It’s that time of year again! Here are my shameless, admittedly way-too-early, probably proven 75% ridiculous come September, totally awesome predictions (more like look-ahead to the upcoming year of films with Oscar potential without anything but cast/crew and premise)! But every once in a while…I get it right! In January 2014, I predicted the outrageous comedy Birdman would be winning Best Picture, and maybe to my surprise more than anyone else’s, I was correct! Check out my predictions for the Oscars that are more than a year away from the nominations announcement! It is one of my favorite articles to write and research all year, and hopefully it is just as much fun to read…or at the very least get excited about some movies coming out in a year that is hopefully far better than 2017, which was almost unquestionably the worst movie year since 1985. Here’s to 2018!
First off, here are the movies that I mentioned in last year’s predictions that got delayed until 2018, and I’m not about to break them down or bank on them again, despite their still intriguing Oscar potential. So if these wind up as major players, you can say I warned you 2 years in advance…
Alex Garland’s Annihilation
Adam McKay’s Backseat (formerly “Untitled Dick Cheney Project”)
Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin
Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows
Melanie Laurent’s Galveston
Paddy Considine’s Journeyman
Garth Davis’s Mary Magdalene
David Lowery’s Old Man and the Gun
Michel Hazanavicius’s Redoubtable
Stefano Sollima’s Sicario 2: Soldado
Jon S. Baird’s Stan and Ollie
Jason Reitman’s Tully
David Robert Mitchell’s Under the Silver Lake
Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Paul Dano’s Wildlife
Lynne Ramsey’s You Were Never Really Here
…and those are just the ones that still look like potentially good movies…so obviously this isn’t an exact science. After all, at this point last year, Phantom Thread was still in pre-production. So, I am only including movies that list 2018 as the projected release year on IMDb and using my best guess on whether these films actually get completed in time. So there…read up!
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Predicted Five
1. The Land of Steady Habits - Nicole Holofcener - Holofcener’s movies aren’t always taken seriously outside of the Spirit Awards, but this one sounds absolutely beautiful. It is about a middle aged man who decides to leave his affluent life and goes on a journey of self-discovery away from his family and previous identity. These types of comedy-dramas are consistently rewarded in this category.
2. Beautiful Boy – Luke Davies – This is the story of a father who cares for his son through his meth addiction and recovery, directed by the director of the Oscar nominated The Broken Circle Breakdown. Davies is coming off a nomination for Lion as well. This promises to be one of the major contenders in all categories.
3. My Abandonment - Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini – This looks like another tough drama by the Granik, who previously directed Best Picture-nominated Winter’s Bone. The cast is promising, and the story sounds like the type of indie material that is heralded every year.
4. If Beale Street Could Talk - Barry Jenkins – The movie is based on a novel by James Baldwin, the subject of I Am Not Your Negro. Jenkins is a hot commodity right now after his beloved Moonlight, and this sounds like more of a genre movie, but it is still one of the most anticipated films of 2018.
5. Black Klansman - Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Charlie Wachtel – It has been forever since Lee has had a real contender (and over 20 years since his last nomination). This movie is about a black police officer who infiltrates the KKK and becomes a leader. It sounds absolutely stirring and should be a return to form for the great lost filmmaker.
Others in contention
6. First Man - Josh Singer – The writer of Spotlight gets Damien Chazelle to direct his film about Neil Armstrong and starring Ryan Gosling. That alone puts it on this list and on everyone’s most anticipated list.
7. The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Desiree Akhavan, Cecilia Frugiuele – Akhavan previously directed indie darling Appropriate Behavior, but this time she gets a hot young cast playing in a high school drama about homosexuality. It will debut at Sundance, so we will know soon if it is really a contender.
8. Widows - Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen – Following up 12 Years a Slave, McQueen decided to remake an ‘80s miniseries with the writer of Gone Girl. It is an interesting step, but the premise sounds like a contender if it is handled right. And we have no reason to think that McQueen won’t.
9. The Irishman - Steven Zaillian – The long awaited Martin Scorsese reunion with Bob (and Pesci!) is finally getting made, and it is going to Netflix. I fear for its Oscar merit as a result, but I am sure that Marty will not let it just be a streamer. It is about Frank Sheeran and Jimmy Hoffa.
10. The Little Stranger - Lucinda Coxon – Coxon is the writer of The Danish Girl, and the film is directed by Oscar nominee Lenny Abrahamson. The movie is not a typical Oscar contender, but Get Out has opened the door for genre films going forward. It is a mystery thriller that sounds spooky, and I’m sure with the talent behind the camera that it will be something splendid.
11. The Sisters Brothers - Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain – Audiard is making his American film debut with this western, which is a highly anticipated film by many. It is about a gold prospector being chased by an assassin duo of brothers. It sounds absolutely brilliant.
12. Piercing – Nicolas Pesce – Pesce is coming off his electric debut The Eyes of the Mother, and this film is a Sundance thriller. It needs to be a borderline winner at that Festival to stand a real chance at Oscar nominations, but if his debut was any indication, he can turn this crime story into a gripping tale.
13. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot – Gus Van Sant – Van Sant has been out of it for a little while, but this movie, about a paralyzed man who turns to art as a form of therapy, promises to be a return to form for the once great Oscar nominee.
14. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni – Gilliam’s last nomination was in 1985. This movie has been in production since 2000, and it is finally completed. It has to be epic, right?
15. The Front Runner – Matt Bai, Jay Carson, Jason Reitman – The movie is about Gary Hart’s Presidential campaign in 1988 that was derailed by an affair. Reitman hasn’t been sharp lately, but he also has Tully coming out this year, so one of them is bound to hit.
16. Juliet, Naked – Tamara Jenkins, Jim Taylor, Evgenia Peretz, Phil Alden Robinson – It is a music comedy based on a novel by Nick Hornby, written by a trio of Oscar nominees and the director’s wife. It sounds terrific on paper, and the cast is tremendous for such a smaller Sundance film.
17. The 15:17 to Paris – Dorothy Blyskal – The movie comes out next month, but it is a Clint Eastwood film, and with basically all the real life people involved as the actors, it will be quite a screenplay accomplishment if it is really is able to stand up on its own. It is Blyskal’s first screenplay.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Predicted Five
1. The Favourite – Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara – They are unknown screenwriters, but they got Yorgos Lanthimos to direct their steamy British royalty movie about the court of Queen Anne in the early 1700s. It has some of the biggest potential of the year, and if the script is sharp, it could be the favorite.
2. Vox Lux – Brady Corbet – The unbelievably talented Brady Corbet, coming off the exhilarating The Childhood of a Leader, is writing and directing this musical film described as We Need to Talk About Kevin meets Dreamgirls. It would be a wrench to throw into the Oscar race, but I’m on board.
3. Peterloo – Mike Leigh – Just because Leigh is always in contention. It is about the Peterloo Massacre on a pro-democracy rally in Manchester. It is certainly not usual material for the creative British writer, but it sounds like the right type of story for the Academy.
4. Hotel Mumbai – John Collee, Anthony Maras – It is about the attacks on Mumbai in 2008. Collee is the accomplished writer of Master and Commander and Oscar-nominated Tanna. Maras is a first timer, but the cast and storyline makes this movie feel like an instant contender.
5. Private Life – Tamara Jenkins – The writer-director of The Savages made this film about a woman undergoing fertility procedures to get pregnant. She got Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn to star, which sounds like an absolute dream for her type of humor and sensibilities. It will debut at Sundance.
Others in contention
6. Mary Queen of Scots – Beau Willimon – Willimon is a previous nominee for The Ides of March. This movie would be a bigger contender if not for The Favourite. It is about Mary Stuart trying to overthrow her cousin Queen Elizabeth.
7. Kursk – Robert Rodat – From the writer of Saving Private Ryan, this movie is about the 2000 Kursk submarine disaster and the governmental negligence that ensued. It sounds like juicy Oscar bait, and it is directed by rising European director Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt).
8. The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter – Jody Hill, Danny McBride, John Carcieri – This is more wishful thinking than anything. We have no reason to think the Academy has any interest in making Danny McBride an Oscar nominee, but this doesn’t sound like the typical drivel that they usually do. It is worth noting.
9. Damsel – David Zellner, Nathan Zellner – This is a western about a businessman joining his fiancée in the mountains. The Zellners previously directed the wild Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, and this movie stars Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska.
10. On the Basis of Sex – Daniel Stiepelman – The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the subject of first time writer Spiepelman’s screenplay. The cast is extraordinary, and it could be timely enough to be remembered at year’s end.
11. The Forgiven – Michael Ashton – The debut writer penned this screenplay about human rights activist Desmond Tutu, who is known for his work at the end of apartheid. It has already been shown overseas, and early work is superb.
12. A Rainy Day in New York – Woody Allen – He is always worth mentioning in this category. He gets fantastic young actors Timothee Chalamet and Elle Fanning to play in this one, which will be interesting to see young love in his films again.
13. Newsflash – Ben Jacoby – The inexperienced writer penned this script about Walter Cronkite’s live reporting of the JFK assassination. It is being directed by David Gordon Green, who needs to rebound after several flops in a row.
14. The Outsider – Andrew Baldwin – Baldwin’s screenplay is being directed by Martin Zandvliet (Oscar nominated Land of Mine), and it is about an American GI who joins the yakuza in post WWII Japan. These types of movies come out every once in a while, but I love the cast and crew of this one.
15. Love Child – Todd Solondz – Solondz is not normally an easy filmmaker to bank on because of his uncomfortable subject matter, but this one could be different with the cast. It is about a Broadway star who is obsessed with his mother, played by Penelope Cruz.
16. I Think We’re Alone Now – Mike Makowsky – Yet another newcomer writer made this Sundance film about the apocalypse, and the recluse who reluctantly finds another survivor. It appears to be just a two person film, which means that the script will be on full display.
