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Frontrunner Friday: DUNKIRK Hits the Beach Running as new #1

We have a new #1 in Best Picture this Frontrunner Friday (July 21) with Dunkirk. It also happens to be the opening day for the highly anticipated Christopher Nolan film. With a Thursday preview total of $5.5M, the WWII-era film told in three timelines is poised for a healthy opening weekend, further boosting its awards chances. Add to that a stunning Metacritic score of 94 (with 29 of its 50 reviews being perfect scores of 100) and you have a definitive, and new, frontrunner for Best Picture.

This jump, while not completely surprising, is a major one. For most of the last decade we’ve looked to the fall festivals (Telluride, especially) for our Best Picture winners and to have a summer film take command is one that brings both excitement and caution. We haven’t had a summer release win Oscar’s top prize since 2009’s The Hurt Locker. But even that film did hit the festival circuit, albeit it was nearly a full year before at the 2008 Venice Film Festival. The last film to skip the major festival circuit entirely was 2006’s The Departed. Two very interesting similarities arise with those two films: The Departed earned Martin Scorsese his long-awaited and long overdue Oscar for Best Director and The Hurt Locker earned Kathryn Bigelow the distinction of the Academy’s first (and still only) female Best Director winner. For Christopher Nolan, a mere nomination for Best Director has consistently been out of reach. He’s been nominated three-time by the Directors Guild of America, including for Inception, which was nominated for Best Picture. This would be his Oscar breakthrough and there are legions of fans and critics alike who would see this as a long time coming.

While no one at this point is doubting a Best Picture nomination for Dunkirk, let’s look again at some Metacritic comparisons because the results are striking. Dunkirk currently ranks in the top 10 of all-time for 100 reviews/total reviews.

1. Boyhood – 82% (41/50)
2. Moonlight – 76.5% (39/51)
3. Pan’s Labyrinth – 70.3% (26/37)
4. 12 Years a Slave – 69.6% (39/56)
5. Manchester by the Sea – 69.4% (34/49)
6. The Social Network – 66.7% (28/42)
7. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days – 64.9% (24/37)
8. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – 63.4% (26/41)
9. There Will Be Blood – 59% (23/39)
10. Dunkirk – 58% (29/50)

When you take a look at this list you’ll see that every English language film on it was nominated for Best Picture, three have won and of the ones that didn’t win, they lost to films that had at least an 88 on Metacritic (Birdman over Boyhood/The King’s Speech over The Social Network, for example).

Former #1’s The Papers and Detroit are still doing well in #2 and #3, respectively. Detroit opens in just two weeks but it feels the marketing of the film has been muted and the box office potential very up in the air. It’s going to need to come through with very good reviews and healthy numbers to stay afloat through the fall and winter. For The Papers, it doesn’t open until the end of December and we still haven’t had a Best Picture winner from that month since 2004’s Million Dollar Baby.

Here is the current ranking for Best Picture for Friday, July 21, 2017. Follow updated predictions from The Gold Rush Gang (where Nolan is also currently #1 in Best Director) here.

BEST PICTURE ERIK
ANDERSON
BRYAN BONAFEDE GREG HOWARD EVAN
KOST
JASON OSIASON KENNETH
POLISHCHUK
DENIZCAN SÜRÜCÜ RICHARD
ANTHONY
ŞÜKRÜ SÖĞÜT MATT DINN TOTAL
POINTS
1 Dunkirk (Warner Bros – 7/21) 3 1 4 1 3 1 2 1 2 1 91
2 The Papers (20th Century Fox – 12/22) 2 2 2 2 8 3 3 2 1 2 83
3 Detroit (Annapurna – 8/4) 1 7 1 3 7 4 1 8 3 1 74
4 Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics – 11/24) 6 3 6 4 2 10 5 3 7 6 58
5 Shape of Water, The (Fox Searchlight – 12/8) 4 4 8 5 1 9 8 3 46
5 Roman Israel, Esq (Sony – 11/3) 9 6 7 9 6 9 4 4 5 5 46
7 Florida Project, The (A24 – 10/6) 5 9 5 6 9 2 7 6 9 9 43
8 Darkest Hour (Focus Features – 11/24) 7 3 7 7 6 9 4 10 35
9 Get Out (Universal – 2/24) 8 5 8 5 8 7 8 28
10 Last Flag Flying (Amazon – 11/17) 8 9 10 4 8 5 7 26
11 Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros – 10/6) 10 5 6 12
12 Wonderstruck (Amazon – 10/20) 6 5
13 Lean on Pete (A24) 10 10 2
13 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight – 11/10) 10 10 2
15 Suburbicon (Paramount 11/3) 10 1
15 Mudbound (Netflix) 10 1
OTHER CONTENDERS
15:17 to Paris, The (Warner Bros. – Dec)
Aftermath, The (Fox Searchlight)
All the Money in the World (Sony – Dec)
Battle of the Sexes (Fox Searchlight – 9/22)
Beguiled, The (Focus Features – 6/23)
Big Sick, The (Amazon/Lionsgate – 6/23)
Breathe (Bleecker Street – 10/13)
Current War, The (The Weinstein Company – 12/22)
Disobedience (TBD)
Downsizing (Paramount – 12/22)
Final Portrait (Sony Pictures Classics)
Glass Castle, The (Lionsgate – 8/11)
Goodbye Christopher Robin (Fox Searchlight – 10/13)
Greatest Showman, The (20th Century Fox – 12/25)
Happy End (Sony Pictures Classics – 12/22)
Hostiles (TBD)
Killing of a Sacred Deer, The (A24 – 11/3)
Kings (The Orchard)
Lady Bird (A24 – Fall 2017)
Leisure Seeker, The (Sony Pictures Classics – 1/19)
Lost City of Z (Amazon – 4/14)
Marshall (Open Road Films – 10/13)
Mary Magdalene (The Weinstein Company – 11/24)
Molly’s Game (STX Entertainment – 11/22)
mother! (Paramount – 10/13)
Mountain Between Us, The (20th Century Fox – 10/20)
Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox – 11/10)
Novitiate (Sony Pictures Classics – 10/27)
Silent Man, The (Sony Pictures Classics)
Snowman, The (Universal – 10/20)
Square, The (Magnolia – 10/27)
Stronger (Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions – 9/22)
Thank You For Your Service (Universal – 10/27)
Under the Silver Lake (A24)
Phantom Thread (Focus Features – 12/25)
Untouchable (The Weinstein Company)
Victoria and Abdul (Focus Features – 9/22)
Wind River (The Weinstein Company – 8/4)
Wonder Woman (Warner Bros – 6/2)
Wonder Wheel (Amazon)
Wonder (Lionsgate – 11/17)
You Were Never Really Here (Amazon)

About Erik Anderson

Erik blames his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched them together since he opened his eyes. They also watched Miss Universe religiously every year (the pageantry!) and Erik came to the conclusion that the combination of these two things ultimately led him down the path to obsessing about awards and ACTRESSING. He began at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics), the International Press Academy and is the founder/owner of AwardsWatch.

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