Well the Oscar nominations are announced, and the finest Picture race has hit its final stage. After a number of ups and downs, we have our final eight contenders. There are still four weeks to proceed –and lots can happen at the time–but for now quite a bit has been illuminated, and it appears we are down to 2 frontrunners to take home the main prize.
The first is Green Book, a film that pretty much wasn’t on anyone’s radar until it won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF–that historically guarantees a finest Picture nomination. It has had a rocky road since that time, struggling to fulfill its expectations as a box office crowdpleaser and being struck with scandal after scandal. No matter Academy voters went to the feel-good play hard, nominating it for five Oscars in total.
The reason must do with precedent, largely. It won the Producers Guild Award, and seven of the final 10 PGA winners went on to win Best Picture. It is a significant harbinger for Oscar glory, although it can sometimes overlook as in the cases of La La Land and The Big Short. But the PGA isn’t the only decoration Green Book has. It won the Golden Globe for Best Drama and picked up nominations from all the major guilds, from the DGA into the WGA to the SAG awards. Additionally, it carries with it important Oscar nominations which are harbingers of Oscar glory, most especially Best Film Editing. Indeed, the Best Picture winner has scored a finest Film Editing nomination virtually every season for the past two decades.
Image via Universal Pictures The major knock against Green Book winning Best Picture is that it’s a divisive movie. Considering that the Academy uses a preferential ballot method to vote for Best Picture–meaning voters rank their choices from favorite to least favorite–movies that are popular often perform better (view: The Form of Water) compared to those that are either loved or loathed (see: Three Billboards).
The other significant contender to pull the W, to my mind, is Roma. The film faced an uphill struggle not just because of perceived bias against Netflix within the Academy, but also on account of the fact that it is a lengthy, black-and-white, Spanish-language play free of movie stars. And the artistry of the film is undeniable, and it scored a whopping 10 Oscar nominations. It is one of the year’s most critically acclaimed movies, and director/writer/producer/cinematographer/co-editor Alfonso Cuaron has picked up a range of Best Director and Best Picture trophies along the critics circuit. If Green Book is the year’s La La Land–a commercial, adore it/hate it struck –then Roma can certainly be this year’s Moonlight. And most of us know how that turned out.
Roma has likewise picked up considerable guild support, also if Cuaron wins the Directors Guild of America award which could tip the film over the edge into solid frontrunner status. The arguments against Roma winning are, well, that it’s a long, black-and-white, Spanish-language play free of movie stars–i.e. it’s possible not all Academy voters will venture to actually watch the film. There is also the perceived Netflix prejudice, but given the significant theatrical push and enormous awards effort that Netflix has been operating, I have a sense that is fading a bit. Plus, lots of Oscar Republicans are now working or have worked on a Netflix movie at this point.
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