Well the Oscar nominations have been announced, and the finest Picture race has struck its final stage. After a number of ups and downs, we’ve got our closing eight contenders. There are still four weeks to proceed –and lots can happen at the time–but for now a bit was illuminated, and it seems we’re down to 2 frontrunners to take home the principal prize.
The first is Green Book, a film that pretty much was not on anyone’s radar until it won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF–which historically guarantees a Best Picture nomination. It has had a rocky road since that time, struggling to fulfill its own expectations as a box office crowdpleaser and being struck with scandal after scandal. Regardless, Academy voters went for the feel-good play hard, nominating it for five Oscars in total.
The main reason it’s a frontrunner competition must do with precedent. 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, even though it can sometimes overlook as in the instances of La La Land and The Big Short. But the PGA is not the only decoration 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 into the SAG awards. It also carries with it important Oscar nominations which are harbingers of Oscar glory, most notably Best Film Editing. Indeed, the Best Picture winner has scored a Best Film Editing nomination virtually every year for the previous 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 system to vote for Best Picture–significance voters rank their choices from favorite to least favorite–films that are well-liked often do better (see: The Shape of Water) than the ones that are either loved or loathed (see: Three Billboards).
The other significant competitor to pull the W, to my mind, is Roma. The film faced an uphill struggle not just due to perceived prejudice against Netflix inside the Academy, but also due to the fact that it is a long, black-and-white, Spanish-language play free of movie stars. And yet the artistry of the film is undeniable, and it scored a whopping 10 Oscar nominations. It’s one of the year’s most critically acclaimed films, 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 this year’s La La Land–a commercial, love it/hate it struck –then Roma can certainly be this season’s Moonlight. And we all know how that turned out.
Roma has additionally picked up considerable guild support, also when Cuaron wins the Directors Guild of America award that could tip the movie over the border into strong frontrunner status. The arguments against Roma winning are, nicely, that it is a long, black-and-white, Spanish-language play free of film stars–i.e. it’s possible not all Academy voters will venture to actually watch the movie. There is also the perceived Netflix bias, but given the significant theatrical push and enormous awards effort that Netflix has been operating, I have a feeling that’s fading a little. Plus, tons of Oscar voters themselves are now working or have worked on a Netflix movie now.
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