Oscar Beat: Best Picture Predictions – Is It ‘Roma’ vs. ‘Green Book’?

The Oscar nominations are announced, and the Best Picture race has hit its final phase. After a variety of ups and downs, we’ve got our final eight contenders. There are still four months to go–and lots can happen at the time–but for today quite a bit has been illuminated, and it seems we are down to two frontrunners to take home the main prize.
The first is Green Book, a film that pretty much was not on anyone’s radar before it won the People’s Choice Award in TIFF–which historically guarantees a Best Picture nomination. It has had a rocky road since that moment, struggling to fulfill its own expectations as a box office crowdpleaser and being hit with scandal after scandal. No matter Academy voters went to the feel-good drama hard, nominating it for five Oscars in total.
The main reason has to do with precedent. It won the Producers Guild Award, and seven of the last 10 PGA winners went on to win Best Picture. It is a significant harbinger for Oscar glory, even though it can at times overlook as in the cases of La La Land and The Big Short. However, the PGA is not the only trophy Green Book has. It won the Golden Globe for Best Drama and picked up nominations from all the Significant guilds, from the DGA into the WGA to the SAG awards. Additionally, it carries with it significant Oscar nominations which are harbingers of Oscar glory, most especially Best Film Editing. Really, the finest Picture winner has scored a Best Film Editing nomination virtually every season for the previous two decades.
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Image via Universal Pictures The major knock against Green Book winning Best Picture is it’s a divisive film. Considering that the Academy uses a preferential ballot method to vote for Best Picture–meaning voters rank their choices from favorite to least favorite–films that are well-liked tend to perform better (view: The Form of Water) than 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 battle not only due to perceived bias against Netflix within the Academy, but also due to the fact that it is a long, black-and-white, Spanish-language play with no movie stars. And the artistry of the movie is undeniable, and it scored a whopping 10 Oscar nominations. It is among this 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. In case Green Book is the year’s La La Land–a commercial, adore it/hate it hit–then Roma could surely be this year’s Moonlight. And most of us know how that turned out.
Roma has likewise picked up considerable guild support, and if Cuaron wins the Directors Guild of America award which could tip the movie over the edge into solid frontrunner status. The arguments from Roma winning are, nicely, that it’s a lengthy, black-and-white, Spanish-language drama with no film stars–i.e. it’s possible not all Academy Republicans will venture to actually watch the film. There’s also the perceived Netflix prejudice, but given the substantial theatrical push and massive awards effort that Netflix was operating, I have a feeling that’s fading a bit. Additionally, lots of Oscar Republicans are currently working or have worked on a Netflix film at this point.

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