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2018 Oscar Nomination Predictions: Our Final Selections, Ranked for Each Category

The race is on between PGA-winner "The Shape of Water," likely to score the most nominations, and SAG Ensemble-winner "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."

"The Shape of Water"

“The Shape of Water”

Fox Searchlight

It’s fun making Oscar nominations picks this year because there’s more room for debate than usual. The top five Best Picture candidates are pretty clear, led by the Critics Choice and Producers Guild winner “The Shape of Water,” and the Screen Actors Guild Ensemble, Actress and Supporting actor winner “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

The next three Best Picture leaders come from lauded writer-directors: SAG Ensemble, PGA and Directors Guild nominees “Lady Bird” (Greta Gerwig) and “Get Out” (Jordan Peele) and DGA and PGA nominee “Dunkirk” (Christopher Nolan).

If you stick with the stats, they reveal that SAG Ensemble winners don’t always match up with the Best Picture winner. (Last year’s Ensemble winner was “Hidden Figures.”) But over 22 years of Ensemble Awards, only “Braveheart” (1995) managed to take home the Oscar without an Ensemble nomination.

Thus, will “The Shape of Water,” which won the often-predictive top Critics’ Choice and Producers Guild awards, win Best Picture without landing a SAG Ensemble nomination? Neither 2015’s “The Revenant” nor 2016’s “La La Land” achieved that feat.

This year, two smaller indie entries from Amazon/Roadside (“The Big Sick”) and Netflix (“Mudbound”) took Ensemble slots. Arguably, each benefitted from SAG nominating committee members leaning into inclusion — which Oscar voters may also do. “The Big Sick” could score three nominations, including Best Picture; “Mudbound” could get three or four. The Netflix factor makes it hard to measure its Best Picture status, as Academy members share conflicting feelings about the streaming site.

Beyond the top five contenders for Best Picture, the field could mean anywhere from eight to 10 nominees. Notable this year is how many passionate advocates (and detractors) exist among the 7,258 Oscar voters. With a preferential ballot, consensus is always a factor.

Several narratives play a role: #MeToo and #Timesup will push many Oscar voters toward supporting women this year. We could see “Lady Bird” Greta Gerwig score the rare Best Director’s nomination for a woman (or not, given the branch’s parsimonious four female nominees so far). Several female DGA nominees, including Barbra Streisand, did not land an Oscar nod. And out of five “Lady Bird” nominations, Gerwig could win Best Original Screenplay.

Rachel Morrison (“Mudbound”) could become the first female cinematographer Oscar nominee.

“Three Billboards” taps into the Trump-era zeitgeist on several fronts, with its angry female lead (Frances McDormand) railing against weak authority figures who can’t give her the closure she needs a year after the violent rape and murder of her daughter.

Two Best Picture question marks are Patty Jenkins’ hugely popular PGA nominee “Wonder Woman,” which isn’t expected to rack up nominations, but could still land a Best Picture nod and a craft slot or two such as Sound Editing or Visual Effects. And Steven Spielberg’s rushed-but-timely PGA nominee “The Post” may have arrived too late to build enough awards momentum to score a Best Picture berth. The DGA and WGA skipped both “Wonder Woman” and “The Post,” which should land one nomination for Meryl Streep’s layered performance as The Washington Post owner Katharine Graham.

Many Academy voters will embrace Luca Guadagnino’s European summer romance between Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet, “Call Me My Your Name,” which could wind up with five nominations.

Only 28 percent of Academy voters, however, are women. So we could also see the Academy’s dominant white-male contingent swing toward war movies “Dunkirk” (nine likely nominations) and “Darkest Hour” (six likely nominations, including Globes, Critics Choice, and SAG Best Actor winner Gary Oldman).

"Get Out"

“Get Out”

Many Oscar voters will support brainy racial thriller “Get Out,” which could land five nominations including Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Editing and Best Actor, as well as “Mudbound,” which could score as many as four (Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Supporting Actress and Best Song). Not bad for a Netflix movie that barely played in theaters.

Clearly, “The Shape of Water” boasts the most support from the Academy’s 17 branches and will earn the most nominations: by my count, 12. Why so many? Guillermo del Toro, who is likely to follow his Golden Globes and Critics Choice wins with Best Director, has crafted a visually sumptuous $19.5 million ’60s romance that is impeccably designed and detailed, creating an immersive fantasy world inspired by old Hollywood. Framed by a Cold War thriller genre narrative that supports the love story between two outsiders, a River God, and a mute janitor, “The Shape of Water” is both personal and universal, beautiful and ugly, and appeals to both male and female Academy voters as well as the craft branches. No other film boasts such wide support.

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

“Three Billboards” is obviously beloved by the actors, the film’s largest branch (1,218) as well as the writers (although the WGA did not deem it eligible) and the British contingent represented by the BAFTAs (nine nominations), who will also lean into “Dunkirk.” And yet the British comedy is divisive. My bet: Out of eight likely nominations, it will win Best Actress and Supporting Actor. And that’s about it.

Here are my final Oscar predictions, in order of likelihood to win. We learn the results tomorrow, January 23, at 8:22AM ET.

