Oscars Season: Our 2018 Academy Award Picks and Predictions

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Ahead of the upcoming 90th Academy Awards this Sunday, March 4th, GeekDad film writers Tony Nunes and Rob Huddleston make their picks and predictions for this year’s key Oscar races.

Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay

Tony’s Predictions — Best Adapted Screenplay: Call Me By Your Name / Best Original Screenplay: Lady Bird

How awesome would it be for Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Greenbest to win the best adapted screenplay award for Logan? As much as I think that would be a cool win, and Logan was a great surprise, were I an Academy voter, I’d actually pick Virgil Williams and Dee Rees to take home this award for Mudbound. If you’ve missed checking Mudbound out on Netflix, I suggest you do so. It’s a stunningly shot (by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison, the first woman ever nominated in this category) and powerfully written film. That said, I honestly can’t help but think that James Ivory is destined to take this one home for Call Me By Your Name. As great a film as it is, I predict this will be the only award it ends up taking home.

Because I’m a longtime fan of Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, I’d love to see them take home the best original screenplay Oscar for their true-life-story in The Big Sick. I’d also love to see Jordan Peele win for writing Get Out, the most woke movie of 2017. Were I a betting man, however, I’d guess that Greta Gerwig will take home this prize for Lady Bird, a movie that just didn’t resonate with me.

Rob’s Predictions — Best Adapted Screenplay: Call Me By Your Name / Best Original Screenplay: Lady Bird

There’s no question that I think the best adapted screenplay is Molly’s Game, which shows Aaron Sorkin at his best. It’d be a shoo-in… except that it was almost entirely ignored by the Academy this year, with this being its only nomination. So given that, I have to go with Call Me By Your Name. While I wasn’t as enamored with the movie as most others, I can’t deny that the dialog was great throughout.

My “should win” pick for original screenplay is just as easy: Lady Bird. Greta Gerwig so perfectly captures the voice of her subjects that it’s hard to deny the brilliance of her writing. As for what will win, I’d be remiss if I didn’t hedge my bets slightly and acknowledge the possibility of a very big night for The Shape of Water, so while I think there’s a chance we’ll see Guillermo del Toro onstage accepting this award, I think there’s a better chance that the voters will reach the same conclusion I did and give a much-deserved trophy to Gerwig.

Animated Feature Film

Tony’s Prediction — Coco

Coco truly was the best animated film of the year, and for that, it will and should win. In fact, Coco was one of the best films of 2017 in general. Directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina created a rich and colorful world steeped in Mexican culture and music. Remarkably, the film has spurred a bit of a musical resurgence in Mexico. While The Breadwinner is another culturally significant and beautifully produced animated film, Coco has the historic edge of being produced by Pixar and Disney. Pixar has a long track record with this category, a fairly new one first created back in 2002. In the Academy’s 16 years of awarding the Best Animated Feature Oscar, Disney and/or Pixar have taken home 11 of them.

Rob’s Prediction — Coco

Yes, sticking with Pixar here is the safe choice, but in one regard, it’s the only choice I have, since Coco was the only one of these movies that I saw. And while I didn’t really love it, it was a truly beautiful film. But I can’t honestly see the Academy going with something as pedestrian as either Boss Baby or Ferdinand. While the animation branch likes to nominate overtly political films like The Breadwinner, they tend to shy away from handing out trophies to them. Loving Vincent is the odd man out here: yes, it’s animated, but it’s a very different kind of animated film, having been shot in live-action and then meticulously painted frame-by-frame. While I’ve heard the results were spectacular, this award, in particular, doesn’t tend to go to the really experimental films in the genre, so I’m sticking with Coco.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Tony’s Prediction — Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water

Weeks ago I would have predicted that Sam Rockwell would win for his great work in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. He did take home the Golden Globe. However, looking at the recent controversy surrounding the film, and Rockwell’s role in it, which some have criticized as being too redemptive, I have to imagine that will hurt his chances of a repeat win at the Oscars. That said, my favorite supporting role of 2017 was Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water and I truly think he has a solid chance of taking home the Oscar. Jenkins is one of our greatest character actors, and his nuanced, dynamically human role in The Shape of Water lifted the films already stellar cast to greatness.

Rob’s Prediction — Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water

Prior to the nominations, I would have guessed a run-away win for Christopher Plummer here, both because of the circumstances around his accepting the role in All the Money in the World and because of his stellar performance in the movie. But then the movie was essentially snubbed, with Plummer being the only nomination, so I’m less convinced that voters will go with him now. Of the five nominees, I’d say that Sam Rockwell was far and away the best performance in the category, but I suspect that he and Harrelson will end up splitting the vote for Three Billboards. In the end, I think Richard Jenkins is going to ride an almost certain Shape of Water tide here and walk away the winner on Oscar night.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Tony’s Prediction — Allison Janney for I, Tonya

This is one of the most difficult categories to predict. This list represents such a stellar class of performances. Mary J. Blige was dynamic in Mudbound. Octavia Spencer was stoic in The Shape of Water. Lesley Manville was spellbinding in Phantom Thread. Laurie Metcalf and Allison Janney both portrayed very different degrees of controlling mothers in Lady Bird and I, Tonya respectively. But at the end of the day, I think Janney should and will repeat her Golden Globes win for one of the strangest, most sinister, and depressingly real performances of 2017 as the ruthless, cold mother of Tonya Harding.

