The 2018 Oscar nominations are here, loaded with all sorts of surprises … and a whole lot of The Shape of Water. Guillermo del Toro’s woman-meets-merman fairy tale led all films with 13 nods, immediately making it the favorite at the March 4 event.
Of course, the Academy Awards are never that predictable. See last year, when Damien Chazelle’s beloved musical La La Land led all films with a record-tying 14 nods, and, well, almost won Best Picture.
Here’s our knee-jerk reaction to the big categories.
Call Me by Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
As we’ve noted for the past few weeks, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri have emerged as the two clear-cut frontrunners. Three Billboards suffered a setback, however, when Martin McDonagh was left off the list for Best Director. Could that film pull an Argo, so to speak? Sure, but Shape is now the odds-on favorite. I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that Jordan Peele’s sleeper hit Get Out will pull an upset, but for now I’ll play it safe and say Shape. (Gotta love that the “safe” pick still involves a woman fornicating with a sea creature.)
Insta-prediction: The Shape of Water
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Mazel tov, Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele. The Lady Bird filmmaker is only the fifth female director ever nominated, and Peele is only the fifth black director to make the cut. Both are unlikely to win, though. The director’s branch typically favors more visually commanding, technically stunning productions like The Revenant, Gravity, and Life of Pi, which could give Christopher Nolan a leg up to win his first Oscar for Dunkirk. But Picture and Director usually yield the same winners, so this is ultimately del Toro’s race to lose.
Insta-prediction: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
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
No major surprises in this category: We predicted it would come down to Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game) and Margot Robbie for the fifth slot, and it was the latter who qualified to compete for the gold. While Sally Hawkins and Saoirse Ronan seemed like threats to win earlier this awards season, Frances McDormand has flourished at three major awards events this month (Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, SAG Awards) and looks primed to win her second Oscar.
Insta-prediction: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
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.
At 22, Call Me by Your Name breakout Timothée Chalamet is the youngest Best Actor nominee in 75 years. If anyone’s capable of pulling off an upset against the highly favored Gary Oldman, it’d be him. But that’s very, very unlikely at this point. A barely recognizable Oldman gives a shockingly potent performance as WWII game changer Winston Churchill, and Hollywood has been ready to give him his first Oscar for months now.
Insta-prediction: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
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
It was a surprise to see Phantom Thread star Lesley Manville edge out The Big Sick‘s Holly Hunter and Downsizing‘s Hong Chau here. Yet as unpredictable as this category has been, historically speaking (see: Marisa Tomei and Mira Sorvino), it feels like it’s becoming a surer and surer thing for Allison Janney for her profane and sublime performance as Tonya Harding’s monstrous mother in I, Tonya.
Insta-prediction: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
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
Where in the world is Armie Hammer? It’s possible that he and Call Me by Your Name co-star Michael Stuhlbarg canceled each other other — but, then again, Three Billboards managed to send two of its own (Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell) to the big show. Rockwell is looking like the favorite after wins at the Globes at SAG Awards, but I wouldn’t bet all the money on him with Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafore here.
Insta-prediction: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
McDonagh is a deeply respected playwright turned screenwriter who could get a boost here because he was snubbed in the directing category. But here would also be a primo opportunity to recognize one of the adored Best Picture underdogs, Get Out or Lady Bird.
Insta-prediction: Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
James Ivory, Call Me by Your Name
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist
Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green, Logan
Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game
Dee Rees and Virgil Williams, Mudbound
A superhero movie earned a nomination in a category that’s not for sound or visual effects! Still, it’s an honor just to be nominated for Logan‘s trio. Given you’ve only got one Best Picture contender in Call Me by Your Name, this is an easy one to call for 89-year-old James Ivory.
Insta-prediction: James Ivory, Call Me by Your Name
The Oscars will air Sunday, March 4 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Watch Allison Janney talk about her foul-mouthed performance in I, Tonya:
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