As 2017 mercifully coming to a close (wait a second, that sounds familiar… God damn it! Okay, maybe 2018 will treat us better), things are finally starting to solidify for the 2018 Oscars, and thus it is time to kick off Oscarathon 2018. We don’t have much to go off of so far, but we do have enough pieces to get an idea of what kind of races we should be looking forward to as we move towards the first major domino: The Golden Globes.
The Best Picture race looks pretty wide open right now. Much like last year, nothing has been able to really stand out yet, but there seems to be even less consensus at this point over who the favorite should be. That can change very quickly, as last year Moonlight, La La Land, and Manchester by the Sea soon picked up the most steam and looked to set up a tight race that was turned upside down when the Globes went and lost its shit over La La Land, and made it a prohibitive favorite that led to a backlash of ridiculous proportions. (Then again, this did ultimately lead to one of the greatest moments, and I guess upsets, in Oscar history, when Moonlight won in the end–so I guess the Globes should be commended for their craziness leading to even more glorious craziness). So take all of this with a grain of salt, as the Globes and Critic Choice Awards are where we will really see favorites start to solidify, but this does seem like it could be a really competitive year, much like the 2016 Oscars. (This assuming The Globes doesn’t go off the reservation again.) 2017 is full of really great, but flawed moves that make it really hard for any one to stand out.
- I am going to start here, because this is the highest point this film is likely get to. The Post won the National Board of Review’s Best Picture Award, which is kind of disappointing, because usually this group is a little more ambitious with their pick, ala Mad Max: Fury Road two years ago; but at the same time, this group and the Oscars almost never match up in the end, so maybe they were ready to try something safer. This film combines three great loves for the Oscars: Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, and Tom Hanks. Still, this film already seems to be shaping up to be the movie that scores numerous nominations but no wins come Oscar time, as basically every prestige Spielberg film since Saving Private Ryan has done. Having Hanks and Streep around helps, and considering the current political climate, a movie about how a newspaper stood for its principles against an adversarial federal government and president is going to play very well. Still, at this point I just have a hard time believing this film will be able to keep pace as we go forward. Even if it has real potential in the Best Director, Actress, and Actor categories, this film is probably going to come up short in the end.
- Now here is a contender. Winner of the New York Critic Circle Award and the Chicago Film Critics Award for Best Picture and a strong contender for Best Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Screenplay categories. Not to mention it had the distinction of being Rotten Tomatoes’ most distinguished reviewed movie, until it didn’t because one critic decided to nip that in the bud. But that really doesn’t mean anything, other than giving me another excuse to mention that Rotten Tomatoes is a garbage system for determining anything besides “this film doesn’t suck” (anything more than that is woefully out of the RT score’s scope). Still, this is a very well liked movie that is helmed by the equally well-liked Greta Gerwig in a year when people are really going to try their darnedest to show that Hollywood is not, you know, a sexist garbage pit that needs to be burned to the ground so we can excise the bad parts and rebuild with the good. So on that basis the film gets extra points. At this point, Lady Bird feels like at worst the co-favorite, if I had to pick something right now, especially considering it is the only one of the main contenders to get a SAG nomination.
Call Me by Your Name
- And here we have the other co-favorite right now. Winner of the Los Angeles Critics Association Award, and a threat for Best Actor and Director (and probably at least a nomination for Screenplay), plus a favorite amongst individual critical top film lists. This film seems to have the most momentum right now even if Lady Bird has more accolades at the moment. Whether that ultimately leads to anything is obviously unclear at this time, but this is the film with the closest thing to buzz right now. That makes it a strong counterpoint to Lady Bird, and hopefully leads to a fun back and forth race in the months to come.
The Shape of Water
- This film has yet to win anything, but has a huge bullet waiting to be fired: it scored the most Golden Globe nominations with seven, and if the Globes voters fall in love with it, then it could shoot right to the top of the contender lists. Combine that with the strong chance that this film could be in play for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay and this film is going to be a threat in the race going forward.
