Oscarathon 2018: Oscar Forecast Megathread – The Big Six Categories

In All, Movies by DavidLeave a Comment

Now that Oscar nominations and some of the bigger awards have rolled out, true Oscar prognosticating can begin, as Oscarathon 2018 continues. Just like last year there are going to be four major posts that will be continuously updated after different points in the awards race. I’ll be adding new thoughts on each race as information comes out so you can see how each event changes the race as we go along. This first post is going to be covering the action for the six major categories at the Oscars.

Updates:

  • Best Picture and Directing categories updated for the results of the DGAs.
  • Best Picture category updated for the results of the WGA Awards
  • All categories updated for the results of the Satellite Awards
  • All categories updated for the results of BAFTA

BEST PICTURE

Things have gotten away from Lady Bird

Current Rankings

  1. The Shape of Water
  2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  3. Get Out
  4. Lady Bird
  5. Dunkirk
  6. Call Me By Your Name
  7. Darkest Hour
  8. Phantom Thread
  9. The Post

Will Win: The Shape of Water

Should Win: Call Me By Your Name is the best movie, but The Shape of Water or Get Out would be the most interesting

Should Have Been Nominated: Logan (I will die on this bridge)

Analysis

Initial Thoughts:

Seven of these movies ended up being rather easy to predict, but the final two were both a surprise. First, there was the fun addition of Phantom Thread, which ended up with the fourth most nominations of any film, with six (including obviously Best Picture). Then there was the less fun addition of Darkest Hour, which continued the trend of Hollywood loving films about Great Britain way more than it should because of same strange inferiority complex. Still, even if these two additions were a surprise, it is hard to say any film that got left out truly feels like a snub (well, of the films that had a chance to get nominated, because Logan should have been nominated, but whatever). The biggest surprise, I suppose, was that I, Tonya got left out, considering how much momentum it had been building; but at the same time it never really felt like a film that would be the top film on enough people’s list. Ditto for The Big Sick, Mudbound, and Molly’s Game. The Florida Project, meanwhile, was simply too small to really break through, and conversely Wonder Woman might have suffered from the exact opposite problem (though the film’s zero nominations in total was a huge surprise, as you would think voters would want to honor it in some way, even if it was just like a VFX nomination).

Real Contenders

The Shape of Water

At this point there are only two films that really make sense to win Best Picture, and each has a lot going for it. At this point The Shape of Water has the slight edge. First off, it had the clear lead in nominations with 13 (including the vital Editing and Writing nominations), which is the second most of all time. This means this film is going to be all over the ballot, and it could simply sweep through most of the awards in a way no other film this year can. Next, The Shape of Water won the PGA Award. The PGA Awards have successfully predicted the Best Picture winner 18 out of the 28 years they have existed, which is okay, but in the last decade it has picked eight of the last ten winners correctly. More importantly, the PGA’s voting rules are the most similar to Oscar voting, so the results for each are achieved in very similar ways. The fact that director Guillermo del Toro is the favorite for the DGA is also a great help. The fact that The Shape of Water has been honored with nominations from 12 of the 13 guilds, which is more than any other film this year, further bolsters its case as the frontrunner. Also, don’t discount the fact that this movie is a love letter to Hollywood hidden behind a fantastical love story, and Hollywood can only resist movies that talk about how great it is so much (considering I have complained about this trend in the past, I will just say it bothers me less with this movie because it is simply used as texture for the most part and because the fantasy genre needs all the help it can get if it isn’t The Lord of the Rings).

But for the many positives for The Shape of Water, there are also many red flags. The first being, this is not the kind of film that the Academy tends to award even with all the Hollywood love. It is a movie about a love story between a woman and a merman, for crying out loud. This might push many voters just a bit too far. Then there is the fact that, while it has 13 nominations, it is probably the favorite in only two of those categories: Directing (which is a stacked category, so that may not mean much ultimately) and Score. So, much like La La Land last year, the gaudy nomination number may not mean as much as you might think (though to be fair, La La Land still won a six Oscars, which was the most of any movie last year, so even if The Shape of Water loses Best Picture it is likely winning more than two Oscars). Next, we can’t ignore the fact that the two times the PGA has been wrong in the last two years happened to be the last two years, which could signal that the Producers Guild no longer has the pulse of the Academy at large, especially since the Academy voter base has expanded so much in diverse ways the past couple of years (that, and you have to wonder if the the effects of the PGAs happening so much earlier than the Oscars is finally starting to mean something). There is also the nagging fact that The Shape of Water failed to get a SAG nomination, and the last film to win Best Picture without at least a SAG nomination was Braveheart in 1996 (this though was kind of true of a lot of places, as Braveheart came on strong without support of, like, anyone but the Oscars, and continues to be one of the most baffling Oscar winners of all time). Still, the fact that this film has managed to go along relatively backlash-free, other than weirdly being similar to a viral short film from the Netherlands, means it might end up winning by default.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Just like the other co-contender, this film has a lot going for it. The biggest being its wins at the SAG Awards and the Golden Globes (where it won over The Shape of Water). It also benefited from a win at the Casting Society of America guild awards. This gives it two guild wins, which could be key in a year that is looking to be as close as this year is. It picked up the third most Oscar nominations with seven, including the ever-important Editing and Screenplay nominations. It is the favorite to win three of its nominations: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and most importantly, Best Original Screenplay. Not to beat the same drum over and over again, but it cannot be overstated how important winning a screenplay Oscar has become, especially starting this century. Only three films have won Best Picture without winning a screenplay Oscar since 2001, and one of them was in 2011, which was The Artist, which was a silent movie, sooooo that is kind of a big exception (especially considering 2011 is one of the weakest film years of all fucking time). So the fact that Three Billboards is the favorite to win the Screenplay Oscar over The Shape of Water is kind of a big deal. There is also the fact that this film could really benefit from the events of the moment, as a film about a grieving mother seeking justice for the brutal murder of her daughter is going to resonate strongly right now.

