Almost each year in the Best Picture race, there tends to be a small independent movie with little to no star power and/or a small distributor that finds itself competing against studio heavy weights. That type of film is what I like to call the “little movie that could.”
The recent expansion of the Best Picture category has not only allowed popular films that get audiences excited to compete but small indies as well which probably wouldn’t have had a chance to enter the category if there were five slots. One example of a “little movie” that was able to crack the Best Picture field is Winter’s Bone. Winter’s Bone, which began its dominance at Sundance, was an early summer release that was a critical favorite and also a specialty box office hit despite having little star power. It does have Jennifer Lawrence, but this was a few years before she became J-Law.
Then there’s Beasts Of The Southern Wild, which was another critical Sundance sensation that became a specialty hit. Even though it didn’t possess any major star power, it still managed to compete against the likes of studio films like Argo and Lincoln, which were packed with A-list talent.
Not too long ago, we saw that a little movie can manage to not only be nominated for Best Picture, but it can even win over a studio heavyweight. Moonlight, which didn’t have any huge names, and had the lowest domestic box office gross out of all the Best Picture nominees, managed to triumph over La La Land, a mainstream mega-hit musical about Hollywood, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
When looking at my current Best Picture predictions, I’ve noticed that there isn’t exactly a “little movie that could” on my predictions. However, there is a film that could be one. The coming-of-age story Eighth Grade follows the same pattern as Winter’s Bone and Beasts Of The Southern Wild. It premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and despite having little star power, it has become a specialty hit, making $13 million domestically, and critics love it as well thanks to its 98% Rotten Tomatoes score.
If A24 Films can make voters remember how amazing it is, and critics rally behind it, then there may be a world where Eighth Grade gets nominated for Best Picture. It also depends on where else the film can compete. Original Screenplay seems like a solid bet since it’s such a wide open field, while Best Actress for Elsie Fisher will be tough, since the category is such a bloodbath.
Quvenzhane Wallis did manage to bulldoze her way in Best Actress for Beasts Of The Southern Wild, but that was a way less competitive field than this one. For what it’s worth, Elsie Fisher will be a likely frontrunner for various Young Actress/Rising Star awards which’ll keep her in the conversation.
Another question regarding Eighth Grade’s Best Picture chances has to do with which film A24 will push harder for. They also have Hereditary, which is a very strong Best Actress play for Toni Collette. However, Eighth Grade will likely be a much easier sell for voters than Hereditary which is a terrific film, yet is still quite dark and confrontational.
Even though there is always a “little movie that could” in the Best Picture race nowadays, it doesn’t mean Eighth Grade is an automatic sure bet. We learned that last year with The Florida Project, a small indie that inspired passion from industry voters, yet still only scored a Supporting Actor bid for Willem Dafoe. However, Eighth Grade is still one to keep an eye on regardless.
Now, over to you. What do you guys think? Do you feel Eighth Grade has potential to be this year’s little movie that could and make it in Best Picture? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section. Gucci!