"Citizen Kane" lost to "How Green Was My Valley" for best picture. Al Pacino in "The Godfather Part II" lost to Art Carney for best actor (and then he won for "Scent of a Woman," which, huh?). "Vertigo," now widely considered the greatest film OF ALL TIME, wasn't even nominated for best picture in 1959.
If hindsight is 20/20, the Oscars are blind. So the question really isn't who's going to win Sunday night - it's who, 10 years from now, we're going to realize was robbed of a trophy.
2018's predicted winner: "The Shape of Water"
2028's hindsight winner: "Mudbound"
Movie distribution models have changed, but the Oscars couldn't keep up. "Mudbound," picked up by Netflix at last year's Sundance, was in theaters just long enough to put it in Oscar contention - and it did pick up four nominations, including Rachel Morrison's for cinematography and Mary J. Blige's for best supporting actress.
But just because most people could and did watch it on their TVs and phones, "Mudbound" didn't get the recognition it deserved. It is a timeless story of race in America set in post-WWII Mississippi, beautifully shot by Morrison, masterfully directed by Dee Rees and full of absolutely perfect performances.
Maybe in 10 years there will be a "What the hell were they thinking?" Oscar; if so, the American masterpiece that is "Mudbound" is a shoo-in.
2018's predicted winner: Gary Oldman, "Darkest Hour"
2028's hindsight winner: Timothee Chalamet, "Call Me by Your Name"
Oldman is among our greatest living actors, but his turn as Winston Churchill isn't even close to his best performance. He'll take the trophy this year as kind of a symbolic Lifetime Achievement Award/Sorry You Haven't Gotten One Yet, but Chalamet's performance as a lovesick teenager is quiet, nuanced and immensely powerful.
In 10 years, Chalamet will also be one of our greatest living actors, and in looking back on this performance, we'll see more clearly just how good he was when he was just so young.
2018's predicted winner: Frances McDormand, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
2028's hindsight winner: ???????
McDormand's fierce performance as a grief-stricken, rage-fueled mother bent on revenge (or justice, depending on your point of view) elevates an uneven script and is worthy of celebration, but its power isn't enough to keep it in memory for a decade. Neither is any other lead-actress performance I could think of after going through the list of every movie I saw last year.
I leaned toward Kristen Stewart in "Personal Shopper" and Brooklynn Prince in "The Florida Project" (surely one of the best child performances of all time) but couldn't talk myself into either. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Best supporting actress
2018's predicted winner: Allison Janney, "I, Tonya"
2028's hindsight winner: Michelle Pfeiffer, "mother!"
Darren Aronofsky's bizarre biblical metaphor "mother!" was divisive. To say the least. Pfeiffer, though, was rightfully celebrated for her role as ... actually, better not to say. She was funny and terrifying, often at the same time, and whenever she fixed her steely gaze on Jennifer Lawrence, you could feel the skill and power behind it. The film didn't get any nominations, but "mother!" will be part of the cinematic dialogue for years (I just think we need some space from it), and Pfeiffer's performance will be at the center of the conversation.
Best supporting actor
2018's predicted winner: Sam Rockwell, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
2028's hindsight winner: Michael Stuhlbarg, "Call Me by Your Name"
The always-great Rockwell is at his best in "Three Billboards" and he deserves the win, but his flawed movie isn't enough to ensure him a place in history. "Call Me by Your Name," on the other hand, will still be around when we're in flying cars.
Much has been made of Stuhlbarg's final monologue, but the reason it's so powerful is that it emerges organically from his complicated - and un-nominated - performance, one that hinges on him staying on the sidelines, watching his son (Chalamet) fall in love. His short time at center stage is a master class in quiet emotion and a subtle, shining moment that will stand the test of time.