It’s almost here! The biggest night of self-flattering is live this Sunday. The Oscars, despite being self-given awards for things that aren’t real, are still one of the most exciting shows of the year. While viewership has been down a fair amount in recent years, it is still a huge draw, thanks to crazy people like me who eat and breathe movies and everyone within our grasp. Having extremely beautiful people on screen all night helps a bit too.
But, the numbers aren’t what they once were. And that’s where I come in. What gets you more invested in something you’re watching, where the outcome is unknown? Well, friends, it is predicting (maybe betting on too, if you’re a gamblin’ man/woman) that outcome. Now, some people don’t devour films at an alarming enough rate to be fully prepared to predict those winners. I, however, have a problem. And with that problem has come the knowledge to help you know what’s happening, what to expect, and outshine all your fellow Oscar watchers.
In the next few days, I will breakdown each category (some with minimal overview, since some of these are booooooring), giving you the favorites and the potential upsetters. Today, we look at the lion’s share of the categories, ranging from Best Animated Feature to Best Song to all the obviously popular technical categories. Let’s roll.
Best Animated Feature
The Boss Baby
Best Animated Feature can usually be fun! There tends to be at least a couple that were somewhat mainstream and offer up a bit of competition. Unfortunately, this year the category is not fun. The fact that Ferdinand somehow managed to get in here and The Lego Batman Movie, the actual best animated feature of the year, did not is enough to tell you that this thing is a sham.
To predict the winner in Animated Feature you just have to ask one question: Is there a Pixar movie in the nominees? If yes, you have your winner. If no, the world has ended.
While Coco is a solid movie that looks awesome and respectfully portrays a culture normally underrepresented, it leaves a bit to be desired with our knowledge of what Pixar is generally capable of. The story lacks a bit, the villain is weak, and the theme’s culmination doesn’t entirely swell your heart at the apex of the film. It’s nitpicking based on previous samples but it needs to be said. Coco will still win, but know if this category was populated with other notable animated flicks it, well, still would win but I would be even angrier. Would high key be absolutely hilarious if Boss Baby won.
Who’s Going to Win: Coco
Who We Want to Win: The Boss Baby
Best Documentary Feature
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Last Men in Aleppo
Here’s one of the categories that I use the eye-test for, judging each nominee simply by the short 5-10 second clip they play when announcing all the contenders. Based on the names, Icarus and Last Man in Aleppo sound like good bets. Based on the experts over at GoldDerby the best bet is is Faces Places, which sounds like a bizarro episode of Blue’s Clues.
All that said, let’s look politically. Guess which film’s producers have been affected by the strict travel restrictions/ban put in place by the pasty yet orange demagogue in the White House? That would be Last Man in Aleppo. Considering the current landscape, Hollywood’s participation in social matters and politics, and an effort to increase and welcome diversity may mean some voters came in support of Last Man than one would expect. I trust GoldDerby but keep outside factors in mind when making your predictions.
Who’s Going to Win: Faces Places
Who Might Upset: Last Man in Aleppo
Best Foreign Language Film
A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult (Lebanon)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)
While I’ve seen a total of zero of these films, I do know this is one of the more intriguing categories. Of the three leaders, we have a movie with a progressive storyline/character/lead actress, an indictment of corrupt government, and a festival darling that has often been labeled as “pretentious”. Cover all your bases, Academy! Beautiful work.
Loveless is a Russian-set film about a divorcing couple whose child goes missing. The movie slyly focuses on state corruption as well as being an apparently riveting mystery populated with powerful drama. Want to stick it to a country that meddles in our own country’s business by awarding the film made by the guy whose previous outing produced negative responses from said country? Here you go.
The Square rode high after nabbing the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year, but fell off a sharp cliff when domestic critics started taking aim at it. It still sits with favorable reviews but the cooling off as the year wore on means it’s fallen a bit in the standings. At the very least, The Square has the most…interesting (?) scene I’ve came across all year.
