Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

A complete assessment of this year's incredible crop of talented nominees


Near the crack of dawn this morning, the nominees for the 90th Academy Awards ceremony were announced. They were joined by the now-usual din, as compliments on the broader diversity of genres and faces this year was met by talk of how far the industry still has to go. With the movement resulting from last year’s flood of new and renewed sexual assault and abuse allegations hanging over this year’s awards season, just as it did so many of the nominated films, it remains to be seen just how much change is happening in Hollywood when the winners are announced on March 4th.

But the show goes on, and so do the Oscars, and in their 90th year, the nominees feel a little more reflective of the times than usual. Two filmmakers, both nominated for Best Director, made their debuts with Best Picture nominees, a big-budget industry A-lister made a tone piece about the personal hells of war, and a pair of period pieces attempted to reach back into the past to explain our fraught present. Love stories took on new forms that the Oscars have a long history of disregarding, new kinds of heroes and villains took over movie screens, and even the sequels turned out pensive and remorseful.

It’s a hell of a time to be a filmgoer, an American, a person living in this world. But the best movies, of which a great number of them are featured among this year’s nominees, can help ease the pain of the times, or help us better understand and process it. It’ll be an odd year to kick back and enjoy an awards ceremony, but it’s one that has a lot to offer this year. Whether you agree with us or not, we’ve tried to pick the likely winners for this year’s Oscars, but it’s a far harder year to call than usual. For once, it’s hard to say where the voting base’s heads are anymore, as much a sign that the times are a’changing as any.

–Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
Film Editor


Best Sound Editing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

What should win: Baby Driver

What will win: The Shape of Water

The amount of play that went into The Shape of Water’s bubbly, muffled, magical, and quite-literally-watered-down sound was pure invention. It’s a feast for the ears as the film’s silences, musical digressions, and harmonious existence with scoring and creature effects made for an entrancing listening affair. But. If the Academy really wants to put some gas in the tank, it could award Baby Driver. It’s a film that cuts itself like crazy in what we can only describe as the world’s most high-octane mixtape movie. Vroom vroom, boom boom, you know? –Blake Goble

Best Sound Mixing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

What should win: Dunkirk

What will win: Dunkirk

Dunkirk should win this one by a country mile. The film’s sound design is a masterwork of meticulous, immersive craftsmanship, a tension-filled hum of bombs, splashes and ticking stopwatches that never, ever lets up. Not since Gravity has a film’s soundscape been so comprehensively interwoven with its musical score, making Dunkirk an unrelenting sensory experience. The rest of the nominees all did admirable work – Baby Driver blends music and revving engines beautifully, and Last Jedi deserves to be on here just for one perfectly calculated moment of silence – but this is clearly Dunkirk’s game to win. –Clint Worthington


Best Visual Effects

apescover Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

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

What should win: Blade Runner 2049

What will win: War for the Planet of the Apes

In looking at recent winners for Visual Effects, the Academy tends to gravitate toward specific designs done well (Ex Machina, The Jungle Book), rather than the well-executed onscreen noise and chaos of a film like Guardian or The Last Jedi, even if the latter featured possibly the coolest single shot in any major studio film released in the past year. We’d love to see 2049 take the prize here for its stunning visual augmentations and its show-stopping reconstruction of a familiar face, but we think it’s time for the stylistically game-changing Apes trilogy to finally get its due. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer


Best Film Editing

Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

What should win: Baby Driver

What will win: Dunkirk

Despite the fact that Best Editing has often tended to be an early-evening predictor of the Best Picture race, two of this year’s five nominees aren’t in the hunt. As you may have noticed by now, we were big on Baby Driver here at Consequence of Sound, as we were on all of this category’s nominees, but that film’s endless stylistic verve stood out in a great year of movies. That said, it’s going to be the elliptical visual storytelling of Dunkirk that deservedly wins out here. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

darkest hour gary oldman Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

Darkest Hour
Victoria & Abdul

What should win: Not, freaking, Darkest Hour

What will win: Darkest Hour

Actors wearing heavy prosthesis to add age or weight pretty much never works. Remember Dustin Hoffman’s old age makeup in Little Big Man? Like looking at a mound of chatty candle wax. And remember when DiCaprio went full jowl-monster to portray J. Edgar Hoover in J. Edgar? It’s like a mound of rubber was slapped on a legitimate actor to obstruct an otherwise decent performance. The same logic goes for Darkest Hour, where Gary Oldman went big with the latex to portray Winston Churchill. It’s a bloody distraction! So, fingers crossed on the other entries. –Blake Goble


Best Costume Design

phantom thread vicky krieps Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul

