First 2018 Predictions
Denis Villeneuve "Blade Runner 2049"
Kathryn Bigelow "Detroit"
Alexander Payne "Downsizing"
Christopher Nolan "Dunkirk"
Paul Thomas Anderson "Phantom Thread"
Other Contenders - Dee Rees "Mudbound", Steven Spielberg "The Papers", Joe Wright "The Darkest Hour", George Clooney "Suburbicon", Michael Haneke "Happy End", Sofia Coppola "The Beguiled", Reginald Hudlin "Marshall", Darren Aronofsky "Mother!", Luca Guadagnino "Call Me By Your Name", Garth Davis "Mary Magdelene", Stephen Frears "Victoria and Abdul", Woody Allen "Wonder Wheel", Aaron Sorkin "Molly's Game", Guillermo Del Toro "The Shape of Water", Michael Gracey "The Greatest Showman", Jordan Peele "Get Out", Rian Johnson "Star Wars: The Last Jedi", Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Feris "The Battle of the Sexes", Todd Haynes "Wonderstruck", Jason Reitman "Tully", Taylor Sheridan "Wind River", Patty Jenkins "Wonder Woman", Steven Soderbergh "Logan Lucky", Michael Showalter "The Big Six", Alfonso Gomez-Rejon "The Current War", Martin McDonagh "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", Tomas Alfredson "The Snowman", Simon Curtis "Goodbye Christopher Robin", Yorgos Lanthimos "The Killing of the Sacred Deer", Destin Daniel Cretton "The Glass Castle", Kenneth Branagh "Murder on the Orient Express", Greta Gerwig "Lady Bird", Jason Dean Hall "Thank You For Your Service", James Mangold "Logan", Jon Watts "Spider-Man: Homecoming", Bill Condon "Beauty and the Beast", Jordan Vogt-Roberts "Kong: Skull Island", Ridley Scott "Alien: Covenant", Trey Edward Shults "It Comes At Night", Edgar Wright "Baby Driver", Luc Besson "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets", Geremy Jasper "Patti Cake$", Doug Liman "American Made", Sean Baker "The Florida Project", Rob Reiner "LBJ"
Commentary - This category is so damn stacked with folks, honestly, trying to make the list has taken forever. Every time I think I am done, I find another name I think could be in the conversation. Let's start with the top five. Kathryn Bigelow returns with Detroit. Zero Dark Thirty only got derailed because of petty politics that some other studio pushed against it. The allegations into any improper conduct, which was being investigated by Congress, was dropped the day after the 2012 Academy Awards. I think some studio boss was getting weary of Zero Dark Thirty's late climb and pulled some political strings to make this happen. This is the closest I will ever get to a real conspiracy theory, so let me have this one. All of that being said, Detroit looks riveting and they owe her a nod. Paul Thomas Anderson returns to this race with Phantom Thread. If he is going to make the cut, it is going to have to be a lot more accessible than The Master. Alexander Payne is always underestimated, so I am predicting him till I have reason not to. It has been three in a row. Christopher Nolan didn't have luck with his comic book and sci-fi films, but maybe Academy voters will recognize his brilliance with an historical drama right up their alley. Finally, Denis Villeneuve proved that smart science fiction can win over Academy voters. That combined with nostalgia might be enough for him to breakthrough again with the Blade Runner sequel 2049. Beyond that there are some floating at the surface. Never discount Steven Spielberg, and this time with not just Tom Hanks in tow, but Meryl Streep as well. Joe Wright is tackling Winston Churchill, Dee Rees has already won over Sundance, George Clooney is popular, and previous nominees like Michael Haneke, Sofia Coppola, Darren Aronofsky, and Stephen Frears should not be discounted. Woody Allen's newest is getting a prime awards date, which makes me think the studio thinks this one is a contender. Todd Haynes got decent reception at Cannes, Jason Reitman might make a comeback, Guillermo Del Toro is brilliant, Taylor Sheridan is on the rice, Aaron Sorkin could be a first-time director breakthrough, the Little Miss Sunshine duo returns, Garth Davis got so close last year, and Luca Duadagnino is a Sundance smash. There are so many other names, so I'm going to skip to some of the big guys like Jordan Peele, Patty Jenkins, Rian Johnson, and James Mangold. Don't forget the big guys Academy. They make great films, and make them accessible. That's hard to do and a showcase of real talent.