It’s 5 p.m. on the west coast, which means final voting for the 90th Oscars has come to a close. We’ll know the results on Sunday night, but now that ballots are in, how about some idle speculation about upsets? There are a number of categories that seem too comfortably sewn up going into the finale, and others that may be more than the two-horse races they appear to be.
Here are seven jaw-droppers that could come to pass on Oscar night.
Best Picture: “Dunkirk”
All eyes are on “The Shape of Water” versus “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” with “Get Out” as the potential spoiler on the back of a driven phase-two campaign. But the fact is Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” has loads of support, particularly in the crafts branches, and if it’s enough of a default upper-ballot player throughout the rounds, it could absolutely be our shocking best picture winner, defying years of “stats” and despite not winning a single significant best film prize on the circuit. It’s that weird of a year.
Original Screenplay: “Lady Bird”
This race has boiled down to “Get Out” squaring off against “Three Billboards,” with most pundits going with the logic that the former has to receive something on Oscar night. However, the same logic could be applied to Greta Gerwig and “Lady Bird.” The film has enough major nominations that passion isn’t likely to pool in one particular place, but if the top two contenders take each other out here, Gerwig could slide right on through.
In all likelihood Roger Deakins is set to finally, after 14 nominations, win his first Oscar. Failing that, you’ll find predictions for “Dunkirk” and “The Shape of Water” out there, but it was interesting to note that “Mudbound” cinematographer Rachel Morrison received, by far, the warmest applause at the Oscar nominees luncheon in January. Could she make further history as the first woman to ever win the prize? She could.
Original Song: “Mighty River” from “Mudbound”
Speaking of “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige is quite visible on the slate this year as a supporting actress contender as well as a songwriter for the film’s Oscar-nominated tune “Mighty River.” While most takes on this race are split between the story-serving “Remember Me” from “Coco” and the phenomenon “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” here is a chance to award the twice-nominated Blige for a film that, of the three, was clearly closest to best picture recognition.
Documentary Feature: “Last Men in Aleppo”
The headlines have largely been dominated by Olympics anti-doping discussion, helping to keep Netflix’s “Icarus” out in front for the most part. “Faces Places” is also a definite possibility for voters who would like to see Agnès Varda win a competitive Oscar to go along with the honorary Academy Award she received last year. But a last-minute stir over one of the producers of “Last Men in Aleppo” being held up from travel to the U.S. for the Oscars due to President Trump’s travel ban could whip up support much like Asghar Farhadi did last year when he won the foreign film Oscar for “The Salesman.”
Film Editing: “Baby Driver”
These last two may no longer qualify as “upsets” in the wake of the British Academy awards, but they warrant mentioning. Ever since BAFTA changed its voting process to mirror the Academy’s in 2012, the film editing award has lined up all but that first year. That victory also went to a Working Title Films production centered on fast cars (“Rush”), but the Brits have foreshadowed unexpected wins for “Whiplash” and “Hacksaw Ridge” in the category, so “Baby Driver” could be poised to rock “Dunkirk’s” boat.
Visual Effects: “Blade Runner 2049”
Most pundits appear to think the third time is the charm for Fox’s “Planet of the Apes” franchise, but the films have faced the same obstacle every step of the way: Prestige, effects-heavy releases with a number of nominations elsewhere on the slate. “Blade Runner 2049” could well be the spoiler this time around after winning the BAFTA Award, which, while exciting for the crew of that handsome crafts giant, would be a shame for the team behind one of the most underrated big-studio franchises of the last decade.