The fantasy sci-fi romance “The Shape of Water” and the crime drama “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” are likely to be among the top honorees Tuesday when nominations are announced for the 90th Academy Awards.

Director Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” won the coveted Producers Guild of America award for motion pictures on Saturday, an honor that often translates to Oscar gold. The film also won the top prize at the Critics’ Choice Awards.

“Three Billboards,” however, won the Golden Globe for best drama film and earned the ensemble-cast award at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards.

A dark horse in the race is “Lady Bird,” director Greta Gerwig’s quirky teen drama that won the Golden Globe for best musical/comedy. Other likely nominees in the best picture category include the war epic “Dunkirk,” the biopic “I, Tonya,” the gay coming-of-age drama “Call Me By Your Name,” Steven Spielberg’s newsroom drama “The Post” and writer/director Jordan Peele’s horror film-turned-social commentary “Get Out.”

Del Toro is a sure-fire nominee for best director for “The Shape of Water,” as is Martin McDonagh for “Three Billboards.” Peele is also a strong contender in the category for his freshman effort “Get Out,” as are Nolan, Spielberg and Gerwig.

If early awards-season ceremonies are any indication, there appears to be little drama in the top acting categories. Frances McDormand has swept most of the best-actress prizes for her role as the defiant mother of a murdered daughter in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Gary Oldman, meanwhile, has also dominated the pre-Oscar awards for his turn as British prime minister Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.”

Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell have also collected the majority of supporting-performance prizes — Janney for her role as figure skater Tonya Harding’s abusive mother in “I, Tonya” and Rockwell as a sheriff’s deputy in “Three Billboards.”

But anything is possible on Oscar night. Among those hoping to land in the best-actor category are Timothee Chalamet for his work in “Call Me by Your Name,” Daniel Kaluuya for “Get Out,” James Franco for “The Disaster Artist,” Daniel Day-Lewis for “Phantom Thread,” Tom Hanks for “The Post” and Denzel Washington for “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Other contenders in the best-actress field include Judi Dench for “Victoria & Abdul,” Sally Hawkins for “The Shape of Water,” Saoirse Ronan for “Lady Bird,” Margot Robbie for “I, Tonya,” Jessica Chastain for “Molly’s Game” and Meryl Streep for “The Post.”

Potential challengers in the supporting-actor category include Richard Jenkins for “The Shape of Water,” Willem Dafoe for “The Florida Project,” Steve Carell for “Battle of the Sexes” and Woody Harrelson for “Three Billboards.”

Laurie Metcalf is a likely supporting-actress nominee for “Lady Bird,” with other potential nominees including Mary J. Blige for “Mudbound,” Holly Hunter for “The Big Sick” and Hong Chau for “Downsizing.”

Oscar nominations will be announced beginning at 5:22 a.m. in two parts. The first wave of nominees will be announced in a pre-recorded segment, with remaining nominations made public in a live announcement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

The Academy did away with the traditional live announcement last year, opting to use only a pre-recorded special to reveal the nominees. The format received some negative feedback, and the Academy has backpedaled to a hybrid of both for this year’s big reveal.

The announcement will be live-streamed at www.Oscar.com and www.Oscars.org.

–City News Service

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