But at the same time there is a lot going against this movie. The first being the strange exclusion of Martin McDonagh from the Best Director race. There have only been four movies to ever win Best Picture without a Best Director nomination: Wings, Grand Hotel, Driving Miss Daisy, and Argo. None of these really fit the same profile as Three BillboardsArgo would be the closest, I suppose, but even that is a stretch considering Ben Affleck won virtually every other major directing award possible with Argo while McDonagh is not likely to win any. The PGA loss, even with recent history, is not a great sign, but really the screenwriting advantage is so large that if things were to stay as they are now, I still would favor Three Billboards. The thing is, though, thing are not likely to stay the same, and unlike The Shape of Water, the chance of a huge backlash coming to Three Billboards is quite high. Because while everyone might celebrate the part of the story that is about a mother seeking justice for her murdered daughter, they are also going to likely be increasingly distressed by the film’s desire to redeem a racist cop and how all of its minority characters are basically props in the movie. There is a lot of Crash potential from this film, only imagine if everyone realized their issues with Crash before it won an Oscar. That is not a place you want to be even, if Three Billboards is a much better movie than Crash, and if the script and acting are so good it may paint over any real issues (of course, I also think this film could benefit for the same reason Crash did as a movie: voters picking it because they think it makes them seem more progressive than it actually does). This backlash potential is why if I had to pick one favorite right now, I would go with The Shape of Water, but either way one of these films is going to be an historical anomaly.

Flawed, but Looming Contenders

Lady Bird

Dunkirk

It could be argued that Lady Bird deserves to be in its own category, because of its status earlier in the race as the frontrunner, but at this point it has lost enough steam that its profile looks far more similar to Dunkirk than anyone might realize. Both of these films got a respectable number of nominations. Dunkirk got the second most of any film, with eight, while Lady Bird got five. Both films got nominated for Best Director, which is an already mentioned requirement to win Best Picture. But things start to fall apart as we go further along. Dunkirk got a BAFTA nomination while Lady Bird did not. Lady Bird got a Screenplay nomination, but not an Editing one, while Dunkirk was the exact opposite. This is not good, as only ten films have won without an Editing nomination, with the last to do so being Birdman, which campaigned around the fact that the film was one long take, so it would have been kind of silly to give it an Editing nomination. So really, the last time a film won without an Editing nom was Ordinary People in 1980. It is even bleaker for films without a Screenplay nomination, as only seven movies have won without one, and most of those happened in the first twenty years of the Oscars’ existence. Since 1948, it has only happened twice, with the last one being Titanic twenty years ago. So this is not good for either of these films, especially seeing as neither has the wins to make up for a troubling historical indicator in the way that Three Billboards and The Shape of Water do. A surprise win could change things for either of these films (especially Lady Bird, which could still win Best Director), but right now they are on the outside looking in. Still, considering the two films above it are also lacking vital historical indicators, count these films out at your own peril (especially Lady Bird, whose profile looks a lot like Moonlight‘s did last year at this point).

Cultural Phenomenon

Get Out

This film doesn’t have quite the indicators to put it in the same category as Lady Bird and Dunkirk, but its has a lot going for it that makes it impossible to really count out. Get Out only got got four nominations, but all of them were in major categories (including three for Jordan Peele), and it has an outside chance of winning all of them, which could be crucial if Jordan Peele was able to win for either Director or Original screenplay. Most importantly, though, there is no film that has been more culturally significant this year than Get Out. How much that ends up mattering is hard to say, but to act as if that means nothing when this film came out in February of last year and still is relevant come Oscar season would be foolish. Add in the film’s $250 million plus box office return, and this movie is the one people are likely to remember above any other film ten to twenty years from now when talking about movies in 2017. The problem is that Get Out has simply not been able to win enough to be considered more than a fringe contender, especially when combined with the fact that it missed out on a crucial Editing nomination. A SAG win would have really helped this film, and made it feel like a real contender, but now unless Peele can pull off a DGA upset, this movie just won’t have a chance to win in a way that can turn this race around, especially without a BAFTA nomination.

Wild Cards

Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread forced itself into this conversation by getting six nominations, which is more than Get Out or Lady Bird. There is a high level of support for this film, and it has a good chance to be one of the films that could win multiple times during the Oscars. It got a vital Directing nomination, so this film is the definition of a sleeper pick at this point. Still, this is a real long shot. This movie got neither a Screenplay nor Editing nomination, and the only film to ever win Best Picture without either was Hamlet in 1948 (keep in mind, the Editing Oscar wasn’t added until the seventh Oscars).  It too is lacking in a signature win that makes it look like a real threat. Plus, while it might win multiple Oscars, they are likely to be in categories that don’t have the clout of the bigger categories. Also, this film may have simply started too late with its late December wide release. Still, this is the last film that there is conceivably a universe in which I could see this film winning, so it can’t be ignored completely.