Near Contender: The Florida Project
- I am dubious that this film can be more than an indie film that surges to multiple nominations without a real chance of winning, but this film is fantastic and was runner-up at the Los Angeles Critics Awards. It will be a top contender for Best Director and Best Supporting Actor, so if nothing else, for now this film has a higher level of accolades than any remaining potentials at the moment, and so deserves to be mentioned on its own.
There are a few other movies worth looking out for. These seem to have at least a slight edge right now for nominations over the rest of the remaining contenders, but also have the profile to jump right into the thick of things if they can pick up a significant victory:
- Get Out
- Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri
It should also be noted that all of the aforementioned films, in addition to The Big Sick and Wonder Woman, got honored as the top ten films by AFI, so that list looking to be pretty on point this year as of now.
This is a stacked year with lots of contenders that is going to leave a lot of people angry when inevitably someone deserving gets snubbed because there are only five slots. There is a strong mix of big names and newcomers that combined with the uncertainty in the Best Picture race makes this a likely highly contested race (before everyone stops trying and just starts picking one person, because it is too hard to have your own opinion).
- Your current slight frontrunner, as she has picked up victories from the National Board of Review and New York Film Circle. Since Lady Bird is also one of the frontrunners, things are looking positive for Gerwig. The only thing holding her back from true frontrunner status is that history is very much against her to even get a nomination, let alone a victory (only four women have ever gotten a nomination and only one has actually ever won), and the Golden Globes have already played into this narrative by inexplicably not nominating Gerwig. That is likely simply the Globes being silly, and Gerwig is very likely heading towards a nomination, but it does highlight how it might be difficult for her to actually win, even if she is the favorite as of now.
Guillermo del Toro
- Del Toro has a lot going for him. He tied for Best Director with the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and could be in line for a huge boost if things go his way at the Golden Globes. Del Toro is highly respected for his past work, especially Pan’s Labyrinth, and at the very least he seems very much in line for a nomination. Still, he more than anyone else on this list may be linked to how well his movie does, so whether he is a true contender or simply a member of the ‘happy to be nominated’ club will largely depend on how The Shape of Water fares in the race to come.
- And here is the other winner of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards. Guadagnino, like his movie Call Me by Your Name, has a lot of momentum right now, and if his film continues its upward trajectory he could very well ride that all the way to the top. He feels a bit behind Gerwig and Del Toro right now, but that may quickly change.
- Baker feels more like someone that may sneak in a nomination that no one is quite expecting, but everyone agrees is deserved. Yet he has also already won the New York Film Critics Circle Award, so he has as good a chance as anyone at this point of ending up on top, especially if The Florida Project can build real buzz as an actual Best Picture contender and not simply a nominee. As of now he has to be considered a notch above the remaining competition.
That’s just people who have won recognition already; they are joined by these Golden Globe nominees:
- Christopher Nolan (for Dunkirk) (Nolan did win the Chicago Film Critics Association Award, so he maybe should be in his own tier, but the Academy seems to hate him for some reason, so until he gets this nomination he is stuck with the rest of this group)
- Steven Spielberg (for The Post)
- Ridley Scott (for All the Money in the World) (Although Alien: Covenant should practically be disqualifying – Ed)
- Martin McDonagh (for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Plus Jordan Peele (Get Out) and Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) as directors of cultural phenomenons and James Franco (The Disaster Artist) as an intriguing wild card make for a very crowded field that once again is going to leave a lot of people upset more than likely.
Once again we have a stacked field full of great actresses, and at this point it is hard to really say who has distinguished herself from the group. So it remains to be seen if this will stay highly competitive or if someone will emerge like Emma Stone did to rack up the most awards by the end. At this point, these actresses are standing out the most.
- Like many of her fellow Lady Bird nominees, she is the favorite right now. Winner of the New York Film Critics Circle and Chicago Critics Association Awards, and a SAG, Satellite, and Golden Globe nominee. Ronan also is a multiple time nominee who nearly won in 2016 for her work in Brooklyn, so she has paid her dues, and this may finally be her time to win, for a role directed by Greta Gerwig that Gerwig herself would have played eight years ago.
