I want to start by admitting I don’t care much for the Oscars. The films and performances that are nominated are most often done so for political reasons and not on the merits of the films themselves, and the whole event becomes a place for the industry insiders to pat themselves on the back over the umpteenth period piece about a dead white dude nominated for best
picture. This year’s Oscars are a little different. Not much, but a little. In any case, I’ll try to balance out my cynicism for the Oscars with my hopes for certain films and performances to win in order to bring you a predictions list that is almost certainly wrong.
Best Picture: “Get Out”
My honest prediction is that I’m wrong, but I say “Get Out” wins best picture. Jordan Peele crafted a film that is emblematic not only of the year it came out but of the experience of black men in what people very wrongly consider a “post-racial” America. If there’s one film that captured the essence of culture and tension in America this year, it’s “Get Out.”
Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Having only seen two of the five performances, I’m no expert, but my money is on Daniel Day-Lewis for his performance in “Phantom Thread,” a film I have yet to see (if I ever do). I’ve heard it’s his best performance yet and his last film before retiring. I never trust an artist when they say they’re retiring, but don’t be surprised if Hollywood awards its golden boy one last time.
Actress in a Leading Role: Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
I’ve also only seen two of the performances in this category, but I don’t know how anyone could give a better performance that Saoirse Ronan in “Lady Bird.” If she doesn’t win, I may quit the unqualified prediction game altogether.
Actor in a Supporting Role: Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
I’m seeing a recurring theme here of me once again having seen only two of the performances, both of which are in the same film. I’ll go with Willem Dafoe for “The Florida Project” because Dafoe has gotten a lot of buzz at festivals for it.
Actress in a Supporting Role: Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
This one is a tough call, so I’m going to lean more toward what I want instead of what may happen. Seeing as all the lead actress nominees are white, I’m really pulling for Mary J. Blige for “Mudbound.” Blige is also up for best original song for “Mighty River” which is also in “Mudbound.” Blige is a Grammy Award winner, and “Mudbound” was written and directed by Dee Rees, an incredibly talented black woman who should have been nominated for an award herself.
Directing: Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”
While I think Jordan Peele or Greta Gerwig winning would be emblematic of a year in film and cultural history, I think Christopher Nolan wins his first ever Oscar for best director. Where “Dunkirk” may fall narratively short in order to win best picture, Nolan crafts a holistic cinematic experience that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go until after the credits roll.
This article first appeared in the Friday, January 26, 2018, Edition of The Echo.