Sunday, March 4, 2018

90th Academy Awards: The Predictions

I have a bad feeling about this.

The 90th Academy Awards are a few hours away, and I am not big on predictions as to who/what will win. 

Don't use this to fill out any Oscar Polls, but I figured since everyone is into this, why not I?

I should note that some of these would not have been my personal choices.  On some categories, I'm flying blind as I have not seen all the nominees.  These are educated guesses to the best of my abilities.

I should note that from my view, there are only two 'locks': Adapted Screenplay and Lead Actor.  A few, like Supporting Actor, are pretty much over but still not without chance of a surprise.






DeKalb Elementary


Dear Basketball




War for Planet of the Apes






The Shape of Water


The Shape of Water


Remember Me (Coco)


Darkest Hour


Baby Driver


Phantom Thread


Blade Runner 2049


Jordan Peele (Get Out)


James Ivory (Call Me By Your Name)


The Insult (Lebanon)


Allison Janney (I, Tonya)


Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)


Francis McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)


Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)


Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)



Now, I know many people are thinking The Shape of Water is going to win.  However, I've noticed that in the past ten years, the Best Director and Best Picture matching up has been six times.  Still impressive, but in the past five years, it's happened only once, when Birdman won both.

In those years, the Best Picture winner did not get Best Director: Argo beat Life of Pi, 12 Years A Slave beat Gravity, Spotlight beat The Revenant, and Moonlight beat La La Land. While there were those who predicted 12 Years A Slave and Argo could win Best Picture without winning Best Director (especially since Argo, the real outlier, didn't get nominated for Best Director), few predicted Spotlight and everyone assumed La La Land had already won given how many critics and other award indicators it had stormed through. 

I don't remember anyone giving Moonlight a prayer of a chance, yet it stunned when its name was announced, after La La Land's infamously and erroneously was announced.

If this trend continues, I expect the more traditional Dunkirk to win over the science-fiction film The Shape of Water, a genre which the Academy has never given Best Picture to.  Get Out might win, but given that Moonlight "took care" of Oscar's 'so white' problem, and even threw in LGBT representation (knocking Call Me By Your Name out), I don't half-fancy its chances.

If anything, Get Out will get a 'consolation prize' in Original Screenplay, which means that unless Laurie Metcalf pulls an upset in Supporting Actress, Lady Bird will win nothing.  Curiously, the 'consolation prize' mindset might play in Lady Bird's favor since it isn't expected to win anything and Get Out might.

Original Screenplay is the most open field, but Adapted is closed.  89-year-old James Ivory, he of the Merchant-Ivory productions, will win for Call Me By Your Name.  Oldman has yet to have any serious competition able to knock him out, and while Daniel Day-Lewis in my view has the strongest chance to upset him, I don't see a three-time winner beating someone highly respected who has yet to win.

Same goes for Cinematography.  While Rachel Morrison earned a place in history as the first female to be nominated in this category for Mudbound, Roger Deakins is on his fourteenth nomination without a win.  It would be astonishing if he lost again given how often he's been overlooked.  Blade Runner 2049's cinematography is beautiful, and there's a big feeling that this is 'his year'. 

Actress was fluid for a while, but now McDormand has become the consensus choice.  Her Three Billboards costar Rockwell looks almost certain to win, but there's been some pushback due to his character's 'redemption' not sitting well with some voters.  I have always believed that if two actors from the same film get nominated in the same category, they tend to cancel each other out.  Very rarely does one end up winning, but given how far almost-certain winner Willem Dafoe has fallen, I don't see an upset here.

Then again, few predicted Christoph Waltz winning for Django Unchained when Tommy Lee Jones was seen as almost a lock for Lincoln.

Rockwell is the likely winner, but not the certain winner the way Oldman is.

I also see that I might be one of the few who thinks Baby Driver will win Film Editing.  In the past, Film Editing winners went on to win Best Picture too, but in the past ten years they have matched up a mere three times.  In the past five years, just once (Argo).  Only once in those past ten years was the Best Picture winner not nominated for Film Editing (Birdman).

Even if the eventual Best Picture winner lost Film Editing, it was still nominated in both save for when Birdman wasn't.  No Country for Old Men was nominated and lost.  The King's Speech was nominated and lost.  The Artist was nominated and lost. 12 Years A Slave was nominated and lost. Spotlight was nominated and lost. Moonlight was nominated and lost.

Each of them lost to a fellow Best Picture nominee, some that were thought of as the frontrunners (The Social Network, Mad Max: Fury Road, Gravity).  Those films ending up winning Film Editing yet losing Best Picture to a film that was also nominated in both categories.

This year, only three Best Picture nominees are nominated in both: The Shape of Water, Three Billboards, and Dunkirk.

Get Out isn't.  Call Me By Your Name isn't.  Lady Bird isn't.

It would take a lot for Get Out to break that trend.  Few think Three Billboards will win Best Picture, feeling Actress and maybe Supporting Actor is enough.  The Shape of Water has to fight a lot of resistance to get over the Academy's disdain for science-fiction.

That leaves just one film, and circling back to my opening thoughts, I think Dunkirk may end up surprising when the last envelope is opened.

Image result for orange pins gun control

Finally, I have one last prediction: despite the Academy's efforts to taper down on the politics, the presenters and winners will not be able to control themselves and will once again lecture the viewing audience on all matter of political matters.

I expect gun control and Me Too/Time's Up to be a dominating force.  I genuinely would not be surprised if people like David Hogg were surprise presenters/guests. 

Given how obscure some of these nominees are, and given how even liberals are tiring of the constant pontification at these awards shows, the Academy may face a major problem.

Last year's Academy Awards had the lowest ratings since the 80th Awards, when the generally obscure and dour No Country for Old Men won.  There were many people who had not heard of, let alone seen No Country for Old Men or There Will Be Blood, and the generally morose nature of the films along with their obscurity turned viewers off.  Ratings for various award shows have gone down, the endless lectures from winners driving even those who agree with them away.

Their reputation precedes them, and I don't expect them to have full course-correction here.  However, if they could at least minimize their soapbox spectacle, it would go a long way to restore good will between the nominees and their employers: the paying public.

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