The Academy Awards are the one night of the year when Hollywood’s big-wigs set aside competitive concerns of business and box office to find out what movies some old out-of-touch insiders would like social media to talk about.
There are a few reasons this year’s Oscars are likely to be interesting. It’s the first show of the Trump era so we can expect lots of jokes about that followed by immediate pithy responses from people on Twitter who should have something better to do.
There’s also the righteous spirit of the #MeToo movement. Everyone is wondering if any nominees or presenters will speak on the topic or if further scandal will come to light on the night.
So the stage is set – let’s do some predictions.
Best Supporting Actress is usually given to older actors who have been working in the industry for several decades to recognise their careers overall. The conventional best fit here is a respected character actress giving a serious and showy performance as the angsty mother to an up-and-coming starlet protagonist. Allison Janney fits the bill here, nominated for her role in I, Tonya. Her role as CJ Cregg on The West Wing is remembered to this day and anyone who appeared on that show is considered a secular saint in Hollywood.
Best Supporting Actor seems most likely to go to Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. He’s served as an underrated but well-liked actor for thirty years now. It feels like his peers have been waiting for him to take an even slightly Oscar – bait role so they could give him one.
If you read Graham Gillespie’s review of the movie in the last issue of SIN then you’ll know that the film has come under fire for the arguably clumsy way it deals with issues of race and Rockwell’s racist cop character is a big part of that problem. What’s not part of the problem is Rockwell himself as his performance has been widely praised.
Best Director is a tough one with a lot of great talent up against each other. It comes down to Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water and Jordan Peele for Get Out. Peele is a hair more likely to take this one home because he’s a first-time director who blew everyone’s minds with his debut.
Best Animated Film will surely be Coco. It’s an excellent movie made by Academy favourites Pixar. It’s also about reuniting a Mexican family, so they might choose it to take a jab at you-know-who.
Now for the big ones, Best Actor and Best Actress.
Best Actor seems almost certain for Gary Oldman. The only other nominee here who competes with Oldman as one of the best actors of their generation is Daniel Day-Lewis.
It’s true that Oldman has put in better performances than he did in the film he is nominated for, Darkest Hour, and he’s burned some bridges in the industry so it’s possible that Timothée Chalamet will snatch up the statue since so many in the industry are buzzed about him after Call Me by Your Name. But Oldman has such a storied career behind him that he’s the safe bet.
Best Actress leads us back to Three Billboards. Audiences and industry insiders alike loved McDormand so much in that movie that they thought the whole movie was amazing. Every other nominee is also excellent – including our own Saoirse Ronan – but McDormand probably has this one in the bag.
However it is not likely Three Billboards will nab Best Picture. That comes down to Get Out and The Shape of Water just like Best Director. Both are excellent movies and big hits which use sci-fi allegories about hot social issues.
The thing about Get Out is that it doesn’t just attack the racism of 1950s conservatives like the villains of The Shape of Water. It also goes after the cosy liberal centrist version of racism. An elderly gentleman proudly says that he would have voted for Obama a third time if he could. And then the movie slowly and confidently spells out how people like this can also be horrifyingly racist. It’s quite possible that this will rub the Academy the wrong way because they might cotton on that they’re the target. Ultimately, the adversaries of Peele’s horror are rich white folks with mainstream egalitarian sensibilities.
All will be revealed on Sunday 4 March. We’ll see how it plays out.
By Mark Laherty