ONE of best parts of Oscar time is trying to guess who's going home with those coveted, shiny statuettes and all attendant bragging rights.
Join Oscar obsessives Wenlei Ma and Hannah-Rose Yee for a conversation over who they think will win big come Oscar night and why the best movie won't be crowned with the ultimate prize.
BEST PICTURE CONUNDRUM
Wenlei Ma: Best Picture is the most contentious category in a very long time and whatever wins, it's going to be a surprise.
Hannah-Rose Yee: I think so too. It's nice that this one is up in the air because most of the categories feel like they're decided.
WM: If anyone other than the four expected acting winners - Allison Janney for I, Tonya, Frances McDormand for Three Billboards, Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour and Sam Rockwell also for Three Billboards - is called out, it's going to be the biggest upset of the night.
HRY: What are your thoughts with where Best Picture going to fall?
WM: I thought it was going to go to Shape of Water , a beautifully crafted fairytale, or Three Billboards , a dark tale about revenge and racism. But I have been very convinced by some arguments that because of the Oscars' preferential ballot system, Dunkirk or something else could sneak in there and upset those presumptive forerunners.
HRY: I'm glad you brought up the preferential ballot because I think this is a really big indicator of what's going to happen and I think a lot of people don't know how the preferential ballot system works. It's exactly like the Australian elections but with movies. WM: Voters rank the movies from one to nine and the movies with the least number of one votes are progressively culled, with their second, third and fourth choices receiving the vote every time the first choice is ruled out.
HRY: What that means is the winner is not necessarily the movie that gets the most "number one" votes on the first round, the winner is likely to be the film that is liked by the majority of voters.
WM: That's one of the reasons why the best movie isn't likely to win Best Picture. It's better to have most voters give you a slighter lower position than to have some voters give you the top position.
HRY: I think how this preferential ballot plays out is if you are number two, three or four on most people's ballots, you can sneak in and win the whole damn thing. What do you think will be in those spots?
WM: I think Dunkirk has a really good shot. Christopher Nolan is respected and the movie is also highly respected from a craft perspective, and it's not controversial. Voters who love indie movies such as Lady Birdor Get Out love Dunkirk as well. For traditionalists who love The Post or Darkest Hour, they also love Dunkirk. I think it's beloved by all the groups of voters.
HRY: I think it's Get Out. Here's my case for it. I think right now, in this Academy which has let in a bunch of new diverse voters, diverse racially, gender and age, Get Out is the kind of movie that is going to appeal to a large spectrum of voters and it feels the most "of this moment". It is beloved and it is unquestionably an achievement from a first time director. It would be such an exciting, modern and fresh choice.
WM: If you could vote, what would be your number one?
HRY: My number one would be Lady Bird.
WM: Same. But I think it's too subtle to win. Academy voters love a big, showy film and that is another reason why the best movies rarely win Best Picture. I think Moonlight, last year's winner, was an exception.
HRY: I agree. But I think the fact that Lady Bird there and it's nominated for so many awards and it's about a teenage girl and her relationship with her mother is so wonderful.
WM: It's a genuine female perspective from a young female director.
HRY: My number two would be Get Out.
WM: Mine would be Call Me By Your Name, I just loved it. I loved the sensual tone of it and it feels like something that just naturally happened and that's really hard to achieve.
HRY: Same could be said for Lady Bird - very effortless, which is really hard to do. I genuinely think it would be great if Shape of Water wins. It is a beautiful looking movie that comes from a real outsider perspective. I did not like Three Billboards, so anything other than that would fine.
THE OTHER MAJORS
WM: We both agree that Gary Oldman is going to win for Darkest Hour? Do you think Call Me By Your Name's Timothee Chalamet could be a spoiler?
HRY: Oldman is going to take it and it'll be a career win. I love Timothee Chalamet and I reckon that there was an argument to be made for him about a month ago, but I think that momentum has gone. He's there, he's happy to be nominated. But Timothee will be back.
WM: Allison Janney for Best Supporting Actress in I, Tonya seems locked down but do you think Lady Bird's Laurie Metcalf could sneak in?
HRY: I so wish that she could. But I don't think that's going to happen. I have read online that some Oscar voters are going to be putting Laurie Metcalf but also Leslie Manville in Phantom Thread as their number one.
