Oscars 2018: Our Picks and Predictions

Another Oscars post you ask? Yes, that’s right. Here at Spread to the Edges, we tend to avoid speculation but, being the Oscars, it’s kind of a big deal. Some ground rules: speculation will still be kept at a minimum. We are going to state what we think will win as a unified voice (which we’re sure will cause no arguments whatsoever), but the main focus will be on what we want to win. We will only discuss the categories in which we have seen enough of the films to comment with some authority (I mean, has anyone seen any of the Animated Shorts?). Also, because we have not seen enough of the nominees for Best Animated Film (mainly, because most don’t look very good), we will not be discussing this category; we will just assume and hope that Coco will win.

 

Lead Actress

Who we think will win: Frances McDormand

Who we hope will win:

Dan: As much as I would love Frances McDormand to win, I think Saoirse Ronan’s performance was the most believable of the nominees this year. Ronan was “Lady Bird”. She was subtle, emotional and realistic, perfectly capturing the ethos Gerwig’s script.

Adam: To my mind, Sally Hawkins gave one of the best performances of the year as Eliza in The Shape of Water. The part was written by Guillermo del Toro with her in mind and this really shows in the film, with Hawkins managing to craft an entire character without speaking a single word. Happy as I would be to see Frances McDormand win, Sally Hawkins gave a quieter – but I would argue much more powerful – performance.

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Lead Actor

Who we think will win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Who we hope will win:

Dan: As much as the other nominees in this category are all great, no one becomes a character quite like Daniel Day-Lewis. While Gary Oldman has the momentum, I think the academy like Day-Lewis too much to not give it to him. It’s a masterful performance from an actor whose supposed “retirement” will be sorely lamented.

Adam: I have to agree with Dan; much as I would love to see Timothée Chalamet or Daniel Kaluuya win, Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread is nothing short of incredible. If this really is his final film, it proves to be one of the best performances in a series of great performances.

 

Supporting Actress

Who we think will win: Allison Janney

Who we hope will win:

Dan: Lesley Manville had the difficult task of acting alongside Daniel Day-Lewis and, not only did she match his character, but occasionally outperformed him. So much of her character relied on subtle facial expressions and minute details, and I’d go as far to say she executed them perfectly. Coincidentally, she also has some great comic timing.

Adam: Full disclosure: I haven’t seen I, Tonya yet, so Allison Janney could completely change my mind when I do. However, I would be very surprised if she gives a better performance than Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird. So much of her character’s thoughts go unspoken, but all of them are completely obvious from her delivery. So much of the story rests on the relationship between her and Saoirse Ronan’s “Lady Bird”, and her performance acts as the emotional centre for the entire film.

 

Supporting Actor

Who we think will win: Sam Rockwell

Who we hope will win:

Dan: As much as Sam Rockwell and Willem Dafoe deserve to win this award, I think Woody Harrelson is being severely overlooked. Although a supporting character in every sense, he has a huge impact on the story of Three Billboards. If not only for the “three letters” scenes, then for the amount of genuine sympathy you develop for his character given his limited screen-time.

Adam: This is a frustrating one for me this year; I’ve wanted Sam Rockwell to win an Oscar since Moon, and now that he finally is nominated I don’t want him to win. While his performance in Three Billboards is excellent, it doesn’t quite hold up to Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project, shockingly only nominated for one award this year. Dafoe gives the best performance of his career as Bobby, as he watches the story of Moonee and Halley unfold, clearly deeply upset but powerless to do anything. (Side-note: Michael Stuhlbarg not being nominated purely for his monologue in Call Me by Your Name is frankly criminal).

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Best Cinematography

Who we think we will win: Roger Deakins, for Blade Runner 2049.  

Who we hope will win:

Dan: Never has a competition been so easy to determine a winner. This is Roger Deakins’ year. There is no doubt about it and, in all honesty, he truly deserves it. The cinematography of Blade Runner 2049 is purposeful, beautiful and technically outstanding. Every shot feels necessary to tell the story, most actions and subtle facial expressions being captured by Deakin’s camera work; helping to elevate the visual storytelling of Denis Villeneuve’s world. At times showing great restraint and highlighting character depth, while also presenting the world of Blade Runner in all it’s colourful, vast glory, Deakins’ cinematography, for me, is absolutely perfect.

