudbound for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Last Flag Flying is still hanging on by a thread (although its <$1 million gross is discouraging), I think the Academy will have a hard time picking The Beguiled over Aaron Sorkin’s decidedly peppier Molly’s Game. I would go with the former, but it’s not about me. This is how I think the Big Eight categories will shape up at this point of the season.
And The Rest
However, how will the rest of the categories shape up? Well, I’ll break this down by category below, but should you wish to jump to the bottom, here’s a brief synopsis: The Shape of Water will get the most nominations, Blade Runner 2049 and Star Wars will make a play, and Dunkirk will make up for the fact it can’t get nominated elsewhere in the Big Eight. Now that this summary is finished, let’s break these down individually: first features, then music, then technical, and finally shorts.
Well, we can certainly call Animated Feature early and go home. Coco will win. End of discussion. Oh, you want to know the rest of the nominees? Fine, I guess. You can certainly include The Breadwinner and Loving Vincent, as they narratively and visually change the art form. I would also say The Lego Batman Movie has a shot, especially after the backlash for the original’s snub (that’s what happened with Despicable Me, after all. As for the fifth slot, it is common to see a Studio Ghibli or GKIDS film sneak in, but I don’t think that’s the way this year is going. I would say the crowd-pleasing, critically-appreciated Ferdinand to earn that fifth slot. Pretty much anything has a shot here, except Rock Dog. Rock Dog is rightfully ineligible. Don’t see Rock Dog.
Things are a bit different with Documentary Feature. Its frontrunner, Risk, is out of the running. That means that Agnès Varda’s Faces Places is the new frontrunner for this award. Meanwhile, already likely nominees An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, City of Ghosts, and Strong Island should make it in. As for the final slot, expect the emotionally moving Jane Goodall doc Jane to earn a nod. There are several films that could challenge this hierarchy, including Last Men In Aleppo, LA 92, and Icarus, but otherwise, expect that to be your five nominees.
And finally, we have Foreign Language. Like Documentary, things are a bit mixed up without frontrunners BPM or First They Killed My Father. However, all this means is films that otherwise wouldn’t have gotten attention. Because while The Square will now inevitably win the award, and Loveless always felt like a lock, expect films like A Fantastic Woman and In The Fade, which ran the risk of being forgotten, to finally get the notice they deserve. Meanwhile, while Foxtrot has the dangerously late release date of March 2nd, I still think it will get in over The Wound and The Insult.
Unfortunately, 2017 wasn’t the strongest year for music. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t any bad music. It just wasn’t memorable in the same way that The Hateful Eight, La La Land, or literally any score/song from 2013 were. Still, there will eventually be ten nominees across two categories, so we might as well try to figure out what will get in. Let’s start with the obvious and address that The Shape of Water will likely win Best Original Score for its gorgeous melodies by Alexandre Desplat. Meanwhile, John Williams will definitely be nominated for The Post, but considering he also topped himself with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he will most likely walk away with two nominations. The fourth slot will likely go to Dunkirk, a good score that doesn’t quite fit the movie, but which my brother referred to as a “tone poem” (I punched him for that one), so it’ll likely get in. This leaves one more slot. Now, Three Billboards and Darkest Hour both have gorgeously simplistic scores, and The Greatest Showman shook things up as an original musical in a time when that’s rare (and written by last year’s winners of Best Original Song), but for three reasons, I’m predicting Phantom Thread. First, Jonny Greenwood has been snubbed twice in the past, for his groundbreaking scores in There Will Be Blood and The Master. Second, the Academy likes simplistic piano scores, which this seems to be. And third, I listened to this track recently, and I mean, come on. That’s just gorgeous. Just nominate him already.
As for Best Original Song, things are a little bit unclear. There is no frontrunner here. I think we can safely assume that former winners have an in, meaning “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman and “Remember Me” from Coco should have a relatively strong chance of being nominated. And Beauty and the Beast should manage to get a nomination, although while “Evermore” is the better song, I think the chance to put Céline Dion onstage will help earn “How Does A Moment Last Forever” its spot. The gorgeous “Mystery of Love” from Call Me By Your Name should earn a spot, which leaves one last spot. A case could be made for Blige’s theme to Mudbound, “Mighty River,” but I think that the sexy, fun “I Don’t Want To Live Forever” (the best part of Fifty Shades Darker) will earn the fifth and final slot. It deserves it, but I also doubt people will be happy to hear the phrase “Oscar nominee Taylor Swift.” At any rate, these are my predictions for Best Original Song.
