Who will, could and should win the 2018 Academy Awards

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William Bennett/Staff

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With the general consensus that there were no major snubs in this year’s Academy Awards nominations, category predictions become all the more interesting. After all, this year’s Best Picture nominees include everything from the horror-comedy “Get Out” to the romantic fantasy “The Shape of Water” to the ensemble war drama “Dunkirk.”

This year’s nominees are emblematic of the depth and variety that modern cinema has to offer. While true cinematic excellence is in the eye of beholder, awards season frontrunners always emerge, whether it be in a runaway or stacked category. With the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild awards — all partial indicators of frontrunners, possible spoilers and unfortunate snubs — behind us, here are our predictions for the 90th Annual Academy Awards.

— Anagha Komaragiri

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”

There are only four real contenders, which is more than usual. “The Shape of Water” has taken most of the precursors at this point, but it’s a weak frontrunner. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has strong support among actors, though its lack of a director nomination indicates that a significant number of people still don’t like the film. Universal is also pushing “Get Out” hard, but with the tricky preferential balloting system in play, “Dunkirk” is poised to be a stealth spoiler. Everyone refers to it as an “achievement,” and that’s what could make it a consensus favorite.

— Jackson Kim Murphy

Will win: “The Shape of Water”

Could win: “Dunkirk”

Should win: “Get Out”

Should be here: “Good Time,” “Blade Runner 2049”

 

Lead 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.”

Oldman is the lock and easily the weakest of the bunch, passing a typically deranged performance as high-brow through exhaustive prosthetics. Meanwhile, Washington is terrific in a mild-mannered role that less skilled actors would bury in tics. Chalamet announces himself with stunning vulnerability, while Day-Lewis’ swan song feels like his most personal work. But it’s Kaluuya who stands above the rest, darting between willful tolerance and mounting fear of his character’s surroundings. It’s a quietly meticulous performance worthy of recognition.

— Jackson Kim Murphy

Who will win: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

Who could win: Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”

Who should win: Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”

Who should be here: Adam Sandler, “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)”

 

Lead 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”

Every performance nominated is the best part of its respective film. Even the now-routine Streep inclusion comes attached to the actress’s smartest performance in years. Robbie somehow manages to thrive in her film’s flashy mimicry. Hawkins and Ronan are both potential winners, neither actress shying away from embracing her character’s passions. But it’s McDormand who’s poised to take the prize, playing the elephant in the room in “Three Billboards” and relishing in the stampede.  

— Jackson Kim Murphy

Who will win: Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards”

Who could win: Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”

Who should win: Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”

Who should be here: Vicky Krieps, “Phantom Thread”

 

Supporting Actor

  • Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
  • Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
  • Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
  • Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
  • Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Despite the possibility of splitting votes with co-star Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell is likely to take this category for his violent performance as anti-hero Officer Jason Dixon in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” But Willem Dafoe’s stern-but-kind-hearted demeanor as motel manager Bobby Hicks in “The Florida Project” could still earn the veteran actor a career Oscar, deeming him a far more interesting and deserving winner than Rockwell.

— Anagha Komaragiri

Who will win: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards”

Who could win: Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”

Who should win: Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”

Who should be here: Armie Hammer, “Call Me By Your Name”

 

Supporting Actress

  • Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
  • Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
  • Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
  • Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
  • Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

For her performance as the strict, domineering mother of ice skating legend Tonya Harding, awards circuit frequenter Allison Janney is a near-lock to take top prize. But Laurie Metcalf, the scene stealer in the most emotional moments of “Lady Bird,” balances Saoirse Ronan’s firecracker lead performance with her grounded supporting performance. It’s a career-defining performance that deserves to be recognized, which is why, of the two mother portrayals, Metcalf should take home the award.

— Anagha Komaragiri

Who will win: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”

Who could win: Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”

Who should win: Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”

Who should be here: Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”

 

Best Director

  • “Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
  • “Get Out,” Jordan Peele
  • “Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
  • “Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
  • “The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro

It’s not often that the Academy lands on such a diverse batch of strong cinematic personalities. Peele and Gerwig crafted striking debuts, each colored by the specificity of lived routines. Also deserving are Nolan and Anderson, both industry veterans boiling down their style to sharply-executed pressure cookers. It’s regrettable that del Toro will likely be recognized for his weakest film, but that’s a petty sentiment next to his likely award’s celebration of such a fantastically eclectic body of work.

