What will win? What should win? A look at the 2018 Academy Awards

Can you believe the Oscars are nearly upon us? With the big show coming up in less than 24 hours, what better time to take a look at the nominees and tell you what will win and what should.

You can trust me due to my lack of anything resembling a social life and a slavish devotion to film that stretches back decades. Also, not to brag, but last year I was right with my picks 50 percent of the time!

All right, that doesn’t sound too good, but the winners in this year’s crop of nominees seem pretty predictable. Given, they always do, until they aren’t.

Let’s take a look.


Will Win? “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Should win? “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Potential spoiler? “Get Out”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was easily 2017’s best film, but quality isn’t the only barometer with the Academy. Momentum matters, and “Billboards” has a ton of that, cleaning up at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. Politics also play a part. Not actual politics, but the internal thinking of the AMPAS. If they can, they like to award films seen as having social relevance, to make a statement with the Best Picture trophy. “Spotlight” won as Trump was rising and chants of “fake news” were blanketing the land, for example.

We are in the midst of the #MeToo movement, and the Academy is still under scrutiny for a conspicuous lack of diversity in both race and gender. Giving the award to “Lady Bird” would address their gender issues. Giving the award to “Get Out” would address racial ones. Both films are excellent, and if either took the prize it would be amazing. Between the two, I give the edge to “Get Out” as a potential spoiler because giving the award to a picture from a first-time director who delivered a stunning debut would make for a good Cinderella story.

“Billboards” deals with issues of race, too, though. It also features a strong female character fighting back against a society of men who are doing nothing to help her. It is a great movie, but that is beside the point. It has momentum and can be said to address the two issues that are probably on the minds of Oscar voters right now, and that’s why it will be your winner.


Will win? Guillermo Del Toro (“The Shape of Water”)

Should win? Jordan Peele (“Get Out”)

Potential spoilers? Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) or Peele

This award is pretty much Del Toro’s to lose. The stunning, lyrical visuals and dreamlike narrative weaving of “The Shape of Water” are all owed to its director. He was the only person who could have straddled so many lines so expertly with film.

On the other hand, Jordan Peele delivered one of the most effectively chilling horror films ever made, a task made all the more difficult when trying to create an incisive social commentary at the same time, and he did it all without losing his sense of humor. Gerwig delivered a coming-of-age story destined for classic status. Del Toro just has too much momentum, though. I can’t think of a directing award he hasn’t won this year, for good reason, though as a first-time director I would say Peele’s achievement is more impressive, personally.


Will win? Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”)

Should win? McDormand

Potential spoiler? Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”)

McDormand gives a performance to rival her work in “Fargo” in “Three Billboards,” and her performance in that film is among the best performances ever given by anyone. Period. She also has a ton of momentum, winning pretty much everything that isn’t nailed down this awards season.

Ronan is amazing in “Lady Bird,” though, and is a bright, shiny, new talent. If the Academy decides to avoid the obvious choice and instead use its powers to welcome a young actress to a higher echelon, they could pick her. The chances are slim, though.


Will win? Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”)

Should win? Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”)

Potential spoiler? Daniel Day-Lewis (“Phantom Thread”)

Oldman is the odds-on favorite for his thunderous performance in “Darkest Hour,” the best thing about that achingly ordinary movie by far. He shouts! He screams! He wears a fat suit while doing it! Give that man his Oscar! It really is a great performance, and he’s got a raft of awards this season to prove it.

If the Academy is feeling moved to give one last trophy to Day-Lewis on his way out the door for his good but somewhat ponderous performance in the underwhelming “Phantom Thread,” then Oldman might lose. If they’re going to give it to someone besides Oldman, though, I’d argue they ought to give it to another Daniel. In “Get Out,” Kaluuya has the weight of the film on his shoulders. As he transitions through initial unease into all-out panic, he takes us on that journey with him, and the film is so unsettling because Kaluuya’s work allows us to see it through his eyes.


Will win? Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”)

Should win? Janney

Possible spoiler? Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”)

I’m not kidding when I say that Janney’s work in “I, Tonya” is some of the finest acting I have ever seen. She portrays a reprehensible character with just the slightest tinge of sympathy, and all the while she is hysterically funny. That’s a lot to ask of an actress, and she does it without breaking a sweat.

