Oscar time is upon us again; a time for celebration, reflection, and harsh snubs. But no matter what your opinion of The Oscars as a brand, there is little doubt that their influence and relevance persists and sustains through the ages. Would the film zeitgeist still remember a film like Paul Haggis’s Crash (2004) had it not won the top award for that year? We certainly don’t remember the film because of it’s greatness, largely because it’s far from great. Rather many critics remain frustrated that the film won Best Picture, using the event to challenge the relevance of the Academy itself. I say that, if the Oscars were indeed completely irrelevant, then we wouldn’t be discussing such a dull and uninspiring film like Crash each and every time a new Oscar season rolled around.
Take 2017’s winner for example. By industry standards, Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight (2016) began life as a tiny film, but grew in anticipation and buzz with every new award both nominated and won. How many people would have bothered to see Moonlight had it not been for its celebrated award wins, particularly from the Academy? In 2018, we now have Greta Gerwig and a chance for only the second ever woman to win Best Director. These accolades are important not just because talented people are rewarded, but because, after the win for Moonlight, for example, the door is widened slightly for more black and minority stories to be told within mainstream cinema. In Garwig, the door is also opened for a greater number of young women to be inspired to make films. These examples create roll models and case studies that encourage and invite a wide range of different voices and prospectives to be brought to the forefront of the cinematic zeitgeist.
And so, looking over this year’s nominations, a slight chance for an increased diversity stands much stronger than in recent years. A personal favourite of mine is Lady Bird, but Jordan Peele’s Get Out is not only socially relevant, but so far removed from what would normally be looked at as a ‘Best Picture movie’, both in style and tone. The Shape of Water is both creative and touching as a narrative. And a supporting nomination for Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project is much deserved within a smaller independent yet absolutely fascinating film. As we saw last weekend, BAFTAs loved Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, awarding it Best Film, and we can expect something similar for the Oscars as is the top contender to win the statue with odds at 2/1 over The Shape of Water and Dunkirk.
Below are my own 2018 Oscar predictions for the main 6 awards. In bold are my predictions for who/what will win, and underlined are my own preferences for who/what should win.
“Call Me by Your Name”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
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.”
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”
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”
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”
“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan”
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele”
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig”
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson”
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro”