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Predictions: The 90th Academy Awards

Article By: Alice-Ginevra Micheli 


Another year, another Oscars, and the excitement in the air is tangible. However, this year has to be one of the most exciting years yet. Not only are the nominees diverse in every way, but so are the films. All but gone are the typical Oscar-bait films that only get views during Awards season and then disappear from the public consciousness. This year, critical praise was just as important as cultural impact, proving that the Academy membership shakeup of the last few years has begun to make a dramatic difference.

As with the previous two, I have scoured through the nominees, and watched every single feature, short and documentary and have become one with the Academy itself, in order to deliver for you all an accurate set of predictions.

Who will win? Who should win? Who has no chance? All will be revealed this Sunday night, so without further ado, let’s get started on our picks!

Actress in a Supporting Role

• Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
• Allison Janney – I, Tonya
• Lesley Manvile – Phantom Thread
• Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
• Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

Our Pick: Alison Janney – I, Tonya

While the nominees and films chosen might be more eclectic than has been present in previous years, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some categories that are almost 100% locked in from the start. This is one of those. While there are other commendable and deserving performances, such as Laurie Metcalf as a put upon mother and Octavia Spencer as a feisty yet formidable friend, there is little question that Janney’s powerhouse performance as a monster of a mother is the most spectacular of the lot. Never too loud in its vulgarity, and bitingly witty in her timing, she manages to steal the show from a relatively star studded and performance fuelled film. Not to mention her wins at the SAGs, Golden Globes and BAFTA’s, it’s hers to lose.


Achievement in Costume Design

• Jacqueline Durran – Beauty and the Beast
• Jacqueline Durran – Darkest Hour
• Mark Bridges – Phantom Thread
• Luis Sequeira – The Shape of Water
• Consolata Boyle – Victoria & Abdul

Our Pick: Mark Bridges – Phantom Thread

In a year full of spectacular outfits, transformative dresses and magical sartorial design, this has become a quite difficult category to predict. With all the films being period ones, there isn’t a default to fall back on. However, the choice seems to be with the elegant and breathtaking designs that Bridges brought to life, representing pieces that are meant to be made by the legendary and perfectionist designer within the film. While Sequeira is the dark horse, with his brilliant stylisation of a 60’s world, along with his excellent prosthetic work, it seems like the Academy is more likely to go with beauty over beast.


Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

• Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick – Darkest Hour
• Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard – Victoria & Abdul
• Arjen Tuiten – Wonder

Our Pick: Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick – Darkest Hour

This one seems pretty certain. While Tuiten’s transformation of Jacob Tremblay into a boy with a disorder is fascinating, there’s no denying that the complete overhaul of Gary Oldman, turning him from actor to legendary politician, has almost no competition in the long run.


Foreign Language Film

• A Fantastic Woman
• The Insult
• Loveless
• On Body and Soul
• The Square

Our Pick: A Fantastic Woman

For once it seems like the Foreign Language category will be a competitive one, where there are a number of films that could easily and deservedly take home the golden statue. Whether it’s one about the fragility of human sensibility (The Insult), an absurdist black comedy about human nature (The Square) or a progressive look at grieving in a modern relationship (A Fantastic Woman), it’s a tight race, with none clearly running in front of the others. Based on my own opinion, however, I’m going to go out on a limb and give it to Chile’s entry, A Fantastic Woman that not only evoked strong feelings of loss, love and grief from its audience, but also introduced the world to stunning trans actress Daniela Vega in a powerhouse role.


Live Action Short Film

• DeKalb Elementary
• The Eleven O’Clocl
• My Nephew Emmett
• The Silent Child
• Watu Wote/All of Us

Our Pick: DeKalb Elementary

From my own research, as well as the timely nature of the nominations, this seems like the clear winner. A short film about a botched school shooting, that was thrust into the public eye right after the very real Parkland massacre, has caused this one to quickly rise to the top of voters minds, leading them to vote both with their hearts and with their sensibilities on this one.


