As I’ve tried formulating my Oscar predictions, one thing I’ve realized is that I keep forgetting to make my predictions for the biggest category of them all: Best Picture. Maybe it’s because there isn’t a front runner, or because I figured it’d be best to wait until more contenders have been seen. While it is fun to predict films that haven’t been seen by critics and/or audiences so that we could have a laugh at how wrong we were, it’s also beneficial to wait until people have seen the films in play.
Now that Telluride, Venice, and the Toronto International Film Festival have wrapped up, we have a clearer idea of what the Best Picture looks like. Here are my current predictions:
Best Picture Predictions:
The buzz on BlacKkKlansman started back at Cannes where Spike Lee won the Grand Prize of the Jury. Since its premiere there, it became an arthouse hit with a current domestic gross of about $45 million against a $15 million budget. Also, given what else Focus Features has on their plate, BlacKkKlansman might be their best shot at landing a Best Picture slot, since Boy Erased had a mixed to positive response during its festival run. And both On The Basis Of Sex and Mary, Queen Of Scots haven’t made a festival run which might be worrisome.
A Best Picture nomination for Black Panther would be a great way to prove that the now defunct “Most Popular Film” category is a punch of poppycock. The fact that it’s a superhero film released in February might be a major roadblock. However, it was a monumental moneymaker in its theatrical release and Disney is playing a heavy awards push which is huge. While quality should play a huge role in a film’s Oscar chances, campaigning proves to be just as vital.
After scoring a Best Original Screenplay for The Lobster, director Yorgos Lanthimos is back in the Oscar race with what looks to be his most accessible film. Lanthimos is someone who’s known for his bizarre, esoteric vision, and while it seems to be demonstrated in The Favourite which he interestingly didn’t write the screenplay for, it’s still more awards friendly than Dogtooth, which was nominated for Foreign Language Film,p yet is the most un-AMPAS film imaginable. The debate over where the three main actresses (Emma Stone, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz) are being campaigned is still taking place. But if there’s one thing that’s quite clear, it’s that The Favourite is looking strong as a Best Picture nominee.
Even if First Man didn’t receive the same kind of rapturous festival response as Damien Chazelle’s last film, La La Land, it still had a positive response. Plus, since Damien Chazelle recently won the Oscar for Best Director, he’s practically in the club which means whatever films he does will likely end up in the awards conversation. With the love that First Man has gotten, it seems pretty safe for a Best Picture slot.
Green Book took most people by surprise when it won the coveted People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Since almost every winner of that prize this decade has gone on to score a Best Picture nomination, the same will likely happen to Green Book. The biopic involving a nightclub bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) who once drove a famed pianist (Mahershala Ali) across the segregated Deep South might seem like an old fashioned take on American racism and even a reversed Driving Miss Daisy. But the film’s traditionalist telling will likely appeal to the old guard voters within the Academy.
If Beale Street Could Talk:
Much like fellow Oscar winner Damien Chazelle, director Barry Jenkins who won Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay for Moonlight is very much part of the club now. Because Beale Street managed to receive a positive response out of TIFF, both Jenkins and the film will likely benefit from afterglow love after the success of Moonlight. Also, the film’s story involving an African-American woman whose boyfriend has been wrongly convicted by a corrupt police officer is quite timely, and there are always films with social and/or political relevance in the conversation.
Alfonso Cuaron’s follow-up to Gravity has become a force throughout the festival circuit. Roma won the Golden Lion at Venice, was the second runner-up for the People’s Choice Award at TIFF, and was also announced as Mexico’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film which means it’s already a frontrunner in that category. The film is also a semi-autobiographical telling of Alfonso Cuaron’s upbringing in 1970’s Mexico City that he, quite literally, single handedly brought to the big screen since he not only directed it but he wrote it, edited it, produced it, and shot it. As a result of him tirelessly bringing a very personal project to life, voters may respond strongly to it.
A Star Is Born:
A Star Is Born was a major contender on paper because it’s the third remake of a beloved classic with some pedigree talent. But as it turns out, it’s a legitimate contender thanks to its rapturous buzz out of the festival circuit. It’s also a likely across the board contender with not just support for its actors and directing, but in below the line categories like Best Original Song and Cinematography. The fact that it seems primed to be a dominant force means it may be vulnerable to Film Twitter backlash. But it’s still going to be a force regardless.
Judging by the reviews out of TIFF, Widows seems like a film that has the best of both worlds: It’s a potential commercial player and it possesses both social and political relevance. It seems like a standard heist thriller, yet it deals with themes like race, class, and corrupt politics. Also, in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite and #TimesUp, we have a story involving four women, including three women of color, taking a stand against toxic masculinity.
As an added bonus, the film is being helmed by Steve McQueen who previously directed the Oscar winning Best Picture 12 Years A Slave. Even if he doesn’t make the cut in what is looking like a packed Best Director field, the film will certainly be in play.
On The Outside Looking In:
Those are the nine films I have predicted for Best Picture. As for those on the outside looking in, I think Crazy Rich Asians could have a Bridesmaids-type awards run, scoring Motion Picture-Musical/Comedy nomination at the Golden Globes, a Best Ensemble nomination at SAG, and a PGA nomination because the Producers Guild loves to celebrate success stories.
Also, the Dick Cheney biopic, Vice, could be a late breaker if it’s any good. Same with On The Basis Of Sex if it at least makes a play at AFI Fest. Then there’s early critical darlings like Eighth Grade which could remain in the minds of voters if A24 runs a proper push.
Who’s Out In Front?
But when it comes down to our front runner, it’s still hard to decide. Although, if I had to choose, I’d go with Roma because it feels like a non-controversial consensus pick and the fact that it’s such a personal project for Cuaron helps give the film a powerful narrative. Then again, Widows feels like a non-controversial consensus pick as well. Plus, its big and starry ensemble cast screams “Best Ensemble In A Motion Picture Winner” at the SAG Awards and the acting branch is the biggest one in the Academy which would be beneficial.
Thankfully, because it’s still September, we still have plenty of time to try and decipher what our frontrunner will be.
What do you think will be nominated for Best Picture? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!