17. The Red Sea Diving Resort – Gideon Raff – Raff is mostly known for his work on TV, but this film has my attention. It is about a spy who conducts a rescue and transport of Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 1981. It will need a lot of luck to really be remembered a year from now, but starring Chris Evans is a good start.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Olivia Colman – The Favourite – She plays Queen Anne in the Yorgos Lanthimos historical drama. I have loved her as an actress for years, and this is finally the type of role in the right type of movie that can get her in consideration for her due nomination.
2. Nazanin Boniadi – Hotel Mumbai – She is fantastic in Homeland, which was exactly my rationale last year for Timothy Chalamet. She will likely have a key part in the ensemble drama, and she has the intensity and subtlety to make any type of character work.
3. Marin Ireland – Piercing – She was Spirit Award nominated for her memorable role in Glass Chin, and while her role is light on details, she will undoubtedly steal the show in this indie contender.
4. Amy Ryan – Beautiful Boy – She plays the mother role in Felix van Groenignen’s meth addiction drama. Those types of roles are always rewarded, and she has now been 10 years without a nomination.
5. Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk – King has been in and around great movies for over two decades, so maybe the great Barry Jenkins can direct her to her first major film nomination. It is not known exactly what her part is, but being one of the only notable actors in the film, it promises to be significant.
Others in contention
6. Margot Robbie – Mary Queen of Scots – She plays Queen Elizabeth I in the drama about her cousin’s plot to overthrow her. She is going to be in and around the race every year now, and nobody has any problem with that.
7. Charlotte Rampling – The Little Stranger – She presumably plays the patriarch of the family in Abrahamson’s thriller starring Domhnall Gleeson. She is fresh off her first ever nomination, and this looks like a brilliant role for the veteran character actress.
8. Thomasin McKenzie – My Abandonment – She plays Ben Foster’s daughter in Debra Granik’s indie drama. There is always a child actor that is in the running, and she could easily be that performer if she holds her own with the fiery costar.
9. Sasha Lane – The Miseducation of Cameron Post – The amazing star of American Honey gets a key supporting role in Desiree Akhavan’s drama. She has the chops to be a superstar, so hopefully this is the role that starts that train.
10. Blyth Danner – What They Had – Debut filmmaker Elizabeth Chomko has this film, which is about an Alzheimer-stricken woman who wanders into a blizzard, causing her daughter to return to her hometown to help. Danner presumably plays the mother, and she has been doing great work for years. It debuts at Sundance, and is slotted for a March release.
11. Cynthia Erivo – Widows – She will be making her debut, and I really don’t know what the role entails, but I can take a wild stab, right? The movie has a stellar cast, and sometimes the unknowns are singled out.
12. Claire Foy – First Man – The breakout star on Netflix’s The Crown plays opposite Ryan Gosling as Mrs. Armstrong in Chazelle’s biopic. This is a performance to keep an eye on. It feels almost like Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything.
13. Uma Thurman – The House that Jack Built – She reunites with Nymphomaniac helmer Lars von Trier in the story of a serial killer, who is highly intelligent and chronicles his murders as an art form. She is listed as playing Lady 1, but I suspect that there will be a lot more to her role than that suggests. She hasn’t been nominated since 1994.
14. Rachel Weisz – The Favourite – She plays the Duchess of Marlborough, Queen Anne’s lover, in the Lanthimos movie. She will need to outshine her costars, which she is capable of doing, in order to secure a nomination. She is due for a second nod.
15. Elle Fanning – A Rainy Day in New York – She might be lead, but she will have a better chance here, as is usually the case with Woody Allen films. She and Chalamet will be charming together, I’m sure.
16. Carol Kane – The Sisters Brothers – She hasn’t been nominated since 1975. She plays the mother of the assassin brothers, which could be a scene-stealer if written right.
17. Anna Paquin – The Irishman – She is playing De Niro’s daughter in Scorsese’s crime epic. That sounds as juicy and amazing as anything all year…it has been 25 years since her last nomination/win.
18. Olga Kurylenko – The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – She is the female lead in Gilliam’s fantasy epic. I don’t know exactly what her role will be like, but she is worth mentioning.
19. Kathy Bates – On the Basis of Sex – She plays Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s lawyer in the biopic. It has been 16 years since she has gotten invited back.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Timothee Chalamet – Beautiful Boy – He plays the struggling and recovering meth addict in the Best Picture contender. If the movie is big enough, then this should be an easy nomination and potential win for the breakout star.
2. Max von Sydow – Kursk – I don’t know what role he plays, but I can only imagine that he will be a standout in this type of movie. He could use one more nomination.
3. Paul Giamatti – Private Life – One of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s most memorable late roles was in The Savages, and Tamara Jenkins is directing the next best thing in this movie. He still somehow has that one strange nomination in 2005. This movie could easily be the type of role that brings him back, but I feel like he needs to be supporting for that to happen. So…I’m starting the campaigning for (likely) category fraud right now!
