Oscars 2018: Predicting This Year’s Academy Award Winners [Opinion]

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Another year, another Academy Awards ceremony to hyperventilate over.

With one week away until the 90th Academy Awards, a lot of eyes are focused on the Best Picture nominees to see who will take home the gold this year. Will it be the oddly heartfelt sci-fi creature romance The Shape of Water? The small-town crime drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri? The WWII action picture Dunkirk? Or the horror-comedy-race-satire Get Out?

Let’s break down the Oscars’ biggest categories, from Best Director to Best Picture:

Best Director

Will Win: Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water

Could Win: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Should Win: Jordan Peele, Get Out

While Christopher Nolan’s war epic Dunkirk looked like the fan-favorite for the Best Directing Oscar early on in awards season, it eventually became clear that The Shape of Water’s Guillermo Del Toro will be the projected winner. Del Toro, who’s first nomination came with 2006’s Spanish fantasy film Pan’s Labyrinth, won the Director’s Guild of America award this year for Best Feature Film, which has a 99.999999999 percent rate of accuracy in predicting the Oscar winner for Best Director. There was only one time this decade when the DGA winner did not also win the Academy Award for Best Director, and that was in 2013 when Argo director Ben Affleck wasn’t even nominated for the directing Oscar. Del Toro won the DGA, which lines him up to be this year’s Oscar-winner for Best Director.

It should go to first-time director Jordan Peele, who’s film debut Get Out was a masterful visual commentary on race and neo-liberalism in America. Through the multiple visual cues in the movie, Peele paints an uncomfortable picture of a black man trapped in a white family’s home and the prejudice he faces in weird, subliminal ways. It was a great debut for Peele, and it would be nice to see him win the award that he rightfully deserves.

Unfortunately, the Academy isn’t structured to award the most deserving winner. Just the most popular.

"Get Out" writer-director Jordan Peele at the Red Carpet for the 2018 Writers Guild of America Awards.Featured image credit: Charley GallayGetty Images

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Could Win: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Should Win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Laurie Metcalf and Allison Janney essentially play the same roles in Lady Bird and I, Tonya: overbearing, naggy, strict mothers that have a hard time connecting with their daughters. But while Metcalf seems like a character who at least possesses some slight love and empathy for her daughter, Janney plays the opposite as Tonya Harding’s mother LaVona Golden: she’s a cold-hearted, insufferable wench.

Either one of them could win the award on Oscar night, but the rest of awards season has slanted in Janney’s favor, and rightfully so.

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Could Win: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Should Win: Christopher Plummer, All The Money In The World

Let’s start by saying Bill Skarsgard should have been nominated in this category for his dastardly maniacal performance as Stephen King’s titular clown Pennywise in It, and it is atrocious that he was completely skipped over this year. Aside from that snub, this category has some solid competition this year. The Florida Project’s Willem Dafoe was an early favorite at the beginning of awards season, while Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’s Sam Rockwell dominated the rest of the season like he was taking candy from a baby.

Odd, though, that everyone is completely overlooking Christopher Plummer’s skillful work in Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World, where he finished filming over all of Kevin Spacey’s scenes after news came out of how horrible of a human being he actually was. Plummer dominated the screen in All The Money In The World: arguably more than either Dafoe or Rockwell did. But he already won an Oscar years earlier for his role as a homosexual father in Beginners. Perhaps it’s for the best that this year’s Oscar goes to its own beginner in Sam Rockwell, as this is his first nomination after nearly 30 years of fantastic work.

We’ll see how it goes down on Awards night, but in either case, it won’t be an upset win no matter who gets the award.

Best Actress

Will Win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Could Win: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Should Win: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Now don’t get me wrong: Frances McDormand is a fantastic actress, and her performance as a grieving mother in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of the best things about the movie. But in retrospect to Sally Hawkins’ performance as a mute janitor in The Shape of Water, the performances aren’t even comparable. McDormand had Martin McDonagh’s fantastic dialogue in his screenplay to help her with her characterization and expressions for the part. Hawkins had to personally teach herself sign language and express her emotions without the assistance of her voice. She undeniably had the much harder role to play compared to McDormand, and she pulled it off masterfully. Not to mention that McDormand had won an Oscar previously for her role as a pregnant police chief in Fargo, whereas Hawkins herself has not won an Oscar yet.

Either way, they’re both talented actresses who gave great performances. But Hawkins was clearly handicapped due to the performance that was required of her. She deserves the Oscar over McDormand for the difficulty of her part alone.

Best Actor

Will Win: Gary Oldman, The Darkest Hour

Could Win: Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name

Should Win: Gary Oldman, The Darkest Hour

Timothee Chalamet was great in Call Me By Your Name, without question. But Gary Oldman has had a 35-year-long career filled with fantastic work, and this is only his second nomination. If he doesn’t win best actor for his performance as Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour, I’m going to light my TV on fire.

Best Picture

Will Win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Could Win: The Shape of Water

Should Win: Get Out

Now, this is a tricky category to predict. In most other ceremonies, the winner for the Producer’s Guild of America Award would be the one to take home the Oscar for Best Picture. But recent ceremonies haven’t been that accurate. The 2013, 2015, and 2016 PGA Awards all saw Gravity, The Big Short, and La La Land as the Best Feature Film winners from those years. The Best Picture winners at the Oscars those years ended up being 12 Years A Slave, Spotlight, and Moonlight.

These inconsistencies do not bode well for PGA feature-film winner The Shape of Water. Take also into account that a science-fiction film has never once won Best Picture at the Oscars (This does, by the way, include 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, Apollo 13, Avatar, Inception, and Gravity). This gives Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri a slight (emphasis on SLIGHT) edge over The Shape of Water, as it is the type of small-town drama that the Academy just loves to recognize (see evidence in Million Dollar Baby, Crash, The Departed, No Country For Old Men, Spotlight, Moonlight, etc.)

The real winner, however, deserves to be Get Out, which again achieves so much creatively despite its limited budget. Out of all of the best picture winners, Get Out had one of the smallest budgets at $4.5 million, according to Box Office Mojo. Yet it was simultaneously the second highest-grossing Best Picture nominee at $176 million, second only to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk at $525 million.

Having that much success despite its limited budget shows what kind of creativity went into Get Out, as well as the impact that it possessed after its theater run. That’s why it deserves to be recognized as this year’s Best Picture at the Academy Awards, even though it won’t be.

“The movie for the world today.” – @TIME #GetOut

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