Having narrowly escaped what could have been another #OscarsSoWhite controversy, most of the acting categories this year are quite easy to predict. Nevertheless, there seems to be a trend of the old guard versus the new talent – examples are Gary Oldman vs Timothée Chalamet and Frances McDormand vs Saoirse Ronan in the lead categories. But with the 90th Academy Awards just a few days away, let’s take a look at the likely winners.
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
Will win: Allison Janney
One of the biggest surprises of this year’s Oscar nominations was the inclusion of Lesley Manville – most likely taking Hong Chau’s place for Downsizing or Holly Hunter’s place for The Big Sick, both of whom were nominated for the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards. As much as I respect Octavia Spencer and her talent, this is neither the meatiest role in this category nor within her body of work.
Therefore, it’s a toss-up between two mothers: Laurie Metcalf’s exhausted matriarch and Allison Janney’s abusive one. As the Academy prefers ostentation to understatement, Janney’s got the edge, though both would be worthy winners.
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
Will win: Sam Rockwell
One of the two most obvious responses to the Harvey Weinstein scandal fallout, in terms of these nominations (more later on the other one), was the inclusion of Christopher Plummer for his unprecedented, last-minute work on All the Money in the World. Both him and Richard Jenkins are nigh-unlikely to be glorious on Oscar night though – and personally, I think it’s a shame that Michael Shannon was overlooked for his villainous turn in The Shape of Water, whose menacing performance was one of the scariest of the season.
If the Oscars had taken place in November, Willem Dafoe would have been up on that stage with 40 seconds to mumble an acceptance speech in a blink of an eye. However, like the film for which he is nominated, Three Billboards seems to have rained on that parade, with not one but two Supporting Actor nominations. Unless they split the votes, or the recent backlash to Sam Rockwell’s character grows, Rockwell’s the one to beat.
Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Meryl Streep – The Post
Will win: Frances McDormand
Like Dafoe, there was a time a few months ago when the hype surrounding Sally Hawkins was deafening. But alas, her graduation from Supporting Actress in 2013 to leading her own film now will not be cum laude. As for Meryl Streep’s nomination, I like to think that (on top of some, once again, top notch work) this is Hollywood’s chicken soup for its bruised soul, especially after the blows it’s received recently.
Although I, Tonya is amongst my favourite films of the year, the Academy’s penchant for awarding performers who have done their time means that Margot Robbie, who takes on solo leading lady duties for the first time in her career, is unlikely to win – but watch out for her next role as Elizabeth I in Mary Queen of Scots next year, which screams a Best Supporting nod.
And speaking of that historical drama, Robbie’s co-star will most likely be the runner-up in this category. At the ripe old age of 23, Saoirse Ronan has racked up three Oscar nominations in her career (that even beats 23-year-old Leo!). But unless the recent influx of young, diverse filmmakers into the Academy rock the boat too much, Frances McDormand practically has her name written on the statuette, for her sublime performance in Three Billboards.
However, it really is no exaggeration to say that each and every nominee and then some (Judi Dench, Daniela Vega, Gal Gadot) would be more than worthy of winning – so really, isn’t everyone a winner…? Nope, just Frances.
Timothée Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Will win: Gary Oldman
The most prominent example of this post-Weinstein-scandal-era Hollywood in these nominations is the absence of James Franco, who many believed had a good chance of winning in this category – that is, before allegations of sexual misconduct came out against him halfway through the Oscar nomination voting period. Taking his spot is Denzel Washington; as well-loved as the great Denzel is, I think even he knows that he’s just there for the party.
The Academy loves to award an acting veteran, celebrating a career that they probably should have awarded years ago. It looks like Gary Oldman will benefit from that, rather than Daniel Day-Lewis though, even though this could be the final nomination for the latter. Personally, I would have liked to see Daniel Kaluuya win – if only for that single tear alone. Unless Oldman’s history of domestic abuse allegations cautions voters into calling the Oscar by Timothée Chalamet’s name, Oldman’s guaranteed to win.
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