4. Jonah Hill – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot – He appears to play a friend of the paralyzed Joaquin Phoenix in Gus Van Sant’s true story. He is becoming one of the most reliable supporting actors in Hollywood, and this should be a scene-stealing part for the two-time nominee.
5. Adam Driver – The Black Klansman – He will no doubt be playing a Klan member, which is a role that he will annihilate. He needs to be nominated soon, and this could be the type of part that could bring it. He plays terrific unlikable characters.
Others in contention
6. John C. Reilly – The Sisters Brothers – Playing in an Audiard western as an assassin with Joaquin Phoenix? This is my most anticipated performance of the year. He needs his second nomination. He also has Stan & Ollie to add to his repertoire this year.
7. Jonathan Pryce – The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – He plays the titular character in Gilliam’s tortured project of the last two decades. He is a long-respected character actor, but he has never really had a chance at a nomination. Maybe this will be the role that does it.
8. Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born – I don’t know what his role entails, but he is a beloved character actor, and I imagine that Bradley Cooper has a great role for him in the newest update of the old musical tale.
9. John Turturro – Gloria – This is Sebastian Lelio’s remake of his own acclaimed 2013 Chilean film. Turturro always seems to be in great films, but he is never singled out. His part is likely the love interest of Julianne Moore’s lead, and he could be swept in.
10. Eric Bana – The Forgiven – He plays a murderer during the apartheid regime opposite Forest Whitaker. There will likely be fireworks between them, and Bana is due for a run at a nomination.
11. Al Pacino – The Irishman – Playing Jimmy Hoffa got Jack Nicholson a Razzie and GG nomination. Obviously it is susceptible to overacting, but Pacino needs a comeback. It’s been 26 years since his last nomination (way too long for one of the best actors of all time).
12. Patrick Stewart – The Kid Who Would Be King – The movie is Joe Cornish’s first film since his smash debut hit Attack the Block, and this is about a band of kids who are on a mission to defeat a medieval menace. I imagine the great Patrick Stewart is said menace. It should be amazing.
13. Robert Duvall – Widows – He just turned 87, so this would make him one of the oldest nominees of all time. McQueen directing promises to give him a bunch of awesome scenes to chew on.
14. Joe Pesci – The Irishman – We’ll see if he has anything left in the tank after his retirement. He looks so much like Russell Bufalino that if he is interested, he can become a contender once again for a Scorsese picture.
15. Robert Forster – Damsel – Forster hasn’t been nominated in 21 years, and the idea of him playing an old man in the west is beyond intriguing for me. His character is billed as Old Preacher.
16. Justin Theroux – On the Basis of Sex – He is working with director Mimi Leder, who pulled the best performance of his career in the cable hit The Leftovers. He is capable of being a nominee one day, and playing a lawyer in a film with this type of potential could be his ticket.
17. Ethan Hawke – Juliet, Naked – He plays yet another singer-songwriter, but this one he didn’t have any hand in creating, which makes me think that he could really be meant for this role. The director is largely inexperienced (his most notable movie is Our Idiot Brother), but Hawke always stands out if the material is right, and the screenplay has some serious talent behind it.
18. Bruce Dern – White Boy Rick – He plays the grandfather role in the story of drug trafficker Richard Wershe, which will obviously give Dern room to do whatever he wants, and we have no problem with that. It is also being directed by Yann Demange, who helmed the brilliant film ’71 in 2014.
19. Mark Ruffalo – Newsflash – He plays the producer of 60 Minutes in David Gordon Green’s chronicle of Walter Cronkite during the JFK assassination. He is loved by all actors, so any good role will always have him in contention.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Julianne Moore – Gloria – Paulina Garcia made a run at the major awards in the original version of the film. The role is a dream, and I cannot think of an actress more suited for this than Moore. She plays a woman who seeks love at LA night clubs. I cannot wait to see what she does with it.
2. Felicity Jones – On the Basis of Sex – She plays Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which has the potential to be a very juicy role that should secure her a second Oscar nomination. The script is penned by a debut writer, but that is not always a bad thing.
3. Emma Stone – The Favourite – I am not completely certain that she will be the lead, but the role of the Duchess’s sister who is trying to take over the throne in Queen Anne’s court is a perfect role for Stone. And we know being directed by Lanthimos that she will be asked to do things she has never done before.
4. Keira Knightley – Colette – She plays the title character, a French novelist who becomes a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature. It is directed by Wash Westmoreland (Still Alice), and co-written by the writer of the Oscar-winning Ida. This could be her winning ticket if handled right. It debuts at Sundance.
5. Viola Davis – Widows – Viola Davis being directed by Steve McQueen…sounds like as surefire of a nominee as possible in January. I imagine she will blow her female costars off the screen.
Others in contention
6. KiKi Layne – If Beale Street Could Talk – She will be making her acting debut in the Barry Jenkins crime drama. It sounds absolutely juicy, and if the movie is popular enough, she could be a future star with this type of role.