Thought They Would Be Contenders

Call Me By Your Name

The Post

Things started out so well for both of these movies, which both at times were in the frontrunner or close to frontrunner position at the beginning of the awards season, but things have just gone against both films lately. Call Me By Your Name still managed four nominations, but never could build on its early season buzz to the point where it may have been lucky to pull off a nomination at all. The Post stumbled to only two nominations, even with the clout of Spielberg, Streep, and Hanks and the fact that a movie about the importance of a free press is kind of a big deal right now. These films deserved their nominations (well, Call Me By Your Name and the second half of The Post did at least), but this is as far as either is going.

Good for you, Joe Wright

Darkest Hour

Sigh. I am a huge fan of Joe Wright, so good for him making another movie that got nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, but man, I wish he would go back to making more things like Hanna, and fewer things like this, which is basically another chance for the Academy to fawn over how much it loves England. Anyhow, this film is the definition of lucky to be nominated, and has no shot of winning, so moving along.

DGA Awards:

Guillermo del Toro’s win has put The Shape of Water firmly in the driver’s seat for Best Picture. The DGA and PGA have matched winners 21 times since the PGA Awards’ inception. Those films went on to win Best Picture 16 out of the 21 times. Maybe not completely dominant numbers, but pretty damn close, and certainly a good omen for The Shape of Water. The only times the Best Picture winner did not match the winner when the two guilds agreed with each other were Apollo 13 (seriously, how did this lose to Braveheart?), Saving Private Ryan (Shakespeare in Love gets way too much hate for this), Brokeback Mountain (fucking Crash), Gravity (this one is almost cheating, seeing as this only happened because of a PGA tie, which probably should have just gone to eventual winner 12 Years a Slave), and of course La La Land (don’t mess with Moonlight). Still, it is hard to overlook that The Shape of Water profiles a lot like La La Land (both have tons of nominations, but are favored in very few of them), and preferential ballots could really change the game here if the film isn’t a consistent top three pick. The Shape of Water is backlash free at this point, unlike La La Land, whose negative reactions reached supernova levels by the time voting happened; so this year’s frontrunner should breath easier, even if its lack of success in the screenplay category continues to be troubling.

Satellite Awards:

Three Billboards picks up a needed win that helps stabilize its momentum and keep it as the next best bet after The Shape of Water. It likely needs a BAFTA win for this win to really signify anything, but this is good news as is it shows that The Shape of Water can’t quite lock down its spot as the favorite.

WGA Awards:

So take this with a bit of a grain of salt as Three Billboards was ineligible because of silly WGA rules that requires films to be made under the under the auspices of the Guild’s Minimum Basic Agreement to get nominated (*facepalm*), but Get Out pulled out the Original Screenplay Award, and now looks to be the new tepid favorite for that Oscar when combined with the backlash Three Billboards is currently facing. This positions Get Out to pull a Spotlight and win Best Picture while also only winning one other Oscar given how vital a Screenplay Oscar has proven to be for winning Best Picture in recent years. Now that doesn’t make Get Out the new favorite in this category as The Shape of Water still has the most going for it (and is still backlash free) and Three Billboards still needs to lose at a place like BAFTA to prove the backlash has had a real affect on the race, but at this point it seems like only three movies have a shot to win, and Get Out is no firmly one of them. It is entirely possible that this years race could come down to second and third place votes much like it did last year, and if that is the case Get Out has a real shot of pulling off a rather substantial upset at this point. Meanwhile, Call Me By Your Name has solidified itself as the clear favorite for a Best Adapted Screenplay, which if nothing else positions it to have a coveted screenplay Oscar, which means there might be a universe in which it pulls off a win especially if it manages to pull off enough first place votes. BAFTA now will offer the key piece of information needed to figure out where all of this is truly going at this point.

BAFTA Awards:

Okay so this is a much bigger deal as Three Billboards pulls of the victory and earns five wins overall including in Best Original Screenplay. Now this isn’t the most surprising result considering the British ties of this film, but it is still a significant win, and solidifies that this race is a toss up between Three Billboards and The Shape of Water (which earned three BAFTAs itself). Three Billboards brings a Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA win along with a high chance of winning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar while The Shape of Water brings a Critics’s Choice Award Win, PGA, and DGA win plus near record number of nominations. Three Billboards is going to have to become just the fifth film to win without a Best Director nomination while The Shape of Water is going to have to be the first film since Braveheart in 1996 to win without a SAG nomination while also being the rare film to win without a Screenplay Oscar. This is about as close as things have been at this point probably ever with only Gravity and 12 Years a Slave somewhat comparing in recent memory. The big question now as voting is set to begin on the 20th is whether any Three Billboards backlash will cost it the consistency it likely needs to win. It may likely be the film with the most 1st place votes, but it feels like right now The Shape of Water has much more 2nd and 3rd place votes, and that may be the difference. There is an outside shot that Get Out could still win here, but it really could have used a BAFTA win in Screenplay to make this feel more than a longshot.

DIRECTING

I think we may have all forgotten about Christopher Nolan.

