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2018 Oscar Predictions: Will Win vs. Should Win

The Oscars aren’t what they used to be. The ratings have been in a freefall for years. The box office impact of an Oscar win is seriously diminished. And the steady rise of other televised awards shows like SAG has eaten into the Oscars’ exclusivity.

But it’s not all bad.

The voting body is at least a little less predominantly old white dude, and the new members have proven to be remarkably resistant to the charms of Oscar bait movies (see: The Post’s mere 2 nominations this year), but not entirely immune (see: The Darkest Hour’s 6 nominations this year). In fact, the voting body, as a whole, is increasingly falling more in line with the Indie Spirit Awards, turning the Oscars into a progressive evening devoted to awarding offbeat, experimental, and genre movies, most of which very few people ever bothered to see.

That’s problematic for the Academy’s bottom line, but if you’re a movie lover it’s a remarkably encouraging development. With all of that change, though, comes inevitable culture clashes between new and old voters. Is everyone really okay with Three Billboards‘ suspect approach to domestic abuse and racism? What of the statutory rapey quality to Call Me By Your Name‘s love story or the literal bestiality at the center of Shape of Water‘s fairytale romance? And do the old white voters totally get, well, Get Out? Some of them didn’t even bother to watch it!

How is all of this going to shake out tomorrow night when the Oscars are finally handed out? There have been so many precursors awards (Golden Globes, BAFTA, SAG, etc.) at this point that many of the awards feel long since predetermined, but could the Academy have a surprise in store? This year’s Best Picture race, after all, seems more wide open than ever before. Could something other than Shape of Water or Three Billboards swoop in to destroy everyone’s ballot in their office pool?

Here’s what I see happening:


  • 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

What Will Win: Get Out

What Should Win: Phantom Thread

Explanation: I’m really going out on a limb here. This is supposed to be a two-horse race between Shape of Water and Three Billboards, which have been trading blows back and forth at the key pre-cursor award shows for months. But that also means they’ve both been in the spotlight non-stop and thus subject to backlash and/or whisper campaigns, such as the curiously timed plagiarism lawsuit filed against Water. That very same kind of atmosphere felled Christmas-day releases like La La Land and The Revenant from winning in recent years, losing instead to Moonlight and Spotlight (both of which came out much earlier in the awards season). Like Get Out, neither of those films went into the night with that many nominations, and they certainly didn’t leave the theater that night with an arm full of awards either. But they each at least got Best Picture, partially because the Academy’s preferential balloting system favors the generally well-liked and penalizes the divisive.

There’s also the element of social relevance, which Spotlight and Moonlight had in spades over the competition. It’s more complicated this year since Get Out, Three Billboards, and Shape of Water all speak quite poignantly to our disturbed times, two of them directly, the other metaphorically. However, Three Billboards seems to be a film which people like less and less the more they have time to think about it (I actually don’t share the same animosity toward that movie, but the backlash has been impossible to ignore). On the other end, for Shape of Water, the less contentious option, scoring the most nominations might have lent it an air of “overrated” in some voter’s minds.

But then there’s little ole Get Out, a movie which literally opened the same weekend as last year’s Oscar ceremony. No Best Picture nominee has ever been able to say that. It means Get Out has an unprecedented level of time-tested respect. There are no thinkpieces tearing it apart ala Three Billboards. There’s no credibility-questioning lawsuit ala Shape of Water. There’s just a movie which came out all that time ago and only grew better in people’s memories, not worse. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the cultural phenomenon of Black Panther kicked off while Oscar voting was still open.

Of course, I happen to personally prefer Phantom Thread wonderfully twisted romance, which is my favorite of this year’s Best Picture nominees. Really, though, other than Darkest Hour or The Post I can live with pretty much any of the nominees winning.


