I can’t believe a year has already passed and the 90th Academy Awards is nearly here. It’s been a crazy and truculent 12 months and Hollywood cannot seem to escape controversy. The arrival of the 89th Academy Awards brought about the diversity issue and it seemed to meet its zenith then, but that issue is still going strong, thanks to the superb Get Out.

With diversity in film finally stretching its legs, Hollywood’s moral shortcomings shifted towards the fairer sex. Women in Hollywood found the courage to speak out against sexual harassers and their sexist agendas so that they can receive their overdue justice and be viewed as equals in every way. In conjunction with the #MeToo movement are a plethora of amazing performances from women (which I will touch upon below) which further support the need for equality.

The acting categories seem to be all but locked up since the months leading up have seen multiple awards and accolades showered upon Frances McDormand, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell and Gary Oldman. Despite them being overwhelming favorites, it’ll be worth it to tune in and see if expectations meet reality. Regardless, it’s always interesting to see what the winners will say.

Best Picture is the cloudiest of categories – there are five legitimate contenders of the nine nominees.

Jimmy Kimmel is back as host, which is enough for me to skip the show completely. But if you remember the fiasco surrounding the Best Picture winner (La La Land wins! Wait, Moonlight wins! Um, what just happened?), it might be worth it to check out the festivities on March 4th just in case things go wacky again.

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

I mentioned this earlier – Best Picture may be the most competitive category. Dunkirk, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Get Out, Lady Bird and The Shape of Water are all worthy contenders. Dunkirk is the most technically accomplished and there is plenty of love for it and its unconventional presentation. Three Billboards seems to be the favorite since it already won at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA’s, but there has been a backlash which may hurt its chances. There is immense support for Lady Bird since it lines right up with the #MeToo movement (a coming of age film which centers on a teenage woman and her mother, and it’s written and directed by a woman); and Get Out speaks to black America with its satiric and scary commentary on racism. The most reasonable choice is The Shape of Water since it deftly juggles technical prowess and artistic creativity. For me, I feel the need to pick an upset – I want Get Out to win and thus I’m pulling for it Sunday night.

Darkhorse: Lady Bird

Who I Like: Get Out

Who I Think: The Shape of Water

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Jordan Peele, Get Out

Since The Shape of Water’s release Guillermo del Toro has been touted as the clear directing favorite. A few months and a couple of major awards (Golden Globe and BAFTA) later has made that proclamation a certainty. There is sentiment for all of the nominees – Peele is an African-American with an amazing and topical horror film; Gerwig is the lovable lone female nominee with a lovable female-centric dramady; Anderson is doing more of what makes him an eccentric but great auteur; and Nolan is finally on the shortlist after creating a calculated/chaotic technical marvel. Nolan has the best shot at pulling off the upset but the statue is del Toro’s to lose.

Darkhorse: Christopher Nolan

Who I Like: Guillermo del Toro

Who I Think: Guillermo del Toro

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

It’s a two-woman race between Janney and Metcalf, but in all reality it’s Janney all the way. Early on during awards season, though, Metcalf was the certainty. She is memorable and relatable as a tough mother to Saoirse Ronan’s Lady Bird. But then I, Tonya happened and Janney impressed and amazed as a… tough as nails mother to Margot Robbie’s Tonya Harding. The difference in the mothers is that Janney’s LaVona is trashier and flashier, and like moths to a flame the Academy voters go for flashy. As much as I love Metcalf to win (she still has a shot, though!), Janney has this in the bag. Both are deserving and I would be happy either way.

Darkhorse: Mary J. Blige

Who I Like: Laurie Metcalf

Who I Think: Allison Janney

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

Having already won everywhere, Sam Rockwell has been practicing his acceptance speech since January. Rockwell has dominated at the awards circuit, winning a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and a Screen Actors Guild award. Rockwell’s turn as racist cop Dixon is another flashy (and controversial) role, but his evolution from a despicable human to a decent one is Oscar-worthy. My heart goes out to Willem Dafoe, though. He was an early favorite, and he was perfect yet understated in the little-seen The Florida Project. The fact that it’s little-seen is likely the biggest reason why Dafoe hasn’t garnered more support, and that’s sad. Dafoe doesn’t need an award to validate his talent, but it would be nice. Kudos to Rockwell, though, he knocked it out of the park.

Darkhorse: Willem Dafoe

Who I Like: Sam Rockwell

Who I Think: Sam Rockwell

Best 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

After her rousing speech at the Golden Globes, I don’t see how the Academy doesn’t vote for Frances McDormand. She is a de facto voice for the #MeToo movement and just the thought of what she might say on stage is exciting. Besides all that hoopla, McDormand has won awards (Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG) aplenty, like her co-star Rockwell. So it would be a bigger surprise if McDormand didn’t win. But in the unlikely event she’s upset it would mean the charismatic, empathetic and muted performance from Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water won the Academy over. Hawkins played a mute in love with a fish-man, and did it convincingly and passionately. I personally think Hawkins played the more complex and layered role, but McDormand’s grieving, determined and outspoken mother is (again) the showier, flashier turn.

Darkhorse: Saoirse Ronan

Who I Like: Sally Hawkins

Who I Think: Frances McDormand

Best 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.

Timothée Chalamet, at 22 years young, has come out of nowhere to garner plenty of love for his breakout performance in Call Me By Your Name. But young actors never win Best Actor – the youngest Best Actor winner was Adrien Brody (29 years old) in 2003. The Academy typically goes with more experienced and established leading men, and if that trend holds true this year then Chalamet won’t take the stage as a winner. He has a bright future ahead of him, though, since he also put forth a strong supporting performance in Lady Bird.

This year’s Best Actor Oscar will go to Gary Oldman, a celebrated and veteran actor who has put in the work. His transformation into Winston Churchill is a sight to behold, and he commands leading man attention in Darkest Hour. Having already won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and a SAG award only cements his expected win come March 4th. He’s another lock in what looks to be lopsided contests in the acting categories.

Darkhorse: Timothée Chalamet

Who I Like: Gary Oldman

Who I Think: Gary Oldman


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