I will readily admit that I am one of those people who loves to watch the Oscars almost as much as I love to talk trash about the Oscars. I’ve heard many like-minded people equate the Oscars to “the Super Bowl for movies,” and after some thought, I can pretty much get on-board with this comparison. Sure, there are some huge differences — the Super Bowl is an event where teams are playing live to win something they actually deserve, whereas the Oscars are an arbitrary set of awards determined by a bunch of rich old white people — but when it comes to the excitement of the viewing experience, the amount of alcohol consumed throughout the ceremony, and the excessive pettiness of my Twitter timeline during the show and in the days to follow, I honestly can’t think of two more similar events.
A week from tonight, the 90th Annual Academy Awards ceremony will air on ABC. Despite the fact that I’ve watched the Oscars every year for as long as I can remember, this will be the first time I officially make my predictions in a public forum (and what could be more public than this, our extremely famous and well-known blog?). I want to do my best to be correct, but I also want to give some love to the films I actually liked, so I’m going to format this post the way a lot of writers do: for each category, I’ll give my official prediction, and then I’ll give the film that would win it if were up to me.
This intro is starting to run about as long as I expect Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue will, so let’s get into it, shall we?
Before I get into the categories, I have a few disclaimers to note.
Every year, I do my best to catch up with as many of the nominees as I can, even if that means sitting through some extremely boring contenders (I’m looking at you, The Post). That being said, I did not manage to get to every single film I would have liked to see before writing this list, and I will make note of that as we go through the nominees. From this point forward, any film that isn’t bolded is a film I haven’t seen.
I am not going to go through every single category, because it would be ridiculous to pretend I know anything about what merits, for example, “good sound mixing.” In addition, I didn’t manage to catch up with any of the foreign contenders (though without having seen it yet I’m already pulling for A Fantastic Woman), animated/documentary shorts, or feature-length documentary nominees (yes, I’m terrible, shut up). I also have yet to see Coco (yes, I’m terrible, SHUT UP), but we all know it’s going to win for Best Animated Feature because Pixar, so I’m not going to bother going through that category either.
Okay. For real this time.
Blade Runner 2049 - John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner and Dan Sudick
Kong: Skull Island - Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza and Mike Meinardus
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould
War for the Planet of the Apes - Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist
Here are some things I immediately notice about this category: 1) Every one of these films is either a reboot, a sequel, or both, and 2) With a total of 20 names listed here, it’s really quite remarkable that not a single one of them is a woman! That’s cool though. Everyone knows women don’t know how to use computers.
Will Win: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
This is a prediction I’m kind of uncertain about, but I’m going to go ahead and make it because I think the Academy will award Star Wars when it can reasonably do so. I won’t be upset if this wins, because if this wins for visual effects, it basically means that porgs just won an Academy Award.
Should Win: Blade Runner 2049
Whether you think the original Blade Runner is simply untouchable or you found this film’s nearly three-hour-long run time to be a bit of a slog, it’s hard to deny that Blade Runner 2049 is spectacular from top to bottom. Seamlessly-integrated flying cars, giant holographic AI women, and oh my god, that memory-building sequence… come on, y’all. This movie deserves this win.
Beauty and the Beast - Jacqueline Durran
Darkest Hour - Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread - Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water - Luis Sequeira
Victoria & Abdul - Consolata Boyle
Will Win: Jacqueline Durran for Beauty and the Beast
First of all, Jacqueline Durran is up for two awards in this category, so the odds are in her favor. Second, she has already won FOUR academy awards for Best Costume Design, beginning with her win for Pride and Prejudice in 2005. Third, the Academy loves to give this award to the movie with the floofiest costumes. Fourth: Disney.
Should Win: Mark Bridges for Phantom Thread
I present the following image without comment.
Seriously though. This movie is ABOUT a fashion designer - which means the costume designer not only had to think about making beautiful things, but he had to think about making them from the perspective of a very specific character. I think that fact in itself deserves extra accolades.
Music (Original Song)
“Mighty River” from Mudbound - Music and Lyric by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson
“Mystery of Love” from Call Me By Your Name - Music and Lyric by Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from Coco - Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“Stand Up For Something” from Marshall - Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Lonnie R. Lynn and Diane Warren
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman - Music and Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Will Win & Should Win: “Remember Me” from Coco
Usually, if a song from Disney/Pixar is up for this award, it will win — even if it doesn’t deserve to. I think “Remember Me” does deserve the award — and this year I don’t see any other movie stealing the win from Disney like La La Land managed to last year. I’m still bitter. #Moana
Honorable Should Win: “Mystery Of Love” from Call Me By Your Name
I just have to quickly note how cool it is that Sufjan Stevens is nominated for an Oscar. Also, he’s the only musician on the list who is the sole songwriter of his track, which is oddly rare in this category. And the song itself? It’s perfect, obviously.