We’ll kick off the technical achievement awards with the Sound awards. In case you’ve forgotten, the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing is that Editing is the creation of Sound Effects (things that go boom), and Mixing is how all the sounds work together (the way the silence and the sound work together to create my brother’s so-called tone poems). They do, however, overlap a great deal, meaning that we can expect Dunkirk, Blade Runner 2049, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi in both categories. However, this is where things change. For the editing, I think this will be the only place we see a nomination for Detroit, thanks to its impeccable sound design (and past nominations for The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty), and I also think The Shape of Water will be that odd choice that always makes it in. Meanwhile, while Water seems like the most likely Sound Mixing nom, I think we’ll see two unlikely films rewarded for their remarkable sound designs: Baby Driver and Get Out. It’s possible that Wonder Woman gets its nomination here, or that mother!’s phenomenal sound design gets a nomination, but otherwise, expect things to play out as expected.
Next, we have the designs: Costumes, Production Design, and Cinematography. Starting with costumes, don’t expect anything too outlandish. Phantom Thread and The Shape of Water feel like locks, and Darkest Hour feels like a likely Costume nomination. While Beauty and the Beast and The Greatest Showman should be in contention, I think Mudbound will get the fourth slot, while the unique design of Murder on the Orient Express will earn it that fifth nomination. As for production design, despite being deserving, don’t expect Orient Express to make an appearance. No, this category is usually reserved for sci-fi and period pieces. That means the frontrunners are Blade Runner 2049 and The Shape of Water (consider these locks). I also think Star Wars will earn a nomination. As for the final slots, I see the realistic sets of Dunkirk earning a nomination, along with the confined, gorgeous spaces of Darkest Hour. Keep an eye on The Greatest Showman, Mudbound, and Beauty and the Beast. And then there’s Cinematography. This will be a bloodbath, as the subtle perfection of Dunkirk goes up against the grandiose beauty of Blade Runner 2049, with the abstract tapestry of The Shape of Water playing spoiler. I would also say that the claustrophobic perfection of Darkest Hour should also contend for the top prize, but who gets the fifth slot is a mystery. Will it be the beauty of Call Me By Your Name or the lavishness of The Greatest Showman? Perhaps the picturesque nature of Wonderstruck or Wonder Wheel could make a play? I’m not sure, but personally, I’m going with Mudbound, which will result in the first female cinematography nominee ever, and I like that stat. We shall see.
Next let’s pick some names off the Effects shortlists, starting with Makeup and Hairstyling. Obivously, Darkest Hour will receive a nod for effectively turning Oldman into Churchill. I also think the alien effects in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 will earn it a spot. As for the third slot, an argument could be made for turning Margot Robbie into Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, or the orc effects in Bright, but I’d say the box office and critical love should help put Wonder over the edge. As for Visual Effects, it’s pretty obvious that War for the Planet of the Apes, Blade Runner 2049, and Star Wars are locks. I also think Guardians of the Galaxy should be a lock here as well. As for that final slot, cheap, smart effects always sneak in, and while I’d love to see Okja earn a nomination, look to the Best Picture love to carry The Shape of Water across the line.
Which brings us to Editing, the one closest tied to Best Picture. This will be a challenging field, because in order to win Best Picture, a film would need to be one of the five nominees here. Based on its technical prowess, I would say Dunkirk is the frontrunner here. As a technical project, I would also say The Shape of Water is in contention. But after that, things become trickier. I would say Get Out stands a great chance of being nominated. And if Lady Bird is going to win (as I’m currently predicting), it will need a nomination here (and one you could make an argument it deserves, especially since there’s always one film that makes you scratch your head). But the fifth one is key. Again, if Three Billboards is going to win, it will be nominated (likely above Lady Bird, if we’re being honest), and Call Me By Your Name could theoretically get nominated here. Based on the stats up to today, that fifth spot could go to the (very, very deserving) Baby Driver, which would make me SO happy, but I’m predicting another film that would make me happy: Blade Runner 2049. This may change in the next couple weeks, and probably should change in the next couple weeks, but as a technical wonder that told a well-rounded, gorgeous story across two hours and forty minutes, I think this will end up in that final spot.
And finally, we have The Shorts. As mentioned yesterday, I have no idea what’s going to be nominated here. I can weigh in and say that In a Heartbeat and Dear Basketball will be nominated in the Animated field, and I think Heroin(e) and Dekalb Elementary sound like contenders for Best Documentary Short and Live Action Short, respectively, but after that, my guesses are based on the names alone (i.e. Facing Mecca, Fox and the Whale, 116 Cameras).
Well, these are my predictions as of January 1st. We are about to start seeing the guilds weighing in and changing things, and once that happens, expect these to change. But until then, be ready for a bloodbath. Things are getting weird, and we need to be ready for it. If you want to see the full list of predictions, as well as my odds database, click here. I’ll see you all Friday with the Second Annual Beat The Guru Competition. Stay tuned!