Unpredictable Oscars field led by Lady Bird, Three Billboards

Aussie nominee: Margot Robbie in I, Tonya, is up for best actress.
Aussie nominee: Margot Robbie in I, Tonya, is up for best actress.

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.

Face to Face: Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The movie and both actors are nominated for Oscars.

Face to Face: Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The movie and both actors are nominated for Oscars.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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

Outside chance: Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird.

Outside chance: Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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 

In the race: Daniel Day Lewis in Phantom Thread.

In the race: Daniel Day Lewis in Phantom Thread.

BEST ACTOR

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

Good chance: Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water

Good chance: Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water

BEST ACTRESS 

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

Rare nominee: Greta Gerwig, director of Lady Bird, is only the fifth female director ever nominated.

Rare nominee: Greta Gerwig, director of Lady Bird, is only the fifth female director ever nominated.

DIRECTOR  

Christopher NolanDunkirk

Jordan PeeleGet Out

Greta GerwigLady Bird

Paul Thomas AndersonPhantom 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 

 Best Picture finalist: Kenneth Branagh in a scene from Dunkirk.

Best Picture finalist: Kenneth Branagh in a scene from Dunkirk.

BEST FILM 

Call Me by Your Name 

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

Phantom Thread

The Post

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. 

The Shape of Water

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.

Dunkirk

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

Darkest Hour

QUICK PICKS

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.