HOLLYWOOD—The Oscar nominations will be unveiled on Tuesday, January 23, and unlike previous years where it would be easy to predict where the Academy is headed for its highest honor, 2018 seems to be a polarizing year to say the least. Films that you would have expected to have more of an impact are still in the shadows, while others are making a play that you never expected. There are no clear standouts like last year where “Moonlight,” “Hidden Figures” and “La La Land” were all vying for the top prize.
I’ll be honest, to date I still think 2013 had one of the biggest years in the cinematic universe. I mean flicks like “12 Years a Slave,” “American Hustle,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Gravity” were all vying for the Best Picture prize and each would be deserving of the accolade if they received it. With 2017, not so much, with the only two standouts being “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and even those two aren’t the massive box-office and critical hits that have the masses backing them.
I’d argue “Dunkirk” is a much better flick overall; it’s a testament to film study and powerful cinema at the same time. Yes, many like to look at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards as potential predictors of things, but toss those two out the window. They are precursors, but don’t actually have much weight if you ask me. Your best bet is looking at the guilds for actors, writers, directors and producers to have a better idea of where things will land.
So let’s take a look at some of the major categories and see who will get love from the one award everyone covets. We’ll take a look at some of the major categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
Let’s start the discussion looking at Best Supporting Actress which is a race that I think is much more competitive than people think, but as always someone will be left out in the cold. Here’s a race where we have two virtual locks in my opinion: Allison Janney who is phenomenal in “I, Tonya” and Laurie Metcalf who is a revelation in “Lady Bird.” Now those other three spots are up for grabs if you ask me. Many people have talked about Holly Hunter’s work in the comedy “The Big Sick,” but that movie came out months ago and is not as fresh in the Academy’s mind in my opinion, so rather she gets a nod is based on that movie being pushed to voters to screen before casting their ballot.
I believe Octavia Spencer is about to pick up her second consecutive nod for her work in “The Shape of Water.” So we have two more spots, I think one of those spots is a battle between Mary J. Blige “Mudbound” and Hong Chau “Downsizing.” Both have picked up SAG nods so that is a strong indicator, but the buzz for the films are not as big as it should be, which means you could have someone like Tiffany Haddish, who was one of the best things in the comedy “Girls Trip” earn a bit of love that has gone non-existent so far this awards season. With that said, expect Chau and Blige to secure spots three and four, with Haddish and Hunter battling for spot number five.
Best Supporting Actor, this is a race that EVERY year always has a surprise nomination, and I honestly think that spot will go to Sebastian Stan who was stellar in “I, Tonya.” The actor is being overlooked and he shouldn’t. His performance reminds me of what happened a few years ago when Tom Hardy got a nomination for “The Revenant” that shocked many, but it should not have.
We have front-runner Sam Rockwell as a lock for his riveting work in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Predictors should also pencil in his co-star Woody Harrelson. The same can be said for Willem Dafoe for the “Florida Project.” Now this is where things get tricky because you have 4 actors vying for one spot in Richard Jenkins “The Shape of Water,” Christopher Plummer “All the Money in the World,” Armie Hammer “Call Me By Your Name” and Michael Stuhlburg “Call Me By Your Name.” Many are looking at Hammer as lock, but I don’t think so, especially when you consider Stuhlburg has a scene-stealing moment in the film that Oscar loves to praise. Then you have Plummer who is an absolute revelation in “All the Money in the World.” He is so good that you don’t even think about Kevin Spacey. Then there is Jenkins who is also phenomenal in “The Shape of Water.” My gut tells me Stuhlburg will get that final spot leaving Hammer out in the cold.
I think one of the easiest races to predict when it comes to nominations is Best Actor. There is very little wiggle room and I think because there isn’t that caliber of acting this year as in previous years. Gary Oldman is a lock for “Darkest Hour” and is likely to claim the Oscar as well, after a career of delivering exceptional work and being ignored time and time again. Other candidates include Daniel Day-Lewis “Phantom Thread” and Tom Hanks “The Post.” The last two spots I believe could be slightly tricky only because someone who was a shoe-in a week ago might face backlash after allegations of sexual misconduct were raised against him. I’m referring to James Franco “The Disaster Artist.” While I think it’s expected for Timothee Chalamet to earn a nod for “Call Me By Your Name.” I personally think you could see Franco, Denzel Washington “Roman J. Israel Esq.” and Jake Gyllenhaal “Stronger” vie for that last spot. I’m inclined to lean toward Washington because of his SAG nomination people.
Best Actress another tough race to predict because there are some phenomenal performances by women this year. We have locks in Frances McDormand “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri,” who is the front-runner right now. Also certain to secure a nomination is Saiorse Ronan for “Lady Bird” and Sally Hawkins “The Shape of Water.” That leaves two spots left. If Margot Robbie doesn’t get a nod for “I, Tonya” it will be the biggest snub all year, she was SENSATIONAL in that movie and a veritable dark horse in my opinion. That leaves one spot and with a bevy of actresses in contention, but with a big time name like Meryl Streep as a contender, it’s hard to see Streep not get a nod for the “The Post.” However, if someone steals her thunder I have to give it to Jessica Chastain for “Molly’s Game.” That woman was phenomenal and after she was overlooked for her stellar work in “Miss Slone,” the Academy needs to make up for that omission.
Best Director has a trio of gentlemen who are locks in Guillermo del Toro “The Shape of Water,” Martin McDonagh “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and Steven Spielberg “The Post.” I’m throwing in Christopher Nolan in there for “Dunkirk” because it’s a movie that showcases exactly what directing should be and he has been ignored by the Academy more times than I can count. So here is where it gets interesting. This is a race that is known to have surprises and I think Jordan Peele “Get Out” and Greta Gerwig “Lady Bird” could be major dark horses. How dark, so much to the point they could bump out Spielberg and even McDonagh. Without a doubt Gerwig should be in that race, and I think she might get the edge over Peele if you ask me. Expect at least 1-2 surprises in this race.
Now for the granddaddy of them all: BEST PICTURE. I hate that the Academy changed the rules from 5 flicks, to anywhere up to 10. I think last year it was 8. Flicks that are absolute locks if we were only going for 5 films would be: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “The Shape of Water,” “The Post,” “Dunkirk” and “Lady Bird.” I suspect anywhere between 7-8 flicks to be nominated here and some might be saying “Get Out” should be there. Not according to me, it was not the flick people think it is and I just don’t equate that with Best Picture potential, but it is likely to earn a nod, as should “I, Tonya” which is one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen ALL YEAR! After those two it’s anyone’s guess because “Call Me By Your Name,” “The Florida Project,” “Darkest Hour” and even “Wonder Woman” which was heralded by critics could earn a nomination. With that being said the 2018 Oscar nominations might be polarizing. We had great flicks this year, but not massive standouts that are virtual locks in my opinion; Tuesday, January 23 should be surprising to say the least!