Predictions for the 90th Academy Awards


With the Oscar nominations coming out soon, I’m going to make my educated guess on who is going to be happiest.

Best Picture

Last time I tried this, I bet on all the SAG Outstanding Performance By a Cast nominees making it. This time around, I’m going a bit smaller with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Get Out, and Lady Bird.  I’d add to that Dunkirk and The Post, the former of which was more notable for the directing, and the latter which came out too late in the year to make the SAG cut. I’d expect The Shape of Water and Call Me By Your Name will round it out, partly due to their likely success in other key categories. Coco seems like such a strong frontrunner in the animated category, that I could easily imagine it being the first choice of five percent of Oscar voters.

Update: I got 7/9 (or 9/10 if you factor that there wasn’t a tenth nominee.) Phantom Thread and Darkest Hour were both nominated. There might be a rule that films favored to win lead actor are almost always nominated for Best Picture. The most recent exception was Crazy Heart in 2009.

Best Actor

This seems to be a race to determine who gets to lose to Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour. The top runner-up seems to be Timothy Chalamet for Call Me By Your Name, but it’s relatively wide open after that. It may be the last chance to nominate Daniel Day-Lewis, and he gave an excellent, very specific performance. Daniel Kaluuya did get a SAG nomination for Get Out. Tom Hanks hasn’t been nominated since Castaway, and is in a major Best Picture contender playing a famous person who Jason Robards won an Oscar for portraying in All the President’s Men. James Franco had an effective transformation in The Disaster Artist, a film about a subject Oscar voters care about, what it’s like to be behind the scenes of a film, but my guess is that it gets ignored because of the sexual impropriety allegations.

Update: I got 4/5. I did predict that Franco would be snubbed, although I didn’t think Denzel Washington would be the one to do it. Tom Hanks has gotten oddly due for a nomination. If you had a guy who broke out in middle age, like Bryan Cranston, with Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks, Bridge of Spies, Sully and The Post on his resume, he probably would have got nominated at least once. There’s no rush to do it with Hanks, since he’s altready won twice.

Shape of Water

Best Actress

This is a category with a clear frontrunner: Frances McDormand for Three Billboards in Billings, Montana, and equally clear runner-ups: Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water (playing a woman with a disability), and Saoirise Ronan for Lady Bird. Meryl Streep gave a strong performance in The Post, which is getting a lot of buzz for being contemporary (and has a better chance of a Best Picture nomination than films that have gotten her nominations before, while also depicting a significant character arc.) Margot Robbie’s transformation in I, Tonya gets the final nod for uglying it up to play a famous person in a film that still fits her brand as actress.

Update: Called it.

Best Supporting Actor

This category seems to be a fight between Willem Defoe in The Florida Project, and Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing. On the SAG nominations, neither pick from Call Me By Your Name was nominated, suggesting they might split the vote, although my guess is Michael Stuhlbarg benefits from his other major performances, which further highlight his range, whole Armie Hammer loses out due to the splitting of the vote. I think Christopher Plummer will be nominated for All The Money in the World, given the publicity of his accomplishment, as well as the near-universal acclaim. The last spot goes to Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water, for having big moments in a film everyone’s going to see for Actress/ Director.

Update: Got 4/5. Woody Harrelson got in over Stuhlbarg, an indication of the power of Three Billboards.


Best Supporting Actress

This is a fight between two character actresses of a certain age who have never been nominated before, and are playing difficult mothers, albeit to varying degrees: Alison Janney in I, Tonya and Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird. The loser will get to be credited as an Oscar nominee in subsequent appearances in prestige pictures, so there is that. Mary J. Blige has gotten buzz for Mudbound., and it represents a chance to avoid an Oscars so Black threepeat (that didn’t help Idris Elba in his Netflix film two years back.) Melissa Leo had a lot of buzz for Novitate but that seems to have died down. My guess is that the last spots go to Holly Hunter in The Big Sick, and Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water, two women who have been won before, and been nominated multiple times.

Tiffany Haddish has gotten a boost, so she might be an upset..

