And The Nominees Are: Our Official 2018 Oscar Nomination Predictions

Think of me as Leonardo DiCaprio at the end of The Aviator with long hair and fingernails.  I’ve been cooped up in isolation with no human contact, combing through Guild nominations, Golden Globes and just about every piece of Oscar scrap there is.  It’s time to take a shower and re-enter the world.  The time for reflection is over.  This Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announce the Oscar nominations for the 90th time.

This is a really tough year. I truly believe five movies could legitimately win Best Picture. While there’s a lot of top heavy nominations, especially in the acting categories, the fifth spot in many of these is more open ended than ever.

Enough with the preambles.  Enough postulating.  Enough is enough.

It’s time for my annual Oscar nomination predictions.

BEST PICTURE

The Predictions: The Big Sick. Call Me by Your Name.  Dunkirk.  Lady Bird.  Get Out.  The Post.  The Shape of Water.  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Analysis: Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Wonder Woman and Logan will not be nominated for Best Picture. I get it. Wonder Woman got a PGA nomination, but so did Deadpool last year. And as much as I want to see Logan get in, it’s not going to happen.  Move on with your life. The end.

There are five locks: DunkirkLady BirdGet OutThe Shape of Water.  Three BillboardsCall me by Your Name isn’t a stone cold lock, but it’s very close.  It could be this year’s Foxcatcher though.  Fair warning.

I wouldn’t be completely flabbergasted if The Post got axed, but there’s just too much firepower there with Spielberg, Streep and Hanks.  Add in the subject matter, and it’s getting in.

As for my last prediction, I’m really torn on The Big Sick.  The guild nominations are tough to ignore, including a SAG nod for the entire cast.  It’s going to be close.

There were definitely some hard calls here.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Mudbound got in, but there could still be a Netflix stigma.  Remember when Beasts of No Nation got nothing?

The two tough cuts were Molly’s Game and I, Tonya, both of which got PGA nominations.  As much as I want to see I, Tonya get in, it doesn’t feel like a Best Picture nominee.  Neither does Molly’s Game.

The true wild card in all this could be The Florida Project.  With zero guild nominations (aside from Dafoe), it has completely fallen off the map.  I don’t see it making a surprise run, but let’s not forget: Selma and Room were also ignored at the guilds.

BEST DIRECTOR

The Predictions: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Jordan Peele (Get Out)

Analysis: I’m going 100% DGA chalk here.  The locks are del Toro and Nolan.  McDonagh isn’t a lock, but pretty damn close.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  I can’t say Greta Gerwig is a lock, but to quote Jackie Chiles in the last episode of Seinfeld, I’d be “shocked and chagrined” if she got snubbed.  First of all, Lady Bird is a legit Best Picture contender, so for the director not to be there would be weird.  Yes, I know it happened with Ben Affleck and Argo, but that’s ridiculously rare.

Also, let’s consider everything that happened in Hollywood this year.  If Greta Gerwig doesn’t get a nomination, the entire internet will crash as if Fandango just went on sale for Star Wars tickets.  That leaves one more spot.

I just don’t feel it for Spielberg.  He’s out.

This last spot is a bout between Jordan Peele (Get Out) and Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name).  While Call Me by Your Name is certainly a viable awards contender, the movie has lost a ton of momentum.  Two months ago this film was supposed to sweep everything in sight.  While Guadagnino could definitely steal a nomination, his name hasn’t garnered any buzz in this category.

I got to believe Jordan Peele gets this.  Get Out has gotten so many guild nominations, and just like Lady Bird, it’s a legit Best Picture contender.  I’d be shocked if he got bounced for a whatever Spielberg effort, or the lukewarm reaction for Guadagnino.

The one wild card here is Dee Rees for Mudbound.  That could absolutely happen.

BEST ACTRESS

The Predictions: 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)

Analysis: There are four locks: Hawkins.  McDormand.  Robbie.  Ronan.  All in.  Done.  The end.  The fight for that fifth spot is razor thin.

I’m going to take out Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul).  I know she got a SAG nod, but it’s a very “been there/done that” Dench effort.  One dark horse could be Michelle Williams for All the Money in the World.  Williams is definitely a nomination magnet.

Ultimately, this last spot is a dead heat between Streep and Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game).  At the end of the day, I’m going with tried-and-true Meryl.  If Meryl Streep breathes, she’s likely to get an Oscar nomination.

Do I really want to look like the moron who didn’t pick Meryl Streep when her name gets called?

No.

BEST ACTOR

The Predictions: Timothee Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name), Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread), James Franco (The Disaster Artist), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

Analysis: There are two locks: Chalamet and Oldman.  That’s it.

Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room first.  James Franco seemed like a lock up until a week ago, as he is the latest actor to be accused of misconduct towards women.  The Oscar voting was well underway when this news broke though, and he’s been too prominent in all other awards leading up to this.  There’s no doubt this could cost him, but he’ll probably get in.

I know everyone thinks Daniel Kaluuya is a lock, but I would ask everyone to hold their horses.  There’s a lot of people thinking with their hearts on this one.  It’s a very popular/fan-favorite performance.  Yes, he should get it, but fair warning – he could get snubbed.

