Win your Oscar pool with expert predictions in every single category

Kevin Polowy
Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
Photo: 20th Cent/Universal/Fox Searchlight

The 90th Academy Awards will unfold on Sunday, and by this point in the slog of the awards season, we typically have a pretty good idea of who’s going home with the gold. But this year, there’s still a little bit of suspense heading into the ceremony, especially with the Best Picture race seemingly more wide open than ever. Here are our Oscar predictions for  all 24 categories — and be sure to print out your ballot so you can play along at home.


Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Is this one of the closest Best Picture races ever? The Decider says it’s at least the closest since 2006. The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri have been the frontrunners jockeying for first place in the Academy’s complicated preferential ballot system after each securing late-season guild awards. Both films, however, have their detractors and could split the vote, which would open the door for Get Out. In fact, so many people are now calling for a Get Out upset that by Sunday night it might not feel so surprising.

Prediction: Get Out
Don’t be surprised by: The Shape of Water or Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Dark horse: Dunkirk


Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out

For four of the past five years, the Academy has split its top two prizes. This is a category that also tends to reward pure technical mastery. That would put DGA champ Guillermo del Toro — a much  revered, Oscar-less filmmaker — in great shape for the beautifully captured Shape of Water. Don’t count out another much revered, Oscar-less filmmaker named Christopher Nolan for his stunningly immersive battle pic, Dunkirk, though.

Prediction: Guillermo del Toro
Don’t be surprised by: Christopher Nolan
Dark horse: Jordan Peele


Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post

This was once considered a three-way race between Frances McDormand, Saoirse Ronan, and Sally Hawkins; all signs now point to the Three Billboards star for her blistering, all-out-of-effs turn as a grieving mother tormenting local police for not solving her daughter’s murder case. McDormand should win an Oscar to bookend her 1996 stauette for Fargo — let’s just try not to bleep her out this time.

Prediction: Frances McDormand
Dark horse: Saoirse Ronan or Sally Hawkins


Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

You could say (and people did) that Gary Oldman won the Oscar when Darkest Hour premiered in the fall — or even earlier, when the trailer debuted. Oldman’s unrecognizable turn as world history MVP Winston Churchill really is that stunning. It’s one of those transformative performances that comes along every few years, and the best male lead performance since Daniel Day-Lewis downed those metaphorical milkshakes in There Will Be Blood.

Prediction: Gary Oldman
Dark horse: Timothée Chalamet


Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

There was a time when both supporting categories looked incredibly close. But with wins at the SAG Awards, the Golden Globes, and the BAFTAs, Allison Janney has left Laurie Metcalf in the dust with her hilarious, biting, bird-assisted, profanity-laced, tragicomic work as Tonya Harding’s mom LaVona Golden in the mockumentary I, Tonya. If Oldman’s performance is the flat-out best of the year, Janney’s is my favorite.

Prediction: Allison Janney
Don’t be surprised by: Laurie Metcalf
Dark horse: Mary J. Blige


Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This category was once presumed to be a nail-biter between Willem Dafoe and Sam Rockwell, but the latter has emerged as the clear favorite following victories at the SAGs, the Globes, and the BAFTAs. While Rockwell is where smart money is, there has also been some blowback against the redemption of his bigoted cop in the film, and with Dafoe being the sole representative of the beloved but otherwise snubbed Florida Project, I’m calling fo a most irresponsible upset here.

Prediction: Willem Dafoe
(Definitely) Don’t be surprised by: Sam Rockwell


Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Jordan Peele made history by becoming the first African-American nominated for Oscar’s trifecta: writing, directing, and producing. And considering that Get Out is far from a lock in Best Picture or Best Director, it wouldn’t be surprising to see voters throw their weight behind him here. Martin McDonagh, however, was snubbed in Best Director, so the acclaimed playwright/screenwriter could score some sympathy points. And let’s not forget the brilliance of Greta Gerwig’s deeply personal coming-of-ager Lady Bird. This one’s a toughie.

