Magazine article Variety

And the Winners Will Be

Magazine article Variety

And the Winners Will Be

Article excerpt

As awards season heads down for home, here's what to look for on Oscar night

It's almost "Pencils down" for the 7,258 voting members of the Motion Picture Academy: Final ballots are due back by 5 p.m. PT on Feb. 27, and the 90th annual Oscar ceremony is less than a week away, poised to tie a bow on the season. So what can we expect?

At least one thing seems clear, both from his outsize tally on the critics' awards circuit and from British Academy and Directors Guild honors that tend to presage the winner: "The Shape of Water" helmer Guillermo del Toro is poised to join pals Alfonso Cuarón ("Gravity") and Alejandro G. Iñárritu ("Birdman," "The Revenant") on history's list of directing Oscar champs.

The easiest performance category to call is lead actor, where Gary Oldman ("Darkest Hour") has been the one to beat from the start. But the other acting races have slowly firmed up as well: Along with Oldman, lead actress Frances McDormand ("Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"), and Sam Rockwell (same) and Allison Janney ("I, Tonya") in the supporting ranks have run the table, securing BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild wins, as well as Critics' Choice and Golden Globe honors. That's unprecedented dominance by an acting quartet, so just bet on it.

In the screenplay categories, "Call Me by Your Name" will be a rallying point for the somehow Oscar-less James Ivory for adapted work, while Martin McDonagh's "Three Billboards" - which was ineligible for Writers Guild recognition - is more than capable of fending off both "Get Out" and "Lady Bird" in original.

With eight total nominations, Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk" ought to be a force in areas like film editing, sound editing and sound mixing. However, BAFTA film editing winner "Baby Driver" and Motion Picture Sound Editors champ "Blade Runner 2049" could cut into its support. It's safer to cover bases with one pick in case voters split these up, so "Dunkirk" it is.

Similarly, "The Shape of Water" should make good on its field-leading tally of 13 nominations; bank on some support for it in the crafts categories as well. Production design and original score have been in its pocket all season, but expect costume design to go to the movie about the art form itself: "Phantom Thread." "Darkest Hour" is likely to grab the makeup and hairstyling award for Oldman's transformation, while "La La Land" songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul may triumph once again with "This Is Me," from a "Greatest Showman" soundtrack that has outsold their previous Oscar- and Grammywinning work. …

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