- Winner of the LA Film Critics Award and past Best Actress nominee, Hawkins is back in the limelight once again, and could be heading for an Oscar win. Like Ronan she is a SAG, Golden Globe, and Satellite Award nominee, but she doesn’t actually have to beat Ronan at the Globes to pick up awards momentum (since the acting categories at the Globes are split between dramas like The Shape of Water and comedies like Ronan’s Lady Bird), which could be a big boon for Hawkins, especially if The Shape of Water ends up being a big winner. After that, though, Hawkins is likely going to be battling it out with Ronan for most of the Oscar season, and it may simply come down to which of their films ultimately does better overall.
- I mean, it’s Meryl Streep. That is all that really needs to be said. She already has picked up one win with the National Board of Review, and at this point most people consider it her right to be nominated every year. I will say, though, she is looking a bit vulnerable, as she failed to get either a SAG or Satellite Award nomination this year, but she did get a Golden Globe nomination, and honestly, people will more than likely talk themselves into voting for her performance in The Post no matter what.
- McDormand is the runner-up for the LA Film Critics Award, and also has the trifecta of SAG, Golden Globe, and Satellite nominations, and her film had a strong nomination showing in the SAG and Golden Globes overall. She is a past winner, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is going to be a contender for Best Picture. A nomination seems like a lock at this point, and we’ll know how much of a chance she has of winning depending on how she fares at the Globes, as, like Hawkins, she also doesn’t have to beat Ronan there (which is a bit silly, because Three Billboards is as much a comedy as most of the films classified as comedies by the Globes).
Dark Horse Contenders: Margot Robbie (I, Tonya) and Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul)
- Neither of these women have picked up any significant victories that would make them stand out, but both have received SAG, Satellite, and Golden Globe nominations, so they have to be considered threats to win at this point. Dench, of course, ia a cultural icon and past winner who could ride that to victory, while Robbie has had the air of someone the industry has expected big things from for some time now.
After being a bit wobbly at times over the years, especially compared to the Best Actress category, the Best Actor category is back with a vengeance. There are heaps of contenders this year, each with their own compelling narratives that makes it much less likely that we will get a runaway winner like Casey Affleck last year (and even he had trouble near the end, albeit for non-performance related reasons that could lead to the Oscars trying to figure out a way for him not to present the Best Actress trophy this year).
- What a year for Chalamet. He appeared in three critically acclaimed movies with Hot Summer Nights, Lady Bird, and of course Call Me by Your Name, and looks ready to climb onto the superstar ladder going forward. Winner of the LA, New York, and Chicago Critics Awards as well a SAG and Golden Globe nomination (for Call Me By Your Name), Chalamet is the current favorite to win the big prize. The only thing working against him at this point is his age. The Best Actor Award generally skews much older, and at 22 years of age at the time of the award Chalamet would be by far the youngest ever to win this award, and only the second to do so before the age of 30 (current record holder Adrien Brody was just barely still 29 win he won in 2003). Hell, Chalamet would be the third youngest person to even be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. Even the Supporting Actor category tends to skew older than Chalamet, as only Timothy Hutton would be a younger male acting winner, and the next closest winner in that category was 27. So Chalamet has a bit of an uphill battle against history, as unlike the Best Actress category, which has always skewed younger (for a variety of mostly bad and I guess some good reasons), the Best Actor category tends to want its winners to be much older.
- Franco is looming as an intriguing pick that could allow the Academy to award him for both starring in and directing The Disaster Artist in one swoop. Franco was the runner-up at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, and scored Golden Globe, Satellite, and SAG nominations. His film and personality are very well set-up for Oscar campaign season, and he gets to compete in a weaker category at the Globes, which could allow him to pick up a lot of momentum. So if enough people split on Chalamet and Daniel Day-Lewis, Franco could serve as a strong next choice.
