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The B+ Oscar Ballot: Guide to the 90th Academy Awards

Ever like something so much you’d do it for free? Hi, I’m Mike DiPrisco and I’m here to talk to you about Match.com…

Admit it, that was funny.

But really, though. I’m so into the Oscars I’m about to give you 48,000 words of shit you don’t need, and the kind of analysis that, if this were sports, people would make you pay for. And I’m doing it purely out of the goodness of my own insanity. (Mostly because otherwise no one would listen to it.)

You know all those texts you guys have been sending me the past couple weeks? Well, this is all the shit I’ve got stored up that I didn’t tell you about when I answered you. If all you wanted was what I thought was gonna win — here’s way more of that than you ever needed. And if all you wanted was for me to help you win your Oscar pool, then well… same. Though I’m also helping tens of other people do the same thing, so let’s hope you don’t know anyone else who reads this site.

I’m not so much giving you all the answers (because I don’t have all the answers) as much as I’m giving you all the information you need to make the most informed decision about what you think is going to win, and helping you along with what I, your friendly neighborhood ne’er-do-well, think will win. In a way, you might say I’m giving you all the clues.

Really what I am doing is giving you enough information to be smarter and do better than me. Which is really all one can ever hope for. That’s parenting, isn’t it? So go forth and win your pools, my children.

I mean, yeah, I’m also using this as a way to feed my obsession, since for some reason I am fascinated with the Oscars and have gone so deep that I now care more about guessing the nominees than picking the winners, and I’ve gone beyond grading myself on a right/wrong scale and have moved to “how well did I diagnose the category?”, but we can pretend I’m doing it to help you guys out. Since it’s not as crazy if there’s a purpose, right?

This article acts as my having everything in one place. It is my personal Oscar ballot, where I can talk about how I feel about all the categories, what I would vote for and all that stuff (which acts as a version of my Oscar Quest for the year. Which, for those of you who don’t know, the Oscar Quest is the reason this site even exists). I can break down the category and talk about how it usually goes, all the precursors and how it probably will play out, and then I can explain in great detail what I think is going to win and what you should take. And you can either read all of it, some of it, or you can skip right on down to the part where I tell you what to put on your ballot. You can get as much or as little information as you want.

I’m even giving you extra information — since my Oscar Central article is also there, which links to all the precursors throughout this season. Oh, AND over the past three-plus weeks, I broke down each category one by one in detail, and all of those articles will be linked to in the headings of each category down below. I guarantee you that no one goes as far with their Oscar coverage as I do.

What I do that no one else does is give you in-depth reasoning as to why my picks are my picks, and why I think each category is gonna go the way it does. You can get most of the same guesses everywhere else (you can probably reason your way into at least half of them, even if you know almost nothing about the Oscars), but I’m giving you so much more information that I’m actually making it possible for you to notice something that I didn’t (or put stock into something I didn’t) and maybe get something right that I won’t. Everyone else just says “This’ll win” and give you like one line (if that!) as to why. I’m saying, “Here’s all the applicable precursors, here’s all the recent history of the category, and here’s why this is what will probably happen.” But maybe you’ll see that and go, “I don’t think so. I think that other scenario will play out.”

Look at last year. I was convinced La La Land had 10-12 wins coming to it. (Sure, they got 6, and I was right there for most of them, but the point is I’m not always right. I’m just helping educate you so you can be right.) But if you saw that and weren’t convinced, you could have looked at three or four of the categories, saw what I had as the second or third choice and adjusted accordingly. And maybe that gave you that extra boost you needed. I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m here to give you all the information you need to be the best Oscar guesser you can possibly be.

I tend to get anywhere between 18 and 20 out of the 24 categories right each year. 20/24 is a good year. 2013 I got 22/24. Last year, I only got 13/24. It’s all guesswork. Shit happens. This year, I might only get 12. I don’t know. It’s like I said last year, Guessing the Oscars is ‘like blackjack, except here you double down on the movie about white people’.

The thing I excel at — which is how I’ve begun grading myself with all this — is in the breaking down of the categories. What I do now, rather than just say “This is gonna win,” is take each category and rank all the nominees in terms of their likelihood to win. So I’ll say, “This is the likely winner and my vote. #2 will win if #1 doesn’t.” And so on. It’s very rare for me that something below a second or third choice wins the category. In my history of doing this, I’ve only had three categories that I can remember (that isn’t something like Live-Action or Documentary Short) where a fourth or fifth choice straight up won the category. Naturally, I remember them all: Best Editing 2011, Best Production Design 2012 and Best Visual Effects 2015. Let’s discuss those, shall we?

The Editing one was Girl with the Dragon Tattoo beating The Artist, Hugo, The Descendants and Moneyball. That was the shocker of the night, that year. The Production Design one was Lincoln beating Anna Karenina and Les Misérables (and also Life of Pi). It was losing just about everything and that was the one random award it came up and won out of nowhere. In hindsight I probably should have had it third choice, but still, it was a surprise. And then the Visual Effects one was Ex Machina coming out of nowhere to beat Force Awakens, Mad Max, The Revenant and The Martian, which was the biggest overall Oscar shocker I’ve seen since Adrien Brody.

Not sorry about that at all. I was gonna put the gif of him kissing Halle Berry, but I’m pretty sure there’s a movement about that now. Instead, you get that. You’re welcome.

If you had those two gifs going back to back, congratulations, you win the pool.

With my system — which I call the Scorecard Ballot — it rates me on how well I can parse through a category and not just how well I straight up pick winners. So I may only get 16/24 one year, but say all my second choices came in as winners, I’ll still do really well on the Scorecard. Sure, it helps me to guess the most winners, but it also shows you how close I am overall if that’s not the case. Think of the Scorecard Ballot like a confidence pool. Or like golf. You wanna get as close to par as you can. Sometimes you can have a really great round without eagles on every hole.

The way the Scorecard Ballot works is — you take every category and rank the nominees based on their likelihood of winning. That’s 1-9 for Best Picture, 1-3 on Makeup & Hairstyling and 1-5 on everything else. If your #1 wins, then you get 1 point. 2 points for a #2 and so on and so forth. A perfect score is 24. If you miss one and a #2 wins, okay, fine. You’re only 1 over. The closer the winner is to the top of your rankings, the better you do.

I highly recommend doing this either alongside or in place of your typical Oscar pool (especially if you give a shit about it and aren’t just doing it for the sake of doing it), because it really does favor the person who knows their shit and not Janet in Accounting who is just circling randomly and doesn’t understand why It wasn’t nominated because “didn’t it make a bunch of money?” Don’t you wanna not lose to Janet for the third year in a row, just to watch her spend that money on a new sweater for her cats?

Here’s how I’ve done on the Scorecard Ballot in previous years:

  • 2011: +14 (38)
  • 2012: +10 (34)
  • 2013: +5 (29)
  • 2014: +8 (32)
  • 2015: +9 (33)
  • 2016: +11 (35)

For me, I think the sweet spot is +6/+7. +8 is okay too. Anything under that is a great year. +10 isn’t great, but not horrendous. +15 means I completely shit the bed. So expect to see that happen this year.

Most years I say one of two things: that I’m really confident in my picks for a lot of the categories or that I truly have no fucking idea what’s gonna happen and will probably get everything wrong. This year, I will say the latter. I truly have no fucking idea. The easiest Oscar years are the most boring Oscar years. 2013, you know why I did well? Because I knew Gravity was winning like 8 of those awards. I didn’t have to think about things like Sound Mixing or Sound Editing. If you have a year where you truly don’t know what’s gonna happen, then chances are you’re gonna be entertained to shit when stuff starts coming in, and you won’t care when you get a bunch of stuff wrong.

This feels like the first year in a while where we seemingly had a consensus lock and winner all the way through the season, and yet everyone feels like that’s not gonna happen. Maybe that’s because of the past couple years, where the big dog went down in the end. 2015, Spotlight was technically the film that should have been the favorite, yet in the end everyone thought it was gonna go another way. 2016, La La Land was gonna win everything until it didn’t. Or did. But then didn’t.

This was the one year that, for various reasons, I didn’t really look at as a whole whatsoever. Even now, I’m not really looking at it in the macro sense. I’m really only taking it category by category. I bet if I added everything up, I’d be sure about way more stuff than I think I am. But it still feels like one of those years where you could get a bunch of second and third choices coming in, because some categories have opportunities for multiple winners. So let’s just take each one as it comes and see what we get.

Fun fact, before we get started… did you know there are eight married couples up for awards together this year? Eight. The one everyone knows off the top is Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani (Original Screenplay). Then there’s Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Song), Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan (Picture), Joanne Sellar and Daniel Lupi (Picture), Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman (Animated Feature), Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon (Documentary Short), Kate Davis and David Heilbroner (Documentary Short) and Ru Kuawahata and Max Porter (Animated Short). And, as a bonus, Gary Oldman and Lesley Manville used to be married. So yeah. That’s fun, right? Anyway, let’s get into the categories, before I descend entirely into trivia.

We begin with Best Picture… because if I started with Best Live-Action Short I feel like you’d all just straight up leave.

Best Picture

Call Me By Your Name

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

Phantom Thread

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My Rankings:

  1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. Phantom Thread
  3. Lady Bird
  4. Dunkirk
  5. The Shape of Water
  6. Call Me By Your Name
  7. The Post
  8. Darkest Hour
  9. Get Out

My Thoughts: This one was pretty easy for me. Most of the last couple Best Picture categories were easy for me, because typically my favorite movie of the year ends up nominated. It’s happened every year but one since 2011. This year, my top three straight up are on this list. Three Billboards, Phantom Thread and Lady Bird. So those were 1, 2 and 3. Florida Project was my #4, but that didn’t make it. Dunkirk was my #5, so that’s next. Shape of Water was #10 so that’s next. There’s the top five, done without having to think. The Post was originally my #12, but I’m liking that less as time is going on, so I dropped that below Call Me By Your Name, which is not only increasing in stature in my mind as time goes on, but I’d also rather see it win over The Post. So that’s that swap. Then Darkest Hour I liked, but wouldn’t vote for, and Get Out, while I liked it, I just respected it as a good movie and didn’t need to see it as Best Picture. It was my least overall favorite of the nine films, so that’s my #9. I don’t try to make political statements with my choices, so I’m not putting it higher just because it’s timely and is a really great statement on race. I simply vote on what my favorite films were, because isn’t that how one chooses what the best film of the year is? And since it feels stupid to not vote for your #1 movie of the year when it’s nominated for Best Picture (see: 2011, The Artist, 2012, Django Unchained, 2013, Gravity, 2014, Birdman and 2016, La La Land), I’m taking Three Billboards as my vote.

My Vote: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Should Have Been Nominated: The Florida Project

– – – – –

The Analysis

This year, the PGA only guessed 7 of the 9 nominees. They missed Phantom Thread, which missed every major precursor en route to a surprise Best Picture nomination, and Darkest Hour, which had enough precursor support for us to know that it had a decent chance of getting on. So much so that I didn’t see that many other options for that ninth spot and had it on my list. I did miss Phantom Thread, choosing instead to think the summer love of The Big Sick, along with its PGA nomination, would carry that one through to the end. But it wasn’t meant to be, and in the end, we got an even better alternate in Phantom Thread.

Leave Me Alone Micromanagement GIF by Phantom Thread

The only other films that seemed to be in contention were I, Tonya — which, after some PGA support, never really got that overall Picture love — and The Florida Project — which I was hoping would get that surprise ‘Room’ type love (that ended up going Phantom Thread’s way). Nothing else felt like a legitimate contender in the end. To the point where Phantom Thread was the only film I missed, and had that as my first alternate. This category felt pretty easy to guess. It was really only a matter of what was gonna get left off (and at that point, you knew it would be either your eighth or ninth choice, so you were sitting pretty good overall), and what the surprise would be. I would imagine if people guessed 9 nominees, they should have gotten 7 of them easy and probably 8.

To begin the breakdown, we’ll start as we always do, with the logistics of what it takes to win this category. This is the only category with a preferential ballot. Everything else is ‘pick a winner and whoever has the most votes wins’. This is different.

This is how the Best Picture voting works:

Everyone is told to rank all nine films from 1-9, in order of their preference. Unless someone refuses to cast a vote for Best Picture, then there will be a #1 vote on every ballot. If one film gets more than 50% of the first place votes cast (50% + 1), then it wins Best Picture then and there. That’s a very unlikely event. The last consensus #1 I can think of is probably Return of the King. But even there, if we had more than five nominees and a preferential ballot, even that would have had trouble getting half the #1s in one go. So assuming we don’t get 50%+1, we’re tallying up all the first place votes.

There are about 7,200 members in the Academy, so assume all 7,200 cast a vote, which is never the actual case. (Just look at the average election turnouts.) The key here is about which films have a strong showing in the Rust Belt and can win Pennsylvania and Ohio.

So 7,200 votes are cast for Best Picture and no film gets 3,601 #1 votes. One film has 1,800 votes, one has 1,650. One has 750. Whatever film is ninth on that list, with the least number of purely #1 votes, is out. That movie cannot win Best Picture. And say it had, I don’t know… 200 first place votes. Whatever film is #2 on those 200 ballots now gets those votes. That becomes the #1 for that ballot. So that’s another 60 votes for the current first place film with 1,800 votes, and so on. If that round puts the first choice over the top, then we’re done. Otherwise we continue.

Now we have 7 films left. Whatever’s got the second lowest amount of #1 votes is now out. Say that had 320 votes. Those 320 votes go to the #2 choice on those ballots. If the #2 choice on some of those happens to be the film that was already eliminated, then the #3 choice gets the votes. And the tallies for the 6 films left go up. And this continues until one nominee has 50%+1. In this case, 3,601 votes.

This sounds great on paper, but now we have to take into account is the people who will try to game the system. The person who only votes for a #1 and leaves the rest blank. Well, the minute their #1 gets eliminated, then their vote is gone. And that’s one less overall vote, and it actually makes it easier for the film they don’t want to win to win Best Picture. Now, there’s a chance they say, “I only want this film to win and if it doesn’t win, I don’t care what wins.” Well, then they get their wish.

Theoretically they could vote 1-5 and not rank the rest. That is an option and technically that does game the system a little bit, but really the way they do their film the most service is by legitimately ranking all the nominees. If you really wanted to do damage to another film, you rank it #9 rather than not at all. (Which I have a feeling may have been what some people did to La La Land out of spite last year.)

Also, the thing to note here — and it’s impossible to know how many times it’s happened (though I’d wager it happened a few times in the past couple years): a film can win Best Picture without getting the most #1 votes. Say one film has 27% after round one and another film has 24%. If the 24% film appears on the most ballots as #2 or #3, it’ll end up getting more votes overall than the other one, especially if the other one gets a lot of #8s and #9s.

Get it? Doesn’t matter, because we’re moving on.

The thing you need to take into account is — what film on the list is going to the be film that the most people liked? That’s it, really. What film will consistently be in peoples’ top 3 or 4 choices? There’s a legitimate chance that a film could finish the first round third on the list of first place votes, and as long as a lot of people put it as #2 or #3 on the other ballots, it could end up winning Best Picture. (Pretty sure Spotlight was a film like that.)

So now, on top of thinking about that, the other stuff to look at, naturally — how did the precursors go? With Best Picture, there are five precursors we can look at for empirical data. The PGA has always been the most important. BAFTA is probably second. Third is either BFCA or SAG, depending on where you place your importance. SAG is more about performance than film, and BFCA, while they don’t vote for the Oscars, do generally show where overall favorability lies. And then there’s the Globes, who pretty much set the pace and then don’t matter. Like that rabbit they use at the dog track. Only foreign.

Starting with the PGA: they’ve been handing out awards since 1989, and out of 28 previous years, the film that won the PGA went on to win Best Picture 19/28 times. So that’s 9 times the PGA winner did not win Best Picture.

Those nine times are:

  • 1992, The Crying Game wins the PGA, Unforgiven wins the Oscar.
  • 1995, Apollo 13 wins the PGA, Braveheart wins the Oscar.
  • 1998, Saving Private Ryan wins the PGA, Shakespeare in Love wins the Oscar.
  • 2001, Moulin Rouge! wins the PGA, A Beautiful Mind wins the Oscar.
  • 2004, The Aviator wins the PGA, Million Dollar Baby wins the Oscar.
  • 2005, Brokeback Mountain wins the PGA, Crash wins the Oscar.
  • 2006, Little Miss Sunshine wins the PGA, The Departed wins the Oscar.
  • 2015, The Big Short wins the PGA, Spotlight wins the Oscar.
  • 2016, La La Land wins the PGA, Moonlight wins the Oscar.

You know what would be a fun graphic novel to make? Nein Times. Nein Times at Reichmont High. (This is why no one reads these articles.)

Of course, the important thing to note on that list… that’s two years in a row now where the PGA winner went on to lose the Oscar. Last year was more of a surprise than anything based on the data. 2015 felt straight up like the PGA winner probably wasn’t gonna win. But since they also have a preferential ballot, people assume they’re more likely gonna show you where the wind is blowing. But the past two years have put that into some doubt. If the PGA goes down three years in a row, then we’re gonna have to think of maybe finding an alternate strategy to figuring this thing out. Or, you know, do like the military does… when things aren’t working out, just get a new person to try the same things. Then next year, you show up here and some other guy is writing up this article just like I do. And that guy’s name… will be Bob.

Not enough people saw that movie to get that joke, did they?

Anyway, to make life easier, of the nine times the PGA winner lost Best Picture, here are all the times BAFTA or BFCA had the winner:

  • 1998, BAFTA had Shakespeare in Love
  • 2001, BFCA had A Beautiful Mind
  • 2006, BFCA had The Departed
  • 2015, BFCA had Spotlight

Notice how it’s almost never BAFTA unless it’s a quintessentially British film (which we kinda knew throughout the race was neck and neck with Saving Private Ryan anyway). The Departed was a consensus movie everyone really liked in a wide open race. Just like Spotlight. A Beautiful Mind, it’s just before my time, but a lot about that year felt weird. I’m thinking a lot of that voting had to do with them not knowing how to react to Fellowship, since there were two more of those movies coming down the pike. Still can’t explain the rest of it. Best guess is, like 2006, the Best Director win swung the Best Picture race with it.

And then, if you wanna put stock into the others — SAG had Shakespeare in Love, Crash and Spotlight and the Globes had Shakespeare in LoveA Beautiful Mind and Moonlight. In the case of the Globes, it’s important to note that in all three of those occasions, the PGA winner also won the Globe in their other Best Picture category. And in the case of SAG, every time I look at their winners, I see them voting for acting ensembles more than anything else. Like, 2001. Gosford Park won SAG. Why? Like thirty awesome actors in that. A Beautiful Mind has like four central performances. So I’m usually dubious about how much they matter. I typically prefer to stick with the big three and then use the others to either bolster or hurt my argument depending on how they chose.

However, one thing I was poking around with the past three weeks (because I’m always looking for random trends… just wait til you get to Production Design) was whether or not I could trust SAG Ensemble — which typically I don’t do but everyone else tells me I should — and I saw that last year, La La Land… not nominated there. And it lost to Moonlight, which was. So I looked… Spotlight won SAG. Birdman won SAG. Gravity… not nominated. 12 Years a Slave was. Argo won SAG. The Artist was nominated at SAG. Going back — forget winning, the last Best Picture winner to not be nominated for SAG Ensemble was Braveheart… the first year the award was ever given out (in a year that was dominated by Apollo 13, which won SAG, until the very, very end of the race). And this year, The Shape of Water wasn’t nominated for SAG Ensemble. Which is interesting.

Here’s a handy chart of how the past 20 years of precursors went. (Best Picture winners are in red.)

Year

PGA BAFTA BFCA SAG Ensemble Golden Globes
2017 The Shape of Water  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri The Shape of Water Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Drama)

Lady Bird (Comedy)

2016 La La Land  La La Land La La Land Hidden Figures Moonlight (Drama)

La La Land (Comedy)

2015 The Big Short The Revenant Spotlight Spotlight

The Revenant (Drama)

The Martian (Comedy)

2014 Birdman Boyhood Boyhood Birdman Boyhood (Drama)

Birdman (Comedy)

2013 12 Years a Slave and Gravity 12 Years a Slave 12 Years a Slave American Hustle

12 Years a Slave (Drama)

American Hustle (Comedy)

2012 Argo Argo Argo Argo Argo (Drama)

Les Misérables (Comedy)

2011 The Artist The Artist The Artist The Help

The Descendants (Drama)

The Artist (Comedy)

2010 The King’s Speech The King’s Speech The Social Network The King’s Speech

The Social Network (Drama)

The Kids Are All Right (Comedy)

2009 The Hurt Locker The Hurt Locker The Hurt Locker Inglourious Basterds Avatar
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire
2007 No Country for Old Men Atonement No Country for Old Men No Country for Old Men Atonement
2006 Little Miss Sunshine The Queen The Departed Little Miss Sunshine Babel
2005 Brokeback Mountain Brokeback Mountain Brokeback Mountain Crash Brokeback Mountain
2004 The Aviator The Aviator Sideways Sideways

The Aviator (Drama)

Sideways (Comedy)

2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Drama)

Lost in Translation (Comedy)

2002 Chicago The Pianist Chicago Chicago

The Hours (Drama)

Chicago (Comedy)

2001 Moulin Rouge! The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring A Beautiful Mind Gosford Park A Beautiful Mind (Drama)

Moulin Rouge! (Comedy)

2000 Gladiator Gladiator Gladiator Traffic Gladiator
1999 American Beauty American Beauty American Beauty American Beauty American Beauty
1998 Saving Private Ryan Shakespeare in Love Saving Private Ryan Shakespeare in Love

Saving Private Ryan (Drama)

Shakespeare in Love (Comedy)

1997 Titanic The Full Monty L.A. Confidential The Full Monty

Titanic (Drama)

As Good As It Gets (Comedy)

Look how impossible it is to get a consensus across those voting bodies. This year, we’re in quite the little conundrum… since the PGA is in the minority. There’s only one year on that chart that produced almost the exact same result as what we have this year… and that’s 1998. Shakespeare in Love won BAFTA, SAG and the Globe, just like Three Billboards has, and Saving Private Ryan (which also won Best Director, I might add) won the PGA and BFCA. So there’s that.

Also something to take into account when voting (especially if you’re doing the Scorecard Ballot, as I am) — only once in the past 20 years has a film won zero precursors and went on to win Best Picture. And that was Million Dollar Baby. (Funnily enough, if you go back to the beginning of the PGA, 1989, it’s only happened two more times before that. And one of them was Unforgiven. So twice Clint Eastwood came on late to take Best Picture. The third time was Braveheart. All the precursors went to Apollo 13 or Sense and Sensibility.)

All of that tells you, based solely on the data, you should have Shape of Water and Three Billboards as your #1 and #2 (order dependent on how you shake out on what will win) and Lady Bird as your #3, since at least that does have a Globe win to show for it. That means you Get Out fans who think it has a shot… data says no. That doesn’t mean anything, since anything is possible, but that does seem to fit the most likely scenarios from the eyeball test too.

But hold up…

One thing you should consider — Best Director nominations. Martin McDonagh doesn’t have one. Now, that didn’t hurt Argo in the end, but it’s incredibly rare. As in, four times ever rare. And two of them are before 1934!

The four times are: Wings, the very first Best Picture winner, Grand Hotel (which was nominated for exactly one Oscar, Best Picture), Driving Miss Daisy and Argo. So that’s a pretty big historical knock against Three Billboards. At least when Argo won, the lack of a Best Director nomination acted as a galvanizing agent for people to rally around it.

However, Three Billboards does have the trusted Best Editing nomination, which is also usually the key to a Best Picture win. Which tells me that the Best Director situation might have been a squeeze more than anything, which is why I won’t immediately throw it out based on its lack of one.

I would also point out — since all I’ve been thinking about this year was how a certain section of people absolutely hates Three Billboards — the two historical comps for it thus far are Shakespeare in Love and Driving Miss Daisy… if it wins, there’s gonna be a shitstorm of haters, isn’t there?

Though also what this does tell you is that pretty much no matter what wins, some sort of stat is going down. The least of them would be if Shape of Water wins (SAG Ensemble). But if Three Billboards wins, it’s huge (Best Director). If Get Out wins (Best Editing, no precursors). If Lady Bird wins, it’s huge (Best Editing).

Now, for this next part… I like to try to simulate a ballot each year. That is… I like to run down how I think voting will go. Which is entirely hypothetical, but it does help me to visualize things. Something I learned from my father and how he bet horses. He’d always visualize how he saw the race going and use that to influence his bets. Not sure if it worked, but given the amount of goddamn winners, I’m assuming it couldn’t hurt. (Really what this tells you is that we have some really obscure talents in my family.)

So this year, after that first round of voting, I’m pretty sure The Post is gonna be the film with the least #1 votes. I just don’t see any support for it as a #1, and the only other nomination it got was for Meryl, who they will literally nominate for anything at this point. Maybe Spielberg still carries enough weight to get enough number ones for a stay of execution to eighth place, but trust me, this one isn’t sticking around too long.

Now, if The Post does manage to get more #1s than another film, there’s only one other film it could possibly do that over — and that’s Darkest Hour. Darkest Hour is a very fine film, but like The Post it’s very classical, not very sexy, and destined to not go higher than fourth on a lot of ballots. Can’t see those two getting more than a small contingency of #1 votes (mainly from people who worked on it, friends of the people who worked on it, that sort of stuff). When you think about what the average ballot is gonna look like, I would say these two will be anywhere from 5th to straight up 9th on a lot of them. I think they’re both off in the first two rounds.

Now, the other film that I think might actually end up off this early… but should have enough support to hang around through the first few rounds of voting based on its overall support… Dunkirk. Because, while it’s great, and while Nolan is highly respected and while it clearly has a lot of support, how many people are gonna have it in the top three? It’s in my top ten, and I’d have it as my fourth choice on a ballot. Fourth choice doesn’t cut it in Best Picture voting. Not on average. It’ll get enough 1s up top to hang around a while, but how many 2s and 3s will it get? My gut tells me that if this doesn’t end up in seventh place, it’ll end up in sixth.

Which brings us to Phantom Thread. The film no one saw coming. Late breaker. How much does not being in all the other races help or hurt it? Anderson feels like the kind of filmmaker who will get a divisive reaction from voters. And I’m still not even sure, of all the films on this list, how many people even saw this. Of course, we’re assuming the best of voters and figure they managed to watch all the nominees before voting. I feel like this will get its fair share of 1s, 2s and 3s, but how many? How many people have it 5th or 6th because they didn’t quite get it? They’ll give it that middling respect of, “He’s a great director, it looked great, the costumes were great, Daniel Day-Lewis was great,” but 5th just won’t win it the award. I feel like it’ll get more fervent support from more people than Dunkirk (which will have solid, but not over-the-top, support) to possibly leap frog it over that.  The question is if the 10% of 2s and 3s for Phantom Thread can top the bunch of 3s and 4s from Dunkirk. That’ll come down to thinking about the average ballot, which we’ll do in a second. Either way, Dunkirk and Phantom Thread are both likely coming off before the remaining films.

Assuming we took all those movies off, we’re now left with our top five. What are they? Shape of Water, Three Billboards, Lady Bird, Get Out and Call Me By Your Name. These are all movies that feel like they will be the majority of voters’ top five choices. Some may have one of the eliminated films up there in their top five in place of one or more of these, but overall, I think these films will end up with the most support.

Now, of these, there is a small chance that either Get Out or Call Me By Your Name doesn’t have enough straight up #1s to last this long. Which means my entire system thus far is blown up and meaningless. But we’ll still end up at the same result of how I’m voting and what the top contenders are, so does it really matter?

All right, so now let’s think about what the average voter is gonna take. If a voter has Call Me By Your Name as Best Picture, what then would you think are their likely #2, #3 and #4 choices? To me, those are (in any order you want), Get Out, Lady Bird and either Shape of Water, Three Billboards or Phantom Thread. Certain films are likely to be grouped together by certain voters. The younger voter, more in line with promoting diversity and a less traditional form of Best Picture choice, will probably have Get Out and Lady Bird near the top of their ballots, with The Post, Darkest Hour and possibly even Three Billboards (depending on the specificities of the voter) down at the bottom. The Post and Darkest Hour will more likely be at the top of a 60-year-old white dude’s ballot. Okay, fine. But those, we figure, will be off early. So that older white dude… what movie in contention is he more likely to respond to? Probably either Shape of Water or Lady Bird, right? Maybe Three Billboards. That’s how you consider this.

To me, the films the preferential ballot helps the most are: Shape of Water, Get Out and Lady Bird. Three Billboards, all along I’ve had trouble gauging just how much people are responding to it. You see all the voting bodies, and they seem to love it. Then you look other places — like the internet — a lot of people think it’s awful, it’s offensive, has dubious racial politics, all this stuff. So I have no idea how people are gonna treat that one.

But to me, given that, while the majority of the Academy is still older and whiter, and while there is still a fair amount of open-mindedness now, given to promoting films like Moonlight (which are not only great but can manage broad support), I feel like Get Out isn’t liked enough to get a Best Picture vote through. I think there are far more people whose votes will end up with the other three films based on the preferential ballot and push one of those three over the top. But even if we consider it a slight contender for a shocker, we still have all the information we need to get into this next part.

