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Oscar Predictions 2018: Who Will Win, Who Could Win

The 90th annual Academy Awards will draw the 2017 film year to a close on Sunday, March 4. Some races are foregone conclusions, while others are coming down to the wire. Whatever happens isn’t likely to live up to the drama of last year’s Oscar denouement, but many questions won’t be answered until the (hopefully correct) envelopes are opened.

Here are In Contention’s final picks in all categories. Tune in this weekend to see how right (or wrong) we were.

Best Picture
This is one of the tightest best picture races we’ve seen in years. Five films feel like they have a shot at it. The left-field spoiler might be “Dunkirk,” which has quite a foothold in the below-the-line ranks, particularly in Los Angeles. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is a popular pick after Screen Actors Guild and British Academy dominance, but its divisive nature could hurt it on the preferential ballot. “Get Out” and “Lady Bird,” meanwhile, are both beloved movies that ought to perform well. But “The Shape of Water” truly makes the most rational sense, given its crafts footprint and strong performance with producers and directors guild victories.
Will win:The Shape of Water
Could win: “Dunkirk”
Should have been here: “A Ghost Story”

Directing
Del Toro has seemingly had this wrapped up for quite a while now, taking the most critics’ prizes, the Golden Globe and the BAFTA award. If there’s a spoiler, it could be Christopher Nolan for the controlled chaos of “Dunkirk.” But things have seemed perfectly aligned in this category going into the Oscars ceremony for a number of years now, and this season is no different.
Will win: “The Shape of Water” (Guillermo del Toro)
Could win: “Dunkirk” (Christopher Nolan)
Should have been here: “A Ghost Story” (David Lowery)

Actor in a Leading Role
Oldman is another contender that has had it in the bag since early on, for a performance that ticks every single Academy box. There’s very little to add at this point.
Will win: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Could win: Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Should have been here: Christian Bale, “Hostiles”

Actress in a Leading Role
The lead actress field felt far more competitive than lead actor in the early stages, but in due time McDormand took charge in a film that has considerable fans. If anyone had a real shot at it otherwise it might have been Ronan in a film that could very well go home empty-handed when all is said and done. Sally Hawkins, who was the critics’ circuit champ, could be a lurker for “The Shape of Water,” and in another universe is no doubt the odds-on favorite for her silent performance. But McDormand is an easy choice for voters to make, so expect it.
Will win: Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Could win: Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Should have been here: Emma Stone, “Battle of the Sexes”

Actor in a Supporting Role
Right alongside McDormand, co-star Rockwell has slowly but surely taken the lead, so to speak, in the supporting actor field. The critics overwhelmingly went with “The Florida Project” star Willem Dafoe, and with three nominations and as many decades in the trenches, he’s arguably overdue. Honestly I had to look up the other nominees, so yeah, this is the race. And it really doesn’t appear to be much of one.
Will win: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Could win: Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Should have been here: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, “BPM (Beats Per Minute)”

Actress in a Supporting Role
It was the battle of on-screen moms in this category all season long, but Metcalf’s layered work outshined Janney’s showier work on the critics’ circuit, Janney has been the industry pick. She, along with every acting frontrunner in fact, has won every single prize of note: Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA. This whole quartet is locked in.
Will win: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Could win: Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Should have been here: Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Few scripts have put up much competition against James Ivory’s adaptation of André Aciman’s “Call Me by Your Name.” If anything were to swoop in it would be “Mudbound”; there are few places to honor Dee Rees’ post-World War II drama. But it’s also too tempting to finally hand an Oscar to a legendary near-nonagenarian.
Will win: “Call Me by Your Name”
Could win: “Mudbound”
Should have been here: “First They Killed My Father”

