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I was going to thank all the little people, but then I remembered I am the little people.

Prediction
2018 Oscars

I’ve seen six of the nine Best Picture nominees so far (and should see Phantom Fred, I mean Thread, on Thursday), and I’d argue only two of those have no business being there (The Post and Darkest Hour). I don’t think either are in danger of troubling voters for the top award, in a ceremony that has always been politically fuelled but just now even more so. As such, what might on one day be a frontrunner could get bumped for not sending out the right messages in the right way the next (which, if it doesn’t win, will surely be the bone of contention for Martin McDonagh’s contender). My track record with these guesses is usually in the 50-60% region, which an uninformed person (not that I’m suggesting I’m informed) could probably get close to, so if you’re aiming for aggressively average standards, I’m virtually impossible to beat. Accordingly, let the guessing begin:

Best Picture
Winner: The Shape of Water
I’d like to win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Interesting Choice: Get Out

The outside outsiders in this category, as in “don’t stand a chance of even offering a last-minute surprise”, are Dunkirk, The Post, Phantom Thread, and Darkest Hour (some were surprised the last two even managed to get nominated). Which takes us into the political vote arena (The Post is too ineffectual in its sincerity to seriously court Academy members); Call Me By Your Name, as a gay love story, seems unlikely so soon after Moonlight took the surprise statuette last year, and if it were getting serious press for the big award, there might be more scrutiny of why voters are considering a 16-year-old’s relationship with a 25-year-old approvingly in the year of Kevin Spacey’s ignominy. Lady Bird is liked, but I don’t think loved (or, in the year of #MeToo, giving a female-helmed picture the main prize would be irresistible). If not for the racism debate, I’d have pegged Three Billboards as the likely winner, so I’m unsure there’s sufficient appetite for McDonagh’s wilfully-difficult-to-pigeonhole approach. Get Out could still come in as an inside outsider, the way The Silence of the Lambs, another early year release and another horror movie, did, but I think I have to fall in with the hot favourite The Shape of Water. It has all the necessary present-and-correct empowerment issues, it offers a distinctive authorial voice, and it’s roundly liked. Could the plagiarism suit dint its chances? If it doesn’t win, that will be the claim, but you might as well point to whatever is in the air surrounding the actual winner (if it’s Get Out, the success of Black Panther may be considered to have prodded voters in that direction, or if it’s Three Billboards, the BAFTA glory). I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a settlement in due course either way, though.

Best Director
Winner: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)
I’d like to win: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)
The Interesting Choice: Jordan Peele (Get Out)

Del Toro’s work on The Shape of Water will likely be recognised even if it doesn’t take Best Picture, and he very much deserves it (what faults the picture has lie in his – honestly, not inspired by anyone else’s stage play, really – screenplay, rather than his execution of it); I think he’d get my vote even if McDonagh had been nominated. Dunkirk’s more impressive for its editing than direction. No one is talking about Gerwig’s skills as a director, which speaks volumes. Paul Thomas Anderson bags his second Best Director nod (the previous was also with Daniel Day Lewis), but I don’t think enough people care about Phantom Thread, let alone love it. Peele would be interesting, a much more impressive first timer than Gerwig, but I suspect, even if Get Out takes the big prize, he won’t join it as director.

Best Actor
Winner: Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
I’d like to win: Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
The Interesting Choice:  Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) 

Oldman’s a shoe-in for this, it seems, and like Casey Affleck last year, he seems to have staved off potential bad press concerning past words and deeds to lay claim to the podium. Great actor that he is, I’d rather have seen him honoured for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. His turn as Churchill dazzles, but it feels a little too much like an effortless scoop. Denzel’s presence is of the obligatory Meryl Streep nod type, while Day Lewis gets nominated in part as a forlorn attempt to keep him from retirement (but not serious enough an attempt to give him the award). That leaves young pups Timothee Chalamet (the recipient of serious accolades, and if this was Best Supporting Actor rather than lead, would probably be a shoe-in) and Kaluuya. I greatly enjoyed the latter’s performance, but a reactive part like that is less likely to get serious buzz than one reliant on showboating.

Best Actress
Winner: Frances McDormand (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri)
I’d like to win: Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
The Interesting Choice: Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)

I wouldn’t be at all unhappy with favourite McDormand winning, but she already has an Oscar, and I was even more impressed by Hawkins. Meryl’s there because she’s Meryl, while Saoirse Ronan is undoubtedly going to win at some point, just not this time. Robbie doesn’t have a hope, but that would make her getting it the more interesting result.