Plus, as I’m sure you’ve figured out… after a certain point, you just need to not overthink it, say ‘fuck it’ and go with your gut. So let’s just do that.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: The Shape of Water. I know, I still have it here. Isn’t that nuts? But until it stops being the most accurate predictor of Best Picture, I’m going to say that the PGA winner is the favorite to win the Oscar. Let’s also not forget… 13 nominations. That’s not something to sneeze at. Only 32 times ever (so, of 89) did a film that had (or was tied for) the most nominations not win Best Picture. Though we must also point out, that 10 of the past 20 years, the most nominated film didn’t win Best Picture, and 5 out of the last 6. So yeah. But still, conventional wisdom says this is the most likely film to win. It seems to have the most broad support, has a PGA win and also has a BFCA win. It’s going to win Best Director, and even though a split has happened four of the past five years, basic logic says this more likely to win Best Picture than anything else.

Biggest Competition: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Because only once in the past 20 years has a film with no precursors won Best Picture, and this is the film with the… technically it has the most precursors. Not the important one, but it’s got two fairly important ones. The BAFTA win was huge for this, and the SAG win actually does help more than you’d think. The Globe win mostly just acts an anchor to the choice if you want to take it. But it’s pretty simple… if The Shape of Water doesn’t win, this will be the one that does. I’m not gonna get into so much how I’m figuring out my choice, since this section is purely to tell you what the favorite is, what the other choice is, and then, if neither of those win, what will win in its place. A lot of people will consider this the true favorite to win Best Picture, and I might not disagree with that. But maybe it’s my broken dreams from the past few years talking… I just can’t consider this a favorite. So we’ll consider it the main contender to the favorite.

Spoiler Alert: Lady Bird. This was originally going to be Get Out. (Which still may be my choice at third in the rankings.) Because I felt like, if anything was going to be a galvanizing contender, that was it. A lot of mid-level votes and stringent supporters all across the board. However, four overall nominations, not really any precursor win support — you’re going back to Million Dollar Baby to find a film that won zero precursors and still won Best Picture. And Million Dollar Baby felt like it was coming on strong as we got closer. Get Out is just kind of there. I’m not sure where the support is coming from outside of public opinion. And public opinion doesn’t vote on these things.

Meanwhile, Lady Bird does have that Globe win, which is all Moonlight had last year. And I know for a fact this is gonna be a lot of peoples’ #2 or #3 or even #4 film. The question is whether Three Billboards or Shape of Water is the #1 above it. But still, this having been the highest-rated film ever on Rotten Tomatoes for a second and having a lot of love across the board means it will sit high on a lot of ballots and does have a sliver of a chance to pull off an upset. When I look back at this year, seeing any one of these three films win would make the most sense to me. This has every nomination you’d want it to have except Best Editing, which is why it’s the spoiler. The only Best Picture nominee besides Shape of Water and Three Billboards to get nominated in Editing is Dunkirk, and none of us truly believe that’s gonna win. This feels like the proper spoiler, if not Get Out. This feels like it’s got the kind of love and support that will keep it in contention until the very end.

However, I think, while this statistically is the proper third choice, I might just put Get Out third on my rankings, simply because — if Get Out is my fourth and it wins, I’ll feel like shit. If Lady Bird is fourth and wins, I’m ecstatic, and don’t care that I got it wrong. I find it’s best to, in situations like that, go with the film that would make you feel worse if you didn’t have it. Especially since I think one of the top two is gonna win anyway.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

2. The Shape of Water

3. Get Out

4. Lady Bird

5. Call Me By Your Name

6. Dunkirk

7. Phantom Thread

8. Darkest Hour

9. The Post

If I Were a Betting Man: I’m taking Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I was probably gonna do that all along anyway, but that BAFTA win really convinced me that it’s gonna happen. The only question is whether or not I tell you to take it to or to play the odds. I can’t remember a time where I deliberately said to not take the PGA winner. Usually I’m like, “I’m gonna go opposite because I’m crazy, you should take this because it won the PGA.” But yeah. It’s my favorite movie of the year and it’s got a legitimate shot at this. Now, granted, so did La La Land, which didn’t work out. And then Birdman, which did. And also Gravity, which did not. And Django, which was never seriously going to win. And The Artist… really I’ve just had a good run these past bunch of years. I’m not sure I have a whole lot more substantial to say here that I haven’t already said above. This does have the majority of the precursors — BAFTA, SAG Ensemble and the Globe. The PGA has historically been the most important, but they got it wrong the past two years, and it’s starting to feel like they might again. Now, The Shape of Water could still win and I’ll just be wrong. That’s fine. But my heart and my head are saying this is the choice. So I’m gonna go with that. Plus, everything about this movie feels like it’s right for 2017 (for better and worse). Yeah, I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t take this. Right or wrong.

You Should Take: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I’ve done it. I’ve told you to ignore the PGA, the most accurate Best Picture prognosticator we have. Hey, they had three years in a row wrong last decade, so why can’t they have it again now? Now, in order to tell you to ignore the PGA, I need to have solid rationale at my disposal. And I do. You know Shape of Water has the PGA, which is 19/28 all time, and BFCA, which is 13/22 all time (a cool 9% lower than the PGA). But Three Billboards has SAG and BAFTA. What is the largest voting branch of the Academy? Actors. What do I always use to support my argument for a big category? The British vote. Both the actors and the Brits voted Three Billboards. Only the producers took Shape of Water. BFCA is critics, and doesn’t really have any crossover with the Academy. Now, of course, this is rationalization to further prove my point, but that is what we’re doing here. I’m telling you why I’m telling you to take Three Billboards. And I can’t just leave it as, “I just feel like it’s gonna happen.” By all means, take Shape of Water if you think it’s gonna win. I’m not the boss of you. I’m just saying what I think is the smart play. And I’ve come around on saying that Three Billboards is the smart play. I’ll tell you when you absolutely need to listen to me if you wanna get it right. I’m saying straight up, I don’t know. I haven’t known for sure a Best Picture was gonna happen since Argo. I think Three Billboards is the choice, but it could just as easily be Shape of Water. I’ll also say that I’ve felt this way for the past two weeks, if that makes you feel better. This isn’t some decision I came to last night after going for a walk in the desert. I think this is your winner.

On My Ballot: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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– – – – –

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Jordan Peele, Get Out

My Rankings:

  1. Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
  2. Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
  3. Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
  4. Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  5. Jordan Peele, Get Out

My Thoughts: I like this category. It’s very inclusive, and truly, these were five great efforts. Now’s where I say I’d have gone a different way with my choices, but that doesn’t mean anything. This is one of those years I don’t really know how I’d have selected a category. As long as Anderson, Nolan and Guillermo were on there, I was gonna be happy with the other two regardless. I did want to shout out Edgar Wright and Denis Villeneuve, who both had tough tasks on hand (in different ways) and did terrific jobs. And there are a dozen other choices that could have made it on here and been worthy. I can say for sure it doesn’t feel like they took the ‘safe’ or ‘easy’ route this year and went with choices that will reflect well upon them in the future.

Now, in terms of picking the category — Paul Thomas Anderson had my favorite effort of the year, so I’m voting for him. Pretty much has to be as simple as that. None of these people have won before, and four of them have never been nominated before. Only Anderson is a previous nominee in the category. So you can’t really use history (‘This person has been snubbed a bunch and this person hasn’t’) to help out your decision. Nolan did a fantastic job, Guillermo did a fantastic job, but Anderson was my favorite, so he’s the choice.

My Vote: Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

Should Have Been Nominated: Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name

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The Analysis

In terms of the category, this was 4/5 your DGA list. Which is usually the case for them. Paul Thomas Anderson was the one who came out of nowhere and surprised. Truly didn’t see that one coming. Otherwise, four of those five made a lot of sense. We all assumed Martin McDonagh would get on, but here we are.

In terms of trivia, Greta Gerwig is only the fifth woman to be nominated in this category (after Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion, Sophia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow) and Jordan Peele is only the fifth African-American to be nominated (after John Singleton, Lee Daniels, Steve McQueen and Barry Jenkins). Peele, meanwhile, is only the 12th director be nominated for his debut feature (technically this is also Gerwig’s debut, but since she has a co-directing credit from ten years ago with Joe Swanberg, it doesn’t count). The other eleven directors are Orson Welles, Sidney Lumet, Jack Clayton, Frank Perry, Mike Nichols, Warren Beatty, Buck Henry, Rob Marshall, Bennett Miller, Paul Haggis and Benh Zeitlin. So yeah, pretty good company. Guillermo del Toro, meanwhile… only the fifth Latin-American nominated. The others are Hector Banenco, Fernando Meirelles, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (three times) and Alfonso Cuaron. Funnily enough, Inarritu, Cuaron and del Toro are all friends, and now they’re all gonna have Oscars. Oh, and this is the first time ever that all five nominated directors either wrote or co-wrote their screenplays (not to mention… all five were original screenplays, which makes it all the rarer). Anyway, onto the precursors…

I don’t think you need me to tell you to just listen to the damn DGA. 70 DGA awards have given out, and only 7 of those winners did not go on to win the Oscar. Which is 10%, meaning that automatically, by winning the DGA, you have a 90% chance at winning the Oscar. But before we get to that… I gotta give you a history lesson. Because I can.

The seven times the DGA winner and Oscar winner differed were:

  • 1968, Anthony Harvey won the DGA for The Lion in Winter, Carol Reed won the Oscar for Oliver!
  • 1972, Francis Ford Coppola won the DGA for The Godfather, Bob Fosse won the Oscar for Cabaret.
  • 1985, Stephen Spielberg won the DGA for The Color Purple, Sydney Pollack won the Oscar for Out of Africa. (Spielberg wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar.)
  • 1995, Ron Howard won the DGA for Apollo 13, Mel Gibson won the Oscar for Braveheart. (Howard wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar.)
  • 2000, Ang Lee won the DGA for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ridley Scott won the Oscar for Traffic.
  • 2002, Rob Marshall won the DGA for Chicago, Roman Polanski won the Oscar for The Pianist.
  • 2012, Ben Affleck won the DGA for Argo, Ang Lee won the Oscar for Life of Pi. (Affleck wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar.)

(Note: Joseph L. Mankiewicz won the DGA in 1948 for A Letter to Three Wives and won the Oscar for it in 1949. So technically the years were wrong, but he did win. It was also the first DGA awards. In a way, it’s happened eight times, but in a way, not. It’s worth mentioning.)

The other thing I always mention about those seven times… three of those DGA winners weren’t even nominated at the Oscars. So if you assume they would have won if they were, then that’s 94%. But let’s stick with 90%. I think that’s enough.

One thing I’d like to look at now — how the other precursors did in those seven years. Did these wins come out of nowhere, or was there a clear path to the win for someone else? Let’s get the three years the DGA winner wasn’t even nominated out of the way first:

  • 2012 — Affleck won BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe. As I said, the lack of a nomination acted as a catalyst for him winning everything.
  • 1995 — Michael Radford won BAFTA over Mel Gibson but not Ang Lee. Mel Gibson, meanwhile, won both BFCA and the Globe. Which made his Oscar win a foregone conclusion once Ron Howard wasn’t nominated.
  • 1985 — BFCA wasn’t around before 1995 and BAFTA weirdly didn’t give out a Best Director award for 1985. So we’re left with the Globe, which went to John Huston for Prizzi’s Honor. So at that point, with no Spielberg, you’re left to assume the Best Picture favorite wins both, as it did.

Okay, cool. Now let’s see if the other four were tipped by the precursors, since presumably, the DGA winner and Oscar winner were in both categories:

  • 1968 — only the Globes and BAFTA are around, and BAFTA is a year off, so it’s really just the Globes. Which went to Paul Newman for Rachel, Rachel. So yeah, totally unhelpful.
  • 1972 — okay, some help here. Bob Fosse does win the BAFTA and Coppola isn’t nominated there. Though Coppola does win the Globe over Fosse. Pretty much you’re left with a duel there going into Oscar night. (The more I look at that, the more surprised I am The Godfather manages a Best Picture win over Cabaret.)

These last two should be the helpful ones. It’s the recent ones that are helpful anyway, in these situations.

  • 2000 — Ang Lee won BAFTA over a doubly-nominated Soderbergh and Best Picture-winning Ridley Scott. Soderbergh did win BFCA though. And Ang Lee won the Globe. So yeah, minor surprise from Soderbergh that he managed to overcome two nominations to get enough support for that one. Can’t say I’d have thought to vote for that unless I was in the trenches and saw some growing support happening leading up to the ceremony.
  • 2002 — Roman Polanski wins BAFTA, he is nominated for BFCA but loses to Spielberg (not nominated at the Oscars), and Martin Scorsese wins the Globe for Gangs. So that could have tipped that one. Plus, the one thing I hear about those Oscars was how strong The Pianist was coming on in the end and how, if the race was a little bit longer, it would have won everything. So maybe that one was obvious. I don’t know.

Inconclusive, is where I leave this one. Though the one thing I haven’t seen on those lists is an out and out sweep of the precursors leading to an Oscar loss. Which is what I will take out of that experiment. Especially since…

This year, your DGA winner was Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water. He also won BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe. So all of that amounted to him being the overwhelming favorite, no matter how Best Picture goes.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water. Did you see all those precursors? He’s the favorite. And if we’re assuming Three Billboards is the alternate Best Picture winner if Shape of Water doesn’t win, they can’t even vote for McDonagh here too, so there’s really nothing standing in Guillermo’s way. Nolan had his shots in the precursors and didn’t get the votes. No one else feels like they’re gonna have the juice to jump up and win with such steam behind Guillermo at this point. Let’s also not forget — dude’s really likable, and loves cinema. He’s everything they’d want out of a Best Director winner, and I don’t see anyone beating him at this point.

Biggest Competition: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk. It’s the flashiest of the remaining nominees. He’s been nominated for everything and he’s a respected director finally getting his due and being nominated. If anyone can win, I’d say he’s the likely alternative. In the end, I feel like, if there’s gonna be a surprise, it’ll be the next nominee, since, for better or worse, people seem to have let this effort fall into the “yeah, whatever” category. Which is what happens to some nominees. It got nominated and then you’re like, “Yeah, it was good, but whatever.” You don’t have that strong emotional attachment to it that you do for other nominees. Which is why he’ll only be a second choice at best this year.

Spoiler Alert: Greata Gerwig, Lady Bird. It was either this or Get Out, once again. Anderson, while I love him and wish he had a stronger case… I don’t know if anyone’s really gonna go there. Not to overtake everyone else, at the very least. Maybe he will and we’ll all be wrong. Man, will that make me happy. But until then, I can’t call him a spoiler because I don’t see it. And Peele, while I almost had him in this spot, ultimately in the end, I’m left with what I feel is stronger love for Lady Bird. So I put Gerwig here. I think they’re both about even in terms of people who will vote for them, but in the end, I don’t know who, if either, can win. They feel more like Screenplay contenders than Director contenders. So I’ll put Gerwig here and see if anyone can take Guillermo down. It would shock me if they did, because he swept everything.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

2. Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

3. Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

4. Jordan Peele, Get Out

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

If I Were a Betting Man: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water. Why would I not put my money on the DGA winner who also won BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe? It’s only been seven times ever that just the DGA winner didn’t win the Oscar, and now you wanna compound that by going against them and all the other precursors? Nah, son. Count me out of that one. I’m sticking with the favorite.

You Should Take: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water. This is no time to be contrarian. If there’s any time to go with the numbers, this is the category. Even last year, Chazelle swept everything and still won this category even when his film went down. Don’t play with fire in this one. Lose if you must. We’ll all lose together. Don’t give up a category on a less than 10% hunch.

On My Ballot: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Actor

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name

Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

My Rankings:

  1. Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
  2. Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
  3. Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.
  4. Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
  5. Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

My Thoughts: Really like this category. Four of my five favorite male lead performances are on here, and the fifth was almost never gonna get nominated. I think the Denzel performance is tremendously underrated (as is his film, but I guess we’ll need a few years before I’m allowed to have that discussion), and Oldman, Day-Lewis and Chalamet are rightly getting praised for their work, so everyone’s on the same page about those. Really couldn’t have asked for a better category. Some people would have went James Franco here, which is fine. I wouldn’t have, based on my favorites, but I wouldn’t have turned him away if they wanted to go there. He was probably my number six, just because it was so fucking weird to not want to see get nominated. But yeah, of the performances, I’d say it’s a 51/49 situation with Oldman and Day-Lewis. I love how fussy Day-Lewis is in Phantom Thread, and every scene of him getting upset — “I can’t begin my day with a confrontation,” or, “The tea is going but the interruption is staying right here,” or, “Are you a spy? Where is your gun? Show me your gun. I want to see see your gun.” Or just him watching her butter her toast — gives me life. But then there’s Oldman, an actor I love who has never gotten his due respect from the Academy (he barely got nominated for Tinker Tailor in 2011) and finally delivers a performance they can’t ignore. He’s not quite Day-Lewis level, fully disappearing to the point where I think I’m watching President Lincoln on screen and not the actor, but he does have moments where I forgot it was him. Which is enough for me. I’ll take Oldman getting one over Day-Lewis getting a fourth, even if over time I may end up siding with the Day-Lewis performance as my favorite.

My Vote: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Should Have Been Nominated: Hugh Jackman, Logan

– – – – –

The Analysis

This Best Actor category was pretty straightforward all the way through. Six nominees for five spots. Chalamet, Day-Lewis, Kaluuya and Oldman felt pretty much locked all the way through, given how the precursors played out, and then the fifth spot was between James Franco or Denzel. (Tom Hanks was never a serious contender.) SAG nominated both actors and left off Daniel Day-Lewis, so you knew a choice was gonna have to be made in the end. And in the end, the lesser-seen Denzel movie made it on over the flashier, buzzier Franco movie. Some of this could have been the overall comparative amount of respect for each actor, or maybe enough people actually saw Denzel’s performance to realize it truly was the better one and voted for it. I don’t know. Either way, no one should have really been surprised with how the nominees turned out, if they were paying attention.

(Forget the red herring of Franco’s ‘baggage’. That’s horse shit drummed up by the media. If they really liked the performance, they’d have nominated it. Remember — Casey Affleck won this award last year. So let’s not pretend like they had any kind of political statement to make there. I just think the performance was too weird for older voters. Remember — SAG is like ten times the size of the Academy acting branch. The Academy is gonna skew older by default.)

As for guessing this — even though we all know how this one’s turning out — SAG. SAG comes first, and then everything else follows. (Which… do you guys remember the last time the Best Actor race was even slightly in doubt? Maybe 2014, with Redmayne and Keaton? Even that seemed to be mostly lopsided, since Redmayne had SAG and BAFTA. Other than that category, you gotta go back to the Mickey Rourke/Sean Penn race of 2008 to have anything even resembling a toss-up.)

SAG has missed Best Actor only five times in 23 tries. Those five are:

  • 2000: Benicio Del Toro wins for Traffic and Russell Crowe wins the Oscar for A Beautiful Mind. (It should also be noted that Benicio won Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars for Traffic. So in a way, SAG wasn’t entirely wrong.)
  • 2001: Russell Crowe wins for A Beautiful Mind and Denzel won the Oscar for Training Day.
  • 2002: Daniel-Day-Lewis wins for Gangs of New York and Adrien Brody wins the Oscar for The Pianist.
  • 2003: Johnny Depp wins for Pirates of the Caribbean and Sean Penn wins the Oscar for Mystic River.
  • 2016: Denzel wins for Fences and Casey Affleck wins the Oscar for Manchester by the Sea.

So if we give them the Benicio one, then it’s 19/23 (or eliminating it entirely, 18/22). Not a bad record. Not to mention, before last year, it happened four years in a row and then not again for 13 years. They’re pretty trustworthy, is the point there.

It should also be noted that in those five years when SAG was wrong, BAFTA had the Oscar winner in 2001 and 2016. They matched SAG in being wrong in 2002. The other two, they went their own way. BFCA, meanwhile, had Crowe in 2000, Sean Penn in 2003 and Casey Affleck in 2016. They were wrong with Crowe in ’01 and Daniel Day-Lewis in ’02 (and had the added bonus of having Jack Nicholson tie Day-Lewis in ’02, making them doubly wrong). Meanwhile, the Globes… Sean Penn and Casey Affleck. Otherwise, Tom Hanks in 2000, Crowe in ’01, Nicholson in ’02.

So in 2016, SAG was the outlier, which I’m now remembering. All the logic said Casey Affleck would win that award, even if SAG was the major precursor to listen to. 2003, going in it felt like Sean Penn was gonna win. Depp winning SAG was a fun curiosity, but really it was Penn vs. Murray, and while Murray had BAFTA, people were expecting Penn to win that. 2001 is the only time someone clean swept the precursors and then lost. I remember there being talk of bad behavior from Crowe leading up to the awards, which may have done it. But that, looking back on paper, was a huge upset. 2000, I wonder how that one went. Guessing Crowe seemed like the choice because of Best Picture and him having The Insider the year before? And then 2002 we all know was a complete crap shoot. Brody was someone no one saw coming at all. I was gonna use all that to say that no one with a sweep of the precursors had ever lost, but there’s still 2001…

Anyway, SAG, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe all went to Gary Oldman this year. So if you pretend like 2001 won’t happen again (and absolutely nothing says that will be the case this year), then you pretty much have your category laid out for you.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour. Didn’t we all figure back in January when they released that image of him as Churchill that this was finally gonna be his year? Even when you saw the trailer, you were like, “Oh yeah.” We all knew this shit was practically in the bag before the movie came out. Then when we all saw the movie, it was confirmation bias. No one’s come out since then to even challenge him. I can point to negatives for almost every other nominee here, including the fact that one of them, people haven’t even seen. He has every single precursor to this point, and while you might try to make some case against this happening (though why waste the energy?), you can’t say he’s not the most likely person to win this category.

Biggest Competition: Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread. Who else can it be? Logic says Timothée Chalamet, which I get. But I’ll get to why I don’t think that’s the case in a minute. For now, let’s talk about Daniel Day-Lewis. He has three wins, and always feels like a contender whenever he makes it on these lists. He delivers a superb performance in a film that has more support than any of the other Best Actor nominees. Plus, he already announced this was his final performance. So, if you believe that (and you have no reason not to), he might get some stray votes from people who want to reward him on the way out. Empirical evidence would suggest that your next contender is the likelier alternate, though I have no reason to think anyone can or will beat Gary Oldman, so it really doesn’t matter in the end, does it?

Spoiler Alert: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name. The performance is incredible, especially that final scene, and people who won’t vote for Gary Oldman (either because he’s the favorite, it’s on the nose, or because they refuse to vote because of whatever allegations are out there) will likely be taking either Chalamet or Daniel Kaluuya here. No precursors doesn’t help, and he’s 20. Adrien Brody is currently the youngest Best Actor winner ever, and he was two weeks shy of 30 when he won. I know that shouldn’t matter, but trust me, there are people who think he needs time to get that vote. But if it’s gonna be anyone, it’ll be him. Because if you’re gonna think to vote for anyone besides Oldman, this certainly helps:

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

2. Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name

3. Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

5. Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

If I Were a Betting Man: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour. He has every precursor. It’s his time. He’s gonna win. The argument that people won’t vote for him for whatever reason I think is countered by the fact that he’ll get stray votes by people who say, “Let him get his Oscar. He’s earned it.” If you think Guillermo is one of the biggest locks of the night, I think this one’s right up there with it.

You Should Take: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour. No need to get cute. Take your chances elsewhere. I can’t even see a logical case to be made for anyone else. Anyone saying he’s gonna lose is doing so for subjective reasons and not looking at what’s in front of them. Never throw away a gimme.

On My Ballot: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Actress

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

My Rankings: 

  1. Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
  3. Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
  4. Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
  5. Meryl Streep, The Post

My Thoughts: Another situation where my top three performances were pretty much locks to be nominated. Frances McDormand, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie would have been on my list too. Sally Hawkins was great, and while she wouldn’t be in my top five, I’m very happy to see her here. Meryl — wasn’t a fan of the performance. Gonna be honest — since Doubt all the performances feel like she’s trying too hard. Personally, I’d have had either Brooklynn Prince on here for The Florida Project (because holy shit, that final scene) or Florence Pugh for Lady Macbeth, who absolutely blew me away with one of the best performances I saw this year in one of the most underrated films I saw this year. Also shout out to Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread. She’d have been a solid choice too. Still, four of five I’m happy with, so I’m good. And my vote is Frances McDormand, because she’s just a boss in that movie. Saoirse gave my second favorite performance, even though the Margot performance is showier and has more obvious moments you’d look at when thinking of voting. Still, neither is beating Frances for me, so I’m taking her.

My Vote: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Should Have Been Nominated: Brooklyn Prince, The Florida Project, Florence Pugh, Lady Macbeth

– – – – –

The Analysis

This was the only Best Actress category that made sense. There were only the five contenders. The only person left was Jessica Chastain, who felt slight at best, even if she had the precursors to have fit. Plus, with this being Meryl’s 21st nomination, did you really feel like they were gonna leave her off? Like the past two years, the Best Actress category was pretty easy to figure all throughout the race.

Precursor-wise, it’s SAG again for this one. All the acting categories are SAG and then everything else. I used an acronym last year to refer to how the acting categories work — S.C.R.E.A.M. — SAG Clearly Rules Everything Around Me. Dolla dolla bill, y’all.

SAG is 16/23 all-time. The seven outliers are:

  • Jodie Foster won in ’94 for Nell and Jessica Lange won the Oscar for Blue Sky.
  • Annette Bening won in ’99 for American Beauty and Hilary Swank won the Oscar for Boys Don’t Cry.
  • Jennifer Connelly won in ’01 for A Beautiful Mind and Halle Berry won the Oscar for Monster’s Ball. (Note: Connelly won the Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance.)
  • Renee Zellweger won in ’02 for Chicago and Nicole Kidman won the Oscar for The Hours.
  • Julie Christie won in ’07 for Away from Her and Marion Cotillard won the Oscar for La Vie en Rose.
  • Meryl Streep won in ’08 for Doubt and Kate Winslet won the Oscar for The Reader. (Note: Winslet won SAG Supporting Actress for the same performance.)
  • Viola Davis won in ’11 for The Help and Meryl won the Oscar for The Iron Lady.

Like Best Actor, we have category discrepancies. Two of them! So really it’s only 5 they got straight up wrong. If we want, we can call it 16/21. (Or 18/23, if we want to assume that if all was right, they’d have gotten them correct.)

In terms of BAFTA, BFCA and the Globes:

  • BAFTA had Meryl in ’11, Winslet in ’08, Cotillard in ’07, and Kidman in ’02. Which… christ. That’s everything that matters. They also did have Bening in ’99 and got that wrong and had neither two contenders in ’94.
  • BFCA, meanwhile… they didn’t exist in ’94, so that’s out. But otherwise, they had Swank in ’99, and nothing else.
  • Now, the Globes — had Lange in ’94, Swank in ’99, split Kidman and Zellweger in ’02, split Christie and Cotillard in ’07, had Winslet in ’08 (but for a different film) and had Meryl in ’11. So yeah, the Globes… more helpful than you’d think.

Again, though, all of that is about to be rendered moot, as Frances McDormand won SAG, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe this year. So again, another acting category basically all sewn up.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. This was a situation where, the minute that first precursor hit, and you saw what the category was likely to be, you thought, “If Frances McDormand wins the Globe, this is over.” Because Meryl was never gonna win anything. Sally Hawkins was coming along with the film and the nomination was the reward. She needed to set the pace to even have a shot. Margot needed to win the Globe in Comedy to have a chance. Saoirse did win the Globe in comedy, but given the film, once McDormand won there, it was over. Then five days after that Globe win, she won BFCA, and you knew there was no way anyone else could catch up. And that was before the nominations were announced. Since then, SAG and BAFTA. She’s your favorite, and at this point I’m not really sure how anyone can come close to beating her.

Biggest Competition: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird. She’s the only one with a precursor. Granted, it’s one she shares with McDormand, but she’s the only other actress in this category who can claim to have any sort of precursor toward winning this award. Plus people really seem to like her a lot. She’ll win one of these someday. This is her second nomination in three years, and third overall. And she’s only 23. The only person with a better track record recently is Jennifer Lawrence. And Saoirse’s got the inside track on longevity. Still, she’s a default second choice because no one else comes close to seeming like they’re gonna get the votes. There’s really only one other person you could make a case for, and she’s it.

Spoiler Alert: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water. It was gonna be Margot Robbie, because look at that performance. But why? She hasn’t won any precursor, not even the Globe, which was her best shot at something. Sally Hawkins is in the Best Picture favorite (with McDormand being in the second favorite, I’m aware), and if you think people are gonna sweep vote Shape of Water, that doesn’t exclude her. In fact, it probably makes her the real second choice. So while most of us might think Margot is the proper third choice, if there’s anyone you’d think could legitimately get enough votes to contend after Frances McDormand, Sally Hawkins has to be it. It highlights just how locked the category is, but I see no reason why Margot Robbie is gonna get more pure (and ancillary) votes than she will.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

2. Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

3. Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

4. Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

5. Meryl Streep, The Post

If I Were a Betting Man: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. She’s won every single precursor. Plus, just look at this from a couple steps back. Doesn’t it feel like she’s winning? This character is every statement they want to make about our current times, and she’s just the person to deliver a speech that says ‘fuck you’ to everyone and everything. They might penalize the film in the end, but they will not penalize her. I can’t even pretend like there’s anyone who feels like they have the kind of sneaky momentum to beat her. It’s just her. We knew this one two months ago.

You Should Take: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. This is a year where five out of the top six categories (and six out of the top eight) are being handed to you. Don’t try to be smart. Take those and wait for the harder categories to make the interesting choices.

