Oscars 2018 (final call)

The gap between nominations and now has afforded me some time to think and to catch up on a few films I hadn’t been able to get to. My opinions of who should win hasn’t changed much, but a few shifts in the predictions of who I think will win has in a few notable places.

I’ll say again, no matter the winners this year, I can’t say I’d be too upset with any one of the nominations. It was a strong year for entertainment.

So this is my final update, which I will follow with a report on my accuracy. I did about 87% on the nominations for this year. Politics and one (happy) surprise dropped me below the 90s, but, again, no one unworthy is in any list.

THE MAJORS
(or what we all care about)

Actress in a Leading 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)

My Choice:  Sally Hawkins remains my first choice, but she’s been losing to Frances McDormand consistently for the big awards leading up to Oscar. McDormand’s is an amazing performance as well, but I don’t think it is as challenging as Hawkins’ was. However, the grit and more understandable emotion appeals to many. I think if Saoirse Ronan had more momentum, she would have split the vote more, but she appears out of the running entirely at this rate. I’m an not going to weep if McDormand wins, I just thought Hawkins skills were put more to the test. 
Likely Winner: Frances McDormand

Actor in a Leading Role
Timothee 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.)

My Choice: Gary Oldman has swept every award and his performance is an astounding melting of actor into a role. 
Likely Winner:  Gary Oldman

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)

My Choice: Laurie Metcalf is still my choice in this very, very tough field of talent, but I think she lost momentum and Janney has yet to be so honored, despite years of amazing work and nominations. Her work here is stellar, even if I don’t think it tackled the same level of challenge from a craft point of view. I can see the vote going her way. 
Likely Winner: Allison Janney

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)

My Choice: Richard Jenkins remains my favorite performance in this batch. His role was quiet and subtle, but utterly solid and heartbreaking. But Rockwell has the momentum and his part was, for lack of a better word, louder.  
Likely Winner: Sam Rockwell

Directing
Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread)
Guillermo del Toro (Shape of Water)

My Choice: Guillermo del ToroThis is one of those times where you wish they’d divide out the category so more people could be honored. Gerwig and Peele had amazing first films. But, overall, del Toro had the biggest challenge and delivered the most nuanced movie of the three. 
Likely Winner: Guillermo del Toro

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

My Choice: There are so many ways to argue this one. Part of the challenge is that this award is preferential ballot (looking at the top few choices for all ballots) which can allow surprises when a film is the consistent second or third choice for a huge majority.

I think it is a death match between Shape of Water, Get Out, and Three Billboards. Lady Bird could slip up between all of them if it is everyone’s second choice, but these other three have the lead going in.

Shape of Water, however, has one major advantage, beyond its 13 nominations, DGA, and other wins. Shape is about all the things that the other films are about, all rolled into one, rather than as a single, primary theme. So I’m going with The Shape of Water, but I won’t be surprised by something else taking this home, especially after Three Billboards BAFTA win.
Likely Winner: The Shape of Water

Animated Feature Film
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Coco
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent

My Choice:  Vincent has an incredible art story to tell, both in the script and in the making of it. And Breadwinner has some nice politics to buoy it’s possibilities. However Coco has more of a populist heart and some gorgeous work in it, and was able to reach a larger audience. Just looking at them as films, it was also the best.
Likely Winner: Coco 

Foreign Language Film
A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult (Lebanon)
Loveless (Russia)
On Body And Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)

My Choice: No real clue, to be honest. I have somehow missed all of these so far, though I will pick them up as I am able later. The Square has the most name recognition, but there are many topical options. On a whim, I’m going with the most fringe of the films for the win…
Likely Winner: A Fantastic Woman (Chile)

THE MINORS
(or what the rest of us care about)

Documentary Feature
Abacus
Faces, Places
Icarus
Last Man In Aleppo
Strong Island

My Choice: Again, lack of access to the films makes this more about reading other’s opinions and news for me. 
Likely Winner: Icarus  

Documentary Short Subject
Edith and Eddie
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Heroin(e)
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

My Choice: Total guess. 
Likely Winner: Heroin(e)  

Animated Short Film
Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Lou
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

My Choice: Another dice roll (and some research). 
Likely Winner: Negative Space

Live Action Short Film
Dekalb Elementary
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
Silent Child
Watu Wote (All Of Us)

My Choice: The only showing for all these shorts (animated and live action) was for Fri and Sat just before Oscar Sunday. You’d think Amazon or Netflix would seal up a short license to show them off at this point, but no. So again, basing my choice on the eyes of others.  
Likely Winner: Dekalb Elementary  

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

My Choice: Molly’s Game may still pull this out based on love for Sorkin and little else to gift him this year. And it was a solid directorial debut for him too. However, the Scripter Award (from USC) went to Call Me By Your Name and they’ve correlated to Oscar 7 out of 7 times over the last 7 years. That’s probably a few too many 7’s to ignore. And it picked up the WGA as well.
Likely Winner: Call Me By Your Name