- And this is the other reason Chalamet is in for an uphill battle getting the win. Not only is he up against Daniel Day-Lewis, but Chalamet is up against Lewis in the last role of Lewis’s career. Considered by many to be the greatest actor alive, it is kind of hard to see the Academy not giving another trophy to Lewis, especially when they may never get the chance to again, and presumably will have a multitude of chances to give one to Chalamet. Lewis’s case, though, is a bit more wobbly than you would expect. While he did get a Golden Globe and Satellite Award nomination, he failed to get a SAG Award nomination, and doesn’t have the award victory profile (this year at least) that the other contenders have. Still, one major victory will start the narrative going, and could very easily send Lewis off into the sunset with one last Oscar win.
Dark Horse Contenders: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman and Tom Hanks
- Honestly all of these men have the same profile: highly respected actors in marquee roles that keep them in contention for a win. Each has something going for and against them. Hanks (The Post) has a big win from the National Board of Review, but failed to pick up a SAG and Satellite nomination to go with his Golden Globe nomination. Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.) has a Globe and SAG nomination, but not a Satellite nomination nor a major win. Oldman (Darkest Hour) has all three nominations, but no major win and the shackle of having never won an Oscar before hanging over him, unlike Hanks and Washington. Any one of these three could ultimately win, but at this point their profiles are all lesser than the aforementioned names and feel a notch below competition-wise at this time.
Best Supporting Actress
We may finally do it this year: actually award a supporting role the trophy for best actress after a couple years of basically giving lead roles the trophy. There seems to be a core group of six competing for these five spots, so this is a tighter race, but also there seems to be one person who is looking like the favorite at this time.
- Metcalf is the favorite right now, and in many ways you could argue she is another example of blurring the line between lead and supporting, but Lady Bird really is Ronan’s movie at its core, and while Metcalf gets much screen time, she really is there more in support, so she passes the test. Regardless, Metcalf has racked up a lot of momentum with wins from the National Board of Review, Los Angeles Critics, and Chicago Critics, and nominations from the Golden Globes, SAG, and Satellite Awards. Combine all of this with Lady Bird‘s current pole position, and Metcalf probably should prepare to give a lot of speeches.
Mary J. Blige
- Runner up with the LA Critics, and holder of nominations from the Golden Globes, SAG, and Satellite Awards, Blige looks to be a bit ahead of the rest of the contenders, albeit while also still being quite behind Metcalf, but she will have plenty of chances to change that quickly. That said, the Academy has been reluctant in the past to nominate performances from Netflix originals like Mudbound.
These next four are likely fighting for three spots.
- A past winner who could benefit if The Shape of Water takes off. Spencer has a Golden Globe nomination, but not a Satellite Award or SAG nomination, which might show she doesn’t have quite the support of the other women. On the other hand, that doesn’t factor in her popularity with the Academy, or the fact that her movie is in a much better position to do well at the Oscars than all of these women outside of Metcalf.
- Hunter, like the two after her, has yet to win anything so far, but she did nab both a SAG and Satellite Award nomination. Still, she is lacking a Golden Globe nomination, as does her movie, The Big Sick. How The Big Sick does overall may ultimately impact if Hunter can pull of a nomination in this tight race.
- Like Hunter, Janney has yet to pick up a major win (though she has picked up a number of wins so far from some less publicized award sources), but she does have nominations in all three major award shows at this point (SAG, Golden Globes, and Satellite Awards). If Robbie can pull off some momentum, it can only help Janney, but this may also come down to how well I, Tonya does overall.
- Chau has pulled off SAG and Golden Globe nominations, but failed to get a Satellite Award. She is also the least likely to win of these women because of how relatively wobbly Downsizing has fared critically versus the other films, but she has the nominations, and if she can get through she could make some noise.
Super Stealth Contender: Tiffany Haddish
- This is a real long shot, but Haddish did win the New York Film Circle Award for her performance in Girls Trip, and is having a huge year, which could allow her to slip in for a nomination at the very end.
