The Oscars are on Sunday night. Had you forgotten? Does this year’s race seem a little less intense than most years? Are we just too distracted by the state of the world to care as much in the past? Maybe! But, nonetheless, it should be a memorable night. Sufjan Stevens will sing. We’ll be reminded once again that Boss Baby has an Oscar nomination. We’ll all take a nap during that long period between the Best Supporting Actress awards and the home stretch. Jokes will be made about last year’s Best Picture screw-up. Many jokes. Too many. But it’ll still be fun. And while watching, keep in mind some Uproxx contributors’ picks for who should win (with a side dish of some predictions as to who will win).
Best Adapted Screenplay
Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees
Who Should Win:
Vince Mancini: Having read the book and having a somewhat personal connection to it, I thought The Disaster Artist did a wonderful job adapting its source material. But I’d also be happy if Mudbound won. I liked Call Me By Your Name, but something about it sticks in my craw. Maybe it’s that calling someone your own name seems weird and conceited? Or that I’m jealous of everyone’s effortless wealth and culture? I don’t think Logan is that great and Molly’s Game is kind of bad.
Mike Ryan: It’s not just that Mudbound deserves it, but it’s also a movie that kind of got a raw deal in a few other categories, so it would be great if it could win here. Though, how crazy would it be if Logan won? It won’t, but I’m looking forward to the first non-Heath Ledger superhero movie prestige category win. (That should be a category, “and the winner of the Non-Heath Ledger Superhero Movie Prestige Category is…”)
Amy Nicholson: Who knew a Wolverine film could have a scene that howled like the second coming of Samuel Beckett with Patrick Stewart wailing like a soul displaced in time? If I could clap my hands and cancel comic book films tomorrow, I would. Yet, Logan‘s script turned cartoon panels into real agony — and trusted that its audience would make the leap. I want to reward a film that took an expensive risk and proved that blockbuster audiences aren’t just brainless popcorn munchers. And spoiler alert, if it killed off more Wolverine movies, that’s a plus.
Keith Phipps: My sentimental pick would be James Ivory who, at 89, knows a thing or two about writing Oscar-worthy screenplays. Also, Call Me By Your Name is a great movie and Michael Stuhlbarg’s monologue has gutted me both times I’ve seen it. But I’m going to go with Mudbound, which beautifully distills a lot of story into a swiftly moving, deeply affecting movie. Also, Mudbound did not get enough love from the Oscars, or most other awards, so I’ll be rooting for it to win where it can.
Emma Stefansky: Luca Guadagnino’s movies are all vacations that I would deeply enjoy taking (maybe minus some of the murder and heartbreak), and I felt the same way about James Ivory’s Call Me By Your Name adaptation, one of the most compassionate scripts of last year. It’s the kind of familiar, comfortable, comforting feeling of being around familiar people but feeling that there’s something different about yourself. It’s probably a credit to the actors that they could make some of the dialogue in Ivory’s screenplay sound as natural as it does in the movie, but, then again, we’re amongst polyglot academic expats who are totally okay with their son figuring some stuff out with his new friend they’ve invited into their home.
Who Will Win:
Vince: Molly’s Game, specifically just to piss off me personally. There is ample precedent for this.
Mike: Call Me by Your Name
Amy: Call Me by Your Name
Keith: Call Me by Your Name
Emma: Call Me by Your Name
Best Original Screenplay
The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh
Who Should Win:
Vince: Oof, there are some heavy hitters. I liked Lady Bird the best, but I thought Get Out and The Big Sick were also great writing work.
Mike: This is one of those categories where it would be cool for The Big Sick to win since it’s that film’s only nomination, but it’s maybe too hard to ignore the others here, too. So I’ll pick Get Out.
Amy: Allow me to list all my caveats before making the case for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Yes, it’s clumsy about race. Yes, it’s an outsider’s psychoanalysis of America’s heartland. And yes, it’s not even the fourth best script Martin McDonagh’s written. But Three Billboards has clearly hit an uncomfortable nerve, which feels necessary in a world that’s whacking itself awake after two decades of numb contentment. When — if — we’re ever able to look back at today’s tumult with anthropological distance, this is the script that will feel most vital, in part because it asks us all what comes next. (And if you think McDonagh serves up an easy answer, I’d watch the film again.)
Keith: It’s hard for me to choose between Get Out and Lady Bird here, both debuts (well, Gerwig had co-directed a film before) that signaled two of our most promising new filmmakers had been in front of us for a few years doing other things. I’ll give it to Lady Bird because I just remembered that exchange about the “titular role” in The Tempest.
Emma: Whenever I have to defend my love for The Shape of Water, I tend to say variations of the same thing: In the back of my mind, maybe I love this movie more because I love that Guillermo del Toro finally got to make it, and I love how charmed I was by the whole thing. The idea — what if the Creature from the Black Lagoon actually was taken back with the explorers who found him… and then fell in love with a human woman? — is such a lovely concept, and with dialogue like, “If we do nothing, so are we,” and bookended by lines of Sufi poetry in the script co-written by Vanessa Taylor, it settles itself comfortably in that between-place of a wholly modern story inspired by works of the past where del Toro’s films thrive.