On My Ballot: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Supporting Actor

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

My Rankings:

  1. Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
  3. Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
  5. Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

My Thoughts: Once again, just about my exact preferred category. I wouldn’t have had Jenkins, but I’m also not remotely opposed to him being there. I just would have had Michael Stuhlbarg instead for what I consider the greatest single scene of 2017, his monolgue to Timothée Chalamet near the end of Call Me By Your Name. And shoutout to Patrick Stewart in Logan, who I didn’t have the room for. And also Tracy Letts in Lady Bird, while we’re at it, for delivering such a great performance in such a thankless role. And then, in terms of voting… these are four of my five favorite supporting performances of the year. So we’re just gonna have to take number one, because if it’s your number one and it’s nominated, why would you not? Which means I’m taking Sam Rockwell. I wish I could take Willem Dafoe. And I suspect that this one almost shaped up to be his year, but it didn’t quite work out. Which sucks. And also, shout out to Christopher Plummer. Not everyone saw that performance because of all the stuff surrounding the movie, but it truly deserves to be here. That’s the one funny thing about it. It really is good, on top of everything else. But Rockwell gave my favorite supporting performance of the year, so he gets my vote ten times out of ten.

My Vote: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Should Have Been Nominated: Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name

– – – – –

The Analysis

This category was interesting, but fairly easy to guess. You had three to four locks throughout the entirety of the race. You knew Rockwell and Dafoe were the two guarantees. Richard Jenkins seemed almost assured, being in a Best Picture favorite and all that. Then, Woody managed SAG and BAFTA, so you had to feel good there (making this our first acting category with two nominees from the same film since The Help, and the first in Supporting Actor since Bugsy). The only question was that fifth spot, and the minute Plummer got that Globe nomination, didn’t he feel like the choice? Because he did to me. I didn’t hesitate putting him on my nominations list.

The only real alternates here were the two Call Me By Your Name contenders, Michael Stuhlbarg and Armie Hammer. Hammer got a SAG nomination and a Globe nomination, and both got a BFCA nomination. Of the two, I felt more comfortable saying Stuhlbarg would get it, since Hammer got left off with a SAG nomination before, and because Stuhlbarg is in three of the Best Picture nominees this year. He’s in that movie, The Post and The Shape of Water. The last time someone was in three nominees, it was John C. Reilly, and he got nominated for Supporting Actor. Plus, that speech at the end… it made sense. Still chose neither, because without that BAFTA support (which Christopher Plummer got), didn’t see either making it on. And in the end, we got the category that made the most sense.

And while we’re here — trivia time, guys. You know how many actors this year are in multiple Best Picture nominees? Eight. Aside from Stuhlbarg, they are:

  • Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name & Lady Bird)
  • Lucas Hedges (Lady Bird and Three Billboards)
  • Caleb Landry Jones (Three Billboards & Get Out)
  • Tracy Letts (Lady Bird & The Post)
  • Bradley Whitford (Get Out & The Post)
  • Kathryn Newton (Lady Bird & Three Billboards)
  • Nick Searcy (Shape of Water & Three Billboards)

Those last two, in case you don’t know who they were — Kathryn Newton played Angela in Three Billboards (“I hope I get raped too!”) and Darlene in Lady Bird (the girl who tells them not to eat the wafers, who hangs out with Julie after she and Lady Bird have their fight). And Nick Searcy played the priest in Three Billboards and the general in Shape of Water. So that was your piece of trivia for this category.

Now, for precursors, it’s SAG again. Third time. This one’s least helpful, though, as SAG is only 14/23 all time. (Though there’s still that Benicio category swap in 2000 to factor in too.) They’re still gonna help you 60% of the time, but still not where you’d want them to be overall. Though… 8/10 over the past decade, and both misses involved someone not being nominated for either SAG or the Oscar (2012, Waltz had no SAG nomination, and 2015, Idris Elba was left off the Oscar list). So pretty good, recently.

Here’s the full list of misses:

  • Ed Harris in 1995 for Apollo 13. Kevin Spacey won the Oscar for The Usual Suspects.
  • Robert Duvall in 1998 for A Civil Action. James Coburn won the Oscar for Affliction.
  • Albert Finney in 2000 for Erin Brockovich. Benicio Del Toro won the Oscar for Traffic. (He won Best Actor for SAG that year.)
  • Ian McKellen in 2001 Fellowship of the Ring. Jim Broadbent won the Oscar for Iris.
  • Christopher Walken in 2002 for Catch Me If You Can. Chris Cooper won the Oscar for Adaptation.
  • Paul Giamatti in 2005 for Cinderella Man. George Clooney won the Oscar for Syriana.
  • Eddie Murphy in 2006 for Dreamgirls. Alan Arkin won the Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine.
  • Tommy Lee Jones in 2012 for Lincoln. Christoph Waltz won the Oscar for Django Unchained.
  • Idris Elba in 2015 for Beasts of No Nation. Mark Rylance won the Oscar for Bridge of Spies. (Elba wasn’t nominated for the Oscar.)

Because I’ve done it for the other categories…

  • BAFTA did have Mark Rylance in 2015, Christoph Waltz in 2012, Alan Arkin in 2006, Jim Broadbent in 2001, and Benicio in 2000.
  • BFCA had a Spacey/Harris tie in ’95 and Cooper in ’02.
  • The Globes — Benicio in 2000, Broadbent in 2001, Cooper in 2002, Clooney in 2005 and Waltz in 2012. The Globes have legitimately proven themselves a better acting precursor than BFCA.

What that all tells me, though, is that the only year they all got wrong is ’98. Other than that, someone had the winner somewhere.

This year, though, just like all the other acting categories, Sam Rockwell won SAG, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe. Third sweep in a row. What much more is there to add when you know that?

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. People love him. He’s always awesome and is usually noteworthy even if his movie is not. He was great in Seven Psychopaths, despite that film not being all that seen. And here, McDonagh gives him the kind of role he can really chew on. It goes through so many different changes throughout the film. And by the time there’s that scene in the bar near the end, I’m pretty sure he had at least 60% of the votes right there. He’s definitely your favorite in this one, even if I do think, of all the acting categories, this is the one I’d call the most ‘open’. Which really only shows just how not open they all are.

Biggest Competition: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project. This was almost his year. It’s such a quiet, tender performance. To the point where, after a while, you forget that he’s the only star in the movie and even forget that he’s an actor. He’s just Bobby, while everyone else is just existing within this universe. Also, and this is the empirical side talking — while Rockwell has all the big precursors… Dafoe won all the critics groups. Austin, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, LA, NY and the National Society of Film Critics. Now, it would fly in the face of a lot of history to see him win this, but it is possible. Marcia Gay Harden won without a single precursor and just critics groups. So if anyone’s gonna do it, it’s him.

Spoiler Alert: Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I’d like to point out that all three of these nominees shared screen time with Caleb Landry Jones this year. He’s in Three Billboards, Florida Project and Get Out. That now finished, I had no idea who to make the choice here. Because you could say, for the same reason Sally Hawkins was third on the Best Actress list, that Richard Jenkins stands to benefit just as much as she does from Best Picture sweep voting. But I could also argue that Harrelson theoretically stands that same chance, if Rockwell isn’t getting someone’s vote. Then there’s Plummer (the oldest person ever nominated in an acting category, on top of already being the oldest person to ever win in an acting category), who could get ‘statement’ votes. I truly don’t know. I just feel like, people love Woody, and since no one has any precursors outside of those, I made it him. Plummer has no wins and barely nominations because he broke so late (so theoretically you could make the case it’s him that’s the spoiler), Jenkins has all the nominations but no wins, and Harrelson has just the Philly critics. I just feel… if it’s not gonna be Rockwell or Dafoe, the most likely scenario, it’ll be the second nominee from the film coming up and winning instead. Some people actively prefer the Woody performance to the Rockwell performance. My gut tells me he’s the third choice, so I’m listening to it.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

2. Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

3. Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

4. Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

5. Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World

If I Were a Betting Man: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Every precursor. I’ve said this for what, four categories in a row now? Don’t mess with a gimme. All the evidence points to him, so just take him. Chances are, the person who does get this right, on the 15% chance Rockwell doesn’t win, will have so many other crazy things on their ballot that they stand no chance of winning the pool. If you’re gonna be wrong with everyone else, do it in something we all assume to be an obvious one.

You Should Take: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Stop looking at the gift horse’s mouth. It’s there. Just take it. (Fun fact: Did you know the phrase ‘looking a gift horse in the mouth’ basically means, if someone is giving you a horse, don’t check its teeth to see if it’s healthy. Just accept it graciously. Too bad we don’t give horses as gifts anymore. Anyway, take Sam Rockwell. He’s gonna win.)

On My Ballot: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Supporting Actress

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

My Rankings:

  1. Laurie Metcalf Lady Bird
  2. Allison Janney, I, Tonya
  3. Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
  4. Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
  5. Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

My Thoughts: I’d like to point out that in every single category so far, my favorite film or performance of the year has been nominated, so voting has been the easiest thing for me. It’s all right there. And this will be no different. My two favorite performances (as well as #4) are on here. Metcalf, Janney and Manville. Loved all three of those. Spencer, I thought, did just about the same thing she does in all her other movies. Which is fine. I just wouldn’t have nominated her for it. And then Mary J. Blige, despite hearing how great she was in Mudbound, I barely registered the performance because it felt like she was barely in the movie. So without seeing it again and liking it a lot more, I wouldn’t have nominated her either. Personally, the overlooked performance of the year (even in her own film) for me was Julianne Nicholson in Novitiate. Everyone gravitated toward Melissa Leo in that film, but I thought Nicolson was the emotional resonance of the entire piece. I loved that performance and wish she got any kind of precursor support. And then Holly Hunter in The Big Sick, of course. Sucks she didn’t get nominated. As for the vote — while Allison Janney is amazing in I, Tonya, it’s Laurie Metcalf who gave my favorite performance in the category. The subtlety of her work, along with that scene at the end where she’s driving alone in the car — she’s my vote. It’s not even close. The flash makes me think I want to take Janney, but I don’t. It’s Metcalf for me.

My Vote: Laurie Metcalf Lady Bird

Should Have Been Nominated: Holly Hunter, The Big Sick

– – – – –

The Analysis

This category felt pretty wide open for most of the race, yet there weren’t enough performances that felt like they could take advantage of it. Metcalf and Janney were definitely locked. Spencer, just like Richard Jenkins, was almost assured (even more so than he) because of the film. This is her third nomination and all three were for Best Picture nominees. After that, no one had any clue. Holly Hunter got SAG and BFCA nominations. Mary J. Blige and Hong Chau got SAG, BFCA and Globe nominations. Lesley Manville got BAFTA only. Those were the only ones who felt like they had a chance. So, you look at that and you really aren’t sure exactly what’s going where. In the end, Holly Hunter gets left off as The Big Sick doesn’t go much of anywhere, Hong Chau, whose film was least seen and most divisive (or most disliked, is more appropriate), gets left off, and Mary J. Blige, with a film people wanted to like and respect and who got a lot of good notices for her film, gets on alongside Lesley Manville, whose film made a huge play in the late stages to get on. Couldn’t have guessed Manville, but Blige made sense. There was gonna be a surprise no matter what, but in the end, nothing too big.

SAG again is your main precursor. This is the last one for them. They’re 16/23 all time, bringing them closer to ‘trust’ level. Especially since two of those misses were the same category swaps as Best Actress.

  • 1995: They had Kate Winslet for Sense and Sensibility. Mira Sorvino won the Oscar for Mighty Aphrodite.
  • 1996: They had Lauren Bacall for The Mirror Has Two Faces. Juliette Binoche won the Oscar for The English Patient.
  • 1998: They had Kathy Bates for Primary Colors. Judi Dench won the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love.
  • 2000: They had Judi Dench for Chocolat. Marcia Gay Harden won the Oscar for Pollock.
  • 2001: They had Helen Mirren for Gosford Park. Jennifer Connelly won the Oscar for A Beautiful Mind (she won SAG Best Actress).
  • 2007: They had Ruby Dee for American Gangster. Tilda Swinton won the Oscar for Michael Clayton.
  • 2008: Kate Winslet (who won Best Actress at the Oscars) for The Reader. Penelope Cruz won the Oscar for Vicky Cristina Barcelona

So take out 2001 and 2008, and note that in 2000, Marcia Gay Harden is one of two people ever to not be nominated at SAG and win the Oscar (Christoph Waltz is the other).

  • BAFTA, in regards to those misses, had Binoche in ’96, had Dench in ’98, had Connelly in ’01, had Tilda in ’07 and had Cruz in ’08.
  • BFCA, meanwhile, had Sorvino in ’95, and Connelly in ’01.
  • And the Globes — had Sorvino in ’95, had Connelly in ’01. They also had Bacall wrong in ’96. The other three years, they had other Oscar nominees that weren’t the SAG winner. Which is interesting. If they weren’t right, they muddied the waters most of the time.

BAFTA is savage here. They missed only 1995 and 2000. And in ’95, the other two clearly had Sorvino as the favorite, while in 2000, every single award went to different people. Judi/SAG, McDormand/BFCA, Hudson/Globe, Julie Walters/BAFTA. And then Marcia Gay Harden came in to beat them all.

Though again, not really anything we need this year, since all the precursors (again) point the same way. SAG, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe all went to Allison Janney. So I think we’re done here.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya. She’s swept everything. I still can’t believe it. I thought it would have been a somewhat tighter race. But she steals the film and runs away with it. Plus, everyone loves her, which I’m sure helps. But, she hasn’t missed anything and has a role that everyone loves. Hard to think she won’t win this easily.

Biggest Competition: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird. It was always her. I thought she’d manage at least one precursor. But no. She’s got nothing. So she is still the second choice… it’s just by a further margin than I thought it would be. Where Allison Janney is the scene-stealer of her movie, Metcalf is the backbone of hers. Just the right amount of nuance and realism. But, without a precursor, I can’t put her any higher than this. Can’t see an upset happening, as much as I’d like to see one.

Spoiler Alert: Mary J. Blige, Mudbound. Who else could it be? The three remaining nominees have exactly one (minor) precursor between them — Lesley Manville won a London Critics Society Award. And she feels like the fifth choice in the category. Spencer might catch a few votes because people love her and love The Shape of Water, but for me, if we’re gonna look at the shocker to come in, it’s Blige. Because if I can’t call it, I’m gonna take the person who would piss me off the most if I didn’t have them. And that’s her. The movie got four nominations, people want to respect it, and I have that feeling like some people might vote for her just to make a statement across multiple categories. So I’m making her the third choice. Doubt we get past Metcalf, if Janney somehow doesn’t win, but if it’s anyone, let’s have it be her.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Allison Janney, I, Tonya

2. Laurie Metcalf Lady Bird

3. Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

4. Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

5. Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

If I Were a Betting Man: Allison Janney, I, Tonya. This is the fifth consecutive category where one nominee hit every single precursor there is to hit. Not sure I really need to explain why you should take her. I would hope you were smart enough to figure this out on your own. She’s winning, guys.

You Should Take: Allison Janney, I, Tonya. Just for the line “You two fuck yet?” alone…

On My Ballot: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Original Screenplay

The Big Sick

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My Rankings:

  1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. Lady Bird
  3. The Big Sick
  4. Get Out
  5. The Shape of Water

My Thoughts: Really like this category. Couldn’t have picked a better five myself. As much as I wasn’t as in love with Get Out as everyone else was, I do agree it should have been nominated here. Wouldn’t vote for it, but glad it’s here. Shape of Water… I think that’s more a directorial effort than a screenplay effort, so I wouldn’t take it, but I’m fine with it being here, since he did dream all this up. The Big Sick, I thought was wonderful, and I wish that there was opportunity to vote for it. But there isn’t. My #1 and #3 film are on this list (Big Sick was only #8), and those take precedent. In any other year, Lady Bird would have been the vote. But Three Billboards is here, and not only is that my favorite movie of the year, I love anything Martin McDonagh writes. This movie was the best written film I saw this year, and that’s easily my vote (not that it should be any surprise to anyone at this point).

My Vote: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Should Have Been Nominated: I, Tonya

– – – – –

The Analysis

This was always gonna be one of the most interesting categories of the year, because for the first time in a long time (possibly ever, not that I fact check around here), 8 out of the 9 Best Picture nominees are from original screenplays. So legitimately you had a lot of stuff that could have gotten on here. Just by default, you knew Three Billboards, Lady Bird and Get Out were gonna make it on. The Shape of Water pretty much had to make it on if it’s gonna contend for Best Picture (more on that in a minute). So you had essentially four locks. Then you had The Post, The Big Sick, I Tonya, Phantom Thread and maybe Dunkirk if they wanted to go there. That’s a lot of stuff competing for one spot. In the end, The Big Sick managed its only nomination here, which I think was the right choice, despite there being other right choices as well. Either way, it was gonna be tough for this to not be a great category.

The most exciting thing about this is that Jordan Peele is only the third person ever to be nominated for producing, directing and writing his debut film. The other two are Warren Beatty and James L. Brooks. Pretty elite company. Guillermo del Toro, by the way… up for the same three awards. Not his debut, but still, an impressive hat trick to pull off. (Martin McDonagh, Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan each were one category away from joining them.)

In the way of precursors, the WGA is the biggest. Though that can prove tricky some years (like this one), because of ineligibles. But that’s why we have BAFTA, BFCA and, to a lesser extent (because it’s one category there), the Globes.

Here are the last 20 WGA Original Screenplay winners:

  • 2016: Moonlight
  • 2015: Spotlight
  • 2014: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Birdman was ineligible)
  • 2013: Her
  • 2012: Zero Dark Thirty (Django Unchained was ineligible)
  • 2011: Midnight in Paris
  • 2010: Inception (The King’s Speech was ineligible)
  • 2009: The Hurt Locker
  • 2008: Milk
  • 2007: Juno
  • 2006: Little Miss Sunshine
  • 2005: Crash
  • 2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • 2003: Lost in Translation
  • 2002: Bowling for Columbine (Talk to Her was ineligible)
  • 2001: Gosford Park
  • 2000: You Can Count on Me (lost to Almost Famous)
  • 1999: American Beauty
  • 1998: Shakespeare in Love
  • 1997: As Good As It Gets (lost to Good Will Hunting)

14/20 is solid, especially given the ineligibles. Outside of ineligibility, the last time they got something wrong was 2000.

BAFTA, meanwhile, is bad early on, but is, in the past 15 years, they are 10 of 15. They had Django, The King’s Speech and Talk to Her. Almost all the ineligibles won there, tipping them as the favorites. So between WGA and BAFTA, you’re pretty much set.

Oh, and BFCA? 7 of 8 since they split the categories. Seven in a row. The only one they missed was ’09, where they had Quentin, who lost in a surprise to The Hurt Locker. (Which, we’ll bring that one up later too.) If you take the year when they just had one Screenplay category, those years did have a winner of one of the two categories all but two times (In America in ’03 and Memento in ’01). Otherwise, their winner one either Original or Adapted at the Oscars. We don’t need to worry about that now, since they’ve split the two, but it is interesting that they were close to picking winners all the way from way back when.

And the Globes? Still one category. 14/20 in the past 20 years in picking a single Screenplay winner. They were on a run of five straight and missed the past two years (going with an un-nominated Steve Jobs and a losing La La Land).

Got all that? Okay, cool. Now we’re gonna get into the stat that has to be said most years: Best Picture winners and Best Screenplay. Of the 89 Best Picture winners (we’ll leave Sunrise out of it for now), 58 of them won Best Screenplay. The 31 times Best Picture did not win for Screenplay were:

Wings, The Broadway Melody, All Quiet on the Western Front, Grand Hotel, Cavalcade, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Great Ziegfeld, You Can’t Take It With You, Rebecca, How Green Was My Valley, Gentleman’s Agreement, Hamlet, All the King’s Men, The Greatest Show on Earth, Ben-Hur, West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Oliver!, Rocky, The Deer Hunter, Platoon, Unforgiven, Braveheart, The English Patient, Titanic, Gladiator, Chicago, Million Dollar Baby, The Artist

And of those 31 films, nine of them — Wings, Broadway Melody, Grand Hotel, Cavalcade, Great Ziegfeld, Hamlet, Greatest Show on Earth, Sound of Music and Titanic — were not nominated for Screenplay. Which means that only 22 times has a Best Picture been nominated for Best Screenplay and lost. It’s also only happened three times in the past fifteen years. So keep that in mind. It’s not scripture, but definitely do think about it as you vote.

As for this year —

  • Get Out won the WGA and BFCA
  • Three Billboards won BAFTA and The Globe (and was ineligible for the WGA)

So, given all that, and the fact that the WGA, between the winner and the ineligible, hasn’t been wrong since 2000, I think we have a pretty good idea where to go from here, don’t we?

Most Likely to Win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Given that I’ve already said I think this is the favorite to win Best Picture, and given that Best Picture winners win for Screenplay about 65% of the time. And given that it won half the precursors and was ineligible for the biggest one it could have won, and given that, no matter what really happens in Best Picture, this movie is all about its script, and given that, on eye test alone, you’d assume this would probably win this category… it pretty much feels like the frontrunner here, doesn’t it? Will it win? No idea. Might not win Best Picture, but it should win this fairly easily. I’m coming from a position that it would have won the WGA Award had it been eligible. So to me, this has everything you’d want out of a Screenplay favorite. If the category were more diluted, I’d feel more confident calling it a lock. Now, I’ll call it a favorite by a head.

Biggest Competition: Get Out. It won the WGA, and it has BFCA, which has been really solid the past few years in guessing the Screenplay winner. But I just feel like if one film is likely to win Best Picture, and the other isn’t, I have to consider the former the more likely to win. This is a very tight race, and I could see this going one of multiple ways. It’s a four-deep category. It is. This could be one of those 2009 years. We don’t know. But for now, I think this is the alternate and not the favorite. If it beat Three Billboards at the WGA, then we could have talked. Now — it’s second choice.

Spoiler Alert: Lady Bird. Insane to me that the Best Picture favorite is not even in the top three here, but what can you do? This feels like the spot where hardcore fans of one movie will try to reward it. It’s possible the right third choice is Guillermo, but with him winning Director (most likely), and a possible Best Picture win, do they feel the need to reward it here too? Not sure. I’m thinking no. Plus, do we not think that one of the most beloved movies of the year will factor at least somewhat in the Screenplay race? I do. So I’m putting this third. Wanna put it fourth and put Shape of Water over it because of that Best Picture stat? Feel free. I can’t give you anything more than the data and my opinion based on experience and giving a shit. My gut says Three Billboards is likely to win, and if it’s not that, it’s probably Get Out. After that, I have no fucking clue how it’s gonna go down and how we’re gonna get to whatever the winner is in that scenario. So for me, let’s make Lady Bird the third choice, just because of how I see the Oscars ultimately playing out. But I will say, for those who are gonna take Shape of Water Best Picture… put that higher up on your Scorecard, since the odds do favor it being more of a factor in Screenplay if it’s gonna win Best Picture.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

2. Get Out

3. Lady Bird

4. The Shape of Water

5. The Big Sick

If I Were a Betting Man: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Everything looks like it’ll win this category regardless of how Best Picture turns out. It has BAFTA and wasn’t eligible for the WGA. Given its support from the actors, I have to figure it (because it’s Martin fucking McDonagh) went over well with the writers too. I’m not going against it. That feels like a fool’s errand. (A Fool’s Errand, by the way, might be my autobiography title.)

You Should Take: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Because it should win. Will it for sure? No. But you take your vote into your hands every time you make one, so why is this so different? If they were all guarantees, everyone would be near perfect in their pools. This is one of the seemingly more open categories of the night, just because it has three, possibly four legitimate winners. If you believe heavily in the Best Picture stat and think this will win Best Picture, then you absolutely should take it. If you believe in it and think Shape of Water will win Best Picture, then maybe you go that way. If you think the WGA win for Get Out (even despite this being ineligible) means something, by all means, go with that. If you think they’ll go Lady Bird, vote Lady Bird. I don’t think you can make a vote here (unless it’s The Big Sick, which — don’t do that. It’s not smart) and have someone tell you the logic for you doing that was not somewhat sound. However, I do think Three Billboards should win this, so that’s what I’m telling you to take. If you wanna swap to Get Out, feel free. That’s more than entirely possible.

On My Ballot: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Adapted Screenplay

Call Me By Your Name

The Disaster Artist

Logan

Molly’s Game

Mudbound

My Rankings:

  1. Call Me By Your Name
  2. Molly’s Game
  3. Logan
  4. The Disaster Artist
  5. Mudbound

My Thoughts: This felt like a boring category throughout because there weren’t a whole lot of options for what would be nominated. But honestly — really great category. The writing of Mudbound didn’t necessarily blow me away, even though I acknowledge how solid of a movie it was. But sure. All good there. Logan — love love love that it was nominated. Even think it’s worthy of being in the discussion for a vote. Not gonna happen because I know me, but I love that I can be happy to see it nominated and get it as high as third on my list for the vote. Incredible achievement all around, with that movie. Now, The Disaster Artist — love that it got nominated, happy for it, very funny movie. Not sure how amazing the writing really is, since so much of that movie is about seeing the Tommy performance, but I like it enough to think for a half a second about voting for it. Definitely wouldn’t, but I did try to consider it. And then we have Aaron Sorkin… who would normally be number one with a bullet every year and be my vote without question. And he almost was. Except… Call Me By Your Name has one of the best monologues I’ve seen in years. That scene alone shoots it up to number one. Plus I think the delicate handling of the rest of the film was really quite beautiful. So I’m going that way. I bet you didn’t expect me to go there, because I didn’t expect me to go there. But here we are.

My Vote: Call Me By Your Name

Should Have Been Nominated: Honestly? Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

– – – – –

The Analysis

This was the category all around. Call Me By Your Name, Molly’s Game, Disaster Artist and Mudbound were pretty much on every list throughout the process. The only question was that fifth spot. Logan and Wonder both had the precursors (mainly WGA) to make sense. So it was six for five. And they went with the right choice. Either worked, but they went with the film that was more embraced all around. Totally get it. And turned out to be a great category. It’s still incredible to me that only one Best Picture nominee is an adapted screenplay. Fucking one.

Quick trivia here — Dee Rees, the second African-American woman to ever be nominated for Screenplay (the other was Suzanne de Passe for Lady Sings the Blues). Which is just fucking insane. Also, James Ivory, if he wins… or when he wins, because let’s be honest here… will become the oldest person to ever win a competitive Oscar. Plummer can be the oldest for an acting Oscar if he wins (he won’t), but Ivory can be the oldest ever to win in competition. (Though more on that in Documentary. Another fun stat about that.)

Getting into the precursors… nothing’s changed from Original Screenplay. Except the source material.

Here are your last 20 WGA winners:

  • 2016: Arrival (Moonlight won for Original)
  • 2015: The Big Short
  • 2014: The Imitation Game
  • 2013: Captain Phillips (12 Years a Slave was ineligible)
  • 2012: Argo
  • 2011: The Descendants
  • 2010: The Social Network
  • 2009: Up in the Air (lost to Precious)
  • 2008: Slumdog Millionaire 
  • 2007: No Country for Old Men
  • 2006: The Departed
  • 2005: Brokeback Mountain
  • 2004: Sideways
  • 2003: American Splendor (lost to Return of the King)
  • 2002: The Hours (The Pianist was ineligible)
  • 2001: A Beautiful Mind
  • 2000: Traffic
  • 1999: Election (lost to The Cider House Rules)
  • 1998: Out of Sight (lost to Gods and Monsters)
  • 1997: L.A. Confidential

So since 2000, they’ve missed five times. Three of them involve ineligibles — or Moonlight winning in the other category, which means they were basically right. So that’s two times total we’re dealing with. One — 2003 — we knew what the score was there. Return of the King was sweeping. So that’s moot. And then 2009, where Up in the Air won every precursor and then lost to Precious out of nowhere. Can’t explain that. Don’t think anyone can. Gotta take the L and move on.

BAFTA, meanwhile… 3/10 the past decade, and 7/20 the past two. Not great, guys. Even last year, Moonlight lost their Original category, so I can’t even give them a mulligan on that. Literally none of the stuff that WGA got wrong did they pick up. It seems like they do their own thing unless there’s a slam dunk winner.

BFCA, now… 3/8 since 2009 when they had Screenplay as two separate categories. Between 2001 and 2008, when they were a single category, they got a winner right (not necessarily Adapted) 5/8 times. So benefit of the doubt… 11/16. And 2/4 before that, so 13/20. So kinda the same as WGA, without the ineligibles. Not overly inspiring.

But, doesn’t really matter, since every single award this year has gone to Call Me By Your Name, and there’s literally no competition for it, seemingly. So we’re good here.

Also, if you guys put any stock into the USC Scripter Award, which they hand out to the best adapted screenplays of the year and has guessed the Oscar winner every year going back to 2009, Call Me By Your Name also won that. So…

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Call Me By Your Name. It won every single precursor, is the only Best Picture nominee on this list, and do you see anyone else getting the broad support this has? I have nothing else to say here. This is the favorite. The end.

Biggest Competition: Mudbound. Because what else could it be? Logan’s not getting the votes. Disaster Artist sure as shit ain’t getting the votes. Sorkin? He’s not automatic. Even Woody Allen needed a Best Picture nomination to win Screenplay. This is a movie people will look to reward if they love it enough. This could be that place. So I would expect this to get the second most amount of votes. Maybe it’ll be third. Doesn’t matter to me, since everything feels so far behind Call Me By Your Name, it shouldn’t matter in the end.