Speaking of people who could get snubbed, let’s talk about Daniel Day-Lewis.  The lack of guild nominations for Phantom Thread is alarming.  The whole Daniel Day-Lewis retirement tour should get him in, but it’s far from a lock.  This could very well be another Robert Redford/All is Lost situation.

The two spoilers could be Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.) and Tom Hanks (The Post).  I know Denzel got a SAG nod, but Roman J. Israel, Esq. simply isn’t a good movie.

While I’m not officially predicting Tom Hanks, I feel like it’s going to happen.  The problem is I’m not sure who he kicks out.  It could very well be Franco, Kaluuya or Day-Lewis.  One of those guys is very vulnerable to the almighty Hanks.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The Predictions: Mary J. Blige (Mudbound), Holly Hunter (The Big Sick), Allison Janney (I, Tonya), Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird), Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)

Analysis: There are 2.5 locks.  Janney and Metcalf are in.  Mary J. Blige isn’t a guarantee, but she’s in.

This leaves three people competing for two spots: Hong Chau (Downsizing), Holly Hunter and Octavia Spencer.  Holly Hunter should get it.  She got the SAG nomination, and that performance in The Big Sick is very well liked.  That leaves one spot left.

While Chau got the SAG nomination, I’m going with Spencer.  First of all, she’s Octavia Spencer.  She’s an awards machine, and that performance in The Shape of Water is vintage Spencer.  As great as Hong Chau is, she falls victim to her movie.  Nobody cares about Downsizing.

Two dark horses to keep an eye on: Catherine Keener (Get Out) and Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread).

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

The Predictions: 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)

Analysis: Holy matza balls.  This was by far the hardest category to predict.  Where do we begin?  Well, let’s start with the locks.  There are three:  Dafoe, Jenkins and Rockwell.  After that, it’s a crap shoot.

There are so many dark horses: Ray Romano (The Big Sick).  Jason Mitchell (Mudbound).  Ben Mendelsohn (Darkest Hour).  Mark Rylance (Dunkirk).  Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water).  Patrick Stewart (Logan).  Yes, Patrick Stewart.  It’s not going to happen, but I give it a 5% chance.

You also have Michael Stuhlbarg who’s going to cancel himself out with The Shape of Water and Call Me by Your Name.  Ouch.  Speaking of canceling out, all the Get Out contenders will suffer attrition against each other.  See you later.

You also have Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes), who actually got a SAG nomination.  HE SHOULDN’T BE IN THIS CATEGORY!  What the hell?  He’s the lead actor!  Come on!  This is the second time Steve Carell has been in the wrong category.  For Foxcatcher, he should have been in Supporting Actor, not Best Actor.  Battle of the Sexes made such little impact anyway.  He’s not getting in.

The one guy I’m really tempted to predict is Idris Elba for Molly’s Game.  He gives such an Oscar-y performance.  I want to call a surprise nomination here, but I can’t pull the trigger.

Everyone and their mother has Plummer getting a nomination.  The story of how this came together may be bigger than the actual performance.  I have him getting in, but it’s far from a lock.

That leaves one spot left – it’s Woody Harrelson Vs. Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name).  I know everyone is trying to will Armie Hammer a nomination, but Harrelson’s performance feels more Oscar.  While he’s not in the film a ton, his presence hovers over the whole movie.  While people like Hammer’s performance, he’s completely over shadowed by Chalamet.

It’s a good performance, but where is Hammer’s Oscar moment?  He doesn’t have one.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

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

Analysis: This was another tough one.  It’s an absolutely stacked category.  There are three locks: Get Out, Lady Bird and Three Billboards.  While Three Billboards didn’t get a WGA nomination, it wasn’t eligible.  While The Big Sick isn’t a lock, I can’t imagine it gets denied for writing.

This leaves three contenders: The Shape of Water, I, Tonya and The PostI, Tonya got the guild nomination, and as badly as I want to see it beat these other two movies, it’s not going to happen.  While The Shape of Water could sweep a lot of awards, it’s most vulnerable here.  I’ve made my feelings known about this film.  It’s highly overrated, especially in this category.  Having said that, the Academy will probably give it a nomination by default.

It’s hard to cut out The Post, but the fact it didn’t get a WGA nomination is telling.

Don’t be surprised if The Florida Project makes a surprise cameo.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Predictions: David Scarpa (All the Money in the World), James Ivory (Call Me by Your Name), Scott Neustadter/Michael H. Weber (The Disaster Artist), Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game), Dee Rees/Virgil Williams (Mudbound)

Analysis: This screenplay category is a little less convoluted, but there’s a lot of intrigue.  There are three locks: Call Me by Your Name, The Disaster Artist and Molly’s GameMudbound should get in, but it’s a little dicey.  That leaves one spot left.  The three movies battling it out are All the Money in the World, Logan and Wonder.

Wonder has a chance, but it hasn’t made any dents all awards season.  It’s out.

That leaves Logan and All the Money in the World.  Logan got the WGA nomination.  It has a real, legit chance here.  I want this to happen really badly.  Believe me.  This would be a massive achievement for Logan.  It’s going to be close.

I hate to be the Debbie Downer, but I’ve studied the Oscars too long.  That last spot will go to the more prototypical Oscar movie, which is All the Money in the World.

Let me reiterate: I want to be wrong.  Come on, Logan.  Come on, baby!

What Are Your 2018 Oscar Nomination Predictions? Let us know in the comments!

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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