— Jackson Kim Murphy

Who will win: Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”

Who could win: Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”

Who should win: Paul Thomas Anderson, “Phantom Thread”

Who should be here: Luca Guadagnino, “Call Me by Your Name”

 

Best Original Screenplay

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

Jordan Peele’s script for the phenomenal “Get Out” ingeniously blended elements of comedy and horror with a biting critique on modern racial anxieties. The film is one of the most unique — and truly deserving — Oscars frontrunners in ages, and easily the most worthy contender for Original Screenplay.

— Anagha Komaragiri

Who will win: Jordan Peele, “Get Out”

Who could win: Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”

Who should win: Jordan Peele, “Get Out”

Who should be here: Paul Thomas Anderson, “Phantom Thread”

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

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

The only film in this category also nominated for Best Picture, “Call Me By Your Name” is the immediate frontrunner. James Ivory’s adaptation of André Aciman’s coming-of-age romance is sheer poetry on screen. Its searing dialogue is supplemented perfectly by its moments of silence, within which the actors interpret and display their characters’ written emotions with ease. Personal and poignant, the film is a lock to win Best Adapted Screenplay.

— Anagha Komaragiri

Who will win: “Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory

Who could win: “Molly’s Game,” Aaron Sorkin

Who should win: “Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory

Who should be here: “The Beguiled,” Sofia Coppola

 

Best Animated Feature

Who will win: “Coco”

Who could win: “The Breadwinner”

Who should win: “Coco”

Who should be here: “The LEGO Batman Movie”

 

Best Documentary Feature

Who will win: “Faces Places”

Who could win: “Strong Island”

Who should win: “Faces Places”

Who should be here: “The Work”

 

Best Foreign Feature

Who will win: “A Fantastic Woman”

Who could win: “The Square”

Who should win: “Loveless”

Who should be here: “Nocturama”

 

Best Cinematography

Who will win: Roger A. Deakins, “Blade Runner 2049”

Who could win: Hoyte van Hoytema, “Dunkirk”

Who should win: Hoyte van Hoytema, “Dunkirk”

Who should be here: Sean Price Williams, “Good Time”

 

Best Film Editing

Who will win: “Dunkirk”

Who could win: “Baby Driver”

Who should win: “Baby Driver”

Who should be here: “Nocturama”

 

Best Production Design

Who will win: “The Shape of Water”

Who could win: “Blade Runner 2049”

Who should win: “Dunkirk”

Who should be here: “Lady Bird”

 

Best Costume Design

Who will win: “The Shape of Water”

Who could win: “Beauty and the Beast”

Who should win: “Phantom Thread”

Who should be here: “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Who will win: “Darkest Hour”

Who could win: “Wonder”

Who should win: “Darkest Hour”

Who should be here: “Brawl in Cell Block 99”

 

Best Original Score

Who will win: Alexandre Desplat, “The Shape of Water”

Who could win: Hans Zimmer, “Dunkirk”

Who should win: Hans Zimmer, “Dunkirk”

Who should be here: Oneohtrix Point Never, “Good Time”

 

Best Original Song

Who will win: “This is Me,” “The Greatest Showman”

Who could win: “Remember Me,” “Coco”

Who should win: “Mystery of Love,” “Call Me By Your Name”

Who should be here: “Myron/Byron,” “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)”

 

Best Sound Editing

Who will win: “Dunkirk”

Who could win: “Baby Driver”

Who should win: “Baby Driver”

Who should be here: “Marjorie Prime”

 

Best Sound Mixing

Who will win: “Dunkirk”

Who could win:“Baby Driver”

Who should win: “Blade Runner 2049”

Who should be here: “Get Out”

 

Best Visual Effects

Who will win: “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Who could win: “Blade Runner 2049”

Who should win: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Who should be here: “Okja”

Anagha Komaragiri and Jackson Murphy cover film. Contact them at [email protected].