For Your Consideration: A Wannabe Expert’s Oscar Predictions

02 March 2018 / by Henry Gomes (author)
Oscar graffiti -  (photo: Tim Olson - (CC BY 2.0))
Oscar graffiti - / (photo: Tim Olson - (CC BY 2.0))

The thing about filling out an Oscar ballot for an office pool or Oscar party is that you have to put aside your personal feelings towards movies and simply follow the trends of the other award shows from the season. This is not always an enjoyable experience. My favourite movie of 2017 was Lady Bird. It’s nominated for five awards at the Oscars, which is a great achievement in itself. But it most likely will come away empty handed on Sunday. Other favourites from 2017 like Good Time and Logan Lucky couldn’t even muster a single nomination. On the other hand, films that I wasn’t particularly fond of like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is most likely going to walk away with multiple awards, possibly including [shudders] Best Picture.

It isn’t always fair, it doesn’t always make sense, and sometimes they’re just flat out wrong (see: Crash over Brokeback Mountain in 2005, Dances With Wolves over Goodfellas in 1990, Tilda Swinton over Amy Ryan in 2007…that one is probably just me). And yet, I still find myself watching the Oscars each year and in the lead up to the big show, I find myself filling out an awards ballot.

My picks are based on what I think will win (with the assist the experts from sites like GoldDerby, Vulture, and The Ringer) and in turn, hopefully help you win your Oscar pool.


Picks in bold.



  • Call Me by Your Name

  • Darkest Hour

  • Dunkirk

  • Get Out

  • Lady Bird

  • Phantom Thread

  • The Post

  • The Shape of Water

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 


When the Academy votes for the Oscars, they simply select the film or actor they want to win. Except in the case of Best Picture. The Best Picture category uses a different voting system—a preferential ballot system where voters are asked to rank the nominees. In the first round of vote counting, the ballots are separated into piles based on their first place votes. The movie with the smallest number of first place votes in this first round is eliminated from contention. Those ballots are then redistributed according to their second place vote. This process is repeated until a film has more than 50% of the vote.



This unique ballot system tends to reward movies that have more widespread favourability, or the least alienating. In the lead up to the Oscars, the overwhelming favourites are The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Experts believe that the preferential ballot system may also help Dunkirk, Lady Bird, or Get Out. The chances for Get Out are particularly intriguing because it is a film that had a true cultural moment and as a result, may be rewarded by voters who wish the Oscars to be less alienating and considerate of the tastes of mainstream audiences.

In a kind of an unpredictable category, I’m going with the safe bet that is The Shape of Water. It has the most nominations of all the films this year with 13. This isn’t always an indicator of success in the most important category of the night, but it does show the film’s all-around appreciation from various facets of the industry that make up the Academy.

 Listen to Elissa Matthew's review of Lady Bird:



  • Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

  • Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

  • Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

  • Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

The same 4 actors have swept their respective categories at all the major televised award shows this season. History would suggest that these four actors win again at the Oscars. In fact, in the 21st century, only one actor has failed to win the Oscar, after sweeping all the other major televised awards. This was in 2001 when Russell Crowe for A Beautiful Mind lost the Academy Award to Denzel Washington for Training Day. However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the Academy to throw us a curveball here. The increased size and the increasingly diverse membership of the Academy seem to suggest that an upset could be on the cards. 

Based on his earlier wins, Gary Oldman is the favourite for his transformational performance as Winston Churchill. But I feel like if I’m going to take a risk somewhere in the acting categories, it will be in this one. Chalamet and Kaluuya are tempting choices, but I think Daniel Day-Lewis wins his fourth Oscar for Best Actor for what may be his last ever film role.



  • Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

  • Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

  • Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

  • Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

  • Meryl Streep, The Post

Although the Oscars have a track record of rewarding young actresses in this category, I don’t think Saoirse Ronan or Margot Robbie have what it takes to slow down favourite Frances McDormand’s momentum. Playing the aggrieved mother of a murdered teenage girl, I find that her role speaks to the moment and one that will resonate with voters.



  • Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

  • Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

  • Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

  • Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World

  • Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sam Rockwell has won every major award this season and I see him winning again at the Oscars. Although there has been some backlash surrounding the racist, but ultimately redeemed cop he portrays in Three Billboards, I don’t think it is enough to elevate any of the other nominees.




  • Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

  • Allison Janney, I, Tonya

  • Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

  • Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

  • Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Even though I said in the introduction that to enjoy the Oscars and win your pool you are required to put aside your personal preferences, I really want Laurie Metcalf to win here. Her performance as the mom in Lady Bird is my favourite of 2017. Alas, Allison Janney is the favourite here and she will most likely win. But I would have no problems if I were wrong on this one.



  • Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan

  • Get Out, Jordan Peele

  • Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig

  • Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson

  • The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro

When Tiffany Haddish and Andy Serkis announced the nominees for this category, I may have squealed in excitement and startled the people in the office down the hall. This is an incredible category with five very deserving nominees. I would be happy with any of them winning here. However, with del Toro winning all the major awards, he will most likely join his Mexican compatriots and close friends Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón in becoming a Best Director winner.



  • The Boss Baby

  • Breadwinner

  • Coco

  • Ferdinand

  • Loving Vincent 

Picking the Pixar movie in the Animated Feature is always a safe bet, especially when the film in question is as delightful and heart warming as Coco.



  • Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory

  • The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber

  • Logan, Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green

  • Molly's Game, Aaron Sorkin

  • Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

 James Ivory is the favourite here and if he wins, he may become the oldest winner of a non-honorary Academy Award (more on this later).



  • The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani

  • Get Out, Jordan Peele

  • Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig

  • The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh

This category has a tendency to award films that are creative, take chances, and are a little out there. Examples include: Pulp Fiction, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Her. For that reason, I think the award goes to the satirical horror film Get Out.



  • Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins

  • Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel

  • Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema

  • Mudbound, Rachel Morrison

  • The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen

 This is Roger Deakins’ 14th Oscar nomination in this category. He has never won, but I think this may finally be his year.



  • Baby Driver, Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos

  • Dunkirk, Lee Smith

  • I, Tonya, Tatiana S. Riegel

  • The Shape of Water, Sidney Wolinsky

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Jon Gregory

I’m going Baby Driver here, because its dizzying non-CGI car play should be rewarded.



  • Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

  • Faces Places

  • Icarus

  • Last Men In Aleppo

  • Strong Island

Standing in James Ivory’s way of becoming the oldest winner of an Academy Award is Agnes Varda the co-director of documentary Faces Places, who is only about a week older than Ivory. However, I’m going to go with Icarus. I feel like the documentary about the state sponsored Russian doping scandal may have resonated with voters as the voting period coincided with the Winter Olympics, in which the Russian doping scandal was a looming storyline.

Listen to Neha Chollangi's review of Faces Places:



  • A Fantastic Woman, Chile

  • The Insult, Lebanon

  • Loveless, Russia

  • On Body and Soul, Hungary

  • The Square, Sweden

This category is highly unpredictable. I’m going with A Fantastic Woman, as it seems to have popped up in most of the ballots I have come across.



  • 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 think the award goes to the elegant score of Phantom Thread, which was composed by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood.



  • "Mighty River," Mudbound (Mary J Blige, Raphael Saadiq, and Taura Stinson)

  • "Mystery of Love," Call Me by Your Name (Sufjan Stevens)

  • "Remember Me," Coco (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez)

  • "Stand Up for Something," Marshall (Common and Diane Warren)

  • "This is Me," The Greatest Showman (Benji Pasek and Justin Paul)

This is another unpredictable category that could possibly go to any of the nominees. I’m going with the main track from Coco, because of its simple and straightforward beauty.



