Sunday, March 4, 2018

Get Out of the Water in Missouri: 2018 Oscars Precidtions

I think this is my tenth(!) year doing Oscar predictions on one website or another, and this is one of the more wide-open Best Picture races I can remember. The last time I can remember a true three-horse race was 2016—but even then, The Revenant was the clear favorite over eventual winner Spotlight and The Big Short. (I'm still glad The Revenant didn't win, but there were better choices than Spotlight.) This year, I suppose The Shape of Water is the frontrunner, but it does't seem to be as far ahead as The Revenant was—Three Billboards and Get Out are right on its heels. As of this writing (almost midnight on Friday), I don't know which film I'm going to predict for the big prize. I suppose I'll use this write-up to sort out my thoughts. As usual, I've seen all the major-category nominees, so in theory I should have a good handle on things—and, hey, I got 7/8 in those categories last year. (And I was damn happy to be wrong about Moonlight!) So, we'll start, as the ceremony usually does, with the supporting categories and go from there.

Gold = predicted winner

Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

SPOILER: My predictions in the acting categories are going to be pretty boring, as there are big favorites in each. That starts with Allison Janney here. She's won just about every precursor she's been up for and probably already has her speech prepared. She's great in I, Tonya—delightfully disdainful and terrifically trashy—but her closest challenger, Metcalf, gave a much better performance. I'll be hoping for an upset here, but won't be too bummed if (when) it doesn't happen.

My Non-Existent Vote: Metcalf

Best Supporting Actor
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

There shouldn't be any surprises here—Sam Rockwell should come away with his first Oscar. I should be ecstatic about this possibility—Rockwell is legit one of my favorite actors—but I'll definitely feel a twinge of regret that Dafoe's superior performance in The Florida Project didn't take the gold. It's one of the best performances of the year and as important to its film as Mahershala Ali's was to Moonlight last year. (I suppose you could say the same for Rockwell and Billboards, but it's nowhere near as good a film as The Florida Project.)

My Non-Existent Vote: Dafoe

Best Actress
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

This is one of the easier calls of the night: Frances McDormand will win for Billboards. It'll be a much-deserved win, too, as her fiery, flawed Mildred Hayes is one of the best characters and performances of the year. Her speech will almost certainly be one of the more memorable of the night. It's just too bad we won't get to hear a speech from Sally Hawkins, whose character didn't have had a voice in The Shape of Water and who will be similarly silent on Oscar night in spite of giving the best lead actress performance of the year.

My Non-Existent Vote: Hawkins

Best Actor
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.

This is the actual easiest call of the night in the major categories: Gary Oldman will take home his first Oscar for his blustering, blubbery portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. It's nowhere near his best work—hell, give me even Jim Gordon or Drexl Spivey any day—but I don't feel strongly enough about the other nominees to get too worked up about it. Chalamet is probably his closest competition, but upstarts don't usually fare to well in this category (unlike Actress), and I could imagine a universe where DDL wins for his (supposed) final film role, but either would be a monumental upset.

My Non-Existent Vote: Chalamet

Best Adapted Screenplay
James Ivory – Call Me by Your Name
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber – The Disaster Artist
Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green – Logan
Aaron Sorkin – Molly's Game
Virgil Williams and Dee Rees – Mudbound

We're 5-for-5 on easy calls: this should be James Ivory for CMBYN. It's easily the best script of the bunch, and giving the 89-year-old his first Oscar would be a helluva moment on Oscar night. If there was going to be an upset here (there won't), it would probably be Mudbound, although I certainly wouldn't mind if Logan were to get the call (it won't).

My Non-Existent Vote: Ivory

Best Original Screenplay
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor – The Shape of Water
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Ah, finally a category with some, ahem, drama! Other than The Big Sick (which was great, by the way!), each of the nominees has a shot. Peele won the WGA, McDonagh won the Globe, del Toro is the Best Director frontrunner, and Greta Gerwig is Greta freaking Gerwig. This is a tough call, but the WGA is a more reliable precursor than the Globe, so I'm going with Jordan Peele here. Ozmataz Buckshank, Oscar Winner, has a great ring to it, don't you think?

My Non-Existent Vote: Peele

Best Director
Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water

I don't really see an upset happening here—Guillermo del Toro will nab his first Oscar, making it 4 in 5 years for Mexican directors. (Where's your fucking wall, Donny??) I'd have voted for Peele, Nolan, or Gerwig over del Toro (PTA would've been a toss-up), but The Shape of Water landed in my top-10 for the year, so I'll be good with it if (when) he wins. And hopefully a win will give him the cachet/cash to actually make that At the Mountains of Madness adaptation.

My Non-Existent Vote: Peele

Best Picture
Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

All right, I guess I have to make a prediction. I suppose I'll just get it out of the way and say I don't think Three Billboards is winning. I said it when it won the Globe and I'm saying it again now. It's a well-made film, full of great performances and memorable dialogue and some undeniably powerful moments... but it's also completely tone deaf to race in America and, probably more relevant to this particular conversation, missing a Best Director nomination. Just doesn't seem like a winner to me. So it comes down to Get Out and The Shape of Water. Water is the clear frontrunner, with DGA and PGA wins, plus it's the overall nominations leader—by far, with 13. Get Out doesn't have much in the way of precursors—no SAG, no Globe, no BAFTA (Billboards won all those). What it *does* have is the zeitgeist, much in the same way Moonlight had last year. So I guess the question is whether the Academy has truly changed after last year's Moonlight upset. I say... it hasn't (at least not for a "genre film"). Even though it's a movie where a chick literally fucks a fish-man, The Shape of Water also got 9 more nominations than Get Out, suggesting broader support. And the Academy isn't exactly known for timeliness. Am I preemptively girding myself against disappointment? Probably. But I'm betting against the Academy getting it right two years in a row. That said, if Get Out wins, we'll know there has been a true sea change in the Academy, which would be very exciting.

