The 90th Academy Awards ceremony, which will take place on Sunday, March 4, promises to be an interesting one, featuring a mix of high profile films like Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water and smaller surprise hits like Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, among others. It’s always a tricky proposition to try and guess who’s going to win, but we here at Rotten Tomatoes have crunched the numbers, weighed the intangibles, and held lively discussions to determine who we think will come out on top. Read on for our full list of Oscar predictions, and let us know if you feel differently about any of them. Then, you can also pop over to our audience poll to see what fellow movie fans think will win, and you can even download your own RT Oscar ballot to keep score on the big night!
A couple of months ago, we would have told you that the Best Picture category was still too close to call. Suddenly, though, Martin McDonagh’s pitch black comedy picked up a lot of steam, winning top honors at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, while stars Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell earned accolade after accolade along the way. With all of that in mind, we think Three Billboards will likely prevail over its competition.
It took deep passion and a lifelong obsession and empathy for movie monsters to make a love story like this work. And with Martin McDonagh not nominated in this category, here’s a fine opportunity to award a Best Director statue to del Toro over his Best Picture loss.
Industry favorite Oldman completely transformed into British Prime Minister Winston Churchill for his role in Darkest Hour. Previously nominated in the same category for 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, he fully inhabits the stooped, gruff Churchill, who struggles with a decision that will literally determine the fate of England and the rest of Europe, perhaps even the world: whether to negotiate with Adolf Hitler or continue the fight — each at a terrible price.
Got enough money to buy three billboards in Times Square, New York? Then bet it all on McDormand, the prohibitive favorite. She took out the SAG. She took out the Golden Globe (in the drama category). She took out the Oscar back in 1997 for Fargo. And she delivers a fierce performance in the most serious, emotionally draining role of the bunch. Only two questions remain: Will there be enough space on that stacked mantle for her 2018 trophy? And just how awesome will her speech be.
No matter where you stand on the character — the small-town cop’s journey from repugnant racist to near-hero has riled some viewers — there’s no doubting the impact of Rockwell’s performance. Any thought that Willem Dafoe would prove a neck-and-neck rival has long been buried under a pile of Golden Globes, SAGS, and BAFTAs all bearing the Moon star’s name.
Best Supporting Actress is truly Janney’s to lose. She’s been dominating the awards circuit for her portrayal as Tonya Harding’s loveless, abusive, bird-shouldered mother in a role that was literally written for her.
Get Out has proven it has steam. Jordan Peele’s hit has won most of the major awards in this category, and as rumors swirl that older academy voters aren’t even considering it for Best Picture, this seems like a (well deserved) consolation prize.
The year’s big kids are playing in the Original Screenplay category (where Three Billboards, Get Out, and Lady Bird will duke it out) leaving James Ivory with a fairly clear path to victory for his much-lauded take on André Aciman’s novel. It will be the 89-year-old’s first Oscar victory — ever. Ivory received directing nods for Merchant-Ivory classics The Remains of the Day, Howards End, and A Room with a View, but he never won, and this is his first nomination for writing.
This one is easy. You’d be pretty hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like Coco.
The Square may have the lowest Tomatometer score of any of the nominees in the category (still a not-too-shabby 82%), and some of the smart money is on the dazzling A Fantastic Woman, but hear us out. The Square has earned multiple Film Critics groups awards, contains one of 2017’s most memorable scenes, was seen by a decent thwack of people (it made almost $1.5 million during its theatrical run) and co-stars a couple of Americans with whom Academy members are familiar. We’re calling an upset.
With its investigation into Russian sports doping, Icarus is a heavy hitter in this category, as is Last Man in Aleppo, a look at recovery missions in war-torn Syria. Our favorite, though, is Faces Places, the charming collaboration between French New Wave godmother Agnès Varda and photographer/artist JR that weaves a rich tapestry of fading working-class life in the French countryside. Also, we’d love to see a repeat of Varda’s acceptance dance moves from the Governors Awards.
We’re predicting a lot of “it’s time” prizes, and there’s nothing more timeist than Roger Deakins’ previous 13 nominations without a single win. Though there’s a lot of CGI in Blade Runner 2049, think about Jared Leto’s wooden sanctuary with reflective water or Harrison Ford’s Vegas stronghold as the intimate areas blessed with Deakins’ trademark splash of hue and color.
While Baby Driver certainly makes splashy use of editing, we think Christopher Nolan’s war epic will take the crown simply because its entire narrative structure absolutely hinges on its ability to transition between concurrent storylines seamlessly. Nolan is no stranger to creative storytelling devices, and his considerable skill has never been employed more poignantly than here.
Bigger is better this year. This is a movie where every room and location had to be imagined to exist 32 years in the future, but from the vantage point of a dystopian 1981. The sets feel lived-in with bleak purpose and history, the city skylines rising mystic and ominous.
The film, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as a renowned dressmaker in 1950s London, has fashion at its very core. Costume designer Mark Bridges, who previously won an Oscar for his work on 2011’s The Artist and was also nominated for 2014 drama Inherent Vice, here evokes the most glamorous work of fashion icon, 35-time Oscar nominee, and eight-time winner Edith Head.
A great musical score can often go unnoticed because it blends so seamlessly into its film, and there are certainly a couple of nominees in this category this might apply to. That said, Alexandre Desplat’s enchanting music, magical with a hint of a sinister streak, goes a long way in making The Shape of Water feel like the quietly haunting fairy tale that it is.
We love “Remember Me” and “Mystery of Love” just as much as the next person with even a modicum of taste. But we aren’t arguing with your mom’s Spotify play count.
With the series frequently and purposely bereft of emotion, a lot of watching Blade Runner is simply luxuriating in its world. The visual effects take us there, and make something as simple as a three-way sex scene with an android, an imprinted human, and a bounty hunter a thing of beauty.
Darkest Hour impressed for its thorough and seamless transformation of its lead, Gary Oldman, into British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. This is the third nomination for Kazuhiro Tsuji and first for David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick.
Some will be quick to point out Baby Driver‘s clever use of gunfire and windshield wipers to keep time with the action onscreen, but Dunkirk relies so heavily on sound to immerse audiences in the thick of battle that we find it difficult to imagine it will be beat. Plus, war movies traditionally do very well in the sound categories, and we’re expecting that to be the case here.
Having said all that about sound mixing, it’s worth noting that Dunkirk‘s supervising sound editor, Richard King, went to great lengths to create the aural experience of the film. How great, you ask? He interviewed actual veterans to gain insight into what they heard on the battlefield. He researched and rebuilt from scratch one of the famous German dive-bombing sirens — which don’t exist anywhere any more — to capture its signature wail. This all may not be immediately apparent, but the overall effect of King’s work is a rich soundscape that plays a huge part in the film.
Look, we’re not saying Dear Basketball is the best entry in this category — the handmade wonder Negative Space seems to be the favorite in terms of cinematic quality. That said, you probably shouldn’t underestimate the sheer number of nostalgic Lakers fans in the academy.
Riveting, tense, and powerfully acted, DeKalb Elementary would be a good bet to win this category in any year. However, in the midst of a national debate about gun violence, the film — based upon a real-life school shooting incident — is an absolute lock.
A hopeful film about a heartbreaking subject, Heroin(e) is the tale of three strong women fighting the scourge of opioid abuse in Huntington, WV. It’s also on Netflix, which means it’s readily available for Academy voters to watch.