Written By: Daniel Kinsley
With Academy Award nominations looming (the nominees are scheduled to be announced TOMORROW, January 23rd) The Porkchop Express is poised to jump into our first season of official Oscars coverage. It feels appropriate as this site was created thanks to the backlash (and this writer’s response) to the Best Picture race last year between La La Land (2016) and Moonlight (2016). Much as we consider films our craft, the writers at Porkchop have no particular industry ties that give us any insight into these things aside from the fact that this writer is a seasoned awards study (read: pay attention to the experts) which ultimately means two things; the first is that these predictions are at least in part made in an educated manner, and the second is that to keep things simple, we are sticking to the major categories only (Sorry, Best Costume Design). Without further ado, here are our final predictions for the 2018 Oscar nominations.
The Big Sick
Call Me By Your Name
The Florida Project
The Shape Of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Since the Academy expanded the Best Picture category to ten possible nominees in 2010, it has been a bit of a toss-up each year as to how many films will make the cut. After the first several years of topping out at ten, it has tended to err between eight and nine films. With a crowded year of acclaimed films, this writer is going to err on the side of more. Consider The Shape of Water and Three Billboards, Lady Bird and Get Out all a lock. Both Shape and Three Billboards have been cleaning up in the guild and precursor awards, and are currently the leading choices in what appears to be a two horse race; while the latter two have consistently garnered enough love across the board that they can be safely counted in. Call Me By Your Name was one of the best reviewed films of the year, and it is going to have enough love to make the cut; the same can be said of Dunkirk, as many are calling it Nolan’s best picture yet, and this writer believes he will not get the snub here (again). Though it debuted early in the year, this writer believes The Big Sick has the legs to get in, while The Florida Project will be the indie-little-engine-that-could. If there is a film that is vulnerable here, it is The Post, which came on the scene late and has not received much love on the awards circuit thus far.
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
More so than any other, the director’s branch is often one that goes its own way, with notable recent snubs like Ben Affleck (Argo ) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty ) despite those films making the cut for best picture. If there are going to be any major snubs or surprises, it will be here. McDonagh and Del Toro are as much of a sure thing as their films, and Gerwig seems awfully safe as Lady Bird has picked up a lot of late season steam. Industry opinion seems to be of a mind that either Nolan or Peele could be vulnerable here; while Nolan has made perhaps his greatest technical achievement here, he has been left in the cold before, and while the Academy will invite real backlash by skipping over Peele, there is usually one reliable WTF moment from these nominations. Do not be surprised if Spielberg (The Post) or Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) sneaks in.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Gary Oldman is a shoe-in here, and there is almost no chance he does not ride the wave of acclaim all the way to Oscar gold. Chalamet is likewise a lock, after chasing Oldman’s tail all season. Despite the recent dust-up with sexual harassment allegations for Franco, this writer believes he makes the cut, as it is a truly transformative performance and the potential spoiler news arrived late in the voting process. The remaining two spots are a toss-up and have plenty of room for a spoiler like Tom Hanks (The Post) or Daniel Day-Lewis (The Phantom Thread), but this writer is willing to bet at least one of the spots goes to Academy favorite Denzel Washington for an eccentric turn in a film that is mostly character study, and not much else, while Kaluuya will ride the wave of his SAG nomination all the way to an Oscar.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Saoirse Roan, Lady Bird
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
McDormand is in, without a doubt, and Ronan is similarly aces. When push comes to shove, it seems to be a race between these two with a slight edge given to McDormand right now (especially after a win last night at the SAG Awards) in a film and particularly a role that has inspired a lot of chatter this season, both good and bad. At twenty-four years old, Ronan has received two nominations since 2007; she will not break her stride here as a favorite in what is arguably her best performance in an already stunning career. Sally Hawkins is damn close to a sure thing, as she is a large part of what makes the critically beloved Shape work. Margot Robbie seems like a strong contender for a committed performance in a wild true-life narrative, with the final spot being a toss-up between a few players like Holly Hunter (The Big Sick), a surging Michelle Williams (All The Money In The World) or never-count-her-out Meryl Streep (The Post); but this writer is going to bet on the fast-talking, head-turning performance from Chastain (Molly’s Game), who has remained in the thick of things with her last few films and will remain in the race here.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Plummer, All The Money In The World
There are two certainties this year come time for the ceremony, and one of them is that Sam Rockwell is taking home Oscar gold. He is a sure thing. Willem Dafoe has also garnered a ton of support for his career-best work, and his nomination would make for a great place to reward the lesser-seen Florida Project. Woody does great work in Three Billboards and it is a memorable supporting turn that may be enough to push him into the race, making it the first time since 1992 that two actors were nominated for the same film in this category. If Woody makes the cut, expect that to likely knock out the boys from Call Me By Your Name (Armie Hammer & Michael Stuhlbarg) who will be competing for votes against one another. Plummer (All The Money In The World) had his chances bolstered by all the press after replacing Kevin Spacey and the surrounding drama that ensued, and could very well be nominated as a statement to both the changing tide and the unreal turnaround time needed to reshoot an entire role on the fly.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Hong Chau, Downsizing
It seems like a safe bet to stick with the SAG nominees here; both Janney and Metcalf will make it in, as Janney has played the favorite in much of the precursor awards, with Metcalf close behind. Holly Hunter was a real showstopper and stands a good chance to garner the only acting nomination for The Big Sick in what many believe is career-best work. While neither Mudbound or Downsizing have caught fire on the awards circuit, this is the category where both films stand to get a nod as the performances from Blige and (in particular) Chau are the standout roles everyone seems to agree on.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Martin McDonagh
The Shape of Water, Guillermo Del Toro & Vanessa Taylor
Whether Sick makes Best Picture or not, expect it to be a sure thing for a player here. The same can be said for Lady Bird which has seemingly catapulted Gerwig to a new echelon, and this writer expects that Get Out will continue its dominance of the industry by picking up a slew of nominations, including one for a great script. McDonagh’s script is a sure thing for the best picture player as well; the real question mark in this category is whether The Shape of Water makes the cut, or if there is room for another film to sneak in.
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
A nomination for Call Me By Your Name will make James Ivory the oldest screenwriter nominated for Oscar (at the ripe age of 89) which seems like a great marketing narrative for a much-beloved film that likely will not garner much in the acting categories, and this seems like a great place to spread the love. Aaron Sorkin is generally considered one of the best writers in the game, and you can count him in for his sharp, snappy work in adapting the wild story of Molly Bloom. Neustadter and Weber are also looking to score a nod for their work on The Disaster Artist, where they managed to make the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau charming and lovable. The final two spots are up for grabs, though this writer is going to hedge on the nominations being the same as the WGA, as the writers tend to stick to their guns, and are a bit more consistent than the directors branch; a nomination for Logan would mark the first ever writing nomination for a comic book film, and would be a lovely way to honor star Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold for the great work they did sending the character off.