Rob’s Prediction — Allison Janney for I, Tonya

In my eyes, this is a two-way race between Janney and Octavia Spencer for The Shape of Water. And as I’ve already said a couple of times, a big night for Shape could see Spencer edging out Janney, but in the end, I think her over-the-top yet strangely moving turn as the abusive woman who drove Tonya Harding to success and then infamy will win out.

Directing

Tony’s Prediction — Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water

I can’t begin to tell you how much I want Guillermo del Toro to win. He is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers, and this, The Shape of Water, is truly his masterpiece. In a film landscape overly-populated with superheroes and tentpole franchises, del Toro consistently shines as an original cinematic voice. He is a true auteur and genre master. Even when working in those very genres, creating superhero films like Hellboy or franchises like Pacific Rim, he does so with an auteurs sense and delivery. He will and should win!

Rob’s Prediction — Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water

While the idea that the Best Director statue goes to the Best Picture winner has been less true lately than it used to be, I think the two will line up this year. del Toro has everything going for him here, and the big night I think Shape will have should be enough to give him the win. My “should win” pick here won’t surprise anyone who has read the rest of this post or who saw my Top Ten Films of 2017: Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird.

Actor in a Leading Role

Tony’s Prediction — Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour

Daniel Day-Lewis is a legend on his way to retirement, and awards shows historically like to celebrate greatness on the way out, but I have to predict that Gary Oldman will win this one for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Oldman is a master character actor known for legendary roles in The Dark Knight trilogy, Sid and Nancy, the Harry Potter films, The Professional, and so many classic films. He is due for an Oscar. As much as I love Oldman, though, I wasn’t as enamored by Darkest Hour as others, and I would love to see Daniel Kaluuya take home the award for his layered performance in Get Out.

Rob’s Prediction — Daniel Day-Lewis for Phantom Thread

I wasn’t blown away by this movie, but given that it’s a beloved actor’s final performance before a reported retirement, I think that there’s a good chance his fellow voters will recognize him one final time. My should-win on this one is Gary Oldman, who disappeared into the role of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.

Actress in a Leading Role

Tony’s Prediction — Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Frances McDormand was incredible in Three Billboards. She won the Golden Globe for her role and very much deserves another win at the Oscars. I’d love to see her win, though I would be equally happy to see Sally Hawkins take the award for The Shape of Water or Margot Robbie for I, Tonya.

Rob’s Prediction — Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water

I strongly suspect this will be a big year for Shape, and Hawkins’ performance was one of the best things about the movie. Both moving and brave, her portrayal of a lonely mute woman who finds love with a monster was one of the highlights of the year. Should win: by now, you’ll have noticed a trend with these—if I were an Oscar voter, there’s no question I’d be casting my ballot for Saoirse Ronin, who was absolutely perfect in capturing what it means to be a teenager in America today in Lady Bird. That her every word and movement reminded me of my daughter may be more than a little prejudicing me here, but at the same time, it speaks to the brilliance of her performance.

Best Picture

Tony’s Prediction — The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water was my favorite film of 2017. I predict it will win Best Picture and obviously think it should. I have long taken issue with the definition of the best picture, and personally believe that the film that is most destined to become a revisited, canonical classic should get this award. This year that film is The Shape of Water. del Toro truly created a cinematic masterpiece with rich world-building and a style reminiscent of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Were it not to win, the only other film I’d be pleased to see win would be Jordan Peele’s Get Out, which is already destined to become a classic and may pack the most important and powerful punch of 2017.

Rob’s Prediction — The Shape of Water

The Best Picture award does not, despite the common misconception, always go to the movie that gets the most nominations. But this year it will. While I personally thought that Shape was visually gorgeous but had little else going for it, I’m clearly in the minority. It has all of the things going for it that it needs to win: critical acclaim, little negative backlash, nominations in directing, acting, writing, and editing. It’s a completely non-controversial pick, and one of those winners that will be mostly forgotten in ten years, but for now it’s on track to take the big prize.

My personal pick for Best Picture is, of course, Lady Bird. It does have a path to victory, scoring directing and acting nominations, a Golden Globe win, and that Rotten Tomatoes 100% fresh record, so there’s a chance that I and everyone else here in Sacramento will be very, very happy on Oscar night, but I wouldn’t bet any money on it.

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