Call Me by Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Will win: Shape of Water
Should win: Get Out
Since the Oscar voting uses a ranking system to pick the winner, the movie that wins won’t be the one loved by the most people, but the one liked or admired by the most people. This year, that’s definitely Shape of Water, a romantic fantasy with a well-realized director’s vision and a wonderful leading performance. It’s strange to call a fish-fucking film “Oscar bait,” but it is, in its way: auteur director, lead performance by a non-disabled person playing a disabled person, and a story that feels daring without actually challenging anyone’s worldview.
Contrast that with Get Out, a movie that is about as far from Oscar bait as you can get, but is also essentially perfect. I loved Phantom Thread and Lady Bird (full disclosure: I did not see Dunkirk, but honestly I don’t think that would change any of this post), but where all of the other nominees have easily articulated flaws, Get Out has none to speak of. A wildly entertaining thriller that tells a devastatingly important story, Get Out is the movie that most Oscar voters will never even consider, even though it keeps you on the edge of your seat, speaks to our time in a way that none of the other nominees do, and never once hits a false note.
[Yeah, I think both Lady Bird and Get Out were better than The Shape of Water, but there are so many prejudices against taking either a thriller or a movie about a young woman’s daily life seriously that it almost, unfortunately, feels like progress that they were even nominated. –Nerdy Spice]
Snubs: Raw, I, Tonya, Logan
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Will win: Guillermo del Toro, Shape of Water
Should win: Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Again, del Toro has this in the bag, and I’m not really unhappy about it. In my opinion, Shape of Water deserves to win this award much more than Best Picture, since the directorial vision was much more special than its relatively pedestrian script.
However, in a perfect world I would rather see Paul Thomas Anderson win for Phantom Thread. I was fully expecting to hate this movie (do we really need more films about difficult, abusive, tragically creative white men?), but the detail-oriented and beautiful direction completely seduced me in the end. I would also be happy with Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird; while I had some beef with the editing, the world-building was perfect and downright visionary. She gets extra points for being the only female nominee, not to mention the fact that Lady Bird is her debut outing, but she doesn’t need them.
Snubs: Julia Ducournau (Raw), Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya)
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
Will win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards
Should win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards
However I felt about the movie as a whole, Frances McDormand was at the height of her powers here. It’s cathartic at this particular moment to see a bracingly fierce woman on screen who quite literally takes no prisoners, but beyond the timeliness of her performance, she commanded the screen in every scene she was in as if there were no one else in the room. I would also be happy with Margot Robbie, who gave a tour-de-force performance as Tonya Harding, but that’s definitely a pipe dream.
Snubs: Garance Marillier (Raw), Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread), Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game), Aubrey Plaza (Ingrid Goes West)
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.
Will win: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Should win: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Yes, yes, Gary Oldman won this award as soon as he put on the old man makeup. And to be fair, he was very engaging in what was otherwise a criminally dull movie. But (without having seen Roman J. Israel, Esq.) my vote goes to breakout star Daniel Kaluuya, who gave a beautifully understated performance in Get Out. His performance wasn’t showy or Oscar bait-y (I’m shocked it was even nominated), and it was all the better for it. The movie is, at its core, about micro-aggressions, and Kaluuya’s ability to display a thousand conflicting emotions on his face after every racist, or worse, possibly racist comment was a note-perfect portrayal.
Snub: Jason Mitchell, Mudbound
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
Will win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Should win: Allison Janney, I Tonya
I’m tempted to say that Laurie Metcalf should win in this category, since her role was completely heartbreaking in a similarly understated, realistic performance. But very much like Frances McDormand, Allison Janney just commands the screen in a way that makes her impossible to ignore. Her performance never shied away from how truly despicable her character is (*ahem*Sam Rockwell*ahem*), but still managed to make the audience empathize with her to some small degree.
Snub: Dafne Keen, Logan
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
Will win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should win: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Sam Rockwell has swept almost all of the awards thus far, so there’s no reason to think he won’t take this one home as well. And it’s not exactly the worst thing: Rockwell himself is a talented actor, but I don’t even know how to truly evaluate his performance when the writing of his character rang so untrue (and at times, offensive). My vote goes to Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project, which was by far the most empathetic of the five performances honored here.
Best Original Screenplay:
The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh
Will win: Jordan Peele, Get Out
Should win: Jordan Peele, Get Out
Although part of me thinks that in a perfect world Get Out would just sweep everything, this will almost definitely be its consolation prize for not winning Best Picture, Director, or Actor. And to be fair, the direction and acting were wonderful and deserved to be nominated, but the writing is really what elevates the film to transcendent. Jordan Peele claimed that there were about 40 drafts before he arrived at this script, and it shows.
Snubs: Raw, Ingrid Goes West
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees
Will win: James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name
Should win: Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green, Logan
While I enjoyed Call Me By Your Name, if only as a result of the beautifully passionate performances, the script erred on the conventional side. Logan, on the other hand, defied expectations at every turn, and managed to function simultaneously as an entertaining superhero movie, a gritty Western, and a bleak character study with a social conscience. When an X-Men movie makes an entire audience filled with grown-ups audibly sniffle at the end, you know you’ve achieved something pretty amazing.