The Big Six Oscar Predictions for the 90th Academy Awards

With the Winter Olympics closing ceremony this past Sunday, the focus can once again turn to the most glamorous night of the year: the 90th Academy Awards.

Returning this year is Jenkins, an Oscar prediction system named for surprise winner Moonlight‘s director Barry Jenkins. It looks at every nominee from the past 25 years, and using regressive analysis predicts the winners in each category based on similar awards won.

For example, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award is very predictive of Best Actor, while the People’s Choice Awards don’t predict much of anything. Most of the predictors are “inside,” or guild awards, like the SAG, Critic’s Choice, Producers Guild of America, etc., where the same people voting for these awards also vote in the Oscars. The rest of the predictors are “outside” and include film critic societies from around the world, some of which are better than others.

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Last year, Jenkins produced 67% accuracy across all categories. Hopefully, it only gets better. Check back as we predict every category leading up the big night on Sunday.

Without further ado, the predictions for Best Picture, Director, and the Acting categories:

Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Most Likely: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

This is a very weird year for Supporting Actor. Here’s the thing: Every actor in the past 25 years that has won the Golden Globe, the SAG, the BAFTA, and the Critics’ Choice awards have gone on to win the Oscar. Thus, Sam Rockwell is the favorite.

Yet, the same is also true for actors who have taken every outsider award, making Willem Dafoe the favorite. A similar scenario played out the past two years, with Mahershala Ali and Mark Rylance winning despite not taking most of the insider awards.

So who do we pick then? Despite Dafoe’s wins and excellent performance, Rockwell’s awards have felt like a recognition of his body of work. He’s been around for a long time, often playing this same basic role, but has not been recognized for it. That’s something the Academy loves to do, and it’s a safe bet they will repeat that here.

Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Allison Janney is a shoe in. She swept the SAG, Critic’s Choice, Golden Globes, and BAFTAs. You can bet your bottom dollar that she’ll take the stage on Sunday.

Best Actress: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Less Likely: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Very Unlikely: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Unlike many past seasons, this year’s Best Actress feels like a lock. Frances McDormand took the SAG, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice awards. While the outsider awards are fairly mixed in their picks, the weight of these insiders makes her win a sure thing.

Best Actor: Gary Oldman, Fences

Unlikely: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Very unlikely: Timothée Chalamet, Call My by Your Name

Gary Oldman has never won on Oscar. He’s been around for decades, and done an incredible variety of roles, but never taken home the statue.

That’s only going to bolster his near guarantee win on Sunday night, what with his SAG, Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe Drama, and BAFTA wins.

Best Director: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

It will be shocking if del Toro does not take the trophy home on Sunday night. He has won the DGA, Critics’ Choice, BAFTA, and Golden Globe. But more than this, del Toro has a fat resume of incredible contributions to the industry. It’s his time – simple as that.

Best Picture: The Shape of Water

Unlikely: Lady Bird

Very unlikely: Get Out

Save for any embarrassing nationally televised mishaps, The Shape of Water will take the win this year.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has gained momentum, and is the leading choice in a lot of polls. Its SAG, Golden Globe, and BAFTA wins certainly help.

But The Shape of Water has taken the PGA, DGA, and Critic’s Choice. The PGA is the most predictive category for Best Picture, and it carries a lot of weight. Yet, just last year, the Oscar winner did not line up.

And that, more than anything, is a reflection of the changing times. While La La Land was the favorite to win, it did not reflect the changing voter base and their preferences.

That same trend will play out this year. Three Billboards is topical, but that does not translate beyond surface level. It is not telling a new story, by and large. And as good as McDormand was, one performance a win does not guarantee.

Instead, the Academy will choose a love story about those who never receive them. It will choose a movie that celebrates love in all forms, peace, the borderless advancement of science, and the admission that the villains of the world were born out of 1950’s white government and corporate men.

The Shape of Water will win, and only those who aren’t paying attention will be surprised.

Eric Morales
Eric Morales
Eric Morales is from the bear-ridden schools of Wyoming, but in his 5th year in Chicago. More importantly, he achieved minor Twitter fame once and hasn't stopped bringing it up since. He has a healthy obsession with Star Wars, Wonder Woman, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Bulbasaur. Please validate him by following him on Twitter, @ericsmorals