- Timothee Chalamet as Elio, a teenager who falls for his father’s research assistant in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
- Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock, a successful, demanding clothing designer who finds his perfect life upended when he falls for a headstrong waitress in PHANTOM THREAD
- Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington, a black photographer who stumbles upon a nefarious plot during a weekend with his white girlfriend’s family in GET OUT
- Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister who must lead the United Kington to fighting Hitler in DARKEST HOUR
- DENZEL WASHINGTON as Roman J. Israel, an idealistic defense attorney who finds his principles tested when he moves into a new firm in ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.
Who Will Win?
Gary Oldman is a shoe-in for his portrayal of one of Britain’s most renowned Prime Ministers.
It’s astounding how he disappears into the role of such an iconic figure. The tall, slender Oldman couldn’t look more different from the short, stout Churchill, which makes it all the makeup artistry more amazing. But it’s not enough to slap on some prosthetics, especially when playing a real life public figure. Oldman must also capture Churchill’s mannerism, from the way he held his hands to the way he held a cigar. But that’s nothing compared to capturing Churchill’s gift with words. Churchill is considered one of the greatest public speakers in history, so Oldman needed to capture the power Churchill conveyed whenever he spoke. He meets the challenge head on and pulls it off.
At the same time, Oldman isn’t afraid to showcase Churchill’s flaws. His Churchill can be a bully, as we see in his first scene when he’s berating a secretary. He also reveals Churchill’s insecurities when his decisions are called into question. He’s further humanized in his bonding with his family and laughing with co-workers.
- Sally Hawkins as Eliza, a mute janitor who form a bond with a fish man in THE SHAPE OF WATER
- Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes, a bitter mother who sets up three billboards demanding justice for her murdered daughter in THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
- Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding, a blue-collar figure skater who was the first American to pull of a triple axel only to haver her career destroyed when her bodyguard clubs Nancy Kerrigan’s kneecaps in I, TONYA
- Saoirse Ronan as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a rebellious teenager struggling to find a direction in life in her senior year in LADY BIRD
- Meryl Streep as Katherine Graham, the first female news publisher who must decide whether to publish leaked White House documents in THE POST
Who Will Win?
This award so belongs to Frances McDormand. If she wins this, she’ll join the likes of Meryl Streep, Hilary Swank and Katherine Hepburn as one of few actresses to win two Oscars for this category. Personally, I find it funny that she’s only won Oscars for lead roles when she’s mostly known for supporting roles.
This role couldn’t be more different from her Oscar winning role for Fargo. Fargo’s Marge Gunderson is a perky, yet wise pregnant cop. Mildred Hayes is a pissed powerhouse of a mother. Marge speaks in a folksy, polite manner. Mildred spews profanity and insults at anyone who crosses her. Marge only uses violence as last resort. Mildred isn’t afraid to kick anyone’s ass who gets too cross with her.
What they do have in common is being women audiences wish they could be. In this case, each one for a different reason. Many wish they could carry a perky smile like Marge. Many also wish they throw a middle finger at the world like Mildred. Many wish they could speak wise words the way Marge does near the end. Many wish they could kick some punk kid’s balls like Mildred. They would especially love to spew obscenities with the grace of Mildred. Though different, these traits are what make these characters the kind of people most want to be.
We connect with her because McDormand makes her all too human. We can relate to Mildred’s need for justice and acknowledges other injustices from locals. But at the same time, her anger at times feel misplaced, as when she drills into a dentist’s fingers. These traits make Mildred a complicated character who has all this rage but has no idea how to channel it in an unfair world. What really fleshes out is the flashback. Seeing her argument with her daughter, you come to see some of her motivation comes from a sense of guilt over a shameful thing she said.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
- Willem Dafoe as Bobby, the long-suffering manager of a cheap Florida hotel in THE FLORIDA PROJECT
- Woody Harrelson as Chief Willoughby, a soft-spoken, dying police chief who becomes the target of Mildred’s wrath in THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
- Richard Jenkins as Giles, a closeted ad designer who assists Eliza break the Fish Man free in THE SHAPE OF WATER
- Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty, a billionaire tycoon who refused to pay for his grandson’s ransom in ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD
- Sam Rockwell as James Dixon, a dimwitted, racist officer who antagonizes Mildred Hayes in THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
Who Will Win?
Sam Rockwell is the favourite to win this award.