What should win: Phantom Thread

What will win: Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread is such a clear frontrunner here, it isn’t even funny. It’s the film that calls the most attention to its costumes (it’s a film about a haute couture tailor, for Pete’s sake), and the film’s themes of aesthetic control and the frustration of being around an uncompromising artist are literally woven into the fabric of its deceptively simple, vintage designs. There’s some other great period costumes in Darkest Hour and Victoria and Abdul, but Phantom Thread has this one in its elegantly designed handbag. (And the less said about the dull literalism of Beauty and the Beast’s straight-from-the-cartoon fripperies, the better.) –Clint Worthington


Best Production Design

shape of water Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

What should win: The Shape of Water

What will win: The Shape of Water

You’re probably thinking, Wait, don’t you mean Blade Runner 2049 in the Will Win section? Hang on, there’s a logic here. Yes, 2049 crushed its open-world techno-mania in a way that begged for your attention. But it’s still a work of homage – to other artists like Tarkovsky and Ridley Scott. Done bigger and louder. The Shape of Water is actual creation. A turquoise amalgam of ‘60s Americana, B-movie horror, and romantic movie-going magic. It’s a beautiful blend, for sure. Actual new sights for the cinema. And that’s something you don’t see everyday, unlike war recreations, and Disney Pinterest jobs. –Blake Goble


Best Cinematography

dunkirk cinematography Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
Bruno Delbonnel, Darkest Hour
Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk
Rachel Morrison, Mudbound
Danish Dan Laustsen, The Shape of Water

What should win: Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049

What will win: Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk

There’s a lot to laud this year as cinematography goes, and in this year’s set of nominees as well. Rachel Morrison becomes the first woman in the 90 years of the Oscars to be nominated in the category for her stunning work on Mudbound, an achievement in drawing gorgeous visuals out of the most muted palette. As grossly overdue as Roger Deakins is all around, with his work on 2049 yielding another career high, we’re going to give the edge to Hoyte van Hoytema’s gorgeously tactile work on Dunkirk. He sets the tone of the entire film. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

Best Original Song

Mary J. Blige – “Mighty River”, Mudbound
Sufjan Stevens – “Mystery of Love”, Call Me By Your Name
Gael García Bernal, Libertad García Fonzi, and Gabriella Flores – “Remember Me”, Coco
Andra Day feat. Common – “Stand Up for Something”, Marshall
Kaela Settle, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul – “This is Me”, The Greatest Showman

What should win: “Mystery of Love”, Call Me By Your Name

What will win: “Remember Me”, Coco

This entire category is going to make for a great set of Oscar night performances, most of all when the venerable stars of yesteryear get to bear witness to a mid-evening Sufjan Stevens performance. While his work on the Call Me by Your Name soundtrack is one of the lustrous film’s highlights, the statue is going to another 2017 release that made its music a core dramatic component. Coco is a high-water mark for Pixar, and the performance of “Remember Me” in the film is the cornerstone of one of the studio’s best-ever storytelling payoffs. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer


Best Original Score

Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk
Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
John Williams, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Carter Burwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

What should win: Hans Zimmer

What will win: Alexandre Desplat

This one comes down to three names: Desplat, Zimmer, and Greenwood. All three composers delivered exceptional work this year, especially Zimmer, whose Hail Mary score for Blade Runner 2049 could easily swap in for the dull, forgettable nostalgia of Williams’ latest snorefest. Still, there’s a whimsical majesty to Desplat’s romantic score, which just picked up a Golden Globe, one that Zimmer and Greenwood can’t contend with, and that could go a long way. Also, The Shape of the Water dominated this year’s slate, and this is an all-too-easy pickup for the film. Better luck next year, Hans. –Michael Roffman


Best Animated Short Film

negative space Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

What should win: Revolting Rhymes, on the strength of that title alone.

What will win: Negative Space

Whoa whoa whoa – Kobe Bryant wrote a poem, about basketball, then produced a short film animating the aforementioned poem? Yeah, well, we’ll go with the snazzily, spindly, nastily amusing BBC adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes for now. The French Lou is nifty. The also French Garden Party is eerily photo-realistic. And the poetic Negative Space rocked the festival circuit. But yeah, Revolting Rhymes all the time, man! –Blake Goble

Best Documentary (Short Subject)

edith eddie Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

Edith + Eddie
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

What should win: Edith + Eddie

What will win: Edith + Eddie

“All these titles make a woman from an urban area uncomfortable,” says Tiffany Haddish after reading the nominations for Best Documentary (Short Subject). That was about as exciting as this category will get for now. We get it. These categories are always a little, “that’s nice… what the hell are these now?” Well, Knife Skills is about a restaurant opening. Edith + Eddie is about interracial marriage and elder abuse. Heaven is a Traffic Jam on 405, well, just watch the damn thing here. Heroin(e) is, get this, about the opioid epidemic and is on Netflix. And Traffic Stop is about exactly what the title says and comes to HBO in March. Out of all these films, doesn’t Edith + Eddie just sound like an Oscar contender? Anyways, that’s our guess. –Blake Goble


