Final predictions for the 90th Academy Awards

Well, after an exhaustively-long awards season, the day is finally here. The 90th Academy Awards are just a few hours away. We’ve seen crazy seasons before, but this year has topped them all. More twists and turns in one season than we’ve ever experienced before. We head into Oscar night truly unknowing of how several categories will unfold. But, most importantly, we have no idea what film is winning Best Picture.

Now, everyone will be making a prediction. That’s part of the game. But we’re all just having a guess this year. Nobody knows anything for sure. The precursor season has not cleared up the Best Picture race. At all. Every major Best Picture contender has some piece of history against it. There is no precedent for what we’re about to witness. That makes it hard for a prognosticator, but it makes the ceremony so much more fun to view.

No one is particularly confident this year. We simply can’t be. And, consequently, none of us really has a right to boast if we’re correct. Those who correctly predict Best Picture will really just be lucky. That won’t stop the boasting. But just keep that in mind anytime you see anyone give it a try.

To be honest, I’m just looking forward to it all being over. It really has seemed like this Oscar season has dragged on longer than usual, even without the unusually-late ceremony date. When you have this many ups and downs, and such an unclear path, this race can be rather taxing. But the end is in sight, and we will finally know which film breaks the rules and makes history.

As I always say, these predictions are just basically reading tea leaves, even more so this year, so take them with a grain of salt. Alas, one must try, so here are my final predictions for the 90th Academy Awards.

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

Will win: Get Out
Should win: The Florida Project…oh, wait…
Possible shocker: Dunkirk

I’ve had no idea what film is winning Best Picture for most of this race. I’ve been saying it for weeks. And even on the day of the ceremony, I will still be saying it. We. Have. No. Idea. The smart prediction would likely be Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (don’t worry – I’m not going to use its full name every time). It swept the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes. It won the SAG Ensemble prize. It’s got the buzz. It’s likely winning two acting awards. But it does not have a Best Director nomination for Martin McDonagh, which would make it only the fourth film to win Best Picture without that key piece of the puzzle. That’s a big problem.

So, perhaps the smart prediction is really The Shape of Water. It has the most nominations. It won the PGA, DGA, and the Critics Choice Award. But it does not have a SAG Ensemble nomination. Remember, every Best Picture winner since Braveheart has that nomination. Think back to last year where La La Land won PGA, DGA, and Critics Choice, but also did not have the SAG nomination. Look how that turned out.

In all honesty, it’s probably going to be one of these two, and one of them will break a precursor rule. However, I’m being a little crazy this year and going with my gut. And my gut is telling me its Get Out. I know it doesn’t have any craft nominations and a film without craft nominations hasn’t won Best Picture since 1934. I know it hasn’t won any of the major guilds besides WGA, which really only boosts its Screenplay chances. But last year proved that rules are made to be broken, and while the other two would break a rule or two, Get Out would shatter all sorts of records.

And who knows. It could genuinely even be Dunkirk. In the last few days of voting, there were rumblings of a groundswell of support for the film, particularly from older members of the Academy. It certainly has enough nominations to make it a contender. It ticks all the old-school boxes of what constitutes a Best Picture winner. Go back a few years, and this would be a no-brainer choice. After such a non-traditional winner last year, maybe the Academy want to go back to their roots.

I’m probably wrong about Get Out. Don’t listen to me. I haven’t correctly predicted Best Picture since 12 Years a Slave. Be smart and pick Three Billboards or The Shape of Water in your office pool. But don’t say I didn’t warn you if you hear “Get Out” announced by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway…although, someone might have to double check it, just in case.

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

Will win: Guillermo Del Toro
Should win: Christopher Nolan
Possible shocker: Greta Gerwig

One of the few absolute locks of the night. Del Toro has cleaned up every major Best Director prize this season, and it seems highly unlikely it will go any other way. It still confounds me Nolan can make a film like Dunkirk and that’s still not good enough to win him an Academy Award, but I guess there’s always next time. There’s a very, very slight chance the #MeToo movement could carry Gerwig to a shock win, but no. This is Del Toro’s year.

