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2018 Oscar Predictions: BEST PICTURE (September)

The Venice and Telluride Film Festivals are still under way at the time of these new predictions with world and US premieres of some of this fall and winter’s top Oscar hopefuls hasn’t made as much of an impact as you’d expect. WB’s Dunkirk is still at #1. 20th Century Fox’s The Papers is back to being The Post and still in the top 3. Sony Classics’ Call Me By Your Name is still in the top 5. The big mover though continues to be Fox Searchlight’s The Shape of Water. After big splashes and rapturous reviews at both festivals, the Guillermo del Toro-directed fantasy film moves up from #4 to #2 with a big 25-point increase. It could very well end up being the film to beat when all is said and done. Also, with a reported budget of under $20M it will also qualify for the Independent Spirit Awards, meaning it won’t have a single bump or hiccup along the way through the treacherous awards season that lies ahead.

Darkest Hour hit Telluride and solidified Gary Oldman’s already frontrunner status in Best Actor but the Gold Rush Gang is really split. Four of us see it placing in the 5-7 spot, five down in the 8-10 region and Jason is altogether not here for it, finding no place for it in the top 10 at all. We often associate Best Actor winners with Best Picture and reasonably so; it’s usually true by virtue of the fact that more Best Picture nominees are male-led to begin with. Only twice since 2008 have only 2/5 Best Actor nominees in a single year come from Best Picture nominees. Interestingly enough though, each of those years one of those two ended up being the winner (Jeff Bridges in 2009 and Leonardo DiCaprio in 2016).

A24’s The Florida Project moves up to #6 and Downsizing bounces back a bit despite mixed reviews at both festivals this week. I just don’t know what to make of it. The $70M production screen tested multiple times with wildly varying edits each time. Then there’s the potentially problematic performance, or character rather, that Hong Chau plays. Her Vietnamese refugee veers from funny to emotional but was described by some as an Asian ‘mammie.’ That film’s path this season will be one of the more interesting to watch. Alexander Payne has been a bit of an Academy favorite this decade but every director can find themselves on the outside once in a while. Just ask Ang Lee or Kathryn Bigelow. Speaking of Bigelow, the once top 3 Detroit from Annapurna is officially gone and out of competition at this point. The backlash has turned the box office flop into poison and no critics or industry group is going to touch it at this point. Paramount’s Suburbicon was hit was some pretty bad reviews at Venice and also drops off the chart.

So what of the festival films that surprised and could find themselves in the top 10? Fox Searchlight’s Battle of the Sexes was met with better reviews than expected. A24’s recent pickup Lady Bird, the directorial debut from writer-actress Greta Gerwig, was raved. That might be more a play in the Original Screenplay, Actress and Supporting Actress category though. The holdback, I think, is that each of those studios already seem to have their #1s that will earn the lions share of attention and awards pushes. We’ll have to see if they’ll split the pot to earn even more awards attention. Netflix debuted Angelina Jolie’s film First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers at Telluride to incredible reviews. The film will be Cambodia’s Foreign Language Film Oscar submission (where it should be eligible) but some think the film could break through into Best Picture and Best Director.

Universal’s Get Out makes a big jump into the top 5 this month. It doesn’t seem to be on the radar of the majority of Oscar prognosticators as it is with the Gold Rush Gang. Are we ahed of the curve or kidding ourselves? Amazon’s Last Flag Flying got itself a trailer and holds tight at #8 this month. It will open the New York Film Festival. Sony’s Roman J. Israel, Esq. drops a bit and ties for #6. It was a late announcement for Toronto (in one of the fastest productions turnarounds I’ve ever seen). Paramount’s horror/thriller mother! has been stirring up crazy hype and buzz but it’s not translating into Oscar talk just yet. The film opens in less than two weeks and will hit Venice on September 5th. That could be a game changer…or not.

Big question marks still remain for a few releases like 20th Century Fox’s The Greatest Showman (the trailer didn’t give much to work with) and The Weinstein Company’s The Current War. A sneak of that trailer was pretty awful. Like a desperate attempt to position it as a late 1880s version of The Social Network by way of a superhero movie edit. That film however will debut at Toronto this month and is now set for TWC’s most coveted release date – Thanksgiving weekend. Ridley Scott’s Getty kidnapping drama All the Money in the World lands in early December and is getting a super fast post-production (as is Clint Eastwood’s train terror film The 15:17 to Paris) and could hit. Or either could just show up at AFI and be this year’s Rules Don’t Apply and/or Live By Night.

Here are the 2018 Oscar predictions in Best Picture for September from the Gold Rush Gang. Follow all predictions as they are updated live throughout the month right here.

Green – moves up from last month
Red – moves down from last month
Blue – debut/new entry
Orange – re-entry

1 Dunkirk (Warner Bros – 7/21) 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 93
2 Shape of Water, The (Fox Searchlight – 12/8) 1 1 1 1 1 4 2 1 3 3 92
3 The Post (20th Century Fox – 12/22) 3 3 3 3 6 2 3 3 1 2 81
4 Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics – 11/24) 4 5 5 4 3 10 4 5 4 5 61
5 Get Out (Universal – 2/24) 5 4 10 7 7 5 8 6 9 7 42
6 Florida Project, The (A24 – 10/6) 9 4 6 5 3 7 9 7 8 41
6 Roman J. Israel, Esq (Sony – 11/3) 8 7 9 4 7 5 8 6 4 41
8 Last Flag Flying (Amazon/Lionsgate – 11/3) 7 6 8 8 9 8 6 7 5 6 40
9 Darkest Hour (Focus Features – 11/22) 6 7 6 5 8 9 10 4 8 9 38
10 Downsizing (Paramount – 12/22) 8 9 10 6
11 Phantom Thread (Focus Features – 12/25) 9 9 10 5
11 Wonderstruck (Amazon – 10/20) 6 5
13 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight – 11/10) 10 10 10 3
14 Mudbound (Netflix) 10 1
14 Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros – 10/6) 10 1

15:17 to Paris, The (Warner Bros. – Dec)
All the Money in the World (Sony – 12/8)
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 – 11/24)
Detroit (Annapurna – 7/27 – limited, 8/4 – wide)
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (Netflix – 9/15)
Greatest Showman, The (20th Century Fox – 12/25)
Hostiles (TBD)
Killing of a Sacred Deer, The (A24 – 10/27 – limited, 11/3 – wide)
Lady Bird (A24 – 11/10)
Marshall (Open Road Films – 10/13)
Mary Magdalene (The Weinstein Company – 12/22)
Molly’s Game (STX Entertainment – 11/22)
mother! (Paramount – 9/15)
Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox – 11/10)
Novitiate (Sony Pictures Classics – 10/27)
Square, The (Magnolia – 10/27)
Stronger (Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions – 9/22)
Suburbicon (Paramount 10/27)
Thank You For Your Service (Universal – 10/27)
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 thanks his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards together since he was in the single digits; making lists, rankings and predictions throughout the show. This led him down the path to obsessing about awards. Much later, he found himself 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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