Gold Standard: Final predictions for all 24 Oscar categories from L.A. Times awards columnist Glenn Whipp

Oscar statuettes prepare to go to their new homes.
Oscar statuettes prepare to go to their new homes.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Talking to academy members the past couple of weeks, I heard an earful about all the problems they had with various best picture contenders — “Why’d she have to … that fish?” lamented one voter of “The Shape of Water’s” interspecies sex scene — but not so much about the ways they loved the nominated movies. Right up until the Feb. 27 deadline, many still couldn’t decide how to rank their ballots.

With Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney sweeping all of the key precursor awards, the four major acting races appear to be locked down. But the overall indecision in the best picture field has proved contagious. With this year’s best picture race being such a wide-open free-for-all, I’ve gone back and forth on my own prediction a couple of times.

Will it be “The Shape of Water”? Could “Get Out” sneak in? What about “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”? Can’t we just give it to “Moonlight” again, this time in a proper fashion? But the wheel’s got to stop spinning sometime. Here’s where it landed.


(Note: In races where an upset may be looming, I’ve offered an alternate prediction. The others you can take to the bank.)

FULL COVERAGE: Oscars 2018 »


“Call Me by Your Name”

“Darkest Hour”


“Get Out”

“Lady Bird”

“Phantom Thread”

“The Post”

“The Shape of Water”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Winner: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Alternate: “Get Out”

The safe bet is “Shape of Water” with its PGA and DGA wins, plus its leading 13 noms. And “Get Out” appears poised for a “Moonlight”-style ambush with voters gravitating toward its social message as a way to extend another middle-finger salute to Washington.

“Three Billboards,” meanwhile was labeled “divisive” after a handful of critics thoughtfully objected to the way the film used and dealt with race. The arguments have merit, but they haven’t seemed to persuade awards season voters. “Three Billboards” swept through the SAG Awards and took the top honor from the British Film Academy. I didn’t find many academy members who found the movie problematic.

Voters I spoke with responded to the palpable sense of rage coursing through the film, the helpless frustration and anger expressed by Frances McDormand’s grieving mother. It’s no accident that artists and activists have been using the movie’s titular tactic and creating their own protest messages.


The movie connects with its audience in ways they might not be able to fully articulate. Hell, I’m not even sure if writer-director Martin McDonagh knows what he’s trying to put across here. But that doesn’t mean you should underestimate the connection. Two members of the movie’s ensemble — Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell — are heavily favored to win Oscars. The actors branch, by far the academy’s largest group, might push this all the way to the top.

“The Shape of Water” director Guillermo del Toro.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times )


Paul Thomas Anderson, “Phantom Thread”

Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”

Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”

Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”

Jordan Peele, “Get Out”

Winner: There’s no reason to pick against the well-liked Directors Guild winner Del Toro, putting him on a list of winners including fellow Mexican filmmakers (and close friends) Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu.

“Three Billboards” lead Frances McDormand at the SAG Awards.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times )



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”

Winner: McDormand, one of the industry’s most admired performers, takes her second Oscar.

Gary Oldman, star of “Darkest Hour.”
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times )


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.”

Winner: Oldman pretty much had this in the bag the moment he agreed to play Churchill.

Allison Janney attends the 2018 Oscar luncheon.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )


Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”

Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”

Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”

Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”

Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

Winner: Janney. Seven Emmys, seven SAGs, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and now an Oscar.

Sam Rockwell of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times )


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”

Winner: Rockwell, like Oldman, McDormand and Janney, won the Golden Globe, SAG Award and BAFTA honor. You don’t bet against that kind of momentum.

“Three Billboards” writer-director Martin McDonagh.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times )


“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani

“Get Out,” Jordan Peele

”Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig

“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh

Winner: McDonagh

Alternate: Peele

Want to get an early read on the best picture winner? Watch this category. If Peele prevails (as he should), then “Get Out” could go on to win best picture. If it’s McDonagh, then it’s probably “Three Billboards.”


There’s also the possibility of smorgasbord voting, where members will go for “Get Out” here, but “Billboards” or “Shape of Water” for picture. (That damn preferential ballot complicates things.) But to buy into that, you have to ignore decades of history. Best picture winners also usually win for their writing. So if I’m thinking “Billboards” takes picture, I’ve got to go with it here too, much as it pains me to do so.

“Call Me by Your Name” screenwriter James Ivory.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times )


“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

Winner: At 89, Ivory will be the oldest Oscar winner ever — unless Agnès Varda, eight days his senior, wins for documentary.



“The Boss Baby”

“The Breadwinner”



“Loving Vincent”

Winner: “Coco.” Its acclaim and popularity make it the heavy favorite in a thin category. (“Ferdinand”? Really?)


