Here we are. After the most tumultuous Oscar season in memory, the biggest award of the night, Best Picture, is still up in the air. It’s one of the great ironies of Oscar watching and predicting; we hate it when everything is predictable and “boring” yet panic when things are truly up in the air. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, I suppose.
In almost any instance, the winner of Best Picture this year is going to sidestep history and statistics to do so.
If it’s Roma it becomes the first film from a streamer to win, the first foreign language film to win, Gabriela Rodríguez will be the first Latina to win, it will be the first film to lose PGA, WGA and not be SAG cast nominated to win. It’s wild that the perceived frontrunner has the most hurdles to jump over in order to triumph. But, it has BAFTA, DGA, Critics’ Choice and the Golden Globes for Foreign Language Film and Best Director. Tough to beat.
Green Book has the PGA but weirdly lost WGA to a non-Oscar nominated film. Why? Did the post-Golden Globes Vallelonga controversy finally catch up? The film has all the right nominations (including that very telling Film Editing nom, something Roma doesn’t have) and is a likely winner in Supporting Actor. It doesn’t have a Best Director nomination (in one of many shades of Driving Miss Daisy) but with Best Picture and Best Director being so split since the expanded era it doesn’t feel that important. Just two years ago, Moonlight won with Supporting Actor (also Mahershala Ali) and a screenplay win. Like Roma, it would also need to overcome the SAG Cast snub but it got two individual nominations and after last year’s Best Picture winner (The Shape of Water) breaking that streak it’s probably the new normal.
BlacKkKlansman has all the right nominations, both here and with precursors and is the frontrunner in Adapted Screenplay. But where else would it win? Original Score is definitely possible but are those two enough? They might be. PGA loser Spotlight won with only Original Screenplay in hand (although it won SAG Cast) so there’s recent precedent for it to leapfrog over Roma and Green Book.
The Favourite also has all the right nods and is the nomination co-leader with Roma (10). Yet, despite its field-best seven wins at BAFTA couldn’t close the deal with a Best Film win. It hasn’t been able to win any substantial film prizes so far but if it pulls off some below the line wins and Original Screenplay over Green Book or Roma then it could find itself in a good position to surprise.
I don’t see much of a path for any other film to suddenly become a consensus choice and that is the key, being a consensus choice. Once those #1 ballots are gone you need to #2 or #3 but I think in a year as divided as this we could see the voting go down to the #4 and #5 choices.
Whatever happens is going to give us a lot to talk about on Monday morning and for years to come. This year, more than any other, has made me less concerned about predictions than it has in talking about the whys and the hows. I know the whys and hows are a big part of predictions but as stats and history become less relevant and instinct and understanding become paramount, it becomes a far more interesting game to play and much more rewarding to talk about the Oscars in context with social and political evolutions and revolutions of the moment.
|1. ROMA (BAFTA, BFCA, GG*)|
|Gabriela Rodríguez and Alfonso Cuarón|
|2. GREEN BOOK (GG, PGA)|
|Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga|
|Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele and Spike Lee|
|4. THE FAVOURITE|
|Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday and Yorgos Lanthimos|
|Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adam McKay and Kevin Messick|
|6. A STAR IS BORN|
|Bill Gerber, Bradley Cooper and Lynette Howell Taylor|
|7. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (GG)|
|8. BLACK PANTHER (SAG)|
|BAFTA – British Film Academy Awards|
|BFCA – Broadcast Film Critics Association (Critics Choice)|
|GG – Golden Globe|
|PGA- Producers Guild of America|
|SAG – Screen Actors Guild|
|*Foreign Language Film winner|