Who Will Win:
Vince: Three Billboards. Again, solely to piss me off.
Mike: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Amy: Get Out
Keith: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Emma: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
Who Should Win:
Vince: They’re all good. My only caveat to that is that Octavia Spencer was in The Shape of Water for like five minutes. And she was fine. Octavia Spencer is great! But how you nominate her for that role over Hong Chau in Downsizing (easily this year’s best supporting actress in my mind) I can’t fathom.
Mike: For me, it’s between Janney and Metcalf, but Janney is just such a force in I, Tonya that I give her the slight edge. See, now I’m already changing my mind. I should insert the Larry David gif of him not being able to decide. Okay, fine, it’s still Janney.
Amy: Good God, Laurie Metcalf. This year she and Dafoe created characters who feel so real you can imagine what they’re doing right now. No really, try it. I’m guilty of writing off mom roles as a screenwriter’s lazy attempt to squeeze a famous actress somewhere in the script. What Metcalf does is show us the nag Lady Bird loathes, and the floundering woman her daughter can’t see. She exists in both dimensions at once, a magic eye poster Metcalf pulls into focus. One of the smartest scenes in the film is a shot of Metcalf, alone in her sewing room, thanklessly tailoring her daughter’s new thrift store dress. Alison Janney is a good actress and in I, Tonya, she’s a blast. But Metcalf is in a league of her own.
Keith: I don’t think there are any bad choices here, but the one that stands out to me as an all-time performance is Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird. But this is as good a place as any to point out how great Lesley Manville is in Phantom Thread, even if hers isn’t the performance everyone is talking about.
Emma: When Laurie Metcalf’s face crumples after Danny (Lucas Hedges) mentions her daughter had referred to her home as “the wrong side of the tracks,” I wanted to reach through the screen and grab her hand. Lady Bird is a film about, among other things, people’s complicated relationships to the places they call home, and the performance Metcalf gives is the perfect combination of infuriating, overprotective, and completely exasperated. Every girl at that age has a love-hate relationship with their mother, and Metcalf finds that balance between encouraging her headstrong daughter to follow her passion (and finally get out of her house) and never wanting to let her go.
Who Will Win:
Best Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who Should Win:
Vince: I haven’t seen The Florida Project yet, but outside of that this is my least favorite category. A bunch of great actors nominated for some of their weakest roles. Steve Carell in Battle of the Sexes, Ray Romano in The Big Sick, and O’Shea Jackson in Ingrid Goes West would’ve been my votes. I’ll just say Dafoe because I hear he’s great and he usually is.
Mike: People can debate Sam Rockwell’s character’s motivations for the rest of time (and I think people will) but I think he’s really great and I’m glad he’s finally getting some recognition. And he’s going to win anyway, so I’ve decided I’m going to be happy for him. Though I wouldn’t be upset of Dafoe took this either.
Amy: Let’s be real: The Florida Project was the best film of the year. But I don’t want Willem Dafoe to scoop up this award as a consolation prize. At first, I thought Dafoe was just a gold medal casting stunt, making Hollywood’s creepiest character actor play papa to a motel of real, and adult, children. It took two watches to appreciate how generously Dafoe offers himself as the film’s conduit and conscience. Through him, we see the truth about this so-called Magic Castle — and we see the power of patience. Dafoe’s been patient himself, waiting for audiences to see him as more than a pair of buttressed cheekbones and an evil grin. I’ve admired him for years, but this performance is a revelation.
Keith: I’m going to use the Mudbound logic above and land on Willem Dafoe. The Florida Project is a bracingly original film that deserved more nominations. Also, Dafoe is great in it as a guy who discovers his job description has changed and finds himself looking after the welfare of his residents when he’d really rather just be repairing the HVAC system. Dafoe’s often the best element in movies, good or bad. Here he’s one great element among many, but, it would be a worthwhile win.
Emma: There are truly a wealth of great supporting actor performances this year. I was utterly charmed by Bob Odenkirk’s hapless-turned-hero journalist in The Post — there’s a moment where he drops some change on the ground during a tense scene that had me wheezing so that I wouldn’t start cackling way too loudly in the theater. Willem Dafoe had one of the best performances of the year, period, in The Florida Project, completely game for the supporting role and yet never sinking into the background. Dafoe telling a bunch of migratory cranes to “Move along, boys” is one of the best shots of the year. The final ten minutes of the movie, watching his agonized facial expression as he sees a family fall apart before his eyes, had me clutching the arms of my seat in the theater, white-knuckled, waiting for him to do something but knowing, as he does, that he can’t.
Who Will Win:
Vince: Sam Rockwell, again, mainly to piss me off. One of my favorite actors nominated for my least favorite of his roles.