This year’s major winners feel like a foregone conclusion: Oldman, McDormand, Rockwell, Janney. It has been thus, and likely thus shall be. But the Oscars, which announced its nominations this morning, did at least do pundits the favor of chucking in a few curveballs to give a new angle to the prognostication. Out is Holly Hunter; in is Lesley Manville. Adios, James Franco and Tom Hanks; enjoy your stays, Three Ds (Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Kaluuya, Denzel). The Greatest Showman unsurprisingly got nudged out, but so did I, Tonya, and Mudbound, as Phantom Thread made its way on the list.
Will any of it ultimately matter? Well, that would be great; I love an upset. But probably not. Even so, we love nothing more than a spirited chat, so let’s rip into it, shall we? Click on the blocks to drop down the text, and X out of it when you’re done.
Best PictureBest Picture
Call Me By Your Name: It kills me that I still haven’t seen this, because it’s supposed to be wonderful. I’m going to try this weekend. I’m also thrilled it’s nominated, but it seems — sadly — to be filling the slot of Beautiful Indie About Subject Matter The Oscars Are Too Stodgy To Reward But Will At Least Acknowledge Was Super Good. HAVING SAID THAT: Moonlight won last year, and I feared the same about that movie, so maybe we can still swing an upset here. But: It won’t, because Three Billboards is in town, and it fills the Movie In Which Beloved Actors Say Super Racist and Angry Words and Use Accents and Light Things On Fire and Which Gives The Illusion Of Saying So Very Much While Actually Not Really Satisfactorily Saying Much At All slot. And that’s always a winner.
Darkest Hour: I was baking while this screener was playing in my house, so I heard bits and pieces. It seemed… good but not revolutionary. Won’t win.
Dunkirk: This one, I haven’t seen either. Kevin liked it well enough, I think, and I appreciate what I’ve heard about its approach to interweaving the stories and its visual language. It won’t win.
Get Out: I would love for this to win, because it was such a surprise. But, without wishing to spoil it, I was rooting for a different ending (I’ve heard they actually shot — and have circulated — something similar to what I wanted but I haven’t seen it).
Lady Bird: This is a lovely movie, but I didn’t like it as much as most people. For me, it didn’t do or say things as well as other similar movies have, so the whole time I was calling to mind those other movies. Shh, and I also thought Saoirse was better in Brooklyn.
Phantom Thread: We put off watching this one, for some reason, but that might be my other weekend homework. Won’t win.
The Post: Shouldn’t win. Spotlight is better, if you want only one recent journalism movie in your life. I found The Post a bit boring and stodgy, so: obvious Oscar catnip, and definitely about important things, but not the best version of itself. There is a great Katharine Graham movie to be made, and Meryl is welcome to be in it wearing that gold caftan, but it wasn’t this movie. (It wasn’t really intended to BE a Katharine Graham movie, but it should have been; SOMEONE, MAKE THAT MOVIE.)
The Shape of Water: I had issues with parts of this, too, but it looks beautiful and it’s extremely unusual and lyrical in its way. I would root for it to win over…
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: I think you are going to have to pry the Oscar out of this one’s hands, to my chagrin. It’s indisputably well-acted, and I really was on board with the concept. But as I griped on Twitter, I had huge issues with a lot of it, including the ways it used — but never dealt with, nor truly cared about — race and racism. Now, if the point of the movie had been that people are racist and shitty and never have their feet held to the fire for it, or that society as a whole doesn’t truly care about race and racism, then sure, we could’ve had that conversation. But that wasn’t the thrust of the movie, and it made some of the choices egregious to me. And while sexual assault is an important issue, I honestly think this movie punted a bit on that one, too, in favor of being… what, a rumination on grief? It was all linguistic fireworks and shock value, and not enough substance for me.
Will Win: Three Billboards. Should win: Get Out; honestly, probably Call Me By Your Name, but I haven’t seen it and I already confessed that to you.
Missing: I would’ve put in I, Tonya, because it was audaciously put together and the only one that gripped me from start to finish. And also The Big Sick and Mudbound. Of the ones I’ve seen, I’d have sacrificed The Post and Darkest Hour to get those in, and then just have 10 nominees.