Spoiler Alert: Molly’s Game. It’s Aaron Sorkin. He’ll get votes. And the other two feel like they have less than no shot. So the top three fill themselves out by default. Wanna make him second? Go ahead. His film has no support outside this script and no one’s looking to reward it unless they love him and love the script. So I’m not doing that. But third? That feels right. He can probably swing enough votes to get third.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Call Me By Your Name

2. Mudbound

3. Molly’s Game

4. The Disaster Artist

5. Logan

If I Were a Betting Man: Call Me By Your Name. The fact that we now have six categories that we can consider locks makes this the best year since like, 2013. These are all gimmes. Don’t even try to outthink yourself here. This is winning. And you’ll get to see James Ivory get up and deliver probably a really nice speech. And realize that he’s the dude behind all those stuffy ass Merchant Ivory films like Howards End that so many people getting into watching Oscar movies come to me and go, “What the fuck, dude? That was boring as hell.” He’ll finally get his Oscar, at 89. That’s awesome. AND 100% deserving. Which is so much better. It’s a veteran Oscar that he earned!

You Should Take: Call Me By Your Name. That Stuhlbarg monologue alone, guys…

On My Ballot: Call Me By Your Name

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Editing

Baby Driver

Dunkirk

I, Tonya

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My Rankings:

  1. Baby Driver
  2. Dunkirk
  3. I, Tonya
  4. The Shape of Water
  5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My Thoughts: They did all right by me. They’re always gonna have the top Best Picture contenders. Some years, like last year, that’s all five of the nominees. This year, it’s only Shape of Water and Three Billboards. Technically Dunkirk, but that was going there anyway by virtue of the fact that it’s a war film. I, Tonya… nice inclusion. Didn’t necessarily expect it, but awesome. Very well edited. And Baby Driver was a gimme all around. The only question was if a Best Picture nominee would squeeze it. As for the vote… no on Three Billboards, no on Shape of Water. I, Tonya… loved it, wouldn’t vote for it over the other two. Case of shit happens. Dunkirk, loved it. Edited great. But Baby Driver has car chases, lots of style, and edits cuts to music on top of action. That’s my vote. 50/50 choice that’ll change depending on the day. Today, you got me on a Baby Driver day.

My Vote: Baby Driver

Should Have Been Nominated: Phantom Thread

– – – – –

The Analysis

We got pretty much the category we figured. Baby Driver and Dunkirk were givens, and you figured Three Billboards and Shape of Water would make it, as the major contenders. I figured they’d throw a third contender from the Best Picture field in there over anything else. I figured Get Out was most likely, with Lady Bird second. I also thought Blade Runner had a good shot at sneaking on, since they love Villeneuve’s stuff. But I, Tonya made it in the end, which was fitting. All around, this was a category that we mostly had down, but had to allow for some leeway because of how tied to Best Picture it is. I felt more confident in this one than most years, and it turned out about as expected.

We always must start with this stat, because it bears repeating every year — the only films to ever win Best Picture and not be nominated for Best Editing are:

It Happened One Night, The Life of Emile Zola, Hamlet, Marty, Tom Jones, A Man for All Seasons, The Godfather Part II, Annie Hall, Ordinary People, Birdman

That’s ten years out of almost 90, and only once in the past 35 years (for a film whose gimmick was that it looked like it wasn’t edited). Now, the past few years have been throwing out old stats left and right. Hell, there’s a chance the DIRECTOR stat goes down this year, if Three Billboards wins. So nothing is particularly sacred here. But… that pretty much tells you that for Best Picture, take one or the other and try not to get cute.

But anyway, for this category in specific, ACE (the American Cinema Editors) is the guild to look at here. All-time, since 1956, they are 38/56 (68%). They’re 22/30 the past 30 years (73%) and surprisingly only 6/10 the last ten. They’ve missed three out of the past four years.

Here are their 18 all-time misses, for the sake of having all the information at your disposal:

  • 2016: Arrival wins ACE Dramatic, La La Land wins ACE Comedic, Hacksaw Ridge wins the Oscar.
  • 2014: Boyhood wins ACE Dramatic, The Grand Budapest Hotel wins ACE Comedic, Whiplash wins the Oscar.
  • 2013: Captain Phillips wins ACE Dramatic, American Hustle wins ACE Comedic, Gravity wins the Oscar.
  • 2011: The Descendants wins ACE Dramtic, The Artist wins ACE Comedic, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo wins the Oscar.
  • 2000: Gladiator wins ACE Dramatic, Almost Famous wins ACE Comedic, Traffic wins the Oscar.
  • 1995: Braveheart wins ACE, Apollo 13 wins the Oscar.
  • 1989: Glory wins ACE, Born on the Fourth of July wins the Oscar.
  • 1988: Rain Man and Mississippi Burning tie for ACE, Who Framed Roger Rabbit wins the Oscar.
  • 1984: Amadeus wins ACE, The Killing Fields wins the Oscar.
  • 1983: WarGames wins ACE, The Right Stuff wins the Oscar.
  • 1977: The Turning Point wins ACE, Star Wars wins the Oscar.
  • 1974: The Longest Yard wins ACE, The Towering Inferno wins the Oscar.
  • 1971: Summer of ’42 wins ACE, The French Connection wins the Oscar.
  • 1969: Hello, Dolly! wins ACE, wins the Oscar.
  • 1967: The Dirty Dozen wins ACE, In the Heat of the Night wins the Oscar.
  • 1966: Fantastic Voyage wins ACE, Grand Prix wins the Oscar.
  • 1962: The Longest Day wins ACE, Lawrence of Arabia wins the Oscar.
  • 1961: The Parent Trap wins ACE, West Side Story wins the Oscar.

Looking specifically at those instances, BAFTA had the correct winner over ACE in 1984, 2014 and 2016. (Mississippi Burning won for them in 1989, after it won the Oscar. So what good is that?) BFCA, only starting to give out an Editing award in 2009, had Dragon Tattoo in 2011 and Gravity in 2013. But that’s it.

BFCA, all time, is 4/8 in Editing. BAFTA, in the past 20 years, is 8/20. HOWEVER… all 8 came within the past decade. So they’re 8/10 the last 10 years. Making that 0/10 streak very impressive. As much as the 8/10. The only two years BAFTA has missed since 2008 are 2011 (they went Senna, with Dragon Tattoo unnominated) and 2013 (they went Rush, over Gravity). Pretty fucking good. They like racing movies, but other than that, really top marks.

Your precursors this year are:

  • ACE Dramatic: Dunkirk
  • ACE Comedic: I, Tonya
  • BAFTA: Baby Driver
  • BFCA: (TIE) Baby DriverDunkirk

So yeah, all over the fucking map. You know what you don’t see winning anywhere? The Best Picture favorites.

Which, to get that out of the way — a Best Picture winner doesn’t need to win Best Editing. If a favorite does, and it’s not necessarily something that feels like it needed to, then that usually lets you know it will win later. Like, this year, if Shape of Water wins this, then you know it’ll probably win Best Picture. Argo and Crash winning Editing basically ended those races early on in the night. Or even The Departed. (If Three Billboards wins Editing, then you definitely know it’s winning.)

To put numbers on it, the amount of times a Best Picture winner has won Best Editing is 34. Only 38% of the time. Which is the inverse of the Screenplay stat. It’s relatively rare. The last Best Picture winner to win for Editing was Argo. It’s happened 8 times the past 20 years. Which is about the all-time percentage.

Now, worth noting… the amount of times a Best Picture nominee has won Editing — 69 times. (Nice.) And that’s only out of 83 years. Since Editing only started in 1934. So 83% of the time, your Best Editing winner will be a Best Picture nominee.

The 14 times a non-Best Picture nominee won Best Editing were:

  • 1934, Eskimo
  • 1940, North West Mounted Police
  • 1943, Air Force
  • 1945, National Velvet
  • 1947, Body and Soul
  • 1948, The Naked City
  • 1949, Champion
  • 1966, Grand Prix
  • 1968, Bullitt
  • 1988, Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • 1999, The Matrix
  • 2001, Black Hawk Down
  • 2007, The Bourne Ultimatum
  • 2011, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

4 times in 20 years, and 5 times in 30. Hell, 5 times in almost 50 years! So it’s rare. More common lately, but still rare all-time. Which may not necessarily influence the vote, but it will influence the rankings.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Dunkirk. It was gonna be the favorite for me even before I saw that a Best Picture nominee wins this category over 80% of the time. It’s a war film. A war film won last year over the most nominated musical film. This won the Eddie, tied for BAFTA, second most nominated film… makes sense all around. Not a lock by any stretch, but it certainly makes sense as the favorite here. I can’t really call anything else a marked favorite over this.

Biggest Competition: Baby Driver. It does hold some water that this could win. Sure, it would make it only 15/90 times a non-Best Picture winner has won, but I just feel like, the average voter looking at this category, assuming they saw all the films, would think, on pure editing alone, to look at Dunkirk and this first. Plus, the other stat I’m looking at here, even if Editing is generally dicey in the precursors… since 2009, when we had three categories to go by when it comes to Editing, every single year, the winner of Best Editing at the Oscars has won at least one of the precursors. Sometimes it’s BFCA, sometimes it’s BAFTA, much of the time it’s ACE. But always it wins one. In fact… even when you go back 20 years, to when it’s just BAFTA and ACE… only twice has something not won a precursor and won Best Editing. Those were The Departed in ’06, and Traffic in 2000. And if you wanna go back to 1992, it’s one one other time. So, on statistics alone, the odds favor Dunkirk and Baby Driver. (Technically I, Tonya, but I think we’d all be shocked if that happened.) And again — it’s a car chase movie edited to music. It’s gonna get votes.

Spoiler Alert: The Shape of Water. Now, those two out of the way, you cannot get away with not putting a Best Picture contender in, at lowest, the third slot. I think, safely, if you’re doing a scorecard, put one in the top three and one fourth. Don’t go fifth. Just to be safe. It’s not smart. If you think they’re gonna vote for something in Editing just to make a show of Best Picture support, put that movie in contention. I don’t think Three Billboards wins Editing no matter how they vote Best Picture, so that’s not gonna be the one for me. I think this is the spoiler, because if it wins Editing, then you know how Picture is turning out. If it’s not already your second choice behind one of those other two (or first, even. If you’re convinced they vote hard on this movie, you might have it first in the category. With reason), it must be the third. I, Tonya has a precursor over this, sure, but Best Picture is the law of the land. It’s like PEMDAS. P then E. Picture, then Editing (Mike DiPrisco Always Says). That’s right, motherfuckers, I just changed PEMDAS. What?

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Dunkirk

2. Baby Driver

3. The Shape of Water

4. I, Tonya

5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

If I Were a Betting Man: Dunkirk. It makes the most sense to me. It won the guild, it’s a war film, it has a shit ton of nominations. All around, this feels like the choice. Can Baby Driver win? Sure. Can Shape of Water win? Sure. But sight test says this makes the most sense and the data backs it up, for the most part. Baby Driver does also feel like it could happen, but after everything I’ve gone through, I just think it’s Dunkirk, so I’m taking that. Could go another way, but unless they pull a real shocker (which would go down on that list of most surprising results of the past decade, if it does) and go Three Billboards or I, Tonya, I’m covered on my Scorecard. So I’m good.

You Should Take: Dunkirk. I gave you a lot of data on this category. It’s now up to you to make that final decision. I’m thinking Dunkirk or Baby Driver wins this. The precursors show them in a dead heat. ACE for Dunkirk, BAFTA for Baby Driver, and a BFCA tie for both. To me, what tips the scales in Dunkirk’s favor is a Best Picture nomination and 8 overall nominations. Plus, you know, the fact that a Best Picture nominee or winner wins 80+% of the time in this category. Maybe Shape of Water wins, if you’re that bullish on its Best Picture chances. I say if I’m going out of ten… 4 Dunkirk, 3, Baby Driver, 2 Shape of Water, and split the other two for the remaining 1. Don’t know if those numbers made any sense, but I see it as a tight category with Dunkirk the most likely winner and Baby Driver a perfectly fitting and possible alternate if you wanna go there. Baby Driver is my personal vote, so it’s not like I’d be upset if I got this one wrong.

On My Ballot: Dunkirk

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Mudbound

The Shape of Water

My Rankings:

  1. Dunkirk
  2. Blade Runner 2049
  3. The Shape of Water
  4. Darkest Hour
  5. Mudbound

My Thoughts: I like this category. Not overly crazy about Mudbound’s cinematography, but the fact that Rachel Morrison is the first woman ever nominated in the history of this category (lot to unpack there) makes me more than okay with it. Darkest Hour looked real nice, but I wouldn’t vote for it. Pure #4. Those who’ve read my Oscar analysis know what I mean by the shorthand of “#4.” Shape of Water looked great, but that would normally be a #4. Here, it’s third. Solid, but not gonna go near it for a vote. And then we have Deakins and Dunkirk. Deakins — we all know where I stand there. But two things… one, I liked Dunkirk’s cinematography better. I think some of the stuff Hoytema captured is astounding, and I’d vote for him on effort alone. Plus, the idea of Deakins winning an Oscar for a digital effort after all those years of just astounding efforts on celluloid… feels weird. Now, put a real ballot in my hand… one that counts… and I might just take Deakins to try to finally get him that goddamn Oscar. But in this scenario, where I’m voting purely on what I would choose in a vacuum… I take Hoyte. So that’s where I’m going.

My Vote: Dunkirk

Should Have Been Nominated: Phantom Thread

– – – – –

The Analysis

That’s cinematography, folks.

Rachel Morrison is the first woman ever to be nominated here. That should be repeated until you get sick of hearing it. And then it should be repeated some more.

As for the category itself and how it went throughout nominations… pretty much the same. These five were the ASC five. BAFTA put Three Billboards on there instead of Mudbound and BFCA put Call Me By Your Name instead of Darkest Hour. You pretty much knew these would be the five. Call Me By Your Name was a longshot #6 contender, but outside of that… pretty much nothing else. Phantom Thread couldn’t have been nominated, so that made guessing easier. Other than that, you were drawing straws to see if anyone had a chance. My #7 contender was The Post, because… “You know… Spielberg. Kaminski.” There was nothing to go on. Everyone should have had this category if they were guessing nominations.

The big precursor here is ASC, the American Society of Cinematographers. However, all-time, they’re 13/31. So not great. BAFTA, meanwhile, is 15/31 in the same time. BFCA only started giving out awards for Cinematography in 2009, but they’re 7/8. The one year they missed was 2011, and that year was a tie. Somehow they managed to be wrong despite a tie. But other than that, they’re perfect.

Here’s a handy chart to show how they did (Oscar winners in red):

Year ASC BAFTA BFCA
2016 Lion La La Land La La Land
2015 The Revenant The Revenant The Revenant
2014 Birdman Birdman Birdman
2013 Gravity Gravity Gravity
2012 Skyfall Life of Pi Life of Pi
2011 The Tree of Life The Artist The Tree of Life & War Horse (TIE)
2010 Inception True Grit Inception
2009 The White Ribbon The Hurt Locker Avatar
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire  
2007 There Will Be Blood No Country for Old Men  
2006 Children of Men Children of Men  
2005 Memoirs of a Geisha Memoirs of a Geisha  
2004 A Very Long Engagement Collateral  
2003 Seabiscuit The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King  
2002 Road to Perdition Road to Perdition  
2001 The Man Who Wasn’t There The Man Who Wasn’t There  
2000 The Patriot Gladiator  
1999 American Beauty American Beauty  
1998 The Thin Red Line Elizabeth  
1997 Titanic The Wings of the Dove  
1996 The English Patient The English Patient  
1995 Braveheart Braveheart  
1994 The Shawshank Redemption Interview with the Vampire  
1993 Searching for Bobby Fischer Schindler’s List  
1992 Hoffa The Last of the Mohicans  
1991 Bugsy Cyrano de Bergerac  
1990 Dances with Wolves The Sheltering Sky  
1989 Blaze Mississippi Burning  
1988 Tequila Sunrise Empire of the Sun  
1987 Empire of the Sun Jean de Florette  
1986 Peggy Sue Got Married Out of Africa  

In the years where none of the precursors won the Oscar, the winners were:

  • 2011, Hugo
  • 2006, Pan’s Labyrinth
  • 2004, The Aviator
  • 2003, Master and Commander
  • 2001, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • 2000, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • 1998, Saving Private Ryan
  • 1994, Legends of the Fall
  • 1992, A River Runs Through It
  • 1991, JFK
  • 1989, Glory
  • 1988, Mississippi Burning (Note: BAFTA was right, but a year off. So not really.)
  • 1987, The Last Emperor
  • 1986, The Mission (Note: Same thing with BAFTA.)

Really all you need to get out of that is… they’re not always trustworthy, so generally use your gut in this category.

This year, ASC, BAFTA and BFCA all went to Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049. Making us once again think, “Is this finally the year?”

Let’s find out together, shall we?

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Blade Runner 2049. It has every single precursor. It has to be considered the favorite. Does that mean it’s finally the year? Don’t know. But it’s the favorite. So fucking deal with it. However, now would be a good time to bring up:

  1. 1994, The Shawshank Redemption. Lost to Legends of the Fall.
  2. 1996, Fargo. Lost to The English Patient.
  3. 1997, Kundun. Lost to Titanic.
  4. 2000, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Lost to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
  5. 2001, The Man Who Wasn’t There. Lost to Fellowship of the Ring.
  6. 2007, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford AND No Country for Old Men. Lost to There Will Be Blood.
  7. 2008, The Reader. Lost to Slumdog Millionaire.
  8. 2010, True Grit. Lost to Inception.
  9. 2012, Skyfall. Lost to Life of Pi.
  10. 2013, Prisoners. Lost to Gravity.
  11. 2014, Unbroken. Lost to Birdman.
  12. 2015, Sicario. Lost to The Revenant.

So being the favorite doesn’t mean shit. But it’s nice that he’s at least got more of a leg up on the competition than usual.

Biggest Competition: Dunkirk. I’m shocked this hasn’t won a single precursor. Good for Deakins, but still… shocked. I thought this would be almost automatic when I saw it. This could even be a third choice in the end, given what’s coming next. But with no precursors to anyone else’s name, how do you gauge contenders except for, “This one did look awesome. I’m guessing they saw that too”? So yeah, this is the second choice based on absolutely nothing but my conception of the situation.

Spoiler Alert: The Shape of Water. Best Picture favorite. 13 nominations. Guillermo’s last Oscar darling won this category. It’s a fucking contender. You might have it as second choice. You might vote for it. All valid. Not the favorite though, because it won zero precursors. Still… could happen. At this point, I assume Roger Deakins’ luck is the same as Rodney Dangerfield’s in Easy Money, where he bets on the horse and after leading all the way through the race, the jockey literally puts his feet down to slow the horse to make it lose. I just assume bad things are gonna happen after 13 losses. The fact that he lost two of those last five nominations astounds me to this day. So yeah, this is a contender.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Blade Runner 2049

2. Dunkirk

3. The Shape of Water

4. Mudbound

5. Darkest Hour

If I Were a Betting Man: Look, I’ll just be wrong. I’m taking Blade Runner 2049. Fuck it. Go Deakins. I’m covered on the scorecard, since #1, #2 or #3 is going to win. So it comes down to which it is. And I feel comfortable putting Deakins at 1. Should I have Shape of Water at 2? Maybe. But I don’t know. So I’ll just go with my gut and hope for the best. What do any of us know? We’re all just living in optimism.

You Should Take: Blade Runner 2049. Or Dunkirk. Or Shape of Water. Honestly, go with your gut on this one. I truly don’t know. But all the precursors say this is Deakins’ year. We don’t have enough data on all three to say for certain, but in the past few years, when all three agree, that film won this category. When it was two, the last time ASC and BAFTA agreed and the Oscar went the other way… was 2006. Where Pan’s Labyrinth won. So you should feel nervous all around. I, personally, would be okay voting with my heart here and taking Deakins hoping this is the one. Plus, if it’s not him, how do you decide between Shape of Water or Dunkirk? Do what you want. I’m saying just take Deakins because you can explain it away if you lose. Otherwise, if you think you got a line on what will win if not this, please, go for it.

On My Ballot: Blade Runner 2049

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Original Score

Dunkirk

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My Rankings:

  1. The Shape of Water
  2. Phantom Thread
  3. Dunkirk
  4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My Thoughts: I liked all of these scores. They’re all top 11 for me (yes, I rank the scores too). In terms of pure score — Dunkirk was my least favorite. But in terms of how good I think it is as well as its importance to its film, I put it high. It’s great. It keeps things tense every second of the film until that release near the end. It’s an incredible piece of work. Wouldn’t take it still, but it’s great. Three Billboards… love the score, fifth choice for me. Star Wars is fourth. Love it, love Williams, but wouldn’t take it. There’s no definitive track on there that makes me want to vote for it. There’s no “Duel of Fates” or “Imperial March.” Phantom Thread, meanwhile… almost any other year. That would be the vote almost any other year. But Shape of Water, man… the minute I hear that I knew that was gonna be the one for me. I love Alexandre Desplat. He’s my favorite working composer, and I just love everything he did with this one. So that’s my vote.

My Vote: The Shape of Water

Should Have Been Nominated: Jane

– – – – –

The Analysis

This is John Williams’ 51st nomination. One more and we can make a deck of cards.

In terms of how the category shook out… I got pretty much the category I was expecting. Only minor surprise is that they put Star Wars for Williams instead of The Post. Didn’t think he’d get the double nomination, which was a good instinct. I just had the one they would have wrong. Fair enough. I also thought Darkest Hour would get on, since the Marianelli/Wright combination has proven solid in the past (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and Anna Karenina). Didn’t think they’d go for Three Billboards, especially given their longstanding disrespect for Carter Burwell. So that was a nice inclusion. Also somehow guessed they’d leave off Blade Runner all along. So yeah. Not a whole lot of surprise for me here and great choices all around.

There isn’t a whole lot in the way of precursors here. BAFTA, the Globes and BFCA all hand out awards for Score. None of them are really guilds, so you pretty much look at what they do, see if there’s a major consensus, and mostly just look at the nominated category and use basic logic to see how it’s gonna turn out.

I have made a chart, though, that you can use to see the three precursors, going back to 2000.

(Anything in red was not nominated — or eligible, in some cases — at the Oscars.)

Year Oscar BAFTA Globe BFCA
2017   The Shape of Water The Shape of Water The Shape of Water
2016 La La Land La La Land La La Land La La Land
2015 The Hateful Eight The Hateful Eight The Hateful Eight The Hateful Eight
2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel The Grand Budapest Hotel The Theory of Everything Birdman
2013 Gravity Gravity All Is Lost Gravity
2012 Life of Pi Skyfall Life of Pi Lincoln
2011 The Artist The Artist The Artist The Artist
2010 The Social Network The King’s Speech The Social Network The Social Network
2009 Up Up Up Up
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire
2007 Atonement La Vie en Rose Atonement There Will Be Blood
2006 Babel Babel The Painted Veil The Illusionist
2005 Brokeback Mountain Memoirs of a Geisha Memoirs of a Geisha Memoirs of a Geisha
2004 Finding Neverland The Motorcycle Diaries The Aviator The Aviator
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Cold Mountain The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2002 Frida The Hours Frida Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Minority Report
2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Moulin Rouge! Moulin Rouge! The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Gladiator Gladiator

BAFTA is right more times than not, and only once was there a complete consensus that turned out to just be completely wrong in the end.

So when I tell you that this year, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe all went to The Shape of Water… you can pretty much take it from there, can’t you?

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: The Shape of Water. Every precursor. Best Picture favorite, and did you hear that score? It’s gonna get votes. This is your favorite. Honestly can’t even see it losing.

Biggest Competition: Phantom Thread. If it’s anything, it’s this. The score is gorgeous. Shouldn’t matter who the composers are. The branch is the one that would discriminate against Greenwood, not the Academy at large. So that won’t do him in. It’s the overall love for Shape of Water over this. Either way, the lack of any precursor wins prevents me from making him the favorite. He’s a second choice at best.

Spoiler Alert: Dunkirk. Quick, name Hans Zimmer’s last Oscar win. If you said The Lion King, back in 1994, you would be correct. That is not only Hans Zimmer’s last Oscar win, but his only Oscar win. Dude’s never won outside of that. His last three nominations are all for Nolan films, but zero winners. Can’t see this being the one, but also he always feels like he’s moderately in contention for those films each time as well. Can’t see Three Billboards getting Score votes, and I can’t see Star Wars getting the votes to seriously contend. Making him the de facto third choice, which pretty much tells you how much of a runaway this category is.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. The Shape of Water

2. Phantom Thread

3. Dunkirk

4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

If I Were a Betting Man: The Shape of Water. Regardless of Best Picture, it’s going to win two or three awards. Director is one, this is the other. It’s not losing. We’ll get to the third one pretty soon. But either way… it’s gonna win this. Desplat somehow only got his first win for Grand Budapest three years ago. This is a long overdue second win.

You Should Take: The Shape of Water. Hard to make a case for Phantom Thread over this outside of “I want it to happen.” This won all the precursors and the film has 13 nominations and may well win Best Picture. Go against it at your own peril. I’m counting this as one of my locks. Look at all the other categories thus far. 50/50 on Picture, and then the only three up for debate to this point are Original Screenplay, Editing and Cinematography, and at least two of those have definite favorites. This category does not feel remotely in question. Take the gimme. (By the way, we’re 11 categories in, and I just told you we have 7 locks. How nuts is that?)

On My Ballot: The Shape of Water

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Original Song

“Mighty River,” from Mudbound

“Mystery of Love,” from Call Me By Your Name

“Remember Me,” from Coco

“Stand Up for Something,” from Marshall

“This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman

My Rankings:

  1. “This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman
  2. “Mystery of Love,” from Call Me By Your Name
  3. “Remember Me,” from Coco
  4. “Mighty River,” from Mudbound
  5. “Stand Up for Something,” from Marshall

My Thoughts: This category always feels like such a compromise, because you never know how the hell they’re gonna nominate stuff. They changed the category for the better by eliminating that stupid grading system that gave us a category with two nominees in 2011 (and neither was particularly any good), but I still don’t know how they vote and the choices always feel arbitrary. I go over every eligible song that I can each year. And, if you listen to all those songs, there’s almost no way that you come up with the category they do most years. This year… possible you get to this. But still… it always feels like there are better choices that get left off. Songs that actually appear as part of their plots, that have real thematic relevance. I don’t know. But anyway — not a fan of the Marshall song. Mudbound song… fine, nothing special. Coco — don’t love it. It’s fine. I thought “Poco Loco” was catchier. “Mystery of Love” was awesome. Great choice. Strongly considered it for a vote. But “This Is Me” is a song from a musical, catchy as shit, and thematically relevant, and works as an anthem for self-confidence and being who you are. It’s the choice all-around (from a film with songs that could fill at least 60% of this category).

My Vote: “This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman

Should Have Been Nominated: “Tuff Love (Finale)” or “PBNJ” from Patti Cake$

– – – – –

The Analysis

I’m not sure where to ever start with this category. They used to have this insane voting system for nominations that no one could understand.

And then, when it bottomed out in 2011 and had two nominees (one of which was the wrong nominee from its film and the other was pure ‘what the actual fuck is that?’), they changed the voting system to just have the five most popular songs be nominated. Which has definitely made things better. Not perfect, but better. So this is no longer the biggest offender in terms of “what the fuck are you guys doing?” when nominations happen.

In terms of the category we got — I think we all expected “This Is Me,” “Remember Me,” and “Mystery of Love” to get on. The only question was the other two. “Mighty River” made a lot of sense, especially if you thought Mary J. Blige was gonna get the Supporting Actress nomination. And then you had that fifth spot which is notoriously impossible to gauge. You have no idea how they’re gonna vote. I figured “Stand Up for Something” was in contention, just because of the previous Common win and because it was written by Diane Warren, but you could never know that they’re gonna for sure vote for it. (Though I will say… the category I guessed did have another Diane Warren song on it. So that was pretty nice, that I was right there on how they’d vote. And I had “Mighty River” as an alternate, thinking they’d go in on a new Beauty and the Beast song by Alan Menken and Tim Rice.) But yeah, we got about the category I’d have expected, if not the category I’d have preferred.

And then — there’s absolutely no precursor for this category, except a Golden Globes precursor that’s star-fucker central. So I don’t even bother to mention it.

We’re just gonna run down all the songs, and I’ll link to the audio of them, since this is the one category where you can gauge just by hearing them all most of the time:

Mighty River” is Mary J. Blige’s second nomination of the year. Song’s fine. Not particularly something that feels win-worthy. The only case you have for it winning is external. Mudbound isn’t winning Supporting Actress, Screenplay or Cinematography. If you think they’ll vote for it anywhere, seemingly this is the place. It’s a diluted enough category that it could happen. But it’s not 2014 diluted, where Selma was the towering contender in the category. Plus, one thing to always look at here… who’s campaigning for it? You know? Selma was having Legend and Common perform the song everywhere. I don’t see that happening here. At best it’s a third choice.

Mystery of Love” is a beautiful song from Call Me By Your Name. One of two. Not the one that plays over the end credits and that incredible shot, but one that might benefit from people thinking that. It’s Sufjan Stevens, who, spoiler alert, white people love. The film is clearly liked a lot in certain places. So I think it’ll get some votes on that. It’s already got one award in the bag. Maybe it’ll get some secondary votes here and be a player. Can’t see it being the favorite or even a major contender. But it does feel like a dark horse that could take it and not be the most surprising thing in the world. Though, generally, when you look at what wins Song, it’s something that makes sense. This and Mighty River feel like they’re duking it out for that third spot.

Remember Me” is catchy and a nice little song. Short, but memorable and part of the narrative of the film. Written by the Book of Mormon guy who already has a win for Frozen, and a lot of people know it, because they or their kids went to see this in theaters. Definitely something that you have to consider a top two choice. Is it the favorite? Maybe. Definitely could win. I’d consider it more of a favorite than the two above it.