Now, just a disclaimer about the acting categories. For the first time in history, the same four actors have won the four acting categories at the Golden Globes, SAG, BAFTA, and Critics Choice. There’s usually at least some difference between these four awards groups, but not this year. It seems incredibly unlikely we won’t get the same result at the Oscars, but I will say this. Voter exhaustion is real and can be very damaging, and there could easily be at least one shock win, if Academy members are truly sick of seeing the same four people win everything. You have been warned.

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: Timothée Chalamet
Possible shocker: Anyone but Oldman would be a shocker

From the moment that first still was released featuring Oldman in his Winston Churchill make-up and costume, we all could see where this was heading. While the critics awards fawned over Chalamet, Oldman has swept this season from then on. Oldman has put aside his past disdain for awards ceremonies and acted accordingly this time. He is fairly unstoppable and another of the few locks of the evening. There’s a slim chance for Chalamet, given he’s been campaigning like crazy and he’s very, very, very well-liked. But it’s not happening. His time will come later.

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: Frankly, they all should
Possible shocker: Saoirse Ronan

The strongest category of the entire ceremony. Truly, all five of these women should be walking away with an Academy Award. Yes, even Meryl. But this is Frances’ year. Everybody wants to see her up on that stage. It could make for the moment of the night. My poor, beloved Saoirse Ronan is unlucky again. Maybe next year for her role as Mary, Queen of Scots?

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
Possible shocker: Christopher Plummer

For a while there, it looked like this was Dafoe’s year. But sweeping the critics awards often doesn’t translate into success with the other awards bodies. In my mind, he still should win, but Rockwell took the lead from the Golden Globes, and hasn’t looked back. But if there’s one acting category that seems a little shaky, it’s this one. Rockwell’s character is problematic to many people, and that could be an issue. If so, it may be Dafoe, in an upset. Or even Plummer, if Rockwell and Dafoe split the vote. This category has the power to surprise. Just look at Mark Rylance.

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

Will win: Allison Janney
Should win: Laurie Metcalf
Possible shocker: Laurie Metcalf

Much like Dafoe, this also looked to be Metcalf’s year. But just like Rockwell, Janney took this category at the Golden Globes, and zoomed to the front, taking every award since, including a surprise Indie Spirit victory just yesterday. From everything we’ve heard, Janney campaigns like nobody else, and that explains a lot. She’s so damn likeable and so ridiculously beloved, and that can be the key in a competitive category. It’s a great performance, but Metcalf’s was better. It’s possible Janney could suffer from voter exhaustion, but when everybody loves you, they never tired of seeing you win.

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

Will win: Get Out
Should win: Get Out
Possible shocker: Lady Bird

One of the key categories in the entire race. Pay close attention to this one. Whatever wins here could very easily be our eventual Best Picture winner, as the film which takes the top prize generally takes a Screenplay prize too. If Three Billboards takes it, the Best Picture race is over. Likewise with The Shape of Water. But if I’m right and Get Out is the winner, the game is on. Spotlight only won Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. Get Out could easily do the same.

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

Will win: Call Me by Your Name
Should win: Call Me by Your Name
Possible shocker: Mudbound

Nothing but Call Me by Your Name is winning this category. Next.

“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: “This Is Me”
Possible shocker: “Mighty River”

Most people seem to be going with “Remember Me” for this one, and I can see why. It’s a beautiful song. It’s making people cry. It’s key to the entire plot of Coco. And they could definitely be right. I’d be happy to see it win. But “This Is Me” has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon. It’s on the radio. It’s all over YouTube. It’s inspired a thousand cover versions. The soundtrack is #1 around the world. The song was even used by NBC in the television commercials for their Winter Olympics coverage. People freaking love this song. That’s got to equal an Academy Award win, right?

I’m not going to bother going into great detail with the other awards, so I’ll just run through the rest of my predictions without notes.


Dear Basketball

Blade Runner 2049

Phantom Thread

Faces Places


Baby Driver

A Fantastic Woman

DeKalb Elementary

Darkest Hour

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water



Blade Runner 2049

So, at the end of the night, I’m predicting a fairly evenly-spread group of winners, with nothing really sweeping. Of course, I’m probably totally wrong and Three Billboards or The Shape of Water sweeps more than I’m predicting, including one of them taking Best Picture. At least the agony of this awards season is almost over, and we can look forward to whatever madness next year will bring. Good grief.

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