Best Supporting Actor
This is similar to the Best Supporting Actress race, except it is likely seven people competing for five spots, and there seems to be an even stronger frontrunner in this category at this time. So really the question of who gets nominated is far more interesting at this point than who will win.
- As dominant as Metcalf has looked, Dafoe has been even more dominant. With wins from the National Board of Review and the LA, New York, and Chicago Film Critics, as well as nominations at the Golden Globes, Satellite, and SAG awards, Dafoe is looking pretty unstoppable right now. The bigger awards could change this, but Dafoe seems likely heading towards his first Oscar win after a distinguished career.
- While not getting any wins, Jenkins does have a Golden Globe and SAG nomination to go along with being a part of a real Best Picture contender, The Shape of Water, but he has yet to win anything of note and failed to get a Satellite Award nomination. Still, really the case against Jenkins (or really any of the other contenders) is less about him and more about Dafoe’s dominance so far.
Sam Rockwell/Woody Harrelson
- One of these two is likely getting a nomination for their work in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and once in are a threat to win, but the question is, which one? Rockwell would seem to have the edge with a Runner-up prize from the LA Film Critics and Golden Globe, SAG, and Satellite nominations, but Harrelson also pulled off a SAG nomination, and is well-respected, which makes counting him out a risk. If somehow both do get a nomination, that will end any chance of either winning, so that is something to look out for.
- The data is not really on Plummer’s side so far, as he only has a Golden Globe nomination, but honestly his entire case is really going to be about more than his actual performance. The publicity he gets from replacing Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World, and being a prime example of Hollywood belatedly giving Spacey the middle finger after years of turning a blind eye to his terrible behavior and actions, is too big of a story for the Academy to resist. They love patting themselves on the back for stupid things, and this looks to be the latest example. Plus, you know, Christopher Plummer is awesome, so that helps.
- This is another example of blurring the line between lead and supporting, more than likely, but here we are. Hammer has a Golden Globe and Satellite Award nomination combined with his film being a top Best Picture contender. This is probably enough to get him a nomination, if only to help make Call Me by Your Name‘s nomination stats look better. Still, he did not get a SAG nomination, which at least says that his position as a potential winner is very unlikely.
- A SAG nomination keeps Carrell on the edge of this race, but he is definitely at the bottom at this time. If Battle of the Sexes had done better in theatres it might have helped his chances, but instead he is relying a lot on being a past nominee.
Best Original Screenplay
While there is not a definitive frontrunner, it does feel like four of the slots have already been decided, and really if I am being honest, the fifth one seems rather obvious.
- Winner of the Los Angeles Critics’ combined writing award and the Chicago Critics’ Original Screenplay award, this is looking like the best place for the academy to reward Jordan Peele for his script, but the lack of a Golden Globe nomination is a bit troubling.
- Winner of the National Board of Review’s Original Screenplay Award and the New York Film Critics Circle combined award, Paul Thomas Anderson’s script is looking like a huge contender, except for the fact that it too is missing a Golden Globe nomination.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- Runner-up at the LA Critics Awards and holder of a Golden Globe nomination, this script can make a lot of noise with a win that could be a big boost for its Best Picture odds.
- The biggest thing on this script’s side, besides its Golden Globe nomination, is that it is going to be a Best Picture contender unless something really weird happens. Over the past decade or so, the best indicator of a Best Picture winner is that it actually wins a writing award, so a nomination at the very least seems very likely for this movie.
The Shape of Water
- <Insert literally everything I just said about Lady Bird.>
Best Adapted Screenplay
This category feels much less settled compared to the Original category (which is normal, the other category is the weird one this year). There is only one script that is definitely looking good at this point, and one other that has a strong chance.
Call Me by Your Name
- Hey, look I could pretty much say the same thing about this film that I said about both Lady Bird and The Shape of Water, with the exception of the facts that, one, this script does not have a Golden Globe nomination, and two, it actually won the Adapted Screenplay Award from the Chicago Critics.