Stand Up for Something” is not a song I really like. It’s fine. It feels like a standard pop song that would be on the radio. I know this doesn’t involve the song itself, but I can’t take that video seriously. Where they’re just standing in an empty room bopping around and Common is just there for like three minutes until he does his rap. But still, the song doesn’t do it for me. Easy fifth choice all around in this category. I don’t even think the voters know what the movie is. That’s never a good sign for a film’s chances in Original Song.

This Is Me” is a big anthem, written by the La La Land guys, for an original musical, that was promoted up and down since Thanksgiving if not earlier, that is actually a success. That movie just crossed $160 million at the box office. DOMESTIC. This all around feels like an automatic winner. The only reason I’m not considering it as such is because it doesn’t have that immediate feeling of something like Frozen where you go, “That’s winning.” It does to me, but to the average voter? I don’t know. I think it’s closer than a lock year, but still all around this feels like the choice.

I think we can safely gauge this one, don’t you?

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: “This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman. If a voter actually heard the songs, this feels like the most likely vote. And if they didn’t, what’s the one they’re gonna look at? The musical song. This has been all over every trailer for this movie for months. People have it in their heads. Or, as I’ve heard first hand on more than one occasion — people’s spouses have been blasting this soundtrack in the house for weeks. So they know it. Whether that be a turn off or not remains to be seen, but just on optics alone this feels like the most likely candidate to win this category. And, as someone who is a relative purist in this category (because go back to the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s in this category) — this is really the one that should win, if we have any respect for what the category is supposed to be about.

Biggest Competition: “Remember Me,” from Coco. This is the second choice all around. If “This Is Me” doesn’t win, then this will. Because I like to think optimistically about the voters, and the purist in me refuses to believe they’d let anything other than these two choices win the category. This is consolation prize. One I might be able to live with (because I’ve had to live with a lot in the history of this category), but it just doesn’t feel like the proper winner. That said, if it’s not “This Is Me,” this is the choice. Because I can’t make a coherent argument for why any of the other songs will be the ones to get the most votes.

Spoiler Alert: “Mystery of Love,” from Call Me By Your Name. It was this or “Mighty River” and as I just said, I can’t make a coherent argument for any of the rest of the nominees. How is this or “Mighty River” gonna get the majority of the votes over the song from the musical or the song from Pixar that everyone saw? So, splitting the difference between the two, I’ll go with the song that’s in the Best Picture nominee, was all over it’s movie’s trailer, and is sung by Sufjan Stevens. One of my go-to assumptions for the Oscars is to vote for what white people like. That is slowly changing a little at a time, but the assumption still holds. I’ve got 90 years of proof on that. So we’ll make him the third choice. Sometimes you just gotta be arbitrary to get it done.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. “This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman

2. “Remember Me,” from Coco

3. “Mystery of Love,” from Call Me By Your Name

4. “Mighty River,” from Mudbound

5. “Stand Up for Something,” from Marshall

If I Were a Betting Man: “This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman. I’m taking the song that makes the most sense. It’s from a musical. One that made a bunch of money. And it’s a really catchy song, from the guys who did La La Land last year. I see no reason why this shouldn’t win.

You Should Take: “This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman. If it’s not this that wins, it’s “Remember Me,” from Coco. If you think they’re gonna go that way, feel free. Pixar has only won this category twice, and they’ve both been Randy Newman wins. However, Disney animated’s last win was 2013, and that was Frozen, by the same songwriter as Coco. So it is possible they just have a hard on for this guy and will go that way. I think it’s one or the other, and you’re free to go whatever way you feel most comfortable. I think it’s going this way, though.

On My Ballot: “This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Production Design

Beauty and the Beast

Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

My Rankings:

  1. Blade Runner 2049
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Beauty and the Beast
  4. Darkest Hour
  5. Dunkirk

My Thoughts: Best sets and shit. I’m not a huge fan of these nominees. Would have looked a lot better to me had they nominated Phantom Thread, but they didn’t, so here we are. Dunkirk — the production design is nice. The plane interiors look great, they got a lot of space out of that boat, the one set of the town looked great. I get it. But I wouldn’t take it. It’s a war film, and generally war films aren’t big on production design. The ocean and sky count for a lot in this one. So it’s fifth choice for me, as nice as the effort was. Darkest Hour… sneaky good. There’s a lot of cool stuff they did here, like the underground of Downing Street, with all the little rooms and things that he could go into. Plus, his living areas look great, and all the sets are of that classical nature that look very classy and well done. Wouldn’t vote for it though. It feels like a fourth choice no matter what year it’s in. Beauty and the Beast… looks gorgeous, a lot of money and effort went into the sets… but I just don’t have the urge to take them. Might be the second best pure effort in the category, but third choice or me. Shape of Water… really great. Love the two apartments, love the movie theater, really like the lab where she works. Plus, Guillermo meticulously designs and color-coordinates his sets, which really makes me appreciate them more than just any old production design. That’s why I have it as my second choice. Still though… wouldn’t take it over Blade Runner. Between all the miniatures and models and gorgeous sets that they clearly built for the movie… everything in the movie felt real (as opposed to when you look at a Marvel movie and the entire city looks CGI). You can’t really tell in this one. It all looks real. And some of those sets are just absolutely beautiful, even when they’re meant to look awful. So that’s my vote. It’s not even a competition for me in this category. Blade Runner is by far the best.

My Vote: Blade Runner 2049

Should Have Been Nominated: Phantom Thread

– – – – –

The Analysis

Well, this was the category I thought I would get, so I’m guessing the precursors all bore this one out. And yeah, they kinda did. Shape of Water, Beauty and the Beast, Blade Runner and Dunkirk hit all of them. So you were left with one spot and figuring out which way it would go. And you were left with like four major contenders: Darkest Hour, The Post, Murder on the Orient Express and Phantom Thread. Darkest Hour is the only one that hit both the guild and BAFTA, so that made the absolute most sense. Murder on the Orient Express had both the guild and BFCA. The Post had the Guild only. And Phantom Thread had only BFCA. So you felt pretty comfortable with the five you got. There could have been one of those others, but no one thought The Post would get much tech support, Murder on the Orient Express was fixing to get shut out, and no one really knew where Phantom Thread would end up (but it wasn’t as supported as what we got, I’ll tell you that). So yeah, this was a pretty straightforward one all the way through.

So the major guild here is ADG, who all-time is 13/21. BAFTA is 8/21 in those same years. So not overly great. BFCA, in only handing out awards since 2009, is 6/8, missing only the two years where crazy shit happened.

Here’s a chart breaking them all down (with the Oscar winners in red.)

Year ADG BAFTA BFCA
2016 La La Land (Contemporary) & Passengers (Fantasy) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them La La Land
2015 Mad Max: Fury Road (Fantasy) & The Revenant (Period) & The Martian (Contemporary) Mad Max: Fury Road Mad Max: Fury Road
2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel (Period) The Grand Budapest Hotel The Grand Budapest Hotel
2013 The Great Gatsby (Period) & Gravity (Fantasy) & Her (Contemporary) The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby
2012 Anna Karenina (Period) & Life of Pi (Fantasy) Les Misérables Anna Karenina
2011 Hugo (Period) & Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Fantasy) Hugo Hugo
2010 The King’s Speech (Period) & Inception (Fantasy) Inception Inception
2009 Avatar (Fantasy) & Sherlock Holmes (Period) Avatar Avatar
2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Period) & The Dark Knight (Fantasy) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button  
2007 There Will Be Blood (Period) & The Golden Compass (Fantasy) Atonement  
2006 Pan’s Labyrinth (Fantasy) Children of Men  
2005 Memoirs of a Geisha Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire  
2004 A Series of Unfortunate Events The Aviator  
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World  
2002 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Road to Perdition  
2001 Moulin Rouge! Amélie  
2000 Gladiator Gladiator  
1999 Sleepy Hollow Sleepy Hollow  
1998 What Dreams May Come The Truman Show  
1997 Titanic Romeo + Juliet  
1996 The English Patient Richard III  

The big thing you should take away from that chart is… when there’s consensus, go with it.

Also, for informational purposes, in the years where the Oscar winner did not hit precursors, those winners were:

  • 2000, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • 2002, Chicago
  • 2007, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • 2010, Alice in Wonderland
  • 2012, Lincoln

Two of those are Tim Burton films, one is a Best Picture winner, the other two were Best Picture nominees (though granted, other Best Picture nominees were in play both of those years, so that’s not the biggest factor in them winning).

This year, The Shape of Water won all three precursors, ADG, BAFTA and BFCA. Blade Runner 2049 does also have a win in Fantasy at ADG as well. So we’re likely looking at another lock, and you can pretty much guess where it’s going if it’s not a lock. If only they could all be this easy.

Oh, and wanna hear another fun fact while we’re here? Of course you do!

In the past 50 years (it’s been exactly 50 years since the Production Design category became singular, rather than one for color and one for black-and-white), the film (or films) with the most number of Oscar nominations (or one of the films tied for the most number of nominations) has been nominated for Best Production Design all but five times. All but five!

And now you wanna know what the five were, don’t you?

  • Brokeback Mountain (2005)
  • American Beauty (1999)
  • Braveheart (1995)
  • Network (1976) & Rocky (1976)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Five times, six films. So in 50 years, it happens on average of once every ten years that the most nominated film (which you can generally gauge beforehand) isn’t nominated in this category. And when you look at the six that weren’t… five contemporary and one that mainly takes place outdoors. And one that’s contemporary and mostly takes place outdoors

Also.. since I’m nuts and will keep going with this… my statistic gives a check mark to a year where multiple films were the most nominated and only one of them is nominated for Production Design. If you were to take each film that counts as “most nominated,” even in a tie scenario, and hold them to that statistic, rather than just five years where it didn’t happen, it becomes 18 films out of a total of 70. That is, 70 films were either the most nominated films of their year or were tied for most nominations. And only 18 of them didn’t get Production Design nominations.

Outside of the six above, the other twelve were: Birdman, The Hurt Locker, No Country for Old Men, Platoon, Raging Bull, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Deer Hunter, Julia, The Godfather, The French Connection, The Last Picture Show, Bonnie and Clyde.

That’s only 25%. That’s good.

Oh, and while we’re here, the amount of times the most nominated film won for Production Design is 30. That means that 30 times out of 70, if you had the most nominations, you straight up won Production Design. (Now, careful, only 14 of those were Best Picture winners. I’m just talking most nominations.)

That’s about 43% straight up, and that’s not counting the times when multiple films were the most nominated and literally couldn’t both win the category. So if we simplify that to just a years thing… in 50 years, one of the most nominated films won Best Production Design 30 times. Which is 60%. Not fucking bad.

Now, before 1967 (because of course I went back to the beginning. Are you nuts? I’m going all the way with this shit), going back to the very 1st Oscars (so 89 years, soon to be 90 after tonight), you have another 12 instances where the most nominated film (or one of them) wasn’t nominated for Production Design. And, one thing to keep in mind — every year before 1935, along with 1946-1950, there were three or less nominees in each category. And still only 12 times! So in 89 years, it’s happened only 30 times total, including years with multiple “most nominated” films. Straight up, it’s 13 years, which is just under 15% of all time. Insane.

And because I can, and for posterity — From Here to Eternity, Gentleman’s Agreement (2), The Best Years of Our Lives, The Bells of St. Mary’s, Mrs. Miniver, You Can’t Take It With You, Mutiny on the Bounty (3) and One Night of Love (3) are the films with the most nominations before 1967 to not be nominated for Production Design. The number in parentheses is the number of nominees in the Production Design category that year. Also, The Defiant Ones, Going My Way, Lady for a Day and The Champ were all tied for the most nominations of their years, but the other film (or films) that tied with them did get Production Design nominations.

Oh, and, pre-1967, the amount of times the most nominated film won Production Design was 20. Which means that more than half the timeall-time, the most nominated film wins Production Design. 30 times after 1967, 20 times before it. That’s 50 times in 89 years. And you know what? Even when there were two categories, black-and-white and color, there was no year where two films tied for the most nominations won at the same time. So that’s straight up. 50 times. That’s over 55% of the time, all-time. (Oh, and those 20 times include 9 Best Picture winners, which brings it to 23 times all-time the Best Picture winner also won for Production Design.)

And to bring it all back to this year’s category — because you didn’t think I took you down that road for no reason, did you? — history says that The Shape of Water, by sheer virtue of having the most nominations, is a 60% winner, and that’s before having won every single precursor so far.

I wasn’t kidding when I said no one goes as deep in their Oscar coverage as I do.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: The Shape of Water. This is gonna be a constant refrain, if it isn’t one already: 13 overall nominations. And I wrote that before I uncovered the statistic where in 30 out of the past 50 years, the most nominated film at the Oscars won for Best Production Design. It also won every single precursor. It’s the favorite, guys. Don’t even start.

Biggest Competition: Blade Runner 2049. It’s the only film with a precursor win. Sure, it’s ADG, and Shape of Water also has that, but this beat the next contender for that award in the same category, so I think we’re still good. BAFTA nominated it for Best Director, so clearly it’s got support with them. Five overall nominations here. Has to be considered the second choice.

Spoiler Alert: Beauty and the Beast. What else could it be? The other two films are a war film (never) and a stuffy period piece that’s not a factor in any race outside of Actor and Makeup. This film is all about the production design. It was gonna be the second choice until it lost ADG to Blade Runner. But you have two classy films, with more nominations, and live-action Disney remakes being 0-fer in this category outside of the one directed by Tim Burton. It’s a contender because of that, but otherwise, no reason to think this is a serious contender. Not outside the most nominated film having swept the precursors and its director having won this category for his last Oscar darling.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. The Shape of Water

2. Blade Runner 2049

3. Beauty and the Beast

4. Darkest Hour

5. Dunkirk

If I Were a Betting Man: The Shape of Water. If you read all the way through this category, I don’t think you need me to explain all the reasons why this is the choice. But I suspect a lot of you just skipped down to this part to see what you should put on your ballot, so here you are, you fucking animals — it swept all the precursors (won ADG, won BAFTA, won BFCA) and it’s the most nominated film. I found a stat (which I guarantee that no one else in the entire world has ever thought to look up) whereby the film with the most nominations (or that was tied for the most nominations — so a film with the most nominations) has straight up won the Best Production Design category 30 out of the past 50 years. So yeah, probably a safe choice.

You Should Take: The Shape of Water. I mean, did you read all that? It’s gonna win.

On My Ballot: The Shape of Water

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast

Darkest Hour

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water

Victoria & Abdul

My Rankings:

  1. Phantom Thread
  2. Beauty and the Beast
  3. The Shape of Water
  4. Victoria & Abdul
  5. Darkest Hour

My Thoughts: Solid enough category, but it’s mostly top heavy. Darkest Hour is whatever to me. Victoria & Abdul, while the costumes are numerous and all nice… yawn. The Shape of Water… totally get it. Plus, I’m including the fish man as part of the costuming. I agree. Wouldn’t vote for it, but I agree. Beauty and the Beast… completely deserved and might have been the vote in the right year. But not this year. Because Phantom Thread is quite literally about costumes and they are all stunning. So that is my vote in one of the most obvious no-brainers of all time.

My Vote: Phantom Thread

Should Have Been Nominated: Lady Macbeth

– – – – –

The Analysis

Costumes always feels like a category I get nervous about, because I’m always thinking they’re gonna pull some random shit and nominate something totally out of left field. This one, I think, went mostly according to plan. Phantom Thread and Beauty and the Beast were absolute gimmes. And Shape of Water too. They hit all the precursors and were just obvious choices. The other two were toss-ups. All Darkest Hour managed was a BAFTA nomination, while Victoria & Abdul got nothing. Not a single nomination. You knew to include it (at least I did) in my calculations, but I still didn’t think it would happen. That’s the left field choice of 2017. Darkest Hour you could have maybe figured if you thought they’d go for it as much as they did. But Victoria & Abdul? Okay. I figured Murder on the Orient Express would get it just because of how many costumes there were in it. But that was never meant to be and it got shut out. I, Tonya seemed like a good choice too, given the CDG and BAFTA nominations, but it got left off. I guess because they’re all about period and it was too contemporary for them. Blade Runner also had an outside shot at it too, but that never happened. So I don’t know. This turned out about as well as most Costume categories turn out. You can usually get three pretty easily, but the other two will just be what they are and you hope for the best.

Precursor-wise, CDG (the Costume Designers Guild) is our main one. They’re 9/18 all-time. BAFTA is 8/10 in their last ten, including 8 in a row before last year. BFCA, meanwhile, is 7/8 all time. The only year they’ve ever missed is last year.

Here’s another chart! (Oscar winners in red.)

Year CDG BAFTA BFCA
2016 La La Land (Contemporary) Jackie Jackie
2015 The Danish Girl (Period) &

Mad Max: Fury Road (Fantasy)

Mad Max: Fury Road Mad Max: Fury Road
2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel (Period) & Into the Woods (Fantasy) The Grand Budapest Hotel The Grand Budapest Hotel
2013 12 Years a Slave (Period) The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby
2012 Anna Karenina (Period) & Mirror Mirror (Fantasy) Anna Karenina Anna Karenina
2011 W.E. (Period) The Artist The Artist
2010 The King’s Speech (Period) & Alice in Wonderland (Fantasy) Alice in Wonderland Alice in Wonderland
2009 The Young Victoria (Period) & The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (Fantasy) The Young Victoria The Young Victoria
2008 The Duchess (Period) The Duchess  
2007 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Period La Vie en Rose  
2006 Curse of the Golden Flower (Period) &

The Queen (Contemporary)

Pan’s Labyrinth  
2005 Memoirs of a Geisha Memoirs of a Geisha  
2004 A Series of Unfortunate Events Vera Drake  
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World  
2002 Chicago The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers  
2001 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Gosford Park  
2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon  
1999 Sleepy Hollow Sleepy Hollow  
1998 Pleasantville Velvet Goldmine  

10/12 for BAFTA, guys.

In the years where none of the precursors had the winners, the Oscar winners were:

  • 1998, Shakespeare in Love
  • 1999, Topsy-Turvy
  • 2000, Gladiator
  • 2001, Moulin Rouge!
  • 2004, The Aviator
  • 2007, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

So yeah. Here we are. Typically what I can tell you is that Costume Design is pretty intuitive. You generally know what the favorite is, and typically, it’s winning two of the three precursors, if not all three. Last year was the only outlier, where something won two and then lost to an off-the board contender. Typically that’s how it goes. There hasn’t been a minority winner in the history of all three precursors.

Oh, and this year… Phantom Thread has won BAFTA and BFCA, and The Shape of Water won CDG for Period. None of the other CDG winners were nominated. So CDG just went completely off the board with their choices, and given that they’re about 50/50 on their winners, I’m not sure how much they matter.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Phantom Thread. Have you SEEN those costumes? It’s a movie about dressmaking! And it has six overall nominations. It’s won two of the three precursors, and the third one has a history of very odd choices. 12 Years a Slave won their award over a very obvious winner in The Great Gatsby. So yeah, this is the overwhelming favorite, and is still one of the bigger locks of the night, despite that CDG win for The Shape of Water.

Biggest Competition: The Shape of Water. I will admit, that CDG win did throw me into a little bit of doubt about this one, but I quickly shook that off. Because come on. Still, it has a win, so it must be taken into account that this has support from the costume designers guild. And with 13 overall nominations, you have to figure the Academy at large really likes this film and might throw it a few extra votes here. That’s enough for me to make it the second choice.

Spoiler Alert: Beauty and the Beast. This completely fits the mold of the spoiler. I’m not putting it higher than third, though. I almost had it second, but the CDG win for Shape of Water made me switch it. And then I realized… how dissimilar a nominee is this to Phantom Thread? That is, if people don’t vote for Phantom Thread, what are they gonna vote for? In my mind, it’s Shape of Water, not this. This’ll get some votes, but I can’t see it getting enough to beat both of the other contenders. So it’s a solid third choice for me. Plus, zero precursors to its name, despite being up for CDG Fantasy and being the only Oscar nominee in that category. The other two it lost straight up to Phantom Thread. Hard to consider this anything more that a third choice that could happen that I wouldn’t waste my time guessing.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Phantom Thread

2. The Shape of Water

3. Beauty and the Beast

4. Victoria & Abdul

5. Darkest Hour

If I Were a Betting Man: Phantom Thread. I can’t see how you would go elsewhere if you saw this movie. The Shape of Water could be a savvy choice if you really thought they were gonna try to sweep vote it. This could be one of the categories where, if it got enough sweep votes, it could sway the field. This and Production Design are the main two (and Production Design it should win anyway). Cinematography might be a third. But the point is… I get why some people could consider Shape of Water a choice… but doesn’t this feel like it’s gonna win? Doesn’t it? I feel like, unless you outright hated this movie and have subjective bias against it… this is pretty much the only film to take in this category.

You Should Take: Phantom Thread. I think you take it and consider it a huge lock. If Shape of Water wins, then you got beat by the Best Picture favorite (since I can’t imagine it wins this and doesn’t then go on to win Best Picture). And if Beauty and the Beast wins, then tough luck, man, take the L. Precursors generally mean something, and I’m not betting on two years in a row where something comes off the board and wins. I think last year was a fluke and a byproduct of just how much they didn’t like Jackie. Phantom Thread has six nominations including Picture and Director. I’m considering this one of the biggest locks of the night. You should too.

On My Ballot: Phantom Thread

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Darkest Hour

Victoria & Abdul

Wonder

My Rankings:

  1. Darkest Hour
  2. Wonder
  3. Victoria & Abdul

My Thoughts: Almost the category I wanted. But the major two are here, so that’s all that matters. Victoria & Abdul — no idea what that’s doing here. Wonder… great job on the kid’s face. Darkest Hour is clearly the winner. What they achieved with Oldman as Churchill.. that’s your winner, ten times out of ten.

My Vote: Darkest Hour

Should Have Been Nominated: I, Tonya

– – – – –

The Analysis

My analysis section should just be “Darkest Hour is going to win” and nothing else. Because it is.

In terms of how we got this category… seven shortlisted efforts, and two of them felt basically locked. I think we figured I, Tonya would get in, but we got Victoria & Abdul instead. Sure. I’m just glad we didn’t get Bright. Ghost in the Shell never had a chance, and Guardians 2 was an outside, long shot contender (and previous nominee for its first film). So we got 2/3 expected, and they were the right two.

Darkest Hour’s won everything there is to win. And when a major acting award is also nominated for Makeup (see: Dallas Buyers Club, The Iron Lady), it’s gonna win Makeup too.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Darkest Hour. Come on, guys. We don’t need to waste time here. You know it’s winning.

Biggest Competition: Wonder. If it’s not Darkest Hour, it’s this. Clearly.

Spoiler Alert: Victoria & Abdul. Boy, that three-nominee category sure comes in handy for this one, doesn’t it? Not really sure what more I can add here. If Darkest Hour doesn’t win, and Wonder doesn’t win, then yes, Victoria & Abdul will win. It’s simple math. I can’t really see how this could happen, and if it does, I don’t think I’ll be able to come up with any rational explanation for it. Costumes, sure. But this? The only thing I’d be able to say, if this wins this category, is that something fishy is going on. So yeah, it’s the third choice.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Darkest Hour

2. Wonder

3. Victoria & Abdul

If I Were a Betting Man: Darkest Hour. If I were ranking the biggest locks of the night, this would be in the top five. But at this point we have ten locks. So maybe it would slip out of the top five just because I’m so confident about most of them.

You Should Take: Darkest Hour. Don’t be an ass. We all know what time it is.

On My Ballot: Darkest Hour

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Kong: Skull Island

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

War for the Planet of the Apes

My Rankings:

  1. Blade Runner 2049
  2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  3. War for the Planet of the Apes
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  5. Kong: Skull Island

My Thoughts: Not my favorite category, even though I can agree with most of it. I just hate how this category has become “Best CGI” and has left great practical effects by the wayside. However it does illustrate the wide gap between great visual effects and average ones. Because to me, when I see most CGI, I’m aware that I’m watching computerized creatures or seeing digital cities, and it completely takes me out of the movie. Kong: Skull Island is a perfect example of “digital monsters.” It looks fake to me and I didn’t care for it. Guardians 2? Sure. It’s fine. Not gonna vote for it, because I’ve yet to see a Marvel movie where the effects do look seamless. War for the Planet of the Apes… I appreciate everything this franchise has done, but I’d never vote for it. There’s always something I’d take over it. Last Jedi… sure, maybe not as overall seamless as Apes, but I like how Star Wars does somewhat still have practical effects in there, and I’d prefer it wins over Apes, so I’d take it second. Still, the choice here is Blade Runner, and it’s not even close. The effects in Blade Runner are so good that I don’t even know what’s practical and what’s CGI a lot of the time.

My Vote: Blade Runner 2049

Should Have Been Nominated: Dunkirk

– – – – –

The Analysis

Good thing I don’t need to bust out my Best Picture stat this year, because if Shape of Water or Dunkirk were nominated, I’d be pretty confident that they’d probably be going down, which is not what history says is what would happen.

In terms of the category… the top three were always locked, and it was a matter of whether or not Dunkirk and/or The Shape of Water would get on. I had a feeling we’d get Kong, so really it was that Guardians spot I wasn’t sure of. I was kinda hoping they’d throw us a curveball and go Valerian. But in the end, Best CGI won out.

The major precursor here is the Visual Effects Society. VES has handed out awards since 2002. They have a bunch of categories, and I’m still figuring out an easy way to relate all the information to you guys. I’m gonna try something a bit different this year.

VES’s main category is called “Best Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature” (formerly “Effects-Driven”), which I’ll just refer to as ‘Photoreal’ from now on, to make it easier. The film that won Photoreal at VES has gone on to win the Oscar in 10 of the 15 years. The five years they missed were:

  • 2004: Prisoner of Azkaban wins Photoreal, but loses the Oscar to Spider-Man 2.
  • 2007: Transformers wins Photoreal but loses the Oscar to The Golden Compass.
  • 2011: Rise of the Planet of the Apes wins Photoreal but loses the Oscar to Hugo.
  • 2014: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes wins Photoreal but loses the Oscar to Interstellar.
  • 2015: The Force Awakens wins Photoreal but loses the Oscar to Ex Machina.

Other than that, all the Photoreal winners won the Oscar. (It should also be noted that in 2011 Hugo did win the VES Award for Supporting Visual Effects. And when you compound that with the Best Picture/Visual Effects stat, no one should have been surprised there.)

On that list, though, you have the most shocking result of the past twenty years (2015), 2014, which we will get to quite a bit throughout this category, 2007, which is surprising but does have an explanation, and then 2004, which I will also explain in just a minute. Still, a good run by VES.

Now, there is also an award at VES for “Animated Character in a Live-Action Feature.” The Animated Character award 8 times. Essentially compounding the favorite and winner of Photoreal. Though, in 15 years, it’s matched the winner of Photoreal all but four times, and in two of those times, it’s because there was no animated character in those movies. And the other two, a previous winner won again and it was the bear from The Revenant over Star Wars, whose animated character was… I guess… Maz, who isn’t really in the movie. So I guess that’s not overly helpful.

But one thing I did think would be helpful — in terms of VES, I went through each of the 15 years and broke down how many awards each of the Oscar nominees got at their ceremonies. Just to show you the correlation between VES wins and an Oscar win:

(Note: The * means that film won the Oscar for Visual Effects)

  • 2002: The Two Towers* — 8 awards; Attack of the Clones — 1 award
  • 2003: Return of the King* — 4 awards; Pirates of the Caribbean — 2 awards; Master and Commander — 1 award
  • 2004: Spider-Man 2* — 3 awards; Prisoner of Azkaban — 2 awards
  • 2005: King Kong* — 3 awards; War of the Worlds — 3 awards
  • 2006: Dead Man’s Chest* — 6 awards
  • 2007: Transformers — 4 awards; At World’s End — 2 awards
  • 2008: Benjamin Button* — 4 awards; The Dark Knight — 3 awards
  • 2009: Avatar* — 5 awards; District 9 — 1 award
  • 2010: Inception* — 4 awards; Deathly Hallows Part 1 — 1 award
  • 2011: Rise of the Planet of the Apes — 2 awards; Hugo* — 2 awards; Dark of the Moon — 2 awards
  • 2012: Life of Pi* — 4 awards; Avengers — 2 awards; The Hobbit — 1 award
  • 2013: Gravity* — 6 awards; The Lone Ranger — 1 award; The Hobbit — 1 award
  • 2014: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes — 3 awards; Days of Future Past — 2 awards; Interstellar* — 1 award
  • 2015: The Force Awakens — 4 awards; The Revenant — 3 awards; Mad Max — 1 award
  • 2016: The Jungle Book* — 5 awards; Deepwater Horizon — 2 awards; Kubo — 1 award; Doctor Strange — 1 award

The film that won the most awards at VES has gone on to win the Oscar all but three times. It should be noted that one of those times was a tie — Hugo and Apes had the same amount of awards in 2011 (though again, the Best Picture nomination was the tiebreaker there). The one year that got picked up was 2004, where Spider-Man won the most awards despite Azkaban winning the big one. And in there, you still have the shockers of 2007 and 2015, and the 2014 year of Interstellar beating Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

So that’s VES. Most of the years are covered by them. Now, BAFTA. Here’s how BAFTA did in those 15 years of VES:

  • 2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • 2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 2004: The Day After Tomorrow
  • 2005: King Kong
  • 2006: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
  • 2007: The Golden Compass
  • 2008: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • 2009: Avatar
  • 2010: Inception
  • 2011: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • 2012: Life of Pi
  • 2013: Gravity
  • 2014: Interstellar
  • 2015: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • 2016: The Jungle Book

They’ve only missed three times, and they straight up picked up The Golden Compass and Interstellar, leaving only the Ex Machina year as the true shocker that absolutely nobody could have predicted. The precursors literally cover you on this category.

