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The Ringer’s Oscar Predictions

All of editor-in-chief Sean Fennessey’s predictions for the 90th Academy Awards

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Predicting Oscar winners is hard. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered. In the lead-up to the 90th Academy Awards, The Ringer’s Sean Fennessey picked his favorites to take home the eponymous statuettes, and the dark-horse candidates that could surprise us all. Read the methodology behind his selections here, or check out all of his picks below:


Best Picture

“On Wednesday, I predicted that [Guillermo] del Toro would win Best Director. I’m not wavering on that. But I am wavering on that feeling that del Toro’s movie will triumph at the end of the night. I see Jason Blum, Sean McKittrick, and Jordan Peele making the final speech. (Imagine Peele’s prepared remarks.) And if that happens, maybe the Moonlight Effect becomes the Moonlight Principle. Or maybe we should just call it reality.”

The Prediction: The Shape of Water Get Out
The Upset Bet: The Shape of Water

Actor in a Leading Role

“[Gary] Oldman is all but locked to win on Sunday, in his second nomination. He’s overdue. Give him a statuette. But did you know that [Woody] Harrelson’s nomination for Three Billboards is his third? Why is he not in this conversation, other than the mild, dismissive attitude around [Rob] Reiner’s film? It’s a small lesson in the whims of the Academy and the power of momentum. Oldman is just three years older than Harrelson. (He’s 37 years older than Chalamet, his closest competitor in the category.) Will Woody be in this spot three years from now? Maybe. Until then, it’s Oldman’s time.”

The Prediction: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
The Upset Bet: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

Actress in a Leading Role

“Months ago, much like Metcalf, there seemed to be genuine enthusiasm for Saoirse Ronan’s chances. With three nominations at just 23 years old, she has an opportunity to be the most decorated performer in Academy history. ... As for McDormand, there is a sincere excitement about what she’ll actually say when she gets on stage.”

The Prediction: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Upset Bet: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Actor in a Supporting Role

“Supporting Actor always goes to linchpin characters, figures who irrevocably impact the lead’s life. If there’s one thing we can’t argue, it’s how Officer Jason Dixon influences Mildred Hayes’s life.”

The Prediction: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Upset Bet: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Actress in a Supporting Role

“At some point, everyone decided that Janney’s performance as Tonya Harding’s mother, LaVona, was our winner. She has swept the season, as unfazed by the other contenders as the parakeet parked on her shoulder.”

The Prediction: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
The Upset Bet: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Best Director

“Could Peele make a bid here along with a screenplay win? It’s plausible. Not probable. But plausible. Still, I think we underestimate just what a juggernaut The Shape of Water truly is. I talked about it in this recent Ringer video conversation. For further context: Only 13 movies in Oscar history have had at least 13 nominations. Ten of the previous 12 films won at least five awards that night. Remember that when del Toro strides to the stage.”

The Prediction: The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro
The Upset Bet: Get Out, Jordan Peele

Best Original Screenplay

“Peele’s script isn’t just clever or trenchant—it’s cleverly trenchant. It rewards rewatchers. It creates a world, establishes characters, sets tension, releases with laughs and terror. It is what we talk about when we talk about movie magic. And it will be rewarded for that on Sunday.”

The Prediction: Get Out, Jordan Peele
The Upset Bet: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh

Best Adapted Screenplay

“An Ivory win would be, in a sense, a career achievement award, and also an adequate acknowledgment of one of the year’s most acclaimed movies. He may not be the oldest nominee, but, I suspect, he’s about to be the oldest winner.”

The Prediction: Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory
The Upset Bet: Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Best Documentary Feature

“The recency of the Winter Olympics coupled with the rise in an ambient anxiety about Russian misdeeds (plus its long life on Netflix) has me thinking Bryan Fogel’s Icarus will upset the front-runner.”

