This year’s Oscars ceremony may not be able to promise the excitement of last year’s iconic envelope mix-up, but it’s sure to be an entertaining show nonetheless. With no definitive lead in the Best Picture category, the night could end up being almost anyone’s. As Sunday’s broadcast approaches, the pressure is mounting for viewers, both casual and die-hard, to be up-to-date on all the nominees, as well as the themes and controversies that might dominate the show.
In case you’re worried about drawing a blank when someone asks you, What movies do you think will win?, we’ve created a crash course of the most important Oscars-related stories Atlantic writers have covered over the past few months. Prepare your ballots.
The most-nominated film this year is Guillermo del Toro’s fantastical monster movie The Shape of Water. With 13 nods, including for Best Picture and Best Director, it stands a good chance of coming away with a number of trophies. Although there’s no obvious frontrunner in the Big Picture race (perhaps leaving room for a surprise winner), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is also a strong contender after having won big at the Golden Globes. Though the film has drawn criticism for its depiction of race, Martin McDonagh’s drama about a grieving mother seeking justice after the murder of her daughter is at least set to do well in the acting categories. Dunkirk, the second-most nominated film, is more typical Oscar fare, a stunningly spare war drama that won over critics and had the highest box-office gross of nominated films, which could help it come out on top. Jordan Peele’s breakout directorial debut, Get Out, a social thriller that cleverly used the sense of sight to emphasize its racial horrors, is our critic Christopher Orr’s pick to win Best Picture. (See the rest of his Oscars predictions here.)