2018 Oscar predictions: Who’s going to win, who should win, and who got snubbed

2018 Oscar predictions trophy
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

The 90th Academy Awards ceremony will be held March 4, but now that we know the list of 2018 Oscar nominees, there’s plenty of time to speculate about who will win, who should win, and who got passed over when The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out nominations.

When it comes to the Oscar predictions, everyone’s a pundit — and we’re no exception. Here are our best guesses about the likely winners in the major categories, as well as our thoughts on who should win the category, and which actors, films, or filmmakers were snubbed this year. We’ve also included some brief thoughts on some of the other Oscar categories on our minds, and what the final results are likely to be in those races.

Best Picture

2018 Oscar predictions Three Billboards
Merrick Morton / Fox Searchlight / Associated Press

What’s going to win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has swept just about every category it’s been nominated in throughout awards season. At this point, it’s only competition appears to be merman romance film The Shape of Water, which actually has a significant lead in total nominations and wins this year, but has the distinct disadvantage of being a merman-romance fantasy film — not a particularly popular genre for Academy voters.

What should win: There was no film even remotely like Get Out this year, blending dark, terrifying themes with a sense of levity that keeps the audience on edge, uncertain of where the story is ultimately headed until everything comes crashing down around its tortured protagonist. While it’s true that Three Billboards is home to three of the best acting performances of the year, if the Academy really wants to honor the year’s most unique, groundbreaking movie, Get Out is the film that should take home the Oscar.

Snubbed? The Academy traditionally appreciates romantic comedies almost as much as fantasy films, but The Big Sick is something truly special. Along with presenting a sincere, endearing story drawn from the real-life romance of star Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily Gordon (who co-wrote the film’s Oscar-nominated script together), it also explored the racism and culture clash of the immigrant experience — a theme that’s particularly salient in America right now.

Best Director

2018 Oscar predictions shape of water
Fox Searchlight

Who’s going to win: Guillermo del Toro seemingly has this one wrapped up after winning just about every award possible up to this point for The Shape of Water, but the smart money is still on Dunkirk director Christopher Nolan. A five-time nominee who’s never taken home an Oscar, Nolan is an uncompromising filmmaker who challenges audiences — and the art of making movies — without leaving the Academy’s comfort zone for genres or execution. If Nolan wins the Directors Guild Award in early February, bet on him taking home an Oscar, too.

Who should win: Jordan Peele (Get Out) and Del Toro both make strong cases for the Oscar with the unique vision they showcased in their respective films, but Nolan is a master of his craft who would be a deserving recipient of the Oscar. The fact that he went all out to shoot on 70mm for an epic film experience following Tarantino’s resurrection of the format is just icing on the cake.

Snubbed? It’s always interesting when a movie is nominated in nearly every major category, but its director doesn’t get a nomination. That’s the case with Three Billboards filmmaker Martin McDonagh, who’s conspicuously absent from the nominees, despite all of the Oscar nods for his film, and a nomination in the Directors Guild Awards, too.

Best Actor

2018 Oscar predictions Gary Oldman
Jack English / Focus Features

Who’s going to win: Gary Oldman vanished into his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, and the long list of nominations and awards he’s already won for it are well-deserved recognition of that performance. Considering he’s also been nominated multiple times without a win, Oldman just might be the most certain winner of this year’s nominees.

Who should win: Oldman gave the most standout performance in a year that wasn’t particularly competitive in this category. He’s the best of the bunch by far.

Snubbed? While no one expected him to actually win, it was surprising to see The Disaster Artist star (and writer and director) James Franco omitted from the nominees this year. Whether it was a bias against comedy projects or the Academy’s aversion to celebrating one of the worst movies ever made (Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, the focus of Franco’s satirical film), the Academy wasn’t in Franco’s camp this year. The same can be said for The Post star Tom Hanks, who seems to have fallen out of favor with the Academy in recent years, despite no perceptible drop-off in his performances. Looks like this year, Hanks will have to fall back to his two statues off five nominations.

