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The Oscars are back already, and they've arrived at a monumental landmark with their 90th ceremony. As the fateful Sunday approaches, experts have given their picks for what movies will scoop up which awards, and as someone who has seen his fair share of films, I figured I would toss in my insights on how the night will play out for the following categories.
Best Animated Feature: 'Coco'
With the exception of the Cars trilogy, Pixar delivers high quality story telling with beautiful animation, and this year should be no exception as it's viewed as a potential 10th Best Picture nominee that got snipped off the list. Everybody lost their minds when The LEGO Batman Movie lucked out, but The Boss Baby somehow managed to get in. However, for Pixar to bring home another win should prove that all's right with the world.
Best Visual Effects: 'War for the Planet of the Ape'
The Planet of the Apes prequel trilogy is one of the best Hollywood blockbusters to come out of Hollywood in recent years, yet very little has been done to acknowledge the good in it. Whether it's the performances, the writing, the directing, or even the cinematography, the fact that none of this has been recognized by the Academy has everyone going bananas.
This might change as War is the final installment of the trilogy, meaning that this is the franchises' final shot at getting an Oscar. Although The Last Jedi, Kong: Skull Island, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, and Blade Runner 2049 are all good candidates, they can't compare to that magic that captures every bit of emotion that's portrayed on Andy Serkis' face.
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins - 'Blade Runner 2049'
The Academy has have an untold vendetta against the horror and sci-fi genre, as those are seen as the most "out there," as opposed to actual fantasy like Lord of the Rings. However, considering the number of other nominations 2049 has snagged, it could hint that the long held bias against the genre is fading away. The competition is strong, with first timers Hoyte van Hoytema and Dan Lausten earning their first noms with Dunkirk and The Shape of Water respectively, Bruno Delbonnel picking his fifth with Darkest Hour, and Rachel Morrison, whose work on Mudbound is her most celebrated to date. The fact that she recently worked on Black Panther doesn't help either.
The clear winner here is Roger Deakins. Not only is he the oldest, but he's been nominated fourteen times over the course of 24 years, and his work has covered films such as The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou?, True Grit, Skyfall, Prisoners, Unbroken, and Sicario. Plus voters tend to have a soft spot for older nominees who have had multiple nominations in the past and no wins. It would be a great service for the Academy to finally acknowledge Deakins' hard work on so many iconic films by giving him an Oscar of his own.
Best Adapted Screenplay: James Mangold and Michael Green - 'Logan'
Given Suicide Squads' win for Best Hair and Makeup, the first Oscar win for a superhero movie since The Dark Knight, it seems that a comic book film winning an award comes along once every new presidency. To understand Logans' chances, let's look at who James Mangold and Michael Green will have to claw his way through to win.
The strongest opponent is Call Me By Your Name, which is based on a book that deals with a young man coming to terms with his own sexuality. Given the subject matter, it may ring a bell too close to Moonlight for some voters. Next is The Disaster Artist, and this is the films' only nomination, but had the allegations surrounding James Franco not come out, he may have been in the running for Best Actor. Regardless, movies with only one nomination in any category rarely win, but giving the controversy surrounding it, Disaster Artist may lose out. Mudbound won't win due to its status as a film from a streaming service, something that the Academy is potentially biased against, and the writer for Molly's Game, Aaron Sorkin, already has an Oscar for the same category.
It would be out of the ordinary for Logan to be granted the Oscar, as it is also up for only one award, and as previously mentioned, one award-off nominees barely stand a chance of winning. But seeing as the air around superhero movies is changing, another big win for the genre could inspire more movies like this one in the future. All I can say is, if the Academy thought they ticked off fans by snubbing Patrick Stewart for his final portrayal of Charles Xavier, they will certainly cause online riots if they don't give the award to a movie with more nominations.
Best Original Screenplay: Jordon Peele - 'Get Out'
For a movie to be remembered over a year later is quite a feat, and it's clear that the most defining aspect of that movie has to be the writing. Moreover, Jordan Peele has been getting praise for his craft as the writer for this movie rather than the director.
Because of the high praise for its' visuals and design, and that del Toro is poised to win Best Director, he and Taylor may lose out for the writing award. Martin McDonaugh is known for writing funny and insightful dialogue, but Sam Rockwells' performance will all but guarantee a Best Supporting Actor win. Greta Gerwig tells a compelling story in Lady Bird, yet Saoirse Ronan is the one who makes it work, so a Best Actress win is more likely. Finally, we have The Big Sick, its' only nomination is in this category and is unfortunate to have the status of a romantic comedy, a genre that rarely gets any Oscar glory. Stranger things have happened, and if Logan is to win Adapted Screenplay, what's to stop The Big Sick? But if a superhero movie winning an award two years in a row is rare, and a single nomination film winning is even rarer, then the safe bet would be to give the award to Get Out.