Prediction: Get Out
Don’t be surprised by: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Dark horse: Lady Bird


James Ivory, Call Me by Your Name
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist
Scott Frank, James Mangold. and Michael Green, Logan
Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game
Dee Rees and Virgil Williams, Mudbound

Unlike the previous category, Best Adapted Screenplay has very little suspense. Expect 89-year-old scribe James Ivory (formerly of the Merchant Ivory producing team) to be the lone representative from Call Me by Your Name to hear his name called Sunday.

Prediction: Call Me by Your Name


The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Loving Vincent

Here’s another category without much suspense. Coco is one of Pixar’s most color, inventive, and poignant adventures yet, even if it “underperformed” at the box office with only $208 million. It’s all relative to other Pixar movies; last year’s Finding Dory made more than twice that amount. Dory, however, wasn’t even nominated. Coco will head to the afterlife an Oscar winner.

Prediction: Coco
Dark horse: The Breadwinner or Loving Vincent


Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

There are typically two types of docs that prevail at the Oscars: the crowdpleasers (i.e. March of the Penguins) or the heavy downers (The Cove). This year’s pool has both types: the quirky and comedic Faces Places, and the horrifying and intense Syrian war tearjerker Last Men in Aleppo. Icarus, Bryan Fogel’s stunning and maddening firsthand exposé of the Russian Olympic doping scandal is in a category all its own, though, much like last year’s winner, O.J.: Made in America (but six hours shorter!).

Prediction: Icarus
Don’t be surprised by: Faces Places
Dark horse: Last Men in Aleppo


A Fantastic Woman
The Insult
On Body and Soul
The Square

Ruben Östlund’s Swedish satire The Square has been the perceived favorite among foreign films since it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year, but its jankier moments and all-over-the-place narrative could turn some voters off. A safer bet could be Sebastián Lelio’s quietly devastating drama A Fantastic Woman, featuring a revelatory performance from transgender newcomer Daniela Vega — who, in a less competitive year, could’ve claimed a spot in the Best Actress race.

Prediction: A Fantastic Woman
Don’t be surprised by: The Square
Dark horse: Loveless


Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

This is one of the more intriguing cinematography races in years (if you’re an Oscar nerd like me). Rachel Morrison earned her placed in the record books by become the first woman nominated in this category for beautifully rendering harsh rural landscapes in Mudbound. She earned the loudest ovation at the February’s nominees luncheon, for what that’s worth, and also just DP’ed Black Panther. But how do you not give this one to Roger Deakins, legend of the frame who now stands at 0-for-13 at the Oscars and who may have delivered his most dazzling work yet in bringing to life the moody futurism of Blade Runner 2049?

Prediction: Blade Runner 2049
Don’t be surprised by: Mudbound
Dark horse: Dunkirk


Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Christopher Nolan’s rousing Dunkirk was once thought to be a surefire Best Picture favorite, but while those days are behind us, the WWII thriller could still rack up some technical wins. That starts with editing, where it just prevailed at the American Cinema Editors (ACE) Awards. Its stiffest competition comes from car chase musical Baby Driver, but odds favor Dunkirk‘s Lee Smith winning his first Oscar in three tries.

Prediction: Dunkirk
Don’t be surprised by: Baby Driver

Vicky Krieps and Daniel Day-Lewis in “Phantom Thread.” (Focus)


Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul

One of the films nominated for Best Costume Design is about a man (Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock) actually designing costumes (OK, they’re technically dresses, but you get the picture). ‘Nuff said.

Prediction: Phantom Thread


Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

There’s an impressive set of worlds built here, but the work of The Shape of Water team of Paul D. Austerberry, Shane Vieau, and Jeffrey A. Melvin has a leg (fin?) up here for crafting a universe that’s not only enticing to look at but also feels so unique to its fairy-tale story.

Prediction: The Shape of Water
Dark horse: Blade Runner 2049


Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

It’s a shame more blockbuster-type action films don’t get serious consideration for Best Picture, because the War for the Planet of the Apes capped an incredible trilogy in which the films got better with each installment. They’ll have to settle for a signature win for their groundbreaking VFX — if they hold off the eye-popping effects of Blade Runner 2049.