Current Rankings

  1. Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
  2. Jordan Peele, Get Out
  3. Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  4. Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
  5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

Will Win: Guillermo del Toro

Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson

Should Have Been Nominated: Joachim Trier, Thelma or since the Academy doesn’t care about Norwegian cinema, Luca Guadagnino

Analysis

Initial Thoughts:

This was a year that it really felt like we would get a match between the Oscar and DGA nominations, but as with most years it was not meant to be. The surprise, however, was who was left out, as Martin McDonagh fell prey to the directors branch’s ambivalence to writer-directors, or just that one in particular, as PTA got his spot instead. While this didn’t shake up this category too much in terms of who is going to win it, as McDonagh was likely at best fourth in the rankings even with a nomination, it does deal a serious blow to Three Billboards‘s nomination, and meant that Greta Gerwig became the fifth woman ever nominated for a Directing Oscar and Jordan Peele became the fifth African-American man to ever get nominated for an Oscar in this category. Combine that with Hispanic director Guillermo del Toro, and this is one of the most diverse group of directing nominees ever. Not to mention the added historic nature of this being Christopher Nolan’s first directing nomination (which is ridiculous), and a return for Paul Thomas Anderson to his rightful place in the nomination circle. There are some quibbles to be made in this category, but the only real complaint is the exclusion of Call Me By Your Name‘s Luca Guadagnino, who deserved way more consideration for a nomination than it felt like he got in the end. Also, it seems that as much as the Academy loves Steven Spielberg, even it has its limits on how much it is willing to award Spielberg for merely fine-to-good instead of spectacular work.

Leader of the Pack

Guillermo del Toro

This race has been trending del Toro’s way ever since the Golden Globes where he picked up the win, and then has only gotten stronger after a win at the Critics’ Choice Awards, coupled with The Shape of Water‘s ascendance to Best Picture favorite. Add in DGA and BAFTA nominations, and there is a good chance this is del Toro’s year. Plus, one has to wonder if voters have been waiting for del Toro to dip his toes back into prestige filmmaking for the first time since Pan’s Labyrinth so they could somewhat retrospectively reward him for a movie that has gained more and more admiration in the decade-plus since it was released. At worst, it certainly can’t hurt, and who knows when del Toro will bother doing this again, so voters may want to reward him now. So del Toro is definitely the favorite right now to break through in this category, and if nothing else, he is definitely more of a favorite in this category than his movie is in the Best Picture category.

The Narrative Is There

Greta Gerwig

Early in the season this looked a lot stronger for Gerwig. Lady Bird was the frontrunner for Best Picture and she was winning early directing honors, but lately all that has changed, and she has found herself moving backwards instead of forwards. A snubbing by BAFTA further hurt her chances, and del Toro and arguably Nolan have surged ahead of her. Still, the narrative for Gerwig is just too strong to be ignored. In a year in which Hollywood is looking to show its solidarity and support for women it could go a long way to honor as many women as possible, especially in a category like this one that has only had five female nominees and one winner in history. The image of Gerwig accepting an Oscar would be a strong one to send, and you wonder how proactive the voters plan to be this year to make a statement about the state of diversity in their industry. If nothing else, this race is primed to shift int Gerwig’s favor. Most importantly, she will have a chance at the DGAs to really flip the script for this award, so be on the look out for this race to be upended.

Lurking in the Background

Christopher Nolan

It is kind of hard to believe that someone with Nolan’s clout is being overlooked, but that is where we are at this point. The historic nature of Peele’s and Gerwig’s nominations obscured the fact that Nolan was finally able to break through after years of being strangely snubbed by the directing branch of the Academy. Nolan has consistently found himself behind del Toro, Gerwig, and really even Peele in terms of hype this whole season, even though other than del Toro, no one was more assured of a nomination than him. The same could be said of his movie, as Dunkirk has the second most Oscar nominations of any film this year, and no one is really noticing (except for me, I guess). So the point is that Nolan is a much stronger candidate to win here than it might first appear, considering how little he is being talked about, especially if any sort of The Shape of Water backlash emerges. His win at AACTA proved he can win a somewhat major award, and well, you have to wonder if the Academy as a whole feel compelled to award Nolan now that more than the directors finally have a chance to weigh in on him.

Not Impossible

Jordan Peele

This feels really unlikely, as honestly out of the five nominees Peele’s direction in Get Out is probably the weakest. Not bad, but the strength of that film was definitely more the script and the acting than the directing (though Peele’s influence in both of those areas is also immense). Still, you wonder if the voters are going to look for a way to honor him in some way for how much Get Out had his fingerprints all over it, and this may be the best category in which to do so. This way they could give del Toro the Best Picture win, McDonagh a Screenplay Oscar, and then Peele the Directing Oscar. Still, such tidy splits like that rarely happen, and so really Peel’s chance of winning is going to come down to how much momentum Get Out can get towards becoming a real contender in the Best Picture race. But considering what a long shot the success of Get Out has been throughout its entire run, it would make perfect sense for it to pull off another upset and get Peele a win here.

I Mean, He Does Deserve to Win at Some Point

Paul Thomas Anderson

Look, it is great he got this nomination, and if it was just me picking I would probably pick PTA out of this group (just barely over del Toro), but alas, I have no say in this, so it is hard to fathom PTA winning, especially without DGA and BAFTA nominations. At the same time, no one expected this nomination so stranger things have happened (like Braveheart or Ordinary People winning Best Picture).

