March 1, 2018
Who Will/Should Win:
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Gary Oldman will win his first Oscar for his immersive performance as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.” The Academy loves a ham, and no one out-hams Oldman, who dons heavy prosthetics, chomps cigars and blubbers inspirational speeches as Britain’s former prime minister. Special recognition goes to fellow nominee Daniel Day-Lewis, who brought a quiet intensity and dark bit of humor to his role as fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread.” Shut-out of the category this year was James Franco, who seemed destined for a nomination for his hilarious performance as Tommy Wiseau in “The Disaster Artist.” But allegations of sexual misconduct rightfully kept him out of the running
Who Will Win: Frances McDormand,
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Who Should Win: Sally Hawkins, “The
Shape of Water”
Every Best Actress award on planet Earth has gone to professional ass-kicker Frances McDormand for her fierce and ferocious performance as a mother seeking justice in “Three Billboards.” But my pick for Best Actress is Sally Hawkins, who brought gentility, grace and beauty to her role as a perennial outsider who falls in love outside her species. Hawkins—whose character is mute—deftly uses her eyes and body to convey her character’s internal conflict and external vulnerability. It’s a truly monumental performance—the best of Hawkins’ career—but all signs point toward McDormand and Ebbing, Missouri.
Best Supporting Actor
Who Will/Should Win: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
With his charming smugness, working-class demeanor and precise comic timing, Sam Rockwell has always been one of acting’s national treasures. But as Jason Dixon—a racist cop who learns the path toward rehabilitation—in “Three Billboards,” Rockwell gave the world not just the supporting performance of the year, but one of the best in recent memory. The way Rockwell can pivot from despicable to funny to sympathetic all in one scene is a testament to his versatility and humanity as an actor. “Three Billboards” co-star Woody Harrelson is also nominated, as is Willem Dafoe for his great work in “The Florida Project,” but this award has Rockwell’s name written all over it.
Best Supporting Actress
Who Will Win: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Who Should Win: Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
It’s a shame “Phantom Thread” probably won’t take home any awards this year. Day-Lewis is fantastic, the cinematography is gorgeous, the score is sumptuous and Anderson’s script is quick-witted and thought-provoking. The best part of the movie, though, is Lesley Manville’s performance as DayLewis’ controlling and conniving sister, Cyril Woodcock. She’s as terrifying as she is funny—almost Shakespearean in her ambitions and manipulations. But her work is too niche for the Academy, who seem like they’ll award Allison Janney for her role as Tonya Harding’s boozy and brazen mother in “I, Tonya.” Janney—a first-time nominee—has already won the Globe, SAG and BAFTA. Don’t be surprised, though, if dark horse Laurie Metcalf snags the Oscar for her layered work in “Lady Bird.”
Who Will Win: “The Shape of Water”
Who Should Win: “Get Out”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has all the momentum, following Best Picture wins at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs. But in my opinion, it was the third-best film in an extremely competitive year. Gold and silver— in no particular order—were Guillermo del Toro’s deliriously romantic “The Shape of Water” and Jordan Peele’s incendiary, social thriller masterpiece “Get Out.” “The Shape of Water”—with its dreamlike, noir imagery, fully-realized characters and staggering originality—and “Get Out”—with its unbelievably tight script, subtle foreshadowing and calibrated pacing—both deserve to take the Academy’s top prize. But there can only be one. I’d love to see Peele win, but come Sunday, the trophy will most likely be hoisted by del Toro.
Who Will Win: Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
Who Should Win: Jordan Peele, “Get Out” or Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”
Another competitive category, but many in the industry see this award as good as given to del Toro—who 100% deserves it for his focused and risky work on “The Shape of Water.” Peele’s “Get Out” is inarguably the more timely and important film, but seeing as this is his directorial debut, the Academy is more likely to give it to someone they feel is due. And speaking of people who are due, where is the love for Christopher Nolan? He should’ve won for 2008’s “The Dark Knight” and should definitely be considered for his heartstopping, visceral summer blockbuster “Dunkirk.” For God’s sake, Nolan made a war film spanning three different time durations (one week, one day, one hour), set across three different locations (land, sea, air) and he did it all in a dialogue-light 106 minutes. Oh, and did I mention it was all shot in IMAX? The man deserves the award as much as anyone.
Best Original Screenplay
Who Will/Should Win: Jordan Peele, “Get Out”
“Get Out” is not only the best-written film of the year, but—in my mind—the last five or 10. Peele’s pages are so packed with symbolism, foreshadowing, originality and social commentary that there are already college classes dedicated to studying his fine work. The intricacies of the dialogue and the perfect construction of the scenes forced me into seeing “Get Out” three times in the theater. To give this award to anyone but Peele would be a sin beyond forgiveness.