Maybe it's the overwhelming sense of helplessness brought on by the dumpster fire of the last 13 months, but this year's Academy Awards — the 90th such ceremony, for those keeping score — feel like they've kinda snuck up on us.
The awards show, airing this Sunday and once again hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, features many firsts: Rachel Morrison is the first woman ever nominated for Best Cinematographer; Johnny Greenwood gets his first Best Original Score nom for Phantom Thread (after being hosed out of one for There Will Be Blood); and all five of the nominees for Best Director are on the ballot for the first time. Yes, even Christopher Nolan and Guillermo Del Toro.
Many of the films securing the most nominations are smaller, personal affairs like Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. And even the bigger budget efforts are more tight in focus. Dunkirk is a war movie with few battles, while The Shape of Water couches its love story in the trappings of a horror movie/espionage thriller.
But let's get serious: sober analysis isn't the reason you're here. You're desperate to win that Oscar pool, or maybe the end of football season has given you the gambling equivalent of the DTs. Whatever the case, I'm here to help. Book the following predictions with confidence.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Mary J. Blige - Mudbound
Allison Janney - I, Tonya
Lesley Manville - Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer - The Shape of Water
Who Should Win? It's easy to write off everyone but Janney, who's swept all the significant awards (BAFTA, SAG, Globes) to this point, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out Laurie Metcalf's outstanding turn in Lady Bird.
Who Will Win? I mean, duh; Allison Janney.
Who *Really* Wins? Everyone tired of the rehabilitation of Tonya Harding.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
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
Who Should Win? You can make an argument for anyone on the list — even Plummer, who reshot Kevin Spacey's scenes in just nine days and still secured a nomination. Of everyone on the list not named Sam Rockwell, I'd say Dafoe is the one most deserving, and that might be because Jenkins is so good in everything we're all going to take him for granted until his Honorary Oscar.
Who Will Win? I had some concerns with dual nominations for Three Billboards splitting the vote between Harrelson and Rockwell, but like Janney, Sam Rockwell is pretty much a lock-well.
Who *Really* Wins? Those who recognized that the character of Dixon is never actually redeemed. Far from it, in fact.
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
The Boss Baby
Who Should Win? The weakness of this year's American animation slate at least allowed excellent entries like The Breadwinner (a Canadian/Irish/Luxembourgish(?) production) and Loving Vincent (Poland) to appear on the ballot, but as good as those were (especially LV), they don't have a chance.
Who Will Win? The annual Disney/Pixar award goes to...Coco.
Who *Really* Wins? MAGA dolts who'll claim Mexicans would be happier staying in their own country, probably.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult (Lebanon)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)
Who Should Win? There are some interesting contenders here, with Sebastián Lelio's timely look at transgender politics vying with Ruben Östlund's stinging satire of the contemporary art world.
Who Will Win? Who am I kidding? You didn't actually watch any of these. Pick A Fantastic Woman, you Philistines.
Who *Really* Wins? Mad Men fans who always fantasized about watching Peggy Olson argue about semen (assuming that scene's in the highlight reel).
“Mighty River” from Mudbound, Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
Who Should Win? Is Sufjan Stevens getting nominated the weirdest thing since Elliott Smith? Is this where I point out Diane Warren has been nominated nine times without a win?
Who Will Win? I still think "Remember Me" pulls it off, but don't sleep on "This Is Me." Songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul won last year for "City of Stars," and The Greatest Showman is quietly on its way to a $400 million worldwide gross.
I think that Hugh Jackman fellow might have a future in this business.
Who *Really* Wins? I can't be the only one wondering how a Sufjan Stevens performance is going to go over at the Dolby Theatre.
Dunkirk - Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread - Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water - Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Carter Burwell
Who Should Win? Remember when I said Greenwood got screwed out of a nom for There Will Be Blood? Yeah, it doesn't matter. He's a distant second, and this is one of the only awards Three Billboards won't be contending for.
Who Will Win? Always bet on Desplat. Except for, you know, those eight times he lost.
Who *Really* Wins? Whoever invested in a sweet surround sound system.
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
Who Should Win? AKA the consolation category. No disrespect to any of this year's nominees, but these are realistically most of their only shot at an Oscar.
Who Will Win? Call Me By Your Name, which is this year's movie that everybody thought they liked, then got progressively creeped out the more they thought about it and is hoping they can get away with just giving it a screenplay award.
Who *Really* Wins? Are you sick of The Room yet? Hopefully this is the last any of us will have to hear about it.
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
Who Should Win? See above. I'm a fan of every one of the movies nominated, and while I'd love for The Big Sick or The Shape of Water to win (the latter for Michael Shannon's hand washing monologue alone), it probably won't happen.
Who Will Win? Get Out's been variously labeled as a thriller, a comedy, and a horror movie, and I fear that's going to sink its chances later in the evening. Jordan Peele should win this, and while that isn't a shame, I'd argue Great Gerwig and Gordon/Nanjiani are almost equally deserving.
Who *Really* Wins? Not a theater full of people who'd probably put the Coagula into effect given the opportunity, I'll tell you that much.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
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
Who Should Win? As hinted earlier, the acting categories are pretty much a dead solid lock, none more so than this, where you have one (near) sure thing, two contenders, and two longshots. The biggest surprise? Meryl Streep is in the latter category.
Who Will Win? Frances McDormand. And as much as I enjoyed Saoirse Ronan's performance, it's not even close.
Who *Really* Wins? I just want McDormand to go full Mildren on Weinstein et al. while at the podium.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
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.
Who Should Win? Daniel Kaluuya doesn't get enough credit for what he did in Get Out, where he expertly navigating the minefield of interacting with his girlfriend's family while gradually getting wise to what was going on. It's a shame.
Who Will Win? A shame because Gary Oldman is going to take this for his 'just fine' performance in a movie that otherwise looked like a cheap BBC miniseries, spoiling both Daniel Day-Lewis' career climax and Timothée Chalamet's Oscar coming out party (no pun intended).
Who *Really* Wins? Who's ready for some DDL reaction shots?
Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk
Jordan Peele - Get Out
Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson - Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro - The Shape of Water
Who Should Win? Another strong slate, leading up to (probably) another Best Director/Picture split. The variety in both categories is impressive, but I'm only bullish on one nominee.
Who Will Win? Guillermo Del Toro, get it? Becuase "toro" means....oh shut up. The Shape of Water is such a beautiful and wholly realized film, one deftly juggling so many genres, I think Toro ends up walking away with this, even though each nominee is deserving.
Who *Really* Wins? In a night that will contain no shortage of vitriol aimed at our current President, the most affecting might come from the Oscar winner from Guadalajara, Mexico.
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Call Me by Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who Should Win? Probably easier to say what *shouldn't*: Darkest Hour, Call Me By Your Name, and The Post are the weakest links, followed by Phantom Thread (which is still quite good). Of the remaining five, the only mild surprises would be Dunkirk (too experimental) or Lady Bird (too...Sacramento).
Who Will Win? Three Billboards and Get Out are truly films of their time, but I'm betting the old guard at the Academy still don't know what to make of the latter. And while The Shape of Water was my personal favorite of last year ... it's *weird*, man. Believe it or not, Three Billboards is the most comfortable choice.
Who *Really* Wins? All of us, if the ceremony clocks in under 3.5 hours.