With the Academy Awards ceremony being held this Sunday evening – or Monday afternoon, for us Australians – Oscar fever has reached its peak, and many are posting their predictions as to who receive the film industry’s most coveted prize. Unlike last year, this reviewer has entered the conversation rather late; but as a film reviewer and commentator, he feels obliged to follow the lead of his counterparts and dissect the nominees – even if it means repeating what has already been said.
As with last year, I’ll be separating the discussion into three categories, before providing my predictions for telecast on Sunday/Monday.
While the list of nominees aren’t the diverse lot that was seen at the 89th Academy Awards, it is still a significant improvement on years past. Of the eight nominees for Best Picture, two are helmed by first-time directors – the satirical horror Get Out, and the coming-of-age drama Lady Bird. The former comes from African-American comedian Jordan Peele; the latter from another actor-turned-director, Greta Gerwig.
Having the two films nominated for Best Picture is a boon for the Academy, which has been dogged by claims of bias against minorities and women in recent times. While snider commentators have suggested that their nominations are merely symbolic or done to appease liberal activists, this simply isn’t the case – both movies have 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, implying universal approval.
Adding to this diversity is Luca Guadagino’s Call Me by Your Name, the uber-European romantic drama set in Northern Italy. Like last year’s Oscar winner, Moonlight, it tells of a young man who is exploring his sexuality, joining a growing number of mainstream films with LGBTI themes. In addition to its Best Picture nod, the movie’s young lead, Timothee Chalamet gained recognition for his role with a Best Actor nomination.
Blockbusters also received plenty of love from the Academy. Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver garnered three nominations for Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Film Editing, a testament to the movie’s audio-driven approach; Blade Runner 2049 was nominated in five of the technical categories, despite being one of 2017’s biggest box-office flops; but it’s Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk that has thrilled the Academy most, with eight nominations overall.
Buoyed by the positive response to its superhero blockbuster Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. had planned a so-called “Oscar Push” to try and secure nominations in several categories. Despite their efforts, the movie failed to garner a single nomination, which had many scratching their heads – there was talk that Patty Jenkins would receive a nomination for Best Direction.
Faring slightly better, though not by much, was A24’s The Florida Project with one nomination: Willem Dafoe in the Best Supporting Actor category. Joining that film in the single-nomination club was another A24 release, The Disaster Artist, which found love in the Adapted Screenplay category but nowhere else – possibly due to the allegations hanging over director James Franco.
Yet another nominee to get the flick in all but one category was The Big Sick, the cross-cultural romantic-comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani. The movie received a nod for its screenplay – which was written by Nanjiani and his wife, Emily Gordon – but not for any of the performances, as this author predicted it would. Also missing out was Armie Hammer, whose role in Call Me by Your Name impressed everyone bar the Academy, so it seems.
Although the other ceremonies during Awards Season can be an indication of how the Academy will vote, last year’s win for Moonlight proves this isn’t always the case. For that reason, it’s worth keeping an eye on both Get Out and Lady Bird – with the recent #OscarsSoWhite controversy and the #MeToo movement weighing on voters’ minds, the Academy may want to vote for a film other than the odds-on favourite Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
It’s in the technical categories where the competition becomes fiercer. In a three-horse race between Dunkirk, Baby Driver, and Blade Runner 2049, it’s near impossible to predict which film will be victorious, but this author’s instincts suggest that the first film – the most popular among critics and audiences – will claim the Oscars for editing, scoring and the like. That said, there is a chance that the Academy could award certain nominees out of sympathy.
One of those who deserves sympathy is Roger “Always the Bridesmaid” Deakins, the British cinematographer who has been nominated 14 times for Best Cinematography without success. Another is Laurie Metcalf, who is widely tipped to lose Best Supporting Actress to Allison Janney for I, Tonya; but at least one critic is predicting Metcalf will win for her very real, human performance in Lady Bird.
Finally, here are this author’s predictions for who will win in each category. Just like last year, I’ve played it safe and based my selections on what, or who, has been receiving the most accolades for their work.
Best Picture: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Director: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)
Best Actor: Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
Best Actress: Frances McDormand (Three Billboards)
Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards)
Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
Best Original Screenplay: Three Billboards
Best Adapted Screenplay: Call Me by Your Name
Best Animated Feature: Coco
Best Animated Short: Dear Basketball
Best Foreign Film: The Square
Best Documentary – Feature: Faces Places
Best Documentary – Short: Edith + Eddie
Best Live-Action Short: The Eleven O’Clock
Best Original Score: Hans Zimmer (Dunkirk)
Best Original Song: “This is Me” (The Greatest Showman)
Best Film Editing: Baby Driver
Best Sound Editing: Dunkirk
Best Sound Mixing: Baby Driver
Best Cinematography: Hoyte van Hoytema (Dunkirk)
Best Production Design: The Shape of Water
Best Costume Design: Beauty and the Beast
Best Makeup: Darkest Hour
Best Visual Effects: War for the Planet of the Apes