Metcalf also does fantastic work in “Lady Bird,” playing a pensive mother terrified to see her daughter potentially go down the wrong path, she also echoes the performance of Saoirse Ronan, providing a heartfelt mother-daughter connection. These two have pretty much split this award all season long, but Janney has been winning more lately, so the momentum is on her side.


Will win? Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”)

Should win? Rockwell

Potential spoiler? Willem Dafoe (“The Florida Project”)

This is Rockwell’s to lose. He’s pretty much cleaned house this award season for his fantastic work in “Three Billboards.” He is given a tricky character arc that demands he start the film by alienating any decent human being in the audience, then he has to win us back by the end. The script can say to do that, but it doesn’t work without a performance like Rockwell’s, whose character transforms before our eyes while maintaining his essential nature.

Dafoe turns in a heartbreaking performance in “The Florida Project” as a man who essentially makes a living bearing witness to human tragedy. The few times Rockwell has lost in this category, Defoe was the winner, so if anyone besides Rockwell is taking home this Oscar, he’s your man.


Will win? “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Should win? “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Potential spoiler? “Get Out”

“Three Billboards’ ” script is utterly engrossing in every way. As it morphs between mystery, character study and melodrama it bares its brutal, thoughtful and darkly funny soul. It pulls off an astounding balancing act, refusing to deal in absolutes, courting discomfort, welcoming difficult subject matter and eschewing easy answers. It has won this award a few times this awards season, but has lost to “Shape of Water” before.

It has also lost to “Get Out,” which seems the more likely spoiler. Besides momentum and politics, the Academy sometimes makes decisions based on a desire to spread the wealth. If Del Toro is taking home Best Director and “Billboards” takes best picture, then the way to show “Get Out” some love would be to give it this award.

And that wouldn’t be a bad thing, either. Jordan Peele’s script is a master class in slow-burn tension and smothering angst. Beyond that is the awesome “Twilight Zone” vibe the film courts by tackling issues of race and society at the same time. That “spreading the wealth” thing actually has me slightly scared, because if “Three Billboards” wins this, it seems to me that the likelihood of a “Get Out” Best Picture win increases.


Will win? “Call Me by Your Name”

Should win? “The Disaster Artist”

Potential spoiler? “Logan”

If the Academy likes to spread the wealth, this is where they’ll show “Call Me by Your Name” some love. It isn’t the best script here, but it makes sense from that perspective. I would be much happier if they gave the trophy to “The Disaster Artist,” which deftly tells the tale of following your dreams at all costs while dovetailing it into a funny and sometimes disturbing descent into artistic madness. It’d be nice to see it win.

It is more likely, though, that if the Academy shuns “Name,” they’ll give it to “Logan.” They have a reputation for turning their nose up at genre fare and giving “Logan” an Oscar would certainly address that. It’d make headlines, too, and positive ones to boot. That’s always a positive for the AMPAS.

So, those are the eight “major” categories. For the remaining categories, I will just do what will and should win and what a potential spoiler might be.


Will win? “The Shape of Water”

Should win? “The Shape of Water”

Potential spoiler? “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”


Will win? “This is Me,” “The Greatest Showman”

Should win? “Remember Me,” “Coco”

Potential spoiler? “Remember Me”


Will win? “Coco”

Should win? “Loving Vincent”

Potential spoiler? “Loving Vincent”


Will win? “The Square”

Should win? “The Square”

Potential spoiler? “A Fantastic Woman”


Will win? “Faces Places”

Should win? “Faces Places”

Potential spoiler?  “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”


Will win? “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Should win? “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Potential spoiler? “Blade Runner 2049”


Will win? “The Shape of Water”

Should win? “The Shape of Water”

Potential spoiler? “Dunkirk”


Will win? “The Shape of Water”

Should win? “The Shape of Water”

Potential spoiler? “Blade Runner 2049”


Will win? “Dunkirk”

Should win? “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Potential spoiler? “Baby Driver”


Will win? “Dunkirk”

Should win? “The Shape of Water”

Potential spoiler? “Blade Runner 2049″


Will win? “Dunkirk”

Should win? “The Shape of Water”

Potential spoiler? “Blade Runner 2049″


Will win? “Phantom Thread”

Should win? “The Shape of Water”

Potential spoiler? “Victoria & Abdul”


Will win? “Darkest Hour”

Should win? “Darkest Hour”

Potential spoiler? “Victoria & Abdul”

I shall not be making predictions on the short films, for I have seen none of them.

Click here for Cold Bananas’ Guide to the Oscars.

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