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Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should Win

Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should Win

The Academy Awards have announced their picks for the year’s best, and we have thoughts on the 2018 Oscars Nominees, including who will win (and who should win).

This March, the best of Hollywood that has managed to not yet disgrace themselves will converge in the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood to see who gets to take home some neat golden statutes, and see which films can change their posters or home media boxes to include a notice about winning an award. And then they will drink.

The 90th annual Academy Awards won’t be announced until March 4, but the nominees have been announced. And we have opinions – a lot of opinions. To be fair, this is a great year for the Oscars, one of the best in many years. There are several strong films all worthy of accolades, and many of the films expected to lose might have dominated in weaker years. That makes picking the winners something of a crap shoot, but when it comes to the Oscars, you can generally get a sense of how things are going to play out.

There are the occasional surprises, and sure, every once in a while a confused old man will read out the wrong name, but typically you can get a sense of how the Academy voters are going to lean, both by the previous award shows and by the other nominations.

Of course, just because something wins, that doesn’t necessarily mean it should have won. There are Oscar wins that are makeup wins for past snubs, there are fashionable picks that fit the mood if not the criteria, and a host of other excuses. Did Leonardo DiCaprio deserve an Oscar for Best Actor? Probably. Did he deserve it for The Revenant. Probably not. Which deserved to win the Best Picture more – the groundbreaking Fellowship of the Ring or the very good but slightly flawed Return of the King? How the hell did La La Land receive 13 nominations, let alone six wins?

And so on.

So with that in mind, we look at the nominations and give our opinions on both who we think will win, and who we think should win. We didn’t pick every category, there are just too many. Instead, we focused on the main categories and the categories that are important to us. Check back after the ceremony to see how we did.

Best Picture

Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should Win

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Who Will Win? Three Billboards

The Best Picture category is always an interesting look at how the Academy voters – and by extension Hollywood – are feeling each year, and this year they are feeling woke. Three Billboards is not a fun movie, but it is a socially conscious one and it takes an emotional toll on viewers. It challenges them, and in that, it is artfully done. It’s certainly good enough to win the Oscar, and given its sweep of the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, there no reason to think it won’t take the Oscars too.

Who Should Win? Dunkirk

While Three Billboards is an excellent movie, Dunkirk is an experimental film of sorts. It does things most audiences will have never seen before (at least not on the scale of Nolan’s WWII epic). From the sound engineering to the chronology to the casting, everything is done deliberately. It creates tension even without telling you the names of most of the characters. But it’s also set during the extremely familiar era of WWII (it’s one of two WWII films nominated for Best Picture), and it is best seen on a giant screen in a theater – the screeners the Academy sends out may not do it justice. And as an extra negative, in a year when diversity matters, it is arguably the least diverse film of the bunch.

Best Director

Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should Win

Dunkirk – Christopher Nolan
Get Out – Jordan Peele
Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread – Paul Thomas Anderson
The Shape of Water – Guillermo del Toro

Who Will Win? Guillermo del Toro

After something of a surprise win for del Toro at the Golden Globes, the odds are now heavily in his favor. The Shape of Water is a beautiful film, well shot and built around an unusual story told in a unique way. If del Toro wins, he will be deserving of it – as would any of the nominees. Plus, with Three Billboards Martin McDonagh not even receiving a nomination and Steven Spielberg also missing out, the competition is wide open for someone with a distinct vision – much like del Toro.

Who Should Win? Christopher Nolan

While The Shape of Water is an exceptional film and deserves to be getting all the accolades it is receiving, it feels familiar. There are some incredible and original moments, but at its core, it is a love story about two misfits. On the other hand, Dunkirk pushes the medium of filmmaking a little bit further than most. It was also a wildly complicated film to shoot, with countless moving pieces, all of which Nolan handled masterfully.

Best Actor

Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should Win

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.

Who Will Win? Gary Oldman

There are three very good reasons to expect that Oldman will take home his first Best Picture Oscar. First, he already swept the Golden Globes and SAG awards. Second, like DiCaprio, Oldman is one of the most renowned actors working today who has never won an Oscar (and only been nominated twice, including this one). And third, his performance as Winston Churchill is outstanding.

Who Should Win? Gary Oldman

See above.

Best Actress

Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should WinSally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Meryl Streep – The Post

Who Will Win? Frances McDormand

After dominating the SAG and Golden Globes, there is every reason to think that McDormand will continue her streak and take home her second Oscar for Best Actress. Her performance as a mother trying to cope with the brutal murder of her daughter is a gut punch. If/when McDormand wins, no one will be able to say she didn’t deserve it.

Who Should Win? Sally Hawkins

While McDormand’s performance is exceptional, it is also familiar. There are plenty of dramas that explore this same subject, plus there are plenty of heartbreaking real-world examples. That isn’t meant to take anything at all away from McDormand, but Hawkins’ turn in The Shape of Water was unlike anything else. Hawkins also puts the bulk of the movie firmly on her shoulders, and she does it without saying a word (for the most part), opposite a love interest that also doesn’t say a word. She does so, so much with very little, and it is a testament to her that the film was as well received as it was. That shouldn’t be seen as a criticism of McDormand, but rather high praise for Hawkins.

