2017 has been one of the best years in film in recent memory. We have been treated to films which transport us to provocative times in history, blockbusters which preserve the integrity of the medium and challenge their viewers, and stories which question our anger, scrutinize our hatred, and celebrate our love.
It’s no coincidence that this year’s Oscar ceremony will be one of the best in recent memory, too. After a historic set of nominees, the ceremony itself promises to be significant, potentially rewarding overdue artists, unflagging octogenarians, and most importantly, the films we loved!
The Oscars will be broadcast live on March 5 at 9 AM (SGT). Prior to the event, I shall be taking a stab at predicting who will soon emerge as Oscar-winners. And without further delay, here are my predictions for the 90th Academy Awards.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
- Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
- Allison Janney, I, Tonya
- Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
- Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
- Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
Since she has won all the major Oscar precursors, winning the actual Oscar itself is Allison Janney’s next stop.
I haven’t been able to see most of these films, including Janney’s I, Tonya. However, I have seen Lady Bird and Laurie Metcalf’s performance in it struck a chord with me. It’s one of those true supporting performances: one which effectively supports the leading actor’s performance as well as the film itself. Metcalf, who plays the mother of her film’s eponymous main character, is the soul of Lady Bird. It’s a heartbreaking portrayal which distinguishes the film amongst other coming-of-age films and is a fundamental reason behind the film’s universal acclaim.
From the excerpts I’ve seen and what I’ve read about Janney’s performance, it’s reminiscent of JK Simmons’s electrifying performance in Whiplash, for which he won an Oscar. If Janney’s performance is indeed on that level, she would make for a worthy winner.
- Will Win: Allison Janney
- My Pick: Laurie Metcalf
Best Performance by an 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
Having won all of the major Oscar precursors, Sam Rockwell is the logical candidate to win this year’s Supporting Actor Oscar. And quite frankly, he deserves it.
Playing the violent police officer Jason Dixon, Rockwell finds the humanity of a character who could have easily come off as a caricature and vividly puts it on screen for us all to observe. Dixon isn’t a contemptible man worthy of nothing but scorn, nor is he a stereotypical redneck. He is a complex, three-dimensional human being who earns genuine empathy. It’s a remarkable achievement, and all the credit goes to Rockwell’s performance.
Which isn’t to say any of the other nominees aren’t deserving. I haven’t seen The Shape of Water; however, Dafoe, Harrelson, and Plummer would all make for worthy winners too. But none of those performances are as dynamic nor as human as Rockwell’s in Three Billboards.
- Will Win: Sam Rockwell
- My Pick: Sam Rockwell
Best Performance by an 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
Frances McDormand is coming for her second Oscar! The 60-year old Oscar winner (Fargo, 1997) has swept all of the major Oscar precursors for her unforgettable portrayal of the grief-stricken Mildred Hayes in Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. The nominees are all brilliant, yet McDormand is the worthiest.
Not unlike Rockwell’s performance in the same film, McDormand portrays Mildred’s humanity on screen so vividly that it’s invigorating to watch. In my opinion, it’s a greater accomplishment than Rockwell’s, since she has to hold the emotional weight of her film entirely by herself through a character who is oftentimes unsympathetic. Nevertheless, she delivers in a performance that proves what a force of nature she truly is. This performance, my friends, is one for the history books!
- Will Win: Frances McDormand
- My Pick: Frances McDormand
Best Performance by an 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.
According to a poll from Ranker.com, Gary Oldman was voted by the public as the greatest male actor to have never won an Oscar.
Well, that’s about to change, and deservedly so. Oldman is the quintessential chameleon. Be it Drexl Spivey, Sirius Black, Commissioner James Gordon, or Winston Churchill, Oldman magically disappears into every role he plays. And “magically” is the only word which accurately describes Oldman’s immense talent. After being ignored for several years, it’s great to see the industry finally take notice of Oldman, who has swept all the major Oscar precursors.
However, I think Daniel Day-Lewis should win for his performance in Phantom Thread. The three-time Oscar winner highlights the obsessiveness and vulnerability of his character so poetically that it accentuates an already extraordinary film.
Still, I don’t care if Day-Lewis loses. He gives the deserving performance, but Gary Oldman has been ignored by the Academy far too long for him to lose this year. It’s a transformative portrayal worthy on its own merit, and one that highlights just how talented Oldman is. As such, this performance is a great opportunity for the Academy to finally reward him. But if the winner were to be deemed solely on the performance, then Day-Lewis would be winning in a landslide.