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Universal Pictures has put in an aggressive phase-two effort to take “Get Out” that extra mile, so that could at least secure Jordan Peele a writing prize, if not more. Peele won the writers guild award but Martin McDonagh was ineligible for “Three Billboards.” It’s tight enough to wonder if Greta Gerwig could slide through for “Lady Bird.” But “Three Billboards” passion collects in pools, and while that’s less of a factor in the best picture category, it should help push it through here. If not, watch out for an interesting show…
Will win: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Could win: “Get Out”
Should have been here: “Coco”

Cinematography
Is this finally Roger Deakins’ year? It could very well be. It’s hard to argue with awards from the British Academy and American Society of Cinematographers (though he’s been here before, in a different BAFTA era). Still, best picture players like “Dunkirk” and “The Shape of Water” are obviously threats. And if there’s an upset, look to Rachel Morrison to make some more history for “Mudbound.” But we’ll opt for Deakins finally, 14 nominations later, hearing his name called on the big night.
Will win: “Blade Runner 2049”
Could win: “Dunkirk”
Should have been here: “First They Killed My Father”

Costume Design
“The Shape of Water” toppled “Phantom Thread” at the Costume Designers Guild Awards, which could just be an overall show of strength for the former rather than a harbinger in this category. Count on the film about the art form to win in the end.
Will win: “Phantom Thread”
Could win: “The Shape of Water”
Should have been here: “Thor: Ragnarok”

Film Editing
A BAFTA win for “Baby Driver” here deserves attention, given the organization’s recent track record in presaging this category. But we’ll opt for craft-heavy best picture contender “Dunkirk.” It’s difficult to bet against war films here and especially in the sound fields (which we’ll get to).
Will win: “Dunkirk”
Could win: “Baby Driver”
Should have been here: “Lady Bird”

Makeup and Hairstyling
There’s nothing much to add here. Transformative work on Gary Oldman that allowed him to disappear into the skin of Winston Churchill, in a best picture player no less? Count on it.
Will win: “Darkest Hour”
Could win: “Wonder”
Should have been here: “I, Tonya”

Music (Original Score)
Alexandre Desplat has been waltzing right along throughout the season in this category. Nothing should stand in his way now, though the sonic identity of “Dunkirk” is an unmistakable one. So Hans Zimmer will no doubt be pulling votes, as well Jonny Greenwood for “Phantom Thread,” a film with deep hidden passion in the Academy ranks.
Will win: “The Shape of Water”
Could win: “Dunkirk”
Should have been here: “Hostiles”

Music (Original Song)
This one has come down to the wire. It’s the story-serving “Remember Me” from a new Pixar gem versus the wildly popular ballad “This Is Me” from one of the biggest over-performers of the year. Chalk us up for the musical, with last year’s Oscar-winning “La La Land” songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul taking the prize for the second year running.
Will win: “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman”
Could win: “Remember Me” from “Coco”
Should have been here: “Visions of Gideon” from “Call Me by Your Name”

Production Design
“Blade Runner 2049” may well deserve this prize for wildly inventive sets. It was also working at a much bigger price point than “The Shape of Water,” so that makes this an interesting race. Expect BAFTA and Art Directors Guild winner “Shape” to triumph in the end.
Will win: “The Shape of Water”
Could win: “Blade Runner 2049”
Should have been here: “Wonder Wheel”

Sound Editing
Getting back to the below-the-line “Dunkirk” support, it’s too easy to vote for a popular war film in both sound categories, so it’s best to bank on it. But a win for “Blade Runner 2049” here (remember last year’s sci-fi victor), or…
Will win: “Dunkirk”
Could win: “Blade Runner 2049”
Should have been here: “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Sound Mixing
…”Baby Driver” here would not shock.
Will win: “Dunkirk”
Could win: “Baby Driver”
Should have been here: “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Visual Effects
Fox’s “Apes” franchise has consistently been dismissed by voters as mere entertainment while, year after year, effects-heavy awards-season projects swoop in and snatch the trophy. The British Academy may have pointed the way here: Expect Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi sequel to be the heartbreaker this time.
Will win: “Blade Runner 2049”
Could win: “War for the Planet of the Apes”
Should have been here: “Okja”