Best DirectorBest Director
Christopher Nolan — Dunkirk
Jordan Peele — Get Out
Greta Gerwig — Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson — Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro — The Shape of Water
Will win: Del Toro. I think the Academy would like to recognize his artistry, and that this is its gentlest, most Oscar-palatable form. Even if there is fish-man banging in it. (That’s not a spoiler. It’s clear early where the movie is going.)
Should win: I wish I had seen Nolan’s and PTA’s work, but I still think there’s a strong case for Jordan Peele. Get Out did so much clever visual stuff, right down to the costuming telling its own story, and there are some breathtakingly brilliant moments in it.
Missing: Dee Rees for Mudbound, which got criminally overlooked for everything except Mary J. Blige — and therefore, I fear, runs the risk of being treated like a novelty movie simply because it got a singer an Oscar nod. It shouldn’t be bypassed.
Best ActorBest 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.
Okay: James Franco. I am not sure I think he got snubbed because of the allegations. Casey Affleck, if you recall, did not. The Oscars don’t always pay attention to that stuff (ahem, Roman Polanski). It’s ALSO possible the Academy a) didn’t like the movie, b) didn’t want to recognize a movie that’s kinda mocking a movie that is, itself, an accidental mockery of movies, c) didn’t want to validate Tommy Wiseau or otherwise include him at the ceremony in any way, for whatever reason. In short, The Room is probably not for Oscar voters, and so a movie about The Room might also be too much for them.
Or, maybe they snubbed Franco because of the allegations. Anything is possible. But I also don’t think the movie or his performance NOT getting nominated is any kind of crime against a fair and just Oscars, and doesn’t skew the race. Oldman beat him at the SAGs in their first face-off, and that rarely goes the other way in the rematch.
Meanwhile: Do we think Denzel was just as astonished as everyone else by this? Nobody saw Roman J. Israel, Esq., and I forgot it he was even Globe-nominated for it until I looked it up ten minutes ago. The Academy may be feeling guilty about not giving him the statue last year for Fences, but he’s not going to win for this EITHER so it’s a weird consolation prize. RJIE is a movie that was, by most reports, a hot-ass mess. I suppose if he’s good in it, then that shouldn’t matter, but I’m not sure at this point that Denzel Washington isn’t a tad too hammy to rise above something that’s otherwise a hot-ass mess.
Also, of course they were going to nominate Daniel Day-Lewis, if indeed he is retiring, and if he wins you know it’s totally because of that (even if he’s also good).
Will win: Gary Oldman. He’s a fine Churchill, and the Academy LOVES an impersonation, especially if it comes with prosthetic jowls and a bald cap.
Should win: Chalamet, by the rumor mill, although I would make an argument for Daniel Kaluuya. His face in that shot — even if I hadn’t used it, you’d know the one I mean — is going to be considered iconic and will be featured in textbooks. Also, I would posit that as difficult as it is to play a real person, sometimes it’s even harder to make an invented person feel real. Daniel modulated that performance brilliantly, and it’s one I think benefits from multiple viewings, because knowing what’s coming means you can dig in and appreciate the cues and the reactions and all the flourishes.
Best ActressBest 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
Missing: Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game and Michelle Williams in All The Money In The World both could’ve taken Meryl’s slot. I think I’d go Williams first.
Will win: Frances McDormand. I mean, she IS good in it.
Should win: Again, McDormand is not bad. I’d take that win and it’d be hard to dispute it, although my heart is with Margot Robbie. Yes, she played a real person, and I just made an argument that sometimes impersonation seems easier than the other, but Margot’s performance went beyond that. She took a figure who’s become cartoonish, and made her three-dimensional. All while making you forget you were watching Margot Robbie.
Best Supporting ActorBest Supporting Actor
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
I have to confess, I find myself not caring about this category in the least. Do whatever you want, voters.
Will win: Sam Rockwell
Should win: Who even cares. Rockwell, probably? Plummer is good, and deserves kudos for stepping in and doing what he did on a moment’s notice and at his age, but I don’t know if the performance is all that revolutionary. Harrelson, no thank you, and I hated his part. Richard Jenkins is lovely and brought real grace to the screen, so who could be upset with him winning? Willem Dafoe would be a cool surprise. But… I mean, Sam Rockwell probably has this in the bag. Whatever. THEY’RE ALL FINE.
