Our predictions for Best Picture

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Phantom Thread are this year’s frontrunners

The time has come to catch last-minute screenings and fill out your Oscar ballots before the Academy Awards air on Sunday, March 4.

This year’s competition for Best Picture is stacked with nine nominees. While the Oscars and awards season in general tend to be racked with controversy, this year’s scandal has less to do with the nominees and more to do with the treatment of women and minorities in the film industry, culminating in the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements.

The Academy can pat themselves on the back for acting on said controversy early this year. Firstly, by not inviting alleged sex offenders to attend the show and, secondly, by nominating one woman and one person of colour in the Best Director category. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they will do due diligence when it comes to selecting this year’s Best Picture winner.

There is a certain type of film that gets awarded Best Picture every year, and while it isn’t always easy to define what type that is, it makes it simpler to narrow down which films won’t win. This is why the beloved Lady Bird and important Get Out are among those that can be ruled out of the competition this year. Despite their nominations and support from general audiences, they don’t quite fit the mold of a typical Best Picture.

Here’s a breakdown of the nominated films most likely to win.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Every year there seems to be at least one film in the Best Picture category that doesn’t resonate with general audiences—at least not right away. This year, that film is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The film follows Mildred Hayes (played by Frances McDormand) who, frustrated with the stalled investigation into her daughter’s murder, paints three billboards in order to get the sheriff’s attention. While met with mixed reviews from critics, the film has swept the Best Picture category at every awards show so far, and it will likely earn the same recognition at the Oscars next week. But does it necessarily deserve to? Three Billboards certainly tells a haunting story about humanity and family, and it’s rich with powerful performances by veteran actors, which is right up the Academy’s alley, making it most likely to bring home the golden statue.

The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro is a director known for making emotionally charged and visually beautiful films, and he handles the strange premise of The Shape of Water with a special tenderness. The film is set during the Cold War in 1962 and sees a lonely, mute cleaning lady (played by Sally Hawkins) form a special bond with a top-secret science experiment—a creature that is part fish, part human. While it hasn’t received as much backing as Three Billboards, del Toro’s film is a favourite among film critics. He is poised to take home the award for Best Director, so that could mean his film will receive the same honour.

Phantom Thread

If there is a dark horse in this race, it’s Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread. The simplistic, yet luring and imaginative tale of romance might just succeed in overtaking previously mentioned frontrunners for the win, but it could also get lost in the shuffle. Set in 1950s London, the film follows acclaimed fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) as he meets and falls in love with Alma (played by Vicky Krieps), a young waitress. As Alma takes on the role of muse, assistant and somewhat of a mother figure, the imbalance in their relationship becomes more perturbed and, eventually, takes a toll on her. In Phantom Thread, Day-Lewis is at his most vulnerable, while newcomer Krieps holds her own against an acting legend. This is Anderson’s best work to date, and while it’s unclear if it will take home Best Picture (even though it absolutely should), you can count on it winning Best Costume Design.


Christopher Nolan’s war drama is exactly the kind of film you’d expect to see in the Best Picture category. Dunkirk tells the story of the evacuation of Allied soldiers from Belgium, Britain, Canada and France, who were cut off and surrounded by the German army during World War II. The film is overwhelming in its quiet, subtle beauty and features many breathtaking moments with little dialogue. It should win based on cinematography alone, and it has picked up awards for editing and sound. While there is a slight chance the Academy will surprise us by awarding Dunkirk a win for its visual elements, it seems unlikely against livelier, more Oscar-friendly counterparts.

Call Me By Your Name

Sadly, the film that captured many hearts when it premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival has lost momentum leading up to the Oscars, despite being the favourite to win for many months. It’s unfortunate, because the film is a major accomplishment for director Luca Guadagnino and lead actors Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer. Set in northern Italy during the 1980s, the film follows 17-year-old Elio (Chalamet) as he spends his summer falling in love with 20-something Oliver (Hammer). The romance unfolds with the crushing honesty that comes with first love, and Guadagnino makes sure to include everything from the sexuality to the awkwardness. Slated to become a cult-classic among teens and lovers of romance dramas, it doesn’t seem as though Call Me By Your Name will be bringing home any major awards this year, and that’s a shame.


