With much of awards season complete, Hollywood’s gaze now shifts to the Oscars, which will take place on Sunday, March 4.

“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro’s aquatic fantasy, leads the nominations with 13. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has the second most nominations at nine, followed by Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” with eight. Other films up for multiple awards are “Get Out,” “The Post,” “Blade Runner: 2049,” “Lady Bird,” “Coco” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Here are the nominees for some of the major awards, and predictions of who or what will probably win (and who, I think, should win).

 

Best Picture

What will win: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

What should win: “Get Out”

“Three Billboards” nearly has a lock on the big prize. Despite “The Shape of Water” winning at the Critics’ Choice Awards, “Three Billboards” snagged the coveted Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast. In the last two years, missing that award toppled “The Revenant’s” and “La La Land’s” odds. “Three Billboards” also has a strong chance of winning Best Original Screenplay; only seven movies have ever won Best Picture without winning a screenplay award.

“Get Out” should win. Purely looking at Oscar politics, it makes sense to continue moving forward with recognizing films that tell the stories of historically underrepresented populations after awarding “Moonlight” the top prize last year. There’s still work to be done regarding American attitudes toward race, and awarding “Get Out” would move that conversation and the industry forward.

 

Best Actress

Who will win: Frances McDormand

Who should win: Saoirse Ronan

Frances McDormand’s performance as a disgruntled mother in “Three Billboards” provides the film’s voice. Much praise for the film cites an ability to depict “Trump’s America,” aka down-on-their-luck white people in the heart of the Midwest. McDormand captures the pain and emptiness of a bereaved mother, while balancing it with humor to ensure her character remains likable and accessible to the audience.

That being said, McDormand already has an Oscar (for 1996’s “Fargo”), and represents a category with more than its share of worthy nominees this year. She’s also said herself that the award should go to someone younger. Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan represent a new wave of talented actresses getting recognition as younger actresses (though Ronan was already nominated for her breakout role in 2007’s “Atonement”). Of Robbie and Ronan, however, the latter probably deserves the Oscar this year, for her angsty, endearingly relatable titular character in “Lady Bird.”

 

Best Actor

Who will win: Gary Oldman

Who should win: Gary Oldman

As fitting as it would be to send Daniel Day-Lewis out tied with Katharine Hepburn as the most decorated actor in Oscar history, Gary Oldman owns the category this year. His performance as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” checks several key boxes for the Academy. It’s a biopic, he plays a historic figure and he physically transformed for the role via makeup and weight gain. In addition, he’s won at every other major ceremony this awards season, including the highly predictive Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor in a Leading Performance.

 

Best Supporting Actress

Who will win: Allison Janney

Who should win: Laurie Metcalf

Much like her counterpart in the Best Supporting Actor race, Allison Janney took many experts by surprise when she nabbed the Golden Globe last month. She also scored at the Critics’ Choice and Screen Actors Guild Awards, and picked up a BAFTA nomination. Janney has all the momentum going for her performance as a brutal skating mom in the Tonya Harding mock biopic “I, Tonya.”

On top of awards season momentum, Janney is campaigning the hardest of all the nominees, and significantly more than her toughest competition: Laurie Metcalf. Just about everyone can find a shade of their own mother in her “Lady Bird” performance, making it slightly more impressive than Janney playing a heightened version of domineering and sarcastic characters she’s played before.

 

Best Supporting Actor

Who will win: Sam Rockwell

Who should win: Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell sent a mild shock through Oscar experts’ predictions at the Golden Globes in early January, and hasn’t looked back. He’s nabbed the Critics’ Choice and Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as a BAFTA nomination. He’s certainly earned the praise. His performance as a (probably) racist cop with a heart of gold in “Three Billboards” is funny yet nuanced, and features a redemptive arc, making his shakier character traits easier to swallow for the audience. The film’s eight other nominations help his bid for the Oscar as well.

 

Best Director

Who will win: Guillermo del Toro

Who should win: Jordan Peele

Guillermo del Toro crafted a unique fantasy masterpiece with “The Shape of Water.” The way he deftly juggled the narrative, characters and visuals put together a masterfully directed film. It’s an achievement that deserves each nomination, and win, it’s received so far. The problem is that we’ve seen films like “The Shape of Water” win Best Director and Best Picture already (see Ang Lee for  “Life of Pi” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”).

What we haven’t seen before is the impressively informed directing shown by Jordan Peele in “Get Out.” He manages to craft a tense, uncomfortable and provocative film about race in America that draws powerful empathy from an audience that otherwise wouldn’t attempt to broach the subject. The artistry displayed by Peele is the most forward and daring of any nominee in years, and deserves all the recognition it can get.

 

Best Animated Feature

What will win: “Coco”

What should win: “Coco”

“Coco” not only made over $600 million at the worldwide box office, but it’s also the only Oscar nominee in this category to be nominated for the top prize at the Annie Awards, the top ceremony for animation. A nominee for the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature has gone on to win the Oscar every year since this category was added in 2001. Additionally, Pixar has a consistent track record in this category, winning eight times out of 10 prior nominations.

 

Best Original Screenplay

What will win: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

What should win: “Get Out”

Despite “Get Out’s” chronicling the fears of a black man in modern America in a masterfully tense, suspenseful fashion, “Three Billboards” will likely carry this category. It’s favored to win Best Picture, and only seven movies in Oscar history have won Best Picture without also winning a screenplay award. On top of that, “Three Billboards’” popularity may incline the Academy to give Martin McDonagh an award, since he was left out of the Best Director nominees.

deeterbj@miamioh.edu

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