Missing: Twitter is ENRAGED about Michael Stuhlbarg from Call Me By Your Name not getting nominated, and Armie Hammer is supposed to be good, too, but I don’t think anyone took him seriously this season. Still, I’d have rather seen either man in there over Harrelson, and I don’t know if Jenkins’s part was standout enough? It’s faded from memory a bit.
Best Supporting ActressBest Supporting Actress
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
The last few years, this category has been stacked, I feel. And it is again, although to me the clear winner is…
Will win: Allison Janney. Someone on GQ made a snarky reference to people who actually think Allison Janney is good in this movie, and… seriously, are there people who DON’T think she’s good in it? I have not run across one. She is someone who is omnipresent right now and yet ALSO disappeared into that part.
Should win: Janney, although I am not gonna lie, I will scream with glee if Mary J. Blige’s name gets called. I know Laurie Metcalf is a sentimental favorite, but she isn’t my personal pick.
Missing: You know, people talk about Holly Hunter, and she WAS delightful in The Big Sick, but how come no one says Zoe Kazan’s name? I thought she was great — and honestly, a lot of the movie hinges on that. If she hadn’t been great, it would have made the rest of the story a really tough sell, because she’s in a coma and he LOVES HER even though they’d only just started dating. You need to invest in that and believe in it for the whole shebang to work. That performance got lost, and it shouldn’t have.
The ScreenplaysThe Screenplays
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
Will win: I’m bad at these, but I’m pretty sure friggin’ Billboards will take this.
Should win: Honestly, there’s a lot to like in here. I am not sure if Get Out’s strength turned out to be its screenplay so much as the whole package Jordan Peele put together, so I’d RATHER see him win for directing? But he probably won’t, so this would be fine. Basically, as it should be, they all have a claim but I’d love to see Not Billboards win. (I know I’m railing against that movie, but I guess I just can’t figure out how it’s become this year’s gold standard — and I think it’s seriously partly because people like Angry Frances McDormand, so it kinda just got anointed.)
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
Will win: James Ivory, and he’s apparently the oldest Oscar nominee ever?
Should win: Take your pick.
The Animated FilmsThe Animated Films
The Animated Films
The Boss Baby — Tom McGrath, Ramsey Naito
The Breadwinner — Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
Coco — Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
Ferdinand — Carlos Saldanha
Loving Vincent — Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Ivan Mactaggart
Well. Was this just a thin year? Boss Baby wasn’t as bad as it looked, though. I watched it on the plane to London because I hoped the boys would watch it over my shoulder, since they refuse to any other way. They did, and then watched it through the seats on the screen of the kid in front of them — that’s two viewings without sound — and then talked about it for TWO DAYS and then refused to watch it themselves. OKAY. But, Coco is going to win, right? People said it made them cry, and I don’t think anyone realized the others existed — I forgot Ferdinand even happened? — so there you go.
Dear Basketball — Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant
Garden Party — Victor Claire, Gabriel Grapperon
Lou — Dave Mullins, Dana Murray
Negative Space — Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
Revolting Rhymes — Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer
Huh. I guess Kobe Bryant is going to be at the Oscars? I have never rooted him before and I don’t intend to start now, so let’s go with Revolting Rhymes, because that sounds right up my alley.
The DocumentariesThe Documentaries
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail — Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
Faces Places — Agnès Varda, JR and Rosalie Varda
Icarus — Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan
Last Men in Aleppo — Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Søren Steen Jespersen
Strong Island — Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes
I have seen nary a one of these, but Last Men in Aleppo sounds dramatic and Oscar-y. However, Icarus is the one that ended up exposing doping in Russian athletics and getting the country banned from the 2018 Olympics — all because the dude set out to examine how people get away with it in general, and inadvertently ended up with the doctor behind it all. That’s gonna be hard to ignore.
DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)
Edith + Eddie — Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 — Frank Stiefel
Heroin(e) — Elaine McMilion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon
Knife Skills — Thomas Lennon
Traffic Stop — Kate Davis, David Heilbroner
I’ve decided Edith + Eddie sounds heart-tugging, but how can I NOT root for one about the 405? However, it is only heaven if you mean it in the sense that I’m pretty sure I’m going to die there in a cloud of my own rage.
