Hollywood’s biggest night is fast approaching, and we at the Chronicle decided to pitch in our own opinions on the nominations before the stars take to the red carpet at the 90th Academy Awards tomorrow. Since our collective teenage voice might not align with the Academy’s more refined tastes, we also included our predictions for who will actually win, despite what we as a staff might wish.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET Call Me by Your Name
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS Phantom Thread
DANIEL KALUUYA Get Out
GARY OLDMAN Darkest Hour
DENZEL WASHINGTON Roman J. Israel, Esq.
M-A Chronicle winner: Daniel Kaluuya
M-A Chronicle prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Kaluuya’s standout performance in 2017’s standout horror movie, “Get Out,” was a captivating portrayal of uncomfortable acquiescence turned profound terror, in the face of subtle liberal racism turned hypnosis-induced slavery. However, the subversive nature of “Get Out,” which so blatantly criticizes the racism in elite white circles like the Academy, makes it seem unlikely that the 28-year-old Kaluuya will leave Sunday night with the Oscar. Instead, we predict the award will go to Oscar veteran Daniel Day-Lewis, who previously won Best Actor in a Leading Role in 2013 for his performance in “Lincoln.” His riveting portrayal of a British dressmaker in a complicated relationship for “Phantom Thread” seems more in line with the slew of rugged middle-aged white men in semi-boring dramas that have dominated the category for the last 14 years.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
WILLEM DAFOE The Florida Project
WOODY HARRELSON Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
RICHARD JENKINS The Shape of Water
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER All the Money in the World
SAM ROCKWELL Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
M-A Chronicle winner: Willem Dafoe
M-A Chronicle prediction: Richard Jenkins
Willem Dafoe plays Bobby in “The Florida Project,” the manager of the motel in Orlando where the main characters, Moonee and Halley, live. As an evolving character, his role is complex. He is a disciplinary to the rambunctious Moonee and her mother who can never seem to pay rent on time, but he is also a hero. He constantly helps Halley and Moonee no matter how troublesome and difficult they are. His acting is superb — in fact, it often seems he is only playing himself.
However, we think that Richard Jenkins will win. In “The Shape of Water,” Jenkins plays the artist best friend of the main character, a mute cleaning woman, and kept “the story grounded in a warm humanity” according to Vox.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
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
M-A Chronicle winner: Saoirse Ronan
M-A Chronicle prediction: Frances McDormand
Saoirse Ronan delivered a beautifully complex yet absolutely relatable performance as Lady Bird, the Sacramento teen struggling to find herself in relation to her friends, her family, and the world. Ronan effortlessly portrays the simultaneous rebellion and nostalgia, excitement and fear, and naïveté and depth of a high school senior on the precipice of adulthood. Ronan’s win is expected in a teenage-dominated class, but we predict the Academy will lean towards Frances McDormand. In “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri,” McDormand plays a strong-willed, angry mother who lost her daughter to a rapist-murderer. She portrays grief honestly and gracefully, slipping with ease from anger to sadness to guilt to heartbreak throughout the film. We believe that her role in “Three Billboards” will be popular in the Academy, which tends toward women facing dramatic adversity rather than coming-of-age in this category.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
MARY J. BLIGE Mudbound
ALLISON JANNEY I, Tonya
LESLEY MANVILLE Phantom Thread
LAURIE METCALF Lady Bird
OCTAVIA SPENCER The Shape of Water
M-A Chronicle winner: Octavia Spencer
M-A Chronicle prediction: Laurie Metcalf
Octavia Spencer starred in “The Shape of Water” as the main character’s friend from work. Her character, Zelda, works as a janitor with Elisa at the government-run Baltimore research facility. Her interactions with Elisa show that she can converse well with someone who cannot respond verbally. She is the one who tells Elisa she’s crazy for being in love with that “monster,” but is such a good friend that she still helps her take him from the facility.
Although Spencer may have been the more well-known name in our newsroom, from her famed role as the “Eat my shit” lady from “The Help,” Laurie Metcalf’s performance as the stretched-thin mother in “Lady Bird” is undeniable Oscar material.
Metcalf strikes the perfect balance of mother-daughter love-hate, and the universality of her role makes it a more probable Academy favorite.
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
THE BOSS BABY Tom McGrath and Ramsey Naito
THE BREADWINNER Nora Twomey and Anthony Leo
COCO Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson
FERDINAND Carlos Saldanha and Lori Forte
LOVING VINCENT Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart
M-A Chronicle winner: Coco
M-A Chronicle prediction: Coco
“Coco” was everything one could hope for in an animated film: visually stunning, catchy music, a heartwarming storyline with an important lesson about familial love and remembering our pasts. The story of Miguel, a young boy in Mexico who enters into the land of the dead during Día de los Muertos on a quest to defy his family’s generation-spanning ban on music, added an original Latino spin on the happy-tear-jerking Pixar plots we have come to know and love. This box office hit fits the trend of Best Animated Feature Film winners of the past, which rewards popular children’s films like “Zootopia,” “Frozen,” or “Toy Story 3,” to name a few.
