Manny’s Picks and Predictions

Oscar 2018

Manny the Movie Guy Oscar Picks

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The awards season comes to a close when Oscar comes to town for the 90th Academy Awards this Sunday.  For those who know me, it’s my personal Super Bowl and this year, it’s a little more interesting.  Will “The Shape of Water” continue its ascent or will “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” steal its golden thunder?  What about “Get Out?”  2017 was such a great year for auteurship – directors whose films are marked by their creative vision.  Just look at all the Best Director nominees!  Each of them wrote or co-wrote their scripts that they developed from start to finish.  Their singular vision is what makes the movie.

But who should win?  Without further ado, here are my complete 2018 Oscar predictions:

Best Picture:

“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water” WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

I love Guillermo del Toro’s homage to romance, sci-fi, and the world of cinema.  “The Shape of Water” already won the Producers Guild Award so it’s a good sign.  BUT, “Three Billboards” was the big BAFTA winner so there’s a chance it could lord over.  Although, lately, I’ve been hearing buzz about “Get Out.”  I still think it’s going to be “The Shape of Water” because the Academy loves movies about the cinema.

Lead Actor:

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

The heart of Gary Oldman’s performance as Winston Churchill shines through even with layers and layers of make-up!  The SAG award-winner has been collecting trophies along the way.  The only thing that may put a stop to his awards trajectory is the recently resurfaced domestic abuse allegations that Oldman denied and was never charged.

Lead Actress:

Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”  SHOULD WIN
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” WILL WIN

Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Seriously, why is even Meryl Streep in this category?  I love and admire her and she’s America’s greatest living actress BUT, “The Post” was more of a Steven Spielberg show rather than the actors.  I would have loved to see Annette Bening in this category for her performance as Gloria Grahame in “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.”

And let’s face it, this crown belongs to Frances McDormand who’s been winning left and right.  Her showy performance is a full-on assault!  But I prefer my actors more understated like Sally Hawkins who made us believe that she’s falling love with a man-fish.  And she plays a mute woman to boot!  No words needed.  Just pure emotion.  Brilliant!

Supporting Actor:

Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”  SHOULD WIN
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”  WILL WIN

Like my McDormand and Hawkins debacle, Willem Dafoe should win for his quiet but fully-realized performance as a motel caretaker in “The Florida Project.”  But, Rockwell’s cop-looking-for-redemption character is a very theatrical piece of work that the Academy responds to.

Supporting Actress:

Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”  WILL WIN
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”  SHOULD WIN
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

Once again, I’m going for the quiet performance here and Laurie Metcalf won me over in “Lady Bird.”  And yet again, Allison Janney, really good, will be the Academy darling for her ostentatious performance as Tonya Harding’s mother.  But here’s the thing – Janney’s magic made us sympathize with her character, even for a little bit.  It’s a feat, but I still love my actors less showy.  I think it’s harder to do.


“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN

Guillermo del Toro’s passion is evident in the film and making a romantic sci-fi fable is hard to pull off.  Yet, del Toro did and he even received blessings from the Directors Guild of America!  A great sign!

Animated Feature:

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

Why is “The Boss Baby” in this category?  Save for Alec Baldwin, the movie is trite!  But, it just made me believe the magic of “Coco” more.  Take note, if the Academy is in the mood for art films, either “Loving Vincent” or “The Breadwinner” could snag the crown from Pixar!

Animated Short:

“Dear Basketball,” Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant  WILL WIN
“Garden Party,” Victor Caire, Gabriel Grapperon
“Lou,” Dave Mullins, Dana Murray
“Negative Space,” Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
“Revolting Rhymes,” Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer  SHOULD WIN

The hero-worship basketball movie with Kobe Bryant will win!  Why?  It’s a feel-good movie with Bryant who was with the LA Lakers, and where is Hollywood from?  Yes, that’s right!  Although,my heart belongs to “Revolting Rhymes” based on Roald Dahl’s collection of poems.  It’s bitingly magical!

Adapted Screenplay:

“Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN
“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

James Ivory’s script already won the Writers Guild of America award and truth be told, “Call Me By Your Name” is the most romantic film of 2017 for me!  And big credit goes to Ivory’s adaptation of André Aciman’s novel.