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)
I’d like to win: Willem Dafoe  (The Florida Project
The Interesting Choice: Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)

Most of the main categories have seemed a lock for a while now, not least Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards, but I wonder if the debate over his character might not have a negative effect on the night. Woody did well just to get nominated, Richard Jenkins was last given a nod for The Visitor, but I don’t think his Shape role is as interesting, and while the background to Christopher Plummer’s casting is a story in itself, no one is enthused enough about All the Money in the World to reward him (he got his Oscar a few years back anyway). So I’m leaning towards Dafoe, who’s great, and should have been given a few Oscars by now.

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
I’d like to win: Mary J Blige (Mudbound)
The interesting choice: Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

I think we can rule out Lesley Manville and Octavia Spencer (underseen movie and past Oscar winner respectively, added to which the latter’s role, like Jenkins, isn’t really notable enough to get her a little gold man). Allison Janney, like Rockwell, has been the main one to beat for most of the awards season (both nabbed Golden Globes), and I think she’ll probably take it, certainly over Laurie Metcalf. But the underseen Blige could still be the outsider, not to count out, if the Academy isn’t expressly averse to Netflix (which they may be).

Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: Call Me By Your Name
I’d like to win: Mudbound
The Interesting Choice: Logan

I should say, I don’t think Logan deserves to win (it just isn’t that great a piece of writing), but it would be different if it did. The Disaster Artist is the last vestige of the ubiquitous James Franco’s once unswerving path to the Oscars, and its chances have gone the same way, while Molly’s Game is about as likely as Phantom Thread taking Best Picture. This is where the otherwise unrewarded Best Picture contenders make do with consolation prizes, so Call Me By Your Name is pretty much a cert, but I’d like to see Mudbound’s screenplay recognised.

Best Original Screenplay
Winner: Get Out
I’d like to win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Interesting Choice: Get Out

I don’t think Get Out’s the best screenplay by any stretch – its metaphor doesn’t quite follow through – but it’s structurally very sound, and satisfies for its neatness. I’ll have to reserve judgement on Lady Bird until I’ve seen it, but otherwise, Three Billboards is the at the front of the pack (Golden Globe and BAFTA). Nevertheless, Get Out is probably expected to win something, and this may be the most likely category.

Best Animated Feature
Winner: Coco
I’d like to win: Loving Vincent
The Interesting Choice: The Boss Baby

Why would The Boss Baby winning be interesting? Because it probably shouldn’t have even been nominated in the first place. Ferdinand is likewise filling the category out a bit. Like too many of this year’s nominees, though, there isn’t really any doubt about the winner.

Cinematography
Winner: Blade Runner 2049
I’d like to win: Blade Runner 2049
The Interesting Choice: Darkest Hour

Again, you can’t buck the smart money here, or Roger Deakins finally claiming his first Oscar. I don’t have a problem with any of these getting noticed, except perhaps Dunkirk. Darkest Hour, a film with a lot of issues, might be the most unlikely choice, but Bruno Delbonnel (who has worked with, amongst others, Jeunet, Burton and the Coen Brothers) did a beautiful job on it.

Best Production Design
Winner: The Shape of Water
I’d like to win: The Shape of Water
The Interesting Choice: Blade Runner 2049

While Blade Runner 2049 was one of my two favourite films of last year, I can’t favour it for this category, simply because the design, as striking as it is, pales in comparison to the gorgeously cluttered original. Still, a science fiction winner would be different (as opposed to the more commonplace fantasy winner).

Best Costume Design
Winner: Phantom Thread
I’d like to win: The Shape of Water
The Interesting Choice: Victoria and Abdul

The one win Phantom Thread can guarantee. Would Victoria and Abdul winning be interesting? Well, I don’t think anyone expects it.

Best Make Up and Hairstyling
Winner: Darkest Hour
I’d like to win: Darkest Hour
The Interesting Choice: Victoria and Abdul

Ditto this category. I don’t understand why they expanded the number of VFX nominees but kept this at three, and three not very interesting choices at that. I guess Oldman sports a decent fat suit, but it’s no Nutty Professor.

Best Film Editing
Winner: Dunkirk
I’d like to win: Baby Driver
The Interesting Choice: Baby Driver

Baby Driver scooped this one at the BAFTAs, and I think a lot of people would probably respond to the musicality of Wright’s choice over the more austere Dunkirk, but like Phantom Thread’s gowns, it’s likely to bring home the bacon in these tech categories.

