Monday, January 22, 2018

2018 Oscar Nominations Predictions

Unless some North Korean missiles come screaming over the Pacific, it looks like we'll have another Oscars this year. Not knowing if there would be a ceremony puts me in a somewhat interesting position this year. I'm fairly sure that I've already seen everything that will be nominated for Best Picture, which would be a first (meaning I'd have seen all the nominees before nomination morning). But I've also read significantly less punditry about the potential nominees this year. In years past, I've devoured pre-Oscar predictions from places like Grantland and FiveThirtyEight... but Grantland is no more and FiveThirtyEight doesn't seem to be doing Oscars coverage this year. All of which is to say I'm flying somewhat blind this year... but fortunately, this year seems fairly easy to predict. Will it be easier than last year, when I called 40/44 nominees (including 9/9 Best Picture nominees)? Probably not. But I'm going to try to beat last year's mark anyway. So, here we go! (Note: All nominees are listed in order of likelihood.)

* = haven't seen it
^ = early winner prediction

James Ivory – Call Me By Your Name^
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber – The Disaster Artist
Dee Rees and Virgil Williams – Mudbound*
Aaron Sorkin – Molly's Game
David Scarpa – All the Money in the World*
Next in line:
Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green – Logan
Jack Thorne, Steve Conrad, and Stephen Chbosky – Wonder*
Andrew McCarten – Darkest Hour
Allan Heinberg – Wonder Woman
Rian Johnson – Star Wars: The Last Jedi

And, of course, we'll start with one of the categories I'm least sure of. At least, other than the top four, which should all be there on Tuesday morning. They're all WGA nominees, and it would be a monumental upset if any of them were to miss out. The fifth WGA nominee is actually Logan, but I don't think anyone would be surprised if a comic book movie (even a really good one) missed out on an Oscar nomination. While I'd love to see one of my favorite movies of 2017 get a nomination, I'm going to proceed under the assumption that it misses out. That leaves probably a dozen or so other contenders—I wouldn't be remotely surprised if a nominee I haven't listed here winds up in the Oscar field. I'm going with Money because it seems to be the most Oscar-friendly of the contenders (although Wonder and Darkest Hour also fit in that category). Wonder Woman is likely wishful thinking, but with the ever-evolving AMPAS membership, you never know. And if Jedi is going to get a nomination outside of the technical categories, this is its best bet.

Wishful thinking: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman – It

Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Jordan Peele – Get Out^
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick
Next in line:
Steven Rogers – I. Tonya
Liz Hannah and Josh Singer – The Post
Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread

As someone who has a master's in screenwriting, this is always my favorite category. This is also traditionally a tough one to predict because the Academy will often throw a wild card in there. This year, however, the precursor awards make it somewhat unlikely there will be a usurper—the five I've listed above are four of the WGA nominees and the current Best Picture frontrunner. Due to guild rules, Billboards wasn't eligible for the WGA award. The fifth spot there went to Tonya. I suppose that could sneak in there over Sick, but Sick made a good chunk of change at the box office and did well with the critics, so I would be surprised (and disappointed) were it to miss out. Of the rest,
it's always tough to count out a Spielberg pic or PTA, but this is a pretty loaded category this year.

Wishful thinking: Nacho Vigalondo – Colossal

Allison Janney –  I, Tonya^
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Mary J. Blige – Mudbound*
Holly Hunter – The Big Sick
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water
Next in line:
Hong Chau – Downsizing*
Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread

This field seems pretty set. Janney is the frontrunner, Metcalf is her competition, Blige has received a lot of plaudits for a film I haven't (yet) seen, Hunter has been predicted to be nominated since her film came out, and Spencer is now an almost-automatic nomination. The wrench in the gear is the SAGs, which nominated Chau over Spencer. That gives me pause, but not much of one, as Alexander Payne's latest didn't make such critical noise. Still, it wouldn't be shocking if Chau's name was called on Tuesday. Manville's name would be more of a shock, but, again, it's tough to count out a PTA film.

Wishful thinking: Allison Williams – Get Out, Bria Vinaite – The Florida Project

Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri^
Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri
Armie Hammer – Call Me by Your Name
Next in line:
Michael Stuhlbarg – Call Me by Your Name
Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World*
Steve Carell – Battle of the Sexes
Patrick Stewart – Logan

And we've come to the toughest category of them all to pick. I only feel super confident in the first two—Rockwell and Dafoe will be nominated, and one of them will win it (likely Rockwell). Jenkins and Harrelson also figure to be there, as they're both also SAG nominees. The fifth slot is anyone's guess. (Oh, shit, I guess I'm the one guessing here, so I guess it's my, uh, guess.) I'd long assumed Stuhlbarg would be nominated, even before I saw CMBYN—he's a veteran and he's was supposed to be fantastic. (Spoiler: he was.) But it's a relatively small role, so it wouldn't surprise me if he missed out. I haven't seen Money, but it also wouldn't surprise me if AMPAS threw the ancient Plummer (a former winner for the excellent Beginners) what could be a final bone. I *have* seen Sexes, and Carell is fine, but I was very surprised to see that he was the fifth SAG nominee. Finally, I walked out of Logan on opening weekend saying Stewart's performance was Oscar-worthy, and there is a faint buzz around him still, but I think asking AMPAS to nominate a comic book character performance is a bit wishful thinking. That leaves us with, to me, the obvious choice for the fifth slot... which I think actually works against Hammer a little bit. He is superb opposite Chalamet, but he's almost cast too well as the strapping American love interest. But those dance moves, though. I really hope he gets the nom, but it could be any of the others.