DGA Awards:

Del Toro’s win makes him an overwhelming favorite to win the Oscar at this point. Yanking words from last year… There have only been eight directors to ever win the DGA Award and then not win the Oscar: Rob Marshall (Chicago), Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather), Anthony Harvey (The Lion in Winter), Ben Affleck (Argo), Ron Howard (Apollo 13), and Steven Spielberg (The Color Purple)… and Robert Rossen (All the King’s Men), sort of, because the wonky non-calendar-year schedule of the first and second DGA awards allowed for the man that beat Rossen for the Oscar, Joseph L. Manckiewicz (A Letter to Three Wives), to win the DGA for the first year while Rossen won for the second year before both men faced off during the same Academy Awards. Affleck, Howard, and Spielberg are also unique in that they are the only three to win the DGA and then somehow not even be nominated for an Oscar. Only Rossen, Coppola, Lee, and Affleck also won the Golden Globe and failed to win. So a lot is on del Toro’s side, especially considering the PGAs and DGAs agreed on their winners, which in the past has led to the director winning 18 times out of the 21 times that has happened. Two of those losses were Howard and Affleck, who as mentioned were not ultimately nominated, so the only real example of this happening (a PGA and DGA winner nominated for the Oscar but not winning) is when Rob Marshall lost in 2002 to Roman Polanski (look, Hollywood could have at least not been so damn happy about this at the time) for Polanski’s work on The Pianist. So del Toro at this point is the most sure win for The Shape of Water to pick up, outside of maybe Score. Everyone loves del Toro and this feels like his time, and would make it three times in the last four years that a Mexican director wins the Best Director Oscar, which is certainly a way to stick it to Trump, always a good time to Hollywood’s mind. The only real threat to del Toro’s win is honestly if Peele or (especially) Gerwig pick up an overwhelming wave of support and some terrible scandal hits del Toro. Otherwise, get that speech ready, Guillermo.

Satellite Awards:

So this is to be taken with as super amount of skepticism as the Satellite Awards often do whatever the hell they want with this category, but this is the first time in a while that del Toro has lost. Instead the prize went to Jordan Peele. It is doubtful this is enough to overcome del Toro, but combined with the WGA win it shows how much momentum Get Out has right now before BAFTA takes it all away because it failed to properly nominate the movie. If nothing else this makes Peele look more and more like the alternative to del Toro if for some reason the Academy changes its mind, but honestly that is very unlikely to happen.

BAFTA Awards:

And we return to del Toro. That was a nice detour, but this award is locked up. Del Toro is going to win this unless something very weird happens during the voting period. It is unclear how much of an impact that will have on the Best Picture race, but this is one of the few awards you can pick with confidence come Oscar nights. As like we are in the territory of only Ang Lee has won all the things delt Toro has won and then failed to win come Oscar times assuming a director actually got nominated for an Oscar in the same year. So like not completely unheard of, but ummm yeah no.

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

And you wonder why she is frontrunner? Who is messing with that?

Current Rankings

  1. Francis McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
  3. Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
  4. Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
  5. Meryl Streep, The Post

Will Win: Francis McDormand

Should Win: Francis McDormand (there is a real shift happening in my thinking about her movie, so this might change)

Should Have Been Nominated: Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game

Analysis

Initial Thoughts:

Yawn, not much to talk about here. This was the five women everyone pretty much expected to get nominated. The people you could argue got bumped out were Jessica Chastain and Judi Dench, which is a bit of a bummer, but it is hard to say either of them deserved a spot over the five that nominated. These are all performances that could win, and no one would bat an eye.

Decisive Favorite

Francis McDormand

This race is over (honestly, all the acting races probably are). McDormand has picked up three of the four Oscar precursors with wins at the Critics’ Choice Awards, Golden Globes, and SAG. All that is left to change things is BAFTA, and it is really hard to see how that will be any different. McDormand is beloved by the industry, and her victory speeches so far have been a delight. The only thing that could affect her at this point is if a major backlash for Three Billboards hits, and even that seems dubious, as it is not like the La La Land backlash stopped Emma Stone from winning last year. McDormand is simply too good in this movie to be stopped at this point, so she should probably start getting a speech ready now.

Ready to Take Advantage of the Backlash

Saoirse Ronan

Before McDormand started winning everything, Ronan was looking like a favorite to pick up her first Oscar in her third try. She won awards early in the season, and did win Best Comedy/Musical Actress at the Golden Globes. The tide has turned against Ronan, though, much like it has turned against her movie. Plus, Ronan is still quite young. She would be the fourth youngest women to ever win the Best Actress Oscar, and she would take over from Sam Smith as the youngest person alive that is an Oscar winner. All this means that Ronan is likely to have plenty of chances to win an Oscar in the future, or at least that is likely what many voters are going to think, so Ronan is probably going to be denied again, unless any kind of Three Billboards backlash somehow affects McDormand (it won’t).

Sally Hawkins

While Hawkins doesn’t have the early track record of wins like Ronan does, what she does have is being a part of the current favorite to win Best Picture. Plus, the consistency of being a clear nominee on everyone’s list helps make her a threat to win. Hawkins gives such a different performance than everyone else where she has to compensate for not being able to speak in the film with a master class in physical and emotive acting with just her face and body. The problem is, she has already come up short against McDormand on multiple occasions, and it is just hard to see this turning around for her. But if The Shape of Water gets a little sweep happy with voters and McDormand slips, Hawkins could get a surprise victory.