7. Judi Dench – Red Joan – She plays the longest-serving KGB British Spy in a film written and directed by relative newcomers. Dench is always a possibility, and this especially sounds like a dream lead role for her.
8. Chloe Grace Moretz – The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Every year she has a role that has potential for a nomination, but she always comes up short. She plays a teenager who has a forbidden fling with the prom queen. Directed by Akhavan, she will certainly be pushed further than she has been recently.
9. Marina de Tavira – Roma – The film is directed by Alfonso Cuaron, and while Tavira is unknown to American audiences, she is popular in Mexico. The film is about a middle class family in Mexico City in the early ‘70s. I imagine there will be a lot of autobiographical material from Cuaron, which will be interesting to see, coming off the visual effects marvel Gravity.
10. Saoirse Ronan – Mary Queen of Scots – She plays the title character in the British royalty drama. She winds up facing imprisonment for her crimes, so I would imagine that this will be a richly emotional and difficult role for the young two (soon to be three) time nominee.
11. Penelope Cruz – Love Child – She plays the mother at the center of Todd Solondz’s new dark comedy-drama. Everyone loves her, and when she has an interesting role, she is always worth noting.
12. Annette Bening – Georgetown – She plays a widow who is courted by a scheming social climber (Christoph Waltz, also directing). I can see her being absolutely brilliant in that type of role, especially playing off Waltz.
13. Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns – Written by the writer of Finding Neverland and Life of Pi, and directed by Rob Marshall, this musical has a lot of potential. She plays the title character, and it has a Christmas release. Could this finally be her long overdue nomination? It will be if it does the original justice. It will be a major Golden Globes film regardless.
14. Stacy Martin – Vox Lux – She plays the lead female in Brady Corbet’s crazy musical. She is probably most known for playing in Nymphomaniac, which got her praise, so getting singled out in a movie like this is possible.
15. Amandla Stenberg – Where Hands Touch – Rue from The Hunger Games plays a bi-racial teen in Nazi Germany. She is being directed by Amma Assante (Belle, A United Kingdom). She could easily be the younger actress who makes a case for a nomination.
16. Mia Wasikowska – Damsel – She has several movies being released this year, but this seems like her most likely chance at a nomination. She will get hers eventually and maybe a movie by a creative duo of filmmakers playing opposite the brilliant and seemingly everywhere Robert Pattinson could be her ticket.
17. Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born – She proved with American Horror Story that she really can act, and this musical film with Bradley Cooper will push her to do things that she should be able to achieve. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out like Christina Aguilera in Burlesque.
18. Elle Fanning – I Think We’re Alone Now – It is time for her first nomination. She is playing in Reed Morano’s apocalypse drama with Peter Dinklage in an acting duet. I would love her chances if I was more certain of how the movie will play at Sundance later this month.
19. Claire Foy – Unsane – The writers of the film have written only terrible movies, but it is being directed by Steven Soderbergh. It is about a woman who is put in a mental institution. It also has a March release, but it is Soderbergh…so it is worth a look.
20. Shailene Woodley – Adrift – The film is about a woman who sails into the eye of a hurricane to save her lover. The director is Baltasar Kormaku (Everest) and the writers’ only other film was Moana. I could see this being a hit and maybe Woodley’s first nomination.
21. Hilary Swank – What They Had – It has been 14 years since her last nomination/win, and this movie sounds a bit sappy, but I’m sure she will have plenty of room to show off her acting chops. If she blows everyone away at Sundance, then I imagine that it will get pushed into a more traditional awards film release.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Ben Mendelsohn – The Land of Steady Habits – He has been doing great work for several years now, and this is his best chance at a nomination. It is also one of his first true lead roles in a significant production. He plays the newly retired man who is leaving his current life and family in Nicole Holofcener’s film.
2. Forest Whitaker – The Forgiven – He plays Archbishop Desmond Tutu, following his human rights work after the end of apartheid. It appears to be a juicy role for the Oscar winner, and he is being directed by the great Roland Joffe.
3. Christoph Waltz – Georgetown – Directing himself is interesting (his debut film), but playing a social climber who is trying to mix with the most powerful politicians sounds like a wonderful role for him. It is written by the playwright/screenwriter of 2005’s Proof, and if he directs it with the minimalism of a play, then we could be looking at an irresistible performance for the Academy.
4. Domhnall Gleeson – The Little Stranger – He has not yet been nominated despite appearing in so many contenders, but being in an Abrahamson project as the bewildered Dr. Faraday could and should boost him into real contention for his first nomination.
5. Jude Law – Vox Lux – He plays the lead in the Brady Corbet musical. It is a movie that has a lot of intrigue around it, and he hasn’t been nominated in 15 years now. That seems like too long. If the movie is good and big enough, then this should be his ticket back.
Others in contention
6. Jared Leto – The Outsider – He plays an American who joins the yakuza in Japan in the 1940s. The director is a nominee, and Leto is looking for that elusive second nomination after his big win five years ago.
