On Sunday, March 4, the Dolby Theatre will host the 90th annual Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars. With such a massive microscope on Hollywood, the Academy’s approach to this year’s awards will define the integrity of the film industry as a whole, relying heavily on who they will crown and what the airtime will address.
Many often criticize the Oscars for being insipidly predictable ‒ after the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice and the Screen Actors Guild, winners on a roll tend to stick ‒ but one can bet the Academy will toss a curveball or two just to keep us on our toes. In the past, I have not suffered a great deal of luck with predictions but this serves me right for always rooting for the underdog.
This year, however, I will abandon all my old ways and truly project the winners I believe the Oscars will embrace; so without further ado, here are my predictions for the 90th annual Academy Awards. Click here for all 24 categories and a full list of nominees.
Call Me by Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
In past award ceremonies, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has sweeped all the categories within their nominations. Just as they did last year, I presume the Academy will follow the Golden Globes’ lead ‒ see Moonlight (2016) ‒ and give Three Billboards the gold. Another film I could see claiming the coveted Best Picture award is Get Out for one reason and one reason only: white guilt. Granted, Get Out is undoubtedly incredible but white audiences have a habit of giving the film just a bit more credit than what’s due, simply because they feel obligated to assert their understanding of Jordan Peele’s portrayal of racism in the modern world.
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.
Following my retrospective approach, Gary Oldman has the best shot at winning the Oscar for leading actor. His performance is held in such high regard because of his passionate interpretation of the late – but seldom missed – Winston Churchill. I, however, find far more artistic merit in Timothee Chalamet and Daniel Day-Lewis’ performances, seeing as how this was Chalamet’s first leading role at the tender age of 20 and Day-Lewis was nearly driven to the brink of clinical depression because of his profound commitment to the character ‒ the Oscars haven’t exactly built a habit of choosing the most deserving.
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
This prediction may seem rather optimistic considering that Meryl Streep practically wins any and every nomination she receives, yet I believe Saoirse Ronan has a more than sizeable shot at the Academy award. Critics and audiences, alike, embraced Lady Bird, giving Ronan the momentum to snag the prize and it does not hurt that she already claimed the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy. But Streep may not be Ronan’s only threat: Margot Robbie’s exceptional portrayal of Tonya Harding scored her Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role at the Screen Actors Guild Awards making her a primary contender for the gold.
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
Of all the categories this award season, this one is by far the most disparaging. Sam Rockwell has been on a firm winning streak, overshadowing his co-star Woody Harrelson ‒ whose performance was only slightly more mediocre than that of Rockwell’s. It baffles me how set Academy voters are on snubbing Willem Dafoe, who delivered one of the most level-headed and genuine characters of the entire year. Being The Florida Project’s only nomination, I am tired of yearning for the Oscars to embrace Dafoe’s mastery.
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
The soft spot in my heart for Lady Bird is pleading for Laurie Metcalf to take home the gold, but Allison Janney’s winning streak refuses to let up. Granted, her portrayal of Tonya Harding’s iron-fisted mother warrants some extensive recognition ‒ but this does not mean nominees like Octavia Spencer and Mary J. Blige should get sweeped under a rug.
Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro
As the unofficial god of monster movies, Guillermo del Toro’s heart is at ease walking into the Oscars, having already snatched the Best Director categories for both the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice awards. The Academy Awards chose first-time nominees Greta Gerwig, Jordan Peele and ‒ surprisingly ‒ Christopher Nolan to give del Toro a run for his money, making this year’s Best Director category a true bloodbath. My heart goes out to Gerwig, who only made her directorial debut last year with the esteemed Lady Bird. Also considering the Academy’s attraction to Get Out, this becomes a proper free-for-all.
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
After much deserved praise, Coco has received nothing but roaring reviews and subsequent recognition from the Academy. Though the visually gorgeous and contextually profund film will likely get the Oscar, there’s something within me that just drops when I see Loving Vincent lose. For those not familiar, Loving Vincent is made up entirely of oil paintings ‒ yes, entirely, meaning from start to finish; every shot, every move is an oil painting in the style of Vincent van Gogh. It took over 125 artists to create and if that doesn’t scream Academy Award, then I don’t know what does.
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
Call Me By Your Name is a definite standout in this category. Having both seen the film and read the book, I can attest to its flawless translation onto the big screen from words on a page. However, I cannot help but root for Molly’s Game, seeing how exceptionally the film captures its audience from the second it starts until the minute it ends. Its subject matter is also beyond intriguing ‒ the thrilling true story of the woman who ran the biggest celebrity poker ring in modern history.
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
Coming upon this category, saying I am torn would be a grave understatement. All of the nominees deserve an Academy award for their phenomenal screenplays, but one demands my vote more than the others: The Big Sick. Juggling themes of young love, familial obligations and necessary deception beneath a comedic veil is what makes The Big Sick such a must-watch. Kumail Nanjiani seamlessly turned a biopic of his own hardship into a story that resonates with so many others while remaining light-hearted and hilarious.
Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins
Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound, Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen
Knowing the Academy and their unhealthy fixation on Gary Oldman, I predict Darkest Hour will be awarded the Oscar for best cinematography – with Dunkirk in close second. Maybe I cannot see it, but audiences swear there is something breathtaking about the dreadful grayscale visuals and ominous cool-toned scenery. Frankly, my personal choice would have been a write-in (sorry, Mr. Delbonnel). In my eyes, The Florida Project’s use of bright natural color and visuals that feel like a memory are far more awe-inspiring than the series of shadows Delbonnel’s lights created along Winston Churchill’s prosthetic double chin.