In Another Year

Margot Robbie

You have to wonder if in another, weaker year, Robbie would be coasting to victory, but instead she likely finds herself at best second and more than likely fourth in the current race. Robbie does have the distinction of beating McDormand recently in a semi-major ceremony with an AACTA win, but honestly, considering AACTA’s understandable Australian slant, it is hard to put too much stock into such a win. If I, Tonya had gotten an Best Picture nomination, Robbie’s chances might be higher, but right now it is hard to see her jumping above Ronan and Hawkins, let alone McDormand.

Umm, It’s Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep

I may just never change this category header, because at this point Streep is likely getting an Oscar nomination every year forever, unless she just takes a year off or she stars in a film like Lions for Lambs again. Still, this is the weakest position I have seen Streep in for a role like this in years, as she is the clearly in the back of the pecking order at this point. She is still Meryl Streep, so you know, never say never, but I would be genuinely shocked if she won this year.

Satellite Awards:

McDormand has fallen in a major race to Sally Hawkins. The Satellite Awards do tend to have a good track record with the acting categories so this means something. Hawkins moves up past Ronan now as the most likely person to supplant McDormand if McDorman stumbles at the finish line. McDormand is still the favorite, but for once looks vulnerable. BAFTA will go a long way to saying if this new development actually means anything.

BAFTA Awards:

After a blip at the Satellite Awards, McDormand is back to her winning ways, and completed the major precursors sweep. So she is heading towards a victory and this can be safely check off without any real fuss.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Well, my soul has died again.

Current Ranking

  1. Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
  2. Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
  3. Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
  4. Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
  5. Denzel Washington, Roman J. Isreal, Esq.

Will Win: Gary Oldman

Should Win: Umm, any of Day-Lewis, Chalamet, and Kaluuya would be better, but I guess I will go with Chalamet

Should Have Been Nominated: I mean, if you are going to nominate Gary Oldman, then you really should also nominate James Franco and not cherry pick your moral outrage. But once again… fine: Claes Bang, The Square or Hugh Jackman, Logan (it’s a really nice bridge)

Analysis

Initial Thoughts:

The other shoe dropped on James Franco, whose sexual misconduct allegations almost certainly cost him a nomination. It had seemed like Tom Hanks was destined to take Franco’s place, but instead it was Denzel Washington that benefited from the Franco omission. Otherwise, this category went true to form, as the other four top performances had pretty much solidified by the time the nominations were announced.

Frontrunner with a Skeleton in his Closet 

Gary Oldman

Like McDormand, Oldman is a resounding favorite right now. He has won three of the four Oscar precursors, and also has the benefit of being a beloved actor who is still searching for his first Oscar. Plus, the Academy continues to feel it is more impressive to recreate an already existing person (especially if they are British) than to reward people that play completely new people (if you can’t tell, this annoys the hell out of me). The fact that his movie got a Best Picture nomination further cemented his place as overwhelming favorite. There is just one little problem, and it has nothing to do with the merit of Oldman’s work, but instead his off-camera actions. Oldman has had a troubled history with women that led to some vicious domestic abuse allegations from his ex-wife, as well as his history of saying some questionable comments in defense of other people’s questionable comments. Considering Franco got snubbed and may be in the process of getting somewhat blackballed for his actions (that all remains to be seen, but it is in play) the fact that Oldman is mostly getting a pass for his past actions is not a good look.

It is reminiscent of last year where Casey Affleck was able to stave off his sexual abuse allegations long enough to still get an Oscar (though thankfully he realized it might not be the best idea to then have the audacity to hand out this year’s Best Actress winner), while Nate Parker’s award ambitions were shattered by similar allegations (as well as the added level of racial implications that applied there). Still, it does feel like everyone is trying to ignore Oldman’s dark past so they can give him an Oscar everyone agrees he deserves (well, except Twitter, which is having none of this shit). It is hard to say how much of an impact this will have, but now that Franco is not around to draw away criticism, you have to wonder if things might start heating up for Oldman, and once it does, you have to wonder if Oldman will be able to stop himself from saying something else that is, well, quite dumb. Ultimately, I doubt this will affect Oldman that much, though; or at the very least we will have no way of knowing if it affects him until he literally loses at the Oscars, because there is no way in hell that he is losing at BAFTA for portraying the role of Winston Churchill.

Farewell, Mr. Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis

If Oldman is thwarted due to his past, the person best equipped to take his place is probably Daniel Day-Lewis. That’s what being considered the best actor alive does for you, especially when this is supposedly the last performance of your career, so people might feel inclined to award him as he goes off into retirement. Still, Day-Lewis has been rather shut out of the entire awards season, so it would be quite the jump from winning nothing to winning the Oscar. At the same time, if anyone can do it, Day-Lewis can.

If The Academy Wants to Really Make a Statement

Timothée Chalamet

Chalamet was the early favorite before Oldman went on his impressive run, and is the clear favorite of Twitter (which certainly helped Washington to some degree last year)… but man, he is young. He is the third youngest man ever nominated for this award, and if he was to win, he would be the youngest winner by more than seven years. Hell, he would be only the second man to win in his 20s and the second youngest man to win an acting award period. The youngest man alive to have a Best Actor trophy is Eddie Redmayne, who is 36, 14 years older than Chalamet. Chalamet would also become the youngest Oscar winner alive if he was able to win (even if Ronan also won, as he is a more than a year younger than her). The Academy just doesn’t like to award men below the age of 30 in this category; even in the supporting category there have only been four winners younger than 30. So this is likely to be viewed as a super “not his time” moment, especially with heavyweights like Oldman and Day-Lewis above him. If Call Me By Your Name could have stayed more prominent in the Best Picture race, Chalamet’s case might be better. But really the only way that Chalamet is winning at this point is if the Oldman backlash hits a critical level and the Academy decides it is time to start honoring the new guard of actors that may be more socially responsible than those in the past.