Best Actress

oscar predictions snubs 2018 frances mcdormand
Merrick Morton / Fox Searchlight

Who’s going to win: Second only to Oldman’s odds of winning, the likelihood of Three Billboards star Frances McDormand taking home this Oscar is ridiculously high. She has swept just about every acting award she could win so far in her tour de force for the snarky sob fest, and deservedly so. It would be a shock to see her go home empty-handed from the Oscars after such a powerful performance.

Who should win: McDormand will almost certainly win this one, and while the performances of Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) and Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) are both memorable in their own ways, neither actress reached the same seething, dramatic extremes McDormand seemed to reach so effortlessly in Three Billboards.

Snubbed? The name that keeps getting mentioned is Molly’s Game star Jessica Chastain, but given the competition this year, it would be a tough call to remove any of the current nominees from the pool of contenders. Are you going to be the one to tell Meryl Streep she doesn’t get a nomination this year? We didn’t think so.

Best Supporting Actor

2018 Oscar predictions Sam Rockwell
Fox Searchlight

Who’s going to win: Sam Rockwell has won this category for his performance in Three Billboards at every opportunity leading up to the Oscars, so it appears that it’s his to lose.

Who should win: The supporting actor nominees all gave exceptional performances this year, so there isn’t a standout underdog in this race. If forced to name one, however, we’d pick Woody Harrelson, who destroyed his own Three Billboards performance despite having less screen time.

Snubbed? The best supporting actor performances of the year are well represented this year, and no actor seems conspicuously absent from the nominees.

Best Supporting Actress

2018 Oscar predictions Allison Janney

Who’s going to win: Allison Janney seems to be the leading contender for the Oscar in this category, having won a Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Critics’ Choice Award for her portrayal of Tonya Harding’s domineering mother in I, Tonya. Ever since the film’s premiere, it’s been Janney’s performance that generated the most positive buzz of anyone in the cast, and that wave of critical praise appears to be carrying over to award season.

Who should win: Janney’s performance was one of the most memorable of the year, so she deserves to bring home the gold.

Snubbed? Holly Hunter earned heaps of praise for her role in The Big Sick, and her performance as a protective mother dealing with her daughter’s sudden, inexplicable sickness and a marriage on the rocks was one of the best parts of a great film. She won an Oscar in 1994 for her performance in The Piano, but what she brought to The Big Sick showed her impressive range and ability to find the perfect balance of humor and drama.

Other categories

2018 Oscar predictions Coco
Disney Pixar

In the race for Best Animated Feature, Coco seems like a lock for the Oscar in a year when the entire pool of films isn’t all that strong. (Sorry, fans of The Boss Baby.)

The award for Best Adapted Screenplay feels like it could go to Aaron Sorkin for Molly’s Game, a film that’s surprisingly unrepresented this year, but the Academy might choose this category to give James Franco’s work on The Disaster Artist a nod, too.

All five nominees for Best Original Screenplay are fantastic, but this might be where The Big Sick or Get Out are represented, given that the former film was largely snubbed, and the latter film might get passed over elsewhere.

If the award for Best Cinematography goes to Blade Runner 2049 or Dunkirk, that would be well-deserved recognition for some of the most amazing work in that area this year. Both films should also be contenders for Best Production Design.

Although the Oscar for Best Visual Effects should probably go to Blade Runner 2049, there’s a good chance that it finally goes home with the Planet of the Apes team for their work on War for the Planet of the Apes. The two previous films in the trilogy were passed over for this award, despite showcasing some of the most groundbreaking performance-capture artistry ever achieved. The Academy likes to wait until the final film in a series to hand out the award it deserved all along, so this could finally be the year for the Planet of the Apes movies.

Given that The Shape of Water wasn’t nominated in the visual effects or makeup categories (which seems like a snub), it seems destined to win for Best Costume Design. Creature actor Doug Jones continues to offer a great reminder of the magic of practical effects, makeup, and costuming when you have a talented actor under it all.

If there’s any justice in the world, the awards for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing will go to Baby Driver, but the Academy tends to move in mysterious ways when it comes to these two particular categories, so it’s anyone’s guess who the winners will be.

For a list of all the nominations, check out the full list here.