90th Academy Awards - Nods and Predictions

Updated: Dec 8, 2019



I know, everyone already had their prediction stories up at the beginning of this week. Unfortunately, I don't have the benefit of pre-screenings and a staff of writers to comb through all these films with me.

I'm promising myself that next year, I won't wait until the week of the Oscars to watch these films. I've been up long nights trying to cram as many of these nominees into my schedule (and my budget) as possible. That said, I definitely didn't get to all of them, so I've left off some categories where I either didn't watch any of the films or not enough to have an educated opinion.

Here are my predictions of who will come away with gold tomorrow at the Oscars, along with who I think actually should win in those categories (not always the same thing!)

Let us know in the comments section what you agree with or don't. If you think we're not giving enough credit in some area, tell us. Your thoughts are as valuable as mine.

Best Picture

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

"Call Me By Your Name"

"Get Out"

"Phantom Thread"

"The Shape of Water"

"Darkest Hour"

"Dunkirk"

"Lady Bird"

What will win: "The Shape of Water"

It’s got a fairly traditional love story arc with an unorthodox context. It’s simply beautiful film in terms of the use of color and lighting through surfaces (most notably, ahem, water.) Add in, too, that the main character is a headstrong mute woman who finds agency through her love of the... I wanna say, merman? It also features a prominent gay character in Richard Jenkins’ role, a clash of ideologies between militarism and science, and an overall theme of not seeing “how we’re incomplete.”

In short, it’s a great film that’s got everything the Academy is looking for and they can do worse in terms of making a political statement. Because who are we kidding? Best Picture is a political statement, not a contest. That said, the field is tight this year, which is a good thing, so anyone’s guess is as good as mine.

What should win: “Dunkirk.”

Yes it’s just another movie by a white director featuring and all-white cast set in an era that we’re all tired of seeing by now. But this film is a masterclass in how a technologically superb film can resonate. The use of certain camerawork to heighten tension, along with Hans Zimmer’s ambient score (usually not a fan of his work) and Nolan’s nonlinear plot all add to the nuance of a film that is mostly an impeccable example of a movie that uses its budget to the fullest and crafts something unlike all the other WWII movies out there.

It’s not only got the full breadth of military warfare in land battles, air battles and sea battles, but the film is really about the civilian efforts to save their country and showcase the bravery that’s sometimes needed when your backyard becomes a battlefield.

This film should win because it found a WWII story to tell onscreen that hasn’t been done before and it blows all the competition out of the water in terms of sheer production excellence.

Honorable Mention: "Get Out"

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut did not disappoint.

It’s a psychological thriller that borrows from staples of the horror genre, while thriving on a new direction for it. It’s a horror film wrapped in a “genetic makeup” of racial tension and social awareness.

Couple this with the fact that Peele manages to make some moments humorous to cleanse the palate before or after bigger moments. Leave it to a comedian to know how to dish things out in appropriate portions and intervals.

That said, it lacks a lot of the technical and creative elements intrinsic to an Oscar-winning film. Peele has been a writer for years and filmmaker only recently. It shows.

There are moments of cinematic talent, like the visual representation of “The Sunken Place,” and the attention to small shots that lead to greater continuity (when we see his foot literally step into the wilderness early in the film,) however I wasn’t marveling so much at the filmmaking as I was at the storytelling.

It’s a tremendous feat either way! I mean, how many people get their first film ever nominated in this category? I suspect Peele will only improve in filmmaking aspects going forward, but it should be enough for this film to get this kind of attention.

Lead Actor

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”

Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”

Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”

Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Who will win: Gary Oldman

The man’s never won an oscar, he sat through more than a week’s worth of cumulative hair and makeup on the set of “Darkest Hour,” and is a prolific character actor. This is his year.

Who should win: Daniel Kaluuya

The power of that tearful armchair scene alone shows his chops, add in the fact that his performance is so unlike any other contender (due in part to unique subject matter of the role) and I think this new kid on the block deserves some gold.

Lead Actress

Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”

Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”

Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”

Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Who will win: Meryl Streep

To say that her performance was good would be an understatement. However, was hers the best female performance this year? I don’t think so.

Still though, this is the year of #MeToo and ‘Time’s Up’ and Streep’s been right at the center, especially with a character that so perfectly embodies the spirit of the movement.

She plays Katherine Graham, a woman thrust into a “man’s job,” in an industry led by men, whose decisions are constantly doubted and undermined by men. Still, she persisted.

This award could honestly go to the woman I think SHOULD get it - or another contender - for all the same reasons. This category is competitive this year, which is great!

Who should win: Frances McDormand

Her performance was stellar in a film that otherwise failed to live up to its potential (in my opinion.) Her lined and cracked face, stern and imposing, is reminiscent of a Dust Bowl mother who’s lived through the worst that life has to offer. Yet, she perfectly captures the humanity of a character that tries so hard to not feel fear and pain. In little moments with herself, we see the cracks of humanity and vulnerability that allow McDormand to shine.

Supporting Actor

Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”

Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”

Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”

Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Who will win: Sam Rockwell

He’s been getting all the nods leading up to the awards and even though he plays a character that goes from bigot to just an asshole, The Academy still sees it as a risky and envelope-pushing role. That said, Rockwell is an amazing actor and did play this part to its fullest.

Who should win: Christopher Plummer

I confess, I didn’t even see “All the Money in the World." But if you’ve been tuned in to anything that happened on the set of that film, you’ll know that Plummer took over for Kevin Spacey when the latter was fired from the set amidst sexual assault allegations last year. Plummer came in and re-shot the whole part in a few weeks, leaving his own stamp on the film. In terms of basic production acumen and efficiency, that’s an Oscar-worthy feat in and of itself.

Supporting Actress

Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”