The most likely to win is A Fantastic Woman, a film centered on a trans woman whose lover dies and has her mourning process derailed by the deceased’s ex-wife and son. Daniela Vega, the actress portraying the titular fantastic woman, is trans herself. While she wasn’t nominated for Best Actress, the Academy may lean in the film’s favor as way of showing their change of guard. That isn’t meant as a way to take away from the film’s quality though. I’m sure it is a, for lack of being a more intelligent and creative writer that doesn’t always take the low-hanging fruit, fantastic motion picture. Here in the GlitchUp predictions, we just like to think about all factors, merited and outside.
Best Costume Design
Beauty and the Beast, Jacqueline Durran
Darkest Hour, Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water, Luis Sequeira
Victoria and Abdul, Consolata Boyle
Can you imagine how baller it would be to get nominated TWICE in the same category in one year? This Jacqueline Durran is probably strutting around town like a goddamn queen. Unfortunately for Jacqueline Durran though, she will not be winning this category, despite having 40% of the nominations.
Phantom Thread, a movie literally about a dressmaker/designer, has to win. It would be blasphemy if it didn’t, considering not only the subject matter but the fact that the costumes and dress themselves actually look the part. I could see The Shape of Water sneaking in here and grabbing a win, something that could very well signal that it is going to have quite the fruitful night, but I think the surprising stroke of nominations and the easy-to-explain-for-your-vote plot will benefit PT.
Who’s Going to Win: Phantom Thread
Who Might Upset: The Shape of Water
Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Darkest Hour, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
Victoria and Abdul, Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
Wonder, Arjen Tuiten
I mean, just look at Gary Oldman. That’s all you really need.
Who’s Going to Win: Darkest Hour
Best Production Design
Beauty and the Beast, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Blade Runner 2049, Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
Darkest Hour, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Dunkirk, Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
The Shape of Water, Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau
Good lord, another two nomination crew here?! Beauty and the Beast and Darkest Hour really found the cream of the crop I guess. Absolutely hilarious that despite owning another 40% of the nominations they won’t win. That’s gotta hurt.
The Shape of Water is the overwhelming favorite in this category, I guess because its sets have that classical feel to them? I don’t know. As someone who is pretty bullish on calling out the overrated response to the film, I’m not the best person to ask of its positive merits.
I would love to see Blade Runner 2049, mine and Andy’s number one movie from 2017, win here. Just the Las Vegas scene creates enough of a separation between it and Shape of Water that it deserves this award. I could, however, understand its loss in the category as being attributed to the fact that the cinematography and visual effects are what made the production design stand out.
Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins
Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound, Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen
Roger Deakins, the legendary DP who has brought impeccable aesthetics to films like Skyfall, No Country For Old Men, and Sid and Nancy, has been passed over time and time again (14 nominations! No wins!!!) for the Academy Award in this category. Finally, with his gorgeous work on Blade Runner 2049, he should be given the gold. BR 2049 is one of the most visually appealing films of last year, with rain-soaked futuristic cities brought to life with popping neon colors and former bustling, now destroyed cities drenched in orange to match the dystopian, sand-filled setting. It’s a testament to his ability that it is so pleasant and easy to watch without ever feeling like you’re doing work, despite the movie being as long as it is and requiring the viewer to really follow and think about what’s happening.
I could see The Shape of Water sneaking in and winning here if they’ve been grabbing everything else that’s coming their way beforehand, but it would be blasphemy if it does. If that happens, please avoid my Twitter for at least 48 hours, for my rage may be dangerous.
Who’s Going to Win: Blade Runner 2049
Who Might Upset and Make Me More Rage-Filled Than 1000 Dying Suns: The Shape of Water
Best Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049, John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
Kong: Skull Island, Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan
War for the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist
If there were to ever be a tie, I would want it here.
By now it’s obvious I LOVE Blade Runner. But make no mistake, it really deserves the ones I’m saying it should win. And that happens again here. It easily deserves it for just the incredibly impressive sex scene between the Baby Goose and his hologram girlfriend. If that was the only scene in the movie, I’d still be fine with it winning. But, we have another extremely worthy contender: War for the Planet of the Apes.
Apes has been passed over for its previous two installments and subsequent nominations in this category. That is absurd. For all the talk about how Andy Serkis deserves a nomination for his portrayal of Caesar, an entirely visual effects produced character, it doesn’t make sense that the work done to make Serkis’s performance come to life hasn’t been given the highest regard. This is, I’d imagine, their last chance to honor that performance indirectly and that’s why it’s the favorite heading into Oscar night.