Adam: Controversial opinion time: I really didn’t like the cinematography for Blade Runner 2049. Yes, it looked beautiful, but to me it felt like it belonged in a completely different film, being far too cold and clinical to make me truly believe that the characters were living in a dystopia. I’ve wanted Roger Deakins to win an Oscar for years, and it would be very disappointing to see him win for what I think is one of his weakest films. As well as this, my pick for the best cinematography of the year, Alexis Zabe’s work on The Florida Project, hasn’t even been nominated, a fact about which I have complained extensively. For my pick then, I would choose Dan Lauststen for his work on The Shape of Water, a film which looks beautiful to echo the nature of the fairytale nature of the story it is telling, rather than just for the sake of looking beautiful. Yes, I know Roger Deakins will almost certainly win. Yes, I’m bitter. Yes, Dan and I disagree somewhat on this subject.

 

Adapted Screenplay

What we think will win: Call Me by Your Name

Who we hope will win:

Dan: I think this one is pretty obvious. Call Me by Your Name is by far the best adapted script. It’d be cool to see something like Logan win, but in all honesty, it deserves to go to Call Me by Your Name.

 Adam: Call Me by Your Name. It’s got to be Call Me by Your Name. Have you seen Call Me by Your Name? In James Ivory’s screenplay, adapted from André Aciman’s novel, the characters of Elio and Oliver are clear from their first lines and, as mentioned earlier, Michael Stuhlbarg’s monologue is probably my favourite scene of the year.

 

Original Screenplay

What we think will win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

 What we hope will win:

Dan: This was a difficult one just due to how strong the nominees are. I love the scripts for both Get Out and Lady Bird, however, Martin McDonagh’s writing for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri may be my favourite screenplay in recent memory. Every character has a complete arc, the dialogue is near-perfect and every plot point is wholly unpredictable. Every time you think you know where the story is going, McDonagh pulls the rug from underneath you. The script relishes in the moral ambiguity of the characters and plays with your sympathies and expectations; often switching from dramatic tension to dark comedy in a matter of seconds. I can already picture the video essay titles: “Three Billboards: How Martin McDonagh crafts a narrative”.

Adam: While Three Billboards does have a great script, and Martin McDonagh has long been one of my favourite screenwriters, I think no film this year has embodied the ‘original’ aspect of Original Screenplay better than Jordan Peele’s Get Out. The script manages to do so much, simultaneously being funny, terrifying and offering a detailed, nuanced commentary on race in America, with none of these aspects detracting from any of the others. (This is one of the categories where honestly, I would be happy for any of the nominees to win, and it’s particularly pleasing to see Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon deservedly nominated for The Big Sick).

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Production Design

What we think will win: The Shape of Water

What we hope will win:

Dan: The sets in Blade Runner 2049 are, along with the cinematography and CGI, highly responsible for bringing this world to life. The small advancements in technology from the original Blade Runner, the set design and the technology of the future all help to present the world as simultaneously familiar and alien. Although these awards tend to go to period pieces, I’m hoping the Academy choose a period that we’re yet to experience but feel as if we might.

Adam: For the very first shot alone, I think that Jeffrey A. Melvin and Shane Vieau deserve this one for their work on The Shape of Water. The setting and time period is firmly established through a variety of locations, particularly Eliza’s apartment, which reveals more about her character than any dialogue could. However, not just representative of the time period, the design also reflects that of classic Hollywood, with del Toro’s own signature dark twist.

 

Film Editing

What we think will win: Baby Driver

 Who we hope will win:

Dan: Edgar Wright’s films rely so much on great editing that I feel like Baby Driver is a somewhat obvious, but worthy, choice. I thought the editing in Dunkirk was also strong, however, considering the brilliance of the visual comedy and action scenes in Baby Driver, I not only think it will win but should win.

