Oscars 2018 Predictions

Tonight is the night! As per usual, I wait until the last minute to make my predictions (just some of the major categories this year), and as per usual, you’ll see percentages of the chance each nominee has to win based on various factors, some of which is based on previous awards won, and some of which is based on my own observation.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

  • “Call Me by Your Name” (8%)
  • “Darkest Hour” (2%)
  • “Dunkirk” (5%)
  • “Get Out” (15%)
  • “Lady Bird” (12%)
  • “Phantom Thread” (5%)
  • “The Post” (1%)
  • “The Shape of Water” (40%)
  • “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” (12%)

“The Shape of Water” has run away with the big awards of late, especially the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Picture. This, of course, only makes it the frontrunner. If you read my piece on Friday, you’ll know just how up-for-grabs this award actually is, even though “The Shape of Water” is clearly leading the way. The 45 percent shot is really more based on how deadlocked the rest of the pack is when it comes to chances.

Given the film’s massive popularity, “Get Out” is my upset pick. “The Shape of Water” probably doesn’t have enough enemies to not secure 50 percent of the votes plus one, but “Get Out” will probably have a lot of second and third place votes, and those matter. “Lady Bird” can’t be counted out for the same reason, though the winner of the Best Original Screenplay category will tell you who has that edge. “Three Billboards” also has a strong shot, and many would argue the second best shot considering it won the BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Picture. I think the film is too divisive, however, to secure the necessary votes.

I think we’ll either get the favorite this year, or a total stunner underdog, not likely somewhere in between.

Best Achievement in Directing

  • Christopher Nolan – “Dunkirk” (10%)
  • Jordan Peele – “Get Out” (5%)
  • Greta Gerwig  – “Lady Bird” (3%)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson – “Phantom Thread” (12%)
  • Guillermo del Toro – “The Shape of Water” (70%)
Having won all the major awards, and being one of the few veterans on the slate this year (only PTA has been nominated before in this category), del Toro is almost certainly the winner. Veterans always win in this category, and usually white men too, so while the nominations for Gerwig and Peele are nice, it would be a surprise if one of them stole the Oscar.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

  • Timothée Chalamet – “Call Me by Your Name” (5%)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis – “Phantom Thread” (8%)
  • Daniel Kaluuya – “Get Out” (3%)
  • Gary Oldman – “Darkest Hour” (83%)
  • Denzel Washington – “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” (1%)

This Oscar usually goes to an actor whose established and paid his dues. Oldman has been in a lot of movies over the last few decades and has only ever been nominated one other time. In a prestige picture playing a larger-than-life figure, he’s an absolute shoo-in. With two young up-and-comers, an overdecorated DDL and Denzel filling in that one spot for a performance in a film no one has seen, it’s hard to envision a surprise.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

  • Sally Hawkins – “The Shape of Water” (20%)
  • Frances McDormand – “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” (65%)
  • Margot Robbie – “I, Tonya” (2%)
  • Saoirse Ronan – “Lady Bird” (10%)
  • Meryl Streep – “The Post” (3%)

McDormand told the Screen Actors Guild something to the effect of “ever year so often I come out of the woodwork and you guys give me stuff.” People are fond of McDormand and the role was a big one. She played a character of action in a time when people are tired of standing by. There’s been a lot of love for Hawkins among critics groups, and I think she’s terrific, so I’m giving her a larger chance than she probably has.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Mary J. Blige – “Mudbound” (1%)
  • Allison Janney – “I, Tonya” (55%)
  • Lesley Manville – “Phantom Thread” (2%)
  • Laurie Metcalf – “Lady Bird” (37%)
  • Octavia Spencer – “Hidden Figures” (5%)

Janney has swept all the awards, so I’m probably a little crazy to give her just over a 50 percent chance, but Metcalf was more adored by critics groups and I was just blown away by her performance. Janney is in top form (I just caught “I, Tonya” the other day), but nothing surprised me about what she did. Janney also probably has more fans in the Academy (Metcalf is known more in theatre circles than Hollywood)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Willem Dafoe – “The Florida Project” (25%)
  • Woody Harrelson – “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” (5%)
  • Richard Jenkins – “The Shape of Water” (8%)
  • Christopher Plummer – “All the Money in the World” (2%)
  • Sam Rockwell- “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” (60%)

In continuing the trend of giving a higher percent chance to actors who aren’t the favorites but whose performances I liked better, I’ve given extra love to Dafoe, who was an amazing character in a film I loved much more. Rockwell was unforgettable in “Three Billboards,” he swept all the awards, and he’s deserving an actor as anyone, but I just loved Dafoe.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

  • “Get Out” – Jordan Peele (35%)
  • “Lady Bird” – Greta Gerwig (20%)
  • “The Big Sick” – Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon (5%)
  • “The Shape of Water” – Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor (10%)
  • “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” – Martin McDonagh (30%)

This is the tightest race of the Oscars. Peele won the Writers Guild Award in this category, but “Three Billboards” was not in contention. McDonagh won the Golden Globe and BAFTA. The only certainty is that “The Shape of Water” is likely to be passed on given the host of other awards it’s looking to rake in. I think “Get Out” gets celebrated with this award, but “Three Billboards” is the conventional choice and McDonagh is a deserving writer. Whoever does win the award ups their film’s Best Picture chances by a ton.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

  • “Call Me by Your Name” – James Ivory (87%)
  • “Logan” – Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green (1%)
  • “Molly’s Game” – Aaron Sorkin (5%)
  • “Mudbound” – Dee Rees, Virgil Williams (5%)
  • “The Disaster Artist” – Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber (2%)

Without any other Best Picture contenders to fend off, “Call Me by Your Name” is the closest to a lock I can recall in this category. In the expanded Best Picture era, it would come as a big surprise for a script to be loved enough to win an Oscar yet the film not be good enough to warrant a Best Picture nod.


Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

  • “Coco” (80%)
  • “Ferdinand” (2%)
  • “Loving Vincent” (3%)
  • “The Boss Baby” (5%)
  • “The Breadwinner” (10%)

Every year, films like “Loving Vincent” and “The Breadwinner” make it into the mix in favor of another mainstream Hollywood animated film or two, but so far, these films have yet to win, probably because voters don’t see them (“The Breadwinner” is supposed to be excellent). Disney and Pixar, on the other hand, have won 11 times in the category’s 16-year history. They only have one entry this year, but no other studio brought the heat, so it’ll be Pixar’s ninth win in 11 total nominations. Wild.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

  • “Blade Runner 2049″ – Roger Deakins (70%)
  • “Darkest Hour” – Bruno Delbonnel (5%)
  • “Dunkirk” – Hoyte van Hoytema (15%)
  • “Mudbound” – Rachel Morrison (5%)
  • “The Shape of Water” – Dan Laustsen (5%)

This is a great storyline this year. Roger Deakins has been nominated for 14 Oscars and this looks like his best chance to win. “Blade Runner 2049” was stunningly shot and so it’s not just about Deakins but his work here. The American Society of Cinematographers gave him their top award among this same exact pool of nominees (he also has a lifetime achievement award from that group). Rachel Morrison being the first woman ever nominated is also a great story, and Hoytema might have won in any other scenario, but it should be about Deakins tonight.


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