It’s the ninetieth edition of Hollywood’s biggest night tonight, and that hopefully means four hours of blunders, snubs and underwhelming awards. Still, the fun of the whole ceremony comes in guessing what’s going to take the top prizes, so here are my final 2018 Oscar predictions.
(UPDATE: I got 19/20 correct – an almost entirely clean sweep and my best year of predictions ever! However, for the FOURTH year in a row, I still managed to get Best Picture wrong, now the only award I’ve somehow never guessed right… Oh well, let’s try again next year.)
Prediction: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Could spoil the party: Get Out, The Shape Of Water, Lady Bird
While this year’s race for Best Picture has been described as one of the most wide open in years, the continual love for Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri over the last few big awards ceremonies has cemented its place as frontrunner.
An excellent film that features a stunning central performance from Frances McDormand, as well as a both hilarious and touching screenplay, it’s a brilliant black comedy that’s been getting rave reviews across the board. However, its huge success at recent ceremonies has made it the safe choice.
And that’s why I don’t think the win is an entirely foregone conclusion. Although Oscar voters made their choices for Best Picture quite a while ago now, there’s a real possibility that they could throw up another dramatic upset to match the mania that unfolded in last year’s La La Land–Moonlight episode.
Which film would be most likely to cause that upset? Well, for me, it seems as if Jordan Peele’s Get Out would be best-placed to do so. As the film with by far the most momentum and popular love of all of the Best Picture nominees, combined with its contemporary social conscience, Get Out would be an immensely brave, but undoubtedly popular pick for Best Picture, and would create a thrilling end to what has unfortunately been one of the dullest awards seasons in years.
Along with Get Out, Greta Gerwig’s fantastic indie comedy-drama Lady Bird stands in good stead with voters and audiences, while Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water stands out as the most unique of the Best Picture nominees, something that has won him huge favour with awards voters throughout the season.
In the end, however, it appears as if Three Billboards will probably take the top prize, and there’s no doubt that it deserves the recognition. However, be ready for the real possibilty of a huge upset with Get Out taking Best Picture, and creating the brilliant storm of publicity that the Academy would adore once again.
Prediction: Guillermo del Toro – The Shape Of Water
Could spoil the party: Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird, Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
It’s been noted by many that the Oscar for Best Director has now effectively become the award for the best film of the year. While Best Picture now seems to prioritise progressive and timely stories over anything else, the Best Director award continues to reward the films with the most artistic ingenuity and brilliance, and that’s why we’re likely to see Guillermo del Toro take the prize tonight.
The Shape Of Water is without a doubt the year’s most unique and artistically rich film, and its brilliance can be largely attributed to the mad mind of del Toro, who manages to deliver a wonderfully mystical, visually dazzling and still fully riveting film that will intrigue you just as much as it will bemuse you.
However, like all this year’s categories, Academy voters will have in mind the huge upheaval of the traditional order of Hollywood by recent movements like #OscarsSoWhite, #MeToo and more, and that’s why Greta Gerwig is being heavily tipped as a potential Best Director winner, to add to the measly one female winner of the prize in Katherine Bigelow back at the 2010 ceremony.
While Gerwig undoubtedly delivers a wonderful film in Lady Bird, combining her classic quirky style with a moving and enthralling coming-of-age story, I can’t see it being enough to push voters to go for it over del Toro’s incredibly artistic The Shape Of Water.
And if you’re looking for the ultimate dark horse, Christopher Nolan stands strong for the already-legendary Dunkirk. Shockingly, he’s never won the award for Best Director, despite being regarded by so many as the best of the current generation, so it would be nice to see Nolan finally rewarded for all of his incredible work with a prize for Dunkirk. Unfortunately, however, the film’s subject matter seems to be regarded as a little too traditional to deserve Oscar glory in the modern day, and that’s the reason that Nolan won’t be able to pick up the award for what is, in my view, the best-directed film of the year, and possibly even the decade.
Prediction: Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
Could spoil the party: We’re unlikely to see anyone else
Talking about a subject matter regarded as too traditional to merit Oscar glory, Darkest Hour, which looks at the story of Winston Churchill as he negotiates the most intense and important days of World War Two as Britain stood on the brink of defeat by the Nazis, is actually poised to take a major award.
Gary Oldman’s performance as Winston Churchill is undoubtedly brilliant, with all of his dramatic talent combining with a likable and humorous persona that makes Darkest Hour a fantastically entertaining watch, and that’s why he’s so far ahead in what looks like the category with the most predictable winner.
The Best Actor category, for what seems like the umpteenth year in a row, is fantastically weak, and has had a clear frontrunner ever since the beginning of awards season. Oldman’s fellow nominees include Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out, Timothée Chalamet for Call Me By Your Name, Daniel Day-Lewis for Phantom Thread, and Denzel Washington for Roman J. Israel, Esq., for some reason.
