Oscar Predictions for the eighteen other categories in the 2018 Academy Awards: And the Oscar goes to…

While the technical categories are generally viewed as the less exciting part of the Academy Awards, they are my absolute favorite part.  This is where some of my favorite films actually get a shot at winning an Oscar (BABY DRIVER has three nominations!). Beautiful looking films with incredibly artistic visions like DUNKIRK and BLADE RUNNER 2049 get to battle it out. Hopefully the Academy spreads the love and this is where we can see lots of different winners. These are the moments to separate yourself in your Oscar pool with some very difficult categories to predict.  So lets begin breaking down the eighteen less emphasized but equally important categories.

Original Screenplay:
“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Grew
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh

Perhaps the toughest category of the night. And the one I’m most looking forward to. Every one of these nominations have a legitimate shot at winning.  Four of the five are also nominated for Best Picture. LADY BIRD was my initial choice because it could receive some of the timely female support for Gerwig who will probably miss out on the two big categories for Picture and Director.  THE SHAPE OF WATER and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI are probably the more likely contenders because they have the most nominations in the Best Picture race. THE BIG SICK would be a surprise underdog winner, but that’s doubtful since the nomination is a win already. Already winning the Writer’s Guild Award, GET OUT is the most deserving and could be the film’s only win.  More importantly, it tackled a cultural issue on how race is viewed more uniquely and eye-opening than any film prior.

Winner: GET OUT

Should Be Nominated: BABY DRIVER (Yeah, I said it)

Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name

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

There is only one film here that is even nominated for Best Picture, which makes the choice fairly easy.  It’s the one win the film will get.  THE DISASTER ARTIST votes are blinded by their undying love for an insider’s favorite worst film, while MOLLY’S GAME and MUDBOUND are near great, but fall short.  The well-deserved inclusion of LOGAN is a win in itself. I would have liked to have seen the inclusion of WONDER in this category.

Winner: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Cinematography:
“Blade Runner 2049,” Roger Deakins
“Darkest Hour,” Bruno Delbonnel
“Dunkirk,” Hoyte van Hoytema
“Mudbound,” Rachel Morrison
“The Shape of Water,” Dan Laustsen

This is a battle between two amazing films where the cinematography is a genuine pleasure on the big screen – BLADE RUNNER 2049 and DUNKIRK. Any other film will be an incredible upset.  However, if THE SHAPE OF WATER pulls off an upset, look for it to sweep most of the awards through the night.  Traditionally, I would go with the incredibly pain-staking achievement and first time nominee Hoyte van Hoytema’s (INTERSTELLAR, HER, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN) work in Christopher Nolan’s epic war film. However, everyone seems to be pushing the fact that Roger Deakins has been nominated fourteen times without a win. I think voters will be sympathetic to that fact and Deakins will win by default. While Deakins’ deserves an award and BLADE RUNNER 2049 is an absolutely gorgeous sight to behold, I’m still rooting for DUNKIRK.

Winner: BLADE RUNNER 2049

Blade Runner 2049 4K Ultra HD

Film Editing:
“Baby Driver,” Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
“Dunkirk,” Lee Smith
“I, Tonya,” Tatiana S. Riegel
“The Shape of Water,” Sidney Kolinsky
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Jon Gregory

The next three categories has my two favorite films battling it out.  BABY DRIVER vs. DUNKIRK.  I feel so victorious at the fact that BABY DRIVER received these well-deserved nominations, but since DUNKIRK deserves to win best picture and director and won’t, the Academy will be sure to reward it here.  On the other hand, there is a lot of criticism toward the inventive story-telling technique that Nolan chose to use through the editing process.  A lot of people found it confusing, which, frankly, is a criticism that confuses me.  Either of the two options are the clear best of the year and probably would be the best in prior years as well. Then again, this category sometimes goes to the Best Picture winner, which mean THE SHAPE OF WATER or THREE BILLBOARDS could have an outside shot.

Winner: DUNKIRK

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

War films tend to do well in this department. I’m happy for DUNKIRK but sad for BABY DRIVER.

Winner: DUNKIRK

Dunkirk

Sound Mixing:
“Baby Driver,” Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
“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 Semantic

Musicals tend to do well in this department, but so do war films.  Last year HACKSAW RIDGE beat LA LA LAND. Both of those films were among my favorite, but I would like to point out that DUNKIRK is a better war film than HACKSAW RIDGE and BABY DRIVER is a better musical, albeit an unconventional one, than LA LA LAND.  I’m guessing the Academy does not agree but either way, the winner will be…

Winner: DUNKIRK

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 Fetus
“The Shape of Water,” Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau

BLADE RUNNER 2049 could have a handful of wins and probably deserves one here, but it probably appears to lean on the special effects unit more heavily. I think the more subtly strange working in THE SHAPE OF WATER will pull out another win.

