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2018 Academy Awards: Early Favorites for Major Categories

Kaela Napier

by Kaela Napier in Entertainment

Jan 18, 2018 · 10:18 AM PST

Oscars statuettes
Photo: public domain.

The official nomination announcements are just around the corner, and the buzz surrounding the 2018 Oscar hopefuls continues to build. Since the nominees for the Golden Globes were announced, we have been left watching, waiting, and wondering what we can expect from the 90th annual Academy Awards.

As we discussed in a previous post, the Golden Globes are not necessarily the best indicator of what kind of success films will experience with the Academy — a nomination at one does not guarantee a nomination at the other. The Academy is an entirely different beast than the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. What the timing of the Globes do guarantee, however, is that the Academy will have the chance learn from the fumbles and foibles of their international counterparts — for example, it will be able to give snubbed films like Get Out, and snubbed directors such as Greta Gerwig, a tip of the hat.

The red carpet at the Academy Awards.
Red carpet at the Academy Awards (Photo: Wikimedia [CC License])

It might feel as though the stage has already been set, and the final nominees obvious. However, even now — with only a week to go until nominations are announced —  there is still a significant amount of uncertainty about who will actually claim a spot in the top five (or ten, depending on category). With a number of late-releases this year, some major push-back following a few Golden Globes snubs, and the potential for an industry first, with Netflix-produced films garnering huge critical acclaim, the 2018 Academy Awards may surprise us yet.

Below we have our best picks on who you can expect to be nominated in each of the major categories come January 23rd, and the odds on who will pick up the win.

Best Original Screenplay

Best Original Screenplay may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when someone mentions the “major” Oscar categories, but when 10 of the 12 films with the highest best-picture odds boast an original screenplay, its import grows. The outcome for this category feels anything but predictable, with so many films hitting the proverbial nail square on the head. In the mix, you have: a psycho-social-satire, a coming-of-age tale, a mother avenging her daughter’s death, a memoir-of-sorts, a fantastical love story, an animated film, a war epic, and The Florida Project.

Still from "Get Out".
Still from Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” (Photo: Vimeo [CC License])

Currently, Get Out gets the nod as the favorite. With his dark satire, Jordan Peele was able to tell us a brand-new type of story, one we have not heard from Hollywood before. It was creative, haunting, and has managed to stay in the forefront of the conversation for almost an entire year. Plus, it was widely recognized as one of the largest oversights at the Golden Globes. It deserves more awards-attention than it’s received so far, and will get some of that attention at the Oscars.

Leading Contenders

  • Get Out: 9/5
  • Lady Bird: 4/1
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: 6/1
  • The Big Sick: 9/1
  • The Shape of Water: 12/1
  • The Florida Project: 15/1 
  • Coco: 19/1
  • Dunkirk: 40/1

Best Supporting Actress

This year’s Best Supporting Actress race comes down to two veterans: Allison Janney and Laurie Metcalf. Yes, Octavia Spencer was an absolute delight in The Shape of Water. Yes, Michelle Williams deserves more credit than she’s being given for All the Money in the WorldYes, Mary J. Blige. However, it was Janney and Metcalf, with their wonderful, intense portrayals of (two very different styles of) motherhood, who stole the show this season.

Janney is heading into the Oscar season with the Golden Globe under her belt, and while Metcalf gave us one of the most sincere performances of the year, the I, Tonya-star remains the top pick. Janney’s role lends itself more to the Oscars than Metcalf’s, in that Janney had to actually transform into LaVona Golden, a real (and terrible) person — the kind of stuff critics and the Academy eat up for dinner — and she did it with ease.

Leading Contenders

  • Allison Janney (I, Tonya): 4/7
  • Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird): 7/2
  • Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water): 19/1
  • Michelle Williams (All the Money in the World): 19/1
  • Mary J. Blige (Mudbound): 50/1
  • Hong Chau (Downsizing): 50/1
  • Holly Hunter (The Big Sick): 75/1
  • Kristin Scott Thomas (Darkest Hour): 75/1

Best Supporting Actor

Heading into award season, oddsmakers were favoring both Willem Dafoe and Sam Rockwell heavily as top contenders for Best Supporting Actor. Though Rockwell picked up the Golden Globe earlier this month for his moving and complex turn in Three Billboards, Dafoe is pinned in our top spot for his work on The Florida Project. Known more for his villainous roles than he is as a father figure, Dafoe did what a supporting actor is meant to do in this film: create space for leading man, Brooklyn Prince, to shine.