Best Live Action Short Film

my nephew emmett Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmet
Silent Child
Watu Wote: All of Us

What should win: Watu Wote: All of Us

What will win: My Nephew Emmett

Okay, so the short film categories are always tough, simply because it’s so rare that anyone outside of Academy voters or festival audiences has even seen them. That being said, this year’s crop of live-action nominees has some solid choices, including the harrowing DeKalb Elementary and haunting Silent Child. Watu Wote looks to be a tense retelling of the Mandera bus attack on the Kenya-Somali border in 2014, but the cultural moment will likely swing votes over to the disquieting Emmett Till dramatization, My Nephew Emmett. –Clint Worthington


Best Foreign Language Film

the insult film Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

A Fantastic Woman (Una mujer fantástica)
The Insult (L’insulte)
Loveless (Нелюбовь)
On Body and Soul (Testről és lélekről)
The Square

What should win: Loveless

What will win: The Insult

The Square came out of Cannes with the heat of a thousand takes. It’s a gnarly, stylish ribbing of not only the art scene, but established systems, vanity, and culture at large. Then, time cooled it. Backlash emerged. Schisms were born. And now, even though we really like that freaky and mean film – it’s just so not Academy material. Loveless, a grim and endlessly compelling indictment of apathetic Russian culture is a hugely deserving effort. But that, too, is a bit grim for the Academy. A Fantastic Woman deserves praise matching the adjective of its title … but Sony didn’t push it hard enough. So, at the end of the day, it’s maybe The Insult and On Body and Soul. And for the insane Oscar gamblers of the world: Bet on The Insult. Please don’t ask for your money back if I’m wrong. –Blake Goble


Best Animated Feature Film

coco Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Loving Vincent

What should win: Coco
What will win: Coco

Academy Award-nominee The Boss Baby. Just really take the time to chew on that one for a few minutes, here.

Meanwhile, given that CG-based animation rules the category, it’s going to be the best-executed example of it by far that runs away with what we’d call the most guaranteed category lock of the night. Coco is a visual feast, one of the most richly detailed films from minute to minute that Pixar has ever released, and it’s likely going to become the studio’s ninth feature to win in this category. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

Best Documentary Feature Film

abacus Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

What should win: Faces Places

What will win: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

If there’s any justice in this world, Agnes Varda and JR’s Faces Places will win all the awards. A celebration of citizenry, architecture, and the long paths of our lives, it’s an incredible, uplifting work from one of cinema’s most influential filmmakers. Varda is pushing 90, and yet she’s at the absolute top of her game, which is something that should be rewarded. However, Steve James’ Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, with its empathetic look at both Chinese immigrant cultures and the 2008 recession, has just enough heat and visibility to pull through. Plus, it’s a long-awaited Oscar nom for the acclaimed director of Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters, so a win for James wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. –Clint Worthington


Best Adapted Screenplay

call me by your name Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

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
Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, Mudbound

What should win: Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green, Logan

What will win: James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name

Look, it’s already a win that we can even talk about Logan at this year’s Oscars. Sure, in a perfect world, the film would also be celebrating nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor, but Hollywood, for all its glamour and gloss, is hardly perfect. So, while we’d love for their screenplay to snikt! snikt! its way to the top, we’re putting our money on Ivory, seeing how the Academy will have to “spread the wealth”, and it’s very unlikely Call Me By Your Name gets Best Picture. Though, we do like Neustadter and Weber as an unlikely dark horse candidate. Would be a cool story, Mark. –Michael Roffman


Best Original Screenplay

get out Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

Emily V. Gordon & 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

What should win: Jordan Peele, Get Out

What will win: Jordan Peele, Get Out

Talk about a Sophie’s choice, huh? Yeah, you know you’re in for a shit show when McDonagh is the easiest candidate to dismiss outright. (We’ll probably eat crow for that line. Ugh.) That leaves four incredibly smart and highly imaginative screenplays, all at the top of their respective genres. But if we have to chisel this down to two names, we’re going to zero in on Gerwig and Peele. Both have the sharpest scripts of the bunch, which says a lot, and both have the critical acclaim to back up both wins. Splitting hairs, we have to go with Peele, whose screenplay serves as the entire blueprint behind his horror subversion. This will likely be the only award Get Out sneaks away with, seeing how the Academy is terrified of the genre. Babies. –Michael Roffman