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

Who Will Win: Guillermo Del Toro

Who Should Win: Guillermo Del Toro

Explanation: Really, you’ve got three movies (Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread) dependent on getting the best performances out of the actors, one dependent on meeting rather challenging technical problems AND getting the best performance out of the actors (Shape of Water), and finally one which is all technique and practically no directing of actors whatsoever since they might as well just be props as far as Nolan cares (Dunkirk). Since Del Toro managed to pull off both directing the actors and directing inventive, highly challenging visual sequences, he likely gets the nod. It’s also this: Shape of Water is his masterpiece. He’s due.


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

Who Will Win: Gary Oldman

Who Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Explanation: The Academy is changing faster than expected, but it’s not so different these days that it can resist Gary Oldman’s hammy, blatantly “For Your Consideration!!!” performance as Winston Churchill. Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread, by comparison, is as restrained as we’ve seen him in years. Because he’s won already he doesn’t even seem to be a real candidate here, not when the Academy is switching over to recognizing the new or awarding the long overdue, but it still feels like Day-Lewis’ work in Phantom Thread has gone seriously underappreciated, even with this nomination.


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

Who Will Win: Frances McDormand

Who Should Win: Sally Hawkins

Explanation: McDormand is fierce, a force of nature overtaking the film, but she’s also granted too few opportunities to play anything other than primal rage. She does it well, but it’s not as varied a performance as something like Fargo. Hawkins would get my vote due to the bigger challenge of playing mute as well as playing a wider range of emotions, but McDormand is a lock to win, even though she used her SAG acceptance speech to ask people to vote for her younger competition to give them the exposure she neither wants nor needs.


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

Who Will Win: Sam Rockwell

Who Should Win: Patrick Stewart…what do you mean he wasn’t nominated for Logan?


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

Who Will Win: Allison Janney

Who Should Win: Laurie Metcalf

Explanation: It’s a battle between two former TV actresses, and predictably the bigger performance has been winning the day, allowing Janney to test out her acceptance speech at just about every awards show she’s been to. The problem is although Janney is undeniably funny throughout I, Tonya she’s also playing a walking cartoon, granted just one scene displaying any shading or hint of why she is the way she is. It’s a big, over-the-top part, and she knocks it out of the park. But she never seems like a real person, ironic since as Tonya Harding’s mom she’s the only nominee in this category playing someone who is real and not just made up by a screenwriter. Metcalf, by comparison, does feel more varied and authentic, and so effectively serves as Lady Bird‘s emotional anchor.


  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)
  • Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)
  • Get Out (Jordan Peele)
  • The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor)
  • The Big Sick (Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani)

What Will Win: Get Out

What Should Win: Get Out


  • Call Me by Your Name (James Ivory)
  • Molly’s Game (Aaron Sorkin)
  • The Disaster Artist (Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber)
  • Mudbound (Dee Rees & Virgil Williams)
  • Logan (Scott Frank, James Mangold & Michael Green)

What Will Win: Call Me by Your Name

What Should Win: Logan


  • Coco
  • The Breadwinner
  • Loving Vincent
  • The Boss Baby
  • Ferdinand

What Will Win: Coco

What Should Win: Coco.

Explanation: What? You seriously thought I’d say Boss Baby? Or Ferdinand? Both perfectly fine time-fillers to watch with kids, but not remotely on the same level as Coco. Loving Vincent is a case of all style, too little substance, and The Breadwinner is too niche to upset Coco.


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

What Will Win: Faces Places

What Should Win: Icarus


  • Blade Runner: 2049 (Roger Deakins)
  • Darkest Hour (Bruno Delbonnel)
  • Dunkirk (Hoyte van Hoytema)
  • The Shape of Water (Dan Laustsen)
  • Mudbound (Rachel Morrison)

Who Will Win: Roger Deakins

Who Should Win: Roger Deakins


  • Phantom Thread
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Darkest Hour
  • The Shape of Water
  • Victoria & Abdul

What Will Win: Phantom Thread

What Should Win: Phantom Thread

Explanation: For however much this matters here, there isn’t a single film in this category for whom the costumes are more important to the narrative than Phantom Thread.