Best Picture

“The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight)
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight)
“Lady Bird” (A24)
“Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.)
“Get Out” (Universal)
“The Big Sick” (Amazon/Lionsgate)
“Call Me By Your Name” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Wonder Woman” (Warner Bros.)
“The Post” (Fox)

Best Director
Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”)
Martin McDonagh (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”)
Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”)
Jordan Peele (“Get Out”)
Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”)

Gary Oldman, winner of the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role for "Darkest Hour", poses in the press room at the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall, in Los Angeles 24th Annual SAG Awards - Press Room, Los Angeles, USA - 21 Jan 2018

Gary Oldman

Str/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Best Actor

Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”)
Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me By Your Name”)
Daniel Day-Lewis (“Phantom Thread”)
Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”)
James Franco (“The Disaster Artist”)

Best Actress

Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri”)
Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”)
Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”)
Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”)
Meryl Streep (“The Post”)

Best Supporting Actor

Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”)
Willem Dafoe (“The Florida Project”)
Woody Harrelson (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”)
Richard Jenkins (“The Shape of Water”)
Michael Stuhlbarg (“Call Me By Your Name”)

Best Supporting Actress

Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”)
Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”)
Holly Hunter (“The Big Sick”)
Octavia Spencer (“The Shape of Water”)
Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”)

Best Adapted Screenplay

James Ivory (“Call Me By Your Name”)
Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green (“Logan”)
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (“The Disaster Artist”)
Aaron Sorkin (“Molly’s Game”)
Virgil Williams and Dee Rees (“Mudbound”)

Best Original Screenplay

Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”)
Jordan Peele (“Get Out”)
Martin McDonagh
 (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”)
Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon (“The Big Sick”)
Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
 (“The Shape of Water”)

Best Animated Feature

“Coco”
“The Breadwinner”
“The Lego Batman Movie”
“Loving Vincent”
“Mary & the Witch’s Flower”

Best Animated Short

“Lou” (Director: Dave Mullins, Pixar Animation Studios)
“Dear Basketball” (Director: Glen Keane, Glen Keane Productions)
“Negative Space” (Director: Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata, Ikki Films)
“Revolting Rhymes” (Director: Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer, Magic Light Pictures)
“Fox and the Whale” (Director: Robin Joseph, Robin Joseph)

Best Live Action Short

“The Silent Child” (Chris Overton, director, and Rachel Shenton, writer, Slick Films)
“My Nephew Emmett” (Kevin Wilson, Jr., director, New York University)
“Watu Wote/All of Us” (Katja Benrath, director, Hamburg Media School)
“Lost Face” (Sean Meehan, director, and Sam McGarry, producer, Soma Films)
“Rise of a Star” (James Bort, director, and Boris Mendza, producer (Fulldawa Films)

Best Cinematography

Roger Deakins (“Blade Runner 2049”)
Hoyte Van Hoytema (“Dunkirk”)
Dan Laustsen (“The Shape of Water”)
Bruno Delbonnel (“Darkest Hour”)
Rachel Morrison (“Mudbound”)

“Phantom Thread”

Photo Courtesy of Focus Features

Best Costumes

Mark Bridges (“Phantom Thread”)
Jacqueline Durran (“Beauty and the Beast”)
Alexandra Byrne (“Murder on the Orient Express”)
Jacqueline Durran (“Darkest Hour”)
Consolata Boyle (“Victoria and Abdul”)

Jane Goodall

“Jane”

Best Documentary Feature

“Jane”
“Faces Places”
“City of Ghosts”
“Strong Island”
“Last Men in Aleppo”

Best Documentary Short

“Heroin(e)” (A Netflix Original Documentary in association with The Center for Investigative Reporting, A Requisite Media Production“116 Cameras” (Birdling Films)
“116 Cameras” (Birdling Films)
“Edith+Eddie” (Heart is Red and Kartemquin Films)
“Ten Meter Tower” (Plattform Produktion)
“Alone” (The New York Times)

Best Editing

Lee Smith (“Dunkirk”)
Sidney Wolinsky (“The Shape of Water”)
Gregory Plotkin (“Get Out”)
Paul Machliss (“Baby Driver”)
Jon Gregory (“Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri”)

Best Foreign Language Film

“A Fantastic Woman” (Chile)
“In the Fade” (Germany)
“The Square” (Sweden)
“Loveless” (Russia)
“Foxtrot” (Israel)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“Darkest Hour”
“Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2”
“Wonder”

Best Production Design

Dennis Gassner (“Blade Runner 2049”)
Paul D. Austerberry (“The Shape of Water”)
Sarah Greenwood (“Darkest Hour”)
Nathan Crowley (“Dunkirk”)
Sarah Greenwood (“Beauty and the Beast”)

Best Original Score

Alexandre Desplat (“The Shape of Water”)
Jonny Greenwood (“Phantom Thread”)
Dario Marianelli (“Darkest Hour”)
Hans Zimmer (“Dunkirk”)
Carter Burwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”)

Best Original Song

“Remember Me” from “Coco”
“The Mystery of Love” from “Call My By Your Name”
“Evermore” from “Beauty and the Beast”
“Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall”
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman”

Best Sound Editing

Richard King (“Dunkirk”)
Julian Slater (“Baby Driver”)
Matthew Wood (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”)
Glen Gauthier (“The Shape of Water”)
James Mather (“Wonder Woman”)

Best Sound Mixing
Gregg Landaker, Gary Rizzo, Mark Weingarten (“Dunkirk”)
Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Mac Ruth (“Blade Runner 2049”)
Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo (“The Shape of Water”)
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Tim White (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”)
Tim Cavagin, Julian Slater, Mary H. Ellis, James Peterson (“Baby Driver”)

Best Visual Effects

Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Joel Whist (“War for the Planet of the Apes”)
Richard Clegg, Paul Lambert, Viktor Muller, John Nelson (“Blade Runner 2049”)
Andrew Jackson, Andrew Lockley, Tim McGovern, Paul Corbould (“Dunkirk”)
Richard Bain, Ben Morris, Michael Mulholland, Chris Corbould (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”)
Dan Sudick, Jonathan Fawkner, Guy Williams, Christopher Townsend (“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”)

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