By JACOB TRASK
We’re four days away from the Academy Awards, and cinephiles can only hope the upcoming show will be half as exciting as last year’s. If you don’t remember, the 2017 Oscars set the stage for one of the biggest televised mistakes since Steve Harvey’s Miss Universe flub. Thanks to the senile minds of Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, La La Land was wrongly announced as the winner of the Oscar for Best Picture, when in fact Moonlight was the winning film. The entire cast and crew of La La Land crowded onto the stage and one producer even got through a minute of his acceptance speech before Warren Beatty meandered back on stage to deliver the shocking news. After an incredibly awkward swap of bodies on stage, Moonlight director Barry Jenkins and his cast took the stage to accept their award.
There’s no way the Academy will let a mistake of this caliber happen again, but with an outstanding collection of films competing for awards, the 2018 Oscar’s show will likely be a fun one to watch. Here are the top awards and the competitors who may take them home.
Gary Oldman is the popular frontrunner for best actor due to his inspiring and indistinguishable impression of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. The film takes place during May 1940, following the first weeks of Churchill’s tenure as Britain’s prime minister. Oldman is, as always, incredible. But this performance is something more rare, as Oldman’s depiction of a person he in no way resembles physically is just about spot on.
Although Oldman’s performance is almost a shoe-in, my favorite performance of the year is from Timothy Chalamet, the star of Call Me by Your Name. I heavily praised Chalamet last week in my coverage of the movie, and I think his performance is worthy of a Best Actor win. He looks to be one of the most promising up-and-coming actors in Hollywood.
The other nominees for the award include Daniel Day Lewis (Phantom Thread), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.). Lewis and Washington are no stranger to the Best Actor award, and either of them winning would be no big surprise.
The award for Best Actress is much more up in the air. The nominees include Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) and the all-star Meryl Streep (The Post). All of the nominees displayed awesome performances, and each one could rightfully win the Oscar.
Although I don’t expect her to, Saoirse Ronan should win the award. It’s not because I think her performance was any degree better than the other nominees’, but I think that her character, Lady Bird, was the most enjoyable female character of 2017. First-time director Greta Gerwig drew the best out of Ronan so far in her young career, and the film was so poignant and mundane at the same time. Ronan does a fantastic job at making the viewer feel the authenticity of an eccentric Catholic high school girl walking shakily on an imaginary balance beam as she struggles to decide her future path.
The commercial success of Three Billboards suggests Frances McDormand is most likely to win the award for Best Actress, but in a competition with five incredible talents, the votes could come down to the wire.
As I wrote earlier this semester, I think Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is the best Oscar-nominated film of the year (The Florida Project and Hostiles were my favorite films of 2017, but neither received a Best Picture nod). The film is competing for the award with eight other films: The Post, Call Me by Your Name, Phantom Thread, Darkest Hour, Get Out, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water and Dunkirk.
Indiewire labels Get Out and The Shape of Water as the two other frontrunners alongside Three Billboards. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out is one of the most talked about films of 2017, and blew audiences away last February. Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water is a beautiful and colorful tale of love and and similarity between opposites. But neither of these films speak to me in quite the way Three Billboards does.
Three Billboards is one of the more clever films I have seen in recent years. Its diverse characters and its depiction of racist Missouri valley towns ooze authenticity. The film dominated at the Golden Globes in January, winning four awards: Best Actress (McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Rockwell), Best Original Screenplay and Best Motion Picture Drama. It would be no surprise if this movie took over the Oscars.
There’s no chance we’ll have an award show quite as exciting as last year’s, but there may be a few surprise winners waiting behind the curtains. Watch the Academy Awards this Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Jacob Trask can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org