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Author: Billy Madden
Hello, People of Con! It has been months since I released a movie review for the site. Life can get busy, causing various passions to get thrown on the back burner. With that being said, soon, I will be able to review movies more frequently, especially now that I’m imbued with the power of MoviePass, allowing me the opportunity to see almost any movie of my choosing.

On this rainy California day, I decided to recognize the upcoming 90th Annual Academy Awards with my predictions, which may sometimes differ from my exclusive opinion, for the winners of each category. I have been fortunate to see all nine nominated films in the Best Picture category. Of course, some of my picks are pure guesses, as I have not seen all the films in each category. In those instances, I will be forthcoming. That being said, let’s get this show on the road!

Best Picture Nominees:
Call Me By Your Name directed by Luca Guadagnino
Darkest Hour directed by Joe Wright
Dunkirk directed by Christopher Nolan
Get Out directed by Jordan Peele
Lady Bird directed by Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
The Post directed by Steven Spielberg
The Shape of Water directed by Guillermo del Toro
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri directed by Martin McDonagh

My Prediction: The Shape of Water
My Opinion: Dunkirk
The Shape of Water was a bit too strange for my taste. It is a love story between a woman and a sea creature in its simplest form. Was it a good movie, and did I enjoy it? Yes. Will I be mad if it were to win Best Picture? No. Although the story is quite strange, it was a beautifully shot movie, and the story did keep me entertained. Throw a great cast in the mix, and you have a winner.

I would lobby for Dunkirk to take home the Best Picture prize because, out of all the movies in this category, this is the one movie I was literally on the edge of my seat while watching. I saw it in IMAX, an experience I will not forget. Christopher Nolan gave us a chilling encounter of being thrown into the thick of World War II while surrounded by the enemy.

Best Director Nominees:
Christopher Nolan, for Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, for Get Out
Greta Gerwig, for Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson, for Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro, for The Shape of Water

My Prediction: Guillermo del Toro
My Opinion: Christopher Nolan

Guillermo del Toro did a fantastic job and deserves the award; I would not be mad if he took the prize. Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk to me was something special, and Nolan showed off his directing skills, through the close-up of the cast members, to the wide screenshots of the war zone. Of course, I would be happy with either director taking home the honor.

Best Actor in a Leading Role Nominees:
Timothée Chalamet, for Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, for Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, for Get Out
Gary Oldman, for Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, for Roman J. Israel, Esq.

My Prediction: Gary Oldman
My Opinion: Gary Oldman

If you have seen The Darkest Hour, you would know that Gary Oldman is a shoo-in for the award. Oldman spent many hours studying Churchill, and that time paid off. Audiences truly saw a transformation on screen. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, do yourself a favor and witness acting on another level.

Best Actress in a Leading Role Nominees:
Sally Hawkins, for The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, for I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, for Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, for The Post

My Prediction: Frances McDormand
My Opinion: Frances McDormand

No surprise here, as Frances deserves an Academy Award. Her portrayal of a character hellbent on justice is both commanding and admirable. Viewers found themselves rooting for her every step of the way.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role Nominees:
Willem Dafoe, for The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, for The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, for All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, for Three Billboards

My Prediction:
My Opinion: Sam Rockwell

A well-known character actor, Rockwell’s portrayal of a Midwestern cop in Three Billboards, angry and full of bigotry, is worthy of an Oscar. Simple as that.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominees:
Mary J. Blige, for Mudbound
Allison Janney, for I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf, for Lady Bird
Lesley Manville, for Phantom Thread
Octavia Spencer, for The Shape of Water

My Prediction: Allison Janney
My Opinion: Allison Janney

Janney plays an absolute lunatic in I, Tonya. Both unpredictable and charismatic, if she somehow lost this category, her character would do anything possible to steal the Golden Statue from her opponent’s hands!

Best Animated Feature Film:
The Boss Baby directed by Tom McGrath
The Breadwinner directed by Nora Twomey
Coco Directed directed by Lee UnKrich
Ferdinand the Bull directed by Carlos Saldanha
Loving Vincent directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman

My Prediction: Coco
My Opinion: Coco

With phenomenal animation and a diverse cast, all accompanied by beautiful music, it mystifies how Coco got left out of the Best Picture category. This must-see movie will turn the waterworks on for anyone.

