The 90th Academy Awards are this Sunday, and I can’t remember a year in which the awards were harder to predict. But with the Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice, BAFTAs, and various guild awards now behind us, a pattern has emerged giving us more of a concrete idea of who will take home an Oscar. Still, there’s a lot up in the air, and after last year’s Best Picture snafu, I think we’ve all learned that when it comes to the Oscars, anything goes.
As always, I have taken it upon myself to predict which films I think will win in each category (note: these are not the films I personally want to win). You can read my predictions below, and click the links on the film titles to read my full reviews of many of the nominated movies. What films do you all think will win on Oscar night? Send me an email or leave a comment below—and happy Oscar weekend, moviegoers!
Best Picture: “The Shape of Water”
*NOTES: Traditionally, the Critic’s Choice winner for Best Picture, as well as the highest honors from the Producer’s Guild and the Director’s Guild, are very good indicators of what film will eventually take home the Best Picture Oscar. “The Shape of Water,” while it lost the Golden Globe to “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” right out of the gate, has won all three of those. In a season where otherwise no films have been the frontrunner all along (unlike last year), that seems to be a pretty good indication of which film will win the big award. “The Shape of Water,” while a unique and darker fairy tale, is also more along the lines of the kind of film Academy voters usually go for, unlike the shocking “Three Billboards” or the thriller “Get Out,” which is the outlier that probably has the strongest chance of pulling off an upset (it is, after all, quite a crowd pleaser that has managed to remain in the spotlight all year despite being released in theaters last February). But there’s an interesting twist to the Best Director category this year, which could take the Best Picture category in a different direction. More on that below.
Best Director: Guillermo Del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
*NOTES: As I mentioned above, one of the upsets among this year’s nominations is the fact that Martin McDonagh was not nominated for directing “Three Billboards”—a surprise considering that that film has remained a favorite at awards shows so far this season. Often, the Best Picture and Best Director winners go hand in hand, but that has been less and less the case lately. In 2016, “Spotlight” won Picture while “The Revenant” won Director (which I definitely saw coming), while last year, lest we forget, “La La Land” won Director but lost Best Picture to “Moonlight” (which I don’t think anyone saw coming). I’m sticking with my theory that “The Shape of Water” will win Best Picture (especially since McDonagh did receive a nomination for writing “Three Billboards”), but there is one other way it could go, with the absence of McDonagh in the directing category causing a split in the votes that results in Del Toro still winning Director, but “Three Billboards” winning Best Picture.
Best Actor: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Best Actress: Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
*NOTES ON THE ACTING CATEGORIES: I think all the acting categories are a given this year, something I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say. The four actors mentioned above have won every award in their category for this season, and I have no reason to believe they won’t win the Oscar as well. Any other recipients would be an upset at this point, but personally, I actually would pick different actors to win in each of those categories. Twenty-two-year-old Timothee Chalamet is utterly engrossing in his star-making turn in “Call Me by Your Name.” Sally Hawkins gives a passionate performance in “The Shape of Water” without ever saying a word. Willem Dafoe gives the performance of his career in “The Florida Project.” And in “Lady Bird,” Laurie Metcalf plays a mom who is about as far from the obscene, exaggerated parent Janney plays in “I, Tonya.” Metcalf’s performance is often subtle, and heartbreakingly real.
Best Original Screenplay: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”, Martin McDonagh
*NOTES: The original screenplay category is an unusually tricky one this year. The fact that McDonagh wasn’t even nominated for directing “Three Billboards,” and that that movie will probably lose Best Picture, leads me to believe that he’ll take home the Oscar in this category, especially given the huge amount of hype surrounding that movie this awards season. McDonagh’s screenplay, however, was not eligible for the award in this category from the Writer’s Guild of America; that honor went to Jordan Peele’s screenplay for “Get Out,” which is the dark horse in this category for sure. At the same time, Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor could complete the “Shape of Water” domination by winning, or Greta Gerwig could come through for the audience and critical favorite “Lady Bird.” Basically, anything goes.
Best Adapted Screenplay: “Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory
Best Animated Feature: “Coco”
Best Foreign Language Film: “A Fantastic Woman”, Chile
*NOTES: “A Fantastic Woman” is only just now rolling out to many theaters in the U.S. and is at the front of many conversations (star Daniela Vega was recently announced as the first transgender actor to present at the Oscars), which I why I’m giving it the edge here, with Sweden’s “The Square” being my runner-up pick.
Best Documentary Feature: “Faces/Places”
*NOTES: Director Agnes Varda became the oldest person ever to be nominated for an Oscar with this movie. I think she’s got it in the bag.
Best Documentary Short: “Heroin(e)”
Best Animated Short: “Dear Basketball”
*NOTES: Pixar’s “Lou” is cute, but is far from their best short. I’ve got two words for you regarding “Dear Basketball”: Glen. Keane.
Best Live-Action Short: “DeKalb Elementary”
*NOTES: This film about a school shooting has become even more timely the past couple weeks.
Best Cinematography: “Blade Runner 2049”
*NOTES: This is the 14th nomination for legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins. The stunning “Dunkirk” could always pull off a win here, but I think the Academy is going to finally recognize Deakins for his work on “Blade Runner 2049.” It’s got to happen.
Best Film Editing: “Dunkirk”
Best Sound Editing: “Dunkirk”
Best Sound Mixing: “Dunkirk”
Best Production Design: “The Shape of Water”
Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat, “The Shape of Water”
Best Original Song: “Remember Me” from “Coco”
*NOTES: My prediction in this category is probably more wish fulfillment than any of the other categories. It’s also the category I am the most stressed about. Remember how Benj Pasek and Justin Paul won for “City of Stars” from “La La Land” last year over the superior “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana”? They are up again this year for their song “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” a musical that has exploded over the last month as it took off with audiences, despite a poor opening weekend box office and negative critical reception. That movie and that song have been everywhere lately, more so than “Remember Me” (written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez of “Frozen” fame), which does give it an edge. But not only is “Remember Me” a better song, it is integral to the plot and character development in “Coco” (the fact that that film is a shoe-in for Animated Feature does give me hope for this song). Listen, I don’t like “The Greatest Showman” and I don’t think it’s a good movie, but I don’t want to get into that any more here because it has started to frustrate and exhaust me. Just know that “Coco” deserves this—and I’m hoping the Academy voters see that.
Best Makeup and Hair: “Darkest Hour”
Best Costume Design: “Phantom Thread”
Best Visual Effects: “War for the Planet of the Apes”
*NOTES: I was ready to predict “Blade Runner 2049” in this category, even though I personally prefer “Apes.” But then I remembered that none of the new “Planet of the Apes” movies have won the Oscar for their stunningly realistic ape characters. With this being the final installment in the trilogy (and with the effects more detailed and realistic than ever), I’m hoping the Academy finally gives it its due. If not, the award will more than likely go to “Blade Runner.”