Well the Oscar nominations are announced, along with the finest Picture race has struck its final stage. Following a variety of ups and downs, we have our final eight contenders. There are still four months to go–and lots can happen at the time–but for now quite a bit was illuminated, and it appears we’re down to two frontrunners to take home the principal prize.
The first is Green Book, a film that pretty much was not on anybody’s radar before it won the People’s Choice Award in TIFF–that 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 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 it’s a frontrunner contender must do with precedent, mostly. It won the Producers Guild Award, and seven of the final 10 PGA winners went on to win Best Picture. It’s a major harbinger for Oscar glory, even though it can sometimes miss as in the instances 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 into the SAG awards. It also carries with it significant Oscar nominations that are harbingers of Oscar glory, most especially Best Film Editing. Really, the Best Picture winner has scored a Best Film Editing nomination almost every season for the past two decades.
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 (see: The Form of Water) compared to the ones that are either loved or loathed (see: Three Billboards).
Another major competitor to pull off the W, to my mind, is Roma. The movie faced an uphill battle not just because of perceived prejudice against Netflix within the Academy, but also on account of the fact that it’s a lengthy, black-and-white, Spanish-language play with no movie stars. And yet the artistry of the movie is undeniable, and it scored a whopping 10 Oscar nominations. It’s one of this year’s most critically acclaimed movies, and director/writer/producer/cinematographer/co-editor Alfonso Cuaron has picked up a number of Best Director and Best Picture trophies across the critics circuit. In case Green Book is this year’s La La Land–a commercial, love it/hate it hit–then Roma could certainly be this season’s Moonlight. And most of us know how that turned out.
Roma has additionally picked up substantial guild support, and when Cuaron wins the Directors Guild of America award which could tip the movie over the border into strong frontrunner status. The arguments from Roma winning are, nicely, that it is a long, black-and-white, Spanish-language play free of film stars–i.e. it is possible not all Academy Republicans will venture to actually watch the movie. There is also the perceived Netflix prejudice, but given the substantial theatrical push and enormous awards effort that Netflix has been operating, I’ve a sense that’s fading a bit. Additionally, tons of Oscar voters themselves are now working or have worked on a Netflix film at this point.
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