Final Predictions for the 90th Academy Awards!

The last time I posted was… well, last year when I shared my final Oscar picks for the 89th ceremony. But for now, I’m back! I hope to return to writing about film (on a blog with its own domain) and recording content on YouTube on a regular basis. To that end, expect a post early next week with my recap of this Oscar season. Additionally, I’ll announce a contest for the blog in the very near future 😀

For now, though, here are my finalized Oscar predictions for the film year of 2017. I’m only going with the main eight categories, since this post is coming extremely last-minute, eleventh-hour, etc.

Best Picture
Best Picture is a mess. And that’s the way I like it. Four films – three masterpieces and one… not-masterpiece – feel like our main contenders here. Guess which one’s probably gonna win.

First, The Shape of Water, whose Guillermo del Toro should take Best Director in a cakewalk if this season’s turn of events is any indication. While I’m thrilled that it’s even in the conversation to win Best Picture, I also can’t see the motion-picture academy giving this period fantasy about an interspecies romance its top prize for the same reason I believe they passed on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008 and Avatar the following year. The former was a romance about a man who aged backwardly, and the latter was about blue people. (Yes, Avatar is very much a metaphor, but on the surface, we’re still talking about overgrown Smurfs.) While the genre elements were certainly not the only factors that kept those films from taking the crown, do we really think a mute Sally Hawkins getting her rocks off with a fish-man/sea god will take Best Picture?

Speaking of genre pics, if you’d told me a year ago that Get Out would be in the running for Best Picture and Best Director nominations, I would have said that I’d beaten you to that claim. But I doubt I’d have agreed if you’d told me that Jordan Peele’s thrilling satire might actually win either award, let alone both. But that’s thankfully where we are; it captured the zeitgeist (if you had a dime for every time you’d read that word this Oscar season) and stuck around. Some people, though, don’t know how art works think it’s ~just a genre film~, and genre bias is very sadly a real thing among movie snobs and Oscar voters alike.

Moving out of genre territory, Lady Bird from Greta Gerwig feels like the safest choice. At least on paper. A movie about real people dealing with very real-life hardships is a far cry from the genre trappings of Get Out and The Shape of Water, indeed. Perhaps more importantly, few folks outright loathe the warm mother-daughter dramedy the way some despise the other “real people” movie in contention, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Ultimately, though, that divisive satire from Martin McDonagh probably is the safe choice here, despite what we see on Film Twitter. Three Billboards deals with Important Issues (rather poorly, actually, but again, Film Twitter =/= Oscar voters), it’s performed very well on the awards trail, and it boasts widespread support across AMPAS, whose acting branch (the most important group by most accounts) really went big for it.

Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan both have contributed so much to the world of film, but this simply isn’t “their year.” While each film has its ardent supporters, Phantom Thread came into the mix rather late, and Dunkirk seemingly fell by the wayside.

Lastly, Luca Guadagnino’s tender summer romance Call Me by Your Name, Joe Wright’s dull shell of an actual film Darkest Hour, and Steven Spielberg’s simultaneously thrilling, dull, and baffling journalism drama The Post look like the weakest here, as far as the potential to win is concerned.

Will Win: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should Win: Get Out
Should Be Here: Beats per Minute (BPM)

Best Director
As mentioned above, del Toro should have no trouble winning this. He took the Directors Guild of America honor and won director prizes from both the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Unlike other due contenders Anderson and Nolan, his film is very much in the conversation to win Best Picture, and it’s easy to imagine voters passing over Gerwig and Peele because they’re just starting out as directors.

Will Win: Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water
Should Win: (Tough call, but…) Jordan Peele for Get Out
Should Be Here: Darren Aronofsky for mother!

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Frances McDormand’s steamrolled through the season for her Three Billboards turn, and it’s difficult to imagine Oscar resisting, even though she’s the only previous winner here aside from awards-season perennial Meryl Streep. Sally Hawkins’ captivating silent performance in The Shape of Water has something of a shot here, as does Saoirse Ronan’s pitch-perfect embodiment of teenage emotional cacophony in Lady Bird. Margot Robbie’s also here.

