It's harder than ever to be an Oscar completist — which we used to define as somebody who had seen all of the films nominated for best picture.
Since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revamped its voting procedures, as many as 10 films can earn a nod for best picture. This year's tally is nine, and for the first time in years, I've seen all of them. (Not that this helps at all in picking which film actually will win; in fact, having this knowledge actually could hurt your predictions as you go for a sentimental favorite — "Lady Bird," say — over a film that has a better chance to win.)
But seeing nine films doesn't get you anywhere near being a true Oscar completist. By my count, which could be off by a couple, nearly 60 movies, short and long, have a shot at an Oscar Sunday night.
Of course, it's sometimes hard to see all of the short films, documentaries and foreign-language films in contention (although shout-outs go to those local theaters that put together screenings of some of the nominated shorts and still show documentaries and foreign films.)
The problem is this: Those are the categories that win or lose Oscar pools. This year, for example, everyone knows who's going to win the major acting awards. But you gain the critical edge in your pool when you know who will win the animated short film Oscar ("Dear Basketball," in this case).
Here are this year's predictions in all 24 Oscar categories. Remember that in a typical year, I get around 17 of these right. You get 17 right this year, and you should be in the hunt to win your pool this year.
But let's make it interesting. If you think you can beat me this year, email me your picks by 4 p.m. Pacific Sunday to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will take all the entrants who beat my mark and randomly draw one to win a $25 gift certificate to the mid-valley movie house of your choice.
Let's start with the categories that are either locks or have a heavy favorite:
Actor: Gary Oldman, "Darkest Hour."
Actress: Frances McDormand, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."
Supporting actor: Sam Rockwell, "Billboards." (Personally, I think Woody Harrelson deserves to win here; as good as Rockwell and McDormand are, "Billboards" just doesn't work without Harrelson's glue. But that's just me.)
Supporting actress: Allison Janney, "I, Tonya." (I wouldn't mind seeing Laurie Metcalf win for "Lady Bird.")
Director: Guillermo Del Toro, "The Shape of Water." Although "Shape of Water" and "Three Billboards" appear to be in a dead heat for best picture, Martin McDonagh, the director of "Billboards," was not nominated in this category.
Adapted screenplay: James Ivory, "Call Me By Your Name." This Oregon native would be the oldest man to win an Oscar. He's a heavy sentimental favorite.
Makeup: "Darkest Hour."
Sound editing and sound mixing: These are two separate categories, but typically are won by one movie — this year, "Dunkirk."
Editing: "Dunkirk." Remember "Dunkirk?" Excellent movie. This summer, it was the movie to beat at the Oscars. Funny how that goes.
Animated film: "Coco," although it wouldn't kill me to see the remarkable "Loving Vincent" win.
Animated short: "Loving Basketball."
Foreign language film: "A Fantastic Woman."
Live action short: "DeKalb Elementary."
Costume design: "Phantom Thread."
Production design: "The Shape of Water."
Score: "The Shape of Water."
That leaves seven categories, including best picture, that are more competitive. Here's where you win or lose your pool:
Cinematography: Roger Deakins finally wins, for "Blade Runner 2049."
Song: "Remember Me" from "Coco" is favored, but "This is Me" from "The Greatest Showman" is making a late run.
Visual effects: "Blade Runner" has an edge over "War for the Planet of the Apes."
Documentary short: Go with "Edith + Eddie," about an elderly interracial couple, but either "Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405" or "Heroin(e)" could win.
Documentary feature: "Faces Places" is favored, but "Icarus" could score an upset.
Original screenplay: It looks as if "Get Out" has surged past "Three Billboards" in the last week or so.
Best picture: It's a toss-up between "Three Billboards" and "The Shape of Water." Complicating matters is the Academy's ranked choice voting, which means the race could come down to voters' choices for their No. 2 or No. 3 movie, so an upset is possible. But actors (the largest branch of the academy) have rallied behind "Billboards," so it's the safest pick this year. So "Billboards" could win the top Oscar but get shut out for director and screenplay. Welcome to the weird new world of the Academy Awards. (mm)