- Will Win: Gary Oldman
- My Pick: Daniel Day-Lewis
Best Achievement in Directing
- Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan
- Get Out, Jordan Peele
- Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
- Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson
- The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro
It’s interesting to note that, even under our current political atmosphere, three of the past four winners of the Directing Oscar are Mexican directors. When Guillermo del Toro — who has swept all the major precursors for his work on The Shape of Water — wins the Oscar, four of the past five winners for Directing would be Mexican directors. And when del Toro wins, he will join his pals Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro G. Iñárritu – the three of whom together form Los Tres Amigos del Cine – as Oscar-winning directors.
But let’s not kid ourselves, Christopher Nolan deserves the Oscar. I’m not a Nolanite, but Nolan’s work in Dunkirk truly is the best achievement in directing. I haven’t seen The Shape of Water, but the film’s writing nomination and three acting nominations indicate that del Toro built upon the foundation of strong work from other artists. On the contrary, Nolan didn’t work with a strong screenplay or Oscar-worthy performances. To create the film’s experience, he relied solely on film language. As such, Dunkirk is a true directing achievement; one that would be absolutely nothing without its director, but with him, becomes the most stress-inducing film of the year. Del Toro is winning this, without a doubt, but it would be great to see Nolan get his due reward. Dunkirk is his best-directed film and the kind of film which requires the Best Director to succeed.
- Will Win: Guillermo del Toro
- My Pick: Christopher Nolan
Best Motion Picture of the Year
- Call Me By Your Name, Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges, and Marco Morabito (producers)
- Darkest Hour, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten, and Douglas Urbanski (producers)
- Dunkirk, Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan (producers)
- Get Out, Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr., and Jordan Peele (producers)
- Lady Bird, Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, and Evelyn O’Neill (producers)
- Phantom Thread, JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison, and Daniel Lupi (producers)
- The Post, Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg, and Kristie Macosko Krieger (producers)
- The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles Dale (producers)
- Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, and Martin McDonagh (producers)
In a predictable Oscar year, this Best Picture race stands out as one with several viable candidates. But of the nine, it is Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri which has garnered enough industry support to warrant a Best Picture victory.
However, Three Billboards couldn’t garner a Directing nomination, which can be seen as a huge threat to its odds of winning Best Picture. If the directing snub proves to be fatal, The Shape of Water and Get Out seem like potential spoilers. But even with this in mind, I don’t see any film but Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri winning Best Picture.
However, the film that should be winning is Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread. It’s extraordinary and the best film of 2017. And it’s brilliance incorporates socially relevant themes, too. Phantom Thread is an evaluation of gender roles. It toys with the ideas of masculinity and femininity, creating a central conflict which consistently subverts our expectations. While it may leave audiences queasy by the end, the film’s exploration of gender roles is undeniably thrilling. It would be a great choice by the Academy, considering how significant the sexual harassment scandals were in Hollywood in 2017.
I want to see Phantom Thread win Best Picture, but the film hasn’t garnered enough attention to warrant a win. I will be satisfied when Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri wins. While it might not be as great as Phantom Thread, Three Billboards is an unabashed, chilling look at how polarization plagues human relationships. Dark, disturbing, yet hopeful, Three Billboards is an electrifying achievement in film. It might not be the year’s best film, but it’s hands down one of the year’s best.
- Will Win: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
- My Pick: Phantom Thread
That’s my insight in the major categories, but these are merely 25% of the awards to be claimed next Sunday evening in Los Angeles. Here is who I think will prevail in the remaining categories.
- Best Animated Feature Film: Coco, Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson
- Best Achievement in Cinematography: The Shape of Water, Dan Lausten
- Best Achievement in Costume Design: Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges
- Best Documentary Feature: Faces Places, Agnès Varda, JR, and Rosalie Varda
- Best Documentary Short Subject: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Frank Stiefel
- Best Achievement in Film Editing: Baby Driver, Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos
- Best Foreign Language Film: A Fantastic Woman, Chile
- Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Darkest Hour, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, and Lucy Sibbick
- Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score: The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat
- Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song: “Remember Me” from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
- Best Production Design: The Shape of Water, Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, and Jeffrey Melvin
- Best Animated Short Film: Garden Party, Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon
- Best Live Action Short Film: The Silent Child, Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton
- Best Achievement in Sound Editing: Dunkirk, Richard King and Alex Gibson
- Best Achievement in Sound Mixing: Dunkirk, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo, and Mark Weingarten
- Best Achievement in Visual Effects: Blade Runner 2049, John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, and Richard R. Hoover
- Best Adapted Screenplay: Call Me By Your Name, James Ivory
- Best Original Screenplay: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh