THINK ON THESE:The Envelope, Please!

“The Shape of Water,” an other-worldly fairy tale set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962, leads this year Academy Awards with 13 nominations. “Dunkirk,” a movie that depicts the Dunkirk evacuation of World War II, closely trails with 8 nominations while “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri,” the story of a mother who rents three billboards to call attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder,” receives 7 nominations.

Which among these three will get the most awards this coming March 4?  The awarding will be held at the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.

The three aforementioned films are vying against each other in the Best Picture category.  Although there are supposed to be 10 films to be nominated, only nine made it to the final list. The other six nominated films: “Call Me by Your Name,” “Darkest Hour,” “Get Out,” “Lady Bird,” “Phantom Thread,” and “The Post.”

Of the nine nominees, “Dunkirk” seems to have the edge.  As movie critic Jeffrey M. Anderson puts it: “Christopher Nolan’s first history movie is bold, visceral, and powerful, with many moving sequences – though some of his filmmaking choices can be challenging.”

Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” should not be discounted too.  It “elegantly blends whimsical fairy tale with a fresh spin on classic monster movies for a delightful experience,” to quote the words of Screen Rant’s Molly Freeman.

“Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” may also pull a surprise.  After all, this dramedy starts with cleverness and wit, then opens up into something truthfully human.

Only five directors of the nine Best Picture nominees were nominated: Paul Thomas Anderson for “Phantom Thread,” Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water,” Christopher Nolan for “Dunkirk,” Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird,” and Jordan Peele for “Get Out.”

Gerwig made a distinction as the fifth female director to be nominated in this category.  Only one won so far – Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010.  The three other women who were nominated for Best Director were Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion, and Sofia Coppola.

Gerwig, however, is considered a dark horse, along with Anderson.  It is one of the three remaining directors who will get the top prize, although critics are beating on Nolan.

Now, let’s talk about the acting department, which has four categories: two for leading roles and two for supporting roles.

In Best Actor, two black actors were nominated: Daniel Kaluuya for “Get Out” and Denzel Washington for “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”  Washington scored another record as this was his eighth nomination. He has already won twice: as Best Supporting Actor for “Glory” (1989) and Best Actor for “Training Day” (2001)

Another Oscar winner is Daniel Day-Lewis who is nominated for “Phantom Thread.”  His three Oscars were for: 1989’s “My Left Foot,” 2007’s “There Will be Blood,” and 2012’s “Lincoln.”

The last two nominees – and one of them is most likely to get the coveted trophy – are newcomer Timothée Chalamet for “Call Me by Your Name” and former nominee Gary Oldman for “Darkest Hour” (he was previously nominated for 2011’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”).  Of the two, Oldman is the sentimental favorite.

As usual, the Best Actress category is highly competitive this year.  For one, there’s Meryl Streep again, receiving her 21st nomination for “The Post.”  This makes her the most nominated performer.  She also won three Oscars: one for Best Supporting Actress for “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979) and two Best Actresses for “Sophie’s Choice” (1982) and “The Iron Lady” (2011).

A nomination is enough.  And so the four other nominees has to fight it out against each other to win: Sally Hawkins for “The Shape of Water,” Margot Robbie for “I, Tonya,” Frances McDormand for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and Saoirse Ronan for “Lady Bird.”

In the Best Supporting Actor, two actors from one movie, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” were nominated: Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell.  Of the two, Rockwell has the edge.

At 88, Christopher Plummer becomes the oldest acting nominee ever.  His performance in “All the Money in the World” earned him a nomination; the role was first shot by Kevin Spacey.

The remaining two nominees were Willem Dafoe for “The Florida Project” and Richard Jenkins for “The Shape of Water.”  Winning several awards from critics, Dafoe is most likely to win the award.

Lesley Manville, who played the sister of Daniel Day-Lewis in “Phantom Thread” was up against Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”), Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”), Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”) and the returning Octavia Spencer (“The Shape of Water”).

There are two awards for writing: Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay.  The nominees for Adapted Screenplay were Virgil Williams and Dee Rees for “Mudbound,” Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for “The Disaster Artist,” James Ivory for “Call Me by Your Name,” Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold for “Logan,” and Aaron Sorkin for “Molly’s Game.”

Nominated for Original Screenplay were Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water,” Martin McDonagh for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani for “The Big Sick,” Jordan Peele for “Get Out,” and Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird.”

The five nominees for Foreign Language Film were as follows: “A Fantastic Woman” from Chile, “The Insult” from Lebanon, “Loveless” from Russia, “On Body and Soul,” from Hungary, and “The Square” from Sweden.

Now, the envelope, please!