Subscribe for 33¢ / day

On Sunday, March 4, the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles will host the ceremony for the 90th Academy Awards. While there is no surefire way to determine the outcome of this year’s Oscars race, the Napa Valley Film Festival team has watched the films in the major categories, tracked the nominees throughout this year’s awards season, and is eager and excited to share its list of Oscar predictions with you.

Let’s get started.

Best Picture:

“Call Me by Your Name”

“Darkest Hour”


“Get Out”

“Lady Bird”

“Phantom Thread”

“The Post”

“The Shape of Water”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Who Should Win: “Get Out.” First-time director Jordan Peele hits this biting satire out of the park. Between the film’s blend of thriller and comedy, we think this story delivers a fearlessly important critique on race and society.

Who will win: “The Shape of Water.” This whimsical love story between a woman and sea monster picked up top honors at the Producers Guild of America. In the past, this has been a strong predictor of the best-picture Oscar.


“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan

“Get Out,” Jordan Peele

“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig

“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson

“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro

Who should win: Guillermo del Toro is a master at his craft. This is his fourth Oscar nomination, but only his first nomination for Best Achievement in Directing. This year, del Toro won a Golden Globe for directing “The Shape of Water” and received the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures at the Directors Guild of America. Winning an Oscar for directing is definitely in his very near future.

Who will win: Guillermo del Toro

Lead Actor:

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.”

Who should win: Timothée Chalamet’s performance in “Call Me by Your Name” has captured the hearts of people from around the globe. His performance as Elio in Luca Guadagnino’s coming-of-age love story is nuanced, bold and captivating to watch. Moreover, Chalamet is the youngest Best Actor nominee in almost 80 years. If he wins the Oscar this year, he will become one of the youngest living Oscar winners to date.

Who will win: Gary Oldman is completely unrecognizable as Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour.” His performance carries the entire ensemble cast and his Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards and SAG Best Actor wins make him the front-runner for this Oscar.

Lead Actress:

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”

Who should win: Frances McDormand is the likely winner of this year’s Best Actress Oscar. Her performance as Mildred Hayes in Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is funny, violent, and completely human. McDormand has swept the awards season claiming Best Actress wins at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards and the SAG Awards.

Who will win: Frances McDormand

Supporting Actor:

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”

Who should win: Willem Dafoe, a three-time Oscar nominee, gives an incredible performance as a motel manager in “The Florida Project.” Although this A24 film was largely overlooked by the Academy this year, its story about invisible homelessness is one of the most powerful films of 2018. Dafoe effortlessly supports his cast of non-actors breathing life into a story that is timely and heartbreakingly beautiful.

Who will win: Although the race for Best Supporting Actor is neck and neck, it is likely that Sam Rockwell will pull ahead in the end. Rockwell won the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Award and SAG Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” We must admit that his anxiety-inducing performance was outstanding, and kept us on the edge of our seats.

Supporting Actress:

Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”

Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”

Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”

Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”

Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

Who should win: Allison Janney has a strong lead over her fellow nominees in the Best Supporting Actress category. Like Rockwell, Janney also took home a Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice and SAG Award this year. Her performance as Tonya Harding’s abusive mother is unlike any real life portrayal we have ever seen. Trust us, this is one performance you will never forget.

Who will win: Allison Janney

Original Screenplay:

“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani

“Get Out,” Jordan Peele

“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig

“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh

Who should win: Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” script had its first major win of the year at the Writers Guild of America Awards. Winning this award has allowed it to gain momentum in the Oscars race for Best Original Screenplay. This win is well deserved, as Peele’s script is masterfully written and original beyond belief.

Who will win: This is maybe one of the closest Oscar races of the year. Both McDonagh and Peele continue to steal the lead from one another for Best Original Screenplay. “Lady Bird” director, Greta Gerwig, is also closely trailing these male writers. All three screenplays are unique and hard to compare. That saying, we are hoping a female writer-director will come from behind and win it all!

Adapted Screenplay:

“Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory

“The Disaster Artist,” Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber

“Logan,” Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green

“Molly’s Game,” Aaron Sorkin

“Mudbound,” Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Who should win: At 89, if James Ivory wins the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, he will be the oldest Oscar winner to date. This is Ivory’s fourth Oscar nomination. Known primarily as a director, Ivory is the favorite to win this category, as he recently took home the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Based on a novel by Andreé Aciman, Ivory’s adaptation of the novel Call Me By Your Name is a lyrical masterpiece. We hope that many of our local film festival attendees had a chance to catch this film at the festival last November. This incredible movie is the festival founders’ (Brenda and Marc Lhormer) personal favorite of the year!

Who will win: James Ivory

Although this list of Oscar predictions only includes the major categories, there are many other nominees and milestones to highlight.

For example, Rachel Morrison, the cinematographer of “Mudbound,” is the first female ever nominated for an Oscar in this category. “Mudbound” received four Oscar nominations including Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Song and Best Supporting Actress. The film’s director, Dee Rees, is also the first black woman nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Like “Mudbound,” many other Oscar nominated films are helmed by women. From “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” to “The Shape of Water,” is it possible that the Best Picture winner will be a female-driven story. “Million Dollar Baby” is the last female driven story to win Best Picture 13 years ago.

Although we can still continue to aim higher to increase the inclusion of diverse voices in the entertainment industry, films like “Mudbound,” “Get Out,” “The Big Sick,” “Lady Bird” and “The Shape of Water” are the first step to expanding the number of diverse stories told through film.

The eighth annual Napa Valley Film Festival takes place Nov. 7-11. Visit for more information, passes, videos from 2017.