Update: I did guess that Leo and Hong Chau would be shut out, but Lesley Manville got in with Phantom Thread‘s surprising coattails.

Best Director

The Shape of Water and Dunkirk represent well-regarded efforts by two acclaimed directors who haven’t been nominated before, but that’s likely to change for Christopher Nolan and Guilermino Del Toro. Steven Spielberg might just be the living Director, and benefits from a timely effort, but he seems to have been shut out everywhere; maybe the film gets a bit of a backlash for being too Oscarbait (a similar thing happened to Lincoln). Three Billboards’ Martin McDonagh is likely to get nominated, given the film’s status as one of the major frontrunners. My last guesses are two acclaimed debuts from actors: Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird and Jordan Peele’s Get Out. If I’m right, this will be a contest between people who have never been nominated before, which could also happen if Luca Guadagnino is nominated for Call Me by Your Name, or Sean Baker is nominated for The Florida Project.

Update: McDonagh was shut out, and previously nominated Paul Thomas Anderson took his place.


Best Original Screenplay

Greta Gerwig is a lock in the category for Lady Bird, as is Jordan Peele for Get Out, and Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards of Billings, Missouri. The Post is quite timely, and screenplay’s an easier category than Director, so my guess is Liz Hannah and Josh Singer get nominations. I expect the final spot to go to Emily V. Gordon, and Kumail Nanjiani for The Big Sick, a well-regarded comedy with an interesting story behind it. This year, it seems to be a tougher category than adapted screenplay, which isn’t always the case. It could reflect something about Hollywood, and a pent up desire for stories that speak to the current moment.

Update: The Post got shut out for Shape of Water.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Screenplay can be an easier category to be nominated for, since there can only be one per film, and it’s split into two groups. My guess is that we’ll see repeat nominations from earlier winners Aaron Sorkin for Molly’s Game, James Ivory for Call Me By Your Name, and Sofia Copolla for The Beguiled. Dee Rees and Virgil WilliamsMudbound tackles important issues of race and class, and an Anti-Netflix bias won’t mean as much in a category where over half the films are shut out. James Franco‘s The Disaster Artist is about a topic that speaks to Oscar voters.

Update: Very happy to be wrong on Logan not getting nominated.


Best Cinematography

Roger Deakins has gotten a lot of nominations, and is getting a bit of a boomlet for Blade Runner 2049Hoyte van Hoytema might just be the MVP of Dunkirk, keeping three intersecting storylines engaging and visually distinct. The Shape of Water has gotten a lot of credit for the visuals, including surprise classic Hollywood callbacks, so a nomination for Dan Laustsen seems likely. The visuals of Call Me By Your Name have gotten similar credit without depicting science fiction elements or war, so I could see a nomination for Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. Darkest Hour‘s Bruno Delbonnel has been nominated several times before. A potential upset would come from Ben Davis for Three Billboards, given the film’s wide support.

Update: Mudbound ended up nominated over Call Me By Your Name.

Best Foreign Language Film

This would be the category I’m least familiar with, so much of it comes down to looking at the short-list and figuring if the Academy is likely to nominate a film about magic dreaming that I haven’t heard of. Ruben Östlund’s The Square (Sweden) seems to have gotten the most buzz, with a star-making performance for Clace Bang, and interesting commentary on art. Faith Akin’s In The Fade (Germany) had an acclaimed performance by name-actress Diane Kruger, and deals with difficult topics (racial hatred, vengeance.) Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman (Chile) deals with another timely topic (the struggles of a trans woman.) Samuel Maoz’s Foxtrot (Israel) tackles a difficult topic in a way that is safe for anyone critical of Israel’s handling of Palestine to vote for. Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless (Russia) comes for a director who has been nominated in the category before, and has won major awards, including the Cannes jury prize.

Update: One of my weaker categories with 3/5, and this was after the list was narrowed to nine.

Those are my predictions. My goal is to beat Variety, although I’ll be very happy if Logan ends up nominated for adapted screenplay and I end up being wrong on that one.

Update: We were tied on Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress. They correctly predicted all Best Supporting Actor choices, although I did better with Best Supporting Actress. 


About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at
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