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From 'Get Out' to 'Phantom Thread': The 2018 Oscars Buzzmeter

It’s that time of year again when the multiplexes are crowded with movies hoping to build that all-important buzz on the way to the 90th Oscars ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 4.

As usual, questions abound. Will the newly diversified group of voters provide a boon to smaller audience favorite films such as “Lady Bird,” “The Florida Project” and “Get Out”? Will Christopher Nolan finally earn a directing nomination? How much will the recent string of allegations of sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood darken the proceedings and render some potential contender non-starters?

Here, we turn to six of the most qualified Oscar pundits, film writers and critics to tell us which movies will lead this year's Oscar race. The nominations won’t be revealed until Jan. 23, so check back often to see who’s up and who’s down on the Buzzmeter.

Our panelists:

Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Nicole Sperling (Vanity Fair), Anne Thompson (Indiewire), Glenn Whipp (The Envelope), Justin Chang (L.A. Times), Kenneth Turan (L.A. Times)

Here are their picks in the key categories, with the top vote-getters highlighted in red:

Best picture | "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" | "The Shape of Water" | "Dunkirk" | "Get Out" | "Lady Bird" | "The Post"

 
"Dunkirk." Warner Bros. Pictures

“Normally, nominees for Best Picture tend to be films with a male POV, but this year four frontrunners have female perspectives: 'Three Billboards,' 'Lady Bird,' 'Shape of Water' and 'The Post.' ”

— Tom O’Neil

Critics' Picks

"The Florida Project": Chang, Whipp

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri": Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

"The Shape of Water": Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

"Dunkirk": Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

"Darkest Hour": Turan, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

"Get Out": Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

"Lady Bird": Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

"The Big Sick": Turan, Thompson, O'Neil

"Call Me By Your Name" Chang, Turan, Whipp, Sperling, O'Neil

"Mudbound": Chang, Whipp, O'Neil

"The Post": Chang, Turan, Sperling, O'Neil, Thompson, Whipp

"Phantom Thread": Turan, Thompson, Whipp


Best director | Guillermo del Toro | Christopher Nolan

 
Guillermo del Toro, right, with Michael Stuhlbarg, left, and Michael Shannon, on the set of "The Shape of Water." Kerry Hayes / Twentieth Century Fox

“Finally, Christopher Nolan will land a directors' slot that he could actually win. But popular Guillermo del Toro could follow his Mexican confreres Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro G. Inarritu into the winner's circle for his moving period fantasy romance 'The Shape of Water.'”

— Anne Thompson

Critics' Picks

Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”: Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”: Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

Steven Spielberg, “The Post": Chang, Turan

Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”: Chang, Turan, Whipp, O'Neil

Denis Villeneuve, “Blade Runner 2049”: Turan, Thompson

Jordan Peele, “Get Out": Chang, Sperling

Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”: Whipp, Sperling

Joe Wright, “Darkest Hour”: Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

Luca Guadagnino, “Call Me By Your Name”: Thompson, O'Neil


Best actor | Gary Oldman | Daniel Day-Lewis | Andrew Garfield | Timothee Chalamet

 
Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill in Joe Wright's "Darkest Hour." Jack English / Focus Features

“Oscar-winner Daniel Day Lewis looms over the relatively weak actor field as a finicky clothing designer in Paul Thomas Anderson's yet unseen romance 'Phantom Thread,' but until then we can confidently predict that Gary Oldman will be hard to beat as Winston Churchill in the timely 'Darkest Hour.' What does his performance show us? What a brilliant leader looks like.”

— Anne Thompson

Critics' Picks

Gary Oldman, "Darkest Hour": Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

Daniel Day-Lewis, "Phantom Thread": Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

James Franco, "The Disaster Artist": Chang, Whipp, Thompson

Jake Gyllenhaal, "Stronger": Chang, Turan, Whipp

Timothee Chalamet, "Call Me By Your Name": Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

Denzel Washington, "Roman J. Israel, Esq.": O’Neil, Turan

Andrew Garfield, "Breathe": Thompson, O’Neil, Sperling, Chang, Turan, Whipp

Christian Bale, "Hostiles": Thompson

James McAvoy, "Split": Sperling

Daniel Kaluuya, "Get Out": Sperling


Best actress | Saoirse Ronan, "Lady Bird"

 
Frances McDormand in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." Fox Searchlight Pictures

“It’s the year of the women, so it only makes sense that this category is chock full of beloved performances. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Meryl Streep knocks out any one of these worthy contenders.”

— Nicole Sperling

Critics' Picks

Saoirse Ronan, "Lady Bird": Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

Sally Hawkins, "The Shape of Water": Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

Frances McDormand, "Three Billboards": Whipp, Thompson, Oneil, Chang, Sperling, Turan

Margot Robbie, "I Tonya": Sperling, Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson

Jessica Chastain, “Molly’s Game”: O’Neil, Sperling, Turan

Emma Stone, “Battle of the Sexes”: O’Neil

Meryl Streep, “The Post”: Whipp, Chang, Thompson


Best supporting actor | Willem Dafoe, "The Florida Project"

From L to R: Ray Romano as "Terry," Zoe Kazan as "Emily" and Holly Hunter as "Beth" in THE BIG SICK.
Ray Romano, with Zoe Kazan, center, and Holly Hunter in "The Big Sick." Nicole Rivelli / Amazon Studios

“Nice to see Ray Romano coming back into focus.”

