Typically, when it comes to predicting Oscar’s acting awards, we schedule out our predictions so that we can write about the easiest race first and work our way toward making the toughest call. This year, we didn’t even have to wait until the results of the BAFTAs before declaring Frances McDormand a lock for raging against dirty cops, abusive spouses, and bowls of Froot Loops throughout Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. As it turned out, we could’ve safely knocked all four acting categories down weeks ago.
The trifecta of televised film awards with acting categories—the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and the aforementioned BAFTAs—have, for the first time ever, presented a unified front that Winston Churchill could only have dreamed of during his first few months as prime minister, agreeing on all four winners: Frances McDormand, Gary Oldman, Allison Janney, and Sam Rockwell. What’s more, none of those four winners earned so much as a single citation from the holy trinity of critics’ awards: New York, Los Angeles, and the National Society. We’re not ready to rubber-stamp that quartet for our Oscar predictions but are resigned to Oldman’s insurmountability.
McDormand’s good fortune and eventual Oscar win over the likes of Saoirse Ronan and Sally Hawkins makes sense. There’s a palpable thirst in Hollywood and elsewhere for, if not clarity, then at least a force of equal and opposite magnitude to the grim circus that’s become our collective daily life. Oldman’s assured win over the two main critics’ favorites, Timothée Chalamet and Daniel Kaluuya, on the other hand, represents an unabashed retrenchment that’s entirely off brand in this Oscar year. How many voters in his corner could seriously argue their vote as anything other than an award for career achievement over the quality of his specific performance in Darkest Hour?
Oldman, encased in putty and mumbling like Dustin Hoffman in Dick Tracy, and his film both embody the qualities that Oscar has been trying, in vain, to transcend. All things being equal, his Time-Life Presents History’s Greatest Humans portraiture should be about as much of a long shot for an Oscar as Meryl Streep, but Darkest Hour was nominated for a robust six awards to The Post’s anemic two, which doesn’t speak highly on behalf of this purportedly fresh new AMPAS’s ability to resist old white men in power. And because some voters not inclined to vote for Oldman may have this very thought on their minds, we give Kaluuya’s seething struggle in the face of molecular-level marginalization in Get Out equal odds to upset alongside Chalamet, stunning in Call Me by Your Name as any privileged character possibly could be in 2017.
Will Win: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Should Win: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out