Falling off: The Greatest Showman, Last Flag Flying, Murder on the Orient Express, Wonderstruck
Rising star: The Shape of Water
The skinny: This has been such a wacky year for film, and with so many unknowns going into the last couple months, I’m ready to admit my mistake and declare Get Out as a likely nominee in several categories. No other movie has captured the critical and audience attention it’s garnered this year. So even though horror movies rarely get nominated, even though first-time directors (who aren’t already widely acclaimed actors) rarely get nominated, it’s sustained its conversational momentum this long, and Universal has already been pushing hard for it. At this point, it will be a real shock if it doesn’t get multiple nods. But the big surprise has been Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, which has flown past the decades of coming-of-age films to wide acclaim and stellar box office. It now looks to be a lock for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay. And people are still beating the drum for The Shape of Water, but if it’s as bizarre as people say, there is no way the Academy at large is going to cotton to it.
Falling off: Joe Wright
Rising star: Luca Guadagnino, Call Me by Your Name
The skinny: Jordan Peele steps up, making him one of still a sad handful of black men nominated for this award. He bumps longtime also-ran Joe Wright. But if Phantom Thread isn’t as tight-knit (pun intended) as his past efforts, PTA could find himself on the outside, replaced by Italian director Luca Guadagnino, who already has several acclaimed films under his belt.
Falling off: Chadwick Boseman
Rising star: Tom Hanks, The Post
The skinny: Now that Marshall has all but evaporated from memory, Timothée Chalamet has claimed that spot. I’m still a little skeptical that it’s a lock, even if CMBYN is a hit with the Academy. For starters, kids usually don’t get nominated for lead. They have a much better shot in the supporting categories. But he is unequivocally the lead and there’s no way the studio can finagle that. But given a less strong year than usual for the lead actor, he’s got a much better shot. Given that, though, might Tom Hanks get a long overdue nomination for The Post? He should have won for Captain Phillips, but hasn’t been nominated since Cast Away (for which he also should have won). He’s playing a role that someone else (Jason Robards) won an Oscar for, which could help or hurt him. But since so many men in Hollywood have been outed as pigs, could his legendary niceness carry him over the edge? We’ll see.
Falling off: Nicole Kidman
Rising star: Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
The skinny: Sorry, Nicole. After a year packed with four movies and two mini-series (including a win for Big Little Lies), it just won’t be your year, unless The Beguiled has an unexpected resurgence. That opens up a slot for Saoirse Ronan, in what will likely be her final performance as a teenager. But Margot Robbie is coming in hot as the lead in I, Tonya, which means Jessica Chastain should watch her back.
Falling off: Bryan Cranston, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey
Rising star: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The skinny: It’s about to get weird here, folks. Before we address the elephant in the room, let’s say Last Flag Flying and The Beguiled are all but dead (one or both could still pick up a lone screenplay nod). That gives a chance for Willem Dafoe to pick up his first nod since 2000’s Shadow of the Vampire. It also means (if Darkest Hour is as formidable as they say) Ben Mendelson could pick up his first nomination after years of great character work. (If he doesn’t, Sam Rockwell fits that bill nicely.) Bottom line: Kevin Spacey isn’t getting nominated anymore, and won’t be welcome back in Hollywood any time soon. In fact, he’s not even going to be in his own movie anymore. Ridley Scott is re-shooting all his scenes with Christopher Plummer instead. How Scott can pull that off and still release it by the end of December is a mystery. But if he does, the legendary Christopher Plummer could take that nomination, too.
Falling off: Kristin Scott Thomas
Rising star: Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
The skinny: I’m bumping Kristin Scott Thomas, even though “Supportive Wife of Genius” is almost always a lock. This is the year of the mother, as Hunter, Janney and Metcalf are all expected to pick up nods. Octavia Spencer is still crushing it as usual, even though I would love to see her in a different type of role. Melissa Leo has been rumored for months, even though I don’t think many people will see her movie, but she’s supposedly that good. But she might find herself ousted if enough people see Mudbound, which should be sweeping all these categories. Mary J. Blige is terrific (as is the whole cast), but it remains to be seen if Netflix can get anywhere besides the documentary categories.
Falling off: The Big Sick, Darkest Hour
Rising star: Wind River
The skinny: The toughest category just got tougher. The Big Sick deserves a nod for sure, but I said that about 50/50, which somehow lost out to Margin Call of all things. Wind River is another deserving nominee, but we’ll see if scrubbing the Weinstein Company logo from its screeners is enough for people to disassociate it from the monster who terrorized women and filmmakers for decades (and has a few Oscars himself).
Falling off: Last Flag Flying, Wonderstruck
Rising star: Logan
The skinny: With Last Flag Flying and Wonderstruck underperforming critically and commercially, they’ve probably missed their moment. That means The Disaster Artist of all things could end up with a nomination, which would be delicious. I hope that means Mudbound gets at least something, too. And this is 100% wishful thinking, but people more qualified than me have mentioned it as a possibility, so maybe there’s room for a comic book movie like Logan, finally.
Falling off: None
Rising star: The Breadwinner
The skinny: These are going to be our nominees unless GKIDS can figure out which pony it wants to place first. The Breadwinner seems like its best bet, but with nomination power going to the whole Academy (and not just the fussy animation branch who willfully excluded The LEGO Movie), a tiny hand-crafted animated movie might not make it anymore.