The Prediction: Icarus
The Favorite: Faces Places

Best Documentary Short Subject

“As my colleague Riley McAtee noted to me, the Oscars love an L.A. story, and so expect Frank Stiefel’s affecting story of the artist Mindy Alper to take it home.”

The Prediction: Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Frank Stiefel
The Upset Bet: Edith+Eddie, Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright

Best Live Action Short Film

“The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School two weeks ago and the tremulous, rageful outcry against an American culture of guns has made Reed Van Dyk’s movie feel more urgent, more essential. It will be recognized as such.”

The Prediction: DeKalb Elementary, Reed Van Dyk
The Upset Bet: The Silent Child, Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton

Best Animated Feature

“According to an online gambling site, Coco is a -5000 favorite to win Best Animated Feature. ... So yeah, Coco—it’s going to win this one.”

The Prediction: Coco
The Upset Bet: The Breadwinner

Best Animated Short

“Kobe is nominated. For a short film that is fine. But if the Academy Awards have an official team, it’s the Lakers. Which means Kobe is going to win. Oscar, welcome to the Musecage.”

The Prediction: Dear Basketball, Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant
The Upset Bet: Garden Party, Victor Caire, Gabriel Grapperon

Best Foreign Language Film

“For superior in-depth analysis, read Lindsay Zoladz on this very subject. And for your instantaneous cheat sheet for this routinely controversial category, look no further than the inclusion of Daniela Vega, the transgender star of A Fantastic Woman, as a presenter on Sunday.”

The Prediction: A Fantastic Woman
The Upset Bet: The Square

Cinematography

“If [Dan] Laustsen finds a way to continue [Roger] Deakins’s losing streak, we’ll know that The Shape of Water is on its way to an abnormally powerful evening.”

The Prediction: Blade Runner 2049
The Upset Bet: The Shape of Water

Film Editing

Baby Driver’s appearance here already indicates a sincere affection for [Jonathan] Amos and [Paul] Machliss’s work, and [Edgar] Wright is famed for sardonic visual gags, insert shots, and nervy invention.”

The Prediction: Baby Driver
The Favorite: Dunkirk

Sound Editing

“One quibble with the category: A Star Wars movie has never won. ... That won’t change this year, even if Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi strikes me as the most significant achievement among the nominees.”

The Prediction: Dunkirk
The Upset Bet: Baby Driver

Sound Mixing

“When will Star Wars be acknowledged by the Academy and the public at large as a worthy underdog that just happened to gross $1.3 billion? Not this year.”

The Prediction: Dunkirk
The Upset Bet: Baby Driver

Production Design

“Expect this to be one of the bellwether awards for Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, the kind of acknowledgement that undergirds broader Academy support.”

The Prediction: The Shape of Water
The Upset Bet: Blade Runner 2049

Original Score

“I’m pulling for [Jonny] Greenwood, though I admit, I’m not exactly rational on the subject.”

The Prediction: The Shape of Water
The Upset Bet: Phantom Thread

Original Song

Hello to the worst category, routinely, in Oscars history. ... I’m sticking with Pixar, but warily and with no cash in hand.”

The Prediction: “Remember Me” from Coco
The Upset Bet: “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman

Makeup and Hairstyling

“There is no race here. [Kazuhiro] Tsuji, whose story was chronicled beautifully in this Vulture feature by Nate Jones, is the runaway favorite.”

The Prediction: Darkest Hour
The Upset Bet: I’m not even considering one.

Costume Design

“There is a small voice in my head nagging about the overwhelming support for The Shape of Water. But I’ll stick to my guns.”

The Prediction: Phantom Thread
The Upset Bet: Beauty and the Beast

Visual Effects

War was a fitting capper in a satisfying series, but Serkis was yet again hardly even considered for a Best Actor nomination (he will inevitably be granted a special contribution award in the year 2032 for his work in revolutionizing movie acting). So a win for Visual Effects will have to suffice.”

The Prediction: War for the Planet of the Apes
The Upset Bet: Star Wars: The Last Jedi