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

What Will Win: The Shape of Water

What Should Win: The Shape of Water


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

What Will Win: Dunkirk

What Should Win: Baby Driver


  • Dunkirk (Hans Zimmer)
  • Phantom Thread (Jonny Greenwood)
  • The Shape of Water (Alexandre Desplat)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi (John Williams)
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Carter Burwell)

What Will Win: The Shape of Water

What Should Win: Phantom Thread


  • “Stand Up for Something” — (Marshall)
  • “This Is Me” — (The Greatest Showman)
  • “Remember Me” — (Coco)
  • “The Mystery of Love” — (Call Me By Your Name)
  • “Mighty River” (Mudbound)

What Will Win: “Remember Me”

What Should Win: “A Mighty River”

Explanation: To be honest, I don’t know how exactly the Academy judges this category. Are we trying to be like the Grammy’s and pick what we think is simply the best song in terms of its music? Or are we selecting the song which is best suited to and utilized in its movie? If it’s the latter, then “Remember Me” wins this in a landslide. That song is practically a character in the movie, taking on different forms throughout before serving as the centerpiece of the film’s emotional finale. That being said, The Greatest Showman people ust won last year for La La Land, and it would almost be too cruel to snub Mary J. Blige for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song. Regardless of who actually wins, though, “Remember Me” is going to be the song remembered by history simply because it is the one which is the most ingrained in its actual movie, even more so than “This Is Me.”


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

What Will Win: War for the Planet of the Apes

What Should Win: Blade Runner: 2049


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

What Will Win: Dunkirk

What Should Win: Baby Driver


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

What Will Win: Dunkirk

What Should Win: Baby Driver


  • The Insult (France)
  • On Body and Soul (Hungary)
  • The Square (Sweden)
  • Loveless (Russia)
  • A Fantastic Woman (Chile)

What Will Win: A Fantastic Woman

What Should Win: A Fantastic Woman


  • Wonder
  • Victoria & Abdul
  • Darkest Hour

What Will Win: Darkest Hour

What Should Win: Darkest Hour


I’m predicting Get Out for Best Picture, but everything else I largely see going the way it has at most of the pre-cursors awards. In the acting categories, the lead races seem over, but Defoe and Metcalf have an outside chance to pull off upsets in supporting. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

What about you? What do you think is going to win Best Picture? Is there any prediction I made which sounds totally crazy to you? Let me know in the comments.


  1. Ballsy going with GET OUT as the BP winner. I say no way. We both agree with your Patrick Stewart comment, he totally deserved to be among the nominees this year for his work in LOGAN. (Louisa)

    1. Ballsy indeed. Get Out winning would be dang near unprecedented. The math and history tell us it will clearly either be Three Billboards or Shape of Water, to the point that even though I’ve made this prediction even I will be surprised if Get Out actually wins. I’m going on more of a hunch than anything else. Also, like I said I think the preferential balloting they use for Best Picture now, which they don’t use for any other major categories, has completely changed the traditional rules. Getting a lot of 2nd place and 3rd place votes is almost as important as 1st place votes now. So, those movies which become targets of smear campaigns or suffer an inevitable backlash due to perceived slights or just inevitable “Gawd, I am so tired of that movie winning everything” seem especially vulnerable. The now-punishing crunch of so many precursor awards shows has exacerbated the problem.

      That’s why I’m very comfortable saying Three Billboards will not win. It’s too divisive – I mean, I actually like it, but some people outright hate that movie, finding it a morally bankrupt exercise in tonal schizophrenia and a skewed version of what a Brit thinks racism in mid-America is like.

      The real question, then, is whether Shape of Water has truly suffered enough of any kind of backlash to lose. The history tells us it doesn’t have a chance since no movie since Braveheart has won Best Picture without also being nominated for Best Ensemble Cast by SAG, but history also says the Academy wouldn’t have purged itself of legacy members before inviting a record number of new diverse members, some of whom barely even work in the film industry. Plus, the acting branch clearly loved Shape of Water enough to nominate not just Hawkins but also Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer in two roles they could have done in their sleep, though their performances are certainly effective. So, I’m not putting too much stock into the SAG snub. But for all of the things that are non-traditional about Shape of Water, primarily the woman on fishman action, it’s also a rather traditional Oscar play – gorgeously directed and art-directed period piece about a doomed romance with an undercurrent of “Doncha just love the movies!” That’s exactly why it got the most nominations, but getting the most nominations didn’t do a dang thing for La La Land or The Revenant in the Best Picture category.