Music (Original Score)
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
Will Win: Hans Zimmer for Dunkirk
This is a hard category to predict when you’ve got the likes of Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat, and John Williams competing for the win. I’m not totally sure about this prediction, but I’m going to go with Hans Zimmer because he’s won this award the last two times he scored a non-Batman Nolan film (Inception in 2010 and Interstellar in 2014).
Should Win: Jonny Greenwood for Phantom Thread
This score is fucking GORGEOUS. It’s as elegant and refined as every element of the film, but it’s also a huge part of what gives Phantom Thread its creeping sense of dread. It serves an important function without beating the audience over the head with what we’re supposed to feel. Also, I just want to put it on and cook an egg scramble for my demanding lover without getting any butter on my perfect silk dress, you know?
Blade Runner 2049 - Roger A. Deakins
Darkest Hour - Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk - Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound - Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water - Dan Laustsen
Will Win & Should Win: Dan Laustsen for The Shape of Water
If the Golden Globes were any indication, The Shape of Water is going to run away with a lot of the awards in these upper categories. I really enjoyed this film, and though I wouldn’t necessarily put it at the caliber of some of the other films nominated alongside it, I do think the cinematography here is really stunning, and completely deserving of a win - with the caveat that I haven’t seen Mudbound, and have heard great things about the look and feel of that film as well.
I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Dunkirk took this one, nor would I be angry about it, but I’m sticking with my gut instinct here.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Call Me By Your Name - Screenplay by James Ivory
The Disaster Artist - Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Logan - Screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold
Molly’s Game - Written for the screen by Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound - Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees
Will & Should Win: James Ivory for Call Me By Your Name
Again: I have not seen Mudbound, and it’s hard for me to really say what ‘should’ win when there’s a movie I haven’t seen (and know that I’m probably going to love). However, Call Me By Your Name is my favorite film of last year, and I’d love to see it win in this category. From what I’ve heard, the book this film is adapted from is not exactly dialogue-heavy. Though the movie isn’t either, it manages to convey an incredible amount of emotion in the words it does choose to put on screen, from the coded conversations between Elio and Oliver to the monologue delivered by Elio’s father towards the end of the film. The main reason I think the Academy might actually choose this one is because I don’t think this film going to win much else, despite its standing as a critical favorite.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
The Big Sick - Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out - Written by Jordan Peele
Lady Bird - Written by Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water - Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Written by Martin McDonagh
Will Win: Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards is one of only two Best Picture nominees I haven’t seen — and it’s not for lack of trying. I do plan to catch up with it before next week, because it’s a film everyone seems to have an opinion about, and many of those opinions are negative. I have chosen this as my prediction because I know that if it does win, it’s going to piss people off. I could see Lady Bird winning in this category, but I am always inclined to assume the Academy is going to make what many consider to be the “wrong” choice. Also, Martin McDonagh is a well-established playwright, and I do think that puts him at an advantage here in the eyes of Academy voters.
Should Win: Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani for The Big Sick
As much as I love Lady Bird and Get Out and as thrilled as I would be to see Greta Gerwig or Jordan Peele take home the gold, The Big Sick is a film I just caught up with and one that deserves way more attention than it’s getting in the ‘best of 2017’ conversation. I find it so impressive that Gordon and Nanjiani were able to take their real-life story and make it into a romantic comedy when, situationally, it very easily could have been a drama. The balance they strike here between hilarity and tragedy is truly something to behold.
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
Will Win: Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
My main reason for this pick is, again, the outcome at the Golden Globes. I don’t have much to say about it since I haven’t seen the film, but I’m going to be annoyed if I’m right.
Should Win: Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project
The Florida Project is another of my favorite films of 2017, and it is one of the most criminally under-represented films at the Oscars this year. This is the only nomination for the film, and for that reason alone I want Willem Dafoe to win — but also, he gives a genuinely wonderful performance, one unlike anything I’ve watched him do before. We’re used to seeing Dafoe in the role of ‘sinewy bad guy,’ but here, his portrayal of motel manager Bobby is unexpectedly subtle and empathetic.