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  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN

Watch the film and notice how each scene has a beginning, middle and an end.  I thought that was brilliant!  Although, “Get Out” is tracking to win.  If it does, I’ll be happy, but “Three Billboards” is one of those rare films where you can actually detect the beauty of the screenplay.


“Blade Runner 2049,” Roger Deakins  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN
“Darkest Hour,” Bruno Delbonnel
“Dunkirk,” Hoyte van Hoytema
“Mudbound,” Rachel Morrison
“The Shape of Water,” Dan Laustsen

Give this award to Roger Deakins already!  The Susan Lucci of the Oscars is long overdue after 13 nominations!  Plus, anyone who saw the film remembers the cinematography more than the movie itself.

Best Documentary Feature:

“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
“Faces Places,” JR, Agnès Varda, Rosalie Varda  WILL WIN
“Icarus,” Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan
“Last Men in Aleppo,” Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Soren Steen Jepersen
“Strong Island,” Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes  SHOULD WIN

If “Jane” was nominated, it will be the winner, but alas, it was ignored, snubbed, forgotten!  Argh!  So, the favorite here is the travelogue “Faces Places” although my heart belongs to transgender filmmaker Yance Ford’s timely “Strong Island,” a biting doc about racism and justice.

Best Documentary Short Subject:

“Edith+Eddie,” Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright
“Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405,” Frank Stiefel  SHOULD WIN
“Heroin(e),” Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon  WILL WIN

“Knife Skills,” Thomas Lennon
“Traffic Stop,” Kate Davis, David Heilbroner

Oh goodness!  This is a hard category to predict.  If the Academy votes adhere to their LA roots, then “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” will win, but if we look at past winners to predict the future, then “Heroin(e)” should win.  Both docs are from Netflix and the streaming giant has the knack for picking winners!

Best Live Action Short Film:

“DeKalb Elementary,” Reed Van Dyk  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN
“The Eleven O’Clock,” Derin Seale, Josh Lawson
“My Nephew Emmett,” Kevin Wilson, Jr.
“The Silent Child,” Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton
“Watu Wote/All of Us,” Katja Benrath, Tobias Rosen

The timely “DeKalb Elementary” about a troubled young man with a penchant for guns and is ready to attack an elementary school deserves to win!

Best Foreign Language Film:

“A Fantastic Woman” (Chile)  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN
“The Insult” (Lebanon)
“Loveless” (Russia)
“On Body and Soul (Hungary)
“The Square” (Sweden)

I love this Sebastian Lelio movie!  I especially love Daniela Vega in the role.  She’s truly fantastic and her film is now the frontrunner!

Film Editing:

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

“Dunkirk’s” sprawling multi-narratives would not work without the magic of editing but “Baby Driver” is more stylized.  The Academy will go for the old school “Dunkirk.”

Sound Editing:

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

You remember the ticking clocks smashed against the soundtrack and layered atop the blasting warfare?  Also, see below category.

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  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN
“The Shape of Water,” Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick

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  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN

It’s both a period piece and fantasy, a double-check-list for this category.  And yes, this category aligns with visual effects and although “Blade Runner 2049” has a strong chance, “Shape” received the most nominations, a good sign.

Original Score:

“Dunkirk,” Hans Zimmer
“Phantom Thread,” Jonny Greenwood
“The Shape of Water,” Alexandre Desplat  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” John Williams
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Carter Burwell

Alexandre Desplat’s score already took home Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe.  Possible upset is Jonny Greenwood for “Phantom Thread.”

Original Song:

“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name,” Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN
“Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Academy members will remember “Coco” for this category but look for an upset from “The Greatest Showman’s” anti-bullying battle cry “This is Me.”

Makeup and Hair:

“Darkest Hour,” Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN
“Victoria and Abdul,” Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
“Wonder,” Arjen Tuiten

Making Gary Oldman disappear behind the façade is a miracle!  Helping the actor emerged from the make-up is a miracle!

Costume Design:

“Beauty and the Beast,” Jacqueline Durran
“Darkest Hour,” Jacqueline Durran
“Phantom Thread,” Mark Bridges  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN
“The Shape of Water,” Luis Sequeira
“Victoria and Abdul,” Consolata Boyle

A movie about fashion?  Check!  But watch for “Beauty and the Beast” for a possible upset!

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  WILL WIN AND SHOULD WIN

“War for the Planet of the Apes” won big at the Visual Effects Society award so hooray for the fantastic apes!