In previous years, I spent months before the Oscar nominations handicapping films’ and actors’ odds for earning a top spot. This awards season, however, I could only get through two weeks in October. Thanks to the eye-opening exposés of Hollywood’s top brass and actors, accusing them of sexual misconduct or worst, a wave has swept through the industry affecting what movies and actors are being applauded. It made it even harder for me to even think of what films could be frontrunners. Will there be a lean toward female-centric stories? Will changes behind the scenes be rewarded? Who will be the next victim to come forward? Who will be accused of vile acts next?
Before Tuesday’s announcements, let’s look at some of the most-buzzed films and predictions in the major categories:
“Get Out” and “Lady Bird”
These are the two best reviewed and rewarded films, with “Lady Bird” having the most momentum, earning two Golden Globes. Then again, the Globes mean nothing as there is no overlap in the Academy and Hollywood Foreign Press. Both have received top critics awards and earned nominations from the major guilds. Of all the top contenders, the two have something that the others lack: first-time directors from underrepresented demographics. It may not lead to directorial nominations for Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig, but they are shoo-ins for original screenplay. Expect for their leads, Daniel Kaluuya for “Get Out” and Saoirse Ronan for “Lady Bird,” to hear their names being called Tuesday. Of all the potential best picture nominations, “Get Out” may have the largest box office totals with $175.7 million.
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
When I was observing awards season, I thought that the campaign for this film had started super early, with a trailer that dropped in March and early screenings at film festivals. The strategy has paid off, with the Frances McDormand-led drama earning four Golden Globes and becoming the film to beat. McDormand and Sam Rockwell have collected multiple awards so far with some critics calling McDormand’s no-nonsense Mildred Hayes a “woke” woman. With much attention being paid to Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement, the central theme of this film – a mother’s hunt for justice following her daughter’s murder – rings true to the current climate. Yet, audiences haven’t flocked to see this film, despite it winning the People’s Choice Award at September’s Toronto International Film Festival.
“The Shape of Water”
Writer/director Guillermo del Toro is the last of the Three Amigos to not have a best picture nomination. The other two in the trio – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Alfonso Cuaron – have top Oscars, including best director. This American horror story del Toro has created is the closest he has been to the top since 2006’s “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Three of the film’s actors – Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins – have raked in nominations, and del Toro won best director at the Globes. However, as some are questioning why Gerwig and Peele have been sidelined in the race for best director, few are paying attention to del Toro has he collect wins. Will the Academy let Peele and Gerwig stay in the writing categories and keep del Toro in directing?
“Call Me By Your Name”
Last January, the Luca Guadagnino-directed film made a splash at Sundance, and the dance kept going through the rest of the year. For a moment, it looked like it would have the same winning fate as “Moonlight,” with back-to-back wins for coming-of-age, gay romantic dramas. But much as changed in Hollywood over those 12 months, and suddenly films starring white male leads are out of favor. Timothée Chalamet, who also appears in “Lady Bird,” has a good chance of earning a best actor nomination and possibly winning if voters can get over his youth. Michael Stuhlbarg, who is really the season’s MVP with his other roles in “The Post” and “The Shape of Water,” should score a nomination as well, as long as Armie Hammer doesn’t cancel him out.
The Academy likes true stories, journalism and Steven Spielberg, and “The Post” has all three of them. With favorites Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, this would be a no-brainer. And it pretty much is, thanks to its strong box office showing so far. What could work against the film set in the 1970s at The Washington Post is the best picture win by “Spotlight” two short years ago. It faces the same type of shadow as “Call Me By Your Name.” Neither have outscored the older, similar films, and perhaps Hanks and Streep may seem too political or familiar for the current climate.
“All the Money in the World”
If there is one movie that has been widely affected by #MeToo and Time’s Up, it would be this Ridley Scott film. Before he was accused of sexual misconduct, Kevin Spacey was an early favorite for a supporting actor nomination. However, Scott quickly recast and reshot the film in record time, employing Christopher Plummer in the role of J. Paul Getty. All of a sudden, a mediocre thriller is a contender and is frequently talked about. Will the salary controversy between Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg be a factor? Will all three be nominees?
If “All the Money in the World” steals a nomination, it will take the place of “The Florida Project,” one of the only true indies with a chance. The poverty-themed drama may be too hard and too small for the Academy to watch, and perhaps too close to “Moonlight” as both are Florida-centered dramas in the state’s most troubled parts. Willem Dafoe previously had a easier path to getting to his first Oscar win after several nominations, but Rockwell has stolen that run. “The Big Sick” may also not make the cut. “Dunkirk,” which was in the lead back in July, still has a chance for best picture, director for Christopher Nolan and some technical spots. Veterans Gary Oldman and Daniel Day-Lewis are safe bets and Margot Robbie and Alison Janney of “I, Tonya” have nothing to worry about.
“All the Money in the World,” “Call Me By Your Name,” “Dunkirk,” “The Florida Project,” “Get Out,” “Lady Bird,” “The Post,” “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”
Luca Guadagnino, “Call Me By Your Name”
Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “The Darkest Hour”
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”
Best Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Armie Hammer, “Call Me By Your Name”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Michael Stuhlbarg, “Call Me By Your Name”
Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”
Best Animated Feature
“The Boss Baby”
“Ethel & Ernest”
Follow @sstamaradunn on Twitter on Tuesday starting at 8 a.m. as she live tweets the Oscar nomination announcements.