Adam: Edgar Wright’s semi-regular collaborators Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos returned to edit Baby Driver, and their work was excellent; the hyper-kinetic style mixing well with Wright’s direction. The pair put as much thought into dialogue-heavy scenes as they did to the action scenes, making sure that the fun pace never drops throughout the film.

 

Original Score

What we think will win: Phantom Thread

What we hope will win:

Dan: If there is one score from this year I want to own on a dusty record, it would be Johnny Greenwood’s for Phantom Thread. Not only does the score fit the film well but every single scene, the mood or tone changing for every beat of the story. It’s dream-like and beautiful, haunting and disturbing, classical and technical, “great” and “should win”.

Adam: Much as I loved Johnny Greenwood’s score for Phantom Thread, and would be happy to see it win, I just about prefer Alexandre Desplat’s beautiful score for The Shape of Water. The score fits into the story which del Toro is telling perfectly, subtly echoing the classic Hollywood musicals watched by its characters, while also being distinctive enough to stand on its own. It’s impossible to listen to without picturing the film and its characters, and often works excellently as a voice for the mute Eliza.

 

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Just Sufjan bein’ Sufjan

 

Original Song

Who we think will win: Sufjan Stevens 

Who we hope will win:

Dan: Sufjan, Sufjan, Sufjan, Sufjan, Sufjan, Sufjan, Sufjan, Sufjan, Sufjan Stevens.

Adam: Sufjan Stevens is a weird dude. I want to see his acceptance speech. That is all. Also, I concur with Dan; Sufjan Sufjan Sufjan Sufjan Sufjan Sufjan Sufjan Sufjan Sufjan.

 

 

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Visual Effects

What we think will win: War for the Planet of the Apes

What we hope will win:

Dan: I confess that I’m yet to see the latest Apes film, although I did enjoy the others in the trilogy; however, the visual effects for Blade Runner 2049 are seamless. The team behind it managed to perfectly blend good production design, practical effects and CGI to the point where I struggled to tell which was which. While there are moments in The Last Jedi and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 where I could tell what I was watching was “fake”, everything in Blade Runner 2049 appeared completely and utterly real. For that, I think it deserves to win for best visual effects.

Adam: The fact that none of the recent Planet of the Apes films have won best visual effects is quite frankly baffling, and I definitely hope this will be corrected this year. The effects by Weta in this trilogy have been consistently outstanding and combined with the performances of the cast, particularly Andy Serkis, it is easy to forget that the characters were created on a computer. The fact that the CGI characters are the ones who carry the story in all three films goes to prove just how effective the visual effects really are, and I think this is undeniably War for the Planet of the Apes’ year.

 

 

 

Best Director

Who we think will win: Guillermo del Toro

 Who we hope will win:

Dan: Being my favourite director and someone who is always snubbed at the Oscars, I think it’s about time Paul Thomas Anderson won Best Director. Please. Every film he makes would be considered another director’s masterpiece, and Phantom Thread is another film in which he shows how well he has perfected his craft.

Adam: With apologies to PTA and Jordan Peele, this is Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar to lose, and it’s one he fully deserves after his incredible work on The Shape of Water. It is impossible to imagine this film coming from any other director, with del Toro presenting a story about a woman falling in love with a fish like it’s most natural thing in the world. If that doesn’t deserve an award, I don’t know what does.

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Best Picture

What we think will win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

What we hope will win:

Dan: As a film that ticks all my personal literary boxes, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has everything I could ask for. It’s so hard to write something where every character has fully-realised arcs, no matter how minor. As an entire film, this one was probably closest to “perfect cinema”.

Adam: Much as I adore The Shape of Water, Call Me by Your Name just about edges it out for me. Is it because it’s the one I watched most recently? Quite possibly. But is it also one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen in years? Most definitely.

 

 

Words by Dan Lyons and Adam Wells.

 

Image credits:

Oscars 2018: Watch Out For These Movies

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5776858/mediaviewer/rm3937817088

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1856101/mediaviewer/rm2040276736

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5580390/mediaviewer/rm1537826048

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2014294/mediaviewer/rm328274176

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3450958/mediaviewer/rm1080238336

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5027774/mediaviewer/rm211572224

 

 

 

 

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