Best Sound Mixing
Winner: Baby Driver
I’d like to win: Blade Runner 2049
The Interesting Choice: Blade Runner 2049

That said, I’m not plumbing for Dunkirk in all three editing/sound categories. Although, I think Blade Runner’s aural immersion would be the most interesting choice.

Best Sound Editing
Winner: Dunkirk
I’d like to win: Blade Runner 2049
The Interesting Choice: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Dunkirk, but can you imagine how irate The Last Jedi loathers would be if it managed to sneak off with an Oscar (not remotely likely, I know).

Best Visual Effects
Winner: War for the Planet of the Apes
I’d like to win: Blade Runner 2049
The Interesting Choice: Blade Runner 2049

Another shoe-in, although really, how much more impressive are these apes three films in that they need recognition now? Any of the other four would be more interesting.

Best Original Score
Winner: The Shape of Water
I’d like to win: Phantom Thread
The Interesting Choice: Dunkirk

I liked Shape of Water’s score well enough, if it’s maybe a bit too self-consciously quirky, but just because I don’t love any of them, I’d go for Jonny Greenwood’s luxuriant classic Hollywood score. Dunkirk, being an anti-score, would definitely be different if it was picked.

Best Original Song
Winner: This Is Me (The Greatest Showman)
I’d like to win: The Mystery of Love (Call Me By Your Name)
The Interesting Choice: The Mystery of Love (Call Me By Your Name

Remember Me (Coco) appears to be the hot tip, but really, it’s inconsequential anodyne nausea on a plate, and how can they not go with the super catchy, anthemic and rousingly affirmative This is Me? That’ll be the one with the shelf life. I found Mighty River (Mudbound) a bit overemphatic, while Andra Day (Marshall) has a pair of lungs on her, but my pick would be Sufjan “Cat” Stevens’ perfectly poised piece for Call Me By Your Name.

Best Foreign Language
Winner: The Square
The Interesting Choice: On Body and Soul

The Square seemed to be the one to beat at one point (I really didn’t rate the director’s Force Majeure, so I’m not sure I’ll agree), but A Fantastic Woman is currently leading it, because trans is so hot right now. Loveless doesn’t seem to be winning the same love its director’s Leviathan elicited a few years back. I’ve yet to see any of these, but the outsider On Body and Soul looks the most interesting of the bunch.

Best Documentary Feature
Winner: Faces Places
The Interesting Choice: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

In this year’s selection there’s Last Men in Aleppo, another propaganda piece in favour of the White Helmets (the Oscars really love them, so that’s cause enough to be dubious), a nice safe anti-Putin piece (because that’s pushing the envelope) about Olympic doping (Icarus), a police racism film (Strong Blood), and a doc on the only financial institution to face criminal charges in the aftermath of the subprime crisis (Abacus: Small Enough to Jail). The winner, though? Smart money is on Face Places, a feel-good crowd-pleaser (as much as docs attract crowds, anyway) about a photographer and filmmaker bonding around France.

Best Animated Short
Winner: Lou
The Interesting Choice: Garden Party

Is Pixar likely to take home both animation categories? Why ever not? The lost property Cookie Monster-looking character in Lou is a definite winner, and like all Pixar, it turns incredibly mawkish at the end, so what’s not to like? Dear Basketball did nothing for me, even though the animation is very good, because it’s about basketball. I’ve only seen the trailers for the other three, but Garden Party’s animation impresses the most.

Best Documentary Short
Winner: Edith + Eddie
The Interesting Choice: Edith + Eddie

Oldest Interracial newlyweds turns into a dark family feud is getting all the positive press, and understandably so. The other contenders’ subjects include heroin (er, Heroin), cooking (Knife Skills), more police racism (Traffic Stop), and an artist on prescription meds (Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405).

Best Live Action Short
Winner: The Silent Child
The Interesting Choice: The Eleven O’Clock

Two of these (Dekalb Elementary and Watu Wote) are inspired by shootings, one has racist killers in 1955 Mississippi (My Nephew Emmett), another a British deaf girl (The Silent Child), while the final contender is a comedic encounter by a psychiatrist with a patient who thinks he’s a psychiatrist (The Eleven O’Clock). Dekalb Elementary is the favourite.

Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

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