7. Christopher Abbott – Piercing – He broke out for the indie darling James White, and this movie will likely have a much larger audience and will be easier to digest than that movie. He can be a staple in big indie productions if the cards fall right.
8. Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born – Directing yourself hardly ever works in your favor, but Cooper is beloved, and his part as an alcoholic movie star just sounds right. Let’s hope he has talent behind the camera too.
9. Colin Firth – Kursk – I usually don’t like to predict Firth, since those movies usually wind up being flops, but this movie seems much more destined for greatness than his previous couple ventures.
10. Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody – The production has been tortured with Bryan Singer’s scandal, but he was replaced by the director of Eddie the Eagle. Malek should be amazing as Freddie Mercury. The initial stills of him are scary accurate.
11. Joaquin Phoenix – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot – He is always in contention, much to his chagrin. Playing a paralyzed man can be an Oscar bait part, but I sense that he will underplay it to some degree. It will be interesting to see how this develops.
12. Ben Foster – My Abandonment – It is ridiculous that he still is without a nomination, but this is really the first time that he has been the lead in a movie that is a Best Picture contender. Granik has directed nominated performances in the past, so if the movie hits, he could finally be recognized.
13. Dev Patel – Hotel Mumbai – Fresh off a nomination in Lion, he gets the lead in this terrorism true story. The photos from the film look interesting. I am assuming he will steal the show and contend for a second nomination.
14. Jake Gyllenhaal – The Sisters Brothers – He will probably eventually get snubbed like normal, but this is a very intriguing part for him. Playing in a western is not something a lot of actors can seamlessly slide into, but it is right up his alley.
15. Matthew McConaughey – The Beach Bum, White Boy Rick – I’m not completely convinced he is lead in White Boy Rick, but it is worth noting. The Beach Bum is the new Harmony Korine film about a stoner. His last outing almost got James Franco a nomination, so maybe the industry is warming up to his quirkiness.
16. Matt Dillon – The House that Jack Built – It has been 13 years since his lone nomination. Playing in this Lars von Trier film sounds like a dream for the actor. It is described in a way that suggests American Psycho, but von Trier is a crazy man. I cannot wait to see how he shakes things up in this serial killer drama.
17. Hugh Jackman – The Front Runner – He plays Senator Hart in Jason Reitman’s biographical drama. He doesn’t strike me as that type of personality, but I imagine that he will be tremendous, since Reitman usually writes his parts with specific actors in mind.
18. Peter Dinklage – I Think We’re Alone Now – He hasn’t had a serious shot at a nomination since The Station Agent in 2003, but this movie sounds like a perfect vehicle for the talented character actor. He plays a loner during the apocalypse who reluctantly finds another survivor.
19. Steve Carell – Beautiful Boy – He plays the father role in the meth addiction film that is gathering tons of early buzz. On paper, he should be in contention for a nomination yet again.
20. Rory Kinnear – Peterloo – I usually like my Mike Leigh movies with Timothy Spall, but I’m sure that Kinnear will be terrific in his pivotal lead role in the story of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819.
21. Robert De Niro – The Irishman – I hope the movie gets a real release. I have been looking forward to it forever, and we haven’t seen Bob and Marty together in more than two decades. He should absolutely own in this movie.
22. Ryan Gosling – First Man – The only thing that gives me hesitation with Gosling is that he has never been a showy actor. He is always so understated, which could make it easy to overlook how much he does in the quieter scenes. But the movie is a BP contender, so he must be mentioned.
23. Robert Pattinson – High Life – The film is directed by the brilliant French filmmaker Claire Denis, and it is about a father and daughter struggling to survive in deep space. His daughter is played by the young promising Mia Goth, and the movie has great potential to be the sci-fi inclusion this year.
24. John David Washington – Black Klansman – The son of Denzel is the lead in Spike Lee’s KKK drama. I have no idea how good he can be, but if he has learned anything from his father, then this could wind up being an easy nomination.
25. Edgar Ramirez – Love Child – He might be supporting, but his part sounds awesome in Todd Solondz’s new film. He will likely have a brilliant connection with Penelope Cruz, and I could see him making a run at his first nomination if the film is big enough.
26. Chris Evans – The Red Sea Diving Report – He will really need to show off some acting chops that I’m not entirely sure he has, but he is playing a real life hero in this film about a rescue and transport of Ethiopian Jews in the ‘80s. He has a terrific supporting cast, but he needs to own the movie.
27. Seth Rogen – Newsflash – He plays Walter Cronkite, which is amazing and strange. Being directed once again by his friend David Gordon Green could be the best thing for both parties, and the movie could be something special, depending on the quality of the debut writer’s screenplay.
28. Paul Rudd – The Catcher Was a Spy – Rudd plays Moe Berg, an MLB player who also was a spy for the WWII era Office of Strategic Services. The director is Ben Lewin (The Sessions), and the writer is Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan). It might be slight, but Rudd is a great dramatic actor when he has to be. It will be at Sundance.