BLADE RUNNER 2049 Roger A. Deakins
DARKEST HOUR Bruno Delbonnel
DUNKIRK Hoyte van Hoytema
MUDBOUND Rachel Morrison
THE SHAPE OF WATER Dan Laustsen
M-A Chronicle winner: Dunkirk
M-A Chronicle prediction: Dunkirk
“Dunkirk” perfectly balances breathtaking wide-angle shots that encompass sprawling sandy shores, white wooden piers, the glittering English Channel, or deceptively pure blue skies, with intimate close-ups that capture the visceral terror and uncertainty of air raids, a sinking battleship, or dogfighting from a cockpit. The combination visually explains the simultaneous widespread and individual suffering of war, truly recreating the infamous World War II evacuation. “Dunkirk” lacks a real protagonist or standout acting and is completely carried by the experience the viewer is submerged in via the carefully-crafted cinematography. This masterful example of an Academy-favored genre of dramatic historical reenactments poises “Dunkirk” to take home the Oscar on Sunday.
DUNKIRK Christopher Nolan
GET OUT Jordan Peele
LADY BIRD Greta Gerwig
PHANTOM THREAD Paul Thomas Anderson
THE SHAPE OF WATER Guillermo del Toro
M-A Chronicle winner: Get Out
M-A Chronicle prediction: Get Out
Director Jordan Peele said that “Get Out” was meant to be a “more direct, brutal wake-up.”
When he started making the movie, which is his first film as solo director, he was just having fun with a horror story. But as he progressed through the film, it spoke to something more important. His movie gave people a horrifying taste of what racism is like America, while also making his audience feel empathy for the protagonist. The fact that this was all original screenplay and his own idea is incredibly impressive, and we hope that he will leave Sunday with his first Oscar.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges and Marco Morabito, Producers
DARKEST HOUR Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten and Douglas Urbanski, Producers
DUNKIRK Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
GET OUT Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr. and Jordan Peele, Producers
LADY BIRD Scott Rudin, Eli Bush and Evelyn O’Neill, Producers
PHANTOM THREAD JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison and Daniel Lupi, Producers
THE POST Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg, and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers
THE SHAPE OF WATER Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles Dale, Producers
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Martin McDonagh, Producers
M-A Chronicle winner: Get Out
M-A Chronicle prediction: Lady Bird
They say the best horror movies are ones that seem eerily realistic. “Get Out” accomplishes a difficult, seemingly impossible goal: to create a satirical horror movie that is socially conscious at the same time. It is a film that can make you laugh, feel disturbed, and even change the way you think about racism. Vulture called it a “mash-up of ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?’ and ‘The Stepford Wives’ that’s more fun than either and more illuminating, too.”
The characterization of Rose, Chris’ girlfriend, and her family is so well done that you think they are normal at first. It is shocking to discover that they are not, and suddenly all of their small warning signs make sense. This movie, an eye-opening thriller from start to finish, was well-made, and the first of its kind.
Despite how mind-blowing and interesting “Get Out” is, we think that “Lady Bird” will win Best Picture because it is a relatable and classic coming-of-age story. “Get Out” is unsettling and leaves you will a generally negative view of humans. We think the Academy will choose the uplifting, family-oriented coming-of-age story over the chilling and disturbing horror thriller.
WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME Screenplay by James Ivory
THE DISASTER ARTIST Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
LOGAN Screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold
MOLLY’S GAME Written for the screen by Aaron Sorkin
MUDBOUND Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees
M-A Chronicle winner: Call Me By Your Name
M-A Chronicle prediction: Call Me By Your Name
It is perhaps not the words spoken, but the silences that make “Call Me By Your Name” so masterful. The dialogue is minimal, but every single word is deliberate and packed with meaning. There is not an ounce of fake language in this screenplay; subtle exchanges between characters capture the real way words often carry the weight of emotion without explicitly stating them. “Call Me By Your Name” is heartbreakingly raw, and entirely deserving of Best Adapted Screenplay.
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
THE BIG SICK Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
GET OUT Written by Jordan Peele
LADY BIRD Written by Greta Gerwig
THE SHAPE OF WATER Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI Written by Martin McDonagh
M-A Chronicle winner: Get Out
M-A Chronicle prediction: Lady Bird
“Get Out” is full of hidden meanings and interesting connotative imagery. There is so much to catch in subtle details, from Rose sorting the Froot Loops by color to the house tour, when Rose’s mother tells Chris that they keep a “piece” of her mother in the kitchen. Therefore, we think writer Jordan Peele should be awarded for his unique storyline and innovative lines.
We predict, however, that “Lady Bird” will win this category. When watching “Lady Bird,” it is likely that you will see parts of yourself in Lady Bird or her mother. While not everyone’s family looks the same, there is something so raw and universal portrayed in “Lady Bird” that it is impossible not to identify with some of the stories and personalities of its characters.
BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
DEAR BASKETBALL Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant
NEGATIVE SPACE Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata
GARDEN PARTY Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon
REVOLTING RHYMES Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer
LOU Dave Mullins and Dana Murray
M-A Chronicle winner: Dear Basketball
M-A Chronicle prediction: Revolting Rhymes
To be frank, our newsroom has a solid voting block of basketball fans who successfully lobbied for us to vote on Best Animated Short Film; it is no surprise then that Kobe Bryant’s uplifting autobiographical tale of his journey from “that boy with rolled up socks and a garbage can in the corner” to star Los Angeles Lakers player, would take home the M-A Chronicle Oscar.
However, “Revolting Rhymes,” the cheeky yet sincere modernized retelling of several fairy tales, adapted from Roald Dahl’s book of the same title, seems a better fit for the whimsical fantasies that have dominated this category in the past.
Watch the 90th Academy Awards Sunday at 5 p.m. on American Broadcasting Company.
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