I leaned against the concessions counter of an ancient two-and-a-half-screen movie theater in Orinda, California, struggling to keep up with Marty's babbling about who was going to win Best Supporting Actress. It was the middle of January, and I had stopped by to visit some friends I had made when I worked at the theater over the summer.
"Now, Laurie Metcalf—she had a helluva performance in Lady Bird, but that doesn't mean the Academy's gonna like it," said the projectionist, whose age rivals that of the historic landmark we stood in. "Allison Janney doesn't get as much screen time, but she still owns that movie."
I nodded, straightening flyers for the local film festival out of habit. The meter was running out on my 20-minute parking spot.
Like most people who go to the Orinda Theater, I had run out of things to do over winter break. So I went to the movies. I left almost no stone (or potential nominee) unturned, seeing as many movies as I could before my parents began asking me if I wouldn't like to go to the bank or the grocery store with them for a change of pace.
Another theater employee returned from checking on the projector and saved me from Marty's endless speculations. Two months later, I'm back in Boston, desperately trying to remember what he told me about the breakdown of each category. I had seen all the movies, but did he say that the sound mixing in Baby Driver or Blade Runner 2049 was better?
I didn't trust my own casual movie-goer opinions, so I turned to the polls. The Gavel's board and staff voted on each category and weighed in on their picks, some with more valid justification than others, but all with gusto.
Here are our picks.
Best Picture - Lady Bird
Erin McNamara (Head Copy Editor) - “This quirky film really tugs at your heartstrings. From the honest depiction of the struggle of being a #CatholicSchoolGirl, to the uncertainties that accompany going against your parent's wishes, this film has you reflecting on your own past as the household monster during the college decision process. It's cathartic in the sense that Lady Bird ultimately chooses her path with overwhelming gratitude.”
Nico Borbolla (Features Editorial Assistant) - “The Academy rarely awards coming-of-age movies, and since Greta [Gerwig] won’t get the directorial Oscar, she’ll get the best picture.”
Jordan Peele's Get Out came in second, just a single vote behind Gerwig's love note to Sacramento.
Miranda Brown (Culture Editorial Assistant) - "It’s a) the only one I’ve seen and b) just SUCH a good movie."
Tommy O'Brien (Sports staff writer) - "Fantastic social commentary."
Lead Actor - Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
MB - “He was f***ing incredible. Enough said.”
Elizabeth Coughlin (Associate Culture Editor) - "He portrayed the character's fear and confusion to a tee."
Just behind Kaluuya came Gary Oldman for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour.
Liam Haffey (Opinions Editorial Assistant) - “Not gonna lie, I didn't see it, but I'm just guessing cause he's the man.”
Patrick Carpenter (Sports Editorial Assistant) - “Oldman portraying Winston Churchill? The Darkest Hour will come away with this one for sure.”
Lead Actress - Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Frankie Magner (Senior Editor) - “She's just the best.”
NB - "The movie has to get some award, but it’s not good enough as a whole to get Best Picture or Director. Frances was amazing and she basically IS the movie."
Supporting Actor - Willem DaFoe, The Florida Project
NB - “Just the best and most deserving. Also this movie deserves some recognition, it’s [simply] amazing.”
PC - “Another tough choice. I hope that Sam Rockwell wins, because he was incredible in 'Three Billboards.' But I have a feeling that Willem DaFoe is going to pull off a slight upset and come away with Best Supporting Actor.”
Supporting Actress - Allison Janney, I, Tonya
EC - “She made me scared, so that means she acted pretty well.”
LH - “Literally no idea.”
Even though Allison Janney took The Gavel's popular vote for Supporting Actress, Lady Bird still evidently tugged at the staff's Catholic heartstrings, coming in second.
FM - “I bet many will jump for Allison Janney in this category and I would love to see her win, but it was Laurie Metcalf's refreshing turn as Lady Bird's mother that stuck with me this year. That scene where she runs back into the airport, WOW.”
Ellen Gerst (Sports Editor) - "Laurie Metcalf made me call my mom after seeing Lady Bird."
Director - Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
EC - “Good job.”
LH - “Killer.”
FM - “Again, go Dunkirk go. Chris Nolan deserves huge kudos for this and all his incredible films.”
EM - “My parents say Dunkirk is great.”
Animated Feature - Coco
Adapted Screenplay - Call Me By Your Name
Original Screenplay - Get Out, Jordan Peele
Documentary Feature - Last Men in Aleppo
Animated Short - Garden Party
Documentary Short Subject - Heroin(e)
Cinematography - Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema
Live Action Short Film - The Silent Child
Foreign Language Film - A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
One of our writers had seen one of the Documentary nominees, but other than that, the closest anyone got to an educated prediction was Patrick Carpenter, who saw the trailer for “A Fantastic Woman” before watching “The Shape of Water” in theaters.
Film Editing - Baby Driver
Sound Editing - Dunkirk/Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Sound Mixing - Baby Driver
No one really knew what sound mixing was, but everyone knew that there is definitely sound in “Baby Driver."
Production Design - Beauty and the Beast
EM - “Beauty and the Beast: don't knock it till you've seen it. Emma Watson lays to rest Hermione Granger once and for all.”
Original Score - Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk
Original Song - This Is Me, The Greatest Showman
EM - “Why 'How Far I'll Go' by Alessia Cara was not included in the category for best Original Song I'll never know. That s**t is fire.”
Makeup and Hair - Wonder
Costume Design - Beauty and the Beast
Visual Effects - Blade Runner 2049
NB - “Blade Runner 2049 is the most beautiful looking movie ever made.”
Whether you're kicking off your spring break by watching the Oscars with your 10 best friends in Punta or with your parents in New Jersey, fill out your own Oscar ballot before you settle in Sunday, 5 p.m. EST.