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

My Choice: Shape of Water even though it has run into some controversial headwinds. I think it will survive those. Should it falter, Get Out may just slip up through the split votes that would ensue. Get Out’s WGA win certainly will help it. And Three Billboards’ BAFTA confused the field. However, much as my reasons for Best Picture, I think Shape covers a lot of the same ground as Get Out, Three Billboards, and then some, which may help it with a broader base. However, there has been late momentum and love for Get Out, so it could be an interesting upset.
Likely Winner: Shape of Water

Original Song
“Mighty River” (Mudbound), Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” (Call Me By Your Name), Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” (Coco), Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” (Marshall), Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” (The Greatest Showman), Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

My Choice:  This is Me though I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Remember Me slipped in here given Coco’s huge audience base and its multiple renditions during the film. Problem is, it is just a boring song to my ear. And, in today’s political climate, This is Me is right on the money for the times.
Likely Winner: This is Me

Original Score
Dunkirk
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My Choice: Dunkirk, but I’ve still no faith others will see/hear the brilliance of it against the ground swell for Shape of Water, whose score was magical in its own way and whose BAFTA win certainly could be indicative.
Likely Winner: Shape of Water

THE CRAFT & TECHNICAL
(or what we should all care about)

Cinematography
Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049)
Bruno Delbonnel (Darkest Hour)
Hoyte van Hoytema (Dunkirk)
Rachel Morrison (Mudbound)
Dan Laustsen (The Shape of Water)

My Choice: Dunkirk has a great shot here; Nolan is nothing if not a brilliant framer and Hoytema’s work and challenges were huge given the various environments he had to navigate. However, for beauty and support of the story, Shape of Water and Blade Runner beat him out. Deakins, in particular, had to both create his own language as well as match the original enough to evoke the connection, which has me picking Blade Runner 2049 as my choice. Originally, I thought Dunkirk would pull this one out, but after Blades’s BAFTA and American Society of Cinematographers top honors this year, and Deakins’ previous 13 (and no win) nominations, I’m going to switch my expectation for the Academy, even if ASC winners correlate to Oscar less than 50% of the time.
Likely Winner: Blade Runner 2049

Costume Design
Beauty and the Beast
The Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria & Abdul

My Choice: Typically, this would go to a period piece (like old period). That thinking would put Victoria & Abdul in the front. But this year’s cadre are all over the place on era’s. Phantom Thread boasts some incredible 40s/50s creations by Mark Bridges. Beauty, fantastical imagination. Shape of Water, a range of clothing, much like Darkest Hour. For me, the invisibility of the costumes in Shape of Water is the most impressive of the lot. Basically, this is a crap shoot with a lot of worthy winners (with Durran up for two: Beast and Darkest Hour).
Likely Winner: Phantom Thread

Makeup and Hairstyling
The Darkest Hour
Victoria & Abdul
Wonder

My Choice: Though Wonder has some impressive make-up, Oldman’s transformation is jaw-dropping and seamless. Going with The Darkest Hour.
Likely Winner: The Darkest Hour

Production Design
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
The Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water

My Choice: Wow, you could just hit your head against a wall for ages trying to pick one here. Each film created solid, believable worlds. For complexity, Shape of Water and Darkest Hour had the most difficult challenges. While Darkest Hour brought the 40s back to life, Shape of Water did similar for the 50s but also added a hint of magic to it. And Blade Runner 2049 had to recreate a world and, as mentioned before, and still do something unique on its own. My pick on this is Shape of Water for riding both the real and fantastical lines down to the tiniest detail.
Likely Winner: Shape of Water

Film Editing
Baby Driver
Dunkirk
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My Choice: I, Tonya  and Dunkirk shared the honors at the ACE awards this year. I still think I, Tonya is the better choice, if I were handing out the statue, but suspect Nolan has more wind at his back in the Academy.
Likely Winner: Dunkirk

Sound Editing
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

My Choice: Editing and mixing are often the most troublesome picks to make. Each movie here had its challenges, but Baby Driver delivered one of the most interesting results in both categories. So Baby Driver for me on this one. For the win, however, I have low confidence….suspect Dunkirk takes it after its Motion Picture Sound Editors win.
Likely Winner: Dunkirk

Sound Mixing
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

My Choice: Baby Driver again here for me, Even more so than editing, the movie had to navigate a lot of layers and not lose us at the transitions. More confident the Academy will see that in this case than the previous despite Dunkirk’s Cinema Audio Society win in this category.
Likely Winner: Baby Driver

Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

My Choice: Lots of choices here, but War of the Planet of the Apes, for all its accolades, has few opportunities and this is likely going to be the one folks would give it. It also picked up the VES Award. The seamless world Apes created out of our own probably beats out the broader worlds that are more obviously CGI. However, BAFTA and others have started a roll for Blade Runner 2049 that is hard to ignore (and also deserved).
Likely Winner: War of the Planet of the Apes

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