Of those other nominees, Kaluuya and Chalamet would be next in line for the prize after Oldman, but neither give performances that really stand up to the Academy’s high standards, and definitely don’t match up against Oldman’s turn. What’s more is that the Academy have always been very reluctant to give young actors the top prize for acting, often preferring to award those with longer, ‘worthier’ careers.
Daniel Day-Lewis, three-time Oscar winner, would normally be right up there, but given that he’s already won three times (and Oldman has never won), coupled with the fact that his performance in Phantom Thread is nowhere near his best, we’re unlikely to see him take a historic fourth win tonight.
And then Denzel Washington is nominated for his performance in Roman J. Israel, Esq., a film that’s not been in the awards conversation at all, and seemingly an excuse to get another famous face in to make up the numbers, something we’ve seen the Academy do on a yearly basis *cough*Meryl Streep*cough*.
Prediction: Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Could spoil the party: Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
While it seems like we’ve been without a defined frontrunner this awards season, the continued success of Three Billboards has helped Frances McDormand establish a stronghold at the lead of the race for Best Actress.
McDormand’s performance is easily the most layered of the category’s nominees, covering all bases as she plays a grieving mother frustrated with the lack of police action over her daughter’s murder. Taking cues from her many years with the Coen Brothers, McDormand gives a performance that’s both darkly hilarious and still very touching, as she proves a mesmerising lead within one of the best ensemble casts of the year.
Once again, the Best Actress category far outstrips Best Actor for strong nominees. Second in the running is Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird, two years after she was close to a win for Brooklyn. Ronan, however, doesn’t have the long career of McDormand, and her turn in Lady Bird, while both charming and moving, isn’t quite as powerful as McDormand’s in Lady Bird, meaning that it seems as if she’ll just miss the prize once again.
Sally Hawkins is also nominated for The Shape Of Water, and Margot Robbie for I, Tonya. Both give excellent lead performances in equally excellent films, but given that The Shape Of Water is seen more as del Toro’s film, and I, Tonya just hasn’t been in the awards conversation as much, we’re unlikely to see either snatch Best Actress this year.
And then there’s Meryl Streep, with her 21st acting nomination. Now, this is normally where I go on a rant about a pointless nomination that could have been easily filled by a younger actress with a better performance, but this is actually the first year for a long time that Streep actually deserves to be in the category. Her turn in The Post, while not spellbinding, is energetic and engaging throughout, and without a doubt her best since her win for The Iron Lady, making this year’s a fully deserved nomination, albeit one that won’t give her a fourth win.
Best Supporting Actor
Prediction: Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Could spoil the party: Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Yet more love for Three Billboards in the Supporting Actor category with a likely win for Sam Rockwell, who plays a racist and brutal local cop that faces up to the wrath of Frances McDormand’s increasingly frustrated character.
Although I personally felt that Woody Harrelson (also nominated) gave a more powerful performance, Rockwell does the job of a supporting actor perfectly here, giving a performance that helps his character stand out in his own story just behind the lead, while also managing to craft a persona that makes his character’s surprising arc of development as convincing as possible.
If there’s anyone that Rockwell faces a challenge from this year, then it’s Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project. Once the frontrunner for the award at the beginning of the season, Dafoe gives an outstanding performance as a heavenly voice of reason and calm in the midst of the chaotic lives of many, starring as by far the most moving and subtly powerful elements of that film.
Woody Harrelson is also nominated for his turn in Three Billboards, but doesn’t have the support as most with love for the film have backed Sam Rockwell. Christopher Plummer is there for his strong turn as J. Paul Getty in All The Money In The World, shining in a quick-fix stand-in performance in place of Kevin Spacey. Finally, Richard Jenkins picks up a nod for his delightful performance in The Shape Of Water, which, although memorable, doesn’t quite stand up as a great performance alongside some of his fellow nominees.
Best Supporting Actress
Prediction: Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Could spoil the party: Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
My favourite film of the year was I, Tonya, so I’ve been sad to see that it hasn’t been recognised in most of the big categories. However, there’s a little consolation for me as it looks as if Allison Janney will be taking home the Best Supporting Actress award for her fantastic performance as LaVona Golden, the mother of Tonya Harding.
With a simultaneously forceful and hilarious persona, Janney is ever-present in your mind as you watch her daughter’s rise to prominence in the figure skating world, and even though she doesn’t occupy all that much screen time throughout the film, her presence is felt throughout, made even better by her short but sharp appearances from time to time.
Janney has been in the lead for the prize for a long time, but Laurie Metcalf is standing in the wings to take what would be an equally deserving surprise victory. Her performance in Lady Bird, as the mother to Saoirse Ronan’s young character, was probably the most touching I saw over the last year, with a very relatable and down-to-earth turn that gave her character just as enthralling and powerful a story as the teenager in what was meant to be a simple coming-of-age story.
The remainder of the nominees don’t really stand up to the two frontrunners, with Octavia Spencer nominated for another entertaining, albeit not groundbreaking, supporting turn in The Shape Of Water, Lesley Manville for a strong, albeit not stellar turn in Phantom Thread, and Mary J. Blige for a less-than-memorable turn in the frustratingly unbalanced Mudbound.
