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Ronan could take beating in Gerwig’s Bird offering

The Shape of Water earns 13 nominations

Steven Spielberg's The Post was passed over for a nomination
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A film which noted New York critic Rex Reed called “a loopy, lunk-headed load of drivel” yesterday received the most Oscars nominations, 13, for the 90th Academy Awards red-carpet bash in Tinseltown on March 4.

The Shape of Water, yet to be seen in the UK, is not even favourite for the top gong, that honour going to the brilliant black (very black) comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Britain’s Sally Hawkins has the starring role in The Shape of Water of a mute janitor at a secret government laboratory in early-60s Baltimore who falls in love with a humanoid amphibian.

The creature has been captured in a South American river and brought to the USA in a tank to see if he can help them in the Space Race.

Masterminded by Guillermo Del Toro, hot favourite to win Best Director, this fantasy drama is second in the betting – best-priced 13-8 to Three Billboards’ 6-5. Hawkins is second favourite for Best Actress.

Three British actors are among the five Best Actor nominees with Gary Oldman’s grandstanding impersonation of Sir Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour rated a shoo-in and the shortest-priced favourite in any category (you won’t beat 1-10).

Three-time winner Daniel Day-Lewis, for Phantom Thread, reportedly his last film, and Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out are the other two Brits.

Twenty-one years after her Oscar-winning role in Fargo, Frances McDormand is massively odds-on for a Best Actress encore as the feisty, foul-mouthed, vengeance-seeking mother of a murdered daughter in Three Billboards.

It’s a great role to have and she, of course, is sensational but sparky Irish actress Saoirse Ronan could be the dark horse for Lady Bird. The ugly Harvey Weinstein revelations can only help the cause of the one nominated film directed by a woman, Greta Gerwig.

The 10-1 Ronan is worth taking now as she’ll probably get shorter when her film is shown. It premieres in Britain on February 16. She has already won a Golden Globe and so has Lady Bird.

Christopher Plummer at 88 becomes the oldest nominee ever. The Canadian actor stepped into the breach at short notice when Kevin Spacey’s shady sex life was exposed. He gets a Best Supporting nod for a bravura performance as J Paul Getty in All The Money In The World.

A warning for intending backers of Three Billboards – Martin McDonagh has not been nominated for Best Director, not a good omen. As he also wrote it, maybe the 8,400 Academy members think Best Screenplay will be sufficient reward.

Also surprisingly passed over for Best Director is Steven Spielberg for The Post, not the Racing Post but the Washington Post. A newspaper movie, Spotlight, won two years ago but The Post is not as thrilling despite its immaculate leads Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and legendary director. This is Streep’s 21st nomination.

Last year’s Oscars ceremony ended in chaos with Warren Beatty announcing the wrong Best Film winner – La La Land instead of Moonlight – and Hills offer 20-1 about it happening again in any of the four main categories.

Recommendation
Saoirse Ronan to win Best Actress Oscar
2pts 10-1 Coral, Ladbrokes, Sky Bet


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