Oh, and BFCA:

  • 2009: Avatar
  • 2010: Inception
  • 2011: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • 2012: Life of Pi
  • 2013: Gravity
  • 2014: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • 2015: Mad Max: Fury Road
  • 2016: The Jungle Book

So aside from 2015 and them taking Apes every time, they’re always right too.

Now, with all that information at your disposal, knowing that only once in 15 years did something not presaged by the precursors come in, here’s what we have this year:

  • At VES, the Photoreal category went to War for the Planet of the Apes (the third time that franchise has won that award), and it also won a total of 4 awards. Blade Runner 2049 won 2 awards, and Guardians 2 won 1 award.
  • Blade Runner won the BAFTA
  • War for the Planet of the Apes won BFCA (for the third time in the franchise’s history)

So you’re left with a situation where Apes won pretty much exactly the same awards it won the previous two times the franchise was nominated. I think we know where this one’s headed.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Blade Runner 2049. But wait, what? Apes has the most precursors! That’s right, it does. But I told you 2014 was gonna factor into this for me. This scenario is almost an exact copy of 2014. And if Hugo wasn’t a Best Picture nominee, it would be 2011 too! Apes won BFCA three times and has lost the first two times at the Oscars. Apes won the most VES awards three times too. In 2014, Apes had three awards and Interstellar had one. All Interstellar had was the BAFTA. BUT… Interstellar was the higher profile, ‘classier’ film. It was in the conversation for a bunch of Oscars, and had five overall nominations. People like the director and it felt like a big fish in a small pond of mainstream stuff. And what do we have here? A higher profile film, that if you look at it is pretty much ‘classier’ than the other nominees. It’s in the conversation for a bunch of Oscars, and has five overall nominations. People like Villeneuve and it feels like a big fish in a small pond. It’s not rocket science, guys. Where do you think the average votes for this are going? Do you think the 60-year-old who loved The Post even bothered to see most of this category outside of this and maybe Star Wars? This is the most likely candidate to win. I mean, we have two previous times this Apes thing has happened. What more do you need?

Biggest Competition: War for the Planet of the Apes. Sure, if Blade Runner doesn’t win, then this will win. And if it does, good for them. I will disagree with it as a choice over Blade Runner, but there’s no denying that they’ve earned it over the three movies with what they achieved with motion capture and making the apes feel like real people on screen. That said, it’s not the favorite. Sorry, guys. It had two chances to be the favorite and win. It didn’t happen. So it’s the competition, and I have it 60/40 in favor of Blade Runner right now.

Spoiler Alert: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Kinda has to be. I can’t see Kong coming out of nowhere to just win this. No one’s talking about that movie, and generally what wins this category, if it’s not a Best Picture winner/nominee, is something that people either really liked or were really were aware of the special effects for it. Kong is neither. And Guardians is neither. Star Wars, at least, is Star Wars, and will get some votes based on that.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Blade Runner 2049

2. War for the Planet of the Apes

3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

5. Kong: Skull Island

If I Were a Betting Man: Blade Runner 2049. I think if you read through this entire entry, I did a pretty good job of explaining just why this is the choice. The rundown: Apes was the film with the most precursors for both its previous entries. It won this category exactly zero times. The first time, it lost to Hugo, a Best Picture nominee, which until 2015 was an automatic winner over non-Best Picture nominees. In 2014, it lost to Interstellar, a movie that was a ‘classier’ movie than it (Apes is looked at as mainstream, while Interstellar was a Christopher Nolan film), which had five overall nominations and had a BAFTA win for Visual Effects. This year, Blade Runner is the ‘classier’ movie (it’s a Denis Villeneuve film), has five overall nominations and has a BAFTA win for Visual Effects. And just look at it. What’s the average voter going to have seen and vote for? It’s this. The old white dude’s probably haven’t bothered to see any of the Apes movies. The ‘it’s the third one and we should reward it’ logic only goes so far and is more a critical and an online thing. Not in the Academy. It hasn’t really worked in this category at all. You wanna go there, fine, but Blade Runner seems all around like the right choice in this category.

You Should Take: Blade Runner 2049. If I haven’t convinced you yet, I’m never going to. I think this is the clear winner. I’m covered on the Scorecard either way, since it’s not this, it’s almost certainly Apes. So I’m good. But I don’t see how you can think this will lose based on the history of the Apes franchise in this category. The comps are kind of undeniable.

On My Ballot: Blade Runner 2049

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Sound Editing

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

My Rankings:

  1. Dunkirk
  2. Blade Runner 2049
  3. Baby Driver
  4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  5. The Shape of Water

My Thoughts: I like the category a lot. I have three legitimate choices here, with Blade Runner, Baby Driver and Dunkirk. Shape of Water I wouldn’t vote for, even though I think they did a good job. Star Wars should always be nominated in the Sound categories, given what they accomplish with those movies, but I wasn’t overly blown away by the effort this time. I’m pretty torn between the three up top. I think Baby Driver would be my third choice, just because as nice as the car chases and stuff are, I think they had a harder time creating the world of Blade Runner and the battles of Dunkirk. And I think, in the end, I’ll take the war film, even though it’s a tough choice for me between the two of them. I just think the way they used sound to create a never-ending state of tension for over 90 minutes of that movie is just astounding.

My Vote: Dunkirk

Should Have Been Nominated: You know… this was my preferred category, strangely enough. So I’m good.

– – – – –

The Analysis

This is one of the rare times both Sound categories matched 5/5. Wanna know how rare it is? The categories both had five nominees since 2006. This is the first time since then that it’s happened.

And, if you wanna go back before that (which you know I do), when Sound Editing only had three or less nominees, making it so much easier to have the same nominees in both categories — I went back to the first Sound Editing category in 1963… so 1963 to 2005, what is that, 43 years? Happened eight times. So eight times. Ever. That’s comparable to the Best Director Oscar/DGA stat. That shit don’t happen.

For you real Oscar trivia buffs, here are the years (number of Editing nominees in quotes): 2005 (3), 2004 (3), 1998 (3), 1995 (3), 1986 (3), 1983 (2), 1967 (2). Now, some of those years in between don’t even have Sound Editing categories. They just handed out special awards to things like Star Wars. But still… eight times ever. And the first time ever in the history of five nominees apiece in the Sound categories. That’s a first.

Now, one thing to note before we get into Editing specifically — the Sound categories must be taken as a pair. You need to be apprised of both of them before deciding in either. So what I suggest, before you continue reading, is that you go down to Sound Mixing, read through that, and then come back up here. Don’t worry, I’ll just vamp until you get back.

You back? Okay, cool. Let’s move on.

So we know where Mixing is likely going and how the two categories correlate. In terms of purely Editing, the major precursor to look at is MPSE, the Motion Picture Sound Editors.

MPSE has three major categories. They are for Best Sound Effects and Foley (SFX+Foley), Dialogue+ADR, and Music. The order I listed them in is generally the order of importance, though really you should just look at what wins each of them, cross list with CAS (Mixing) and then see everything laid out in front of you before you decide what the real order of importance is.

They’ve been handing out awards since 1991, though the Oscar category for Sound Editing has only had five nominees in it since 2006. So really we’re only looking at the past decade for anything truly helpful. But, since I’m crazy, I’m gonna give you everything. So if you don’t care about 1991-2005, you can just skip down to the dancing gif below until I catch up.

  • 1991: SFX+Foley goes to Barton Fink. Their Dialogue+ADR goes to Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesTerminator 2: Judgment Day wins the Oscar for Sound Editing, beating Backdraft and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. So, MPSE is off the board, and the obvious Oscar choice wins.
  • 1992 – Under Siege wins SFX+Foley and Alien 3 wins Dialogue+ADR. Bram Stoker’s Dracula wins the Oscar over Under Siege and Aladdin. No comment on any of that.
  • 1993 – Jurassic Park wins SFX+Foley and Schindler’s List wins Dialogue+ADR. Jurassic Park wins the Oscar over Cliffhanger and the Fugitive. Pretty obvious choice.
  • 1994 – Speed wins SFX+Foley, Forrest Gump wins Dialogue+ADR. Speed wins the Oscar over Gump and Clear and Present Danger. Somewhat surprising, but understandable.
  • 1995 – Braveheart and Crimson Tide tie for SFX+Foley, and Crimson Tide wins for Dialogue+ADR. Braveheart wins the Oscar over Crimson Tide and Batman Forever. Oscar movie with many battle scenes wins over action/sub movie. Understandable.
  • 1996 – We ignore this one, since it’s totally random. You can go look it up, but trust me, it’s irrelevant.
  • 1997 – Titanic wins the Oscar and both MPSE categories.
  • 1998 – Saving Private Ryan wins the Oscar and both MPSE categories.
  • 1999 – The Matrix wins the Oscar and wins SFX+Foley while American Beauty wins Dialogue+ADR. Pretty obvious The Matrix would win the Oscar.
  • 2000 – Gladiator wins SFX+Foley, while Dialogue+ADR goes to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The Oscar category consists only of two nominees: U-571 and Space CowboysU-571 obviously wins.
  • 2001 – Black Hawk Down wins SFX+Foley and Dialogue+ADR. The Oscar category consists only of Pearl Harbor and Monsters, Inc. Clearly Pearl Harbor wins.
  • 2002 – Road to Perdition (a spirited choice) wins SFX+Foley and Gangs of New York wins Dialogue+ADR. Two Towers wins the Oscar, beating Road to Perdition and Minority Report. This is the only Rings film to win Editing. Why? Big ass fucking battle scene.
  • 2003 – Master and Commander wins SFX+Foley and Pirates of the Caribbean wins Dialogue+ADR. Master and Commander wins the Oscar over Pirates and Finding Nemo.
  • 2004 – The Aviator wins SFX+Foley while Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind wins Dialogue+ADR. The Incredibles wins the Oscar, beating The Polar Express and Spider-Man 2. Weird category.
  • 2005 – War of the Worlds wins SFX+Foley, and Memoirs of a Geisha wins Dialogue+ADR. King Kong wins the Oscar, beating War of the Worlds and Geisha.

Okay, so now we can get into the past decade. This is where MPSE really starts to matter more with the Oscar category:

  • 2006: Letters from Iwo Jima wins SFX+Foley and Dialogue+ADR, while Apocalypto wins Music. Letters wins the Oscar.
  • 2007: The Bourne Ultimatum wins SFX+Foley and Dialogue+ADR and wins the Oscar (both Sound categories).
  • 2008: The Dark Knight wins SFX+Foley and Music, while The Curious Case of Benjamin Button wins Dialogue+ADR. The Dark Knight wins the Oscar. (Note: This year also had a category called Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue & ADR. Which was basically Sound Mixing. Slumdog Millionaire won that en route to a Sound Mixing win at the Oscars.)
  • 2009: Avatar wins SFX+Foley and Music, while Inglourious Basterds won Dialogue+ADR. The Hurt Locker wins the Oscar (both Sound categories).
  • 2010: Inception wins SFX+Foley and Music, while The Social Network wins Dialogue+ADR. Inception wins the Oscar (both Sound categories).
  • 2011: War Horse wins SFX+Foley, while Hugo wins Music. Hugo wins the Oscar (both Sound categories).
  • 2012: Skyfall won SFX+Foley, while Life of Pi wins Dialogue+ADR and Music. The Oscar is a TIE between Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty.
  • 2013: Gravity won SFX+Foley, while Captain Phillips wins Dialogue+ADR. Gravity wins the Oscar (both Sound categories).
  • 2014: American Sniper won SFX+Foley, Unbroken wins Dialogue+ADR and Birdman wins Music. American Sniper wins the Oscar.
  • 2015: SFX+Foley is a TIE between The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road, while The Force Awakens wins Music. Mad Max wins the Oscar (both Sound categories).
  • 2016: Hacksaw Ridge wins SFX+Foley and Dialogue+ADR, while La La Land wins Music. Arrival wins the Oscar.

So, as you can see, typically your SFX+Foley winner is gonna win the Oscar, or else your winner will win one of the other MPSE Awards. To drag a finer comb through that —

Let’s look at BAFTA. (BFCA tried a Sound category for three years and then abandoned it.) BAFTA has a single Sound category, but it’s worth noting just how much overlap there is between them and either Editing or Mixing. I’m not gonna waste your time posting them all. The big one that BAFTA had was Arrival last year. Otherwise it’s all Mixing stuff like Whiplash and Les Mis. They also had Hurt Locker in ’09. That’s the other one MPSE didn’t have. Better to just get into this year and then break the category down and move on to Mixing.

This year at MPSE, SFX+Foley went to Blade Runner 2049, while Dunkirk won for Music. And BAFTA’s single Sound category went to Dunkirk. Oh, and the CAS Award for Mixing went to Dunkirk too.

I think we can safely parse this one, don’t you?

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Dunkirk. It won the BAFTA category, which Arrival did, en route to an Editing win last year, and it does have an MPSE award to back it up. And it has CAS. And it’s a WAR film. Sounds like a favorite all around to me. The question really is, now that it’s the favorite, do you take it in both? That’s really the main thing you need to figure out. But let’s get through all three contenders before we start dealing with any of the hard stuff.

Biggest Competition: Blade Runner 2049. It’s got the SFX+Foley win, and Villeneuve’s last film won the BAFTA and the Oscar last year. So they respect him and his team. Plus, it’s Blade Runner. Five nominations. It’s a contender. Not the favorite because CAS and BAFTA went another way. But still, it can win this. So it’s the second choice. You should never be shocked when a Sound category goes another way. Keep this one near the top of the rankings.

Spoiler Alert: Baby Driver. No precursors anywhere. Not even Music from MPSE. That’s what tells me that Dunkirk is the favorite, that it won Music over this. But without a precursor, and Blade Runner having more nominations and the SFX+Foley win (which is the big Editing award)… I gotta put this as the third choice. Could happen. This could win either Sound category (hell, I could even see a tie happening this year, with two of these three winning one of the categories). But I can’t put it any higher than the third choice, because without precursor support, how do you know which it’ll get the more votes in?

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Dunkirk

2. Blade Runner 2049

3. Baby Driver

4. The Shape of Water

5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

If I Were a Betting Man: Dunkirk. Has an MPSE award, has a BAFTA win for Sound and it won the Mixing guild. That’s broad support, about as broad as you’re gonna get. And it being a war film, Best Picture nominee and having 8 overall nominations, not to mention that Christopher Nolan had two of his last three big Oscar films (Dark Knight and Inception) win this category (Interstellar was only nominated)… hard to not consider this the safest choice. Plus it makes the most sense and I agree with it, so all around I feel good about it.

You Should Take: Dunkirk. Blade Runner could take this, and maybe even Baby Driver could take it. You don’t know. I don’t know. But Dunkirk has all the precursor support you could want and seems like the best choice. The problem becomes when you step out on that ledge of going against the precursors in these categories… what if you took Blade Runner here and then Dunkirk in Mixing and they swapped? Then you get both wrong. Safest thing is to have both Sound categories the same and see which way they go. And since Dunkirk appears to be the favorite in both, that’s the way I’m gonna go. Fortunately, this year, Dunkirk looks like a film that can take both pretty easily. So I like my chances. Not 100% sold on Mixing, but I feel good having it in both. I don’t think you’re gonna get a Blade Runner/Baby Driver split of the two categories.

On My Ballot: Dunkirk

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Sound Mixing

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

My Rankings:

  1. Blade Runner 2049
  2. Baby Driver
  3. Dunkirk
  4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  5. The Shape of Water

My Thoughts: Same as Editing, only here, with Mixing, it’s more about the seamless blending of sounds. It’s the entire mix. And I almost had Baby Driver as my winner here. I love the mix of sound and music and action and all that. But in the end, Blade Runner felt like the choice. Dunkirk probably should be my second choice, but I’ll throw Baby Driver second just because. But Blade Runner is just beautiful, the way they blended everything together. So that’s my choice. I can split the Sound categories on my vote, because it’s all subjective. Spread that wealth, baby.

My Vote: Baby Driver

Should Have Been Nominated: Again, basically the same as Editing. I like these five. I’m good.

– – – – –

The Analysis

My constant refrain every year is, “Don’t split the Sound categories, Mike.” And what have I started thinking the past two weeks? “You know, maybe they will split. Like last year. Maybe it’ll will work out this time…”

It should be noted that the reason you do not split the Sound categories most years is precisely because of what happened last year. Last year, we figured La La Land would win for Sound Mixing because it’s a musical, and then the war movie, Hacksaw Ridge, would win for Editing because it’s a war film. And what ends up happening? Hacksaw Ridge wins for Mixing and then Arrival wins for Editing, and I got doubly fucked. Had I taken Hacksaw in both, I’d have at least had one win to show for it.

That’s the problem you have most years. You might think the Sound categories will go two different ways, but how do you know which way the split is gonna go? If you told me last year that Hacksaw would win one Sound award and Arrival would win the other, I’d have for sure said Arrival would win Mixing and Hacksaw would win Editing. The safest play is usually to take the same contender in both (if you’re sure it’ll win one, that is) and then just be wrong if they go another way one of the categories.

Now, we have to start by saying that Editing and Mixing are categories that have to be looked at together. So just in case you didn’t already read my stuff up in Editing, you should go do that now. I’ll just be doing my thing here.

You’re back? Okay, cool.

Now that you see how Editing will go, it’s important to note one thing about the fluidity of the two categories. Which is how many times a film won both Mixing and Editing:

  • 1966, Grand Prix
  • 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark (The Editing award was a special award, but that just means they didn’t have a category that year. It would have won if there were other nominees.)
  • 1982, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  • 1983, The Right Stuff
  • 1991, Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • 1993, Jurassic Park
  • 1994, Speed
  • 1997, Titanic
  • 1998, Saving Private Ryan
  • 1999, The Matrix
  • 2005, King Kong
  • 2007, The Bourne Ultimatum
  • 2009, The Hurt Locker
  • 2010, Inception
  • 2011, Hugo
  • 2013, Gravity
  • 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road

That’s only 17 times. Not that many. Though it’s important to note that Sound Editing wasn’t a category until 1963 and it wasn’t seriously given out until 1981, and even then it only had 2 or 3 nominees until 2006. So, grain of salt. (Note: Salt was nominated for Mixing in 2010.)

However, since 2006, when there were two Sound categories with five nominees each… six times did a film win both. So six of the past eleven years, a film won both categories.

Oh, and the five years where it didn’t happen:

  • 2006 — Dreamgirls, a musical, won Mixing
  • 2008 — Slumdog Millionaire, a film with a lot of music, won Mixing
  • 2012 — Les Mis, a musical, won Mixing
  • 2014 — Whiplash, a music film, won Mixing
  • 2016 — the Hacksaw/Arrival thing that I’ve yet to make sense of happened

For some reason it’s all the even years.

So yeah. Unless you’ve got a musical… which we don’t (unless you wanna count Baby Driver), don’t split the Sound categories. Just go down if you’re gonna go down. (Also, Dunkirk won for Music at MPSE, so there’s that too).

The major precursor here is CAS, the Cinema Audio Society. Surprisingly not great at being in line with the Oscar winner. They’ve handed out awards since 1993. Here’s how they do:

  • 1993: The Fugitive (Jurassic Park wins the Oscar)
  • 1994: Forrest Gump (Speed wins the Oscar)
  • 1995: Apollo 13
  • 1996: The English Patient
  • 1997: Titanic
  • 1998: Saving Private Ryan
  • 1999: The Matrix
  • 2000: Gladiator
  • 2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Black Hawk Down wins the Oscar)
  • 2002: Road to Perdition (Chicago wins the Oscar)
  • 2003: Master and Commander (Return of the King wins the Oscar)
  • 2004: The Aviator (Ray wins the Oscar)
  • 2005: Walk the Line (King Kong wins the Oscar)
  • 2006: Dreamgirls
  • 2007: No Country for Old Men (The Bourne Ultimatum wins the Oscar)
  • 2008: Slumdog Millionaire
  • 2009: The Hurt Locker
  • 2010: True Grit (Inception wins the Oscar)
  • 2011: Hugo
  • 2012: Les Miserables
  • 2013: Gravity
  • 2014: Birdman (Whiplash wins the Oscar)
  • 2015: The Revenant (Mad Max wins the Oscar)
  • 2016: La La Land (Hacksaw Ridge wins the Oscar)

So, in 24 years, they’re 12/24. Only 50% of the time. And there are some weird ones where they go with the sound heavy film and the musical wins the Oscar, then they turn around and vote for the musical and the sound heavy film wins. So that’s why, as much as you should have all the information, you should use it, along with BAFTA and along with all you know about Editing and those precursors as well as general logic to figure out how you’re gonna vote in this one.

It should also be noted that in the past eleven years, when the Sound categories were both five nominees, CAS is 6/11. Though in four of those five misses, they voted against the winner of the Mixing Oscar (Whiplash is the only Oscar winner not nominated at CAS). So again… that’s why you gotta take the Sound categories as one giant pile and not focus solely on Mixing.

Oh, but we should look at BAFTA. I didn’t do that yet. BAFTA, going back to 1993, and their singular Sound category, had as their winner:

  • 1993: The Fugitive
  • 1994: Speed
  • 1995: Braveheart
  • 1996: Shine
  • 1997: L.A. Confidential
  • 1998: Saving Private Ryan
  • 1999: The Matrix
  • 2000: Almost Famous
  • 2001: Moulin Rouge!
  • 2002: Chicago
  • 2003: Master and Commander
  • 2004: Ray
  • 2005: Walk the Line
  • 2006: Casino Royale
  • 2007: The Bourne Ultimatum
  • 2008: Slumdog Millionaire
  • 2009: The Hurt Locker
  • 2010: Inception
  • 2011: Hugo
  • 2012: Les Miserables
  • 2013: Gravity
  • 2014: Whiplash
  • 2015: The Revenant
  • 2016: Arrival

So it should be worth noting that 8 of the past 10 years, BAFTA’s Sound winner won for Sound Mixing. They only missed the last two. And Arrival won for EDITING. Which means that 9/10 years, BAFTA’s given you the winner of at least one Sound category. (And, five of those won both. So just purely picking BAFTA’s winner in both Sound categories gives you a 50% chance to get both Sound categories right.

This year, CAS went to Dunkirk. Dunkirk also won BAFTA’s Sound category, as well as Music from MPSE, while Blade Runner still has that SFX+Foley win from MPSE.

You know how I feel about Editing, so this one should be pretty easy for us too.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Dunkirk. All around, it feels like your winner. It won CAS, it won an MPSE award, it won the BAFTA, whose winner we’ve discovered has won 8 of the last 10 Sound Mixing categories and has won both Sound categories 5 of the past 10 years. I’ve already taken it in Editing, and since the mantra is, “Don’t split the Sound categories, Mike,” I’m making it the favorite here too.

Biggest Competition: Blade Runner 2049. It’s the only other nominee with a precursor. It’s still got the SFX+Foley MPSEwin, which is more for Editing, but still means the sound people like it a lot. Villeneuve won a Sound category last year and it has five nominations. I feel safe calling it the alternate in both categories.

Spoiler Alert: Baby Driver. Again, I don’t know which, if either, it can or will win. So I have to call it the third choice by sheer fact that, in the past eleven years, where we’ve had two Sound categories with five nominees, two Sound guild precursors and BAFTA, only one film won a Sound award without winning an award anywhere within those precursors. And that was Zero Dark Thirty, which tied for the win, along with Skyfall, which did have a precursor. So unless you think you can luck into a tie or this is gonna pull out a big upset (which I will admit, I’m not entirely ruling out), I don’t see how it’s not the third choice in both Sound categories.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Dunkirk

2. Blade Runner 2049

3. Baby Driver

4. The Shape of Water

5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

If I Were a Betting Man: Dunkirk. Because I’m not splitting the Sound categories. Dunkirk has the precursors all around to be the favorite in both. The BAFTA win for Sound is huge. Your BAFTA winner has won Mixing 8 of the past 10 years, and 5 out of the last 10 it won both. Dunkirk has an MPSE win for Music and a CAS win. If I’m taking it in one, I’m taking it in both.

You Should Take: Dunkirk. Don’t split. Just take my advice and don’t do that unless you are sure and are aware of what you’re getting into. That said, if it’s not Dunkirk, then you’re taking Blade Runner in both. And you can hang your hat on the MPSE win for SFX+Foley that it has. Otherwise, what are you doing? Baby Driver has no wins, and only in a tie scenario did a movie without any Sound precursor wins on either side win an Oscar the past 11 years (which is really all that matter at the moment for the Sound categories). Oh, and that one win was a TIE, which has only happened six times ever at the Oscars. No stat is sacred in the right scenario, but you can’t just assume that’ll happen. Plus, then, which one? Are you gonna take Baby Driver in both on the off chance? That’s insane. The safest play is Dunkirk in both. If you wanna split them, then be my guest. Just be damn sure you know which one is being won. I would, in that situation, highly recommend having Dunkirk be one of the two in the split. But make sure you know which one you are certain it’s winning before you split the other one. Precursors say it’s likely gonna take Mixing, even though broad logic says Editing is the one for the war film and something like Dunkirk or Baby Driver, with all the music, is more likely to take Mixing. You can drive yourself crazy trying to parse through all those scenarios, so that’s why I say take Dunkirk in both and be done with it. Unless you can’t sleep at night without taking one of the other two on your ballot, Dunkirk seems like the play in both categories.

On My Ballot: Dunkirk

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Animated Feature

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner

Coco

Ferdinand

Loving Vincent

My Rankings:

  1. Coco
  2. Loving Vincent
  3. The Breadwinner
  4. The Boss Baby
  5. Ferdinand

My Thoughts: I’ll get to my feelings on the category as a whole in a second. But in terms of what’s here, I am SO FUCKING STOKED that The Boss Baby got nominated for an Academy Award. Look at the leaps and bounds we made in 2017 — babies are now executives and drivers. What a time to be alive. Anyway, didn’t like Ferdinand at all and think that’s a joke. But other than that, The Breadwinner was absolutely gorgeous, Loving Vincent is the most stunning animated movie I’ve seen in a decade and on pure animation would normally be my vote. But Coco is so fucking gorgeous on so many levels that I have to take that. Pixar, once again, does it. Coco made my top ten. It’s not even a question how much that’s the vote.

My Vote: Coco

Should Have Been Nominated: The Girl Without Hands, Mary and the Witch’s Flower

– – – – –

The Analysis

The jury’s out on the rule change they made to this category. As of this year, Animated Feature voting is open to any member who chooses to participate in it. Which means, if you opted in, they gave you links to all the eligible films and mandated that you watch at least 13 of them in order to vote. (Of the 13, 9 specific ones were required. Members were placed in one of two groups, and those groups were given a specific set of films they had to watch.) If you met those requirements, then you could vote.

NOW… one thing members could have done — they could have said they watched certain films in theaters (whether they did or not) and gotten credit for having watched them, or they could have opened up the stream on a film and let it run or just skipped to the end and gotten credit for having watched it. I don’t know if that did happen, but if all you wanted to do was vote for your film, you could have rigged the system just to put your contender high on the ballot. Again, it’s too early to tell if that happened, but this system is just in place now for the first time and I don’t know what kind of repercussions that will bring for the future. All I know is we got two films that would not have gotten on in previous years.

Which brings me to the category we got. This was a pretty easy one all around, as three of the films were locked all throughout the process. Everyone knew Coco, Loving Vincent and The Breadwinner were gonna get on. But the last two spots were open. And in previous years, they’d have filled them with really cool, arty films that no one would have heard of but were really gorgeously animated and perfectly fit what this category is supposed to be all about.

Look at the last handful of categories and the cool films that got on:

  • 2016: The Red Turtle, My Life as a Zucchini
  • 2015: Boy and the World, When Marnie Was There
  • 2014: Song of the Sea, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
  • 2013: Ernest & Celestine
  • 2011: A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita

Every single one of these is either hand-drawn or stop-motion. And they’re all beautiful films. The Animation Branch became one of my favorite branches after they expanded the category from 3-5 nominees in 2011. In that first year, they immediately threw out the computer animated stuff, like Cars 2 and Tintin (as much as Tintin should have been nominated) and went to more traditional stuff that was just cooler. And then there was this rule change.

So now, instead of really cool alternatives like The Girl Without Hands, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Cinderella the Cat, or Ethel & Ernest, we got Ferdinand and The Boss Baby.

Now, on the one hand… Academy Award nominee The Boss Baby is pretty sweet. I’ve been joking about how it’s the greatest movie of all time for a year now.

But on the other, we got fucking Ferdinand with it. Did you see Ferdinand? It’s not great. And it’s definitely not something that will reflect well on this category over time. Not over some of the other, cooler choices they could have had. No one’s gonna discover Ferdinand as some great film. But people can discover The Girl Without Hands.

I hope this is just a one-off, rather than a sign of things to come, because I’m gonna get really depressed if mainstream bullshit starts getting forced into this category just to placate whatever idiots said it should be changed.

But still, Academy Award nominee The Boss Baby is amazing.

Oh, and yeah, we don’t really need to talk about this one. Coco is winning.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Coco. This is a pretty intuitive category. And by intuitive, this should be your strategy every year. Pixar original films win every time. The last one to not was Cars, and that was the weakest thing they’ve made. (Note: The Good Dinosaur came out the same year as Inside Out, so we can all conveniently forget about that.) Even BRAVE won this award. Trust me, it’s not losing.

