Final Academy Award Predictions

Tomorrow morning, the nominations for the 90th Academy Award ceremony will be revealed. Based on precursors, it’s going to be a big morning for The Shape of Water (which has been nominated by every major guild and won with the Producer’s) and Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (our Best Picture frontrunner). I fully expect Get OutLady Bird and Dunkirk to get a healthy amount of nominations as well. The biggest question is how well passion picks like I, Tonya, Mudbound and Call Me By Your Name will do. Will the Academy resist the Netflix aspect of Mudbound‘s distribution? Was the BAFTA love for Darkest Hour a fluke? 

Below are my full list of nomination predictions. 

Best Picture

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The tricky part about predicting this category is that we could have anywhere from 5-10 nominees, thanks to the preferential ballot system the Academy instated in 2014. Last year we had nine, the most since this new rule was put in place. This year, we have five films that feel ironclad:

Locked In

  1. Dunkirk
  2. Get Out
  3. Lady Bird
  4. The Shape of Water
  5. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Call Me By Your Name feels like a safe bet. Though its buzz has died down considerably, it managed to make the PGA shortlist. The Post, which has been missing a lot lately, will probably rebound with a stronger showing at the Academy; at the very least it makes it in here and with Lead Actress (more on that in a bit). Once you get past these seven the waters get murkier. Both The Big Sick and Mudbound nabbed coveted SAG Ensemble nominations alongside Lady BirdThree Billboards and Get Out, but only The Big Sick managed to make it in with the Producer’s Guild. I think the Netflix-bias will ultimately hinder Mudbound making it in the Best Picture lineup, even if it manages to show up in Supporting Actress and Cinematography. If we do have a ninth nominee, my gut tells me it will be I, Tonya which has been showing a considerable amount of strength with the guilds. 

Predicted Nominees (9): The Big Sick, Call Me By Your Name, DunkirkGet OutI, Tonya, Lady BirdThe PostThe Shape of WaterThree Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director

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  • Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk 
  • Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  • Jordan Peele, Get Out
  • Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
  • Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

The DGA helped solidify Nolan, del Toro and McDonagh’s spots while also giving Gerwig and Jordan Peele a huge boost. It’s true that there’s always at least one nominee from the DGA that doesn’t make it over to the Academy’s lineup, but I predict that this is the year where the DGA and the Oscars match 5/5. One has to imagine it’s the newbies, Peele and Gerwig, battling with the wild cards (Sean Baker and Luca Guadagnino) and the respected vet (Steven Spielberg) for that final slot. Call Me By Your Name and The Florida Project have lost a considerable amount of steam since the season began, and while I think The Post will fare better with the Academy than it did with the guilds and critics this category is filled with flashier narratives. Both Peele and Gerwig helmed incredible successes this year. If either one (or both) miss, I’m sure Natalie Portman would love the opportunity to present this category as she did at the Golden Globes.

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Best Actor in a Leading Role

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  • Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name 
  • Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
  • James Franco, The Disaster Artist
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Chalamet, Oldman and Kaluuya feel firmly locked into place, with Day-Lewis not far behind; his status + the narrative of Phantom Thread being his final performance will most likely be enough to land him a spot. That leaves one spot, which I feel has to go to James Franco, despite being embroiled in a sea of sexual assault allegations. There’s already talk of voters being worried about him being nominated. That said… who would take his spot? There feels like a huge disparity between this group of five and the rest of the contenders: Jake Gyllenhaal, Denzel Washington & Tom Hanks. Going off stats it’s probably Washington, though my gut says not to discount Hanks even though he’s been ignored his last couple of tries. I do fear that the news broke too late in the voting cycle to prevent a groundswell to keep Franco from being nominated. 

Best Actress in a Leading Role

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  • Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
  • Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
  • Meryl Streep, The Post
  • Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
  • Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Ronan, Robbie, Hawkins and McDormand have been mainstays all season. Now, it’s true Streep missed out on the SAG nomination, though I feel like that might’ve been a fluke more than anything else. Expect her to round out the Best Actress five, but don’t be too surprised if we see Jessica Chastain pop up for Molly’s Game, which has been embraced by several major guilds, such as the WGA and the American Cinema Editors. Contenders like Michelle Williams and Judi Dench are also strong possibilities as well. 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: 

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

It’s a battle between Call Me By Your Name‘s and Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri‘s supporting performances, though I think it’s safe to say that Harrelson and Rockwell have the upper hand. Starring in a Best Picture frontrunner and having more industry support (SAG + BAFTA) puts a lot of wind in their sails. Dafoe, once presumed the frontrunner in this category, and Jenkins should have no problem continuing their excellent streaks this season. That leaves one spot open, which will most likely be handed to Christopher Plummer. Replacing Kevin Spacey at the 11th hour gives him a pretty great narrative, plus he landed a coveted BAFTA nomination after surprising at the Golden Globes. 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

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  • Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
  • Hong Chau, Downsizing 
  • Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird 
  • Mary J. Blige, Mudbound 
  • Allison Janney, I, Tonya

This category firmed up pretty fast, with two contenders (Octavia Spencer and Tiffany Haddish) on the outside looking in. I’m going with the Screen Actor’s Guild five which feels pretty safe, though I wonder if the Netflix bias will bar Blige from a nomination. And while Chau has locked down key nominations, will the distaste for her film siphon voters to other possibilities? If so, Spencer could easily ride the love for The Shape of Water to her second consecutive nomination in this category (and third overall). Although I’m praying for a Hail Mary that opens up a spot for Haddish’s genius performance in Girls Trip

Best Adapted Screenplay:

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

Adapted Screenplay has been pretty thin this year, unlike Original Screenplay (more on that in a second), which is why I think this category will match with the WGA’s slate 5/5.