Best Supporting Actor

Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should WinWillem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards

Who Will Win? Sam Rockwell

Another SAG and Golden Globe winner, Rockwell is well on his way to collecting another trophy for his mantle. His performance as a resentful and racist police officer offers the type of nuance that you want in a Best Supporting Actor. It’s a powerful turn and it’s easy to forget that you’re watching the same actor who played “Head Thug” in the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Who Should Win? Christopher Plummer

If you take into account behind the scenes drama, Plummer absolutely deserves to win. Following the tidal wave of sexual harassment and assault charges leveled at All the Money in the World’s original star Kevin Spacey, Plummer was contacted, offered the role, and began shooting his Oscar-worthy performance all in the space of 12 days. He then acted not only from the page, but against existing footage that needed to be integrated into a nearly finished product. And while his nomination alone might be something of a reflection of that madness, his performance is well worth the accolades.

Best Supporting Actress

Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should Win

Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water


Who Will Win? Laurie Metcalf

This one is something of a stretch, but hear us out. This year’s Oscars are stacked, so stacked that Lady Bird – a film that for several weeks had the best score in Rotten Tomatoes history (until some would-be “provocateur” ruined it to make a name for himself) – is possibly facing a shutout in actual wins. The film probably doesn’t have much chance of winning Best Picture, and despite director Greta’s Gerwig’s well deserved best director nomination, she is a huge underdog. It might take home the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, but even that will be tough. Metcalf’s performance as a complicated mother may end up being Lady Bird’s consolation prize.

Who Should Win? Allison Janney

Janey won both the Golden Globe and SAG award for Best Supporting actress, so she is probably the favorite to win the Oscar as well, but we can’t help feeling like there’s an upset brewing. If we are wrong though, we won’t have a problem with it. Janney’s role as Tonya Harding’s domineering and duplicitous mother is a highlight of a film that should have been nominated for Best Picture.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should WinCall Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Molly’s Game

Who Will Win? Call Me By Your Name

Based on the 2007 novel by Andre Aciman, Call Me By Your Name is the type of film that could easily clean up at the Oscars in a weaker year. It deserves all the nominations and accolades it is receiving, but it probably won’t beat out some of the films earning more buzz. The Adapted Screenplay Oscar, however, is all theirs.

Who Should Win? The Disaster Artist

The adaptation of Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell’s book of the same name is an interesting look at what is called the “Citizen Kane of bad movies,” and the modern filmmaking process as well. It also defies expectations and avoids an obvious trap of playing up the obvious comedy angle. The Disaster Artist is held together by an award-winning performance by James Franco, and that is part of the problem. While Call Me By Your Name may deserve to win regardless, with sexual misconduct allegations piling up against Franco, he is becoming increasingly toxic. And with the Oscars looking to highlight Hollywood’s social conscience, The Disaster Artist is a likely casualty.


Best Original Screenplay


Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should Win

The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards


Who Will Win? Three Billboards

Assuming Three Billboards does as well as we (and most people) think, then it would also stand to reason that the screenplay would also earn a statue. It’s a dark and timely story and one that resonates. To be honest though, this is one of the toughest categories to predict, as all the films are worthy of praise.

Who Should Win? Get Out  

While Get Out probably doesn’t have the clout to win the best film, actor, or director, it absolutely deserves to win the Best Original Screenplay. Not only is it an excellent work of fiction in its own right, it was arguably one of the most talked about films of the year. It defied convention and struck a chord, plus it brought up racial issues and resonated with people of all colors.

Best Animated Feature Film

Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should WinThe Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Loving Vincent

Who Will Win? Coco

It’s been a few years since Pixar won an Oscar. And given that the film offers a look at a culture many argue is currently under attack, Coco is the right film at the right time.

Who Should Win? Coco

See above.

Best Visual Effects

Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should WinBlade Runner 2049
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who Will Win? Blade Runner 2049

Although this category isn’t traditionally considered to be on the same level as some of the others we’ve listed, it very much fits within our wheelhouse. All of the films nominated this year are worthy of plenty of awards for their visual effects, but Blade Runner 2049 was a beautiful film that didn’t get the love it deserved. It also used the visuals as part of the story. Plus, there was an emotional connection to some of the visuals that voters love.

Who Should Win? Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Honestly, Star Wars should win this Oscar every year. It isn’t exactly sexy to award a film with so much attention on it, and we tend to take it for granted just how incredible the film looks. We expect it to look amazing, and it’s only when it falters that people really notice. But even by Star Wars standards, The Last Jedi had a few stunning shots. And given that a significant amount of the film was entirely created with effects, it absolutely deserves the Oscar.

The Rest of the Nominees

Breaking Down the 2018 Oscars Nominees: Who Will Win & Who Should Win

Best Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

Best Documentary Feature

Abacus: Small Enough for Jail
Faces, Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

Best Documentary Short Subject

Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

Best Original Score

Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Original Song

Mighty River – Mudbound
Mystery of Love – Call Me By Your Name
Remember Me – Coco
Stand Up for Something – Marshall
This Is Me – The Greatest Showman

Best Foreign Language Film

The Insult
On Bodo and Soul
The Square
A Fantastic Woman

Best Animated Short Film

Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

Best Live Action Short Film

DeKalb Elementary
The 11 o’clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wote

Best Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria & Abdul

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Darkest Hour
Victoria & Abdul

Best Sound Editing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Sound Mixing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Film Editing

Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Production Design

Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water



Founder and DBP boss. Ryan likes the Kansas Jayhawks, long walks on the beach, and high fiving unsuspecting people.