Best Documentary (Feature):
City of Ghosts by Matthew Heineman
Faces Places by JR, Agnès Varda, and Rosalie Varda
Icarus by Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan
Jane by Brett Morgen, Bryan Burk, Tony Gerber, and James A. Smith
Strong Island by Yance Ford and Joslyn Barnes

Simply A Guess: Icarus

Best Foreign Language Film:
A Fantastic Woman directed by Sebastián Lelio (Chile)
The Insult directed by Ziad Doueiri (Lebanon)
Loveless Andrey directed by Zvyagintsev (Russia)
On Body and Soul directed by Ildiko Enyedi (Hungary)
The Square directed by Ruben Ostlund (Sweden)

Simply A Guess: The Square

Best Original Screenplay:
The Big Sick written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out written by Jordan Peele
I, Tonya written by Steven Rogers
Lady Bird written by Greta Gerwig
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri written by Martin McDonagh

My Prediction: Get Out written by Jordan Peele
My Opinion: Lady Bird written by Greta Gerwig

To me, Get Out was just okay. I never understood why people made a big deal of it (or why it is up for Best Picture). It was strange, and I couldn’t pinpoint it as scary or funny. I understand it was made to confuse the audience, creating uncomfortable laughter with horror, but it completely missed the mark for me.

Lady Bird, on the other hand, spoke to me on many levels. This diamond in the rough reminded me of my years growing up Catholic and attending Catholic school. Greta Gerwig depicted this experience authentically, painting a real picture of the Catholic school culture. The relatability and the realism are why I believe Lady Bird should win Best Original Screenplay.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Call Me by Your Name by James Ivory
The Disaster Artist by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Logan by Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green
Molly’s Game by Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

My Prediction: Call Me By Your Name by James Ivory
Simply A Guess with My Opinion: The Disaster Artist by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber

Admittedly this is a sheer guess as I did not read any of the books these films are modeled after. The Disaster Artist as a movie was one of the better experiences I had in theaters. The script had me in hysterics. When you can develop a great picture from a movie historically known to be unabashedly trash, then you know it is something special!

Best Cinematography:
Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049
Bruno Delbonnel for Darkest Hour
Hoyte van Hoytema for Dunkirk
Rachel Morrison for Mudbound
Dan Laustsen for The Shape of Water

My Prediction: Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049
My Opinion: Hoyte van Hoytema for Dunkirk

Blade Runner 2049 was just as boring as the original movie. Sorry to rile some feathers. The movie was shot similarly, and many people (somehow) love the style, which is why it will win. I believe Dunkirk was far superior with their cinematic representation of war, so I am rooting for an upset here.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
Ivana Primorac, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick for Darkest Hour
Deboray Lamia Denaver, Adruitha Lee for I, Tonya
Naomi Bakstad, Robert A. Pandini, Arjen Tuiten for Wonder

My Prediction: Ivana Primorac, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick for Darkest Hour
My Opinion: Ivana Primorac, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick for Darkest Hour

Look at Gary Oldman, then at Winston Churchill, then back at Oldman, and finally back at Churchill. I rest my case.

Best Production Design:
Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer for Beauty and the Beast
Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola for Blade Runner 2049
Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer for Darkest Hour
Rick Carter and Rena DeAngelo for The Post
Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, and Shane Vieau for The Shape of Water

My Prediction: Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, and Shane Vieau for The Shape of Water
My Opinion: Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, and Shane Vieau for The Shape of Water

The production design team for The Shape of Water nails the look of the Cold War Era. This is enhanced with the visual filter of teal (not green) hues and meticulous choices for characters and sets. The look of the entire movie is stunning.

Best Film Editing:
Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss for Baby Driver
Lee Smith for Dunkirk
Tatiana S. Riegel for I, Tonya
Sidney Wolinsky for The Shape of Water
Jon Gregory for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My Prediction: Lee Smith for Dunkirk
My Opinion: Lee Smith for Dunkirk

I choose Lee Smith for Dunkirk for the editing category, as each scene flows into the next seamlessly. The tightly wound visual transitions enhance the engaging story.

Best Sound Editing:
Julian Slater for Baby Driver
Mark Mangini and Theo Green for Blade Runner 2049
Alex Gibson and Richard King for Dunkirk
Nathan Robitaille for The Shape of Water
Ren Klyce and Matthew Wood for Star Wars: The Last Jedi

My Prediction: Alex Gibson and Richard King for Dunkirk
My Opinion: Alex Gibson and Richard King for Dunkirk

I’m sure we fellow nerds want Star Wars: The Last Jedi to win any Oscar, and with such a nostalgic movie score, it would make sense that they are nominated in the Best Sound Editing category. I don’t believe the Academy has the same passion for the franchise as the fans, so I’m going with my favorite, Dunkirk. Alex Gibson and Richard King knocked it out of the park with realism in the sound quality and the riveting music accompanying it.