If Logan does manage a nomination here, it would be the first ever superhero movie nominated in a writing category.

Best Original Screenplay

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  • Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
  • Jordan Peele, Get Out
  • Steven Rogers, I, Tonya
  • Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  • Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Original Screenplay has been a bit of a blood bath this year, although the WGA and BAFTA helped clear some things up. I think this is where The Shape of Water misses. It’s clear that I, Tonya has managed support outside of its central performances; Rogers’ script managed nominations from the WGA and BAFTA. Peele and Gerwig both feel like locks, while McDonagh’s script should bounce back after being deemed ineligible by the WGA. That leaves Gordon and Nanjiani, who were out in front early in the year and have been stomping the pavement hard for The Big Sick. But watch out for Paul Thomas Anderson, who managed to garner a nomination for the divisive Inherent Vice

 

Best Cinematography

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  • Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
  • Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk 
  • Dan Lausten, The Shape of Water 
  • Rachel Morrison, Mudbound 
  • Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Call Me By Your Name

I fully expect Deakins to collect his 14th nomination for his jaw-dropping work on Blade Runner even if the film (unfairly) gets no love elsewhere. Expect Dunkirk and Shape of Water to pop up too. The last two spots are where things get tricky. Morrison would be the first woman ever nominated in this category and is wholly deserving of recognition. While the “Netflix thing” is still a hurdle no one outside of the Documentary category has yet to overcome, I think Mudbound could break that trend. The Cinematographers nominated Bruno Delbonnel for Darkest Hour, and while I’m sure the BAFTA contingent will go big for that film, I’m (foolishly?) hoping this group chooses to highlight the gorgeous work in Call Me By Your Name instead. 

Best Costume Design

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  • Mark Bridges, Phantom Thread
  • Alexandra Byrne, Murder on the Orient Express
  • Jacqueline Durran, Beauty and the Beast
  • Jennifer Johnson, I, Tonya
  • Ellen Mirojnick, The Greatest Showman

This category is a great place for fantasy films and musicals to reign supreme, so look for Beauty and the Beast (despite that horrible take on the iconic yellow ball gown) and The Greatest Showman to pop up. The period work in Murder on the Orient Express (which was a surprising hit) and jaw dropping costumes from Phantom Thread should round out this category. My wild card pick is I, Tonya (those gaudy skating costumes!) which feels eccentric enough to happen. 

Best Film Editing

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  • Jonathan Amos & Paul Machliss, Baby Driver
  • John Gregory, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Gregory Plotkin, Get Out
  • Tatiana S. Riegel, I, Tonya
  • Sidney Wolinsky, The Shape of Water

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Naomi Bakstad, Robert A. Pandini, Arjen Tuiten, Wonder 
  • Deboray Lamia Denaver, Adruitha Lee, I, Tonya
  • Ivana Primorac, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick, Darkest Hour

Best Original Score:

  • Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
  • Johnny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
  • Dario Marianelli, Darkest Hour
  • John Williams, The Post 
  • Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk

Best Original Song

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  • “Evermore” from Beauty and the BeastAlan Menken & Tim Rice
  • “Visions of Gideon” from Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
  • “Remember Me” from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez
  • “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
  • “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, Diane Warren & Common

This category is a bit hard to predict given how all over the place the songwriting branch can be (for example it’s entirely possible that Call Me By Your Name blanks entirely here). But there are a few things that are certain: 

  1. “This is Me” is the one to beat here
  2. “Remember Me” is in
  3. You can count on at least one of the original songs from Beauty and the Beast making it in

Best Production Design

  • Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer, Beauty and the Beast
  • Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola, Blade Runner 2049
  • Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer, Darkest Hour
  • Rick Carter, Rena DeAngelo, The Post 
  • Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin & Shane Vieau, The Shape of Water

Best Sound Editing

  •  Julian Slater, Baby Driver
  • Mark Mangini & Theo Green Blade Runner 2049
  • Alex Gibson & Richard King, Dunkirk
  • Nathan Robitaille, The Shape of Water
  • Ren Klyce & Matthew Wood, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Sound Mixing

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  • Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin, Baby Driver
  • Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill, Blade Runnr 2049
  • Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo, Dunkirk
  • Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern, The Shape of Water
  • Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, The Shape of Water

Best Visual Effects

  • John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover & Gerd Nefzer, Blade Runner 2049
  • Andrew Jackson, Andrew Lockley, Scott Fisher & Paul Corbould, Dunirk
  • Erik-Jan De Boer, Stephen Clee, Lee Jeon Hyoung & Joon Hyung Kim, Okja
  • Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould & Neal Scanlon, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett & Joel Whist, War for the Planet of the Apes

Okay, maybe the Okja mention is wishful thinking on my part, but wouldn’t be amazing if it actually happened? (According to Variety, the VFX in the film were very well received by the Academy so maybe it’s a little more than wishful thinking).

Best Animated Feature

  • The Boss Baby
  • The Breadwinner
  • Coco
  • The Lego Batman Movie
  • Loving Vincent

Foreign Language Film

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  • A Fantastic Woman
  • In the Fade
  • The Insult
  • Loveless
  • The Wound
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