Prediction: War for the Planet of the Apes
Don’t be surprised by: Blade Runner 2049


Darkest Hour
Victoria & Abdul

This one is easier to predict than most below-the-line categories for a couple reasons: One, there are only three nominees (though it’s anyone’s guess how a film like Victoria & Abdul made the cut over Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2). Two, just look at what the Darkest Hour team did to Gary Oldman.

Prediction: Darkest Hour
Dark horse: Wonder


Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

There are some legends among the contenders, notably The Last Jedi‘s John Williams (five wins in 50 previous nominations) Dunkirk‘s Hans Zimmer (one win in 10 previous nominations) and The Shape of Water‘s Alexandre Desplat (one in in eight previous nominations). Desplat is considered the heavy frontrunner for shaping Water‘s sounds, but I’m partial to Phantom Thread for the sumptuous work done by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood, who could creep up and pull off a surprise win.

Prediction: Phantom Thread
Don’t be surprised by: The Shape of Water
Dark horse: Dunkirk


“The Mystery of Love,” Call Me by Your Name
“Remember Me,” Coco
“This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman
“Stand Up for Something,” Marshall
“Mighty River,” Mudbound

Earlier this year I would’ve said this one’s open and shut: It’d be the unforgettable Coco ballad “Remember Me” all the way. But that was before the Keala Settle-crooned, Pasek and Paul-written power pop tune “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman became a bona fide hit. I still think Coco will prevail, but this race is a lot closer than it used to be.

Prediction: “Remember Me”
Don’t be surprised by: “This Is Me”


Because it’s always helpful to have a refresher: Sound editing is the creation of nonmusical sound effects used in films (i.e., sirens, gunshots, etc.) while sound mixing is the blending and balancing all of the sounds in a film. (They’re different effects, yet all five nominees are the same in each category.)

Best Sound Editing nominees:
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

One common theme among the majority of recent sound editing winners (Mad Max, American Sniper, Skyfall, The Hurt Locker) is gunfire. Therefore, it’s wise to lean toward Dunkirk on this one.

Prediction: Dunkirk
Don’t be surprised by: Baby Driver

Best Sound Mixing nominees:

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Now think about how much audio wizardry went into blending the heist action of Baby Driver with all the tunes director Edgar Wright had his cast carefully choreograph their movements to … feels like that type of synchronicity is more than enough to warrant an Oscar.

Prediction: Baby Driver
Don’t be surprised by: Dunkirk


DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wote (All of Us)

The most topical choice here is surely DeKalb Elementary, a low-budget and contained drama about a school administrator confronting a mentally unstable gunman who has entered the premises. But that short’s production values and emotional resonance are dwarfed by The Silent Child, a poignant and beautifully shot tale of a relationship between a tutor and deaf child that doubles as a plea for more readily available sign-language programs in schools.

Prediction: The Silent Child
Don’t be surprised by: DeKalb Elementary
Dark horse: The Eleven O’Clock


Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

The oddsmakers are seeing stars in their eyes and favoring the Kobe Bryant-produced love letter to hoops, Dear Basketball. But there’s also a serious Pixar charmer in the mix, Lou, about a shape-shifting monster who schools a bully (and which provided the best six minutes of our Cars 3 experience). While you’d think the animation giant would regularly triumph in this category, they’ve actually only won once — last year for Piper — over the past decade. (Disney Animation has won two others over that span.) I’ll bet on a repeat, though.

Prediction: Lou
Don’t be surprised by: Dear Basketball
Dark horse: Revolting Rhymes


Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

If there’s an easy call among the short categories, this would be it. Though Heroin(e) and Knife Skills are both well worth a watch, Edith+Eddie — a look at an interracial marriage between Virginians aged 95 and 96 — is a cut above the rest. The film pivots early from quirky bliss to devastating heartbreak over its fully engaging 30 minutes. Plus, only one of these films has Cher stumping for it.

Prediction: Edith+Eddie
Don’t be surprised by: Heroin(e)
Dark horse: Knife Skills

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