“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”

“Faces Places”


“Last Men in Aleppo”

“Strong Island”

Winner: “Faces Places”

Alternate: “Icarus”

Agnès Varda’s high-profile appearance at the Governors Awards gives “Faces Places” an edge, but the Winter Olympics might have provided “Icarus” with enough of a boost to prevail. If it were a slightly better movie, I’d probably pick it.


“A Fantastic Woman”

“The Insult”


“On Body and Soul”

“The Square”

Winner: Trans actress Daniela Vega’s superb turn in “A Fantastic Woman” was widely noticed and praised, making the Chilean film the favorite here.



“Blade Runner 2049”

“Darkest Hour”



“The Shape of Water”

Winner: “Blade Runner”

Alternate: “Shape of Water”

After winning awards from the British Film Academy and American Society of Cinematographers, it would seem like it’s probably — finally — Roger Deakins’ time. Look for “Blade Runner” to bring him a win on his 14th try.


“Baby Driver”


“I, Tonya”

“The Shape of Water”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Winner: The ambitious time structure of “Dunkirk” makes this one of the evening’s safest bets.



“Beauty and the Beast”

“Darkest Hour”

“Phantom Thread”

“The Shape of Water”

“Victoria & Abdul”

Winner: “Phantom Thread.” A no-brainer given the topic and the talent. You don’t cross the House of Woodcock!


“Darkest Hour”

“Victoria & Abdul”


Winner: “Darkest Hour.” You’ve seen photos of Gary Oldman in real life, right?



“Beauty and the Beast”

“Blade Runner 2049”

“Darkest Hour”


“The Shape of Water”

Winner: “The Shape of Water”

Alternate: “Blade Runner 2049”

It’s possible that “Blade Runner” could pull off an upset here for its harsh, brutal dystopia. But I think “Shape,” with its overall support (and its own expertly realized Brutalist vision) will triumph.



“Phantom Thread”

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

“The Shape of Water”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Winner: It should be first-time nominee Jonny Greenwood’s lush, melodic score for “Phantom Thread,” but alas, Alexandre Desplat’s sumptuous work on “Shape” looks like the heavy favorite to bring the composer his second Oscar.



“The Mystery of Love” (from “Call Me by Your Name”)

“Mighty River” (from “Mudbound”)

“Remember Me” (from “Coco”)

“Stand Up for Something” (from “Marshall”)

“This Is Me” (from “The Greatest Showman”)

Winner: “Remember Me”

Alternate: “This Is Me”

“Remember Me” comes from the songwriting team behind “Frozen.” “This Is Me” was written by two of the songwriters from “La La Land.” So pedigree is a draw. But “Remember Me” is used four different times in “Coco,” each to memorable effect. I think voters will go with the song that made them cry.


“Baby Driver”

“Blade Runner 2049”


“The Shape of Water”

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Winner: “Dunkirk.” War movies do well here; Nolan-directed movies have won twice.



“Baby Driver”

“Blade Runner 2049”


“The Shape of Water”

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Winner: “Dunkirk” again, though “Baby Driver” — with its emphasis on music — could surprise. Music-heavy movies do well in this category.


“Blade Runner 2049”

“Guardians of the Galaxy 2”

“Kong: Skull Island”

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

“War for the Planet of the Apes”

Winner: “Blade Runner 2049”

Alternate: “Apes”

Remarkably, the groundbreaking “Apes” series has twice been a second banana (sorry) here, losing to “Hugo” and “Interstellar.” It’s easy to question those choices, but harder to ignore the history.



“Dear Basketball”

“Garden Party”


“Negative Space”

“Revolting Rhymes”

Winner: “Dear Basketball.” Angelenos like to see Kobe Bryant (who produced and wrote the short) holding trophies, and it’s been a long time.



“Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405”


“Knife Skills”

“Traffic Stop”

Winner: “Heroin(e)”

Alternate: “Edith+Eddie” or “Heaven Is a Traffic Jam”

This shorts category is the deepest and, thus, hardest to predict. “Heroin(e)” puts a human face on an urgent subject, the opioid epidemic, and comes from Netflix, giving it an edge in terms of viewership and promotion.


“DeKalb Elementary”

“The Eleven O’Clock”

“My Nephew Emmett”

“The Silent Child”

“Watu Wote / All of Us”

Winner: “DeKalb Elementary”

Alternate: “Silent Child”

With a story focusing on a school shooting, the excellent “DeKalb” is timely. But the heartbreaking “Silent Child” is equally good and poses a threat.


Twitter: @glennwhipp