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Oscar predictions 2018: Our critic’s picks for nominees, winners

Our wish list includes “Wonder Woman,” James McAvoy and Jacob Tremblay.

Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins in the

Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins in the "The Shape of Water." Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures / Kerry Hayes

Every year, just before the announcement of the Academy Award nominees — this year’s will be on Tuesday, Jan. 23 — I draw up a list of my fantasy picks. Reality will intrude soon enough when we discover which alleged sexual predators have received Oscar nods, which actors of color have gone overlooked and how many female filmmakers get the recognition they deserve. For the moment, at least, let’s just talk about the movies.

A few things to note about my list. First: I’m big on “Wonder Woman.” It was DC Comics’ first blockbuster superheroine movie, a box-office smash and a terrific film by any standard. I’m giving it a best picture nod, and I hope the Oscars won’t shut it out the way the Golden Globes did. What’s more, I think its star, Gal Gadot, deserves a nomination. She’s the only actress who has ever hooked me with her opening voice-over — and I hate voice-overs. That’s worth a nod in my book.

Second: I’m throwing two curveballs into my best actor list. One is James McAvoy, who played a man with 23 personalities in the psychological thriller “Split.” It wasn’t exactly high-class thespianism, but if Anthony Hopkins can win an Oscar for making obscene tongue gestures in “The Silence of the Lambs,” then I say McAvoy deserves a chance. My other leftfield pick is Jacob Tremblay, who played a boy with a craniofacial condition in “Wonder.” The 11-year-old Tremblay does a terrific acting job under a ton of makeup and prosthetics, which is exactly what Gary Oldman does as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” (though Oldman will surely win the Oscar).

And finally: Because I’m a nerd, I’ll be closely watching the best original screenplay category. This is where several “small” films — namely “Get Out,” “Lady Bird” and the cross-cultural rom-com “The Big Sick” — will have their best shot at the gold. Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” features a top-notch script as well (partly by first-timer Liz Hannah), but I’d prefer to see one of the littler guys get the glory.

We haven’t even talked about the #MeToo movement, the gender gap in Hollywood salaries or James Franco’s intriguing Zen strategy for dealing with accusations of sexual impropriety (“I guess I’m just letting it be”). We’ll have plenty of time for that, though, in the weeks ahead before the Oscars are handed out on March 4.

BEST PICTURE

“All the Money in the World”

“Battle of the Sexes”

“The Big Sick”

“Call Me By Your Name”

“Dunkirk”

“Get Out”

“I, Tonya”

“Lady Bird”

“The Shape of Water”

“Wonder Woman”

MY PICK “Get Out.” This was, hands down, the year’s freshest, most original and most relevant movie. And remember: This Oscar goes to the producers, who deserve credit for helping make a racially-charged horror film from an African-American filmmaker and featuring — whoa! — a black lead actor. That said, the buzz currently seems to favor Martin McDonagh’s small-town drama, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

BEST DIRECTOR

Ridley Scott, “All the Money in the World”

Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”

Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”

Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”

Luca Guadagnino, “Call Me By Your Name”

MY PICK Nolan. If we’re focusing specifically on the quality and craft of directing, Nolan takes the cake for “Dunkirk,” a head-spinning, almost physically exhausting war drama. Realistically, though, I predict del Toro edges him out with his gorgeous-looking monster romance, “The Shape of Water.”

BEST ACTRESS

Michelle Williams, “All the Money in the World”

Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”

Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”

Gal Gadot, “Wonder Woman”

MY PICK Hawkins. She plays a mute woman, but she says so much with her eyes that you’ll swear you hear her speak. If the great Frances McDormand wins this award, though — she plays a woman looking for her daughter’s killer — I won’t argue.

BEST ACTOR

Timothee Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”

Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”

James McAvoy, “Split”

Jacob Tremblay, “Wonder”

MY PICK Gary Oldman. Voting for Oldman as Winston Churchill seems like a no-brainer. Oldman uses everything he’s got — makeup, prosthetics, body language, eyes and voice — to bring a historical character to life. This is what we talk about when we talk about acting.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”

Tiffany Haddish, “Girls Trip”

Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”

Michelle Pfeiffer, “mother!”

Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”

MY PICK Janney. She plays Tonya Harding’s awful mother, LaVona Golden, with a mix of cruelty and comedy that is truly breathtaking. Some of my other picks here are far-fetched, but mark my words on Janney.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”

Steve Carell, “Battle of the Sexes”

Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Michael Stuhlbarg, “Call Me By Your Name”

MY PICK Rockwell. Calling him a “supporting” actor almost seems inaccurate, because his character — a brutal, racist cop — eventually becomes the focus of the film. At any rate, Rockwell’s high-revving, heart-in-throat performance seems the clear winner here.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, “The Big Sick”

Jordan Peele, “Get Out”

Steven Rogers, “I, Tonya”

Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”

Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”

MY PICK “Get Out.” This category is where Peele, a first-time filmmaker, could actually win an Oscar. Then again, it could go to Gerwig, who would become the rare female winner here. Or will it go to Martin McDonaugh, who already won the Globe for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”? Keep an eye on this category — it’ll be interesting.

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