The Disaster Artist
- The National Board of Review winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, this script has a real chance to win come Oscar season if it can get a nomination. The only real issue is that the Adapted Screenplay side of the Academy is much more conservative than the Original Screenplay side in terms of the types of scripts that are generally nominated.
Best Animated Film
After last year’s banner year for Animation, this year is, well, less than desirable, and is likely to end up allowing Boss Baby to get a nomination, which is an argument in itself for scrapping this entire category. But the
Disney I mean animation award at this point only has two films worth talking about in terms of winning.
- After last year’s surprising (but deserving) snub for Finding Dory, Pixar is back with a vengeance in a year in which Disney proper has no films to speak of (funny how that always seems to happen, it is almost as if they are all part of the same company… oh wait). Coco is a strong addition to the Pixar library that, while not quite as strong as the absolute top Pixar films, is still a superb movie (I will get more into this when I get around to The Anticipated for this movie). Chances are Coco will take home the prize, and it has already racked up the top award from The New York and Chicago Critics and The National Board of Review, and has a Golden Globe nomination. The only slip up so far was merely being Runner-Up at the Los Angeles Critics Association Awards, but honestly that is just a blip, as Coco is winning this award. Still, this is an important moment, as this is the last original film from either Pixar or Disney for quite some time, and the Academy has been less than enthused about rewarding sequels in this category, so this could bring this Disney/Pixar run to an end… just kidding, I have no faith in that whatsoever.
- Likely to be this year’s Kubo and the Two Strings, as a movie that puts up a good fight against the Pixar/Disney machine before coming up short, this is the only film that could possibly dethrone Coco. It has managed one win at the LA Critics Awards, and has the pedigree, with one of the co-directors of past nominee The Secret of Kells as well as the star power of Angelina Jolie behind it. Not to mention its strong female characters and story about the importance of stories; they could allow it to catch fire as the Oscars get closer. The problem is that, well, Coco is better than The Breadwinner, and when push comes to shove that is going to be kind of hard to overcome.
Best Foreign Film
This race became both easier and more chaotic recently. The nine finalists for the Oscar shortlist have been announced, so we know what pool of films will ultimately be chosen from, but that also means we have lost some films that had done well, such as BPM (Beats Per Minute), which won the critics awards in New York and Los Angeles (where it tied for the win with Loveless), and much to my personal chagrin, Thelma, which is awesome and should have gotten to at least the short list. Also eliminated was Oscar favorite Michael Haneke’s Happy End. Still, the remaining films are of quite a high quality, and highlighted by one clear frontrunner as well as a couple of films that stand out more than the others.
- With the elimination of BPM, this is the clear leader at this point, with a win at the Chicago Film Critic Association Awards, nominations for both the Golden Globes and Satellite Awards, and, you now, the Palme d’Or from Cannes. After director Ruben Östlund’s surprising snub for 2015’s Force Majeure, he looks primed for a big Oscar win.
- Co-winner of the Los Angeles Critic’s Association Awards, and a Golden Globe and Satellite Award nominee, the Russian entry for the Oscars looks to at the very least have a leg up on the rest of the competition.
Near Contender: Foxtrot
- The National Board of Review winner is hurt by a lack of a Golden Globe nomination, but the Israeli entry does have a Satellite Award nomination and looks to have a real shot at a nomination.
For reference, the other six shortlist films are as follows, and each at this point have a chance to not only get nominated, but win. As last year showed, even if a film is dominant early on, as was the case with Toni Erdmann, it can still lose in the end to a film that fits the moment better, as was the case with last year’s winner, The Salesman.
- The Wound (South Africa)
- Of Body and Soul (Hungary)
- In The Fade (Germany)
- The Insult (Lebanon)
- Félicité (Senegal)
- A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
Look, just give Roger Deakins an Oscar already–unless you want to give it to Rachel Morrison for Mudbound. Then that is maybe acceptable. That is all in this category for now.
Okay, that is it for now. Oscarathon 2018 is just getting started, so keep an eye out for what is to come.