Wood’s Stock Oscar Picks 2018

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I don’t always publish my Oscar predictions, mostly because I have a lengthy track record of being very, very wrong about who takes home the statuettes. I go with my heart, not my head, and over the years the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has demonstrated that while it and I have a *similar* taste in film, we do not fully overlap.

All the same, I love the Oscars and since I’m blogging less and less these days I thought it would be nice to make my picks.

Also, if you want a less-subjective, data-driven prediction, I recommend this analysis by Five Thirty Eight, which looks at the history of winners and assigns point values to the Oscar-predictive awards ceremonies like the SAG and BAFTA awards. I’ll note their selections in this post, but you really should check out their methodology and explanations.

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Best Picture: It’s important to remember that the Oscars is not a objective body. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes politics, lobbying, favor-trading and the bulk of the membership (even after recent pushes for increased diversity) or older, white men. Why do I bring this up? Because I think last year’s history-making win by Moonlight diminishes the chances of Call Me By Your Name winning on March 4. (The same is possibly true, but to a lesser extent, of The Post’s odds after Spotlight’s win two years ago.)

The number-crunchers say Shape of Water and Three Billboards are the frontrunners, but both have their vocal detractors among the critical community. Shape of water is visually stunning with excellent period details, and three billboard has a flyover-state quality that speaks to whatever it is that is going on in the country right now. I’m already on the record saying Dunkirk if my favorite move of the year, so pop goes my heart. But to defend myself somewhat, Dunkirk is a challenging film, relying on large-scale set pieces  and the “based on a true story” allure that Academies of old have gobbled up. Of all the major categories, this one is the hardest to predict. (It’s also THE category, so go figure).

“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk” — Should win
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water” — 538 pick
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” — Will win

 

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Lead Actress: The controversy around Three Billboards aside, there’s no denying the quality of Frances McDormand’s performance. As a stubborn, grief-stricken mother of a murdered child, she walks a very fine line between righteous crusader and self-serving malcontent. In a different year, without the competition, I would love to see Margo Robbie or Saoirse (rhymes with “inertia”) Ronan claim the win for their tragicomic turns in Lady Bird and I, Tonya, but those film’s best odds are in other categories.

Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” — 538 pick — Should Win — Will Win
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

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Lead Actor: This would be a one-man race, for Gary Oldman’s bravura turn as Winston Churchill, except for the spoiler that Daniel Day-Lewis is also nominated for his final film, Phantom Thread. The Oscar voters are prone to ceremonial votes, and DDL will certainly be boosted as a going-away display, but he has already one 3 times while Oldman has been twice-nominated but never victorious. Sure, covering yourself in prosthetic to play wartime Churchill is the epitome of Oscar bait, but it’s also some of the best prosthetics I’ve ever seen, letting Oldman deliver a performance worth the price of admission in an otherwise ho-hum film.

Oh, and apparently Denzel Washington is nominated? For some film I’ve quite literally heard nothing about.

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour” — 538 pick — Should win — Will win
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

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Director: There’s a correlation between Best Picture and Best Director, but it’s not airtight. As I said earlier, the number-crunchers say Shape of Water and Three Billboards are the films to beat this year, and in an interesting turn of events Martin McDonagh (Billboards) isn’t included in the category. That gives the Oscar voters a chance to split their vote (hence the predicted BP win for billboards) and give GDT his first win. While I have my nits to pick with Shape Of Water, it’s unquestionably a well-directed film that benefits from the singular vision of a truly talented, and frequently underrated, filmmaker.

Also, while they won’t win, kudos to the academy for including first-time directors Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig, who *might* seem like token diversity picks if not for the quality of their entries. They may not win, but that definitely deserve their place in the nominations and I, like many, can’t wait to see what comes next from them both.

“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro — 538 pick — Should win — Will win

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Supporting Actress: According to 538, it’s beyond unlikely that Laurie Metcalf wins, as Allison Janney has the category in the bag. Now, Imma Let Janney finish, but Metcalf had one of the best performances of all time! Besides, if there’s anything we’ve learned from 538, it’s that “unlikely” is a long walk from “impossible”

Jannie is great, no doubt, fantastic even. But Metcalf is straight-up heartbreaking as the struggling-to-get-by mother of Lady Bird who, in hoping for better opportunities for her daughter is forced to confront the quiet disappointments of her own life. It’s a master class of under-performing, and the moments of interplay between Metcalf of Ronan are the film’s strongest moments.

There’s clearly some love among the Oscar voters for Lady Bird, evidenced by the underdog film’s inclusion in both the Best Picture and Best Director categories. I’m counting on that sub-group (and ranked-choice voting) to deliver the win.

Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya” — 538 pick
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird” — Should win — Will win
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

Supporting Actor: This is the category that makes or breaks your Oscar pool, as it’s the most wide-open race. Florida Project is the least-known, and even Oscar voters haven’t seen everything, but there’s a strong whisper campaign going on about the movie and Dafoe in particular. Jenkins is the workhorse, a consistent, reliable actor who can drop into nearly any movie and make his scenes sizzle. Plummer is the statesman, who stepped in at the 11th hour to save a movie from implosion and who delivers, quite honestly, an exceptional and seamless performance, albeit in a movie that isn’t otherwise Oscar caliber.

Then there’s the presumed frontrunner, Sam Rockwell, who is very good in three billboards but who also plays *the* character at the center of the films controversy. An unrepentant cop with a widely-known but unpunished reputation for assaulting people of color is a tough note to strike in 2018, and he’s up against his co-star Woody Harrelson which potentially splits the 3 billboards vote to let someone else jump ahead. .

Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project” — Will win
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water” — Should win
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” — 538 pick

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Animated Feature: It’s Coco. I haven’t even seen it (yet) and I can tell you it’s going to be Coco.

“The Boss Baby”
“The Breadwinner”
“Coco” — 538 Pick — Will win
“Ferdinand”
“Loving Vincent”

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Best Documentary Feature: Have you seen any of these movies? Yes? Good for you…bet on that one. I’ve seen Icarus. It was great (and currently on Netflix, FYI). 

 

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A few last picks.

The rest of the Oscars is a real guessing game (538 didn’t bother to keep going). I love that Logan got a nomination for Adapted Screenplay, and I’m on the record saying its the best superhero movie of the year. It’s also a no-qualifiers-needed great film, that nearly cracked my top 10.

But while Logan *should win*, Call Me By Your Name will take the adapted screenplay win after getting passed over in the major awards.

Similarly, Get Out will see its recognition in the Original Screenplay category. I’m fine with that, even though my personal pick would be The Big Sick, about which I’ve already gushed about ad nauseam on my Top 10 list.

And there’s also a really important nomination in an otherwise “minor” category that everyone needs to be aware of. Roger Deakins, the cinematographer behind some of the most gorgeous scenes in all of cinema has been nominated for his FOURTEENTH!!!! Oscar. 14 nomination but no wins, a crime against film that *will* be rectified next month when he gets the Statuette for his stunning work on Blade Runner 2049.

To be honest, I really don’t care who wins in any of this year’s categories except this one. Either Deakins wins or I riot (not really….but kinda).

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