Oscars 2018: Who’ll win, who won’t and 10 other questions

Who is in the running to win the Oscars in every category?

Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in “Lady Bird”

Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in “Lady Bird”

 

1. Did anybody actually see these films?
Yes, they did. But this is still the lowest-grossing set of best-picture nominees since 2011. Dunkirk, which took $525 million worldwide, is by far the most lucrative project. Coming in second place with $254 million, Get Out was a huge hit in the US, but it fared less well in the “rest of the world”. One might reasonably argue that nobody should care about this. We pretend the Oscars are about quality, not commerce (we don’t, really). The organisers certainly give a hoot. When hits are nominated, the viewing figures tend to soar. The most watched ceremony ever named the then highest-grossing film of all time as best picture. It was 1998. “Iceberg! Dead ahead!”

2. Has Hollywood solved its woman problem?
Don’t be ridiculous. A depressing 77 per cent of non-acting nominations went to men. Women are, however, receiving better roles in more Oscar-friendly movies. The best actress race is, for the second year running, more competitive than its male counterpart. Until the last week or so, four actresses seemed like contenders: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Frances McDormand and Sally Hawkins. And the fourth was Meryl “21 noms” Streep. To put this in perspective, it’s only a little over 20 years since Jessica Lange won for Blue Sky. What? Well, exactly. For decades, the voters struggled to complete the category. This year, it’s Denzel Washington, up for the poor Roman J Israel Esq, who represents a making-up-the-numbers release.

3. Will #Metoo and #TimesUp dominate the red carpet?
There will certainly be a lot of that about. As at the Golden Globes and Bafta, red carpet presenters will want to acknowledge the campaigns against the abuse of women in the entertainment industries. But Channing Dungey, president of entertainment at ABC, which broadcasts the ceremony, has expressed caution. “We certainly want to honour and respect Time’s Up and allow that message to be heard,” she said. “But we’re trying to make it more planned than spur of the moment — it has its moment and then doesn’t feel like it overshadows the artists and films being honoured.” The Time’s Up campaign told the New York Times it is not asking stars to wear black or bring activists as guests. Make of that what you will.

Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour”. Photograph: Jack English
Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour”. Photograph: Jack English

4. Will brave Gaels be able to wrap themselves in the flag?
It depends what you mean by “Gaels”. It is only two years since the great annus mirabilis of Irish cinema – the industry’s 1990 World Cup – when the Irish Film Board managed more nominations than Paramount and Universal combined. We’re still doing fine. But Saoirse Ronan is unlikely to get past the Frances McDormand juggernaut. The Breadwinner, out of Kilkenny, is too compact to beat Pixar’s bossy Coco in animated feature. Costume designer Consalata Boyle, a surprise nominee for Victoria & Abdul, has the misfortune to run up against Daniel Day-Lewis’s frocks in Phantom Thread. Mind you, Martin McDonagh, raised in London to Irish parents, holds the right class of passport. As a producer, he will take an Oscar if Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri wins best picture. He’s also a contender in the hotly contested best original screenplay race.

5. Could there be another Envelopegate?
To be fair, the bizarre envelope mix-up in 2017 – involving best picture, of all things – required so many weird circumstances that it will surely never happen again. But the Academy has made precautions anyway. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that supervises the vote, is throwing staff at the problem. A new procedure demands that the celebrity presenter and a stage manager confirm that they’ve been given the correct envelope. A third PwC “balloting partner” – added to those positioned at either wing – will memorise the results and observe events from the control booth. PwC officials have been banned from using phones or social media. Good job, team. That will ensure the stable door is well and truly closed behind that long-bolted horse.

6. Has the Oscars finally solved its presenter problem?
Well, obviously not. Jimmy Kimmel can’t do the show forever. Aside from anything else, in the present era, viewers might like to see somebody other than a white bloke at the Oscar microphone. But Kimmel’s successful outing last year was one of the pleasanter surprises in recent Oscar history. Indeed, after disastrous twin turns by Anne Hathaway and James Franco, a bewildering dud from Awards veteran Neil Patrick Harris and an often funny, but utterly ill-judged, Seth MacFarlane cringeathon, many Oscar veterans decided it was an impossible job. Arriving with modest expectations last year, Kimmel managed to combine light snark with a respect that stopped short of becoming oleaginous. If he succeeds again, he will become the default host of his era. A Bob Hope. A Johnny Carson. A Billy Crystal. Not bad company.