Best Original Screenplay
Prediction: Get Out
Could spoil the party: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Original Screenplay has always been the other honorary Best Picture award after Best Director. Reserved for the films with a little bit more nouse and originality, it’s the place that the Academy like to reward those that take a little bit more of a risk than go for typical Oscar bait.
If there were something above it for Best Picture, this would have easily been Three Billboards’ category, but give that it looks like it’ll win the top prize, then the baton is passed down to second-placed Get Out, which thrills with what has been constantly lauded as one of the most original screenplays of the year.
Three Billboards does a brilliant job as an equally entertaining and moving black comedy, but Get Out combines hilarious Hollywood comedy with a riveting, unpredictable horror story, and even a contemporary social conscience as it comments on issues of race, proving one of the most impressive and original screenplays of the year, surely giving it the credentials to take victory here.
The Shape Of Water and Lady Bird are waiting in the wings once again with two of the most memorable stories of the year, and The Big Sick features for a screenplay that really should have been more present in the conversation, given it’s one of the funniest and most emotionally powerful films of the year, doing the impossible by almost reinventing the rom-com genre with a truly riveting story based on the real experiences of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Prediction: Call Me By Your Name
Could spoil the party: Molly’s Game
As it stands, Call Me By Your Name looks to be the most Oscar-y film not to pick up any of the biggest awards, so that’s why I think it’ll take the win for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Although I personally feel it’s more of a visually impressive film, the movie does undoubtedly have some strong emotional and philosophical depth, as we watch a young man come of age and learn about the world over the course of one passionate Italian summer.
Molly’s Game, penned by legendary screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, has a deserved nomination, and stands ready to take a surprise win thanks to its rapid-fire and brilliantly-written dialogue and plot, following Sorkin’s run of flawless screenplays that can keep you hooked for as long as he wants, exemplified by the 140 mjnute Molly’s Game that doesn’t feel any longer than an hour and a bit.
The rest of the nominees include Mudbound, a film that suffered heavily because of its inconsistent screenplay for me, The Disaster Artist, an entertaining and uplifting film that’s not quite as funny as it thinks it is, and Logan, which is an absolutely brilliant watch, and easily the best-written superhero drama ever made, but not quite with the chops to take an award for Best Screenplay at the Oscars.
Best Animated Feature
Could spoil the party: Surely, SURELY nobody
If there’s one category that I feel very passionately about, then it’s Best Animated Feature. Although it’s a field of some strong nominees (and one other that shall not be named), Disney Pixar’s Coco surely has to take home the prize.
Following their success with Inside Out, Pixar have brought us another gem with the truly delightful, endlessly vibrant, and genuinely moving Coco, a film that had me in tears on both occasions that I saw it, not only because of the emotionally powerful story, but also because I was taken aback by just how beautiful and rich the animation is.
I would not only be shocked if Coco didn’t win, but also properly heartbroken. Still, if we take a look at the other nominees for Best Animated Feature, then we’ll see that Loving Vincent and The Breadwinner, both beautiful independent animations, stand in the best position to cause an upset, but perhaps not with the most awards momentum to do so in reality.
And then there’s the final two, Ferdinand and The Boss Baby, both generic Hollywood kids’ animations that, like previous years, prove that Best Animated Feature should probably be cut back to three nominations to prevent stupid films like THE BOSS BABY making it to the ceremony.
Best Foreign Language Film
Prediction: A Fantastic Woman
Could spoil the party: The Square
And for our final big category, we take a look at Best Foreign Language Film. Now, due to release schedules from overseas, it’s always hard to catch all of the nominees for this category, but I’ve managed to see what look to be the top two runners.
Sebastián Lelio’s captivating Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman stands in good stead to take the award. Not only is it a brilliantly-written and acted film, but it features a sobering portrayal of modern day prejudice against transgender people, as we watch a transgender woman struggling to cope as she faces low-level prejudice from ordinary people on an everyday basis, a story that really makes you think about your own opinions on the issue.
Palme D’Or winner The Square is also nominated for Sweden, and although I feel that it doesn’t stand up to Force Majeure, director Ruben Östlund’s best work, it’s a deserved nod for one of the year’s most ambitious (albeit bordering on pretentious) pieces.
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the other three nominees, The Insult (Lebanon), Loveless (Russia) and On Body And Soul (Hungary), so I can’t fully pass judgment on them, however if you look at the bookies and many experts’ predictions, you’ll see that they’re not quite level with the likes of A Fantastic Woman for the award.
The Rest Of The Feature Film Awards
Best Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049 (ROGER DEAKINS!)
Best Original Score: The Shape Of Water
Best Original Song: ‘Remember Me’ from Coco
Best Sound Editing: Dunkirk
Best Sound Mixing: Dunkirk
Best Production Design: The Shape Of Water
Best Costume Design: Phantom Thread
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Darkest Hour
Best Film Editing: Dunkirk
Best Visual Effects: Blade Runner 2049