Chill the champagne, crisp up the tuxedo, Academy Awards time has arrived.
It's happening again: the grand final of Hollywood, the pinnacle of movie accolades.
The Oscars turn 90 with an array of diverse nominations and a strong Times Up movement bellowing front and centre, highlighting the disgraceful circumstances of unspoken torment among the film industry collective.
Will it change the way the academy votes? Maybe.
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) is only the fifth female director to ever be nominated while Rachel Morrison (Mudbound) is the first cinematographer to be nominated. Both are unbelievable stats for a 90-year tradition.
Lone Australian nominee Margot Robbie (I, Tonya) up for Best Actress, is a remote chance. However, Oscar traditionally likes a surprise or two.
Impressive host Jimmy Kimmel, will no doubt be hoping for the wrong envelope not to be delivered on stage this year for Best Picture after the LaLaLand/Moonlight fiasco of 2017.
Here are my views on who will win.
Willem Dafoe 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
Jenkins no. Rockwell won everything so far in an overrated film that survives on it's acting pedigree. Plummer reshooting as replacement for disgraced Kevin Spacey last minute is an extraordinary achievement. Willem Dafoe creates a low key heartfelt momentous character within a very small film while personal favourite Harrelson is solid.
MY PICK Willem Dafoe
Mary J. Blige Mudbound
Allison Janney I, Tonya
Lesley Manville Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer The Shape of Water
Splitting Janney and Metcalf is hard. If a duel winner could be announced (which happened decades ago) these are the pair. Manville could surprise for a powerhouse performance. Spencer and Blige: no.
MY PICK Allison Janney
Timothee Chalamet Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day Lewis Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya Get Out
Gary Oldman Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington Roman J. Isreal Esq
Mixed category defining new and old school talent. Extra significance for Day Lewis after announcing this is his last ever role. Will this give him another deserved gold statue? Oldman transforms himself into Winston Churchill to the hilt. Kaluuya has a chance any other year. Chalamet no. Legendary Washington, no.
MY PICK Gary Oldman
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
McDormand hasn't lost leading up to the big dance and is unlikely to. Queenslander Robbie is in my heart, but no. Ronan is amazing as usual - her time will come. Wonderful Hawkins emotes smiles, tears, chills, passion, grief astonishingly as a mute character. Streep no, did i just say that ...
MY PICK Sally Hawkins
Christopher Nolan Dunkirk
Jordan Peele Get Out
Greta Gerwig Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson Phantom Thread
Guillermo Del Toro The Shape of Water
Tough. Up until recently I would have said Nolan should be writing his Dunkirk acceptance speech, then along came the Del Toro opus. Considering the Times Up movement and female equality within film agendas, it would not surprise if Gerwig won for her flawless directorial debut, fingers crossed. Popular Peele has a film with momentum, but just has to remain happy to be here. Anderson a slight chance.
MY PICK Guillermo Del Toro
Call Me by Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri
Nine out of a possible 10 nominated, with only five real contenders and one strong upset candidate.
Sadly, few saw flawless Phantom Thread, a splendid mind-infusing melodrama with chronic stings in the tale.
Get Out rolls on long after it's early 2017 release, a longshot maybe, but people are “really” talking it up.
Ladybird, a personal favourite , is refreshing, a coming of age story with the conviction of emotional authority and perfection.
Not quite epic, Dunkirk, but impactful filmmaking, the Academy adore.
Triumphant Shape of Water, has Hollywood musical themes, conspiracy theories, science fiction odes, valour and romance with unforgettable characters.
Did not enjoy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, high-calibre acting saves it, still likely to win.
The Post is topical ,with Spielberg back in form, curating a great cast, but no.
Call Me by Your Name may pick up screenplay for lovely forbidden romance, but not best picture.
Darkest Hour – Mr Oldman, Australian Ben Mendelsohn, solid cinematography, a triple treat, but no.
MY PICK The Shape of Water
Visual effects War for the Planet of the Apes; Cinematography Blade Runner 2049; Best Animated CoCo; Costumes Phantom Thread; Best Foreign A Fantastic Woman (Chile); Best score Dunkirk; Best Song This is Me (Greatest Showman); Adapted Screenplay Call me by your Name; Original Screenplay The Shape of Water.
Shane A Bassett is a film critic and red carpet journalist (and former video store clerk) obsessed with movies.
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