Martin McDonagh at a press conference for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”. Photograph: Warren Toda
Martin McDonagh at a press conference for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”. Photograph: Warren Toda

7. Who will be left off the ‘in memoriam’ tribute?
It should be a brief, moving respite from the hubbub, but no other section of the show has caused quite so much controversy as the annual tribute to the recently dead. Last year, the segment somehow managed to leave off Doris Roberts, Garry Shandling and Robert Vaughn. Robert Vaughn? He was the last of The Magnificent Seven, for Pete’s sake. Those oversights were, however, overshadowed by the montage including a photograph of the still-living producer Jan Chapman instead of late production designer Janet Patterson. We can surely count on Roger Moore, Jerry Lewis, Jonathan Demme, Martin Landau and George Romero making it in. But somebody’s favourite will undoubtedly have been left off the list. Prepare your angry email.

8. Were the winners always so predictable?
No, they weren’t. There have always been years when a big film marched triumphantly over the little projects cowering before its advance. Nothing was stopping Schindler’s List in 1994 or Gone With the Wind in 1940. But, over the last two decades, the satellite events have increased and the online coverage of those ceremonies has generated whole digital sub-industries. The sanctity of “awards season” was confirmed in 2001 when, for years an amusing Easter afterthought, Bafta moved its gongs back before the Oscars and changed its rules to admit films released in the UK during the early part of the year. In short, we now have too much information. If the Academy were to unilaterally drop its awards into the first week of January then we might get more excitement. That won’t be happening.

9. What records stand to be broken or equalled?
Should Meryl Streep take a fourth statuette, she will equal Katharine Hepburn’s record for most wins in acting categories. Should Daniel Day Lewis, allegedly facing retirement, win his fourth best actor Oscar, he will break his own record for most wins in that category and pull ahead of Jack Nicholson and Walter Brennan for most acting wins by a man (the other two have supporting wins in their tally). Should The Shape of Water convert 11 of its 13 nominations, it will equal the total for most wins. None of these things is going to happen. More realistically, writer James Ivory and documentarian Agnes Varda, both 89, have good chances of becoming the oldest-ever winners. Varda is the senior by a few weeks.

10. Is it you or have the nominees got better?
It’s not just you. Increasing the nominees from five to a maximum of 10 and expanding the membership to include younger, more diverse voters has allowed in an array of interesting pictures that would have struggled during the 1980s and 1990s (Oscar’s most boring years). In 1990, Awakenings, Ghost and Godfather Part III – none classics – were among just five films vying for the best picture won by Dances With Wolves. Thank heavens for Goodfellas. In the last decade we’ve seen such interesting nominees as Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Room, Get Out and Lady Bird. Moonlight really did win last year. So give the Oscars a break. 

Oscar Predictions

Hang on a moment. It seems only minutes ago that we were declaring 2018 the most open Oscars Derby since the late Pleistocene era. Last Tuesday (or something), we appeared to have a two-horse race in every major category bar best actor. It didn’t last. Oscarogene, the vapour that causes voters in precursor races – the professional guilds, Bafta, the Globes – to fall obediently into line, has done its work and all but one of the battles that matter now boasts a runaway favourite. One such favourite usual stumbles, but goat entrails will tell as much about the identity of that shocker as will any pointy-headed Oscar expert. Yet one odd uncertainty has persisted. In recent years, best picture has proved the hardest to call. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Shape of Water remain locked in a death grip. Why? Read on, Oscar maniac . . .

Woody Harrelson and Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Woody Harrelson and Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST PICTURE
A preferential ballot had been used in only this race since 2010. As a result, consensus choices have tended to sneak past divisive films and best director now goes elsewhere far more often that it used to (four of that last five years, amazingly). Three Billboards and The Shape of Water have dominated awards season, but both have form against them. The Shape of Water would be the first film since Braveheart in 1995 to win without an ensemble nomination at the Screen Actors Guild. Three Billboards would be only the second film in 29 years to win without even a best director nomination. The win at Bafta just nudges Martin McDonagh’s film ahead.                 

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

Will win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should win: Get Out or Lady Bird
Where was…? The Florida Project

BEST DIRECTOR
Guillermo del Toro is much loved and, Nolan aside, delivers the showiest directorial achievement. His biggest rival in best picture, Martin McDonagh, isn’t nominated. So it’s a shoo-in.

