Just for kicks, I went back over past articles on Oscar predicting, looking at early October to see how accurate our predictions were, and how accurate others were elsewhere. There are so many more voices of influence than there ever have been. Even if it seems like Hollywood is evolving, the industry around awards watching — which includes film festivals and the independent film market — seems to be multiplying.
All of the noise has made Oscar predicting harder, not easier, because the sheer number of websites devoted to Oscar coverage. It just gets bigger and bigger every year. Early October shouldn’t be a time to be laying it all down and yet it feels like that’s what we’re doing because that is what everyone else is doing. If we are indeed in a juggernaut/frontrunner year, then it really is decided right now: A Star Is Born will win it all.
But traditionally speaking, we rarely ever have it right in October. Not Best Picture. You have to go back to 12 Years a Slave vs. Gravity to find a year where we all had the winners laid down by late October, even if eventually many of the main pundits would eventually switch to Gravity for the win.
Adding to the echo chamber factor, the preferential ballot makes it almost completely impossible to predict how it will turn out. There are so many variables that could determine the winner. There is also a hive mind that can shift the race in a direction if a backlash erupts. There is perception online as there used to be perception in real life. Many of the rules we used to count on have been knocked down and many are saying that when the Academy opened its doors to an unprecedented amount of new members, primarily women and people of color, they made it doubly difficult to predict what “they” will do.
Heading over to Gold Derby to make my predictions, I see that the majority have it down to A Star Is Born vs. Roma. That makes me wonder if it’s going to be a two film race. There are so many things that have to happen before we can get a clear read on it (although most people aren’t going to tell you that).
Here are a few of the rules we tend to follow, or I tend to follow.
1) The Telluride rule. It seems like a film that plays Telluride has better odds of winning. Since this is a relatively recent stop on the road to Oscar, we don’t have a particularly large sample size, but of the films that have won since 2009, all have played at Telluride. Some played at Venice first, some didn’t. Some played at Toronto after, some didn’t. But all stopped in Telluride.
2010 — The King’s Speech
2011 — The Artist
2012 — Argo
2013 — 12 Years a Slave
2014 — Birdman
2015 — Spotlight
2016 — Moonlight
2017 — The Shape of Water
The reason I bring this up is that most pundits are predicting A Star is Born to win. So, A Star Is Born would break the Telluride rule. That’s not THAT big of a deal, one has to admit, because stats were made to be broken, but here at Awards Daily we like to monitor stuff like this, so we keep it in mind. The other movie that didn’t play Telluride was Green Book.
Which films DID play in Telluride (and that means they were hand selected to screen there as the best of the best)?
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
The Front Runner
The Old Man & The Gun
Which of these is “in the conversation” to win Best Picture?
The other key things we look for are:
2) Divisiveness. Does the film have baggage? Do some people hate it and while some love it? If it rides out as the frontrunner that almost always makes it divisive. If it stars women that also makes it divisive. If it talks about race that makes it divisive. Divisive matters more if there is a reason people single a film out to hate on it, like Three Billboards or La La land, as opposed to it being somewhat divisive because of its subject matter — remember how everyone was freaking out about sex with a fish for Shape of Water?
3) Gravitas. Is it important? People doing good things seems to be a reliable thread and much of that has to do with importance. Was Moonlight thought of as more “important” than La La Land? Yes. Was Spotlight thought of as more “important” than The Revenant? Yes. A Star Is Born seems like a love story and nothing more except that the studio is doing a good job highlighting the film’s heavier aspects, like addiction and suicide. First Man is important, Green Book is important, Roma is important. BlackKklansman is important. Beale Street is important. Even Black Panther is important. Which will be the least divisive? Probably Roma.
4) Golden Globes director. Again, like everything else it isn’t a complete dealbreaker because nothing is, really. If a movie is going to win, not having a Globe nod for director isn’t going to stop it (Crash, Driving Miss Daisy), but it helps. Those are five slots. I think my pundit pals are pretty sure that Bradley Cooper will win that one, Best Director at the Globes, and A Star Is Born will win if it’s put in Musical/Comedy — though some have said that WB plans to put their chips down in Drama. That will only add to the fervor around predicting that film to win — I guess I could just say, add to its frontrunner status. I hate to say that because it’s like piercing the movie’s chances right in the heart, but fine.
Right now, we’re expecting the Globes to go with the three frontrunners in Best Director:
After that, it gets more tricky. I would probably go with:
But there is a really good chance it could also be, and likely could be:
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Julian Schnabel, At Eternity’s Gate
Not to mention:
Adam McKay, Vice
Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me
5) PGA/DGA/SAG. Obviously the PGA is the easiest one to get in on, but you really don’t want to miss there. Black Panther will definitely show up there. DGA is a little harder to pin down but I’d still go with:
The Oscar directing category is likely going to leave one of these off and add one. That addition could be Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk.
6) The SAG ensemble prerequisite was knocked down last year when The Shape of Water became the first film to win without that since Braveheart. Ensemble is likely to be:
A Star Is Born
Less certain on that score would be:
Vice (is it being seen too late?)
Basically, it’s all a crap shoot. Good luck everyone and may the best pundit win. I will put a poll here for you to decide how you think the Best Picture race is going to go. I do this knowing A Star is Born will top the list. How do I know this? Because that is what film most people think is going to win right now in October.