Last yearís Academy Awards envelope fiasco gave Moonlight the win and continued a best picture trend that The Shape of Water is bucking Sunday night.Only one best picture Oscar winner in the past five years led or tied in total nominations: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) in 2014. What used to be a surefire statistic in predicting Hollywoodís most coveted prize is turning into a kiss of death.Just ask La La Land, The Revenant, Gravity, Lincoln or The Grand Budapest Hotel, which Birdman tied.Itís likely a result of the academyís preferential balloting system installed in 2009, allowing voters to rank the finalists from No. 1 to 10 maximum nominees. A few hundred haters among the academyís 7,258 voting members can damage a favoriteís chances with lowball rankings. If a movie with the most nominations loses steam or divides voters, as La La Land appeared to do, an underdog like Moonlight with solid second- and third-place support can sneak in. Cases can be made for Dunkirk, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Get Out to do just that. Thatís what worries The Shape of Water with its 13 nominations. Not too much, I hope, since Guillermo del Toroís horror fantasy romance is the winner in my 25th annual vain attempt to correctly predict all 24 Academy Awards categories. Take your shot with this handy Oscars ballot (and donít rub it in).PictureCall Me by Your NameDarkest HourDunkirkGet OutLady BirdPhantom ThreadThe PostThe Shape of WaterThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriPersallís pick: I wonít be surprised if another movie pulls off a preferential ballot upset, but conventional Oscars wisdom says itís The Shape of Water.DirectorGuillermo del Toro, The Shape of WaterChristopher Nolan, DunkirkPaul Thomas Anderson, Phantom ThreadGreta Gerwig, Lady BirdJordan Peele, Get OutPersallís pick: Del Toro, in part due to a fun fact: Since 1950, only seven Directors Guild of America winners didnít repeat at the Oscars. ActorTimothťe Chalamet, Call Me by Your NameDaniel Day-Lewis, Phantom ThreadDaniel Kaluuya, Get OutGary Oldman, Darkest HourDenzel Washington, Roman J. Israel Esq.Persallís pick: Anyone other than Oldman would suggest Russian meddling with academy ballots.ActressSally Hawkins, The Shape of WaterFrances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriMargot Robbie, I, TonyaSaoirse Ronan, Lady BirdMeryl Streep, The PostPersallís pick: McDormand earns her second Oscar and a chance to deliver the feistiest acceptance speech of the night.Supporting actorWillem Dafoe, The Florida ProjectWoody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriRichard Jenkins, The Shape of WaterChristopher Plummer, All the Money in the WorldSam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriPersallís pick: As stated in my November 2017 review: "letís just hand (Rockwell) the supporting actor Oscar right now."Supporting actressMary J. Blige, MudboundLesley Manville, Phantom ThreadOctavia Spencer, The Shape of WaterAllison Janney, I, TonyaLaurie Metcalf, Lady BirdPersallís pick: Janneyís performance was my choice at first sight last November. Not changing now.Adapted screenplayCall Me by Your NameThe Disaster ArtistLoganMollyís GameMudboundPersallís pick: After a storied producing and directing career, James Ivory, 89, wins his first Oscar for writing Call Me by Your Name.Original screenplayThe Big SickGet OutLady BirdThe Shape of WaterThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriPersallís pick: Get Out makes Jordan Peele the first African-American winner in this category.Animated featureThe Boss BabyThe BreadwinnerCocoFerdinandLoving VincentPersallís pick: Coco, because what Disney-Pixar wants, Disney-Pixar gets.Foreign language filmA Fantastic WomanThe InsultLovelessOf Body and SoulThe SquarePersallís pick: Chileís transgender melodrama A Fantastic Woman wins while Daniela Vega is snubbed for a best actress nomination. Documentary featureAbacusFaces PlacesIcarusLast Men in AleppoStrong IslandPersallís pick: Agnes Varda, 89, is an honorary Oscar winner this year; Faces Places will earn her the real thing.Cinematography Blade Runner 2049Darkest HourDunkirkMudboundThe Shape of WaterPersallís pick: After 14 fruitless nominations, Roger Deakins finally takes home an Oscar for Blade Runner 2049.Costume designBeauty and the BeastDarkest HourPhantom ThreadThe Shape of WaterVictoria and AbdulPersallís pick: Phantom Thread is a movie about a fashion designer making fabulous dresses. Next. Film editingBaby DriverDunkirkI, TonyaThe Shape of WaterThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriPersallís pick: Dunkirk masterfully juggled three epic stories of varying chronologies, coaxing viewers along.Makeup and hairstylingDarkest HourVictoria and AbdulWonderPersallís pick: The only sure things Sunday are Gary Oldman and the Darkest Hour makeup artists transforming him into Winston Churchill.Original scoreDunkirkPhantom ThreadThe Shape of WaterStar Wars: The Last JediThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriPersallís pick: The Shape of Water. Alexandre Desplatís blend of whimsy and terror sticks in your head and heart.Original songMighty River from MudboundMystery of Love from Call Me by Your NameRemember Me from CocoStand Up for Something from MarshallThis Is Me from The Greatest ShowmanPersallís pick: Remember Me is forgettable except for Cocoís weepy finale. Sometimes thatís all it takes. Production designBeauty and the BeastBlade Runner 2049Darkest HourDunkirkThe Shape of WaterPersallís pick: The Shape of Waterís color coding, Cold War decor, eerie laboratory and movie palace are too striking to ignore. Sound editingBaby DriverBlade Runner 2049DunkirkThe Shape of WaterStar Wars: The Last JediPersallís pick: Dunkirkís triangulated precision leaned into the din of war with practically subconscious aural segues.Sound mixingBaby DriverBlade Runner 2049DunkirkThe Shape of WaterStar Wars: The Last JediPersallís pick: Dunkirk since Oscarís sound categories often go hand in hand. Visual effectsBlade Runner 2049Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Kong: Skull IslandStar Wars: The Last JediWar for the Planet of the ApesPersallís pick: War for the Planet of the Apes wins one for Andy Serkis and one of the finest trilogies ever.Documentary shortEdith+EddieHeaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405Heroin(e)Knife SkillsTraffic StopPersallís pick: Edith+Eddie, ages 95 and 96, are Americaís oldest interracial newlyweds torn apart by a family feud.Animated shortDear BasketballGarden PartyLouNegative SpaceRevolting RhymesPersallís pick: The academy gets starstruck by Kobe Bryantís hoop valentine Dear Basketball.Short film (live action)DeKalb ElementaryThe Eleven OíClockMy Nephew EmmettThe Silent ChildWatu Wote/All of UsPersallís pick: DeKalb Elementary, a school shooting drama of courage and, curiously, hope.Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.