JD’s Oscar Predictions 2018

– by JD Westfall, VW’s movie connoisseur –

One of the biggest movie events of the year is the Academy Awards ceremony, and the unveiling of the nominees list never ceases to cause a ruckus, from clamoring over chosen nominees to anger over perceived snubs.

It’s so much fun.

Now that the full list of nominees for this year has been released, we move on to the next fun phase. Trying to predict who or what will win in the particular categories. This year is proving to be the most difficult one in history to nail down, especially in the Best Picture category. Let me guide you through the reasons why.

Best Picture
oscarstatueA vital part of predicting the nominees and winners at the Oscars are the previous awards, other smaller ceremonies that can give us a pattern to follow that allows us to predict with reasonable accuracy which film is going to win. For an example of this, let’s look at last year, which ultimately saw Moonlight winning Best Picture.

One of the earliest and most important awards ceremonies is the Producers Guild of America. The reason this one is so important is that every single eventual Oscar winner for Best Picture has been nominated for the comparable PGA award. Every. Single. One. So once the PGA nominees for Best Picture are announced, one of those is (statistically) guaranteed to take home the ultimate trophy by the end of awards season. Let’s look at last year to see this in action. 2016 saw ten films nominated for the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures. Those films were:

Arrival

Deadpool

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Obviously this does not give us a perfect glimpse into the eventual Oscar nominees for Best Picture, but then we begin to refine the choices through use of some other known predecessor awards. For example, acting ensemble awards are vital. One of the most well respected is the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. So again, look at last year’s nominees in that field.

Captain Fantastic

Fences

Hidden Figures

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

This list is of great value, since the SAG ensemble has likewise successfully nominated the eventual Oscar Best Winner all but once (the first year it was ever issued). So knowing the weight of a SAG ensemble nomination, compare that to the PGA list, and eliminate any that don’t match. Four left:

Fences

Hidden Figures

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

One of these has to be the eventual Oscar Best Picture winner. Time to refine further down. Now there is still at least one more award that frequently gets overlooked, but is every bit as important. The Golden Globes. Yes, the pedestrian crowd-pleasing version of the Oscars that admittedly tends to get it wildly wrong most of the time. However, there is one category that is hugely important. Best Director. While this category cannot be effectively used to predict the Oscar nominees for Best Director, it is interesting that they are almost certain to nominate the director of the film that eventually wins Best Picture (having only missed the director once since 1990, which was 2005 when Crash won and everyone was shocked anyway). So with this knowledge, let’s look at 2016’s nominations for a Golden Globe Best Director award.

Damien Chazelle for La La Land

Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge

Barry Jenkins for Moonlight

Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea

Tom Ford for Nocturnal Animals

Again, we compare that selection to our remaining list of four films that have scored the needed awards and eliminate any that don’t match. This leaves us with:

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Now we look to our final award that can be used to successfully predict the ultimate winner. The Academy Awards themselves. Specifically, the award for Best Film Editing. Again, this is a category closely linked to the Best Picture award, having only missed the Best Picture winner once since 1981 (2014’s Birdman which was designed to look kind of like it had been shot in continuous takes, so few visible editing tricks). Thus, we take a look at 2016’s Best Film Editing noms.

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

La La Land

Moonlight

Compare to our list of films that received all other predecessor awards, eliminate any that don’t appear, and what are we left with?

Moonlight

Which is of course the film that took home the coveted award for Best Picture at the 89th Academy Award ceremonies.

You can apply this method to nearly any year in recent memory and end up with the Oscar winner. So what makes this year so difficult to correctly predict? Well let’s take a look, starting of course at this year’s Producers Guild of America award nominations.

The Big Sick

Call Me By Your Name

Dunkirk

Get Out

I, Tonya

Lady Bird

Molly’s Game

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Wonder Woman

Good. Decent list with some uncustomary choices for a film awards ceremony (comedy horror, romantic SF fantasy, and superhero films among others). Now we look at our next award choice, the SAG ensemble.

The Big Sick

Get Out

Lady Bird

Mudbound

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Compare with the PGA list, eliminate ones that don’t match, and what’s left?

The Big Sick

Get Out

Lady Bird

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Next predecessor, the Golden Globe for Best Director. What did they come up with?

Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk

Ridley Scott for All the Money in the World

Steven Spielberg for The Post

Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water

Disappointingly white-man-centric, but that’s for another time (though bonus points for including a Mexican man and three of the films being female led). Compare with the list of remaining four, what do we have?

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Wow, so we’re done now right? The next winner for the Academy Award for Best Picture is Martin McDonagh’s bleak and hilarious Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Thanks for stopping by guys; we’re done.

But wait. Then came the Oscar nominations, and a bombshell was dropped. Take a look at the nominees for the Academy Award for Best Director.

Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread

Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk

Jordan Peele for Get Out

Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird

Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water

No Martin McDonagh. This is important, as Best Director is the category most closely linked with Best Picture. In the 90-year history of the award only three films have won without the director being nominated (the only one since 1990 being Ben Affleck for Argo).

So this raises the question. Will a fourth film win without the director being nominated? Or will something else win without having gotten one or more of the predecessor awards? Let’s examine their chances.

The Shape of Water is probably the most likely film to win after Three Billboards, as it scored every earlier nomination (including the vital Oscar nom for film editing) except the SAG ensemble. Perhaps with three acting nominations at the Academy Awards that will compensate for the loss of an ensemble nod. And don’t forget it received a staggering 13 noms, five more than the next closest competitor.

However, Lady Bird is proving a serious contender. After famously setting a new record for most 100% fresh votes on Rotten Tomatoes, it scored ensemble noms left and right, won the Golden Globe for Best Film – Musical or Comedy, and has gotten all the important predecessor awards besides the Golden Globe for Best Director and an Oscar for Film Editing.

Finally though, Get Out is a definite possibility too. It has been named the most critically acclaimed movie of the year from Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes, and countless others, it has the SAG ensemble nom, a Best Director nod for Jordan Peele, and touches on many contemporary issues with grace and wit.

While the other six films in the race certainly deserved their nomination (high five Phantom Thread! I knew you could do it!) these are the four that I really feel have a shot to win it.

JD’s Official Prediction: I really think it’s going to be The Shape of Water. Guillermo del Toro is nearly unstoppable, and the Oscars seem to be taking greater and greater risks these days. I mean seriously, Birdman beat out Boyhood, the ultimate Oscar movie (not to detract from Boyhood in any way; it is incredible), and an all-black LGBT movie conquered WWII films, classic Hollywood musicals full of white people, and an intense character driven drama. So I think The Shape of Water can pull it off.

Which other categories have we got?

Best Director:

Well as I’d said before, Guillermo del Toro is unstoppable at the previous awards (he’s swept the Best Director categories at ceremonies even where other films won Best Picture), but then again Christopher Nolan has had it coming for a long time. Not only that but with the recent civil rights upheavals, a woman or black man winning would be good press for the Oscars, so that could sway some votes.

Sorry Paul Thomas Anderson, you’re amazing and we love you and you absolutely deserved your nomination. But you don’t have a chance.

JD’s Official Prediction: I’m going to be safe and say Guillermo del Toro, but I would be delighted by any of the nominees winning.

I’ve taken too much space so far, I’m sorry. Let’s blast through the other noms as quickly as possible.

Actress: Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Actor: Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour

Supporting Actress: Allison Janney for I, Tonya

Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Adapted Screenplay: Call Me By Your Name

Original Screenplay: Lady Bird (closely followed by Get Out and Three Billboards)

Film Editing: Dunkirk

Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049

Costume Design: Phantom Thread

Makeup and Hairstyling: Darkest Hour

Production Design: The Shape of Water

Original Score: The Shape of Water (or Phantom Thread if the Academy wants to make it up to Jonny Greenwood for not being able to get nominated for There Will Be Blood)

Original Song: “Remember Me” from Coco

Sound Editing: Dunkirk

Sound Mixing: Dunkirk (because war goes boom)

Visual Effects: War for the Planet of the Apes

Animated Feature: Coco

Animated Short: Dear Basketball

Documentary Feature: Faces Places

Documentary Short: Edith+Eddie

Foreign Language Film: A Fantastic Woman

Live Action Short: DeKalb Elementary

That’s all for now. Tune back in on March 5th so we can all laugh at how wildly incorrect I was!

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