Oscar 2018 Predictions


Be Prepared for Surprises, Shocks & Royal Snubs


Movies make us laugh, cry and reflect. Sometimes, cinema's senior prom night - the Oscars take a cue from the movies it celebrates and surprises us almost as much as the ending of Get Out or The Shape of Water. From Kevin Kostner's directorial win(Dances with Wolves) over the likes of Martin Scorsese(Goodfellas), to last year's infamous La La Land-gate, one of the best parts of Oscar time is trying to guess who's going home with those coveted, shiny statuettes and all attendant bragging rights. 

Which film deserves to win? Which film stands the most chance of winning? There's always a royal conundrum. Which is why I have prepared a list of films which in my opinion are the most deserving, as well as the ones that that have a higher probability of winning. One thing is for certain, there are going to be some pleasant surprises and there are going to be some major disappointments.


And the Oscar goes to.....

Visual Effects:

Blade Runner 2049 John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
Kong: Skull Island Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan
War For The Planet of The Apes Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

Let's just say that it's about time that a project backed by Andy Serkis who has more than pushed the boundaries for motion capture and CGI, gets its due. 

Costume Design:

Beauty and The Beast Jacqueline Durran
Darkest Hour Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water Luis Sequeira
Victoria and Abdul Consolata Boyle

Makeup and Hair:

Darkest Hour Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
Victoria and Abdul Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
Wonder Arjen Tuiten

Just how did they transform the lean and lanky Gary Oldman into the fat, balding profile of Winston Churchill? There can be only one clear winner here.

Original Score:

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

Carter Burwell's ability to provide each character a distinctive musical signature makes him rise above heavyweights such as Hans Zimmer.

Production Design:

Beauty and The Beast Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer
Blade Runner 2049 Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
Darkest Hour Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Dunkirk Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
The Shape of Water Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau

I was mighty impressed by the manner in which Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola constructed massive set pieces in Blade Runner 2049 as a means to juxtapose the pitiless vastness of the dystopian future against its mass of cold and impersonal characters. Having said that, Nathan Crowler and Gary Fettis using actual Spitfire aircrafts and the exact same boats that took part in the real Dunkirk evacuation, gives Dunkirk a level of realism, and a very slight edge over Blade Runner 2049.

Sound Mixing:

Baby Driver Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
Blade Runner 2049 Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
Dunkirk Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
The Shape of Water Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick

Just how did the trio of Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker and Gary A. Rizzo get Hans Zimmer's bombastic sound mixing synthesized to the sound of a ticking clock(incidentally from director Christopher Nolan's own watch), in order to present the audience with the auditory illusion of urgency during war?

Sound Editing:

Baby Driver Julian Slater
Blade Runner 2049 Mark Mangini, Theo Green
Dunkirk Alex Gibson, Richard King
The Shape of Water Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood

In Baby Driver, a film where the sound is a character in its own right, Julian Slater's visceral sonic palette takes it to the next level, as sound and music are intricately entangled with visuals of bullets flying and tires screeching in a unique cinematic dance.

Film Editing:

Baby Driver Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
Dunkirk Lee Smith
I, Tonya Tatiana S. Riegel
The Shape of Water Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Jon Gregory

Juggling between narratives and keeping the viewers perplexed with his subjective idea of the time puzzle, only to reveal the big mystery in the third act, has been a common tool Christopher Nolan has used effectively in many of his films. Film editor Lee Smith ensures that Dunkirk will be remembered for being a hypnotic synthesis of land, air and water, all told in a non-linear narrative. The icing on the cake is that he packs it all in in 106 minutes. 

Best Foreign Language Film:

A Fantastic Woman Chile
The Insult Lebanon
Loveless Russia
On Body and Soul Hungary
The Square Sweden

Cinematography:

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

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

Downright funny, occasionally violent and surprisingly very moving, Martin McDonagh's screenplay has the ability to shift the film's confrontational tone to that of tenderness and humanity with the utmost ease. A clear winner here!

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

An Oscar win is just about the only industry accomplishment that eludes the top-tier comic-book studio Marvel. An unlikely choice which I feel deserves the win more than current favorite Call Me By Your Name.

Animated Feature:

The Boss Baby Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
The Breadwinner Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
Coco Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
Ferdinand Carlos Saldanha
Loving Vincent Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

An animated movie that offers children a way to process death, Disney's Coco infuses life into the macabre. Having said that, Loving Vincent may very well land up with the Golden Lady simply for being a landmark event in the history of animated films, that organically marries the traditional forms of art with the more modern cinematic medium of storytelling. 

Director:

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

That Dunkirk has given its director Christopher Nolan its first ever Oscar nomination is indeed baffling. The fact that Christopher Nolan has a technical mastery over his craft that possibly no other director of this generation has, is no secret. If you ever want to understand what it is like to be in the midst of a battle, wondering whether or not the next bomb dropped from the next Luftwaffe that passes by will blow you to smithereens or not, all without causing you any actual injury, then Nolan manages to achieve the impossible. 

However, director Guillermo dell Toro's ability to flip the typical monster movie on its head and still manage to conjure cinematic magic out of a predictable movie might just deny Christopher Nolan from his first Oscar win. A tough choice, but I think Guillermo has a slight edge here.

Supporting Actress:

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

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)

It has to be either Woody Harrelson or Sam Rockwell, both of whom have wonderfully complemented each other in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Last year, Mahershala Ali won the Oscar in the same category for his work in Moonlight. Woody's role feels pretty similar in the sense that they both have a bittersweet but limited presence. Sam Rockwell has the slighter edge here for making us believe that even a truly evil guy is capable of being nice and doing some good, even if it's for a moment. 


Lead Actress:

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)

There is absolutely no competition here. It has to be Frances McDormand, it just has to be her.

Lead Actor:

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.)

For the longest time, I debated with myself who deserves it more - Daniel Day-Lewis or Gary Oldman? Gary is by far the popular choice for his eye-popping transformation as Winston Churchill. If Oscar history is anything to go by, then Gary will most certainly wrap his hands around the Golden Lady for the first time. I just hope and pray that the Academy voters look beyond Gary's more noticeable performance and appreciate the nuances with which he has intricately weaved into his role like a true craftsman, fully in control of his craft as an actor. 

Best Picture:

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

"Kiss me my girl before I'm sick"
-Daniel Day-Lewis(Phantom Thread)
My brain always told me it would be Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri that would etch its name in cinematic history. However, the moment Daniel Day-Lewis uttered those lines with the intensity that only a doomed lover could speak, my heart at once wished that it should be Phantom Thread that should be bestowed that precious honor.

Mark my words, whether or not Phantom Thread indeed wins the Oscar for the Best Picture, those lines will be forever weaved into cinematic history, right alongside the likes of - "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn"(Gone With The Wind).


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