Oscars best picture suspense crowns tumultuous Hollywood year

Unlike previous years, the best picture contest this time is anyone’s guess.

Picture: @TheAcademy/Twitter.

LOS ANGELES - The red carpet has been rolled out and the champagne is on ice for an Oscars ceremony on Sunday filled with suspense over the movie industry’s biggest prize - and whether Hollywood’s campaign against sexual harassment will steal the spotlight.

Unlike previous years, the best picture contest this time is anyone’s guess.

Fox Searchlight fantasy romance The Shape of Water with a leading 13 nominations, Fox Searchlight dark comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Universal Pictures racial satire Get Out all have a fighting chance, awards pundits say.

“I think Get Out seems to have the momentum right now,” said Dave Karger, special correspondent for entertainment website IMDB.com.

Get Out, a bold horror movie that became a talking point around modern-day race relations in America won the best picture at Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards.

But Hollywood also has other issues on its mind, including the sexual misconduct scandal that has brought down dozens of once powerful men, and lingering questions over racial and gender fairness in the movie business.

The Time’s Up campaign against sexual harassment in the workplace, spearheaded by celebrities including Reese Witherspoon and Ava DuVernay, will be recognised in some form in Sunday’s ceremony, organisers say.

History could be made on Sunday.

WATCH: Excitement grows ahead of Oscars

Get Out director and writer Jordan Peele could be the first black man in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 90-year history to win a directing Oscar.

Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig could become only the second female to take home that prize when the decision of the 8,000 Academy members is announced.

“Every year, the discussion around the awards is less and less who will win, but how many women are nominated, or how many blacks and Asians lost,” said Tom O’Neil, founder of awards website GoldDerby.com.

Host Jimmy Kimmel has the task of navigating the wider political themes with the celebrations. He is also expected to turn into a running joke last year’s embarrassing best picture envelope mix-up that saw musical La La Land being declared winner instead of Moonlight.

No such suspense surrounds the main acting races, where Frances McDormand is heavily favoured to win for her turn as an angry, grieving mother in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and British actor Gary Oldman’s performance as wartime leader Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour is widely expected to bring his first Oscar.

In the supporting actor categories, odds are on Allison Janney for I, Tonya, and Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards after they swept previous awards.

As for best picture, “anything can happen there as we have learned year after year when voters have given us upset after upset,” O’Neil said.

The Academy Awards will be televised live on ABC starting at 8pm EST/5pm PST (01.00 GMT on Monday).

KEY NOMINATIONS

Following are nominations in key categories;

Best Picture

“Call Me by Your Name”

“Darkest Hour”

“Dunkirk”

“Get Out”

“Lady Bird”

“Phantom Thread”

“The Post”

“The Shape of Water”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Best Actor

Timothee 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.”

Best Actress

Sally Hawkins -“The Shape of Water”

Frances McDormand -“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Meryl Streep -“The Post”

Margot Robbie -“I, Tonya”

Saoirse Ronan -“Lady Bird”

Best Director

Guillermo del Toro -“The Shape of Water”

Christopher Nolan -“Dunkirk”

Jordan Peele -“Get Out”

Greta Gerwig -“Lady Bird”

Paul Thomas Anderson -“Phantom Thread”

Best Supporting Actor

Willem Dafoe -“The Florida Project”

Richard Jenkins -“The Shape of Water”

Sam Rockwell -“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Christopher Plummer -“All the Money in the World”

Woody Harrelson -“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Best Supporting Actress

Mary J. Blige -“Mudbound”

Allison Janney -“I, Tonya”

Laurie Metcalf -“Lady Bird”

Octavia Spencer -“The Shape of Water”

Lesley Manville -“Phantom Thread”

Best Original Screenplay

“The Big Sick”

“Get Out”

“Lady Bird”

“The Shape of Water”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Best Adapted Screenplay

“Call Me By Your Name”

“The Disaster Artist”

“Logan”

“Molly’s Game”

“Mudbound”

Best Animated Film

“The Boss Baby”

“The Breadwinner”

“Coco”

“Ferdinand”

“Loving Vincent”

Best Documentary Film

“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”

“Faces Places”

“Icarus”

“Last Man in Aleppo”

“Strong Island”

Best Foreign Language Film

“A Fantastic Woman” - Chile

“The Insult” - Lebanon

“Loveless” - Russia

“Our Body and Soul” - Hungary

“The Square” - Sweden

Original song

“Mighty River,” - Mudbound

“Mystery of Love” - Call Me By Your Name

“Remember Me” - Coco

“Stand Up for Something” - Marshall

“This is Me” - The Greatest Showman