By Rich Heldenfels
Below you can find the films and people I hope will be winners on Oscar night. This is not a prediction list, although in some cases my choices are also those favored by prognosticators. And, as you know from a previous column, there were plenty of films I thought deserved Oscar consideration that are not even in the running. But here goes …
Best picture: “The Shape of Water.” It is visually splendid, thematically rich, and full of allegory about society’s others (the monster in the middle is a companion to humans excluded for a variety of reasons, while the worst monster in the film is actually a human). While in most categories I would not rant if my second-place choice won (including “Get Out” here), this was not a close call for me. Here’s the order I ranked the films: “Shape of Water,” “Get Out,” “Lady Bird,” “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “The Post” (possibly higher here than deserved, for sentimental-professional reasons), “Dunkirk,” “Darkest Hour,” “Call Me by Your Name,” “Phantom Thread.”
Best actor: Gary Oldman just killed it in “Darkest Hour.” Runner up: Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”; followed by Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”; Denzel Washington, “Ramon J. Israel, Esq.,” and Timothee Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name.”
Best actress: Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards …” A grandly raging piece of work. But Sally Hawkins in “Shape of Water” was formidable, too; the rest, in descending order: Sairose Ronan, “Lady Bird”; Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya,” and Meryl Streep, “The Post.”
Supporting actor: This comes with an asterisk, since I have not seen Christopher Plummer in “All the Money in the World.” But, while Plummer is a fine actor, his nomination strikes me as an extra slap at Kevin Spacey as well as a reward for acting. And, while Sam Rockwell is picking up just about everything for “Three Billboards …,” I actually think Woody Harrelson gave the better supporting performance in the film – and I’d give him the Oscar. Runner-up: Richard Jenkins, “Shape of Water.” Rockwell third, Willem Dafoe in “The Florida Project,” fourth.
Supporting actress: It’s a coin flip between Allison Janney in “I, Tonya,” and Laurie Metcalf in “Lady Bird.” Then: Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”; Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water,” and Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread.”
Director: Guillermo Del Toro, “The Shape of Water,” which should not surprise you since I think “Shape” was the best picture. Next: Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”; Jordan Peele, “Get Out”; Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”; Paul Thomas Anderson, “Phantom Thread.”
Original screenplay: This is such a tough category, and one where I cannot decide among three films, “The Shape of Water,” “Get Out” and “The Big Sick.” And “Lady Bird” was good, too. I could live with any of those four. Completing the category: “Three Billboards.”
Adapted screenplay: Another asterisk, because I have not seen “Molly’s Game,” but I’m going to go with “Logan,” a film that transcends comic-book origins and the uneven “X-Men” legacy, followed by “Mudbound,” “Call Me by Your Name” and finally “The Disaster Artist.”
I have thoughts in many other categories, but no passions save possibly in best song, where I’d go with “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman.” And I know there are plenty of items above that will not win, whether because the consensus is elsewhere or Oscar will offer a surprise, or my taste is just weird. But, hey, this is me.
Some hopes for Oscar night
By Rich Heldenfels