At first sight, Officer Dixon is impossible to take seriously. He tries to make himself look like a tough guy, which is impossible when everyone knows he’s a momma’s boy. On top of that, Dixon is a total boob with his bulgy belly and his inherent cluelessness. In one scene, he reads a letter, completely oblivious to the fact the buildings on fire. It would be funny if his abuse of power wasn’t so violent. In one scene, he assaults a kid and throws him down out a second story window just because his company prints the titular billboards. He is not someone who should be a cop.
At least on the surface. Later in the film, Willoughby tells Dixon he has the potential to be a great detective if he didn’t let his anger get the better of him. This sets off Dixon on a path to try to be a better person when he tries to solve the murder of Mildred’s daughter. In these moments, we see signs of potential via intuition. But has he really changed? That question lingers near the end and the film never offers any clear answers.
The one moment that really shows humanity is a serendipitous moment that forces Dixon in a helpless position. I won’t give too much away, but in this moment, he is put face to face with a man he had wronged before. In this moment, Dixon finally shows guilt for his actions. This brings up a question, is he developing self-awareness or is he just afraid of facing the consequences for his actions?
But I wanted to showcase another worthy performance; Willem Dafoe’s performance in The Florida Project. I’m just going to say it; I don’t like The Florida Project. I found the kid to be unbearable and her mother was a selfish, irresponsible criminal who beats up a friend for the crime of calling her out. Personally, I thought there was more relatable mother/son relationship I wish they had focused on.
And yet, Dafoe gave an excellent performance as the long-suffering weight of sanity in these neon coloured hotels. Throughout the film, Bobby tries to keep the hotel running smoothly while keeping everyone happy. It proves a challenge when kids are causing trouble.
But Dafoe’s performance truly stands out in a scene when Bobby confronts a man getting too close to some children. He leads the old creep away from the kids in an overly friendly manner, calling the man’s bluff that he was “getting a drink.” But underneath Bobby’s smile, you can tell he’s ready to smack this guy upside the head. And we wait in anticipation for it.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
- Mary J. Blige as Florence Jackson, a stern mother who becomes a nurse for a family of white farmers in MUDBOUND
- Allison Janney as LaVona Golden, Tonya Harding’s horrid, abusive mother in I, TONYA
- Lesley Manville as Cyril Woodcock, Reynold’s stern yet loyal sister/assistant in PHANTOM THREAD
- Laurie Metcalf as Marion McPherson, an overworked nurse/mother who has a difficult relationship with her daughter in LADY BIRD
- Octavia Spencer as Zelda, Eliza’s sassy co-worker/best friend who helps her break the Fish Man free in THE SHAPE OF WATER
Who Will Win?
Allison Janney is the favourite to win. Considering how much she sank her teeth into the role, it’s no surprise.
LaVona Golden is one repulsive human being. When she’s not kicking her daughter Tonya off her chair or putting her down, she’s subjecting Tonya to insane hours, even going as far as insulting her for needing to go to the bathroom during practice. Even when Tonya becomes famous, Lavona still shows no respect for her, taking advantage of her success. In one scene, she records a private conversation with Tonya for the press.
And yet, Lavona was key to in Tonya’s success, having her trained for figure skating as young as age 4. When she’s turned down, Lavona had Tonya to skate around anyway to prove her worth. In that moment, you can see that Lavona saw Tonya’s potential and pushed her to succeed. It seems to work, with Tonya beating older figure skater. It also builds into Tonya a drive needed to compete in the Olympics.
Though one could argue Lavona is at least partially responsible for the scandal that ruined Tonya’s life. After too much physical and verbal blows, Tonya started to believe herself deserving of abuse. This misguided mindset could explain why she kept going back to Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) despite all the beatings she inflicted on him. So, if Lavona wasn’t such an abusive monster, Tonya wouldn’t have stayed with an abusive husband. Which means she wouldn’t encountered Jeff’s delusional idiot friend Shawn. Then Shawn wouldn’t have hired his equally stupid friends to club competitor Nancy Kerrigan in the kneecaps. And Tonya’s figure skating career wouldn’t have been destroyed.
Allison Janney sinks her teeth into the role, spewing profanity with delicious malice. While most actresses would fish for some sympathy, Janney showcase Lavona’s ugliness in all its form. The only range you get is the twisted logic Lavona uses to justify her abuse, claiming it’s a sacrifice for a mother to be hated by their child. “Nice gets you shit!” You understand her mindset, but it only makes you hate her even more.
 Well, technically Hepburn has four Best Actress Oscars, but you get the idea.