Too Early for This: Oscar Picks – 15 Oct 2017

Darkest Hour
The Greatest Showman
Last Flag Flying
Murder on the Orient Express
Phantom Thread
The Post
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Falling off: Detroit; Downsizing; Goodbye, Christopher Robin
Rising star: Call Me by Your Name

The skinny: With Toronto and Telluride out of the way, the murky picture looks a little bit clearer. It’s hard to no for sure when old-school crowd-pleasers like The Greatest Showman and Murder on the Orient Express might not be deemed worthy and two of the most anticipated films (Phantom Thread and The Post) aren’t done yet and don’t even have a trailer. And then there’s the curious case of Call Me by Your Name. Early buzz pegged it as dominant in most categories, but it’s gotten a somewhat muted reception, especially by gay critics, some of whom view this very sensual story as too tame.

Joe Wright, Darkest Hour
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Steven Spielberg, The Post
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Falling off: Kathryn Bigelow, Alexander Payne
Rising star: Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049

The skinny: With Three Billboards taking the People’s Choice Award at Toronto (often a key indicator of Best Picture nominees and winners), it’s likely to become a more significant player (especially if it picks up some critics’ groups awards). And if they hold up, I’m still betting on Joe Wright and Christopher Nolan to finally get directing nods. Denis Villeneuve has been ascendant for several years, but he’s only getting in if Blade Runner 2049 is also a Best Picture nominee, which is a big ask.

Chadwick Boseman, Marshall
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger
Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Falling off: Denzel Washington
Rising star: James Franco, The Disaster Artist

The skinny: Muted reception for Roman J. Israel, Esq. means Denzel’s out (for now). But Marshall‘s launch has been odd to say the least, so Chadwick Boseman is in the most danger of losing his spot. Does that mean they’d opt for something super-weird, like James Franco’s portrayal of Tommy Wiseau? Probably not, but he is a former nominee and host (which we don’t talk about).

Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
Judi Dench, Victoria and Abdul
Nicole Kidman, The Beguiled
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Meryl Streep, The Post

Falling off: Rooney Mara
Rising star: Annette Bening, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

The skinny: Mary Magdalene has been sent off to 2018, so Judi Dench is now definitely getting nominated for Victoria and Abdul, which has been the sleeper hit of the fall. If Annette Bening couldn’t get nominated for her stellar work in 20th Century Women last year (which managed an Original Screenplay nod), I don’t know how she can do it as the film’s only big aspect, but she’s consistently great, so if Academy voters forget about The Beguiled above the line, she’s got a shot.

Bryan Cranston, Last Flag Flying
Colin Farrell, The Beguiled
Mark Rylance, Dunkirk
Kevin Spacey, All the Money in the World
Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me by Your Name

Falling off: Armie Hammer, Woody Harrelson, Joaquin Phoenix
Rising star: Harrison Ford, Blade Runner 2049

The skinny: Stuhlbarg’s been getting the lion’s share of the praise for Call Me by Your Name, and it would be nice to see his consistently solid character actor work get rewarded. Cranston’s been pegged as the must-see performance in an otherwise uneven Last Flag Flying, and Kevin Spacey has the big, showy, real-life, makeup-heavy role in All the Money in the World. Ford might have enough goodwill built up to get nominated for reprising his role as Rick Deckard, but he has limited screen time, unlike The Force Awakens.

Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Kristin Scott Thomas, Darkest Hour
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Falling off: Julianne Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Margot Robbie
Rising star: Tatiana Maslany, Stronger

The skinny: Three moms here, plus the wife of an important figure and Octavia Spencer doing her usual stellar matronly work. This is always hard to pick, and so one of the moms might not make the cut, which would be a two-edged sword. Tatiana Maslany is tremendous, but it would just be swapping out for another “supportive wife of tortured real-life person” turn.

The Big Sick
Darkest Hour
Get Out
The Post
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Falling off: Detroit, Downsizing, Phantom Thread
Rising star: The Shape of Water

The skinny: The toughest category this year by far. There’s just an abundance of nominees. I think the only sure bet is Three Billboards. Any of the others could find themselves falling victim to too many choices. That’s a shame for them, but also because if there’s any place a movie as weird as The Shape of Water could find a home, it’d be this category.

The Beguiled
Call Me by Your Name
Last Flag Flying
Molly’s Game

Falling off: None
Rising star: Mudbound

The skinny: Mudbound is a Netflix production, which hasn’t had success outside the documentary categories. It’s really the only competition right now for this thin race.

The Boss Baby
Despicable Me 3
The LEGO Batman Movie
Loving Vincent

Falling off: The LEGO Ninjago Movie
Rising star: Ferdinand

The skinny: Two LEGO movies proved to be too much for audiences, so I don’t think two LEGO movies will get nominated here. Given the lack of quality competition, I guess that means Oscar nominee The Boss Baby is something we’re going to have to get used to saying.

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