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Our fearless picks for the 2018 Oscar nominations

Kevin Polowy
Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand in ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ (Fox Searchlight)

The nominations for the 90th Academy Awards will be announced, per usual, at an ungodly early hour Tuesday (seriously, why?), and there’s plenty of suspense heading into the proceedings. Will The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri continue to surge? Which actresses will crack the ballot in the most competitive races we’ve seen in eons? Will James Franco still make the cut despite allegations of sexual misconduct? Will Christopher Plummer be rewarded for taking over the role of the disgraced Kevin Spacey? And does the delightful and hilarious Tiffany Haddish stand a chance for the decidedly un-Oscar-y comedy Girls Trip? Read on for our fearless picks in the top 11 categories.

BEST PICTURE

The first piece of the Best Picture puzzle is figuring out how many nominees there will be. In the six years since the Academy rejiggered its rules to allow between five and 10 nominees, the final tally has ranged between eight (twice) and nine (four times).

The sure things are Fox Searchlight’s dynamic duo of The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Get Out, Lady Bird, and Call Me by Your Name have passionate support behind them (their diversity doesn’t hurt, either). Dunkirk and The Post haven’t been the awards behemoths they were predicted to be, but they should be safely in the mix, too.

That leaves seven films (The Big Sick; Darkest Hour; The Florida Project; I, Tonya; Molly’s Game; Mudbound; and Wonder Woman) jockeying for the final one to three slots. I see Florida getting some shine for the eighth spot. Although Molly, Tonya, and Wonder Woman all earned Producers Guild Award noms, and Tonya would probably be the favorite, I see the Academy embracing a streaming service and selecting The Big Sick (Amazon) and/or Mudbound (Netflix). For the fun of it let’s say there will be 10.

Predictions:
The Big Sick
Call Me by Your Name
Dunkirk
The Florida Project
Get Out
Lady Bird
Mudbound
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Other contenders:
Darkest Hour
I, Tonya
Molly’s Game
Wonder Woman

Longshots:
Blade Runner 2049
Coco
The Disaster Artist
Logan
P
hantom Thread
War for the Planet of the Apes

BEST DIRECTOR

If there’s a big surprise brewing here, it could be The Florida Project helmer Sean Baker pulling “a Lenny Abramson” (no one saw the Room director making the cut in 2016). There’s a lot of goodwill out there for Baker between Florida and his 2015 indie darling Tangerine. I also could see one big snub in the form Steven Spielberg, the eight-time directing nominee who fast-tracked The Post into production as a clear rebuttal to President Trump’s war against the media. My best guess is that the Academy ultimately aligns with the Director’s Guild Award nominations.

Predictions:
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out

Other contenders:
Sean Baker, The Florida Project
Luca Guadagino, Call Me by Your Name
Dee Rees, Mudbound
Steven Spielberg, The Post
Joe Wright, Darkest Hour

Longshots:
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Sofia Coppola, The Beguiled
Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman
Ridley Scott, All the Money in the World
Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049


BEST ACTRESS

It was one of the strongest years for lead female performances in ages, a refreshing change of pace that potentially signals a shift in the industry. There seem to be four locks here: Sally Hawkins, who would earn her second nom for The Shape of Water; Frances McDormand, who would earn her fifth nom for Three Billboards (she won once); Saoirse Ronan, who would earn her third nom for Lady Bird; and Meryl Streep, who would her 21st (!!!) Oscar nom for The Post (she has won three).

The nail-biting comes with slot No. 5, where it looks like a head-to-head match between Margot Robbie’s twist on Tonya Harding  in I, Tonya and Jessica Chastain’s commanding “poker princess” in Molly’s Game. Emma Stone coulda also been a contenda here, had more people actually seen her winning portrayal of Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes.

Predictions:
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

Other contenders:
Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
Judi Dench, Victoria and Abdul
Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes
Michelle Williams, All the Money in the World

Longshots:
Annette Bening, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman
Salma Hayek, Beatriz at Dinner
Diane Kruger, In the Fade
Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project
Daniela Vega, A Fantastic Woman

BEST ACTOR

Reel talk: This might be the easiest major award pool to predict. Gary Oldman won the Oscar back in September the minute critics first feasted their eyes on his scene-chewing, liquor-swigging Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Call Me by Your Name breakout Timothée Chalamet is a chic pick to pull an upset, and Get Out breakout Daniel Kaluuya’s awards stock has been rising by the week. You also have two of the best in the biz, Tom Hanks and Daniel Day-Lewis, at the top of their games in The Post and Phantom Thread, respectively. The wild card here is James Franco (The Disaster Artist), who faced sexual misconduct allegations the very week Oscar voting closed. While that may have affected late ballots, there’s a good chance many votes had already been cast.

