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2018 Oscars: The State of the Race the Day Before Voting Starts and Why Get Out Can Win

It all starts tomorrow. Voting on the 90th Academy Awards begins tomorrow, February 20th and lasts just one week. Voters have had a full month since nominations in January to watch and evaluate the nominated films and pick their winners. All of the major guilds and industry awards have announced their winners, but will AMPAS just fall in line with those or go out on its own like it did last year?

This has, for anyone that’s been following, been one of the wildest awards seasons in some time. We’ve seen the four acting frontrunners win every single televised precursor – Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA – for the first time in history. To make that even more substantial, they all did it without a single top tier critics’ win (LA, NY, NBR, NSFC). Again, a first. With that, it’s a very safe bet to say that Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri), Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Allison Janney (I, Tonya) will be our acting winners in less than two weeks.

Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) has also won every precursor possible leading up to Oscar voting, including the DGA, and he was also the critics’ favorite this season. He won’t lose. Call Me By Your Name has hit all the wins its needed as well for Adapted Screenplay, that’s a lock.

What’s up in air, amazingly, is still Best Picture. And, to a correlative respect, Original Screenplay. The Best Picture and one of the Screenplay Oscars have gone hand-in-hand recently, where that used to be a Best Picture-Best Director combo. But we know that those are now diverging quite consistently. We just saw last year that the Academy is very able to buck the precursors to go out on its own, but in a year this divided where will they land?

Every single Best Picture nominee comes with an obstacle. Some big, some less so. The Shape of Water has Critics’ Choice and PGA, a good duo. Three Billboards has the Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA, a much stronger trio. But, The Shape of Water is missing the oh-so-important SAG Cast nom and Three Billboards was snubbed in Director and this is no Ben Affleck/Argo situation. Prevailing logic would say that Three Billboards is clearly in front but there are other factors to consider, especially with this new Academy. That preferential ballot might not favor a film as divisive as Three Billboards. The Shape of Water may be a bit too ‘adult’ of a fairy tale. If either of those films wind up on the bottom half of voters’ ranked ballots, they’re not winning.

A few podcasts back, Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan and I discussed the possibility of a pendulum swing from the progressiveness of Moonlight‘s Best Picture win back to something more comfortable for the older, white, male voter. That brought us to Three Billboards, with its race-tinged subject but all-white topline cast. The film even gets to take its racist cop and give him hero status. That could appeal to the same voters who voted for Crash as a pat on the back. It would not be that surprising for that to happen – the Academy has often swung wildly back to traditional, comfortable places after venturing out to more uncharted territory. It’s undeniable that the film is in a very, very good position to win despite the lingering (growing?) backlash it was hit with post-release.

But then there’s Get Out. The film comes in with a Critics’ Choice and also a WGA win (where it didn’t even compete with the ineligible Three Billboards – the Globe and BAFTA screenplay winner). It only has four nominations in total, none of which are below-the-line tech mentions (even Moonlight hit eight, landing crucial craft noms) whereas Three Billboards has. Can it pull out a win from just that? I think it can win with just Original Screenplay just like Spotlight did two years ago. And I think it can because at some point you have to look beyond long-standing stats and history, nearly all of which will broken at some point, to use your gut and instinct. To feel the pulse of the Academy at this moment, right now. That’s sort of what happened last year. La La Land led everything. But then, it seemed like the reality of the presidential election sunk in right as voters sat down to vote. Then suddenly, the idea of going for a light musical seemed…wrong. They pivoted, made a different choice. One that represented two groups that the incoming administration hated – LGBTQ and non-whites. Armed with a large new group of members, the balance was tipped and the rest is history. But it’s that history that now dictates this year and this choice. Last year’s new Academy invitees was the biggest ever and again, heavily focused on women, youth, international and diverse choices. This will be an important year for the Oscars as it will show if last year was essentially a fluke or if there truly is a new Academy. Get Out represents, with stunning acuity, the ongoing struggle of what it means to be African-American in the United States in 2018. That post-Obama, race relations didn’t get better, they got worse. Social media and the Trump administration over the last year gave white nationalists a platform and a president who supports them. There were literal Nazis marching in the United States and running down people with cars. This is not information or news that simply goes away. I know it might seem strange to connect grand social issues with something like the Oscars but it’s relevant. The Oscars strive to reward the best in film but it’s they why that matters and how people will vote. Will they vote for a race-based dark comedy that’s from a white perspective, for an adult fairy tale with graphic sex and violence or the film that dominated the zeitgeist for an entire year to wind up the most relevant film of 2017?

Oscar Podcast #64: Post-BAFTA Oscar Winner Predictions – Can Get Out Win?

Earlier I mentioned that every Best Picture nominee has an obstacle to overcome. Here is the stat history each Best Picture nominee has to face and overcome to win this year:

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri – 5 years, 23 before that (no Director nom) – Argo
The Shape of Water – 22 years (no SAG Cast nom) – Braveheart
Lady Bird – 37 years (no below-the-line nominations) – Ordinary People
Phantom Thread – 69 years (no writing or editing nominations) – Hamlet
Call Me By Your Name – 84 years (fewer than five nominations) – Cavalcade
Get Out – 84 years (fewer than five nominations) – Cavalcade
Darkest Hour – 85 years (no directing or writing nominations) – Grand Hotel
Dunkirk – 85 years (no acting or writing nominations) – Grand Hotel
The Post – 85 years (no directing or writing nominations) – Grand Hotel

Here are my ranked predictions for 2018 Oscar winners in all 24 categories.

BEST PICTURE
Get Out
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
The Post
Dunkirk

DIRECTOR
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk

ACTOR
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq.

ACTRESS
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Meryl Streep – The Post

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread
Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Call Me By Your Name
Mudbound
Molly’s Game
Logan
The Disaster Artist

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Get Out
Lady Bird
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
The Big Sick

FILM EDITING
Dunkirk
Baby Driver
The Shape of Water
I, Tonya
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Dunkirk
Mudbound
Darkest Hour

PRODUCTION DESIGN
The Shape of Water
Blade Runner 2049
Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk

COSTUME DESIGN
Phantom Thread
Beauty and the Beast
The Shape of Water
Darkest Hour
Victoria and Abdul

MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Darkest Hour
Wonder
Victoria and Abdul

ORIGINAL SCORE
The Shape of Water
Phantom Thread
Dunkirk
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

ORIGINAL SONG
The Greatest Showman, “This Is Me”
Coco, “Remember Me”
Call Me By Your Name, “Mystery of Love”
Mudbound, “Mighty River”
Marshall, “Stand Up For Something”

SOUND EDITING
Dunkirk
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

SOUND MIXING
Dunkirk
Blade Runner 2049
Baby Driver
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

ANIMATED FEATURE
Coco
The Breadwinner
Loving Vincent
The Boss Baby
Ferdinand

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Icarus
Faces Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Strong Island

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Chile – A Fantastic Woman
Sweden – The Square
Russia – Loveless
Lebanon – The Insult
Hungary – On Body and Soul

VISUAL EFFECTS
Blade Runner 2049
War for the Planet of the Apes
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

ANIMATED SHORT
Dear Basketball
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes
Lou
Garden Party

DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Edith+Eddie
Heroine(e)
Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

LIVE ACTION SHORT
DeKalb Elementary
The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us
My Nephew Emmett
The Eleven O’Clock

About Erik Anderson

Erik thanks his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards together since he was in the single digits; making lists, rankings and predictions throughout the show. This led him down the path to obsessing about awards. Much later, he found himself at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics), the International Press Academy and is the founder/owner of AwardsWatch.

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