      It comes back to the hunch thing again. I just have this feeling we’re in for another year where the more expected movies trade blows in the pre-cursor categories, and then something which has barely won anything at all swoops in for Best Picture and allows the Academy to very directly christen itself as the new kingmaker of socially important movies like Spotlight and Moonlight.

      Sorry for the longwinded response.

      Also, yeah, WTF Academy? Patrick Stewart is long overdue for recognition, and he gave a brilliant performance in one of the more challenging genres to actually stand out as an actor.

  2. Well, I don’t agree about the movies that will win. My choices are just different ones, but we definitely agree on what should win. I don’t think Get Out should win, and I think Peele should get some more movies under his belt before winning an Oscar. Three Billboards is a little too controversial to win, although I liked it just fine. Day Lewis is overdue for an Oscar, and I’m hoping Shape of Water steals in and gets a few. I enjoyed the music of Shape a lot. I’m sure Dunkirk will win something, and Deakins can win anything he likes, I don’t even care if it’s for categories he’s not even nominated for😄

    As for Patrick Stewart! Yep! Somebody get that man an Oscar. Logan is on my Best of… list for 2017, and somebody need to give that man some respeck!

    1. Dunkirk is such a technical feat that it’s guaranteed at least a couple of wins, particularly in the editing and sound editing/mixing categories. It’s also a theoretical upset candidate for director and picture, both of which I’d be fine with. I love that movie. Correction: I love the experience of watching that movie in a theater for the first time. It’s like WWII Simulator: The Movie. Abandon all hope, give in to despair until the cavalry arrives. Pure cinema experience. The problem for Dunkirk, though, is the largest branch of the Academy is the Actors, and Dunkirk is almost an anti-actor movie. There’s precious little dialogue, and the whole point of the movie is to render those people as anonymous cogs in a machine. It works for what Nolan is going for. However, it’s offputting enough and so cold-to-the-touch that I could see the actor’s branch –
      remembering, of course, that for the actual awards everyone gets to vote for everything instead of being limited to simply voting for the category corresponding to their individual branch – penalizing it in favor of other movies with a more pressing social message.

      Get Out wouldn’t be my personal pick for Best Picture. I prefer Phantom Thread and Dunkirk over it, and I don’t hold it in significantly higher esteem than Shape of Water. I just have a hunch that with Three Billboards being too divisive and the hundreds of new members added to the Academy in the past two years being so vocal about their intention to vote with politics in mind (in the interest of increasing exposure and advancing change) that Get Out has a real shot of sneaking in there. That being said, I’m second-guessing my arguments for why exactly Shape of Water won’t win, especially since its use of metaphor to make its point makes it a less contentious film than most other nominees.

      Of course, other than Phantom Thread, Dunkirk, and Get Out, none of the nominees actually made my favorite 10 films of the year. I was all about The Last Jedi, Logan, Coco, Baby Driver, and Blade Runner last year. Still, I genuinely liked just about every film nominated this year, and other than The Post or Darkest Hour I wouldn’t be too upset over any of them winning.

      ” Day Lewis is overdue for an Oscar”

      He actually won for Lincoln. Really, the acting categories are bizarre this year. I don’t know that this has ever happened before, but McDormand, Rockwell, Janney, and Oldman have swept every single major televised award show leading up to the Oscars. For any one of them to lose tomorrow would actually be the first time they lost at anywhere major this whole entire awards season. Normally I would have guessed we were due for a surprise in one of the supporting categories, particularly Metcalf over Janney, but given the level of unprecedented momentum the lead nominees have I just couldn’t bring myself to break from it.

      “Deakins can win anything he likes”

      Agreed. How is that he’s never won an Oscar before? He’s absolutely due. Beyond that, his Blade Runner is so spellbinding.

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