29. John Huston – The Other Side of the Wind – So, this movie was written and directed by Orson Welles in the 1970s, but it was unfinished. And now it is being slated to be released in 2018…it is worth tracking for sure. It is about a director who returns to Hollywood after an exile in Europe. This would be a 31 year posthumous nomination.
The Predicted Five
1. Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite – He has made a couple really popular English films in a row, but this sounds like something truly different and amazing for Lanthimos. He isn’t working with his own script, so we know that the incredibly unique talent behind the camera will be on full display in the British royalty drama.
2. Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk – He should immediately be put in this category after his Best Picture winner in 2016. Maybe this is his real chance to win the award, when he isn’t up against a show-stopper juggernaut like La La Land.
3. Spike Lee – Black Klansman – He has never been recognized in this category, despite his unique camerawork and obvious influence on his films. If the movie is less showy and more stripped down, which it could be with writing partners, then it could wind up being a his finest work.
4. Brady Corbet – Vox Lux – With The Childhood of the Leader, he proved that he has a sharp and unique eye for directing. It was wise beyond his years, and this movie could easily be his Whiplash. I love the film’s chances.
5. Debra Granik – My Abandonment – She missed out on a nomination for her breakthrough Winter’s Bone in 2010, so maybe her next movie hits even harder. It looks like a movie for our times.
Others in contention
6. Claire Denis – High Life – Denis has never handled a real budget before; her films are usually more indie dramas. This is a sci-fi film, which is beyond intriguing. Getting Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche to sign on gives it even more pedigree.
7. Felix von Groenignen – Beautiful Boy – He directed a nominated foreign film six years ago, and here he gets Carell and Chalamet in his big American debut. If the movie is as popular as it could be and isn’t just an acting showcase, then he could become a real threat.
8. Damien Chazelle – First Man – He won the award last time out, and this movie is loaded with even more hype and potential. I am thinking that it underwhelms only slightly, and he gets left off this time.
9. Steve McQueen – Widows – The movie does sound a bit slighter than his previous few outings, but it will no doubt be directed with the beauty and care that he has become known for.
10. Thomas Vinterberg – Kursk – He could have garnered a nomination for his tremendous The Hunt, but this movie has a much higher likelihood being in English and being more of a directing showcase. If it lives up to its potential, then we could be looking at one of the major contenders.
11. Martin Scorsese – The Irishman – He is always in contention. Somehow he missed for his masterpiece Silence, so maybe the Academy will get their heads straight again and bring him back into the fold.
12. Mike Leigh – Peterloo – There are a ton of great British contenders this year, but Leigh can secure a directing nomination without too much trouble. He is still one of the most consistently great directors working today, and this seems much more accessible than his last film Mr. Turner.
13. Nicole Holofcener – The Land of Steady Habits – It will be really hard for her to actually secure a nomination considering the minimalism in her films, but if the movie is as popular as I think it could be, then she could get swept in with the love for the film and Mendelsohn’s performance.
14. Anthony Maras – Hotel Mumbai – It is one of the main contenders, but he is a first timer. It does happen from time to time, but it is always an uphill climb in getting in this category.
15. Desiree Akhavan – The Miseducation of Cameron Post – I am not sure if she has enough name recognition to be a true threat, but if the movie is one that lights Sundance on fire, which it could, then she could be a frontrunner.
16. Roland Joffe – The Forgiven – He hasn’t been nominated in over 30 years, but his movies have all really flopped since. This should be a return to form for the once heralded director.
17. Terry Gilliam – The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – It will be a miracle if the movie is actually good after all these years. If it is, then it will be hard to not recognize his achievement in this category, even if it will never stand a chance at Best Picture.
18. Jacques Audiard – The Sisters Brothers – His last film won Cannes, and this is his US debut. Westerns have made a comeback in recent years, and while Hostiles was largely ignored in 2017, this one has much higher potential.
19. Josie Rourke – Mary Queen of Scots – She is a relative newcomer, which doesn’t bode well for her in this category. It will need to be unequivocally better than The Favourite for her to stand a real chance at a nomination.
20. Derek Cianfrance – Metalhead – The movie is another experiment by Cianfrance. It is a chronicling of a drummer who blew his eardrums out and has to adapt to a world of silence, which is somewhat autobiographical. I imagine that the movie will be very avant-garde. It has been in production for almost a decade.
21. Gus Van Sant – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot – It has been a decade since his last nomination, and unless this movie just blows everyone away at Sundance and in its May release date, then he might have to keep waiting for another nod.
22. Mimi Leder – On the Basis of Sex – She has shown talent in The Leftovers and a unique look with Pay It Forward. If the movie is unique and not just a basic biopic, then this could become a real possibility.
23. Orson Welles – The Other Side of the Wind – He is the only one credited with directing, so wouldn’t this be an interesting and fun 33 year posthumous nomination? The project intrigues me. It sounds brilliant, and I have no idea why it was never completed. I can’t wait to see it (if we ever get to).