Documentary: Short Subject

• Edith+Eddie
• Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
• Heroin(e)
• Knife Skills
• Traffic Stop

Our Pick: Heroin(e)

Combining strong female women and their strong willed fight against the drug culture devastating their small town, this film about a fire chief, a judge and a missionary delivers both a powerful message and an uplifting tone that is made in a way that would easily sway even the most hardened voter.


Achievement in Sound Mixing

• Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin and Mary H. Ellis – Baby Driver
• Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill and Mac Ruth – Blade Runner 2049
• Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo and Mark Weingarten – Dunkirk
• Christian Cooke, Brad Xoern and Glen Gauthier – The Shape of Water
• David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Stuart Wilson – Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Our Pick: Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo and Mark Weingarten – Dunkirk

A close competition between the teams of Baby Driver and Dunkirk, the latter edges forward through the way all the soundscapes fully immerse any audience member into the world of the film. When you’re watching something and you can feel the action in your chest and feel as rattled as the character on screen purely because of the tension delivered aurally, you know you have a winner.

Achievement in Sound Editing

• Julian Slater – Baby Driver
• Mark Mangini and Theo Green – Blade Runner 2049
• Richard King and Alex Gibson – Dunkirk
• Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferriera – The Shape of Water
• Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce – Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Our Pick: Julian Slater – Baby Driver

Any fan of Edgar Wright would know that when it comes to the editing of his films, there’s a signature present that makes his stand out from all the rest. Visceral in its delivery and exciting in the perfect pairing to its visuals means its finally time to award one of his films for this exact technique. Not to mention the fact that all of the editing was done by one person, that alone means that he should be the one going up on the stage on Oscar night.


Actor in a Supporting Role
• 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

Our Pick: Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Another competitive category (a phrase I’ll be using quite a lot it seems), the fact that only one of the nominees has won an Oscar before is interesting. Not only, but the other nominees would largely be considered to be ‘character actors’, the people that audiences see in many films throughout their career and will recognise their faces but never quite remember their names. What this means is that those who have been on the sidelines literally supporting the more flashy parts are getting their chance to shine here, and, this year, none is more deserving than Sam Rockwell. Delivering a nuanced and controversial performance as a racist, bigoted yet maturing sheriff of a Missourian police department, the fact that he’s already swept most of the other awards this season puts him way ahead of any of the other competitors.


Achievement in Visual Effects

• John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover – Blade Runner 2049
• Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner and Dan Sudick – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
• Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza and Mike Meinardus – Kong: Skull Island
• Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould – Star Wars: The Last Jedi
• Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist – War for the Planet of the Apes

Our Pick: Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist – War for the Planet of the Apes

If you’ve seen this movie, there is absolutely no contest. The fact that when I was in the cinema I genuinely kept forgetting the characters in front of me were computer generated and not trained apes is everything you need to know as to why this will win the Oscar.


Animated Short Film

• Dear Basketball
• Garden Party
• Lou
• Negative Space
• Revolting Rhymes

Our Pick: Dear Basketball

This is always the trickiest category to predict. All unique in the story they tell and how they tell it, the chosen winner tends to come down to a number of subjective factors. While Pixar is represented as per usual with a heart-warming tale about a lost property box, it seems like the favourite this year is Kobe Bryant’s ode to the sport he loves and to his own career. Animated by hand by veteran Glen Keane, and scored by John Williams, it has all the elements to make it a triumphant.

Animated Feature Film
• The Boss Baby
• The Breadwinner
• Coco
• Ferdinand
• Loving Vincent

Our Pick: Coco

Is it really surprising that Pixar has once again delivered a champion of a film? Taking a magical and ostensibly colourful look at the Mexican holiday, Dios de los Muertos, the animated feature manages to pull on heart strings, deliver fantastical music and a story that can connect to any viewer swept up in its joviality. Even if I’m wrong, as long as it’s not The Boss Baby we will all be winners anyway.


