As of this moment, only two films look poised to enter the Best Picture race with a golden ticket. Alexander Payne’s Nebraska and Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station. Already a champ at Sundance, an impressive reception at the Cannes Film Fest, with rave reviews from the critics who matter, and a director who is poised to make film and Oscar history becoming only the second black filmmaker to earn Best Director and Best Picture nominations, Fruitvale Station leads the pack for Best Picture in the pre-Telluride Oscar race.
Three other films right now seem to have what it takes to go all the way but they come with certain caveats. Alexander Payne’s magnificent Nebraska, seen in Cannes, has the stuff for the top nominations. Before Midnight is the best reviewed film of the year and will easy top the critics top ten lists by year’s end. But for the industry monolith that is the PGA/DGA and SAG, Before Midnight will need to count on those voters having seen the other two. It doesn’t quite work as a film on its own because you can’t possible tap in to the frustrations of the two leads without the context of their past.