— Kenneth Turan

Critics' Picks

Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”: Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

Michael Stuhlbarg, “Call Me By Your Name”: Whipp, Thompson, O'Neil, Sperling

Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards”: Whipp, Thompson, O' Neil, Chang, Sperling, Turan

Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”: O'Neil, Whipp, Sperling

Armie Hammer, “Call Me By Your Name”: O'Neil, Sperling, Chang, Turan, Whipp

Ben Mendelsohn, “Darkest Hour”: Thompson

Jason Mitchell, “Mudbound” Thompson, Chang, Turan

Ray Romano, “The Big Sick”: Chang, Turan


Best supporting actress | Mary J. Blige, "Mudbound"

 
Laurie Metcalf, right, with Tracy Letts, in "Lady Bird." Merie Wallace/A24 via AP

“Laurie Metcalf and Allison Janney have won countless awards — but never an Oscar. One of them probably will this year.”

— Glenn Whipp

Critics' Picks

Laurie Metcalf, "Lady Bird" : Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

Allison Janney, "I, Tonya" : Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

Holly Hunter, "The Big Sick" : Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

Octavia Spencer, "The Shape of Water" : Whipp, O'Neil

Mary J. Blige, "Mudbound" : Chang, Turan, Whipp, Thompson, Sperling, O'Neil

Kristin Scott Thomas, “Darkest Hour” : Thompson, Sperling

Melissa Leo, “Novitiate” : Chang, Turan


Original screenplay | "The Big Sick"

 
Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba in "Molly's Game." Michael Gibson / STXfilms

“There may be more voiceover in 'Molly’s Game' than there is dialogue in my other four picks combined, and for once, that’s not a bad thing.”

— Justin Chang

Critics' Picks

“Get Out”: Whipp, Turan, Sperling, Chang, Thompson

“The Shape of Water”: Whipp, Turan, Sperling, O'Neil

“Three Billboards”: Whipp, Turan, Sperling, Chang, Thompson, O'Neil

“Lady Bird”: Whipp, Turan, Sperling, Chang, Thompson, O'Neil

“The Big Sick”: Whipp, Turan, Sperling, Chang, Thompson, O'Neil

“Dunkirk”: Chang

“Darkest Hour”: Thompson

"The Florida Project": O'Neil


Adapted screenplay | "Call Me by Your Name"

 
Kirsten Dunst, left, and Colin Farrell in "The Beguiled." (Ben Rothstein / Focus Features via AP

“This would be a nice place to reward Sofia Coppola's suspenseful, purposeful drama 'The Beguiled.'”

— Glenn Whipp

Critics' Picks

“Call Me by Your Name”: Whipp, Thompson, Chang, Sperling, Turan, O'Neil

“Mudbound”: Whipp, Thompson, Chang, Sperling, Turan, O'Neil

“Molly's Game”: Whipp, Thompson, Chang, Sperling, Turan, O'Neil

“The Disaster Artist”: Whipp, Chang, Sperling, Turan, O'Neil

“The Beguiled”: Whipp

“First They Killed My Father”: Thompson, Turan

“Logan”: Thompson

“Last Flag Flying”: Chang

“Wonderstruck”: Sperling, O'Neil


Cinematography | "Blade Runner 2049" | "Dunkirk" | "The Shape of Water"

 
Ryan Gosling as K and Sylvia Hoeks as Luv in "Blade Runner 2049." Warner Bros. Pictures / Alcon En

“There may be no more strongly backed favorite this year than 'Blade Runner 2049’s' Roger Deakins — which doesn’t mean he won’t lose for the 14th time.”

— Justin Chang

Critics' Picks

“Blade Runner 2049”: Whipp, Thompson, Chang, Sperling, Turan, O'Neil

“Dunkirk”: Whipp, Thompson, Chang, Sperling, Turan, O'Neil

“The Shape of Water": Whipp, Thompson, Chang, Sperling, Turan, O'Neil

“Darkest Hour”: Whipp, Chang, Sperling, Turan, O'Neil

“Call Me by Your Name”: Whipp, Turan, Thompson, O'Neil

“Wonderstruck”: Sperling, Chang


Animated Film | "The Breadwinner" | "Coco"

 
A scene from the animated movie "The Breadwinner." Gkids

“Smaller companies like GKids and Shout Factory make their play once again.”

— Kenneth Turan

Critics' Picks

“The Breadwinner”: Thompson, Chang, Turan, Sperling, Whipp

“Cars 3”: Chang, Turan

“Coco": Thompson, Chang, Turan, O'Neil, Sperling, Whipp

“In This Corner of the World”: Turan

“Big Bad Fox and Other Tales”: Thompson, Whipp

"Ferdinand": O'Neil, Sperling

"Loving Vincent": O'Neil, Sperlin, Whippg

"Lego Batman Movie": O'Neil, Sperling, Whipp

"Boss Baby": O'Neil

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