Willem Dafoe.
Willem Dafoe (Photo: Sasha Kargaltsev (flickr [CC License]))

Leading Contenders

  • Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project): 5/4
  • Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri): 3/1
  • Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name): 10/1
  • Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water): 12/1
  • Michael Stuhlbarg (Call Me By Your Name): 20/1
  • Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World): 25/1
  • Mark Rylance (Dunkirk): 25/1
  • Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri): 30/1

 Best Actor

Since award season began, there has been one name on the tip of everyone’s tongue when it comes to Best Actor: Gary Oldman. Are you sick of hearing it yet? Well, saddle up, because it’s not going anywhere. His portrayal of Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour is being touted as one of Oldman’s finest, and though there are a few other contenders who may be able to give him a run for his money (namely, Timothee Chalamet and Daniel Day-Lewis) there is a reason that sportsbooks, critics, and fans alike are all still talking.

Leading Contenders

  • Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour): 3/7
  • Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name): 13/2
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread): 11/1
  • Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out): 19/1
  • James Franco (The Disaster Artist): 49/1
  • Tom Hanks (The Post): 75/1
  • Jake Gyllenhaal (Stronger): 75/1 
  • Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.): 99/1

Best Actress

Between Frances McDormand, Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Sally Hawkins, and (as always) Meryl Streep, there is a whole lot of talent in the pool for Best Actress. With both Frances and Saoirse winning Best Actress (in separate categories) at the Golden Globes, and Margot Robbie gaining tons of critical acclaim for her portrayal of Tonya Harding, it is safe to assume that the statuette will be going home with one of those three.

Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside, Ebbing Missouri
Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside, Ebbing Missouri (Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

McDormand, who was a force of nature in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is a heavy favorite. Her performance is full of Oscar-worthy clips, gravitas, and complexity. Stealing the Oscar from her will take a concerted effort, and it might be a little too late in the game for that. If anyone has got a shot at upending this one, it’s going to be Margot Robbie, however at this point stick with Frances.

Leading Contenders

  • Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri): 2/3
  • Margot Robbie (I, Tonya): 5/1
  • Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird): 15/1
  • Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water): 15/1
  • Meryl Streep (The Post): 24/1
  • Michelle Williams (All the Money in the World): 24/1
  • Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game): 49/1
  • Jennifer Lawrence (mother!): 99/1


Best Director

The potential nominees for Best Director this year have been quite a hot topic, following the all-male nominations at the Golden Globes, and specific snubs for Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig. The Academy is expected to raise the bar and make up for the perceived wrongs of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and they know it. A small showing of diversity is all but guaranteed, with Gerwig surely making her way onto the list. It would be another huge oversight not to nominate the woman responsible for one of the highest-rated films of 2017 right on the heels of the #TimesUp movement, no less.

The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro already scooped up the Golden Globe for Best Director and the Critics Choice Award, and as such, is the favorite for the upcoming Oscars. His film could receive upwards of 15 nominations this year.

Leading Contenders

  • Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water): 9/5
  • Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri): 5/2
  • Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk): 5/1
  •  Jordan Peele (Get Out): 10/1
  • Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird): 12/1
  • Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name): 49/1
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread): 99/1
  • Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049): 99/1


Best Picture

Note: The category for Best Picture differs from other categories in that there are ten nominees, rather than the usual five. The increase was instituted prior to the 82nd Academy Awards. 

Saving the best of the best for last, each Academy Awards ceremony ends with a final envelope, which reveals the winner for Best Picture. This year, expect a photo finish between Three Billboards and The Shape of Water.

As this award is often tied quite closely to the winner of Best Director, there is a lot of talk surrounding Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. The film is receiving wonderful reviews, and Three Billboards has come under some scrutiny for how it portrays people of color – and ultimately redeems Sam Rockwell’s blatantly racist Jason Dixon. Yet, after its Golden Globe win, Three Billboards is the one to beat here.

Leading Contenders

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: 7/3
  • The Shape of Water: 3/1
  • Dunkirk: 5/1
  • Lady Bird: 8/1 
  • Get Out: 18/1
  • Call Me By Your Name: 24/1
  • The Post: 24/1
  • I, Tonya: 49/1
  • The Big Sick: 99/1  
  • The Florida Project: 99/1
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