Daniel Kaluuya

Everything I said about Chalamet could more or less be applied to Kaluuya. Sure, Kaluuya is older, but he would still be the youngest winner in this category by about a year, and he has the added benefit of allowing the Academy to represent the new guard with someone other than a white man. Kaluuya also benefits because there is a universe in which Get Out could win Best Picture, which can only help him. Still, the problem is that Kaluuya was kind of a late charger in this category, but unlike Chalamet he didn’t pick up early wins that could bolster his case, so he would have to be like Day-Lewis and go from winning virtually nothing to winning the biggest prize, only without the benefit of being Daniel Day-Lewis. Not impossible, but it is going to be tough.

Hello Again, Mr. Washington

Denzel Washington

There is not much to say here. Washington is a bit of a surprise nomination. This is likely partially an apology for not giving him the Oscar last year, but there isn’t really much a chance that Washington could actually win, other than the fact that he is Denzel Washington, so let’s just move along. Drink up this year, Denzel!

Satellite Awards:

Another award show, and another win for Gary Oldman. No sign of any backlash at the moment so he is likely still heading to his first Oscar. Moving along.

BAFTA Awards:

Surprising no one Gary Oldman won an Oscar for playing Winston Churchill from a British Award show. So with that he swept every major precursor award show and the Satellite Award. The only thing stopping Oldman is if voters simply refuse to vote for him because of his past, and well there is no real way to know if that is going to happen so he is pretty much a lock at this point, and should be preparing for his first Oscar victory speech.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

That stare could kill.

Current Ranking

  1. Allison Janney, I, Tonya
  2. Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
  3. Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
  4. Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
  5. Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Will Win: Allison Janney

Should Win: Laurie Metcalf

Should Have Been Nominated: Holly Hunter, The Big Sick

Analysis

Initial Thoughts:

Phantom Thread‘s shocking charge for Best Picture all started with the surprise nomination of Lesley Manville. Manville had gotten a BAFTA nomination, but this still managed to catch people off guard. The rest of the race went to form, but in the process, both Holly Hunter (for The Big Sick) and Hong Chau (for Downsizing) found themselves knocked out of a nomination, which is a shame, but someone was always going to be left out when there were so many performances this year worthy of praise, and for the most part were actually supporting performances.

Hey Look, an Actual Supporting Performance that is Favored to Win

Allison Janney

First off, seriously, the category is actually being used correctly, hurray! Janney, like the other acting favorites, is in a commanding position after winning three of the four Oscar precursors, and this is her race to lose. Admittedly, I, Tonya not getting a Best Picture nomination is not great, especially now that we have expanded the field of nominees, as most of the time if a film has a performance worthy of winning an Oscar it gets a Best Picture nomination, because voters are lazy (or, I guess, a lot of times those films are likely good). Only six out of thirty-two people have managed to win a Best Acting Oscar of any kind without a Best Picture nomination since the Best Picture field expanded eight years ago. Still, Janney has won too much to suggest that she is not likely to buck this trend, especially considering 1) she is a respected actress that many will be happy to see win this award, and 2) frankly the Academy’s record on voting for the movies that Best Actress performances are in is, well, not all that great, especially compared to their male counterparts (just look at this year, with Darkest Hour‘s BP nomination). So there is a much higher chance that a woman can pull this feat off than there would be if it was a man in the frontrunner position. So while Janney is in the (comparatively) weakest position of these four monster favorites, that still doesn’t change the fact that this is her race to lose.

…She Should Be the Favorite

Laurie Metcalf

Before Janney went on her impressive win streak, this award was Metcalf’s to lose, and well, it really still should be, but this is where we are, because once again playing a real person is always going to be better than playing someone new. Metcalf is the one person in this category that pushes the boundaries of what a supporting performance is, but Lady Bird is Ronan’s movie at its core, so Metcalf gets a pass. Still, the extra screen time is a benefit certainly. If Lady Bird can find itself back in the Best Picture race, Metcalf could still win this, and if I had to pick the person with the best chance to stop one of the four monster favorites right now in the acting categories, it would be Metcalf.

Netflix Breakthrough

Mary J. Blige

Netflix wasn’t able to get a Best Picture nomination, but it did break through this year with both an Adapted Screenplay nomination (where it could honestly win) and this Best Supporting Actress nomination. If nothing else, this shows that the Oscars aren’t going to ridiculously punish people for being in a Netflix movie, even if a Best Picture nomination may be some time away. Blige has been around the top of this race the entire season, and while she has fallen behind both Janney and Metcalf, she is still best positioned as of now to pull off an upset if one is to occur. Still, you wonder if the next obstacle for Netflix is going to be actually winning at the Oscars, and not simply getting nominations, which makes it hard to view Blige as a real threat to win here.

