With two major groups now ringing in, we see the love for Lady Bird by the film critics is real. Winning Best Director and Best Supporting Actress from the National Board of Review and Best Picture and Best Actress from the New York Film Critics Circle (not to mention being hailed as the most acclaimed film of all time on Rotten Tomatoes) has put Lady Bird in a powerful position heading into the heat of awards season. It is feeling very much like where La La Land was a year ago, or getting close to it, and that could mean Saoirse Ronan wins for her performance as Lady Bird, even if the film doesn’t win any other awards (although it probably will).
Lady Bird goes to the top of our contender tracker because this was a year without a clear frontrunner. We have hovered around a few titles. Guillermo Del Toro won Best Director at the Venice Film Fest. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won the coveted Audience Award at Toronto, surprising everyone. Get Out seemed to do pretty well with the Gotham’s and the Spirit nominations showed a lot of strength for Call Me By Your Name. The Florida Project is hanging in there. But the only really consistent winner so far seems to be Lady Bird, which hits here and there in all of those awards, winning something new at every turn.
The last film directed by a woman to win Best Picture was of course The Hurt Locker in 2009. Kathryn Bigelow’s little movie that could — literally a $12 million baby — about the war in Iraq vanquished Jim Cameron’s sci-fi juggernaut, Avatar. The story became about the two of them at odds: big movie vs. little, husband vs. wife, old Hollywood vs. new Hollywood. It was all contained in that race and Bigelow triumphed, making history. But this year you can feel that the industry once again wants to award a woman. There seems to be just a palpable need for it, and you can feel the push for that movie being Lady Bird, the coming-of-age story about a teenager’s last year of high school in Sacramento.
Lady Bird looks to be included in all of the major Oscar categories:
Maybe Supporting Actor for Tracy Letts
The other films that seem strong right now in the critics phase (which, take note, doesn’t always match with the industry phase) are:
Get Out – Picture, Director, Screenplay, Editing
Call Me By Your Name – Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Screenplay, Editing, maybe Cinematography
The Florida Project – Picture, Screenplay, maybe Director.
Other things to note:
Tiffany Haddish also got a nice boost in the Supporting Actress race
The Disaster Artist and James Franco look to be doing pretty well.
One thing to always keep in mind is that the critics aren’t Oscar voters. There will either be agreement or disagreement between the two. Much will be made about how The Shape of Water, Three Billboards, I, Tonya, etc. have not shown up on the scoreboard yet, but these are just the critics (and, ahem, only about a dozen of the NBR’s 130 members are critics. They rest are… well, nobody knows.)
When the industry begins to vote, when we’re talking thousands of people instead of 40 or 100 or so, we will likely see a slightly different roster of honorees. But at this moment in time Lady Bird appears to be a strong contender to win.