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
Will Win & Should Win: Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird
Although Allison Janney scored best supporting at the Golden Globes (and I do think she’s wonderful in I, Tonya), my optimistic prediction is that Laurie Metcalf will take best supporting actress this year for her incredible performance in Lady Bird. Metcalf plays a difficult character in Lady Bird’s mother Marion, a woman described by one of the characters as “warm, but also kind of scary.” She manages to perfectly convey the frustration, disappointment, and deep love that Marion experiences as a mother, and some of her scenes towards the end of the film are absolutely devastating, providing an efficient guilt-trip for daughters everywhere.
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.
Will Win: Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour
This is another case wherein I take the person I least want to win and assume this is who the Academy will choose. No, I didn’t see Darkest Hour, but I did see the trailer, and I think that’s probably enough for me to get the gist of what this performance is going to be like. Gary Oldman, aside from making a multitude of anti-semitic and racist comments in the past, has also been accused of abuse by his ex-wife. However, in Darkest Hour he undergoes a physical transformation and plays a historical figure, which means the Academy is going to eat it up, because everyone knows that the better your impressions of historical figures are, the better you are at acting.
Should Win: Timothée Chalamet for Call Me By Your Name
I already talked about how much I love this film, and a huge reason for that is Chalamet’s performance. As I said before, this film is not heavy on the dialogue, but you can see every single thing Elio is feeling writ clear across his face. Elio’s hopefulness and his heartbreak are beautifully rendered by Chalamet, and in a year where he plays two incredibly different teenage boys (the other in Lady Bird, where he basically plays every girl's worst high school boyfriend), his performance is made even more impressive given the proof of his range.
Actress in a Lead 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
Will Win: Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Again, I didn’t see this film, so I can’t speak to the quality of the performance, though I’m sure it’s very good. Frances McDormand always delivers. However…
Should Win: Margot Robbie for I, Tonya
Margot Robbie’s performance in this movie blew my goddamn mind. I wrote a whole blog post about I, Tonya which you can find here, but basically, I think Robbie does something remarkable here. She plays a character without playing a caricature, and creates a version of Tonya Harding that has less to do with imitation than it has to do with empathy. I think she’s unbelievable here, and I am really hoping this performance gives her the chance to take on more of the kind of roles she deserves.
Dunkirk - Christopher Nolan
Get Out - Jordan Peele
Lady Bird - Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread - Paul Thomas Anderson
The Shape of Water - Guillermo del Toro
Will Win: Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water
I am not totally against this, because I love Guillermo del Toro and I think this is a well-directed movie, but at this point, the reason I’m predicting it is because it seems like a safe choice. Del Toro won at the Golden Globes, and I think the Academy likes to give this award to whichever film they think is the most visually stunning — last year it went to Damien Chazelle for La La Land. Basically, it’s usually a boring choice, and that’s what this feels like… despite the fact that when you get right down to it, The Shape of Water is a movie about a woman fucking a fish.
Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread
Okay, so this is a boring choice, and I’m torn between quite a few of these options (Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig, mostly), but in the end I have to go for PTA. Everything about this movie is impeccably directed, from the movement of the camera to the two lead performances. I can’t imagine a more precise filmmaker than Paul Thomas Anderson, and though I sometimes have issues with the content of his films, I do think he’s one of the best directors working today.
Call Me By Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Will Win: Lady Bird
I’m going to make a kind of bold prediction here and guess that Lady Bird is going to take this award. It’s been almost universally praised, and would be a relatively uncontroversial choice for the Academy in spite of the smallness of the film. When I started making this list, I was going to predict Three Billboards, but I’m starting to think that maybe the backlash it's been receiving might actually be heard and listened to. If Lady Bird wins, I’ll be pleased, because I loved it, and I think it’s a wonderful film.
Should Win: Get Out
When I think about all of the films I saw last year, if I had to choose one that would most represent the cultural climate of 2017, Get Out would be my pick. If I had to choose a film from this list that I think will have the most lasting impact on the world of cinema, Get Out would be my pick. If I had to choose the movie I had the most fun watching, the one that excited and surprised me the most, the one with the best blend of genres, the one that made me laugh the most, disgusted me the most, made me squirm in my seat the most, Get Out would be my pick. So, yeah. Get Out is my pick.
If you’re still here, I commend you for reading to the end of this very long post, and if you just scrolled down to the bottom to see what I picked for Best Picture, I don’t blame you. Make sure you watch the Oscars next Sunday, and please think of me every time one of my predictions is wrong.