One critic's picks for the evening's biggest awards
In a year when the Academy generally got the nominees right, can they still screw up the winners? Of course they can. Here are my predictions for the major categories, who could play spoiler and who really deserves to win.
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”
Will win: This is one of the most wide-open races of the night, as five films have a reasonable shot to win. My long-running Oscar cynicism gives the edge to the movie I liked the least out of the nominees, “The Shape of Water.”
Spoiler alert: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Deserves to win: My No. 1 movie of 2017 was “Lady Bird,” and I would love to see Greta Gerwig on the podium, but is there a movie that feels more right for the moment than “Get Out”?
Best DirectorChristopher Nolan, “Dunkirk” Jordan Peele, “Get Out” Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” Paul Thomas Anderson, “Phantom Thread” Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
Will win: Guillermo Del Toro is the odds-on favorite and, again, the only nominee here I could do without (especially since Martin McDonagh was left out for “Three Billboards”).
Spoiler alert: Christopher Nolan
Deserves to win: Yes, she's a fine actress in her own right, but Greta Gerwig made her directorial debut count with a sure-handed touch. She also got two of the year's great performances from her cast.
Best ActressSally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water” Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya” Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird” Meryl Streep, “The Post”
Will win: Frances McDormand gave her best performance since “Fargo.” I've got no argument with that.
Spoiler alert: Sally Hawkins
Deserves to win: Young actors often get snubbed in the belief they'll have other chances down the road, but Saoirse Ronan made “Lady Bird” feel both super specific and universal.
Best ActorTimothee 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.”
Will win: Gary Oldman's turn as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” is the kind of biographical performance the Oscars love. Plus, it's a chance to remember what real world leaders look like.
Spoiler alert: Timothee Chalamet
Deserves to win: In what is apparently his final performance, Daniel Day-Lewis reminds us why he'll be missed in the underseen “Phantom Thread.”
Best Supporting ActressMary J. Blige, “Mudbound” Allison Janney, “I, Tonya” Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread” Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird” Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”
Will win: Allison Janney gave one of the most memorable performances of the year as Tonya Harding's mother, but she definitely got an assist from that parakeet.
Spoiler alert: Lesley Manville
Deserves to win: The central mother-daughter relationship in “Lady Bird” featured two indelible performances. I'm pulling for Laurie Metcalf.
Best Supporting ActorWillem 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”
Will win: Whether or not you believe his racist small-town cop gets “redeemed” in “Three Billboards” (I do not), Sam Rockwell's performance was maybe the greatest of his career.
Spoiler alert: Christopher Plummer
Deserves to win: Willem Dafoe getting a win here would be especially great so more people could see the delightful and unique “The Florida Project.”
Best Original ScreenplayEmily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, “The Big Sick” Jordan Peele, “Get Out” Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, “The Shape of Water” Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Will win: In a category that is often the true representation of the year's best picture, Jordan Peele's “Get Out” script wrapped its racial commentary in a wildly entertaining thriller.
Spoiler alert: Martin McDonagh
Deserves to win: The fact “Get Out” was such a box-office success this time a year ago is testament to its great story. And that starts with the screenplay.
Best Adapted ScreenplayJames Ivory, “Call Me by Your Name” Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, “The Disaster Artist” Scott Frank and James Mangold and Michael Green, “Logan” Aaron Sorkin, “Molly's Game” Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, “Mudbound”
Will win: In a different year, “Call Me by Your Name” could have swept the awards and emerged as the talk of the Oscars. This year, its consolation prize will be an Oscar for legendary writer-director James Ivory.
Spoiler alert: Aaron Sorkin
Deserves to win: The team behind “Logan” took the well-worn superhero movie in the direction of a serious drama, and I'd love to see more of that.