Will Win: Frances McDormand for Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should Win: Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water
Should Be Here: Jennifer Lawrence for mother!

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Timothée Chalamet won over the critics for his surrender to adolescent longing and the naïveté of teenage romanticism in Call Me by Your Name. Daniel Kaluuya plays up horror tropes to convey some very important truths about America in Get Out. Daniel Day-Lewis forgoes Accent Work and body contorting in Phantom Thread and still manages to rival his career-best work with his screen presence alone. Gary Oldman wears prosthetics, babbles, and pops the monocles of Parliament members in Darkest Hour. Naturally, Oldman’s got this in the bag. (I’ve yet to see Roman J. Israel, Esq., so I can speak to neither it nor Denzel Washington’s performance therein.)

Will Win: Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour
Should Win: Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out
Should Be Here: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart for Beats per Minute (BPM)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Allison Janney’s an industry darling, and I’m thrilled that she’ll be an Oscar winner within less than 48 hours. Too bad it’s for the ~satirical~ I, Tonya. And too bad that she’s winning when Laurie Metcalf provides such beautiful character work as a strong but nearly broken mother in Lady Bird and when Lesley Manville goes deliciously cold as the protective sister in Phantom Thread. Octavia Spencer’s always a welcome presence on the screen, and she fills out the nearly empty shell of a character she has in The Shape of Water. I’ve yet to check out Mudbound, so I’m neither here nor there on Mary J. Blige.

Will Win: Allison Janney for I, Tonya
Should Win: Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird
Should Be Here: Allison Williams for Get Out

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Like co-star McDormand, Sam Rockwell dominated the awards season, and there’s little reason to believe the conclusion will provide a third-act twist. Woody Harrelson’s even better in the film, but Rockwell’s hogged all the attention here. Richard Jenkins’ turn as a gay man in the Cold War United States plays wonderfully into del Toro’s The Shape of Water. With just a few days of work, Christopher Plummer gives a chilling portrayal of a callous man in All the Money in the World. Meanwhile, I might be the only Oscar obsessive who’s yet to catch The Florida Project.

Will Win: Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should Win: Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water
Should Be Here: Lakeith Stanfield for Get Out

Best Original Screenplay
Long story short, any of the nominees can win. Well, maybe not The Big Sick from Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani. While this cinematic account of their real-life romance is touching, the film has no Oscar representation beyond this category. After that, The Shape of Water is probably out. It’s very much perceived as a director’s film… and not too much of a writer’s film; indeed, the nomination here surprised quite a few of us. The process of elimination beyond that is trickier, with Get Out, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards remaining. I know we perceive this to be a tighter Oscar race than usual, but if we’re to predict Three Billboards for Best Picture, why would we expect something else to win here? Ultimately, I expect the winner here to take the top prize as well.

Will Win: Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should Win: Jordan Peele for Get Out
Should Be Here: Robin Campillo and Philippe Mangeot for Beats per Minute (BPM)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Sure, the no-brainer choice of Call Me by Your Name probably will end up with this prize: It’s the only Best Picture nominee represented here, and James Ivory will finally win on his fourth nomination. However, quite a few people have been rallying around Mudbound, written by Virgil Williams and director Dee Rees; the latter made history in becoming the first black woman ever nominated for this particular award. The remaining nominated films are recognized in no other category, but since I’m here… I would have made an argument for a potential The Disaster Artist upset if James Franco had been nominated for his Tommy Wiseau impression; Logan kicks ass and became the first superhero film to grab a writing nomination; and let’s be real, Molly’s Game, while entertaining, got in thanks to Aaron Sorkin’s name.

Will Win: James Ivory for Call Me by Your Name
Should Win: James Ivory for Call Me by Your Name
Should Be Here: James Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.

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