Animated Feature Film
Who Should Win: “Coco”
Who Will Win: “Coco”
The Pixar film that broke the all-time grossing record at the Mexican box office has been met with near universal praise this awards season. The film is a perfect children’s film about family and a boy with a dream that takes places in a vibrant Mexican town of Santa Cecilia during Día de Los Muertos. The fun adventure that follows left me laughing throughout and crying by the end. “Coco” was my favorite film of the year and deserves to take the Oscar. The other nominations deserve credit, especially “Loving Vincent” for its use of real impressionist oil paintings in every frame of the film. In any other year, a film with that level of innovation would have a real chance to stand up to Pixar, but “Coco” is unstoppable.
Who Should Win: Not Gary Oldman
Who Will Win: Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman’s performance in “Darkest Hour” is great. He’s a veteran actor who knows what he’s doing, and his ability to sink into a character that you might not expect from him is admirable. But let’s be honest, this is an extremely safe choice the Academy is going to make. “Darkest Hour” is a film that ticks every box for in the no-one-will-remember-this-in-five-years category. Instead, the Academy ought to give the award to Daniel Kaluuya, Timothée Chalamet or Daniel Day-Lewis, but it would be shocking if it did.
Who Should Win: Saorise Ronan
Who Will Win: Frances McDormand
I enjoyed Ronan’s naturalistic and believable persona as the titular character in “Lady Bird,” but Frances McDormand deserves to be the favorite here as well. She goes on a crusade in “Three Billboards” and is the driving force behind a film that is getting Best Picture buzz. Her role certainly asked her to do more than Emma Stone’s performance that netted her the trophy last year. In the end, while I’d like to see Ronan take it, McDormand has earned the trophy.
Who Will Win: Guillermo del Toro
Who Should Win: Guillermo del Toro
The Best Director/Best Picture split from the past few years might not bode well for “The Shape of Water” winning cinema’s biggest award because Guillermo Del Toro seems like a lock for Best Director. Del Toro’s work has always been imaginative, and this film might be his tightest and clearest depiction of that fantastical vision. The film’s imaginative use of color, costume, set design and visual effects oozes Del Toro as he brings the various elements into perfect harmony. No other director could imagine the fantastical flooded tableau that begins the film or the green hued color palate that dominates its visual landscapes. While many critics might point to identity politics as the reasons behind a possible Del Toro win, I would disagree. Mexican directors have won the Oscar in 2013, 2014 and 2015, but Del Toro won’t win because of the Academy’s interest in Mexican filmmakers; rather he will win because his individual voice shines through, just as Cuarón’s and Iñárritu’s before him.
Who Should Win: “Get Out”
Who Will Win: “The Shape of Water”
The reasoning behind this is simple: “Get Out” is a cultural touchstone that will be remembered long after we forget “Darkest Hour” and “The Post.” Have you ever seen someone argue about Phantom Thread on Twitter? Now, every year we don’t give the Oscar to the movie with the biggest cultural momentum. But “Get Out” is not only an Internet touchstone, it is also a film deserving of such high honors in its technical aspects. The original screenplay has pushed writing in the horror genre forward in a way not seen for decades. The actors deliver incredible performances and Jordan Peele’s directorial voice is clear and captivating, despite “Get Out” being his debut film. “Get Out” needs to win the Oscar, but even if it doesn’t, it will remain in our consciousness long after we forget these other films.
It’s hard to predict the Best Picture Oscar, particularly will the influx of thousands of new voters in the last few years. I can see a few films winning the award, including my personal preference, “Get Out.” The favorite seems to be “The Shape of Water.” His is not a particularly traditional choice, but Del Toro’s film represents the way film can take viewers to a new, strange world. “Dunkirk” is another film with buzz, especially as the Oscars draw closer. While the film is indulgent in its cinematography and visuals, its storytelling leaves much to be desired, and Nolan shouldn’t win for a film that doesn’t live up to some of his other work. Still, the more traditional voting bloc of the Academy might heavily back “Dunkirk.” “Lady Bird” is a charming indie film, but doesn’t deliver enough to set it apart from others in its genre. “Three Billboards” might win on the back of McDormand’s one-woman crusade and act as a symbolic gesture toward the #MeToo movement, but it seems to have lost some momentum throughout awards season. “Get Out” being a horror film could hold it back. “The Shape of Water” pulls ahead as the slight favorite and would be a deserving winner, but the race is fairly wide open, so get your popcorn ready folks.