We're a little over six months out from the Oscars, but the campaigns are beginning to build momentum with the likes of Telleuride, Venice and London Film Festival debuting some of the films and performances that'll be talked about and mulled over.
As with previous years, it's important to highlight that almost all of these predictions are based on early reactions and reviews, and in some cases, very early screenings. In other instances, it's based on past form from directors and talent attached, and the likelihood of certain films getting in front of an Academy voter.
We begin as always with...
Gary Oldman's performance in Darkest Hour is being hailed as the one to beat this year - and it's quite likely that, even if it isn't, Oldman is due an Oscar based on his body of work to date. Sandra Bullock got the same deal for The Bright Side; pretty standard film but the prevailing sentiment was that she was getting the Oscar because of her work up to that point. As sure as Oldman is in this, there's also a good chance that you'll have outliers like Andy Serkis from War For The Planet Of The Apes or even Liam Neeson for Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House. With that in mind...
GARY OLDMAN - Darkest Hour
ARMIE HAMMER - Call Me By Your Name
ANDY SERKIS - War For The Planet Of The Apes
DENZEL WASHINGTON - Ramon J. Israel, Esq.
JEREMY RENNER - Wind River
As we said, it looks like this is Gary Oldman's race to lose and all the major trade bibles are putting him as the favourite to win. The only possible contender could come from Denzel Washington in Tony Gilroy's legal drama or, failing that, maybe Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name. If there was justice in this world, they'd give it to Andy Serkis.
The Best Actress category is always a difficult one to call, primarily because the performances are so top-tier that it's hard to find one that'll stand out over the other. That said, our own Saoirse Ronan is expected to have a strong chance with Greta Gerwig's directorial debut, Lady Bird. You've also got Jessica Chastain for Aaron Sorkin's Molly's Game, and you've also got Frances McDormand for Three Billboards. Margot Robbie's I, Tonya is also getting a lot of strong press and there's a good chance the love-it-hate-it mother! and Jennifer Lawrence could play a part. If you're looking for a long-shot, Nicole Kidman for The Beguiled or The Killing Of A Sacred Deer or Gal Gadot for Wonder Woman could feature. All that aside, here's how we think it'll pan out.
SAOIRSE RONAN - Lady Bird
SALLY HAWKINS - The Shape Of Water
JESSICA CHASTAIN - Molly's Game
EMMA STONE - Battle Of The Sexes
FRANCES McDORMAND - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Like we said, it's a real Group Of Death situation this year for the Best Actress nomination. Sally Hawkins' performance in Del Toro's The Shape Of Water has been generating significant buzz and it's quite possible that this will carry through until March of next year. Frances McDormand, however, is a reliable bet to win here because A) she's fantastic, B) she's won before and there's every chance she'll win again, and C) see A and B.
What's interesting about the Best Picture race this year is that at least four major studio blockbusters have a pretty decent chance of winning. We're, of course, referring to Logan, Dunkirk, War For The Planet Of The Apes and Blade Runner 2049 - all strong contenders and all fully deserving of a nomination for Best Picture. However, if previous ceremonies have told us anything, it's that you're going to see at least one - if not two - of these mercilessly snubbed by the voting pools. Not only that, there's no guarantee that ten movies will be nominated either. With that in mind...
THE BIG SICK
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
BLADE RUNNER 2049
By all accounts, it looks Dunkirk and World War II is the big theme this year - so expect Gary Oldman to win in the Best Actor category and Dunkirk to win Best Picture and probably Best Director too. mother! will probably get a look-in purely on the basis of it being probably the most talked-about film this year that wasn't It or any of the comic-book movies. Logan and War For The Planet Of The Apes will cancel one another out as they're both from Fox, and Get Out will feature more to try and remind audiences that sometimes AMPAS can pick movies that people actually like.
As we just mentioned, this is pretty much Christopher Nolan's to lose. Dunkirk was both a critical and commercial hit and pretty much everyone walked away from it with the certain knowledge that come Oscar time, he'd be duly rewarded. Outside of Nolan, you're probably going to see a lot of new faces in the running. Patty Jenkins will most likely receive a nomination for Wonder Woman, as will Jordan Peele for Get Out, and you'll probably see Kathyrn Bigelow and Greta Gerwig pick up a nomination too. Del Toro could possibly feature for The Shape Of Water, but this is definitely Nolan's year.
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN - Dunkirk
JORDAN PEELE - Get Out
GRETA GERWIG - Lady Bird
PATTY JENKINS - Wonder Woman
GUILLERMO DEL TORO - The Shape Of Water
If there was justice in the world, Matt Reeves would get a look in for War For The Planet Of The Apes - but there's fat chance of that happening as there's just too much going for him to punch through. For sure, War For The Planet Of The Apes will feature heavily and sweep up in the technicals, but it seems unlikely so far that they'll get into the acting / directing categories. And that's a shame because it's a great, great film.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The two main contenders this year - Coco and Ferdinand - have yet to be released, so it's hard to know for sure which will win - but be assured that both will definitely feature in the nominations. Outside of the major studios, Irishwoman Nora Twomey and Cartoon Saloon's The Breadwinner is the favourite to win and has Angelina Jolie onboard as producer. You may possibly also see LEGO Batman Movie in there, but it'll be unlikely to take home any statuette.
LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
Loving Vincent is the outlier here, and features purely for the technical merits involved. It's the first fully painted animated film; so that's 65,000 frames all individually painted in the style of Van Gogh with a team of 115 painters working to create it. So, yeah, expect to get a nomination at the very least. The Breadwinner has a very strong chance of winning here, especially as the subject matter is so prescient what with Trump in the White House and the subject of sexism in the workplace.
So, that's about everything we can make so far of the Oscars race as it stands. Nominations are due to be announced in and around January 2018, with the ceremony itself taking place - later than usual, it must be said - on March 4th, 2018. We'll have full analysis and everything else when the nominations are announced, and all the coverage from the night itself.
In the meantime, let us know what your own predictions are for this year's Oscar race in the comments!