My Non-Existent Vote: Get Out

Now, let's knock out the rest of the categories quick-like...

Best Animated Film 
Coco – Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson
What, you though Boss Baby would win? There's not an easier call on the board—Coco will win. And deservedly so—Pixar's latest is great, a visual feast and a good story to boot.
My Non-Existent Vote: Coco

Best Foreign Language Film
A Fantastic Woman – Sebastián Lelio
So say the internet prognosticators. I wouldn't know—I've only seen one nominee (The Square), which is better than most years (and more than last year). The Square was pretty good though.
My Non-Existent Vote: The Square

Best Documentary Feature
Faces Places – Agnès Varda, JR, and Rosalie Varda
A lot of outlets seem to be going with Icarus or here, but I'm going with the French master over the Netflix upstarts. Perhaps I'm a year late to the streaming takeover, but so be it.
My Non-Existent Vote: Abstain (have not seen any of the nominees)

Best Documentary Short
Edith+Eddie – Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wright
Once again going with the internet sharps and against Netflix (Heroin(e)). This is the hill I'm going to die on, apparently.
My Non-Existent Vote: Abstain (have not seen any of the nominees)

Best Animated Short
LouDave Mullins and Dana Murray
I'm seeing a lot of support for Kobe's Dear Basketball online... and, really? I saw all of them and that was the clear worst. Lou wasn't great, but Pixar won last year for a worse film, so why not?
My Non-Existent Vote: Revolting Rhymes – Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer

Best Live Action Short
DeKalb ElementaryReed Van Dyk
This dramatization of a near school shooting seems to be the frontrunner, despite its heavy-handedness. Any of the rest would be a more worthy winner, especially My Nephew Emmett.
My Non-Existent Vote: My Nephew Emmett – Kevin Wilson Jr.

Best Score
Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water
If this doesn't win—and it's far from the best of the nominees—I'll feel a whole lost less confident about my Best Picture pick. My favorite was Burwell's, I guess, but Greenwood's was the best.
My Non-Existent Vote: Jonny Greenwood – Phantom Thread

Best Original Song
"Remember Me" – Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (from Coco)
There seems to be some support for the Greatest Showman song, and it would be awesome if Sufjan was an Oscar winner, but it's tough to bet against songs from animated films... so I won't.
My Non-Existent Vote: "Mystery of Love" – Sufjan Stevens (from Call Me By Your Name)

Best Cinematography
Roger DeakinsBlade Runner 2049
ROGER MOTHER FUCKING DEAKINS LEGIT ABOUT TO WIN HIS FIRST OSCAR. AT LEAST A COUPLE DECADES LATE BUT OH WELL. (DON'T YOU RUIN THIS, DUNKIRK.)
My Non-Existent Vote: DEAKINS

Best Editing
Lee SmithDunkirk
Theres's lot of support for Baby Driver, which would be a great winner—Edgar Wright's movies are always immaculately edited. But Smith is a virtuoso who is overdue—and Dunkirk is a mastercourse.
My Non-Existent Vote: Smith

Best Production Design
Dennis Gassner and Alessandra QuerzolaBlade Runner 2049
Water is a real contender here, but Blade Runner was much more impressive, and I think it will stick out more to voters. (But a Water win here would mean very good things for its Picture chances.)
My Non-Existent Vote: Gassner and Querzola

Best Costume Design
Mark BridgesPhantom Thread
Gee, I wonder if the Best Picture nominee about making fancy clothes will win the category for Best Costume Design? (If an upset happens, it'll likely be The Shape of Water.)
My Non-Existent Vote: Bridges

Best Makeup And Hairstyling
Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, and Lucy Sibbick – Darkest Hour
This is right up there with Coco for sure things—the sculptors of Oldman's Churchill jowls will take home the statue.
My Non-Existent Vote: Tsuji, Malinowski, and Sibbick

Best Sound Mixing
Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, and Gary A. RizzoDunkirk
War movies always seem to do well in this category (Hacksaw Ridge won last year), and Rizzo and Weingarten are previous winners, so Dunkirk seems like a pretty safe bet.
My Non-Existent Vote: Weingarten, Landaker, and Rizzo

Best Sound Editing
Richard King and Alex GibsonDunkirk
I'm not going to try to overthink things—gonna pick one film for both sound categories and hopefully get at least one right. But Water and, especially, Baby Driver could easily spoil either category.
My Non-Existent Vote: King and Gibson

Best Visual Effects
Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, and Joel WhistWar for the Planet of the Apes
Blade Runner 2049 is also very deserving (that threesome though), but the Apes crew has never won despite taking motion capture to the next level. They should win for the final entry in the trilogy.
My Non-Existent Vote: Letteri, Barrett, Lemmon, and Whist

I don't have a ton of confidence in a lot of these picks—I'd settle for 18/24 or so, as well as a second Oscar pool win in a row. And here's hoping Get Out can pull off the upset!

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