It's been a fascinating awards season politically charged by the Time's Up and Me Too movements, with a best-picture race full of worthy contenders and no clear front-runner to be had.
But now, it's showtime at the 90th Academy Awards (ABC, Sunday, 8 ET/5 ET). Who's going to take home gold trophies? Here are our predictions:
Call Me By Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Will win:Three Billboards
Should win: Get Out
In this wild race, Three Billboards has the edge simply because of its track record: The polarizing dark comedy has momentum after taking top prizes at the Golden Globes, Screen Actor Guild Awards and the recent British Academy Film Awards. (Plus, actors make up the largest Academy voting bloc, making that SAG victory key.) However, Jordan Peele’s wickedly clever and expertly crafted social thriller Get Out, which touches on themes like systemic racism and the faux “wokeness” of white liberals, has become a relevant and important film that deserves Oscars' highest honor.
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Will win/should win: Del Toro
Peele and Gerwig are rookies in this category who definitely will be back, as will veteran filmmakers Nolan and Anderson. This is del Toro's time to shine, both for his position as the most influential director of the sci-fi and fantasy genres right now and for making us believe in the power of love with a romance between a woman and a fish-man.
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.
Will win: Oldman
Should win: Kaluuya
Oldman, extraordinarily transformed into Winston Churchill, has picked up every major honor of awards season, and this Oscar, which would be his first in a storied career, is his to lose. But for a more emotional and nuanced performance, there's Kaluuya as Get Out's hero, a young black photographer lured to his white girlfriend's family home for nefarious reasons. His tearful, haunting dip into "the Sunken Place" is Hollywood's most enduring movie image of last year and worth a golden guy.
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
Will win: McDormand
Should win: Robbie
McDormand also has blazed through the competition as Three Billboards' fiery force of nature, a vengeful mom with an ornery personality and a obsessive need for justice. Barring an upset, she's a lock, though even McDormand herself said in her SAG speech that "there's a lot of young ones coming up and they need doorstops, too." Of those, Robbie does the most with a high degree of difficulty, masterfully playing Tonya Harding over three decades and creating an empathetic portrayal of figure skating's most infamous antagonist.
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
Will win: Rockwell
Should win: Dafoe
Oscar glory for Rockwell, one of the best character actors of his generation, is going to come sooner or later, and barring an upset, it'll be for his portrayal of a racist cop who's a little more dimensional than his dimwitted persona would have you believe. That said, Dafoe is the heart and soul of The Florida Project as a grumpy albeit kind Orlando hotel manager who juggles the chaos of his struggling residents and their misfit kids, yet always has their best interests in mind.
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
Will win/should win: Janney
Of all the acting races, this one's the no-brainer. In a category filled with memorable maternal figures, Janney is magnificent as Tonya Harding's villainous and abusive mommy dearest. No curse word goes unused and no scenery is left unchewed by the actress, who takes over whenever she's onscreen, whether dealing with a pesky parakeet or breaking the fourth wall.