Animated Feature Film
Pixar. Next.
Will win: “Coco”
Could win: “Loving Vincent”
Should have been here: “Mary and the Witch’s Flower”

Foreign Language Film
It’s difficult to know who is voting in the foreign language category now that it’s open to all members. “The Insult” made a final push in the end and became a popular pick, but “A Fantastic Woman” had a long time to establish a foothold. Films like “In the Fade” and “Foxtrot” might have been more likely if they had made the cut, but alas.
Will win: “A Fantastic Woman”
Could win: “The Insult”
Should have been here: “BPM (Beats Per Minute)”

Documentary (Feature)
Unless last-minute commotion over a producer’s denied visa stirs protest votes for “Last Men in Aleppo,” look for “Icarus” to capitalize on the Olympics news cycle and pull through as the most urgent of the nominees here. But sentiment for Agnès Varda could push her and co-director JR to a victory for “Faces Places” if voters feel like honorary Oscar recognition last year wasn’t enough.
Will win: “Icarus”
Could win: “Faces Places”
Should have been here: “LA92”

Documentary (Short Subject)
Just like with “The White Helmets” last year, Netflix has been aggressive here. If the streamer fails to push opioid crisis study “Heroin(e)” across the finish line, look to profiles like “Edith+Eddie” or “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” as spoilers.
Will win: “Heroin(e)”
Could win: “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405”
Should have been here: “Alone”

Short Film (Animated)
You might as well place a chip on hometown hero Kobe Bryant to take this one with animator Glen Keane for “Dear Basketball.” Pixar could steal it with “Lou” and “Garden Party” has a lot of fans, but this is Laker town.
Will win: “Dear Basketball”
Could win: “Lou”
Should have been here: “Fox and the Whale”

Short Film (Live Action)
“DeKalb Elementary” tragically became the most timely of this year’s nominees two weeks ago, so it feels strong going into the Oscars. If something lighthearted is preferred, though — and that’s often the case in this category — “The Eleven O’Clock” is a nice reprieve.
Will win: “DeKalb Elementary”
Could win: “The Eleven O’Clock”
Should have been here: “Witnesses”

                                 FINAL OSCAR PREDICTIONS                                 

Best Picture
“The Shape of Water”
Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale

Directing
“The Shape of Water”
Guillermo del Toro

Actor in a Leading Role
Gary Oldman
“Darkest Hour”

Actress in a Leading Role
Frances McDormand
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Actor in a Supporting Role
Sam Rockwell
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Actress in a Supporting Role
Allison Janney
“I, Tonya”

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
“Call Me by Your Name”
James Ivory

Writing (Original Screenplay)
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Martin McDonagh

Cinematography
“Blade Runner 2049”
Roger Deakins

Costume Design
“Phantom Thread”
Mark Bridges

Film Editing
“Dunkirk”
Lee Smith

Makeup and Hairstyling
“Darkest Hour”
Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick

Music (Original Score)
“The Shape of Water”
Alexandre Desplat

Music (Original Song)
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman”
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Production Design
“The Shape of Water”
Paul Denham Austerberry (Production Design);
Shane Vieau and Jeffrey A. Melvin (Set Decoration)

Sound Editing
“Dunkirk”
Richard King and Alex Gibson

Sound Mixing
“Dunkirk”
Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo and Mark Weingarten

Visual Effects
“Blade Runner 2049”
John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover

Animated Feature Film
“Coco”
Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson

Foreign Language Film
“A Fantastic Woman”
Chile; Sebastián Lelio

Documentary (Feature)
“Icarus”
Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan

Documentary (Short Subject)
“Heroin(e)”
Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon

Short Film (Animated)
“Dear Basketball”
Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant

Short Film (Live Action)
“DeKalb Elementary”
Reed Van Dyk

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