Collegian and CSU staff share their Oscar picks

Nate Day

On Tuesday, we all woke up to a whole new list of Academy Award nominees. The list contained some surprises—such as Daniel Kaluuya for “Get Out”—some not-so-surprises—like Meryl Streep for “The Post.” As usual, people are upset with some of the more unconventional nominees, so some of us here at The Collegian decided to give it our best shot to predict which individuals and films will take home the cake on March 4.

James Wyatt – Arts & Culture Reporter/Assistant Editor

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I don’t know, the Oscar’s, to me, are pretty much the exact opposite of what filmmaking is really about.  These award shows always seem like a night for Hollywood’s elite to celebrate themselves and their industry than it is about the actual magic of cinema. You know, all that wishy-washy stuff. But hey, at least the Oscar’s will be more entertaining than watching the Patriots play in the Super Bowl for the eighth time. On to my picks:

  • Best Picture: “Phantom Thread” The three “Best Picture” material films here are “Phantom Thread,” “Lady Bird” and “Call Me by Your Name.” Either of these films could win without question in my book. “Get Out” would be a welcomed surprise but who knows with the Academy. Personally, “Phantom Thread” was truly the film of the year. 
  • Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread” Yikes, this one is a hard one. Daniel Kaluuya’s performance in “Get Out” was fantastic and the subtleties he was able to convey really make the film so much more believable when things go off the rails. It would be great to see him win the award but he is up against the acting powerhouse that is Daniel Day-Lewis, but just not any Daniel Day-Lewis, this is last-acting-role-ever Daniel Day-Lewis who says he is now retired from acting. I could see this as another opportunity for the Academy to award one of their darlings before he’s gone.
  • Best Actress: Sally Hawkins, “Shape of Water” While this might be the performance I want to see win, I think it truly deserves the award this year. Hawkin’s had the most touching and human performance I have seen in a very long time and all without uttering a word.
  • Best Supporting Actor: Richard Jenkins, “Shape of Water” Jenkins is one of the most underrated actors of all time and his performance opposite Hawkins is really something. Will the Academy deem it Oscar worthy? I hope.
  • Best Supporting Actress: Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird” I could really see this going to her this year. She’s great and has been putting in solid acting roles for her entire career.
  • Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, “Phantom Thread” While I’m hopeful for Greta Gerwig and “Lady Bird,” it seems rare that the Oscar’s would award a first time director. Gerwig is already making history, but it would be pretty amazing to see her as the first female director to take the award home from her debut film. That said, I could see it going to PTA. “Phantom Thread” showed a level of mastery in every element that you just don’t see every year. It is really something else and a complete vision come to life from Anderson’s mind.
  • Best Make-Up & Hair, “Darkest Hour” Uh, I guess I would have given this to Phantom Thread but as it is not nominated maybe “Darkest Hour” then? The Academy loves 1940s stuff, and it is a feat transforming Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill, even though he looks absolutely off-putting.
  • Best Costume Design, “Phantom Thread” Pretty easy pick regarding how much clothing plays a role in the film. Everyone is dressed to the nines here and Daniel Day-Lewis has never looked so sophisticated even if his character is not.
  • Best Original Song: Sufjan Stevens, “Call Me by Your Name” Daddy Sufjan has this one in the bag and the indie darling’s nomination has made a lot of buzz already. However, I do like the song he made for “I, Tonya” much better than this one.  I’ll just be happy that if Sufjan wins, he will have something in common with Three 6 Mafia.  
  • Best Cinematography: Roger A. Deakins, “Blade Runner 2049” This cinematographer is long overdue for an Oscar and I’m hoping “2049” lands him the award. The movie was an experience unlike anything else and half of that was due to Deakin’s camera work.

Nate Day – Arts & Culture Reporter

Oscar predictions are tricky because The Academy often awards people and films that tickle their fancy and fill their own agendas more than represented the greatest pieces of filmmaking of the year—i.e. “La La Land. With that in mind, here are my picks for the winners:

  • Best Picture: “Shape of Water” I’ll admit it: the first time I saw the trailer for this film, I thought it looked like the dumbest thing to come out of Hollywood, but when I realized that is was a Guillermo Del Toro monster flick starring a woman who would deliver a performance without a word, I knew it would be a shoe-in for awards. Not to mention, Octavia Spencer has a weird way of ending up in supporting roles of some of the best films each year.
  • Best Actor: Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out” This is a tough one… Daniel Day-Lewis, a Hollywood darling, was nominated for his final performance, Denzel’s on the board, Gary Oldman’s gotten major buzz this year and then there are two relative newcomers in Timothee Chalamet and Kaluuya. Kaluuya’s performance was one of the most exciting and subtle of the year, and The Academy loves to recognize newcomers. With Kaluuya’s star quickly rising, I can see him kickstarting a massive career with this award.
  • Best Actress: Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” This character is an interesting because she is arguably the only nominee that does not experience a change in her film—which is exactly why McDormand will get this award. Her performance is drastically and heartbreakingly different than any of her competition.
  • Best Supporting Actor: Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project” One of the most underrated guys in the game, Dafoe has proven his awards-worthiness yet again with this happy/sad portrayal in a movie that garnered mainstream attention without him needing a German accent or green metallic hoverboard.
  • Best Supporting Actress: Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound” Before Allison Janey’s turn in “I, Tonya,” Blige was the frontrunner for this award, hands down. With only a few film credits under her sleeve—two of them being crappy movie musicals—no one expected her to bring the powerhouse performance that she did. It was a big year for Blige, as she won a number of icon and lifetime achievement awards, most notably from Billboard… Will she add an Oscar to her list of accolades? She certainly deserves to.
  • Best Director: Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” It is not often that a directorial debut is granted an Academy Award, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Greta. Her film was beautiful in every sense of the word from beginning to end, and after scandals like what Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood males experienced this year, Gerwig proved that it is not just a boy’s club, and The Academy ought to pay attention to that.
  • Best Make-Up & Hair, “Darkest Hour” There are only three nominees in this category, and two of them are nominated due to the leading actors being unrecognizable. Oldman’s Winston Churchill was visually uncanny, and The Academy might be trigger happy on this one after the success of John Lithgow playing the same character in “The Crown.”
  • Best Costume Design, “Beauty and the Beast” “Phantom Thread” is a close runner-up, but as this is one of only two nominations for one of the year’s biggest films, it will be an easy win. Not to mention, the costume department managed to make the human versions of the classic characters look just like their inanimate counterparts.
  • Best Original Song: Benj Pasek, Justin Paul “This Is Me” After “La La Land,” The Academy will be keen on these two, but the song is fantastic as well—”Never Enough” is better, but Keala Settle’s performance really seals the deal here. This is a tough one because the other nominees are so worthy; Diane Warren has been nominated in this category nine times and has yet to win, and Mary J. Blige’s “Might River” is such a fantastic encapsulation of “Mudbound” that they will forever be synonymous. Ultimately, music’s favorite songwriting duo will walk out with another award.  
  • Best Cinematography: Dan Laustsen, “Shape of Water” It is never easy to make a film adaptation of a novel because fans already have a visual image in their head, but Laustsen nailed it here, not to mention, he managed to create arguably Del Toro’s most fantastic monster fit into the real world so seamlessly.

Scott Diffrient – CSU Film Studies Professor

  • Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread” In what is being lamentably reported as his final film role, Day-Lewis demonstrates why he is in a league of his own. Here, the three-time Academy Award-winning actor gives one of the most subtle and exquisite performances of his career—reminiscent of the way that his character, fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock, hides secrets inside the lining of his impeccably crafted coats.
  •  Best Actress: Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water” Although Margot Robbie and Frances McDormand, for whom there is lots of pre-Oscar buzz, are strong contenders, Sally Hawkins deserves to win—and will win. I’ve loved her since her early work in Mike Leigh-directed films, “All or Nothing,” “Vera Drake” and “Happy-Go-Lucky”, but last year finally brought her to mainstream attention—thanks in part to her wonderful turn in “Paddington 2.”
  • Best Supporting Actor: Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project” I suspect that a lot of Academy voters are fans of—or friends with—Woody Harrelson, but this “Three Billboards” co-star will likely split votes with fellow nominee Sam Rockwell. I predict that Willem Dafoe will take home the award, for his generous participation in director Sean Baker’s labor of love “The Florida Project.” Cast opposite a roster of first-time performers, including several scene-stealing kids, the actor brought professionalism, realism and humanity to every one of his on-screen moments.
  • Best Supporting Actress: Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird” To me, she will always be Jackie Harris from TV’s “Roseanne.” But here, Metcalf peels back the veneer of sitcom silliness to reveal the all-too-real sadness, frustration and quiet desperation of a mother who can’t seem to provide what her daughter—Saoirse Ronan’s title character “Lady Bird”—most wants and needs. I’m already looking forward to Metcalf’s acceptance speech.
  • Best Director: Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk” First-time nominees Gerwig and Peele are going up against some heavy-hitters. Of the two, Gerwig probably has the best chance to win, a fitting victory given the current cultural context. But, as much as I would love to see her to take home the Oscar that night, I think that Nolan deserves the honor. His chronologically complex war film “Dunkirk” is not just a technological marvel relying heavily on “old-school” moviemaking techniques, but a hauntingly poetic tribute to the men and women who risked—and sometimes gave—their own lives to protect countless others.
  • Best Make-Up & Hair, Darkest Hour” I would like to see Arjen Tuiten win for his work on “Wonder,” but the award will most certainly go to Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick, who transformed Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill.
  • Best Costume Design, “Phantom Thread” This film is actually ABOUT clothing and costuming, so…yeah.
  • Best Original Song: “Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens “Call Me By Your Name” director Luca Guadagino has said that he wanted “musical narration” for portions of his romantic coming-of-age drama, and Sufjan Stevens delivered that with all of the lyrical delicacy for which his prior work is known. “Mystery of Love” is the perfect accompaniment to scenes of nearly unrivaled beauty and tenderness.
  • Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, “Blade Runner 2049” Although he has been invited to the Oscar dance more than a dozen times, cinematographer Roger Deakins has never won an Academy Award. That will change on March 4. “Blade Runner 2049” is the kind of ambitious, visually stunning stuff that I thought had disappeared years ago, and Deakins is a large part of the film’s aesthetic rigor and distinctiveness.

The Oscars will air on March 4, 2018 at 6 p.m.