It's been a long awards season, as awards seasons are more wont to be with every passing year -- not the least of which is because one of the biggest movies in contention, Get Out, opened in theaters a full year ago, along with the earliest of early Oscar buzz. Now, with mere days to go until the 90th annual Academy Awards, let's take a look back at all that's happened so far before we lock in one final round of predictions.
If you'll allow me a quick pat on the back, I fared pretty well with my nomination predictions. I got all nine of the Best Picture nominees, including the surprise nod for Phantom Thread. (Though even I didn't predict how big of ThreadHeads the Academy would be, having given up on Lesley Manville and PTA as longshots.) (I also mis-predicted The Big Sick landing a 10th spot. Turns out, there wasn't much love for The Big Sick!) As far as acting, notably, I flubbed Denzel Washington (ousting Franco?) and am still in active denial over Armie Hammer's exclusion. (Maybe that was just wishful thinking all along?)
Which might just be the scenic route to saying that what once seemed like it could be the most unpredictable awards season yet feels fairly open and shut now, with at least four of the biggest categories having all-but-guaranteed winners. But enough small talk. Below, I get into the nitty gritty of each race, looking to see if anything has changed in the month or so since nominations were announced and sharing final predictions for who will win Oscars this year. (As well as who should.)
Call Me by Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who Should Win: Get Out Who Will Win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
There is, in fact, still considerable room for a Best Picture upset. The Shape of Water received the most nominations of any movie this year and should win in one crucial category. (More on that in a moment.) Could Dunkirk, perhaps lacking the same level of hype as some other contenders, sneak in in the end to take the top honor? And as far as my humble opinions, Call Me by Your Name and Lady Bird are my two favorite films of last year, and I can trace multiple paths for either to a Best Picture win.
Still, no film feels more deserving than Get Out, which is not only evisceratingly good -- a genre piece that embraces and transcends all the trappings of a horror movie -- but hands down the most relevant film of 2017, a work of art that reflects the times in which it was made. And while there are plenty of reasons to christen one film the "Best," there's the simple fact that Get Out has proven it has staying power, a bona fide box office success that is as revered by critics and fans now as when it came out. And this could still happen. (Both Moonlight and Spotlight missed early awards season markers before eventually winning the WGA and then the Oscar.)
Three Billboards appears to be the frontrunner, though. There was a second there, right around the time nominations hit, when it felt like the tide might be turning, amid criticism over the film's (at best) problematic handling of race and Martin McDonagh's absence in the Best Director category. But after winning big at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, Three Billboards showed no signs of faltering with a recent win at the BAFTAs. (Ben Affleck's Best Director snub didn't stop Argo from winning Best Picture, after all.)
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 Should Win: Timothée Chalamet Who Will Win: Gary Oldman
Oldman's uncanny transformation into Winston Churchill clinched him the big three leading into the Oscars: the BAFTA, Globe and SAG Award, among various honors on the festival circuit. (Awards shows looooove throwing trophies at people for playing Churchill.) Right about now, Oldman winning his first Oscar is basically a sure thing. (Even despite any allegations against him.) I reckon his stiffest competition is Chalamet, though young actors, unlike young actresses, don't tend to fare too well with the Academy. (At 22, he would be the youngest Best Actor winner in history.) Chalamet deserves it though, delivering a thoughtful, affecting performance that would be a career high for an actor of any age.
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 Should Win: Frances McDormand Who Will Win: Frances McDormand
There's a lot of valid debate about how great of a movie Three Billboards is or is not, but one thing that is indisputably great about the movie are the performances, none more so than McDormand's gravely, blistering turn in the lead. McDormand, a five-time Oscar nominee with one previous win (for Fargo in 1997), hasn't missed a beat this awards season, winning the Globe, SAG Award and BAFTA and all but guaranteeing herself the opportunity for another rabble-rousing acceptance speech come the Academy Awards. (In terms of her stiffest competition, I'd go with Ronan, already a three-time nominee at 23.)
Best 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 Should Win: Willem Dafoe Who Will Win: Sam Rockwell
Like McDormand, Rockwell has been invincible in the run-up to the Oscars, ticking all the boxes necessary to cement himself as the frontrunner, without a single loss that might cast doubt on his eventual win. Even the fact that he's nominated alongside a co-star -- creating the possibility for vote splitting -- hasn't been a problem thus far. (See: the SAG Awards.) Gosh, I'd love to see it go to Dafoe, though, both because this affable, against-type performance is one of his best and it would be a chance to recognize the sublime The Florida Project, which certainly didn't get enough love from the Academy this year.
Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
Who Should Win: Laurie Metcalf Who Will Win: Allison Janney
The Best Supporting Actress race began, outwardly, as a coin flip between Janney and Metcalf. And then Janney won again. And again. And again! It helps that Janney's transformation into Tonya Harding's real-life stage mom is the flashier entry in this category. It helps more that Janney is so damn good in the role and everyone adores her. Who wouldn't want to see Allison Janney win an Oscar?! And so it is hesitantly that I must add that I think Metcalf deserves the win, if only because she's given more to do in Lady Bird, given more layers to peel back and more depths of emotion to plunge.
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Who Should Win: Guillermo del Toro Who Will Win: Guillermo del Toro
The Best Director race feels particularly stacked this year, and there is an argument to be made for each of the nominees: If Dunkirk wound up winning Best Picture, could some of that recognition trickle down here? Does the unanticipated Phantom Thread favor signal anything for PTA? The popular vote certainly goes to Gerwig or Peele, only the fifth ever female and black directors nominated. That all said, del Toro, who crafted something that is both a technical and emotional marvel, collected the same honor from BAFTA and the Directors Guild, a track record that makes him the one to beat.
Best Original Screenplay
The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani Get Out, Jordan Peele Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,Martin McDonagh
Who Should Win:Get Out Who Will Win:Get Out
For me, this category is like picking my favorite child (albeit a child I neither birthed, nor raised, nor had anything to do with at all). Oh, how I loved Get Out and Lady Bird and The Big Sick! (Thank heavens that The Big Sick wasn't completely snubbed across the board.) While the Writers Guild's winner does not always line up with who the Academy chooses, it's a good indicator, giving the edge to Peele. Really, it's in the title: Sure, original in this sense refers to not being based on any other source material, but also, Get Out was the most original script of the year, without a doubt.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber Logan, Scott Frank & James Mangold, Michael Green Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin Mudbound, Virgil Williams & Dee Rees
Who Should Win:Call Me by Your Name Who Will Win:Call Me by Your Name
This race is pretty open and shut. Ivory's deeply thoughtful adaptation of André Aciman's beloved novel will -- deservedly -- win Adapted Screenplay, thus making the 89-year-old screenwriter the oldest winner in history. (Presumably, as the Academy does not keep records of age outside of the acting and directing fields. The Hateful Eight composer Ennio Morricone is thought to be the current oldest at 87.)
Best Animated Film
The Boss Baby
Who Should Win: Coco Who Will Win: Coco
As it goes, it will be an honor just to become Academy Award-Nominated The Boss Baby. Over the past decade, Disney and/or Pixar has won Best Animated Film every single year but one: In 2011, when Paramount's Rango won and Cars 2 wasn't nominated. Disney is unstoppable, even with its weaker releases, of which Coco, so lovingly made, is not one. (As for notches in its belt this season, Coco won this category at the BAFTAs, Globes and Annie Awards, one of the highest honors in animation.)
Best Original Song
“Mighty River,” Mudbound, Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love,” Call Me by Your Name
“Remember Me,” Coco
“Stand Up for Something,” Marshall
“This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman
Who Should Win: "Remember Me" Who Will Win: "Remember Me"
You can tell a lot about a person based on who they root for in the Original Song category. Are they a "Mystery of Love" person or a "This Is Me" person? Very rarely do they overlap. And though the latter took home this award earlier this year at the Globes, I'm predicting the Academy will opt instead for "Remember Me," which has mainstream appeal, emotional resonance and an Academy Award-proven team behind it in Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who previously won with Frozen's "Let It Go."
Those are, only somewhat arguably, the 10 biggest categories of the night. For the sake of completion -- or in case you want to bestow all of your faith in me and crib my answers for your Oscars pool -- here are my predictions for who will win in the remaining 14 categories:
Animated Short: Dear Basketball
Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins
Costume Design: Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges
Documentary Feature: Faces Places
Documentary Short Subject: Edith+Eddie
Film Editing: Dunkirk, Lee Smith
Foreign Language Film: A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
Live Action Short Film: DeKalb Elementary
Makeup and Hair: Darkest Hour, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
Original Score: The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat
Production Design: The Shape of Water, Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau
Sound Editing: Dunkirk, Alex Gibson, Richard King
Sound Mixing: Dunkirk, Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
Visual Effects: War for the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist
Then again, until the envelopes are opened, anything could happen. Find out when the 90th annual Oscars, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, kicks off on March 4 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on ABC.