Who’s Going to Win: War for the Planet of the Apes
Who We Want to Win: Apes OR Blade Runner 2049
Best Film Editing
Baby Driver, Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
Dunkirk, Lee Smith
I, Tonya, Tatiana S. Riegel
The Shape of Water, Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Jon Gregory
This is a tough category. The two best picture leaders nabbed nominations, and, despite not deserving the win here at all, if one or the other is just sweeping the board it could very well continue steamrolling through. I, Tonya has a time-jumping, narrator-driven, faux-documentary style that garnered its nod but it has about a .0000000001% chance of winning. So that leaves the favorites in Dunkirk and Baby Driver.
Dunkirk being a war film gives it the benefit of the doubt when it comes to predicting, but since Baby Driver won at the BAFTA’s and was a very hot, trendy, popular movie throughout the middle of the year it could win. I think Dunkirk‘s editing, which enabled it to easily balance the three separate and time-different storylines effectively, will pull through.
Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing
Sound Editing: Baby Driver, Julian Slater
Blade Runner 2049, Mark Mangini, Theo Green
Dunkirk, Alex Gibson, Richard King
The Shape of Water, Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood
Sound Mixing: Baby Driver, Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
Blade Runner 2049, Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill
Dunkirk, Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
The Shape of Water, Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick
What’s the difference between these two? I don’t really know. Sound editing is about creating, collecting, and finding all the sounds needed for the film. Sound mixing is about putting them all together…I think. In case you want to know more, here’s a Variety article detailing it better than I can.
Dunkirk being a technical spectacle makes it the favorite, but since Baby Driver is so music and sound oriented it wouldn’t be so shocking to see it receiving these honors.
Who’s Going to Win: Dunkirk
Who Could Also Win But Probably Won’t: Baby Driver
Best Original Score
Dunkirk, Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carter Burwell
*extremely matter-of-fact, annoyed voice while clapping in between every word* THE SHAPE OF WATER HAD A BASIC SCORE AND YOU CAN FUCK OFF IF YOU THINK IT DESERVES TO WIN.
I tend to be a fan of more original work that doesn’t rely on nostalgia or the romanticization of a bygone era, but hey, I can’t always get what I want. Desplat’s score does exactly that, which is what it’s supposed to do so I can understand its warm reception. But, come on. Greenwood’s work in Phantom Thread, with exquisite use of strings, elevates a film that could very well be fairly boring into something you want to have your senses, specifically your hearing, lost in.
Best Original Song
“Mighty River” from Mudbound, Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, Taura Stinson
“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
My thoughts on Coco can be seen above, but “Remember Me” is an above average song. It unfortunately lacks the usual exceptional musical work done by Pixar films. While it plays great in its final use in the film in a much more intimate way than it had been done when played prior, rounding out the thematic foundation that had propelled it the rest of the way, it really only feels above the rest of the nominees right then. If we’re looking at every use of it, which maybe is/isn’t an entirely fair knock against it considering it plays a central role almost equal to the main characters, it loses some of that prestige. It will win because of that final play and because of how important it is throughout, but I think “Mystery of Love” is significantly better. It’s much more subtle but still lingers on your mind and in your head while reflecting the beauty and eventual heartbreak that has occurred on screen. “This Is Me”, from the songwriters behind La La Land, could slide in on the back of the shockingly consistent popularity of The Greatest Showman.
Who’s Going to Win: “Remember Me” from Coco
Who Might Upset: “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman
Who We Want to Win: “Mystery of Love” from Call Me By Your Name
Time to rattle off our final three, definitely not popular categories, of which I will be doing 10-second eye-testing for and have not bothered reading a single thing about any of them outside of GoldDerby odds.
Best Live Action Short
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us
Who’s Going to Win: DeKalb Elementary
Best Animated Short
Who’s Going to Win: Dear Basketball
Who We Want to Win: Dear Basketball, a Kobe Bryant produced short!
Best Documentary Short
Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Who’s Going to Win: Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Who Might Win: Edith+Eddie
Tomorrow I’ll be back to give you the lowdown on all of the acting and writing categories as well as Best Director.