Winner: THE SHAPE OF WATER

The Shape of Water

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

I absolutely love DUNKIRK’s heart pounding, constantly rising, tension-building score.  It’s sort of a built in ticking clock that effects the film as another character, not exactly but similar to the brilliant way John Williams did for JAWS. I hope I’m wrong, but I think the Academy will choose the more elegantly strange romantic tones to THE SHAPE OF WATER instead.

Winner: THE SHAPE OF WATER

Animated Feature:
“The Boss Baby,” Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
“The Breadwinner,” Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
“Ferdinand,” Carlos Saldanha
“Loving Vincent,” Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

I still haven’t seen THE BREADWINNER, but I have to say this was a fairly weak year in animation.  Especially after last year’s heavy hitters like ZOOTOPIA and MOANA. I know a lot of people are impressed with COCO but outside of the cultural and visual aspects, I found the story formulaic and predictable.  Nonetheless, even Pixar’s weakest work can be a winner in a down year. Go FERDINAND!

Winner: COCO

Coco 4K Ultra HD

Original Song:
“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige
“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

Despite me loving some of the nominated songs, I always find this to be the least important category. Unless it is actually part of the film like in a musical, it has little bearing to the actual film.  That leaves the competition between COCO vs. THE GREATEST SHOWMAN.   However, the Academy doesn’t necessarily agree with my take on that topic.  Who knows what will win, but a part of me feels a MUDBOUND upset in the works.  It’s a strong song and it’s a way to honor a well-liked film and two-time nominee Mary J. Blige.  However, I’m gonna choose what I think is the most inspirational and catchiest song of the nominees, “This Is Me.”  It also happens to be the worst film of the bunch, but that just proves my point about the best song having minimal impact on the overall film. Perhaps the best use of music in a film would be a better category. That way BABY DRIVER could win an award.

Winner: THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

Makeup and Hair:
“Darkest Hour,” Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
“Victoria and Abdul,” Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
“Wonder,” Arjen Tuiten

Much like how 2011’s THE IRON LADY won best actress for Meryl Streep and Best makeup for transforming Meryl Streep, DARKEST HOUR will have the same two wins for transforming Gary Oldman to be the best actor winner.

Winner: DARKEST HOUR

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

Because the film is about clothing and fashion, plus the fact that it probably will not win anywhere else, I’ve got to think the highly nominated PHANTOM THREAD takes home the golden statue.  However, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST could be a surprise upset.

Winner: PHANTOM THREAD

Phantom Thread

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

I’ve seen a lot of support for WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES in this category.  Andy Serkis’ motion capture performance alone should earn an award.  But I think conventional wisdom tells me that the award will go to the strongest film between the two contenders.

Winner: BLADE RUNNER 2049

Best Documentary Feature:
“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
“Faces Places,” JR, Agnès Varda, Rosalie Varda
“Icarus,” Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan
“Last Men in Aleppo,” Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Soren Steen Jespersen
“Strong Island,” Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes

Winner: FACES PLACES (I really liked ICARUS)

Best Foreign Language Film:
“A Fantastic Woman” (Chile)
“The Insult” (Lebanon)
“Loveless” (Russia)
“On Body and Soul (Hungary)
“The Square” (Sweden)

Winner: A FANTASTIC WOMAN

Your guess is as good as mine on the next categories, which should really only be used as tie breakers within office pools.

Best Documentary Short Subject:
“Edith+Eddie,” Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright
“Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405,” Frank Stiefel
“Heroin(e),” Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon
“Knife Skills,” Thomas Lennon
“Traffic Stop,” Kate Davis, David Heilbroner

Winner: EDITH+EDDIE

Best Live Action Short Film:
“DeKalb Elementary,” Reed Van Dyk
“The Eleven O’Clock,” Derin Seale, Josh Lawson
“My Nephew Emmett,” Kevin Wilson, Jr.
“The Silent Child,” Chris Overton, Rachel Shelton
“Watu Wote/All of Us,” Katja Benrath, Tobias Rosen

Winner: DEKALB ELEMENTARY

Animated Short:
“Dear Basketball,” Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant
“Garden Party,” Victor Caire, Gabriel Grapperon
“Lou,” Dave Mullins, Dana Murray
“Negative Space,” Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
“Revolting Rhymes,” Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer

Winner: NEGATIVE SPACE

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