  • Baby Driver, Julian Slater

  • Blade Runner 2049, Mark Mangini and Theo Green

  • Dunkirk, Richard King and Alex Gibson

  • The Shape of Water, Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce

The harsh and unrelenting sound effects of warfare from land, air, and sea add so much depth to the riveting Dunkirk.



  • Baby Driver, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin, and Mary H Ellis

  • Blade Runner 2049, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, and Mac Ruth

  • Dunkirk, Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, and Gary A Rizzo

  • The Shape of Water, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern, and Glen Gauthier

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, and Stuart Wilson

Baby Driver has one of the best soundtracks of any film of 2017. The way the music is woven into the fabric of film in between the revving of fast cars and hail of gunfire is very impressive.



  • Beauty and the Beast, Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer

  • Blade Runner 2049, Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola

  • The Darkest Hour, Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer

  • Dunkirk, Nathan Crowley and Gary Fettis

  • The Shape of Water, Paul Denham, Shane Vieau, and Jeff Melvin

The Cold War-era scientific laboratory, with the usual del Toro Gothic flourishes of The Shape of Water (which was filmed in Toronto) should come out on top.



  • Beauty and the Beast, Jacqueline Durran

  • Darkest Hour, Jacqueline Durran

  • Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges

  • The Shape of Water, Luis Sequeira

  • Victoria & Abdul, Consolata Boyle

It would seem silly for a movie about a fashion designer to not win this award.



  • Darkest Hour, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, and Lucy Sibbick

  • Victoria & Abdul, Daniel Phillips, and Lou Sheppard

  • Wonder, Arjen Tuiten

 The transformation of Gary Oldman to the pudgy and wrinkly Winston Churchill is quite astonishing.



  • Blade Runner 2049, John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, and Richard R Hoover

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, and Dan Sudick

  • Kong: Skull Island, Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, and Mike Meinardus

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan, and Chris Corbould

  • War for the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, and Joel Whist

The motion capture in War for the Planet of the Apes adds a depth of realism, which raises the film’s emotional stakes more than any of the other nominees.



  • Edith+Eddie

  • Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405

  • Heroin(e)

  • Knife Skills

  • Traffic Stop

The members of the Academy are mostly based in Los Angeles, so I think a documentary short on the local freeway is going to garner the most votes.



  • Dear Basketball

  • Garden Party

  • Negative Space

  • Lou

  • Revolting Rhymes

Similar to the Documentary Short category, I think the LA-based Academy are going to be motivated to support one of their own and put their weight behind a film about and produced by Los Angeles Laker legend Kobe Bryant.



  • DeKalb Elementary

  • The Eleven O'Clock

  • The Silent Child

  • All of Us

  • My Nephew Emmett

DeKalb Elementary revolves around a real-life active shooter incident in an Atlanta elementary school. The proximity to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida may encourage voters to put the spotlight on a movie that touches on a far too frequent phenomenon in a rather delicate and empathetic manner.

 Catch Alexx Byrant's review of the Oscar Shorts program: 

If you’re hosting an Oscar party, you might want to consider adding a couple bonus questions to your ballots. These questions may serve as a tiebreaker or a helpful bone to the friend who has only seen Star Wars and Beauty the Beast. Some good bonus questions include:

  • When will the ceremony end? (you might want to adjudicate this one Price is Right style, the closes without going over)

  • Which film will win the most awards?

  • Who will present and hand out the Best Picture award?

And on the subject of that last question. I really hope Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty are given a chance for a do-over after the colossal mess that was last year’s presenting of the Best Picture award.

And for something on theme in the realm of party snacks, you may want to attempt the Phantom Thread "Hungry Boy" breakfast

The 90th Academy Awards air this Sunday, March 4 at 8 pm. Best of luck on your ballots. And a reminder if I get a bunch of these wrong, it’s the Academy’s fault!


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Henry Gomes

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