Predictions:
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Tom Hanks, The Post
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Other contenders:
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Longshots:
Chadwick Boseman, Marshall
Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes
Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Given how things have shaken out in the awards season so far, we already know the race will come down to either Allison Janney (I, Tonya) or Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird), so they’re in. Despite their film’s shaky chances of competing for Best Picture, Mudbound‘s Mary J. Blige and The Big Sick‘s Holly Hunter can pick out their dresses, too. That leaves The Shape of Water‘s Octavia Spencer and Downsizing‘s Hong Chau vying for the final position, though given how divisive the latter’s film has proven, odds favor the former. But don’t count out people’s (and some critics’ circles) champion Tiffany Haddish (Girl Trip), who could follow in the steps of Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) and score a rare nomination for acting in a broad comedy.

Predictions:
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Other contenders:
Hong Chau, Downsizing
Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Longshots:
Kirsten Dunst, The Beguiled
Melissa Leo, Novitiate
Michelle Pfeiffer, mother!

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Given how things have shaken out in the awards season so far, we already know the race will come down to either Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project) or Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), so they’re in. Rockwell could very well cancel out his esteemed costar Woody Harrelson. It’s also unlikely we see more than one supporting actor from Call Me by Your Name, and as powerful as Michael Stuhlbarg’s speech is in the closing minutes of the film, I think it’s Armie Hammer time. If Harrelson and Stuhlbarg do get overshadowed by the cast mates, then I see the final nod going to Christopher Plummer, whose nomination for his 11th hour reshoots of All the Money in the World would be both a tribute to the beloved 88-year-old pro and a slap to Kevin Spacey, whom Plummer replaced.

Predictions:
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Other contenders:
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Jason Mitchell, Mudbound
Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me by Your Name

Longshots:
Ben Mendelsohn, Darkest Hour
Ray Romano, The Big Sick


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

It was a great year for writer-directors, and there could very well be four people up for both Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (del Toro for Shape of Water, Gerwig for Lady Bird, McDonagh for Three Billboards, and Peele for Get Out). It would be highly surprising (and highly disappointing) not to see the fifth spot go to the husband-and-wife writing team Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon for their deeply personal (and deeply hilarious) script for The Big Sick.

Predictions:
Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Jordan Peele, Get Out

Other contenders:
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Steven Rogers, I, Tonya
Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, The Post

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

It was also a great year for female writers. If my predictions hold true, five of the 10 films nominated for their screenplays would have been written or co-written by women (that includes directors Sofia Coppola and Dee Rees getting in here for The Beguiled and Mudbound, respectively). That’s the most since… ever? (We’ll report back.)

Predictions:
Sofia Coppola, The Beguiled
James Ivory, Call Me by Your Name
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist
Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game
Dee Rees and Virgil Williams, Mudbound

Other contenders:
David Scarpa and John Pearson, All the Money in the World
Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green, Logan
Stephen Chbosky, Steve Conrad, and Jack Thorne, Wonder

BEST ANIMATED FILM

It’ll be an honor just to get nominated in this category for anything not called Coco. But in a down year for major studio animation, expect a heavy dosage of lesser-known, arthouse, and foreign titles like The Breadwinner, Loving Vincent, and Mary and the Witch’s Flower.

Predictions:
The Breadwinner
Coco
The Lego Batman Movie
Loving Vincent
Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Other contenders:
The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales
Despicable Me 3
Ferdinand
In This Corner of the World

Longshots:
The Boss Baby (hey, it got a Golden Globe nomination)
Captain Underpants

BEST DOCUMENTARY

Expect two highly respected women from two very different walks of life to square off here: Jane Goodall, the primatologist and subject of Nat Geo’s acclaimed doc Jane, and Agnès Varda, the beloved French filmmaker whose latest, Faces Places, could earn her a second Oscar this year (she earned a lifetime achievement statue from the Academy at November’s Governors Awards).

Predictions:
Chasing Corral
City of Ghosts
Faces Places
Jane
Last Men in Aleppo

Other contenders:
Human Flow
Icarus
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Strong Island


BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM

Angelina Jolie’s Cambodian genocide drama First They Killed My Father didn’t make the short list, but there’s still plenty of star power here, with likely nominees including Sweden’s The Square (featuring Elizabeth Moss in an English-speaking supporting role), Germany’s In the Fade (with a killer performance from Diane Kruger), and Chile’s A Fantastic Woman (lead by a breakout performance from transgender actress Daniela Vega).

Predictions:
A Fantastic Woman
Foxtrot
In the Fade
Loveless
The Square

Other contenders:
The Insult
The Wound

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