The four nominees make for strong competition, but due to wins in other categories, and the Academy spreading out their awards among the movies, it diminishes their chances of winning here.
Best Director: Guillermo del Toro - 'The Shape of Water'
Guillermo del Toro has often expressed how much work and heart he has put into this film, and after his Golden Globe win, it seems that he will take the Oscar statue without question.
There has been a lot of buzz has been surrounding Christopher Nolan, as this marks his first directing nomination, but many Nolan fans agree that this is not his best work, and that he should have been nominated for The Dark Knight and Inception. Regardless, his presence at the Oscars with such a notable nomination is sure to guarantee him future nominations, even if he (most likely) loses to del Toro. Jordan Peele would have already won Original Screenplay by that point of the night, so it's safe to assume he won't be picking up that award, and since Phantom Thread is pegged to walk away with only a Costume Design trophy in hand, this marks a loss for Paul Thomas Anderson.
Given how there are plenty of undisputed predetermined winners, del Toro is the one that everyone predicts will win. If he doesn't it will probably rupture a vein in a few film experts' heads.
Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney - 'I,Tonya'
In most cases, the Best Supporting Actress winner comes from a movie that either has very few nominations, and/or another actor from the same film competing in the Best Leading Actor/Actress category. Since I, Tonya has a mere three nominations, and Margot Robbie most likely won't win Best Actress, it's a surefire win for Janney. Plus, her performance has been the talk of the awards season, and all that talk surely won't hurt her chances.
Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell - 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'
Although he's in the same category as fellow star Woody Harrelson, he definitely has the better performance. Much like the other picks for the acting category winners, he's got everyone in the Academy talking, and his plethora of awards for his role speak for themselves.
Richard Jenkins is also on the ballot, but given the amount of other awards The Shape of Water will most likely win, he stands a very little chance of nabbing one for himself. Perhaps the only two who could undermine him are Willem Dafoe, who's nominated for The Florida Project, and Christopher Plummer for All the Money in the World. However, they're the only ones representing their respective movies at the Oscars, and since Three Billboards won't walk away empty handed, this award is sure to go to Rockwell.
Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan - 'Lady Bird'
Although Frances McDormand is winning experts over with her performance in Three Billboards, there's a high chance Saoirse Ronan could sweep in and nab the award for herself. It's the perfect setup, her performance is completely different than the one in Brooklyn, she's central to the film's acclaim, and she's in the same age group as Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence, Brie Larson, and Emma Stone. This year's award show is shaping up to be an unpredictable one, but to see Ronan continue a trend is probably what will shock everyone.
Best Actor: Gary Oldman - 'Darkest Hour'
It's hard to believe that Oldman is a year younger than Daniel Day-Lewis, yet he has three less Oscars. As the case with Roger Deakins, it's high time that the Academy makes up for ignoring talent for so long and grant him a statue.
Daniel Kaluuya is getting a lot of recognition for his role in Get Out, but his performance is more of a breakthrough rather than an award winning one. Timothee Chamalet is a third of his competitions' age, so his chances are already looking grim, and Denzel Washingtons' nomination for Roman J. Israel, Esq. was obviously meant to fill in James Francos' Disaster Artist spot. Much like Sam Rockwell, Gary Oldman has been scooping up awards left, right, and center, so expect him to add an Academy Award to that pile.
Best Picture: 'Dunkirk'
On top of a guaranteed Best Director win, The Shape of Water has 13 nominations, and if a movie is up for that many awards, a Best Picture win is unlikely. Darkest Hour, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards will already have their acting wins, and Get Out will have Best Original Screenplay, so major award wins will eliminate them from the competition. The Post is the most "Oscarbait" film of the whole bunch, and considering that its' only other nomination is now 21 time nominated and three time winner Meryl Streep, it's doubtful that if will snag the top prize. That just leaves Call Me By Your Name and Phantom Thread, the former, as previously mentioned, seems too similar to last years' Best Picture winner, and the former is still very unknown, even to members of the Academy.
The final nail that will seal Dunkirk as Best Picture winner is its' lack of any acting nominees, it's the 12th movie in history to be up for the grand prize without one. All the other 11 won, so for this film to follow the same pattern is not an odd concept. Since this year is all about making history, Dunkirks' win would mark the first movie in 85 years to win the award without a nomination in acting or writing. It would also file a major win for Christopher Nolan, as he and his wife Emma Thomas are the producers, meaning that even though he lost Best Director, he still walks away with a statue in hand.
Those are my predictions. I wish best of luck to all the nominees, and it will be fun to see how the night turns out.