Best Sound Mixing:
Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, and Tim Cavagin for Baby Driver
Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, and Doug Hemphill for Blade Runner 2049
Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, and Gary A. Rizzo for Dunkirk
Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, and Brad Zoern for The Shape of Water
Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, and Michael Semanick for Star Wars: The Last Jedi

My Prediction: Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, and Gary A. Rizzo for Dunkirk
My Opinion: Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, and Gary A. Rizzo for Dunkirk

No surprise here. Also, no further explanation is necessary.

Best Visual Effects:
John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, and Gerd Nefzer for Blade Runner 2049
Andrew Jackson, Andrew Lockley, Scott Fisher, Paul Corbould Okja Erik-Jan De Boer, Stephen Clee, Lee Jeon Hyoung, and Joon Hyung Kim for Dunkirk
Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, and Neal Scanlon for Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, and Joel Whist for War for the Planet of the Apes

My Prediction: Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, and Joel Whist for War For the Planet of the Apes
My Opinion: Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, and Joel Whist for War For the Planet of the Apes

War For the Planet of the Apes was one great movie that got stiffed in many categories. The visual effects of watching an Ape speak created a believably that none of the other movies could top. This technical marvel was a wonder to watch and deserved to win this category.

Best Music (Original Song):
“Mighty River” from Mudbound by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, and Taura Stinson
“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name by Sufjan Stevens
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
“Remember Me” from Coco by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall by Diane Warren and Common

My Prediction: “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
My Opinion: “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

The Greatest Showman was a magical musical with memorable songs sung by a talented cast. “This is Me” is an empowering song about self-acceptance and accomplishment, a song that is truly deserving of The Statue.

Best Original Score:
Dario Marianelli for Darkest Hour
Hans Zimmer for Dunkirk
Jonny Greenwood for Phantom Thread
John Williams for The Post
Alexandre Desplat for The Shape of Water

My Prediction: Alexandre Desplat for The Shape of Water
My Opinion: Carter Burwell for Three Billboards (somehow not nominated)

The Shape of Water had a decent score, but I don’t think it held a candle to the haunting sounds created by Carter Burwell for Three Billboards. Throughout the entire movie, the musical sounds created a depth that added to the viewing experience. The Academy is truly crazy for not including this movie.

Best Short Film (Animated):
Dear Basketball directed by Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant
Lou directed by Dave Mullins and Dana Murray
Negative Space directed by Max Porter and Ru Kawahata
Garden Party directed by Victor Caire  and Gabriel Graperon
Revolting Rhymes directed by Jakob  Schuh and Jan Lachauer

Simply A Guess: Dear Basketball

I’m choosing this flick only because I am a Kobe fan.

Best Short Film (Live Action):
Dekalb Elementary directed by Reed Van Dyk
The Eleven O’Clock directed by Derin Seale and Josh Lawson
My Nephew Emmett directed by Kevin Wilson Jr.
Watu Wote / All of Us directed by Katja Benrath and Tobias Rosen
The Silent Child directed by Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton

Simply A Guess: Dekalb Elementary
My Nephew Emmett might win because of its subject matter but I am a UCLA fan, so I’m going with Dekalb Elementary.

Best Costume Design:
Jacqueline Durran for Beauty and the Beast
Ellen Mirojnick for The Greatest Showman
Alexandra Byrne for Murder on the Orient Express
Mark Bridges for Phantom Thread
Luis Sequeira for The Shape of Water

My Prediction: Mark Bridges for The Phantom Thread
My Opinion: Jacqueline Durran for Beauty and the Beast

Mark Bridges for The Phantom Thread deserves this award due to the intricate dress designs throughout the film. The costumes appeared to be meticulously made for each scene. It was a feast for the eyes. However, Beauty and the Beast had many alluring designs for the entire cast, so that this film may steal the laurels instead.

Best Documentary Short:
Edith+Eddie by Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wright
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 by Frank Stiefel
Heroin(e) by Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon
Knife Skills by Thomas Lennon
Traffic Stop by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner

Simply A Guess: Heroin(e) 
That is it for the 2018 Oscars! If you have managed to make it this far, I thank you. Let me know what your predictions are and why!

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