For the first time in a long time, there is no real frontrunner at the Oscars. Even if Hollywood’s most prestigious awards ceremony has been quite unpredictable for a few years now (it awarded Best Picture to Birdman, Spotlight, and Moonlight—none of which were heavy favorites), the 90th Academy Awards might be the tightest race in a decade or so. You could accuse a dozen factors of affecting the voting process, from political pressure to the Academy’s preferential ballot system, but the list of nominees really is stacked with outstanding work. It’s a hard choice no matter what.
Here are Rogue’s predictions, in nine categories, for who we think will be taking home the gold, and who really deserves to win on Oscar night.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Who will win: Allison Janney – I, Tonya
All five supporting actress nominees this year displayed incredible restraint, reining in their emotions and only letting them loose in controlled, powerful bursts. But the Academy is sure to award Allison Janney for her portrayal of Tonya Harding’s overbearing and abusive mom. Janney has won every other significant industry award so far, and there’s no reason to think she won’t earn the Oscar.
Who should win: Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
But no one on the list did a better job than Laurie Metcalf. As Marion McPherson, Metcalf shows us the strain of being a working class matriarch to an underachieving family (and a particularly unruly daughter). It’s a thankless job, and Metcalf gives Marion’s every sacrifice both bitterness and warmth. Just try to stop your heart from twisting out of shape when you see Marion break down at the airport.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Who will win: Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Among all the nominees, Sam Rockwell had the most fleshed-out character by far, and it’s unlikely that the Academy will deny him the Oscar. Even if Rockwell’s racist police officer has become the subject of much controversy, you can’t say he doesn’t play him well.
Who should win: Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
After almost an entire career of being typecast as a villain, Dafoe spins gold out of a role that doesn’t appear to offer a lot on the surface. As the hardworking motel manager Bobby Hicks, Dafoe imbues his every action with a genuine fondness for his tenants. Even as they continue to stir up trouble and challenge his rules, he remains fiercely protective, becoming a father figure to all. The fact that Dafoe is able to mine so much out of so little is incontestable.
Who will win: Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Just to be clear: the Best Actress race this year is easily the hardest category to choose a favorite in. Every performer here is deserving for different reasons. And it’s undeniable what Frances McDormand achieved by playing a furious woman who goes toe to toe with local law enforcement. Again, McDormand has won every big acting award so far, and the Academy wouldn’t dare miss her acceptance speech.
Who should win: Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
But what Sally Hawkins achieved in 2017 is something really special. With nothing but sign language and the most expressive face of the year, Hawkins gives her Elisa Esposito a real soul, a tender heart, and just a bit of mischief. She helps us navigate The Shape of Water’s idiosyncrasies by giving us an innocent heroine on which to anchor ourselves. Thanks to her, Elisa isn’t just a timid cleaning lady; she’s a lover and a fighter.
Who will win: Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
Like Leonardo DiCaprio before him, Gary Oldman’s inevitable victory for playing Winston Churchill also functions as an apology from the Academy for ignoring him this long. In any case, it’ll be great to see one of the best living character actors finally get his due.
Who should win: Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
But the clear winner here also happens to be the first Best Actor nominee born in the 90s. As the intellectual but romantically confused Elio Perlman, Timothée Chalamet captures all the emotional chaos of being 17—from the giddiness of love to the emptiness of heartbreak. But Chalamet’s performance is also intensely physical. In the film’s final moments, Elio’s movements, posture, and face convey the full force of an unshakeable bittersweet memory.
What will win/what should win: Blade Runner 2049 – Roger Deakins
Speaking of people who have constantly been denied by the Academy, cinematography legend Roger Deakins is set to win his first Oscar after 14 nominations. And Deakins’s pulled out all the stops for this one. Wielding pungent colors and foreboding darkness, he brings out the danger, wonder, and synthetic humanity of Los Angeles in the year 2049. Dystopia fiction has been done to death at this point, but Deakins finds a way to make it look exciting again.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
What will win: Last Men in Aleppo
This powerful documentary about the work of the White Helmets in Syria officially won the Oscar when it was reported that the film’s director and subjects wouldn’t be able to attend the ceremony because of President Donald Trump’s travel ban. If this isn’t enough, Russia has doubled down on its efforts to discredit the film’s content. The Academy already expressed its solidarity with the filmmakers, and they should receive a statue for their fearless work.
What should win: Faces Places
On the surface, Faces Places is really just a film about two artists traveling the French countryside. So the fact that it manages to be so affirmative in the role art plays in our lives is extraordinary. It’s a tribute to the working class, an exploration of the creative process, a portrait of a French New Wave icon nearing the end of her life, and a documentary that pushes the boundaries of what documentaries can be. There is no other film like it.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
What will win/what should win: Get Out – Jordan Peele
The Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay is already destined to go to Call Me by Your Name, but the Original Screenplay category is a bit more interesting. The Academy typically doesn’t like horror movies, but Jordan Peele’s tale of liberal racism isn’t your typical horror movie. Horrifying, darkly funny, and exceptionally intelligent in its depiction of the kind of paranoia black Americans live with every day, Get Out quickly transcended cult status. It’s now become something of a cultural touchstone. So despite some very strong competition, the Academy would be foolish not to honor Peele—and the horror genre itself—with the Oscar.
Who will win: Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
Just to be clear, again: every director on this list is skilled in their own unique ways. But the Academy will most likely give this to Guillermo del Toro, another filmmaker they’ve ignored for too long, and a real auteur who’s already won plenty for his work this year.
Who should win: Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
It would be easy to say that Christopher Nolan deserves this for Dunkirk’s sheer technical ambition alone. But the real magic trick Nolan pulls off here is that he dials down. Holding back on his habit for over-explaining himself, he drenches every frame of Dunkirk with the sensory overload of armed combat, and the shadow of existential dread. Nolan found a way to make an art house movie out of a war film, while retaining all the thrills of a blockbuster.
What will win: The Shape of Water
Many see this year’s race as a toss-up between the fantasy romance of The Shape of Water and the hard-edged realism of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It’s difficult to call; Three Billboards won the BAFTA and the Golden Globe, while Shape of Water won the Critics’ Choice and the Producers Guild Award. But given the PGA’s influence on the Academy, we’re placing our bets on del Toro’s creature feature.
What should win: Call Me by Your Name
Of the nine Best Picture nominees this year, Call Me by Your Name is the only one without external conflict. This is a coming-of-age film with no high school bully, no drug abuse, and no blatantly homophobic society bearing down on our hero. It is, simply put, about the experience of loving and losing, and the decision to keep on living. Shot, written, directed, and performed with ethereal grace, Call Me by Your Name is as human as cinema gets.
The 90th Academy Awards will be aired on Monday, March 5, at 9:00 AM Philippine time.