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

Will win: Guillermo del Toro
Should win: Paul Thomas Anderson
Where was…? Andrey Zvyagintsev for Loveless

BEST ACTOR
Gary Oldman gets to wear a fat suit. He plays a famous bloke. He’s “overdue”. Have you seen the Oscars before, pal?

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
Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Where was…? Steve Carell for Battle of the Sexes

BEST ACTRESS
Everyone bar Streep looked to be in the running at the time of the Golden Globes. Then McDormand went on to win everything else. Ah well. Saoirse Ronan will get another crack.

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
Should win: Saoirse Ronan
Where was…? Florence Pugh for Lady Macbeth

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Rockwell has swept all before him. He will probably do so again. But this is where upsets happen (remember Mark Rylance beating Sly Stallone in 2016). So don’t rule out Dafoe.

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
Should win: Willem Dafoe
Where was…? Barry Keoghan for The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Octavia Spencer and Sally Hawkins in “The Shape of Water”
Octavia Spencer and Sally Hawkins in “The Shape of Water”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Looked liked Metcalf’s to lose. Then she lost it. Janney’s monstrous mom is bigger, brasher and blacker. Allison is also one hell of a campaigner.

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
Should win: Laurie Metcalfe
Where was…? Brooklynn Prince for The Florida Project

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Another easy call. Call Me By Your Name is the only best-picture nominee in the race. Should James Ivory win for that film, he might become the oldest Oscar winner ever. We say “might” because Agnes Varda, a few weeks older, lurks in best documentary.

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

Will win: Call Me by Your Name
Should win: Call Me by Your Name
Where was…? The Death of Stalin

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Finally, a proper race. The underperforming The Big Sick is probably out of it, but all the rest are in. Three Billboards has momentum, but this might be the only chance the Academy has of honouring Get Out or Lady Bird. The former might just have the edge.

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

Will win: Get Out
Should win: Lady Bird
Where was…? Loveless

ANIMATED FEATURE
The commercial feature almost always wins. So Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon, producers of The Breadwinner, will probably have to settle for the nomination. Coco aside, it was a dreadful year for studio animation (hello, The Boss Baby!). It’s triumph is, thus, as certain as anything on this list.

The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Coco
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent

Will win: Coco
Should win: Coco
Where was…? Mary and the Witch’s Flower

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
At least two of the early favourites – Jane and City of Ghosts – didn’t make it into the final five. So it’s tricky. The much-loved Agnes Varda probably becomes Oscar’s oldest winner ever for Faces Places.

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Icarus
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

Will win: Faces Places
Should win: Faces Places
Where was…? Jane

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The most famously unreadable of all Oscar categories. A Fantastic Woman, the story of a bereaved transgender woman’s fight for independence, probably arrives at the right time.

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

Will win: A Fantastic Woman
Should win: Loveless
Where was…? Thelma

And the rest...

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Darkest Hour
Mudbound

Will win: Blade Runner 2049
Should win: Blade Runner 2049

EDITING
Baby Driver
Dunkirk
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Will win: Dunkirk
Should win: Baby Driver

COSTUME DESIGN
Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul

Will win: Phantom Thread
Should win: Phantom Thread

VISUAL EFFECTS
Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Will win: War for the Planet of the Apes
Should win: War for the Planet of the Apes

ORIGINAL SCORE
Dunkirk
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Will win: The Shape of Water
Should win: Phantom Thread

ORIGINAL SONG
Mighty River (Mudbound)
Mystery of Love (Call Me by Your Name)
Remember Me (Coco)
Stand Up for Something (Marshall)
This is Me (The Greatest Showman)

Will win: This is Me
Should win: Mystery of Love

MAKEUP AND HAIR
Darkest Hour
Victoria and Abdul
Wonder

Will win: Darkest Hour
Should win: Darkest Hour

PRODUCTION DESIGN
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water

Will win: The Shape of Water
Should win: Blade Runner 2049

SOUND EDITING
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Will win: Dunkirk
Should win: Dunkirk

SOUND MIXING
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Will win: Dunkirk
Should win: Dunkirk

ANIMATED SHORT
Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Lou
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

Will win: Dear Basketball
Should win: Negative Space

DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Edith+Eddie
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Heroin(e)
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

Will win: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Should win: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405

LIVE ACTION SHORT
DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us

Will win: The Silent Child
Should win: DeKalb Elementary

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