You can see all of my Oscar predictions on one page here, but let’s go through each category. Many races listed below need no explanation considering these contenders already bagged every other purse this derby season.
“Billboards” should win (21/20 odds) considering its Godzilla rampages through the Golden Globes, SAG and BAFTA Awards, but it’s not nominated for Best Director by those quirky Oscar voters. A big, blazing red flag? Hollywooders either love or hate “Billboards” and, beware: the haters have whipped up lynch mobs across Oscarland. There’s a backlash, but how serious?
Is “Billboards” doomed just because it’s so divisive? Many Oscarologists believe “La La Land” and “The Revenant” lost to “Moonlight” and “Spotlight” because they were so polarizing. The theory goes that voters ranked “La La Land” and “Revenant” either number 1 or 5 or 6. “Moonlight” and “Spotlight” probably had more 2, 3 and 4 votes and that’s what you need on the academy’s kooky preferential ballot.
If true, then “The Shape of Water” is a better bet to prevail (14/5 odds). It won the Critics’ Choice Award plus prizes bestowed by the two top guilds: producers and directors. Its PGA win is particularly significant since that guild uses the same preferential ballot as the Oscars. Often the PGA victor foretells the top Oscar champ. But beware: “Shape of Water” didn’t get that crucial nomination for Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards. “La La Land” didn’t have it last year either and many wise Oscarologists warned us that “La La” was therefore doomed in the Best Picture battle.
Yes, “Get Out” (11/2 odds) is a serious threat to upset. It’s a mischievous, maverick choice that must be a tempting alternative to an academy full of Hollywood rascals. But those rascals are pretentious brats who usually want their Best Pictures to have snob appeal. That’s “Billboards,” which I’ve been predicting as winner since last November. I’m not about to ditch it now that it’s out front with our Experts, Editors,
Guillermo Del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“Call Me By Your Name”
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Most Gold Derby Experts (17 out of 30) say “Get Out” will get a consolation prize here to make up for its loss as Best Picture. It’s true that Oscar voters often like to spread the wealth, but, always remember, they’re snobs. They want their screenplay winners to have literary heft.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Blade Runner 2049”
Yes, finally a victory for 13-time loser Roger Deakins, but watch out for possible upset by “Dunkirk ,” which has those big, sweeping panoramic views that voters adore. Or “Shape of Water,” if it wins Best Picture. Historically, there’s been a curious pairing of these two categories.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
BEST FILM EDITOR
This is a rare category where I’m going to zoom out on a thin, shaky limb. Most Experts bet on “Dunkirk” because voters tend to like war flicks here. Like “Hacksaw Ridge,” which won both the Oscar and BAFTA last year. This year BAFTRA, rather strangely, picked “Baby Driver” as the year’s best edited film instead of Christopher Nolan‘s dazzling depiction of their own country’s miraculous escape from Hitler at Dunkirk. Does that foretell an upset at the Oscars next? Perhaps. Voters sometimes pick blockbusters here (“The Bourne Ultimatum,” “The Matrix,” “Mad Max: Fury Road”) and now I think they’ll do it again because “Baby Driver” has the most obvious, heavy-handed, zig-zagging, choppy, frenetic camera work.
BEST MAKEUP & HAIR
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
“The Shape of Water”
“Shape of Water”
“Remember Me” (“Coco”)
Unfortunately, the ebullient “This Is Me” will probably join a crowded graveyard of most deserving nominees that lost to music more widely heard. “This is Me” is the only Oscar nom for “The Greatest Showman.” Voters are probably more familiar with “Remember Me,” which is reprised several times throughout “Coco” as an integral part of the plot. “This Is Me” gets just one (spectacular) staging and deserves to win, but, hey, this is the Oscars.
Loudest films usually ambush these sound awards and nothing’s louder than war.
The two sound awards are often bestowed as a pair, but movies with catchy music can pull off upsets in the mixers’ race, so watch out for “Baby Driver.”
“Blade Runner 2049”
“War for the Planet of the Apes” has the best odds at Gold Derby, but none of the previous “Apes” flicks ever bagged this Oscar. “Blade Runner” is a safer bet.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Agnes Varda may have the edge because she just received an honorary Governors’ Award. “Faces Places” has another edge: it makes viewers feel warm and happy. But watch out for “Icarus,” which may feel more urgent and compelling because of its timely exposure of Russia’s doping at the Olympics. Or “Last Men in Aleppo” because of its timely focus on the Syrian war. “Aleppo” may generate sympathy because one of its producers was denied a visa to attend the Oscars.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“A Fantastic Woman”
It’s timely (it’s about a transgender outcast) and heart-melting.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Hollywood is a Lakers Town. Upset possible: “Garden Party.”
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
“Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405”
I worry about an upset by the heart-tugging “Edith+Eddie” or inspirational “Heroin(e),” but “Heaven” is equally good and has the most attention-grabbing title.
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
So timely, being about school shootings.