Auteur directors deliver stunning feats

Call Me By Your Name and Wonderstruck make their bid for awards season at the Festival du nouveau cinéma

While major film festivals like the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival have always welcomed the biggest names in the industry, the Festival du nouveau cinéma gathers a more modest crowd. However, that doesn’t mean the festival’s programming fails to match up with its competitors.

This year’s lineup included a range of high-profile films, including Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell.

In addition, two of the most highly anticipated films, Call Me By Your Name and Wonderstruck, screened during the festival’s final weekend. Let’s see if they lived up to the hype.

Timothée Chalamet (left) and Armie Hammer star in Call Me By Your Name, a coming-of-age love story.

Call Me By Your Name

When a film receives so much praise across the board, it might be tempting to dismiss it as overrated. Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name is not such a film. Starring Armie Hammer and newcomer Timothée Chalamet, the film is a sexy coming-of-age tale that explores first love, self-discovery and heartbreak.

Set in northern Italy during the summer of 1983, the film follows Elio (Chalamet), a boyish and brooding 17-year-old who, while vacationing with his academic parents at their summer villa, becomes transfixed with 20-something Oliver (Hammer), an American grad student who arrives to work with Elio’s father for six weeks. Elio and his parents are intellectuals—they’re all perfectly trilingual and read Joseph Conrad while lounging by the pool—and so is Oliver, so he fits right in.

As Elio and Oliver get to know one another, they are simultaneously perplexed by and drawn to each other. This creates a push-pull relationship in which neither of them are entirely sure the other is interested. But the chemistry between them is palpable, and their desire for one another is beautifully exemplified against the sumptuous backdrop of the Italian vistas they explore together.

Elio experiences all of the typical highs and lows of first love. Yet his heartbreak is amplified to a new level, perhaps because their relationship is never fully realized and their romance is somewhat forbidden. The more entangled Elio and Oliver become, the more devastating their eventual goodbye feels.

Call Me By Your Name is a true masterpiece, and it’s hard to imagine Guadagnino ever topping it. It’s safe to say the film is a shoe-in for awards season, with both Hammer and Chalamet poised to receive tons of accolades for their crushingly honest and sensitive performances. This is absolutely not one to miss.

Call Me By Your Name hits theatres everywhere on Nov. 24.

Wonderstruck follows two young children on separate journeys of self-discovery.


“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” This quote is oftentimes the only source of comfort for young Ben, the main character in Todd Haynes’ brilliant film, Wonderstruck. After Ben loses his mother in a car accident, and then loses his hearing when he is struck by lightning through a telephone, he decides to run away to New York City in search of his father, whom he has never met.

Ben’s story, set in 1977, is told simultaneously alongside that of Rose, a young deaf girl who lives in New Jersey in 1927. Rose, like Ben, is also trying to escape a reality she cannot fathom. Told in black-and-white, silent-film-style flashbacks, Rose travels to New York City to free herself of her strict father and reunite with her absentee mother. As Rose and Ben’s journeys unfold side-by-side, they happen upon the same places, but it’s unclear how the two are connected.

Haynes is known for invoking strong performances from his actors, and he does so beautifully here with lead actresses Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams. Williams gets little screen time, but she pulls off her wistful, loving character well, and you miss her when she’s not on screen. Moore, on the other hand, delivers yet another emotionally rich and mesmerizing performance without ever saying a word. The film’s young cast, comprised of Oakes Fegley as Ben, Jaden Michael as Jamie and Millicent Simmonds as Rose, provide a sweet purity and sense of excitement that only adds to the film’s magic. Wonderstruck isn’t Haynes’ best work, but it will certainly strike a chord with audiences—there won’t be a dry eye in the theatre once the film ends.

Wonderstruck is currently playing in Montreal theatres.

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