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.


Oscars predictions: Who will bring home the gold?

The Concordian’s film critic-in-residence gives his two cents about the upcoming Academy Awards

If you’re like me, there are few things you find as enjoyable as indulging in the entirely pointless, but enormously thrilling game of predicting the Oscars. The nominations aren’t as hard to predict, but only one can win in each category, so you either get it right or you don’t. Nervous? Just think of the eternal glory and bragging rights you will get with every correct guess. So let’s take a brief look at the main categories.

Best Picture

The big winner of the night hasn’t been this easy to predict in years—it can only be La La Land. The picture got a historic 14 nominations, which means that, if a different film were to win, it could be the biggest snub in Oscar history. Just like nothing could sink James Cameron’s Titanic, Damien Chazelle’s musical masterpiece is simply unstoppable. For all other categories in which La La Land is the nominee, it can safely be expected to win.

Best Director

Although there have been splits between Best Picture and Best Director in the last few years, the incredible support for La La Land could guarantee its success in both categories. That would make Chazelle the youngest Oscar-winning director ever—and he completely deserves the honour.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

This is one category La La Land is unlikely to win. The ongoing race is between Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea and Denzel Washington for Fences. The younger Affleck brother is the current frontrunner for his moving, subtle performance as a man consumed by guilt and internal anguish. But should the Academy go with Washington, he would join a very small club of three-time acting Oscar winners.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

And now back aboard the La La Land train. The competition in this category is absolutely staggering—heavyweight Annette Benning couldn’t even manage a nomination—but Emma Stone, being the emotional anchor of her film, is expected to win. You might also want to watch out for Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy in Jackie —it’s the type of role the Academy usually adores.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

After two years of noted absence, African-American actors are back in the Oscar race, dominating the supporting categories. Mahershala Ali is the favourite here, for a memorable part in the wonderful Moonlight. While it’s easy to root for this likeable performer, it’s okay to hope the Academy gives due consideration to Jeff Bridges as a sheriff in Hell or High Water, and even more so to Michael Shannon as another, more sinister sheriff in the underrated Nocturnal Animals.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

This Oscar belongs to Viola Davis already. She came close to winning for brilliant roles in 2008’s Doubt and 2011’s The Help, and the third time’s going to be the charm. She outdid herself in Fences, consistently stealing scenes and proving herself to be one of the finest talents of our time.

Best Original Screenplay

For a long time, it seemed like Manchester by the Sea was a sure winner here—musicals don’t win in the screenplay categories, we were told—but La La Land has emerged as the alternative. Here’s to the musical that could.

Best Adapted Screenplay

If there’s one film to even remotely challenge La La Land in the Best Picture race, it’s Moonlight. The movie, after all, comes as a powerful response to the call for diversity that has challenged the Academy in recent years. While its odds of winning in most categories are all but hopeless, the three-part story of a gay African-American young man making his way through life, which is adapted from an unpublished play, deserves to be celebrated for its unique and insightful screenplay.

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