Well, it’s that time again!
Every month this year, I am updating my predictions for which films and performers will be nominated for Oscars in 2018. At this point in the year, this is largely an academic exercise. The nominees below are a mix of wild guesses, instinctual feeling, and wishful thinking. Usually, a clear picture of the Oscar race doesn’t start to form until October at the earliest. (Last year, at this time, nobody had even heard of Moonlight or Hell or High Water.) In other words, take these predictions with a grain of salt.
This update is heavily influenced by what happened at the Sundance Film Festival last month. In fact, it’s probably a bit too influenced by Sundance. If these predictions turned out to be 100% correct, the 2018 Oscars would be the Sundance Oscars. That said, it seems that there’s always a few successful Oscar campaigns that start during Sundance. (And then there’s always a few Sundance sensations that totally fizzle during awards season. Birth of a Nation, anyone? Or perhaps The End of the Tour.) But, as of right now, Sundance is pretty much the only thing that we have to go on, as far as future Oscar contenders are concerned.
Again, take all of this with a grain of salt. Just because I may brag about knowing what I’m talking about, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I do.
And without further ado…
Battle of the Sexes
The Big Sick
Call Me By Your Name
The big additions here are Mudbound, The Big Sick, and Call Me By Your Name, all three of which got a lot of attention and acclaim at Sundance. Both Mudbound and Call Me By Your Name are already being mentioned, by some Oscar bloggers, as possible winners for best picture. The Big Sick may seem like more of a dark horse but, from what I’ve read, it sounds like the sort of movie that could emerge as a surprise contender. With its Muslim protagonist and its mix of comedy and drama, it sounds like it could catch the cultural zeitgeist.
Dropping from the list: T2, All Eyez On Me, and War Machine. T2 has gotten good but not great reviews in the UK. As for All Eyez on Me and War Machine — well, it’s just a feeling I have. Both of them could be good but it’s easier to imagine a scenario in which they’re both disappointments.
Luca Guadagnino for Call Me By Your Name
Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk
Alexander Payne for Downsizing
Dee Rees for Mudbound
Denis Villeneuve for Blade Runner 2047
Guadagnino and Rees are new contenders. Rees would be the first black woman ever nominated for best director.
Chadwick Boseman in Marshall
Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name
Tom Cruise in American Made
Kumail Nanjiani in The Big Sick
Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour
I’m a little bit iffy on Chadwick Boseman. In Marshall, he will be playing Thurgood Marshall, which sounds like a good, Oscar baity role. But Marshall itself sounds like a rather standard biopic. Timothee Chalamet and, especially, Kumail Nanjiani received a lot of Sundance acclaim. The fact that Nanjiani has been outspoken in his opposition to Trump’s travel ban will probably help his chances.
Sundance was also responsible for Logan Lerman falling off this list. Sidney Hall got terrible reviews.
Judi Dench in Victoria and Abdul
Danielle MacDonald in Patti Cake$
Carey Mulligan in Mudbound
Lois Smith in Marjorie Prime
Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes
Among the new additions, Danielle MacDonald was one of the break-out stars at Sundance. Carey Mulligan is due to get another nomination (and Mudbound is expected to be a major Oscar contender). As for Lois Smith, she’s a respected veteran actress who gets to play a rare lead role in Marjorie Prime. So, why not a nomination?
Best Supporting Actor
James Franco in The Masterpiece
Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name
Jason Mitchell in Mudbound
Bill Skarsgard in It
Michael Stuhlbarg in Call Me By Your Name
I’m continuing to predict a nomination for James Franco and yes, it probably is just wishful thinking on my part. But dammit, I just like the idea of Franco getting a nomination for playing Tommy Wiseau.
Skarsgard is probably wishful thinking as well. If It works, it will be because of Skarsgard’s performance as Pennywise.
Finally, Hammer, Mitchell, and Stuhlbarg are our Sundance nominees. Many people think that all three are overdue for some Academy recognition. (There’s some debate over whether Hammer should go supporting or lead for Call Me By Your Name. I’m going to assume that he’s going to pull a Viola Davis and go supporting.)
Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige in Mudbound
Holly Hunter in The Big Sick
Melissa Leo in Novitiate
Kristin Scott Thomas in Darkest Hour
Tilda Swinton in War Machine
As always, this is the most difficult category to predict. Blige, Hunter, and Leo are all Sundance nominees. (Hunter is especially said to be award-worthy in her Big Sick role.) For the second month in a row, Scott Thomas and Swinton are listed more because of who they are than any other reason.