Welcome Back, Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer

Hello again! Spencer returns with another nomination, but honestly she feels heavily like a nomination that helps pad The Shape of Water‘s nomination numbers, but has no chance of winning. Sure, if The Shape of Water sweeps or near-sweeps she could win, but that is about the only way she could possibly win, and even then that feels unlikely.

Happy To Be There

Lesley Manville

I mean, it is a nice story and all, and Manville was deserving of a nomination, but she is not winning, and is likely going to just have as good as time as possible over the next month.

Satellite Awards:

Well okay then, Lois Smith picks up a surprising win for her role in Marjorie Prime, which really says nothing for this race except that maybe Allison Janney isn’t a complete lock… maybe. Though there is one thing to note. Lady Bird seems to be falling out of most of its races, and that makes this the only category it could pick up an Oscar for. It seems shocking that a film that was once the favorite would end up with nothing (not impossible, but shocking) so even if Janney wins BAFTA don’t be surprised if a Laurie Metcalfe curveball is thrown come Oscar time.

BAFTA Awards:

Janney returns to her winning ways, and completes the major precursor sweep like the rest if the acting favorites. The only way she is losing at this point is if the Academy decides they have to get an Oscar to Lady Bird in some way.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

I feel you, Willem. I thought you had this too.

Current Ranking

  1. Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
  3. Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
  4. Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
  5. Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Will Win: Sam Rockwell

Should Win: Willem Dafoe

Should Have Been Nominated: Patrick Stewart, Logan (dying… on… this… bridge) or fine Armie Hammer Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name

Analysis

Initial Thoughts:

My dream of a Hail Mary Patrick Stewart nomination has ended, and I am sad, but this category went pretty much as expected. The only question had been whether Harrelson or Hammer would get that final nomination spot, and it ended up being Harrelson. That’s a shame for Hammer, who probably deserved a nomination, but at the same time his co-star Michael Stuhlbarg likely deserved it even more for delivering what may be one of the best monologues in film history. Still, Harrelson was deserving too, especially seeing as he gives what is actually the best supporting actor performance in Three Billboards.

Unexpected Frontrunner

Sam Rockewell

The biggest surprise of the four acting favorites. Rockwell went from being in a race with Harrelson over who would get this nomination to such a presumptive favorite to win that Harrelson got nominated anyhow. Like the rest of the favorites in these potentially really boring acting races, Rockwell has won three of the Oscar precursors, and now seems like a lock to win come Oscar night. The only real issue he faces is whether voters get squeamish about voting for a role in which he plays a racist who gets redeemed (somewhat dubiously). Rockwell does a great job with what is given, but unlike McDormand, a Three Billboards backlash will be somewhat centered around his character, so Rockwell could still tumble come Oscar time, especially considering who the likely winner in the event that he stumbles would be. Still, Rockwell is a highly respected actor, so people ultimately may be okay with allowing this to finally be his time anyway, especially considering how personable he will be at parties.

Sentimental Favorite

Willem Dafoe

Seriously, this looked to be Dafoe’s year. He won everything until the Globes happened, and then in a moment everything shifted Rockwell’s way. That is a shame, because Dafoe played a role that is completely against the type of characters he has played for years. He lends an air of credibility to The Florida Project, and it is likely he is going to have a lot of sentimentality on his side. Whether or not that will be enough is questionable, but Dafoe is certainly going to give it his all when it comes to schmoozing the voters this year, you would think.

Cannot Count Out

Richard Jenkins

Jenkins, like Spencer, is more than likely just another nomination that existed to pad The Shape of Water‘s total, especially as Dafoe is likely to take any bump for being a long respected actor who is on the verge of finally getting Oscar glory. Still, Jenkins gives quite the performance in The Shape of Water, where he helps carry some of the movie’s more powerful scenes. If The Shape of Water has a huge night, he could be a big reason why.

How Much Does the Academy Hate Kevin Spacey?

Christopher Plummer

Look, Christopher Plummer is awesome, and to suggest that there was ever a point that he didn’t deserve to be honored for a performance is somewhat laughable, but the main reason he got this nomination was so the Academy could give a middle finger to Kevin Spacey (whom Plummer replaced during reshoots on All the Money in the World after Spacey’s allegations of sexual misconduct came to light). The question now is, how far will such desire take Plummer? Because the only way Plummer is winning is if the Academy decides it just has to have a moment where Plummer gives an acceptance speech where Hollywood gets to pat itself on the back for erasing Kevin Spacey’s career about two decades too late.

Will You Split the Vote?

Woody Harrelson

Harrelson was a bit of a surprise, and now the question is whether or not he will take any votes from Rockwell. He should, because he gives the much better performance as a tired and dying Police Chief trying (and often failing) to do the right thing in a world where that seems impossible. He counterpoints with McDormand so well, but gave the less showy performance than Rockwell, which ultimately will cost him any chance of winning.

Satellite Awards:

Rockwell picks up another win, and looks to keep moving along. The only thing likely derailing him at this point is a BAFTA swerve or if the backlash his character his wrought catches up with him, which there is no evidence of as of yet.

BAFTA Awards:

Rockwell completes the major sweep of all precursor awards plus the Satellite Award. Nothing will stop him from get the Oscar except for major Three Billboards backlash that doesn’t seem to have happened nearly as much as one might expect.

That covers the first six categories. This page will be updated through the rest of the Oscar season, and there are three other posts that will accompany it, so keep checking in for updated analysis of the 2018 Oscar race.

Leave a Reply