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The 90th Academy Awards will be held on March 4. | U.S. Army

If you don’t know what movies to watch over spring break, catch the Oscars on Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC. Besides offering sug­ges­tions for your cin­e­matic watchlist, it can be fun to see your celebrity crushes in fancy — or weird — evening wear, to hate yourself because you’re not tal­ented enough to deserve a golden statue, and to par­tic­ipate in the con­ver­sation about American culture that takes place at the Academy Awards. I like to think of myself as a movie buff, and each year I watch more of the nom­inees. Won­dering what’s the best of the best? Here’s my analysis of the top cat­e­gories.

Best Sup­porting Actress

The top can­di­dates for best sup­porting actress play fierce mothers. As Laurie Metcalf plays Lady Bird’s mother, the scenes with her daughter are charged and waiting to snap. At one moment she and her daughter are getting along, and the next moment sud­denly screaming at each other. They work together to express the bipolar nature of the rela­tionship between a mother and her teenage daughter.

On the other hand, Allison Janney’s per­for­mance as Tonya Harding’s cruel and demanding mother matches Metcalf’s per­for­mance. The sobering aura of “I, Tonya” is par­tially founded on the intensity and con­flict between Janney’s char­acter and Margot Robbie’s Tonya (who’s also nom­i­nated for lead actress).

Best Actress

Though all the nom­inees for best actress in a leading role deserve the nom­i­nation, Frances McDormand stands out for her per­for­mance in “Three Bill­boards Outside Ebbing, Mis­souri.” McDormand plays Mildred Hayes, a strong-willed and darkly comic woman seeking justice for her daughter who was raped and burned alive. She rents three bill­boards for a year to call out the police chief by name for neglecting her daughter’s case. Through her mix of comedy and intensity, McDormand plays a vital role in height­ening the complex script that explores the rela­tionship between cit­izens and the police department of a small town (kind of like Hillsdale).

Saoirse Ronan would also be fit to win this cat­egory for cap­turing the complex life of a high-school girl in “Lady Bird.” This warm, funny, and authentic movie def­i­nitely stands on Ronan’s per­for­mance.

Best Sup­porting Actor

The two top can­di­dates for best sup­porting actor come from “Three Bill­boards.” Sam Rockwell plays Jason Dixon, the “bad cop” and arch nemesis of McDormand’s char­acter. The com­plexity and depth of the movie’s treatment of law enforcement and justice stand on Rockwell’s —  again — darkly comic por­trayal of a racist and hot-tem­pered cop.

Woody Har­relson earns second best for his por­trayal of the police chief. Though McDormand directs public blame on Harrelson’s char­acter, he is the mediator between Mildred and Dixon’s rage, and he bal­ances Dixon by playing the “good cop.” These three actors deserve to win for their joint success in playing off each other’s bril­liance.

Best Actor

It is a dif­ferent chal­lenge for an actor to resemble a his­torical figure credibly than it is to create a char­acter from the words in a script, and Gary Oldman mirrors Winston Churchill flaw­lessly in “Darkest Hour.” But I’m rooting for Tim­othee Cha­lamet for his per­for­mance in “Call Me by Your Name” because of his youth and charisma: Only 22 years old, he charm­ingly and thought­fully graces the screen. Chalamet’s role is extremely demanding because of its por­trayal of sex­u­ality and its role in com­mu­ni­cating the script’s drama with co-star Armie Hammer through silence, sub­tleties, and body lan­guage.

Best Adapted Screenplay

“Call Me by Your Name” deserves best adapted screenplay for its del­icacy. The script has so much weight because of the char­acters’ silence. Each line is vitally important, yet the script’s bril­liance is as much due to the words held back as the words spoken. The father’s final mono­logue oozes with grace, poetry, and wisdom as it appro­pri­ately con­cludes the movie.

Best Original Score

“Phantom Thread” is the only nominee I haven’t seen, but I’m hoping it wins best original score; its con­tenders don’t measure up. The music of “Star Wars” is barely original, “Three Bill­boards” is unex­tra­or­dinary, “Dunkirk” sounds like the rest of Hans Zimmer’s work, and “The Shape of Water” is monot­onous and the­mat­i­cally deceptive because of its Parisian feel. Junior Nic Rowan, who reviewed “Phantom Thread” for the Col­legian, said the film’s com­poser Jonny Greenwood “under­stands that the visual ele­ments and the aural ele­ments have to work together so much that you don’t even notice that there was ever a division between the two.” I’ll take his word on it.

Best Costume Design

Costume design could appro­pri­ately be awarded to “Phantom Thread,” a movie about a veteran fashion designer in 1950s London, but the award could also go to “Beauty and the Beast” for its fan­tas­tical mag­nif­i­cence and its reflection of the original animation’s cos­tumes.

Best Pro­duction Design

“Beauty and the Beast” could also earn best pro­duction design for similar reasons, though it is right­fully up against “Darkest Hour” for its details of his­torical archi­tecture. The sets of “The Shape of Water” express the spirit of Cold War America; and the main character’s apartment, the creature’s con­tainment room, and the bad-guy boss’s office are cin­e­matic motifs in them­selves.

Best Editing

Best editing is a toss-up between “Baby Driver,” “Dunkirk,” and “I, Tonya.” Editing in “Baby Driver” syn­chro­nizes the sound­track with action. “Dunkirk” expresses the time­liness and sus­pense of the his­torical event. The editing in “I, Tonya” delight­fully con­nects the tes­ti­mo­nials given by the char­acters in present day with the true events of the ’90s, and it also allows the char­acters to jump in and out of the fourth wall between the actors and the audience.

Best Picture

“Three Bill­boards” deserves to win. Though the sen­sitive viewer may find it dis­tasteful, it’s a story that needs to be told and to be absorbed by Amer­icans in par­ticular. “Call Me by Your Name” and “Lady Bird” also deserve the award for their insight into ado­les­cence and what it means to come of age. All three films are artful and insightful.

For those of you returning to Hillsdale next year, Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor shows the Oscar nom­inees for shorts and doc­u­men­taries. Take advantage of this resource. If you love movies, see the nom­inees and make your own judge­ments.