Best Supporting Actor

sam rockwell billboards Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

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

Who should win: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project or Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

Who will win: Sam Rockwell,Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Out of all the seemingly guaranteed wins, this is one category that bothers us the least. After all, Rockwell has been an underrated character actor his entire career, as he recently played up during his hosting gig on Saturday Night Live, and he’s more than deserving of the accolades. Three Billboards has been ludicrously overrated these past few months, but his role in the film embellishes his strongest qualities as an actor. Having said that, we’d really, really, really love it if Dafoe could pull out a win for The Florida Project or if Jenkins could similarly be commended for his time around Hollywood. –Michael Roffman


Best Supporting Actress

i tonya Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

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

Who should win: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Who will win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Ask anyone a month or two ago, and they’d tell you Laurie Metcalf had it in the bag for her acerbic, passive-aggressive mom in Greta Gerwig’s revelatory Lady Bird. However, awards season has been pretty kind to Allison Janney, playing a similarly acid-tongued mama bear in I, Tonya. Already, she’s won the Golden Globe, SAG, and Critics’ Choice awards, and there’s no reason to think she won’t complete the collection come Oscar time. Sure, Spencer and Blige’s nominations are well-deserved, and it’s a very pleasant surprise to see that Lesley Manville’s steely glares secured her a nod. But it’s a shame to leave Metcalf’s magnetic performance in the dust. –Clint Worthington


Best Actor

gary oldman darkest hour Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

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

Who should win: Let’s not talk about it.

Who will win: Gary Oldman

What a snore of a category. Considering that Oldman has won just about every accolade for his performance as Winston Churchill, including the coveted SAG Award, the Oscar is all but his to lose. Sure, they could toss the award to future retiree Day-Lewis for his understated role in Phantom Thread, one that was severely overshadowed by the virtually ignored Vicky Krieps, but that’s pretty unlikely. The Academy loves using this category to “give back” and Oldman is next in line. In the event that Chalamet and/or Kaluuya do win — the only contenders that are remotely interesting here — well, this writer may walk back to the kitchen and have a fourth quarter slice of pizza to celebrate. But, that ain’t happening, folks. –Michael Roffman


Best Actress

three billboards Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

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

Who should win: Fuck it, let’s join the backlash! Anybody but McDormand.

Who will win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

It’s gonna be Frances McDormand. And hey, that’s cool. Really, we’re fine with that on a general level where we’re still kinda wilding out over the shit she gets away with in Three Billboards. Molotov cocktails, racial epithets, kicking teenage girls in the crotch. Hoo doggy, this performance tore down the house in a big way, and McDormand never flinches, not even once. And yet. Should we reward attention-grabbing and bad behavior on screen when we can dig into richer, deeper, and far more complex performances from four other fabulous nominees? Like Robbie’s empathetic portrayal of ‘90s tabloid athlete Tonya Harding? Or Meryl’s finely arced work as Kay Graham? Or what about Ronan’s delightfully teenaged Lady Bird McPherson? Or maybe we should award Sally Hawkins for bringing depth to The Shape of Water without uttering a word? Just a thought. –Blake Goble

Best Director

del toro shape of water Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

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

What should win: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

What will win: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

For the first time in, like, ever, the narratives for this category are agreeable no matter the winner. On one hand, you have three proven veterans hungry for some of that sweet Oscar gold, and in the other hand are two talented n00bs who hit the jackpot on their first pull. All would be welcome additions to the “Oscar-winning directory” field, but as the Highlander taught us, there can only be one. If we’re going by sheer filmmaking, this award belongs to Nolan, who delivered a flawless piece of filmmaking with Dunkirk. But, given the sheer number of awards, and the fact that it’s pure auteur filmmaking, and that the Academy loves spectacles, and that the buzz is deafening, all signs point to del Toro walking away with the coveted award. –Michael Roffman


Best Picture

lady bird Oscars 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

What should win: Get Out

What will win: Lady Bird

Come on. How cool would it be if, in a great year for movies all around, it was the first horror movie to be nominated for Best Picture in years that took home the prize? This is an exceedingly solid year for the Best Picture race, at least depending on your perspective, and it’s a shame only that some of our favorites in the race are among the least likely to take home this year’s crown.

That said, Lady Bird was the kind of formidable coming-out party as a filmmaker that’s going to make Greta Gerwig a household name in the years to come, and we believe it has the best chance of swaying the Academy in a year where several other films are being met with skepticism as winners, whether because of their controversial subject matter (Three Billboards) or the familiarity of their storytelling (The Post).

We’re voting for Lady Bird. It’s going to take home the big one on March 4th, and that’s hella tight.–Dominick Suzanne-Mayer