It’s Oscar season. And before The Oscars premiere, I’m putting aside my usual reviews to give my own opinion on who I think will win in five different categories: Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress. After thinking long and hard about not only my own opinion on the nominees as well as looking to the past to understand what types of nominees usually win, I’ve come up with the five nominees who I want and believe will win an Oscar.
Best Picture: “The Shape of Water”
With a combined 13 Oscar nominations to tie it with “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” for the record of most-nominated fantasy film of all time, “The Shape of Water” has already had major buzz surrounding a Best Picture win. The story centers around Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), an introversive mute woman who works as a cleaning lady in a government laboratory. She develops a deep bond with an aquatic creature that is held captive in the lab and forms a dangerous and risky plan to break it out. While the plot isn’t as complex as those of most Best Picture winners, it definitely was a rule breaker and featured a very unique couple. When looking at everything to consider for a Best Picture winner — directing, writing, acting, and cinematography — “The Shape of Water” is the only movie, in my opinion, that doesn’t fall short of amazing in any category.
Best Cinematography: Hoyte van Hoytema
“Dunkirk” was one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, and it did not disappoint, particularly because of the cinematographer: Hoyte van Hoytema. “Dunkirk” had very little dialogue, so most of the film’s success was left up to the visuals. Sometimes artistic cinematography can be lost in blockbuster movies. However, beautiful blockbuster movies happen to be van Hoytema’s specialty. Van Hoytema, who also shot “Interstellar” and “Spectre,” is known for capturing beautiful shots especially in the sky or in space. In “Dunkirk,” the helplessness of the British soldiers and the magnitude of the German opposition is portrayed by van Hoytema’s massive wide shots on the beach and gliding tracker shots of Nazi fighter jets.
Best Director: Guillermo del Toro
Director of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Hellboy” Guillermo del Toro has already broke ground with his successful fantasy films. However, “The Shape of Water” marks the first movie of his that has completely dominated award season. His eye for beauty in the strangest of things, like a dingy apartment bathroom or a reptile-human, is gorgeously executed through the passion and vitality of the mute protagonist Eliza, along with a theme of ’60s music and dancing. Del Toro fully immerses the audience in a strange and magical story that transcends all fairy tale stereotypes.
Best Male Actor in a Leading Role: Timothée Chalamet
In my opinion, Chalamet had one of the most compelling performances of the year in “Call Me by Your Name.” The 21-year-old actor plays a 17-year-old boy named Elio Perlman, who is spending his summer with his family at their villa in northern Italy. He begins a romantic relationship with Oliver (Armie Hammer), a doctoral student staying at their house. Chalamet’s riveting performance of a boy who is brilliant but naive, spirited, and in love is a type of honesty that I had yet to see on screen before. I can understand what Elio is thinking from a side glance or slight exhale, and I feel moved to tears by his simply sitting by a fireplace. Through little dialogue, Chalamet allows viewers to enter Elio’s secluded and intimate life as if it were an open book all along. Though Chalamet is fairly young for a Best Actor award and is going up against Oscar veterans like Gary Oldman and Daniel Day Lewis, the widespread attention received by “Call Me by Your Name” has mostly been due to Chalamet’s performance.
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Margot Robbie
In the biographical film “I, Tonya,” Margot Robbie gave an incredible performance as Tonya Harding, a talented figure skater who allegedly conspired with her ex-husband in an attempt to injure another competitive skater — an accusation that ruins Harding’s skating career. The trick with biographical films is to capture the person’s character in a realistic but convincing way, and Robbie pulls this off perfectly. Of course, it will be a big feat to beat Frances McDormand, who has swept up a SAG award and the Golden Globe in her category for her role in “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Still, it definitely isn’t impossible.