The Predicted Ten (I predict 8 will get nominated)
1. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos) – I couldn’t think of any movie that has more potential and intrigue than this. Lanthimos directing a British royalty movie is interesting in itself, but getting Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Olivia Colman to star is incredible. If it hits, it will be an easy nominee. If it fails, then it will still probably be an acting showcase. High ceiling, high floor. It is “the favorite”.
2. If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) – The Barry Jenkins drama seems timely and exactly the right kind of material to be recognized with a nomination. Moonlight was a minor miracle, but this movie will have the hype going in, which can only play in its favor.
3. First Man (Damien Chazelle) – Biopics aren’t always recognized outside of the acting categories, but this seems too good to deny at this point. The hype could build on it and be a letdown, but Chazelle is hot right now. He’ll deliver.
4. Black Klansman (Spike Lee) – The movie has all the potential in the world. If Lee can handle the material without going way over-the-top, then it will be singled out for sure in the current state of the Academy.
5. The Land of Steady Habits (Nicole Holofcener) – I am going all in with this movie. It sounds typical in a way, but that is not always a bad thing. Holofcener’s films are always so rich and true to life. And this sounds much more ambitious than anything she has done previously.
6. Vox Lux (Brady Corbet) – The movie’s status seems a little uncertain, but the potential of the filmmaker and actors is limitless. It will be a movie to keep an eye on all year, and if it gets a qualifying run and plays at the right film festivals, then we could be looking at it as a real contender for the win.
7. Beautiful Boy (Felix von Groenignen) – It could be the favorite film among actors this year if it lives up to the hype with nominees behind the camera, in front of the camera, and on the screenplay. I love this film’s chances.
8. My Abandonment (Debra Granik) – The movie is loaded with potential. The Academy will really need to be in an independent film mood, but it happens every few years. It could be this year’s Room.
9. Widows (Steve McQueen) – The movie is more of a crime drama than a searing portrait like 12 Years a Slave or Shame, but the cast and subject matter just feel right. He is going to become a regular in the Oscar race whenever he makes a film (hopefully more often than every 5 years).
10. Kursk (Thomas Vinterberg) – I love the potential for this film. It is about history, but recent history. It has a distinguished group of experienced actors. It has nominees writing and directing. With the right type of release, we could be looking at a slam dunk.
Others in contention
11. Mary Queen of Scots (Josie Rourke) – In any other year, this would almost undeniably have the British vote. But with The Favourite and Mike Leigh, it will have to blow everyone away. The cast is irresistible, which helps its cause, but the pedigree isn’t quite there as much.
12. High Life (Claire Denis) – There seems to be a sci-fi film each year that gets everyone’s attention, and this could absolutely be that film. Denis has put in enough goodwill with her independent films. This one should generate a legitimate release.
13. Hotel Mumbai (Anthony Maras) – It all depends on the release with this movie. It will need to get into the right festivals, and it needs to actually be good. A movie with Patel and Armie Hammer does not exactly scream consistency, but I have faith in this project.
14. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese) – The Netflix release is the only thing that gives me hesitation. I love that Scorsese has taken his time on it and that he finally got the cast he wanted. It might not even be done in time for a 2018 release, which would be disastrous, considering Netflix has no problems burying their films in early year releases.
15. On the Basis of Sex (Mimi Leder) – The Ruth Bader Ginsberg story appears to be the biopic to bank on in 2018. I love the cast and crew on this film, and it could be a contender for the prize if it plays right.
16. A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper) – I am skeptical of Cooper’s direction, but it is absolutely worth noting here. The Academy loves musicals, but this story has also been told several times. We will see, but I really like its chances to make a run, at least at the Globes.
17. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Gus Van Sant) – I’m in a wait and see mode with this movie. It is worth keeping an eye on, but its early release date, coupled with Van Sant’s poor track record recently, have me skeptical.
18. Damsel (David Zellner, Nathan Zellner) – There are other options for westerns this year, but this one is also listed as comedy-drama and has a couple filmmakers who make it the ultimate wildcard. It is worth checking in on once it debuts at Sundance.
19. The Forgiven (Roland Joffe) – The story of Desmond Tutu has already been getting praise overseas, and it appears to be a return to form for the two-time nominated director.
20. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Desiree Akhavan) – The movie needs to be huge at Sundance for it to get the kind of distribution required to show up here, but with the pedigree of the people involved, I wouldn’t doubt it.
21. The Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard) – I want this movie to be great more than any other on this list. The actors, filmmakers, and storyline put a lot of potential on it, and if it can deliver, then the Academy has trouble ignoring great films in their long dormant former genre of choice.
22. I Think We’re Alone Now (Reed Morano) – Morano previously made the great 2015 film Meadowland, and she directed some of the best episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, but she is mostly known as a cinematographer. This movie could be the big Sundance hit if handled right, and I hope it is. It can be something special with those two actors.
That’s all I got! What films are you looking forward to in 2018? Any crazy omissions in these predictions? Let me know in the comments!