Biggest Competition: Loving Vincent. Because I don’t know what wins if Coco doesn’t. At least this is the most gorgeous of the other choices. I mean, look at it — it better get enough votes to be the second choice.

Spoiler Alert: The Breadwinner. What the fuck are we doing if we get past Coco for the win? Don’t mess around. You know what’s winning.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Coco

2. Loving Vincent

3. The Breadwinner

4. The Boss Baby

5. Ferdinand

If I Were a Betting Man: Coco. Truly, as Jack Black said — bet it all on Pixar. This might be the biggest lock of the night. Which, by the way… this is the 11th lock. One more and we already know the winners of half the awards. (We won’t get to 12. But technically Best Picture is a 50/50 toss-up. So we’re kinda there.)

You Should Take: Coco. Are you fucking nuts? Take Pixar. Why are you even still reading this?

On My Ballot: Coco

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– – – – –

Best Foreign Language Film

A Fantastic Woman

The Insult

Loveless

On Body and Soul

The Square

My Rankings:

  1. Loveless
  2. The Square
  3. A Fantastic Woman
  4. On Body and Soul
  5. The Insult

My Thoughts: Not a particularly inspiring category. I thought, from the shortlist, they should have nominated Foxtrot. And I know a lot of people really liked In the Fade. No one’s even heard of On Body and Soul, and for me, The Insult felt like Asghar Farhard lite. A Fantastic Woman I liked. It was really well made. I enjoyed The Square more because it was so weird. Loveless, I thought, was the best film in the category, so that’ll be my vote.

My Vote: Loveless

Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

– – – – –

The Analysis

How they whittle down their eligible films to a shortlist is beyond me. But I trust that whoever is watching the films has seen them all and is voting with their heart. So until I hear otherwise or gain more first-hand insight into the inner workings of this category, I’ll assume it’s on the up-and-up.

That said, of their nine shortlisted films, we got a pretty boring category. Which is interesting, since we got 3 of the 5 choices I thought we’d get. So maybe it’s just a boring year for foreign language films. The two choices that got left off that were quite good and I thought would make more of a splash — Foxtrot, the Israeli film that has 30 of the most heartbreaking opening minutes I saw this year (before completely shifting gears and going a different route), and In the Fade, which won the Globe and maybe a couple other small precursors and was a long shot Best Actress contender. So we got the three that were mostly expected, and then they went with two that no one had heard of. So that feels kind of typical of them. Foreign Language usually has at least one or two that are complete blanks for most people.

Not really much to say here, since there aren’t a whole lot of precursors to help you, and the Globe winner is out. BAFTA’s Foreign Language award went to a movie that came out last year, and BFCA went with the same film the Globes did. So it’s pure guess work on this one. Here you are, and the precursors have completely left you out to dry.

I’ll do my best to help you out:

The Insult is, as I’ve been saying all along, Asghar Farhadi-lite. And Asghar Farhadi wasn’t even gonna win last year if not for the political thing surrounding his film. So this is a very unlikely contender.

On Body and Soul is the one of the five that was never sent out as a screener before nominations that most people probably haven’t heard of, even if they’re on top of foreign films. It’s fine, and quite good at times, but it just doesn’t have the visibility to make a play in this one. The last time a movie came out of nowhere to win Foreign Language over more obvious favorites was what? Departures? Over Waltz with Bashir? Can’t consider this a contender at all.

Loveless is quite good, but it’s so depressing and so under the radar this year that I can’t see it being such a huge favorite. It’s relentlessly bleak, and they tend to not go bleak here, unless it’s something profound like Son of Saul. Leviathan was more of a contender than this. Maybe it can win, but it’s definitely not a favorite.

A Fantastic Woman is the movie that became a sort of favorite once the category got announced. Daniela Vega was spoken of as an outside Best Actress contender, and there’s a shot in the film that has become very feted, and was even just referenced in a Janelle Monae music video this past week. It’s got everything you look for in this category.

And The Square is the film with all the notoriety, from a director who was snubbed in this category previously, with his un-nominated Force Majeure. It’s tricky, tonally, and might not resonate with everyone, but this is the film that’s had the most eyeballs on it, which usually bodes well for a contender in this category. It’s either the film the most people know or the one that’s had the most positive word of mouth.

I feel pretty safe telling you which films to vote for, and I think most people looking at this will have about the same idea as I do about this one.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: A Fantastic Woman. It just feels like the choice. I think it says a lot about what 2018 as a culture wants to promote, and I think it has a quiet campaign that can take it home. It’s not the obvious choice as a favorite, but it does feel like the film that’s most likely to win this category. I’ve been getting that feeling about this for the past month. I think this is your most likely winner.

Biggest Competition: The Square. It’s the one the most people know, the director has a film that he arguably should have won for already and didn’t, and it’s got some American stars in it, which may or may not help it out. I’m thinking your category comes down to one or the other, this or A Fantastic Woman. It’s not a lock the way the last couple of years (The Salesman, Son of Saul) were, but it’s definitely a contender. In most of the toss-up years recently, we either had precursors to tell us where things were going (The Great Beauty) or we had secondary nominations (Ida) to tell us that they liked it. Here… we’re just kind of guessing. I think your winner is one of these two films. Though I will add… Amour is the only Palm D’Or winner to win this category in the past 25 years. Which is not something that bodes well for this (somehow). It’s only happened 6 times ever, and most of those times, the film got another Oscar nomination (like Best Picture, Actor, Director, etc.) So there’s that.

Spoiler Alert: Loveless. The real answer here is The Insult, but I found a gif for Loveless, so I’ll put it here. Plus, in terms of pure quality, this is the only other correct choice. However, living and working where I do, you’re inundated with people campaigning and trying to sway the narrative, and all I heard the last week was how The Insult was in play. I don’t believe this (because I believe there are discerning voters who actually watch the films or at least go with what seems like the right choice), so in my mind, we’re getting A Fantastic Woman as the winner and then maybe The Square because people know it. But The Insult had a big push near the end of voting, so who the fuck knows? But smart money says we shouldn’t get down this far, so who cares, really?

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. A Fantastic Woman

2. The Square

3. The Insult

4. Loveless

5. On Body and Soul

If I Were a Betting Man: A Fantastic Woman. I think it’s the most likely choice. I can’t really justify it past… that’s what my gut says. You come to me for an educated opinion, and that’s mine. When the film is already being referenced in American music videos, I think we gotta consider that as having crossed over and having support.

You Should Take: A Fantastic Woman. It’s either that or The Square. If you feel stronger about The Square, be my guest. It’s entirely possible that wins. But A Fantastic Woman feels like the choice. Don’t go anywhere other than those two. That’s definitely a bad idea. But you can go one or the other. I consider it 53/47 A Fantastic Woman. Why those specific numbers? No idea. But these are my rules, I make ’em up. So there.

On My Ballot: A Fantastic Woman

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Documentary Feature

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Faces Places

Icarus

Last Men in Aleppo

Strong Island

My Rankings:

  1. Icarus
  2. Faces Places
  3. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
  4. Strong Island
  5. Last Men in Aleppo

My Thoughts: Terrible category. I can think of at least three other documentaries from the shortlist that were straight up better than at least three of these nominees, if not all five straight up. I know they would never have nominated it, and it’s the only shortlisted film I haven’t seen, but Ex Libris just sounds amazing. It’s a four-hour documentary about the New York Public Library, and to me, I’d rather watch that than any of these five. Then, Jane was just gorgeous, using never-before-seen footage of Jane Goodall along with an incredible Philip Glass score to really provide one hell of an experience. And how about One of Us, about the insular Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn? Or LA 92, which has unseen footage from the LA riots? To me, this category is just weak and boring. Last Men in Aleppo is basically The White Helmets, but longer. Don’t care. Strong Island is about the documentarian’s brother who was killed, and how the justice system failed them. It’s fine, but it’s too narrow a viewpoint and doesn’t really have the power that other documentaries with similar subject matter have. Abacus is about a small Chinese bank that got all the blame after the financial crisis. Somewhat interesting, but not the kind of thing I’d ever vote for. If it were a #5 in the category, I’d be okay with that. Here, it’s a third choice, just because the category sucks so much. Faces Places was very fun and charming, but didn’t add up to a whole lot for me. I know some people liked it a lot, but I thought it was just fine. Icarus, at least, held my attention and went in some interesting directions, despite being very flawed. Since that’s the only one I’d give a thumbs up to, that’s my de facto winner. Normally it would probably be a third choice, but here we are.

My Vote: Icarus

Should Have Been Nominated: Ex Libris, Jane, One of Us

– – – – –

The Analysis

Agnes Varda is now the oldest person to be nominated for a competitive Academy Award. She’s 89. James Ivory is literally a week younger than her, and just missed that distinction. However, Ivory will win his award and she might not win this, but if she does, she’ll end up as the oldest person to win a competitive Oscar. She also got an honorary award this year too. So everything’s coming up Agnes.

I don’t have much to say about how this category came about. The Documentary branch is the most broken and constantly makes completely weird and arbitrary choices that lead to bad or boring categories most years. I saw 14 of the 15 shortlisted films (still really wanna see Ex Libris, the 4-hour documentary about the New York Public Library). At best, they picked two documentaries I liked, two more I thought were fine, and the fifth was one that I just did not care for. Now, I’m not the arbiter of documentaries, since I can usually care less about documentaries that tackle social issues and try to get you mad about some way the government or whomever is fucking you. But I think we can agree there were better choices here. Like Jane, which has been the most feted documentary of the season, and they just left it off. Which is like 2014, where the most feted documentary, Life Itself, about Roger Ebert, was left off the Oscar list and we were left with a boring ass Oscar category where there was only one film that made sense as a winner and it all felt anticlimactic and uninteresting.

To break down the anticlimactic and uninteresting choices this year:

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is about how the government, after the housing crisis, did exactly as The Big Short said, and “blamed it on the immigrants and poor people.” They took a predominantly Chinese local bank in Manhattan, whose customers were all part of the insular immigrant Chinese community, and basically tried to pin the mortgage crisis on them, making them the only bank in the country to face criminal charges.

Faces Places is Agnes Varda and a French artist, going around, meeting people, taking photographs with them and putting their photographs up on buildings and walls and stuff as they leave. No idea what the point is, but it’s certainly charming. And who doesn’t love Agnes Varda?

Icarus begins as a documentary about a guy who tries to see if he can secretly dope in cycling races and get away with it, and then about midway through, after the guy fails at that, the documentary takes an interesting turn, because the Russian doctor who helped him becomes the center of a Russian doping scandal at the Olympics.

Last Men in Aleppo is basically a longer version of The White Helmets. Same guys. The ones who risk their lives, going into bombed out buildings to get survivors out.

Strong Island is about the murder of a black man and how the justice system failed to put away his killer. The entire story is told by his younger brother, who directed the documentary.

Not a particularly inspiring bunch, especially since The White Helmets won Documentary Short last year. It’s one of those situations where, like 2014 and Citizenfour, you can pretty much find a favorite just by looking at it. And since we’ve got nothing else to go on, that’s pretty much all we can do to parse this one.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Icarus. What else can it be? It’s been on Netflix since August, most people have probably heard of it. I found out about it because a bunch of people at the office saw it and liked it. And, the heart of the documentary is about Russian interference in things, which, in case you don’t read the news… kind of a big deal lately. This feels like the film that’s most likely to win the category.

Biggest Competition: Faces Places. If it’s not Icarus, it’s this. Agnes Varda is the oldest nominee ever, people love her, and a fair amount of people know she’s up for this. That’ll get her some votes. Honestly, if it’s not Icarus, it’s this. And if it’s not this, then just chalk it up to a bad year, because I couldn’t tell you what the fuck’s gonna happen if it’s not one of these two.

Spoiler Alert: Strong Island. Because the other two seem so unlikely that this is the default number three. It’s somewhat timely, and it got press because the director is transgender and can make history by winning. So maybe that’ll get it some votes. Plus, it’s on Netflix. So maybe that too. I don’t know. I truly cannot tell you what’s gonna happen if the winner isn’t one of those top two.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Icarus

2. Faces Places

3. Strong Island

4. Last Men in Aleppo

5. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

If I Were a Betting Man: Icarus. Because it’s the only one that seems like it can win. Never a good sign for a documentary category when you’ve got no clue and are picking the least shitty option, but here we are. This is the worst category since 2014. It was one or the other of the top two, and my gut said this from the minute I saw what the category was. So I’m sticking with that. No need to waste my energy on this. It’s this or Faces Places, and I’ll just take this and hope for the best. I’m covered on the Scorecard anyway.

You Should Take: Icarus. Because I truly don’t know, and it feels like the best option. If it’s not this, it’ll probably be Faces Places, because people like Agnes Varda. Is that enough to overcome the Netflix publicity, general visibility and timeliness of Icarus? No idea. But it’s a legitimate alternative. I think you should feel safe with one or the other. Strong Island I guess could happen, also being Netflix, but honestly, I don’t fucking know what’s gonna happen here, so the most I can tell is, “Probably Icarus, and if not, Faces Places.” I think that there is a 90% chance one of those two wins. And in such a bad category as this, that’s not that bad as far as advice goes. I could give you the Live-Action Short winner with more probable confidence than this, this year. My gut says take Icarus, but I don’t know.

On My Ballot: Icarus

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Documentary Short

Edith+Eddie

Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405

Heroin(e)

Knife Skills

Traffic Stop

My Rankings:

  1. Knife Skills
  2. Traffic Stop
  3. Edith+Eddie
  4. Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
  5. Heroin(e)

My Thoughts: Not as bad a category as I thought we might get. I was worried for a minute, but they’re all decent. Heroin(e) didn’t amount to much of anything for me and I didn’t really care for it at all. Heaven Is a Traffic Jam… on paper it sounds great. Execution… it’s fine. Edith+Eddie is, on paper, the most interesting of the five choices. But it wasn’t as emotional as I thought. In my head, there was more there. Traffic Stop was half a not-good documentary and half the most riveting entry in the category. The actual footage of the traffic stop is incredible. The rest, where you get to know her — I get why it’s there, but whatever. Knife Skills, meanwhile, to me is the most interesting effort in the category. And most of that is just because of the premise. But isn’t that what we vote for anyway? It’s a bunch of ex-cons who, as part of work release, work in an upscale French restaurant in Cleveland. So it’s convicts learning how to cook and serve French cuisine. Which is just so awesome. So that’s my vote.

My Vote: Knife Skills

Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

– – – – –

The Analysis

Ah, Documentary Short. Everyone’s favorite category.

Somehow I guessed 4/5 in this category. I guess that means these were the obvious choices. Though there was one contender, Kayayo, the Living Shopping Baskets, that felt like it would win this category most years, and they didn’t nominate it. So what do I know?

Anyway, here’s what all five are about:

Edith+Eddie — Edith and Eddie, ages 96 and 95, are America’s oldest interracial newlyweds. Their love story is disrupted by a family feud that threatens to tear the couple apart.

Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 — Mindy Alper is a tortured and brilliant 56 year old artist who is represented by one of Los Angeles’ top galleries. Acute anxiety, mental disorder and devastating depression have caused her to be committed to mental institutions undergo electro shock therapy and survive a 10 year period without the ability to speak. Her hyper self awareness has allowed her to produce a lifelong body of work that expresses her emotional state with powerful psychological precision. Through interviews, reenactments, the building of an eight and a half foot papier-mache’ bust of her beloved psychiatrist, and examining drawings made from the time she was a child, we learn how she has emerged from darkness and isolation to a life that includes love, trust and support.

Heroin(e) — Once a bustling industrial town, Huntington, West Virginia has become the epicenter of America’s modern opioid epidemic, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average. This flood of heroin now threatens this Appalachian city with a cycle of generational addiction, lawlessness, and poverty. But within this distressed landscape, Peabody Award winning filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon shows a different side of the fight against drugs; one of hope.

Knife Skills — What does it take to build a world-class French restaurant? What if the staff is almost entirely men and women just out of prison? What if most have never cooked or served before, and have barely two months to learn their trade? We follow the hectic launch of Edwins restaurant in Cleveland. In this improbable setting, with its mouth-watering dishes and its arcane French vocabulary, we discover the challenges of men and women finding their way after their release. We come to know three trainees intimately, as well as the restaurant’s founder, who is himself haunted by his time in jail. These men and women all have something to prove, and all struggle to launch new lives, an endeavor as pressured and perilous as the ambitious restaurant launch of which they are a part.

Traffic Stop — Traffic Stop tells the story of Breaion King, a 26-year-old African-American school teacher from Austin, Texas, who was stopped for a routine traffic violation that escalated into a dramatic arrest. Caught on police dashcams, King was pulled from her car by the arresting officer, repeatedly thrown to the ground and handcuffed. En route to jail in a squad car, she engaged in a revealing conversation with her escorting officer about race and law enforcement in America. The documentary juxtaposes dashcam footage with scenes from King’s everyday life, offering a fuller portrait of the woman caught up in this unsettling encounter.

The only real insight into this category that I can provide you is the past decade of winners, so you can get an idea of how they usually vote in this one:

  • 2016: The White Helmets (about the Syrian Civil War)
  • 2015: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (about honor killing in the Middle East)
  • 2014: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (about suicide prevention hotlines for vets with PTSD)
  • 2013: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Elderly Holocaust survivor used music to overcome the horrors)
  • 2012: Inocente (Immigrant, homeless girl in Los Angeles rises above her situation to be an artist)
  • 2011: Saving Face (doctor who performs surgeries on Middle Eastern women who have acid thrown in their faces)
  • 2010: Strangers No More (about a preschool in Israel where children of all races and religions learn together)
  • 2009: Music by Prudence (about a severely disabled African woman who overcomes her disability to become a singer)
  • 2008: Smile Pinki (about a poor Indian girl with a cleft palate who gets surgery to correct it, which changes her life)
  • 2007: Freeheld (about a dying police officer who wants her same-sex spouse to receive her death benefits)

So yeah, that help? Because it certainly helps me. They like the Middle East, which is not part of the category this year. They like children. Not part of the category this year. They like people who overcome obstacles to create art (we have one of those!). They like tragic stories of people fighting for love or equality (we have one of those too!). The only real outlier from those three things is Crisis Hotline, which also does have a comp this year.

I think we can parse this one to the best of our abilities based on that.

– – – – –

Most Likely to Win: Edith+Eddie. You have to take ‘most likely to win’ with a grain of salt. When it comes to the shorts, all three of the films I list can very easily win (and maybe even something I don’t). But, when I look at this category, I see a short about two 90+ year-olds, an interracial couple, who fall in love and just want to be happy together, whose family (one of her daughters) fights for custody, essentially looking to throw her into a home so she can sell her mother’s home. After a nasty custody battle, the wife gets separated from the husband, who is so distraught he collapses and dies within weeks. That’s fucking heartbreaking, and they seem to like when things are touching and can make movies. So I’m gonna call this one the most likely candidate to win this award.

Biggest Competition: Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405. It’s about a mentally ill woman who overcomes that to be a brilliant artist. And bonus points for taking place in Los Angeles, which they love. This and Edith+Eddie fit this category to a tee, and both feel like probable winners. How to choose between the two, I don’t know. But after reading what the last ten winners were, how do both of these so far not immediately fit that bill?

Spoiler Alert: Heroin(e). So the two remaining shorts… one is about police brutality and racial inequality, which has yet to win this category, despite its timeliness, and the other is a nice story about ex-cons being hired as part of the kitchen staff of an upscale French restaurant. Nice, but they’ve yet to go there, so it’s hard for me to think they just will out of nowhere. Heroin(e) meanwhile… it’s Netflix. That helps. And it’s got that Crisis Hotline comp in that it’s about people struggling to take care of a major issue on the home front. It’s the opioid crisis instead of veteran mental healthcare. It feels like the third choice. Could win. Which would make me reevaluate some stuff… namely make me start thinking about if the Netflix campaign starts to overpower how they normally vote in this one. But I could theoretically see it happening.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Edith+Eddie

2. Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405

3. Heroin(e)

4. Traffic Stop

5. Knife Skills

If I Were a Betting Man: Edith+Eddie. Feels like the right choice. This one’s three deep. Could be this, could be Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, could be Heroin(e). Those make the most sense. This one has that heartbreaking ending, which they like. But Heaven is a Traffic Jam has the ‘rising above obstacles to create art’ which they also love. So I don’t know. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. You can go nuts overthinking this. I’ll just take one and hope for the best.

You Should Take: Edith+Eddie. I don’t presume to tell you what to do, but I do need to tell you to pick something. Take your pick between this, Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 and Heroin(e). All three make sense. And I think it’s mostly a toss-up between the first two in terms of history of the category. But Netflix, like they did with White Helmets last year, is pushing hard. So we’ll see if shit’s rigged of if there’s some purity left. Go with what you think is right. You normally expect to get the shorts wrong anyway, don’t you? You should. So make your most educated guess and hope it works out. That’s why I like the Scorecard Ballot. Since I feel pretty confident that I’m not getting any higher than a +3 in this category.

On My Ballot: Edith+Eddie

– – – – –

– – – – –

Best Live-Action Short

DeKalb Elementary

The Eleven O’Clock

My Nephew Emmett

The Silent Child

Watu Wote/All of Us

My Rankings:

  1. The Silent Child
  2. The Eleven O’Clock
  3. Watu Wote/All of Us
  4. DeKalb Elementary
  5. My Nephew Emmett

My Thoughts: DeKalb Elementary sounded like it might be the best on paper, but in the end there was no tension to it. Kid walks in with a gun, but rather than shooting up the school, basically just stalls and you realize he doesn’t really wanna do it, he just wants to get arrested and go to a mental hospital and get help. So intellectually, I can see why this is a great short, but it didn’t do much for me. My Nephew Emmett, same thing. It’s told from the story of his uncle, who is just kind of witnessing the whole thing. It’s nice, but I wasn’t overly invested. Watu Wote — really liked the payoff, but overall, it was just pretty good. The Eleven O’Clock was very fun, very well-written, and the payoff, which you knew was coming, worked. But then there’s The Silent Child, which has everything I like about this category and a really emotional payoff at the end. That’s my vote. That was beautiful.

My Vote: The Silent Child

Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

– – – – –

The Analysis

My feelings about Live-Action Short can best be summed up as such:

I don’t hate the category so much as I hate having to pick the category. Because I never have a fucking clue what they’re gonna do.

If there’s one thing you gleam from years of picking the Oscars, it’s that, in this category, ANYTHING can win.

And in terms of nominations, I went 3/5 here, and since no one ever knows how this category turns out, it doesn’t really matter how we got the category we got. If I’d have seen all ten before the nominations happened, maybe the category we got would mean more to me.

A quick rundown of all the shorts and what’s in them (since chances are less than 10% of you even saw them all):

DeKalb Elementary — A kid walks into a school office and takes out a gun. He says it’s a school shooting and that they should lock themselves in their classrooms. He then has the lady at the office call 911 and tell them to send cops. The woman, scared but calm, does so, and as they wait for the cops, she starts to get the sense that the boy really doesn’t want to shoot anyone. He says he’s not gonna shoot any kids and just wants to kill cops, but then after a while he starts saying that all he wants is to go ‘get some help’. We see he’s mentally ill, he mentions not taking medication, and he just wants to get arrested. So the lady, while on with 911, starts talking to him calmly and telling him to give himself up. And every time he starts talking himself out of it, she reasons with him. Like, he gets down on the floor to give himself up, giving her his gun, then when she goes to open the door for the cops, he gets up and picks his gun back up, saying it’s no use, since he probably hit a cop and now they’re gonna shoot him regardless. So she tells him he should get back down, and she’ll talk to the 911 operator to see if any cops got hit. So he does and they confirm that he never hit anyone. And then eventually the cops come and the kid gets arrested and that’s it.

The Eleven O’Clock — A psychiatrist enters his office and calls in his secretary. She’s not the usual secretary, she’s a temp. She explains that his next appointment is a new patient, and is another psychiatrist. The man comes in and immediately says the office is his. And thus begins an Abbott and Costello routine where one man says he is the doctor and the other says he’s the doctor. And the fact that a temp assistant is there only adds to the confusion. Eventually, security is called. Later on, the real assistant comes back, and the temp tells her about the crazy morning she had, and how they had to throw out a patient who claimed he was the doctor. Then the assistant buzzes the doctor (the first guy we saw), only for us to realize that he was the patient the entire time, and is now seeing the real doctor’s patients.

My Nephew Emmett — It’s the Emmett Till story told from the perspective of his uncle. He watches him put on the cologne and go out and all that. Then the men come to the house and force their way in and get the kid to admit that he winked at the white lady, and then they throw him on the truck and take him away.

The Silent Child — It’s a bout a little girl who is born deaf. She did not qualify for a cochlear implant, so her family treat her essentially like Helen Keller. Like, “Well, we do the best we can, but she’ll never be able to live a full life.” Soon, a nice social worker comes and befriends the girl, slowly teaching her sign language and giving her a way to communicate. The girl previously was left in front of the TV and had to try to lip read to figure out what anyone was saying. She had no way to truly communicate with anyone else. Soon, she and the social worker become inseparable, and the girl becomes much more communicative. Eventually, the girl’s mother decides to have the social worker stop coming, deciding that it’s best for her daughter to go back to the way things were. It ends with the social worker going to the girl’s school and seeing her from behind the fence, and the little girl signing to her, “I love you.”

Watu Wote/All of Us — A Christian woman in Kenya boards a bus to go visit a relative. She is uncomfortable with all the Muslim passengers on the bus, and there is some tension between them (which is representative of the broader religious climate in the country). On the bus’s journey, it is stopped by a Muslim terrorist group who demand that the passengers identify all the Christian passengers so that they can kill them. And the innate decency of humans shines through, as the passengers refuse to give anyone up and shield all the Christians from the terrorists.

So now you know that, here are the past ten winners of the category, so you can get a sense of what usually wins here:

  • 2016: Sing — a young girl joins her school choir, which gives off the air of greatness and inclusion, only to find out that the teacher tells the kids who are not the best singers to just mouth the words, manipulating them into doing what she wants. Eventually the kids join in and all refuse to sing during a major competition to get back at the teacher.
  • 2015: Stutterer — A lonely with a stutter forms an online relationship with a woman, but is worried about meeting her in real life because he thinks she won’t be able to deal with his disability. He then decides to start practicing sign language, so he can pretend he’s deaf and be able to communicate that way. Eventually, when he does meet the girl, he discovers that she is actually deaf, and won’t be able to hear his stutter anyway.
  • 2014: The Phone Call — A recently widowed man calls a suicide hotline and says he has taken a bunch of pills and will die soon and simply wants someone to talk to as it happens. The woman on the phone tries to keep him talking long enough to find out where he is in order to save him as well as talk him out of his decision.
  • 2013: Helium — A young, dying boy in the hospital befriends the janitor, who tells the boy stories of a fantastical realm that is an alternative to Heaven. Eventually, as the boy is dying, the janitor is prevented from seeing him. Thanks to a nice nurse, the janitor is taken in to see the boy just before he dies, so he can finish telling him the story. The film ends from the boy’s point of view, as he ascends into the fantasy world of Helium that the janitor told him about.
  • 2012: Curfew — A man in the process of a suicide attempt gets a call from his estranged sister, who asks him to look after her daughter for her. He agrees and goes to watch the little girl for the night. The two initially want little to do with one another, but eventually bond over the course of the night. They go to a bowling alley, and at one point, a musical number breaks out. They ended up turning this into a feature, called Before I Disappear, which was also quite good.
  • 2011: The Shore — Two childhood friends meet 25 years later, after a disagreement caused by the problems of Northern Ireland in the 90s.
  • 2010: God of Love — A man, desperately in love with a woman who wants nothing to do with him, wishes for a woman to love him, and then is given a pack of “love darts.” He tests one to make sure they work, and then plans the most romantic night ever, designed to get the girl to stay in love with him after the effects of the dart wear off. He begins using the darts on other women, but nothing fulfills him. He thinks of plans to get the other woman to love him (convincing her she’s diabetic, so she’ll have to keep pricking herself with the arrows in order to remain in love with him), but ultimately he sees that his best friend is the one who is really in love with the girl, and she with him, so he uses the dart to get the two of them together. And because of his selfless deed, he then comes home to find Cupid’s bow and arrow at his door, anointing him as his successor.
  • 2009: The New Tenants — About a couple who moves into a new apartment and get into a comedic chain of murderous events. It’s like a comedy version of Polanski’s The Tenant (which itself might be a dark comedy).
  • 2008: Toyland — A mother lies to her son about where the Nazis are taking their Jewish neighbors. She says they went to “Toyland,” not realizing that he wants to go there too. The boy ends up sneaking off so he can go to Toyland with the neighbors, leading to the mother hurrying to get her child back before… well, you know.
  • 2007: Le Mozart des Pickpockets — About two guys who help a gang of pickpockets. Only, when the pickpockets get arrested, they run out of ways to make money. Eventually, they take in a deaf-mute immigrant child and plan a trick that might make them all rich.

This one clearly doesn’t have the track record of Documentary Short, but it does tell you they tend to like kids and movies with cute endings or movies that can be expanded into features. I think we generally have enough to gauge this one. I hope.

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Most Likely to Win: The Silent Child. This is the one film that actually moved me this year. Usually you can do well with voting for that choice. It’s beautiful, and this is the one short you can easily see being 90 minutes long instead of 20. There’s so much here that they didn’t expand upon and could have. Assuming people see all the nominees, I think this is the most likely winner. It’s got a kid in it, it’s about overcoming a disability, and it has that tearjerker ending that feels mostly earned. Based on everything I know about this category, this feels like the favorite.