Wishful thinking: Jason Sudeikis – Colossal, Bill Camp – Molly's Game, Colin Farrell – The Beguiled

Frances McDormand – Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri^
Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Margot Robbie –  I, Tonya
Meryl Streep – The Post
Next in line:
Jessica Chastain – Molly's Game
Judi Dench – Victoria & Adbul*

Like a chant at a Trump rally, only slightly different: LOCK. IT. IN. (What a stupid fucking world we live in, by the way.) I don't see this field shaking out any different on Tuesday morning. McDormand and Hawkins are the contenders, Ronan and Robie are the standard ingenues (and both are very, very good), and Streep is Streep. If you want to predict Chastain (who would be very deserving) or Dench (whose movie I haven't ever heard of outside of awards conversations) over Streep, be my guest. It's not a particularly comfortable couch though. And it's covered in dog hair. But yeah, this should be the Best Actress field.

Wishful thinking: Haley Lu Richardson – Columbus

Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour^
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Timoth̩e Chalamet РCall Me by Your Name
James Franco – The Disaster Artist
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Next in line:
Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq.*
Jake Gyllenhaal – Stronger*
Tom Hanks – The Post

This field also feels fairly set, although I can't shake the suspicion that there will be a surprise here on Tuesday morning. But even if that happens, it won't be at the expense of Oldman, Day-Lewis, or Chalamet. Oldman is by far the frontrunner at this point, close to a shoo-in for his first Oscar. (He wouldn't get my vote, but that's a rant for another post.) Day-Lewis should earn a nom for his supposed final film role, and if AMPAS doesn't go for Oldman on Oscar night, Chalamet would likely benefit. All three are safe. Less so are Franco, for obvious reasons, and Kaluuya, who simply isn't as big a name as the other contenders. Denzel is always a threat for a nomination, and Gyllenhaal's performance has been lauded in a movie I suspect most voters haven't seen. I'd say don't count Hanks out, but the Academy has passed him over before (and he was much better in Captain Phillips than The Post). But Franco and Kaluuya are both excellent in their films and would be deserving nominees, so I'll go with them for now, even if I feel like one of them ultimately misses out.

Wishful thinking: Hugh Jackman –Logan, Michael Fassbender – Alien: Covenant, James McAvoy – Split

Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri^
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Next in line:
Luca Guadagnino – Call Me by Your Name
Steven Spielberg – The Post
Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
Sean Baker – The Florida Project

Similar to the last category, it looks like the top three are in the clear, while questions remain about the final two spots. McDonagh is fresh off the Golden Globe win and looks like the best bet for his first directing Oscar (he actually won Live Action Short in 2005). Del Toro should also secure his first directing nomination (he was nominated for Original Screenplay and Foreign Language film for Pan's Labyrinth). And Nolan should finally get his, you guessed it, first directing nomination (having previously been nominated for Original Screenplay a couple times and Picture for Inception). For the final two spots, I'm also going with a couple first-time nominees in Gerwig and Peele. That's probably a fool's errand with Spielberg and PTA breathing down their necks, but I think Oscar voters will do the right thing and nominate the most deserving directors (especially, if not cynically, if it helps them look more diverse. Don't sleep on Guadagnino or Baker though—two up-and-comers who directed two of the best films of the year. This might be the category I check first bright and early on Tuesday.

Wishful thinking: Rian Johnson – Star Wars: The Last Jedi, James Mangold – Logan

Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri
Get Out^
The Shape of Water
Lady Bird
Call Me by Your Name
The Post
The Big Sick
The Florida Project
Next in line:
I, Tonya
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread

I feel very confident about the top six, and pretty sure about The Post, but things are murky after that. Three Billboards is the erstwhile #1 contender, but it's in the midst of a pretty big backlash, which is why I don't think we'll hear its name called at the end of the night come ceremony time. Get Out is well made, timely, and a box office success—and it might even be more of a statement by the "new" Academy than Moonlight last year. Keep an eye on it in the coming weeks. Water and Dunkirk are something of darkhorse candidates, while Lady Bird and Name are surefire nominees with no chance at winning the thing. The Post would figure to get into the field on prestige alone (it's a fine film, but more competent than anything else). If any other films were to make it, Sick and Florida seem to have the best shot as a summer crowd-pleaser and indie darling. Tonya seems to be coming on strong as of late and is a definite possibility here, while Darkest Hour figures to be overshadowed by Dunkirk. Finally, I have a feeling Phantom Thread will get another major category nomination besides Day-Lewis, so don't be surprised if it pops up here. However the field rounds out, be prepared for a Billboards vs. Get Out race over the next six or so weeks.

Wishful thinking: Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Logan, The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Bonus round:

Category I'll Be Most Wrong About: Best Supporting Actor
Film I'll Be Most Wrong About: The Big Sick or I, Tonya
Film I'm Most Rooting For: The Florida Project and Logan

And I'm done with about 12 hours to spare... pretty good for me! (It's usually less than half that.) I can't wait to wake up early and see how I did. I've also still got my top 2017 movies post and real Oscars predictions posts to write, so keep an eye out for those. Soon, soon. Thanks for reading!

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