WM: Oh! Both very subtle roles. Not showy. Allison Janney's role is very showy and scene-stealing.
HRY: It's definitely a "performance". And she has a lot more to work with. My big concern going into the Oscars on Monday is that my movie, Lady Bird, is going to win zero awards. So I think Best Original Screenplay is where Lady Bird could get recognised. And I think the Academy does like to be democratic with how they dole out the Awards so they often give Picture to one film, Director to another person and I think we can both agree it's going to be Shape of Water's Guillermo del Toro for Director.
WM: Absolutely. So do you think that means there's not going to be a clean sweep this year?
HRY: Well - I mean I am going hard for this theory that Get Out wins Picture, Guillermo gets Director for Shape of Water, and that movie is going to win other below-the-line stuff in the craft categories.
HRY: I think Phantom Thread is going to win costumes. That will be its award. That movie is literally about dresses. So the way it can be doled out is that you then have Three Billboards winning some acting prizes and you have Call Me By Your Name winning Adapted Screenplay, Darkest Hour is getting its Gary Oldman prize, and I think you get to Original Screenplay and that's where Lady Bird writer and director Greta Gerwig could win. The screenplay for Lady Bird is amazing. It's so funny and clever and real and raw. Although I know you're going to make an argument for someone else to win in Original Screenplay.
WM: I would love Lady Bird to win Original Screenplay, but I think that Jordan Peele will probably win for Get Out because I'm not convinced that he's going to win Best Picture and I think they do want to give Get Out a prize and I think Original Screenplay is where they'll give it to him.
HRY: I think for Get Out to walk away with nothing from the ceremony would be a real shame, and a real shock.
BEST OF THE REST
WM: Coco for Best Song and Animation. Do you think there's any competition?
HRY: I think The Greatest Showman is going to win Best Song. People love that movie and those songs. It has made an insane amount of money around the world.
WM: I think the song is very much an anthem but I wholeheartedly believe that is not even the best song in the movie. I like The Greatest Showman and I had a really good time with it but I think that song represents the worst instincts of that movie which is "look at us, we're doing this wonderful thing and we're celebrating outsiders", but all the outsider characters don't even have names. That song is so cynical to me.
HRY: But Coco for Animated Feature is a lock. So we have two Aussies nominated in the Editing category. Lee Smith, who is nominated for Dunkirk, and Paul Machliss, who is one of the editors of Baby Driver. Interesting factoid to note, the BAFTAs changed their voting regulations for Editing a few years ago and since then they have matched up every single time with the Oscars. They have predicted surprise winners like Hacksaw Ridge which no-one saw coming. So I think that the Paul Machliss win at the BAFTAs could be a sign that Baby Driver might spoil Dunkirk's parade.
WM: The editing in that movie is so completely on point because if the editing in that movie doesn't work, the whole movie doesn't work. Lee Smith has done a great job on Dunkirk but I know some people still don't understand the structure of Dunkirk and I don't blame them, it was still a little confusing at times.
HYR: I'd be happy with either of the Aussies winning. I think in terms of other Australians, we have Josh Lawson nominated for his short film, The Eleven O'Clock.
WM: But I don't think it's going to happen for him.
HRY: And Margot is nominated for Best Actress.
WM: She is going to be an also-ran in this category.
HYR: But it's a sign of good things to come from her. She's such a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood moving forward now. An Oscar nomination to her name is a pretty big prize in and of itself.
QUICK PREDICTIONS GUIDE
By Wenlei Ma
Likely to win: Guillermo del Toro, Shape of Water
Could win: Jordan Peele, Get Out
Should win: Guillermo del Toro, Shape of Water
Likely to win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Could win: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Should win: Sally Hawkins, Shape of Water
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Likely to win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Could win: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Should win: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Likely to win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Could win: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Should win: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Likely to win: Jordan Peele, Get Out
Could win: Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should win: Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Likely to win: James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name
Could win: Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, Mudbound
Should win: James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name
Likely to win: Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
Could win: Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk
Should win: Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Likely to win: Coco
Could win: Loving Vincent
Should win: Coco
Likely to win: "Remember Me", Coco
Could win: "This is Me", The Greatest Showman
Should win: "Remember Me", Coco
Likely to win: Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
Could win: Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
Should win: Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water