Biggest Competition: The Eleven O’Clock. It’s the comedy short, and it gets the job done. It gets in and gets out cleanly, and there isn’t a wasted moment in it. It’s the only comedic nominee of the bunch, and while they tend to go more ‘cute’ than ‘comedy’, nothing else seems to fit in this category, so I think it stands a legitimate chance.

Spoiler Alert: Watu Wote/All of Us. This one was tough for me. My Nephew Emmett obviously has parallels to the current racial divide in the country, while DeKalb Elementary is about an almost-school shooting, which obviously is very much in the news. I feel like, in this category, I want to go with the one that would make me feel shittiest if I didn’t have it. Which is this one. It has the nice end, of the people overcoming their religious differences to work together, but by and large, they don’t go for stuff like this in this category. It would be kind of an upset to see this win. So maybe I just talked myself out of this and DeKalb Elementary is the right third choice. That actually does feel like something I could see winning. So yeah, I’ll leave this here because I think it’s good, but I’ll put DeKalb as the third choice on the Scorecard. I’m okay with this fourth. I truly don’t know what wins if not the first two. I can only go by experience and instinct, and if that fails, then it just wasn’t meant to be.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. The Silent Child

2. The Eleven O’Clock

3. DeKalb Elementary

4. Watu Wote/All of Us

5. My Nephew Emmett

If I Were a Betting Man:  The Silent Child. This is the most emotionally affecting nominee in the bunch. They like stories about children here, and it packs the biggest punch. I think it’s the winner. It’s not a lock, because nothing is a lock in this category, but I think it’s the safest choice, for whatever that’s worth.

You Should Take:  The Silent Child. Because what else would you take? I can only guide you based on my opinion, and my opinion is that this will most likely win. I think you could safely take this or The Eleven O’Clock and feel pretty good about it as a choice. I think you could maybe take DeKalb Elementary if you think people know enough about this category to deliberately vote for the one about the (almost) school shooting. I think those three feel like the best bets and you could go any one of the three ways and feel okay. I know it’s trendy to be talking DeKalb here, but I don’t know this is a big enough category for it to be swayed by something like that. I refused to even put it second on my rankings because, as a purist, I refuse to believe that people can be swayed by something like that. Think about that — “This is a short about a school shooting… I’m gonna vote for it because there was one of those.” You haven’t even seen it! It’s not even about gun control! So I don’t know. We’ll see. It’ll be a kick to the balls if I see it win on that alone. But I’m saying The Silent Child is the most likely choice. Do what you will from there.

On My Ballot:  The Silent Child

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Best Animated Short

Dear Basketball

Garden Party

Lou

Negative Space

Revolting Rhymes

My Rankings:

  1. Negative Space
  2. Garden Party
  3. Lou
  4. Dear Basketball
  5. Revolting Rhymes

My Thoughts: Pretty uninspiring year from them. One of the best shorts from this year, In a Heartbeat, wasn’t nominated. Which feels like a sham. Because it would have been my second choice in the category, if not my straight up vote. Dear Basketball is well-animated (done by Glen Keane, former Disney animator who made that great short Duet a few years ago, which was criminally snubbed), and a nice tribute by Kobe Bryant to the game, but is never something I’d vote for. Revolting Rhymes is like the two previous entries of this ilk (The Gruffalo and No Room on the Broom) — too long, and not particularly interesting to me. It’s almost an hour long, in all. Though for this category they just cut it in half and only gave them the first part. Based on the Roald Dahl poems, the idea is that all the fairy tales of the Big Bad Wolf and Snow White and such all really happened. It’s an easy watch, but it just doesn’t have that magic that the best animated shorts have. Easily my least favorite. Lou is cute, and well-done, as is usually the case with Pixar. But I’m not really sure what the point of it was. A creature made up of lost and found items lives in the box, just sort of administering judgment to bullies? It’s Pixar, so by the end, you feel like it was charming and nice, but it definitely didn’t move me the way the best of the Pixar shorts do. Probably would be a number three most years, given how they usually put some questionable stuff in this category, but never something I’d vote for unless I absolutely had to. Garden Party — looks gorgeous. Very photoreal. But when you realize what it is — a bunch of frogs are hanging out in an abandoned home… which we slowly realize is the home of some sort of drug kingpin who got murdered.. is just weird. The end of the movie are the frogs accidentally turning on the pool lights and music and hanging out in the water as the dead guy’s body floats to the top of the pool. Sure, but definitely don’t get what they were going for. It does look great though. Meanwhile, then there’s Negative Space, which to me is the most touching of the bunch. It’s a beautiful short about a father/son relationship, focused through the packing of suitcases. Done in beautiful stop-motion… that’s my choice this year. Easily. If it were up against In a Heartbeat… I’d have a decision to make. But with that not being the case, nothing comes close to Negative Space for me.

My Vote: Negative Space

Should Have Been Nominated: In a Heartbeat

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The Analysis

Academy Award nominee Kobe Bryant. LeBron James is watching this and thinking, “…soon.”

The big snub here was In a Heartbeat, the beautiful short about a boy who has a crush on another boy. Without that here, this category means nothing. Other than that, it didn’t really matter what they put here.

Your past ten winners, just to get that out of the way, are:

  • 2016: Piper — Pixar’s short about the bird who is afraid of the water.
  • 2015: Bear Story — A bear tells the story of his life through a little mechanical machine. Utterly heartbreaking.
  • 2014: Feast — A story told from the perspective of a very hungry dog.
  • 2013: M. Hublot — A man with OCD creates a steampunk house in order to be kept to himself. Though he soon gets a robot dog, which turns his life upside down.
  • 2012: Paperman — We’ve all seen this, right? A man courts a woman using paper planes. It’s incredible.
  • 2011: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore — Beautiful story about a librarian in a place where the books come to life.
  • 2010: The Lost Thing — A boy in a dystopian future discovers a lost creature and is determined to help it find its place.
  • 2009: Logorama — the entire film is comprised of logos and characters that are brands of corporations. It’s brilliant.
  • 2008: La Maison en Petits Cubes — a widower, after his town is flooded, builds extra levels onto his house. However, after he loses his pipe into the lower levels of his home, he begins looking for it and reliving scenes from his life.
  • 2007: Peter and the Wolf — self-explanatory

Your nominees this year are:

Dear Basketball — Kobe Bryant’s love letter to the sport he played, with hand drawn animation by Glen Keane and a score by John Williams.

Garden Party — A bunch of frogs hang around a backyard and in an abandoned house, and we slowly start to figure out just what the deal is with the house, as we see broken security cameras and bullet holes in the doors. Eventually the frogs turn on the pool lights and music, and it turns into a full-fledged (insert title here). The final shot is the frogs hanging out in the pool as the owner of the house’s dead body floats to the surface. It’s fun.

Lou — Pixar short about a creature living in the Lost and Found box of a daycare helps a bully change his ways and become a better person.

Negative Space — Stop-motion entry about a boy whose father travels a lot, and how he is able to forge a bond with his father by learning how to pack his suitcase really efficiently. The film ends with the man at his father’s funeral, looking into the casket, disappointed in “all that wasted space.”

Revolting Rhymes — A wolf comes into a coffee shop and begins telling a woman his story, which involves the ‘real story’ behind Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood, who murdered his family. Part 1 of a two-pater, based on the Roald Dahl poems.

Thank god that fucking never-ending Olaf short wasn’t nominated, am I right, guys?

It’s Animated Short. So there’s not a whole lot to go on except how you think it’s gonna turn out. Let’s just dive right in and hope for the best.

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Most Likely to Win: Lou. No matter if it’s going to win or not, if a Pixar short is nominated in this category, it’s the automatic favorite. Same for Disney. It’s the most likely winner the minute it’s nominated simply because it’s Pixar. That doesn’t make it a lock, it just means that the most likely option is that people vote for Pixar because they know it. So that’s what the deal is with this. You start with this as the favorite and see what can beat it.

Biggest Competition: Dear Basketball. Are You There, Basketball? It’s Me, Kobe. It’s got Kobe Bryant behind it, it’s got a beloved animator doing the visuals and John Williams doing the score. People know it. And it might use that star power to overwhelm the other nominees. I think it’ll get votes because people know what it is. So I’ll call it the biggest competition and see if it can take it down in the end. Academy Award winner Kobe Bryant is a legitimate possibility, guys.

Spoiler Alert: Garden Party. This feels like the closest thing to a usual winner in the category. Gorgeously animated. The frogs are so photoreal. And the way they keep the house hidden from you for part of the short is really well done. In a regular year, I’d say if it wasn’t Pixar, it would be this, and probably take it, while I told you to play it safe and go with Pixar. But it’s not a normal year, so I’ve got no fucking clue what’s gonna happen. I can say that I don’t think Revolting Rhymes feels like it has a shot. Those directors had two shorts on here previously, The Gruffalo and No Room on the Broom, and neither won. Hard to think that’ll just come up and win, but anything’s possible. And then Negative Space, while I love it, might be too short and too slight for them. It doesn’t pack the kind of emotional punch that they tend to like in this category. So I feel somewhat safe saying these three are the major contenders. However, which becomes the choice is anyone’s guess.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Lou

2. Garden Party

3. Dear Basketball

4. Negative Space

5. Revolting Rhymes

If I Were a Betting Man: This was the one category I wasn’t absolutely sure about a week ago. I was ready to go with every other pick as of last Sunday. This category… had no idea and left it totally blank until two days ago, and kept going back and thinking about it until now. In the end, I think I’m gonna fuck around and take a long shot. Because when you really don’t know, and the options are: safe choice, narrative choice, and the weird one… fuck it. Take the weird one. So I’m taking Garden Party. I’m gonna take Dear Basketball just because people say it’s the most likely to win because it’s Kobe? Why do I think the majority of Oscar voters even care about basketball? Think about how many people will vote in this category. Now think about how many of them 1) either think this is the best short 2) care enough about Kobe just to vote for him (or are taking it just because they think it’s the favorite) and 3) will not be swayed against it because it’s Kobe Bryant (either simply because of the basketball or because of the rape case those years back). It just doesn’t fit. I’m just gonna let that win. And then Lou — why am I taking it? Because it’s Pixar. That feels boring and safe. I don’t care. I’d rather have fun and be wrong than just be safe when I don’t know. So fuck it. Garden Party it is. My gut said it was the likeliest winner when I saw them all, so let’s play that hunch.

You Should Take: This is the one category where I will say, YOU CAN TAKE ONE OF THREE SHORTS HERE. I’m not gonna make you take Garden Party, because I don’t know for sure that it’ll win. You could. I’m cool. I’m generally pretty level-headed. It might not be a bad idea. Then you could go along with the crowd and take Dear Basketball. By all means, if you wanna do that, then go ahead. You should, however, know by now, that I will never tell you to do that unless I’m convinced it’s gonna happen. The only time I think I got so swayed by something like that was last year with The Salesman, where I was sure that public opinion was gonna influence the vote. This is Animated Short. I don’t know if that matters. Maybe it did, but that short feels so unlike them that I’m just gonna let them go there. If you wanna go with it, be my guest. The safest choice, and the one I will put here for you to take, is Lou. Which I think might be the only difference between my ballot and the one I’m telling you to take. Which either means I’m taking smart choices and not going wild or I’m just making you all go down with the ship with me. Though I guess if you read all the categories, a few I said you could straight up go opposite if you want. So if you just took everything I straight up said without reading, then that’s your own damn fault. Anyway, the safe choice is Lou, just because… Pixar, I guess. No clue. Theoretically you could go four deep here if you really had a hunch on Negative Space or Revolting Rhymes, but let’s be honest… how many of you even saw these shorts enough to care? Just pick one, assume you’ll be wrong and be done with it.

On My Ballot: Garden Party

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– – – – –

And there are your picks. Now, it’s Oscar time!

One more thing I like to provide you with (ain’t I nice?), now that the picks are out of the way, is a breakdown of how I see the night shaking out.

What I do is take each major film, by number of nominations, and go through all of their nominations one by one and say, “This is what it will win, this is what it’s in contention for, this is what it theoretically could win and this is what it categorically will not win.” This is the moment where I think macro and go, “Okay, I made all those picks, so what does this actually mean? What are the totals we’re looking at for each film?” If you take that step back and realize you gave Darkest Hour five Oscars, maybe you wanna go back and reevaluate your picks, since — does it seem like it’s gonna go that way? So let’s see what I’ve got this year:

The Shape of Water
13 nominations

Will win: Director, Score, Production Design
Will likely win: Picture
Could win: Cinematography, Original Screenplay, Editing, Costume Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
Won’t win: Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress

So that’s two minimum, maximum is, I think, five. Maybe it could squeeze a sixth with an unlikely Costume, Screenplay or a Sound win (most likely the latter). If it wins Best Picture, I think three-to-four makes the most sense. I definitely expect it to win Director and Score with ease. Production Design is like a 90% probability in my mind. Picture is 50/50 and will take it from three to four.

Keep an eye out if this wins Cinematography, Editing or Screenplay. That’s a big tip in the direction of a looming Best Picture win. A Sound category doesn’t really sway either way, so that could happen without much fanfare. I’m thinking, if it does win Picture, 4 wins makes the most sense. The Artist is the only movie since 2010 to have at least 5 wins (and all it had was 5). So if La La Land went down, don’t expect a big haul by whatever wins Best Picture. 4 wins is the most you’re probably gonna get.

Dunkirk
8 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win: Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
Could win: Cinematography
Won’t win: Picture, Director, Score, Production Design

This is a tough one to gauge. There’s no way it’s going home empty-handed. Hell, Interstellar even got one. Even if the bottom falls out on this, I expect it to take at least one of the Sound categories. Which? No clue. I suspect Editing makes the most sense, but with last year, when the war film won Mixing and lost Editing, I don’t know what to make of it. I’m not gonna say it’s getting zero, but it could very well get one.

The most likely scenario is 2-3; 4 is the absolute most it’s getting. Cinematography is still very much in play, and then you’re looking at if it can win both Sound categories to get it to 3. Then the last category in play is Best Editing, which… unless Shape of Water is gonna take it on the Best Picture play (or Three Billboards, which will truly shock everyone and call out the end of the night way earlier than we expect), I feel like it’s the favorite to win that. So 4 makes sense, though I expect it to lose one of the three it doesn’t win.

I think 3 Oscars makes the most sense for this, but I couldn’t tell you exactly which three it’ll be. I feel like it wins Editing and Sound Editing for sure. Sound Mixing or Cinematography will most likely be the loss (unless it’s neither, which… sure). Cinematography makes the most sense on paper for it to lose, but something is telling me that it’ll lose Mixing to something random. I don’t know why. Maybe last year is deluding me. I feel like Blade Runner wins Mixing for some reason.

But yeah, 1 for sure. 2-3 likely, 4 max. It’s not going home empty-handed, that’s for sure.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
7 nominations

Will win: Actress, Supporting Actor
Will likely win: Picture, Original Screenplay
Could win: Editing
Won’t win: Supporting Actor (the other one), Score

So this is the most intriguing one. It’s got two in the bag to start — the two acting awards. So that’s a given. And it’s automatically losing one, because it’s nominated twice in Supporting Actor. Score… no way it beats Shape of Water, Phantom Thread and Dunkirk. So that’s a definite no. Which means maximum it wins 5.

Now, for it to win 5, it has to shock everyone and win Best Editing. Which is possible. Crash won Best Editing. Though that was an ensemble movie and this isn’t. Still, it’s possible. But given that unlikely scenario, you’re looking about the same as Shape of Water… if it wins, it’ll probably get 4.

Two are a given, and I’m personally seeing Original Screenplay as a lock. I know technically Peele or Gerwig (or even Guillermo, if they wanna throw all their weight behind that movie) could take it, and I’m taking that into account… but I think he’s got Original Screenplay in the bag. So that’s three. And the only question is whether or not it wins Picture too.

This one’s pretty easy. 3 or 4. And the only thing that sways it is if it can win the big one. 2 wins is the absolute minimum.

Darkest Hour
6 nominations

Will win: Actor, Makeup & Hairstyling
Will likely win:
Could win: Production Design
Won’t win: Picture, Cinematography, Costume Design

This one’s pretty easy to figure. It’s got two awards in the bag. It will win Actor for Gary Oldman, and it should 100% win for Makeup too, since they made Gary Oldman look like Winston Churchill. Is Makeup a 150% lock? No. But are you gonna take Wonder or Victoria & Abdul there over it? So let’s be serious.

That’s 2 wins. I don’t really see it winning any more. 3 is the max, and that’s in a very rare scenario where this movie has more support than we think. It already showed that with six overall nominations, but the buck seems to be stopping there. It’s not winning Picture, we know that. Costume Design I feel confident in saying it has no shot in, up against Phantom Thread and then Beauty and the Beast and Shape of Water. Cinematography… against Deakins, Dunkirk and Shape of Water, that’s also a hard no from me. Which leaves Production Design as the only possible long shot contender for that third award. Shape of Water has emerged as a definite favorite there. And with Blade Runner, Beauty and the Beast and even Dunkirk in there too… not liking its chances there.

2 wins is the almost-certain total for this one. Bad night, it just gets the one. If it shocks everyone, it ends up with 3. But stick with 2. That’s the likely scenario.

Phantom Thread
6 nominations

Will win: Costume Design
Will likely win:
Could win: Score
Won’t win: Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress

Damn shame how things shook out for this movie. But, when you consider everything… I never thought it would get all these nominations, so for me it’s playing with house money. Never saw the Picture and Director and Supporting Actress nominations coming. The other three I could have told you with my eyes closed. So already this is in a place of strength. (Should have gotten two more nominations, while we’re on the subject.)

Now… no chance it wins Picture or Director. Not even the savvy voters will go near that. Supporting Actress is also a complete no. We know who’s winning there, and we know who the alternate is if it’s not her. And Actor… Daniel Day-Lewis is one of those fortunate people in that, like Meryl, you can telegraph when he’s gonna win. And if that’s not the case, then you can feel confident that he won’t. So I’m confident that he won’t win this year. Which leaves only two possible wins for this film… Costume Design, which, barring some sort of insane disaster, it will win. That means the only possible category left is Score. Which… is possible. But given that all the precursor momentum and logic is in Shape of Water’s favor, I’m not liking its chances.

1 win for sure, and 2 being possible (though unlikely). That’s it. Don’t look to this one for too many surprises. Bad night it goes home empty-handed, but I’m thinking just the one.

Blade Runner 2049
5 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win: Cinematography, Visual Effects
Could win: Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
Won’t win:

What I both like and don’t like about this one is that it’s in serious contention for every award it’s up for. In all of those categories, it’s at worst a third choice. I can’t say for certain that it will win any awards, though I probably would have the confidence to say that it’s gonna win Visual Effects. I’ve felt that one all along, but I’m not gonna say it’s a sure thing by any stretch. And Cinematography feels like a strong possibility, given that Deakins swept the precursors. Though that’s like a 40%-35%-25% scenario. Dunkirk and Shape of Water still loom very large in that race.

The two ‘I dunno’s are Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. My gut tells me it can win one. Mixing makes the most sense, but who knows with Sound. It could win neither and lose to Dunkirk twice. It could lose both and Baby Driver takes one. No idea. Production Design is the one I feel pretty confident saying it won’t win. I just think that Shape of Water is gonna take that down. If not that… I guess this might be the second choice, though Beauty and the Beast also looms fairly large in that one.

This could go home empty-handed, and theoretically this could win five awards. Now, five awards makes no sense. That would show support that even I don’t think this has. I think two or three makes the most sense. I keep landing on three, myself.

I think it wins Visual Effects pretty squarely. And then I keep feeling like it’s gonna win one of the Sound categories. So that’s two, let’s say. And if Deakins wins like it seems like he might… that’s three. Don’t see Production Design happening no matter what happens, and I feel like Dunkirk cannot possibly lose both Sound categories.

So 1 win seems pretty certain, 2 is very likely, and 3 is possible. 4 is unlikely, and 5 is insane (but theoretically possible). The more this wins, the more the sliding scale of the other nominees goes down.

Lady Bird
5 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Picture, Original Screenplay
Won’t win: Director, Actress, Supporting Actress

This, unfortunately, feels like it’s going home empty-handed. It had a real bad draw once nominations got announced.

Allison Janney swept the precursors, keeping Laurie Metcalf totally on the sidelines for this. That would be a real shocker, if she somehow came up and won. Saoirse Ronan was never gonna be the favorite for Best Actress unless she started taking precursors down left and right, which she hasn’t. And with McDormand so strong there, that one seems like a no-go. And Guillermo seems locked for Director, with Nolan there to siphon votes, not to mention Peele to take some away from Gerwig. So three of the five, right off the bat… ain’t happening.

That leaves Original Screenplay, which it is still in play for. But I think Three Billboards has a firm grip on the category, with Get Out the only likely alternate, if that even happens. Guillermo is in play because of the Best Picture possibility, which means this is battling for third place there, and it’ll take a vote squeeze and a tight race for her to pop through as the winner. Possible, but unlikely.

The only thing that could happen, if this film’s support is to be believed… a Best Picture surprise win is not 100% out of the question. It’s very unlikely, but it’s possible. If this is #2 and #3 on most ballots, and a good amount of voters hated either Shape of Water, Three Billboards or both… this could sneak through. Spotlight did the same thing. That’s not an insane thing to think could happen.

Put it this way… expect zero out of this, and anything it does win is gonna be a very big deal, whatever category it happens in.

Call Me By Your Name
4 nominations

Will win: Adapted Screenplay
Will likely win:
Could win: Picture, Song
Won’t win: Actor

This one’s got Screenplay in the bag, benefitting of a category devoid of any other Best Picture nominees. That category’s gonna be a walk, and this will go home with one award guaranteed.

Which leaves three more. Actor’s not gonna happen. Gary Oldman’s got that won. Picture is theoretically in play, but I don’t see a scenario where, in such a vote siphon from the two favorites, this is the film that comes out on top. I’ll call it a 5% chance it could happen, but I’m not gonna hold my breath on that one. Song is the only one that’s open, because we don’t really have a handle on that category. You assume the musical will take it, but you don’t know. So I guess it could happen. Don’t see it happening, but it could.

1 award for this for sure. 2 is possible, but that’s it.

Get Out
4 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Picture, Original Screenplay
Won’t win: Director Actor

This seems like it’ll go home empty-handed, with four nominations to really look back fondly on. Actor won’t happen. If Gary Oldman somehow doesn’t win, it’ll be either Timothee Chalamet or Daniel Day-Lewis. Director also won’t happen, because Guillermo’s got it pretty locked. That leaves Picture… which, like Lady Bird, this could benefit from being #2 or #3 on a lot of ballots. My gut tells me this is more a #3 or #4 on ballots with more of the favorite contenders above it, meaning it’s unlikely to win Picture. Original Screenplay is the only one I could see it taking home. Three Billboards seems like a big favorite, but this does have a WGA win and a BFCA win. BFCA has been solid on their winners and Three Billboards was ineligible for WGA. So that tells me, possible, but unlikely.

Expecting zero out of this, but don’t be shocked if this gets the Screenplay win and nothing else. We’d all be shocked if this got more than 1 win.

The rest:

  • I, Tonya will win Supporting Actress.
  • Coco will win Animated Feature.
  • I suspect The Greatest Showman will take Song, but it’s possible Coco wins that too, giving it 2 wins.

That’s it, guys. The rest are Documentary, Foreign Language and the shorts, which are their own reality.

Final tally, as I see it:

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — 4 wins
  • The Shape of Water — 3 wins
  • Dunkirk — 3 wins
  • Blade Runner 2049 — 2 wins
  • Darkest Hour — 2 wins
  • Call Me By Your Name — 1 win
  • Coco — 1 win
  • I, Tonya — 1 win
  • Phantom Thread — 1 win
  • The Greatest Showman — 1 win

Note: I have Three Billboards winning Best Picture. So if you think Shape of Water is gonna win, then swap the 4 and the 3 for them. Otherwise it’s about the same all around. Either way, it’s gonna be a good night for Fox.

Get Out and Lady Bird are the big ones that will likely go home empty-handed. The Post from the jump wasn’t winning anything. That takes care of Best Picture. Mudbound has four nominations and will likely end up with nothing. Song is the only outside shot that has. Star Wars likely won’t get anything out of four nominations. Baby Driver could win a Sound category or Editing. That’s the one where if the stars align, it could get two wins. But zero or maybe an odd one seems most likely, given all its competition. Beauty and the Beast has a shot in either of its categories, but looks more likely to end up with nothing. And Victoria & Abdul is the only film with multiple nominations left, and that’ll get nothing.

Pretty much all the top films are gonna cannibalize each other. If Blade Runner loses one, Dunkirk will likely take it. Looking at my list, aside from the possible Best Picture swap between Three Billboards and Shape of Water, the major swap seems to be between Dunkirk and Blade Runner and Baby Driver. For instance… I think Dunkirk wins the battle of the two, winning three total. Which three, I don’t know. Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, and then Blade Runner wins Visual Effects and Cinematography. If Cinematography goes to Dunkirk, then it’s either 4-2 or Sound Mixing goes to Blade Runner and the numbers stay the same. But other than the big two on top, I think you could give another award to Dunkirk and take one away from Blade Runner, or you could take an award away from one of them and give it to Baby Driver (or, theoretically, The Shape of Water, given the category and your confidence in that film).

I’m thinking we end on one film with four, a pair of threes, and then some twos and ones the rest of the way. They’ve been spreading the wealth the past few years. I don’t expect this to be much different.

Anyway, that’s what I got. The only question left is what kind of Chinese food I’m gonna order and just how drunk I will get by the end of the show.

– – – – – – – – – –

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2 responses

  1. lacourseauxetoiles

    Thank you for doing this. Your analysis is some of the best out there for this. Here are my predictions

    Here are my predictions

    Best Picture

    1. The Shape of Water
    2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
    3. Get Out
    4. Lady Bird
    5. Dunkirk
    6. Phantom Thread
    7. Call Me By Your Name
    8. Darkest Hour
    9. The Post

    Best Director

    1. Guillermo del Toro
    2. Paul Thomas Anderson
    3. Greta Gerwig
    4. Christopher Nolan
    5. Jordan Peele

    Best Actor

    1. Gary Oldman
    2. Daniel Day-Lewis
    3. Timothee Chalamet
    4. Daniel Kaluuya
    5. Denzel Washington

    Best Actress

    1. Frances McDormand
    2. Saoirse Ronan
    3. Sally Hawkins
    4. Margot Robbie
    5. Meryl Streep

    Best Supporting Actor

    1. Sam Rockwell
    2. Willem Dafoe
    3. Christopher Plummer
    4. Richard Jenkins
    5. Woody Harrelson

    Best Supporting Actress

    1. Allison Janney
    2. Laurie Metcalf
    3. Lesley Manville
    4. Octavia Spencer
    5. Mary J. Blige

    Best Adapted Screenplay

    1. Call Me By Your Name
    2. Molly’s Game
    3. Mudbound
    4. The Disaster Artist
    5. Logan

    Best Original Screenplay

    1. Get Out
    2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
    3. Lady Bird
    4. The Shape of Water
    5. The Big Sick

    Best Film Editing

    1. Dunkirk
    2. Baby Driver
    3. I, Tonya
    4. The Shape of Water
    5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Best Cinematography

    1. Blade Runner 2049
    2. Dunkirk
    3. The Shape of Water
    4. Mudbound
    5. Darkest Hour

    Best Production Design

    1. The Shape of Water
    2. Blade Runner 2049
    3. Beauty and the Beast
    4. Darkest Hour
    5. Dunkirk

    Best Costume Design

    1. Phantom Thread
    2. The Shape of Water
    3. Beauty and the Beast
    4. Darkest Hour
    5. Victoria & Abdul

    Best Makeup & Hairstyling

    1. Darkest Hour
    2. Wonder
    3. Victoria & Abdul

    Best Visual Effects

    1. Blade Runner 2049
    2. War for the Planet of the Apes
    3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
    4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
    5. Kong: Skull Island

    Best Sound Mixing

    1. Dunkirk
    2. Baby Driver
    3. Blade Runner 2049
    4. The Shape of Water
    5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Best Sound Editing

    1. Dunkirk
    2. Blade Runner 2049
    3. Baby Driver
    4. The Shape of Water
    5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Best Original Score

    1. The Shape of Water
    2. Phantom Thread
    3. Dunkirk
    4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
    5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Best Original Song

    1. Remember Me
    2. This Is Me
    3. Mystery of Love
    4. Mighty River
    5. Stand Up for Something

    Best Animated Feature

    1. Coco
    2. The Breadwinner
    3. Loving Vincent
    4. Ferdinand
    5. The Boss Baby

    Best Foreign Language Film

    1. A Fantastic Woman
    2. The Square
    3. Loveless
    4. The Insult
    5. On Body and Soul

    Best Documentary

    1. Faces Places
    2. Icarus
    3. Last Men in Aleppo
    4. Abacus: Strong Enough to Jail
    5. Strong Island

    Best Documentary Short

    1. Edith+Eddie
    2. Heroin(e)
    3. Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
    4. Traffic Stop
    5. Knife Skills

    Best Live-Action Short

    1. DeKalb Elementary
    2. My Nephew Emmett
    3. Watu Wote/All of Us
    4. The Eleven O’Clock
    5. The Silent Child

    Best Animated Short

    1. Dear Basketball
    2. Negative Space
    3. Garden Party
    4. Lou
    5. Revolting Rhymes

    March 4, 2018 at 4:03 am

  2. Pingback: The B+ Oscar Ballot: The Quick Picks – Site Title

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