Foreign Language FilmForeign Language Film
Foreign Language Film
A Fantastic Woman — Sebastián Lelio, Chile
The Insult — Ziad Doueiri, Lebanon
Loveless — Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia
On Body and Soul — Ildikó Enyedi, Hungary
The Square — Ruben Östlund, Sweden
I was going to pick In The Fade, which won the Globe and Best Actress at Cannes, but then it didn’t get nominated. SNUB! So, roll the dice. Is there one is about Nazis? The Oscars love that. I’m going with A Fantastic Woman, because of the title, and also then I Googled it and it sounds good.
The MusicThe Music
Dunkirk — Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread — Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water — Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi — John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Carter Burwell
This is basically an all-star category. Let’s go with Alexandre Desplat, because my eyes fell on his name first.
“Mighty River” — Mudbound, Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, Taura Stinson
“Mystery of Love” — Call Me By Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” — Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” — Marshall, Diane Warren, Lonnie R. Lynn
“This is Me” — The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
Pasek and Paul had their day last year, so I vote NO on them — although does this mean Keala Settle gets to sing at the Oscars?!? — and have decided we should give it to Sufjan Stevens, just because that would be interesting. Although Mary J. Blige would be fun. I haven’t heard these songs yet so these are ALL super uninformed picks.
Sound and Visual EffectsSound and Visual Effects
Sound and Visual Effects
Baby Driver — Julian Slater
Blade Runner 2049 — Mark Mangini, Theo Green
Dunkirk — Richard King, Alex Gibson
The Shape of Water — Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
Star Wars: The Last Jedi — Matthew Wood, Ren Klyce
Baby Driver — Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin, Mary H. Ellis
Blade Runner 2049— Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Mac Ruth
Dunkirk — Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
The Shape of Water — Christian Cooke, Bran Zoern, Glen Gauthier
Star Wars: The Last Jedi — David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Stuart Wilson
Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes
Take your pick! Let’s win Baby Driver some Oscars, eh?
Cinematography and EditingCinematography and Editing
Cinematography and Editing
Blade Runner 2049 — Roger A. Deakins
Darkest Hour — Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk — Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound — Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water — Dan Laustsen
I’m going with Shape of Water for this one. WHY NOT. Wait, I’ll tell you why not: Mudbound’s cinematographer is the first woman to be nominated EVER.
Baby Driver — Paul Machliss, Jonathan Amos
Dunkirk — Lee Smith
I, Tonya — Tatiana S. Riegel
The Shape of Water — Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Jon Gregory
I forgot to ask Kevin. Too late now! Let’s go with Dunkirk.
Costumes, Makeup/Hair, and Production DesignCostumes, Makeup/Hair, and Production Design
Costumes, Makeup/Hair, and Production Design
Beauty and the Beast — Jacqueline Durran
Darkest Hour — Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread — Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water — Luis Sequeira
Victoria & Abdul — Consolata Boyle
Honestly, Beauty and the Beast was probably ONLY good in this arena. Which category rewards the Fish Man? Costumes, effects, production design? Fish Man might take it.
Beauty and the Beast — Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Blade Runner 2049 — Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
Darkest Hour – Sarah Greenwood, Katie SpencerDunkirk — Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
The Shape of Water — Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeff Melvin
Who even knows. Good luck to you all! I am bad at gauging these categories even when I HAVE researched them.
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Darkest Hour — Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
Victoria & Abdul — Daniel Phillips, Lou Sheppard
Wonder — Arden Tuiten
Were there really only three movies that had suitably good things? This seems bananas to me. I’m going to pick Victoria & Abdul.
Live Action ShortLive Action Short
Live Action Short
DeKalb Elementary — Reed Van Dyk
The Eleven O’Clock — Derin Seale, Josh Lawson
My Nephew Emmett — Kevin Wilson Jr.
The Silent Child — Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton
Watu Wote / All of Us — Katja Benrath, Tobias Rosen
I am trying to get this up so quickly that I — clearly — haven’t been able to research and contextualize any of these. I’m so sorry. I wish we could award it to My Nephew Emmet, The Silent Child at DeKalb Elementary, was All of Us At Eleven O’Clock. I want to pick My Nephew Emmett because when I got the art for this post, I learned it stars Whitley from A Different World.