Achievement in Production Design

• Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer – Beauty and the Beast
• Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola – Blade Runner 2049
• Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer – Darkest Hour
• Nathan Crowley and Gary Fettis – Dunkirk
• Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau and Jeffrey A. Melvin – The Shape of Water

Our Pick: Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau and Jeffrey A. Melvin – The Shape of Water

Whether it’s the dreary look of a dystopic future or the wide reaches of magical castle grounds, there were a lot of impressive designs and sets that appeared on screen this year. However it seems like the stem punk/fairy tale mixture in an out of the box period love story is the one that is more likely to walk away a winner this year.


Achievement in Cinematography

• Roger A Deakins – Blade Runner 2049
• Bruno Delbonnel – Darkest Hour
• Hoyte van Hoytema – Dunkirk
• Rachel Morrison – Mudbound
• Dan Lausten – The Shape of Water

Our Pick: Roger A Deakins – Blade Runner 2049

I mean, it’s finally his year isn’t it. A win in part because of some of the most breathtaking shots ever shown in cinema, and in part because he’s already been nominated unsuccessfully 13 times before, there is literally no reason for Deakins to not walk away with an Oscar this year. Just give it to him guys, come on.


Achievement in Film Editing

• Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos – Baby Driver
• Lee Smith – Dunkirk
• Tatiana S. Riegel – I, Tonya
• Sidney Wolinsky – The Shape of Water
• Jon Gregory – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Our Pick: Lee Smith – Dunkirk

While there was an influx of creative editing present, it’s hard to argue with the experience that Dunkirk delivered. Told in three timelines, the audience is thrust into a period of war that was visceral in its historical significance and its tense nature, the brilliant way in which the film is stringed together leaves little room for any other of the nominees to take the prize.

Documentary Feature

• Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
• Faces Places
• Last Men in Aleppo
• Strong Island

Our Pick: Icarus

Although it’s an incredibly competitive year for this category, my money is on the Netflix picture that uncovered the now infamous Russian doping scandal during the Olympics. Full of intrigue, investigative journalism and the fact that the Winter Olympics have just come to a close, the voters will be very aware of this movie, and therefore will probably end up voting for it.


Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)

• “Mighty River” – Mudbound
• “Mystery of Love” – Call Me By Your Name
• “Remember Me” – Coco
• “Stand Up for Something” – Marshall
• “This is Me” – The Greatest Showman

Our Pick: “Remember Me” – Coco

While The Greatest Showman has gotten an insane spike in popularity and coverage over these past few weeks, I’m hedging my bets towards the soon to be Pixar classic that brings forth emotion and memory all through the talent and love of a small Mexican boy. That for me is more affecting than a big show stopping number within a quite mediocre musical.


Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)

• Hans Zimmer – Dunkirk
• Jonny Greenwood – Phantom Thread
• Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water
• John Williams – Star Wars: The Last Jedi
• Carter Burwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Our Pick: Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water

Ever the poster child of the Oscars, it seems like Desplat is always present in the nominees list, sometimes even more than once. While there are some big names present this year for some big movies, here’s looking at you Zimmer and Williams, the delightfully subtle score behind the modern fish fable is designed to both enchant audiences as well as perfectly pair with its delightful characters and beautiful story.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
• Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick
• Jordan Peele – Get Out
• Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
• Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor – The Shape of Water
• Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Our Pick: Jordan Peele – Get Out

It seems that the odds on favourite is McDonagh’s witty yet exciting Southern Black Comedy, what with its chances of it being something both a movie audiences and Academy members can enjoy. However, I have a sneaky suspicion that the actual winner of this particular category will be Peele, with his allegorical look at race relations and ode to 70s horror. A film that managed to stay in the cultural conscience for a year following its release, not to mention the fact that this horror movie has won over most of the viewing public gives this story a sense of originality that puts it ahead of the others in this category.


Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

• James Ivory – Call Me By Your Name
• Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber – The Disaster Artist
• Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green – Logan
• Aaron Sorkin – Molly’s Game
• Virgil Williams and Dee Rees – Mudbound

Our Pick: James Ivory – Call Me By Your Name

While the nominees this year are from some of the most unlikely films, I feel like the Academy will go for a more traditional route, choosing the romantic story between a young man discovering his sexuality and an alluring older foreigner. It’s delicately told, full of love, loss and exploring what it means to be human, making it an easy pick for the voters.


Achievement in Directing

• Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
• Jordan Peele – Get Out
• Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
• Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
• Guilliermo del Toro – The Shape of Water

Our Pick: Guilliermo del Toro – The Shape of Water

I’ll be honest, this one’s difficult. All of the nominees have more than one reason as to why they should win this year. Whether it’s their excellence in their debut, their strong control of all the elements, or the imagination that they delivered in a fantastical new way, it took quite a lot of thought for me to finally come to a final decision, which I imagine the Academy voters struggled with as well. However, based on his sweeping of the other awards, as well as the general positive reputation he has throughout Hollywood, it seems like it’s finally Del Toro’s year to make his big speech. Having given a film full of wonder, magic and hope his amazing technical achievements within are more than likely to put him on top this year.


Actress in a Leading Role

• 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

Our Pick: Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Another category with each nominee being more than deserving than the last, it’s a shock that there is a clear front-runner in such a strong category. McDormand’s turn as a no-nonsense, bad mouthing mother trying to get justice for her fallen child is one of the most thought-provoking performances to come out of the Oscars this year. She manages to be menacing and vulnerable all at once, with her superficial strength present only to hide a broken woman underneath. Her performance easily captures the audience and manages to stay with you long after the credits have rolled, cementing her win at the ceremony.


Actor in a Leading Role
• 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.

Our Pick: Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

I mean, just look at the poster, watch the movie and then think about the fact that this legendary actor has only been nominated once before. He deserves it more than anyone else in the business, let alone the other nominees. It’s time he wins, and it’ll finally happen this year.

Best Picture

• Call Me By Your Name
• Darkest Hour
• Dunkirk
• Get Out
• Lady Bird
• Phantom Thread
• The Post
• The Shape of Water
• Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Our Pick: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’ll be honest; trying to determine which one of these would take out the final prize caused a strong discussion in my household. One person backing Dunkirk, another thinking The Shape of Water was the most amazing film ever to come out of the film industry, it took a lot of research and putting aside the emotional qualms to finally come down to one decision. While it may seem that Del Toro’s fish tale is the favourite this year, I genuinely believe that the mixture of its strong performances, fantastic writing and expert directing, will bring McDonagh’s tale of loss and retribution to victory. It might be the darkest horse in the race but it’s the one I’m backing. So, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for the win!

And here we are at the end of my third annual prediction list. As I went through the categories the trends present amongst the nominees, or rather the lack of them, really astounded me. Normally it always seemed like the same sort of movies would constantly be nominated, even if their true quality would likely be questioned once the mysticism of the awards time had finally faded. However, it seems that 2018 is the year of those who are normally in the shadows. All the favourites in the acting categories are seminal character actors, normally only present in the outskirts of cinema. The same goes with the topics at the heart of many of the nominated films. Themes of gender diversity, racial divide, difference in relationship and the exploration of sexuality would have until recently been considered taboo or out there within the ceremony and now are just as present as even the most typical biopic.

Now the big night is almost upon us, a night where memories are made, dreams are fulfilled and moments will occur that will never be forgotten. Don’t forget to fill out your ballots, get some snacks ready and strap yourselves in on March 4th at 8pm for a night that will certainly be something to remember!

Alice Ginevra Micheli
Her love of film, novels and all things media led her to study Screen and Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne. Fascinated with the culture of entertainment today she keeps up to date on all the news and going-ons within the industry. When not traversing the internet and cinemas, she spends her time catching up on whatever TV or book series she's currently obsessed with.

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