Look for McDormand, Three Billboards and Nolan for Oscar – Or Not

Movies: Oscar Picks 2018

A strange year without frontrunners leaves Oscar an open field with Three Billboards catching the eye of film critic Katherine Monk for best picture, and Jordan Peele for best original screenplay

By Katherine Monk

So a plumbing issue has delayed the publication of my picks which I made a few days ago, but never got around to filing because of my frikkin’ kitchen sink. Buckets and shammies will have to do for now, and I’ll write it all off to being part of a strange, strange year. I’m thinking The Shape of Water could be this year’s Color Purple, a film that went in to the show with eleven nods for Steven Spielberg and came out without a single statuette. I don’t think Shape of Water will go home without hardware, but most of the prizes will be on the technical side, with Canadian craftspeople coming up strong. But it’s getting late. The red carpet it out… so here goes nothing.

Best Picture Nominees:

Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, The Post, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Prediction: Each of the ten finalists are so different, they are bound to blast the votes in all directions, leaving the two big heavyweights — The Shape of Water (13 nods) and Dunkirk (8 nods) — to split the sea, leaving the wreckage of the American Dream behind and the rustbelt tale of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri standing alone. The film received seven nominations, and recently picked up the Golden Globe for best drama.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: Should Win. Will Win.

Best Director:

Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread), Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Jordan Peele (Get Out)

Prediction: Along with the award for best original screenplay, this is probably the toughest race to call — because two of the nominees are also up for best original screenplay. Jordan Peele’s writer-director double nod for Get Out and Greta Gerwig’s twin nod for Lady Bird will give even the most politically correct members of the Academy pause. Both deserve a prize in each category, both represent under-represented contingents, and both tend to be liked by their peers and have an approachable, and marketable, sense of humour. Yet, once again, their charisma will pull voters apart. Christopher Nolan is a five-time nominee, and his films (Memento $25M, Insomnia $67M, Batman Begins $206M, The Prestige $53M, The Dark Knight $534M, The Dark Knight Rises $448M, Inception $292M, Interstellar $188) have grossed in excess of a billion. He’s paid his dues, and he hasn’t lost his soul – nor his sartorial sense. Nolan shows up in a suit for work every day. He’s ready for the black tie speech because he pulled together the largest real world set in recent history and re-played the most dramatic rescue in history. Guillermo Del Toro is the odds-on favourite, and he pays homage to Hollywood — but The Shape of Water didn’t have the same gravitas as Dunkirk, nor the same technical demands.

Christopher Nolan: Will Win.

Best Actress:

Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Margot Robbie (I Tonya), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Meryl Streep (The Post)

Prediction: Any time you go up against Meryl Streep, you have to be ecstatic — and a little afraid — at being in the same company as the most nominated actress in the world with 21 citations. Yet, this probably isn’t Meryl’s year — given some of the sticky residue left in Harvey Weinstein’s wake. Frances McDormand will probably pick up her second Oscar statuette, 20 years after winning for Fargo, for her portrayal of an unorthodox grieving mother in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Ronan and Robbie were tremendous, but McDormand — the Globe winner — will prevail.

Frances McDormand – Will Win.

Margot Robbie – Should Win.

Best Actor:

Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name), Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)

Prediction: Yet another toughie. Chalamet easily offered up the most interesting and the most compelling performance of the year as the sexually adventurous 17-year-old at the heart of Call Me By Your Name. Daniel Day-Lewis is Daniel Day-Lewis, and if this is his last chance at hardware, everyone’s going to be rooting for Reynolds Woodcock. Then again, Denzel Washington is a force of nature in Roman J. Israel, Esq. (and he gained weight for the role), and Daniel Kaluuya made Get Out as dramatically satisfying as it was radical (he was a complete unknown from Britain). When you’re overwhelmed by talent, you tend to go with the the work horse nominee, who in this case is Gary Oldman — the Winston Churchill of the bunch, and the complementary nod to the sacrifice of Dunkirk. But Daniel-Day Lewis bats over .500 in the best actor category, with three wins and now six nominations. There’s a feeling of destiny about it, no matter how hard Oldman lobbies for a win… But when all odds were against Churchill, what happened?

Gary Oldman: Will Win. Should Win.

Best Supporting Actress:

Mary J. Blige (Mudbound), Allison Janney (I, Tonya), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread), Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird), Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)

I could watch every one of these performances cut together, without anyone else, over and over again. Every one of these women made everyone around them believable and honest, and in some cases, were the whole reason to watch the movie. Lesley Manville was the best part of Phantom Thread and Octavia Spencer had to do all the talking for Sally Hawkins. And what can you say about Metcalfe, who stole every scene and made us remember how awful a teenage girl can be. So much good work will be second to Allison Janney’s LaVona Harding.

Allison Janney: Will Win

Lesley Manville or Laurie Metlcalf: Should Win

Best Supporting Actor:

Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project), Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water), Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World), Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

If you’ve been paying attention to the word of mouth and the advance prizes, Sam Rockwell should already have a place on the mantle reserved. Too bad, because Christopher Plummer pulled a rabbit out of his hat and rescued Ridley Scott’s Al the Money in the World from Kevin Spacey’s paws, and made the film all the better for it.

Sam Rockwell: Will Win. Should win.

Best Original Screenplay:

The Big Sick, Get Out, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Toughest prize of the night to call really. But if you give Three Billboards best picture, Martin McDonagh gets a prize. If you give Chris Nolan best director, Dunkirk gets a prize. And if you give original screenplay to Jordan Peele or Greta Gerwig, you’ve given  them the Matt Damon-Ben Affleck launch pad. They’re all fantastic choices, but personally, I loved The Big Sick.

Jordan Peele (Get Out)- Will Win

Big Sick – Should Win

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Call Me By Your Name, The Disaster Artist, Logan, Molly’s Game, Mudbound

Another tough one. All great films, but Call Me By Your Name gets my vote because it was the script that made this so much fun for the actors, and so much fun to watch. Also, James Ivory hasn’t been in the spotlight for a while. My own vote goes to James Mangold for Hugh Jackman’s mortal Logan.

Call Me By Your Name – Will Win

Logan – Should Win

Best Foreign Language Film:

A Fantastic Woman, The Insult, Loveless, On Body and Soul, The Square

I’ve seen all of them except On Body and Soul, but that actually counts for something because it means a lot of Academy voters probably didn’t see it either. I’m going with The Square, Ruben Ostlund’s story of first-world problems set against the art world.


Okay. Let’s how many I get wrong. But going with Shape of Water for just about every technical award outside makeup, for Darkest Hour.




THE EX-PRESS, March 4, 2018




2 Replies to "Look for McDormand, Three Billboards and Nolan for Oscar - Or Not"

  • Larry March 5, 2018 (6:00 am)

    Looks like an editing error in Best Supporting Actress.

    • EX-PRESS EDITOR March 5, 2018 (11:57 am)

      Yes. There was an editing error. Thanks for the catch. Our apologies for not giving it a better eyeball.

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