By now, we have a pretty good idea of how the acting races are going. The frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor is probably Mahershala Ali for Green Book. Supporting Actress probably remains Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk. Best Actor probably is down to Christian Bale in Vice vs. Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody. Best Actress probably is down to Glenn Close for The Wife and Olivia Colman for The Favourite.
These are all probablys. We do not know what the eventual outcome will be in this very unpredictable race. Why? Well, for starters, the hive mind on the Twitter and elsewhere on the web is about to uncork and blow a collective gasket big time. They are not accustomed to being unable to take down movies with generated outrage and controversy. That means you will get think pieces. Lots of them. Starting tomorrow. Condemning the Hollywood Foreign Press for liking movies they have deemed, for whatever reason, problematic. It could be outrage fatigue that prevented the Globes from obeying the command to stand down. It could be that love for the movies themselves made these movies come out the winner. Either way, it’s not going to be pretty and there will be blood. On that you can be certain. Already people have harangued Elsie Fisher on Twitter for daring to publicly announce her congratulatory affection for Bohemian Rhapsody.
Does that mean it flips around and other movies emerge to dominate? Maybe. Does that mean one of these two films rises up instead and dominates? Maybe. The Globes have a pretty good track record of predicting winners because you can’t buy that kind of publicity. The minute people hear about these wins, they will seek out these movies to watch. Bohemian Rhapsody is just ten or so million away from overtaking A Star Is Born at the box office. Green Book has done fairly well despite being in a limited “wide” release since November, and it’s now certain it will get an expansion in addition to a bump in ticket sales.
In looking back over Globe history, though, movies like Spotlight and even last year’s Shape of Water didn’t win at the Globes. There is time for other awards campaigns to turn things around, especially since the preferential ballot really doesn’t tolerate any divisiveness, whether real or generated. Here is how I see the movies right now coming out of the globes for Best Picture.
1. Green Book — It’s looking good right now, but needs a DGA nomination and it needs some sort of reconciliation to happen because much of the anger that’s been aimed at it seems based on a lot of stuff people think about the movie that doesn’t appear to have a basis in reality. Both of the men the film is about are about two dead men, and they’re the only ones who knew the truth of what happened on their road trip and the full nature of their friendship. Do enough people who watch it feel offended? Maybe some do, but clearly many others don’t. All the same, if it’s targeted by high-profile types beyond what we’ve already seen, it might be derailed. Green Book also shocked everyone and won in Toronto. So did Three Billboards, don’t forget. It was derailed by the time it hit the Oscar race because Martin McDonagh did not get a Best Director nomination. If Peter Farrelly gets that nomination, the film is in a slightly better position. Since we’re combating the math of the preferential ballot, however, I would not feel all that confident in Green Book’s ultimate success. However, since it won at the Globes and won Screenplay and won Supporting Actor, it is in pretty good shape to do well at the Oscars, even if it only wins two awards.
2. Roma — With Alfonso Cuaron winning Best Director, Roma now has a pretty good shot at winning in a preferential ballot scenario as The Shape of Water did last year. It’s still a long shot, because it’s 1) Netflix, 2) black and white, and 3) in Spanish. But Cuaron’s winning streak for Best Director will put it in a much better position to overtake whatever film lands in the number one spot after the guilds announce. Keep in mind that neither Green Book nor Roma have a SAG ensemble nom, though Green Book does have two SAG nominations.
3. A Star Is Born – It is still a potential threat, especially if it wins with the Producers Guild. But, as we now know, the winner of the PGA will be known before Oscar nominations are even announced. That could play out in a weird way: e.g., if, Green Book wins the PGA and Peter Farrelly isn’t nominated for an Oscar (which he probably will be). But I would not count out A Star Is Born at the moment. Still, in the era like the one we’re living through right now, there has to be an urgency, a need to vote for a certain movie. That need could be profound love. It could also be something else.
4. Black Panther — Here is a film that could do very well on a preferential ballot system. It has nothing but good will aimed towards it. It is hurt, at least so far, by the worry that it can’t land writing, directing, and acting nominations. But it does have a SAG ensemble nomination. All it needs to do is win that, get Ryan Coogler a nomination for directing, maybe a screenplay nom ,and it could win. We like to pair Best Picture with Screenplay, so if you think Black Panther could win Best Picture (and I do) can it also win Screenplay? Or is it a bunch of tech nods and Best Picture? Tough to say. What if it wins the PGA and SAG? Then it is a formidable challenger.
5. BlacKkKlansman — However you slice it, the fact that no black director has ever won the Oscar for directing, and that Spike Lee has never even been nominated, depending on how things go this is a film that could win over votes. It also has a SAG ensemble nomination and if it won there it could definitely be a challenger. But you have to wonder: does Alfonso Cuaron win every award for Best Director? Or does another person have a shot at it? Can BlacKkKlansman win SAG? PGA?
6. Bohemian Rhapsody — For whatever reason, people love this movie. They really just do. It keeps turning up everywhere, not driven by Film Twitter, not driven by Oscar pundits. It just keeps popping up. The problem is that Bryan Singer directed it and our culture at large is not willing to forgive him. That makes it a difficult prospect to navigate. It was obvious from the get go at the Globes that this was the movie people were cheering for in that room. It did feel like it could upset. It has the been the stealthiest contender in awards season, one most people did not see coming. It even surprised with a SAG ensemble nom. That is huge.
Then there are potentially only three more slots for Best Picture contenders. Which ones get it? The Favourite? Probably. Does Beale Street? Maybe. Does one of the films that hasn’t been named by the PGA manage to get in? Like First Reformed or Eighth Grade? Can a film by a woman — one friggin woman — get in? Like The Rider or Can You Ever Forgive Me? Can popular movies like Crazy Rich Asians or A Quiet Place crack the Best Picture race? And what of Mary Poppins Returns? Is it in?
We don’t really know yet. And likely this is a year where we won’t know until the envelope is read aloud on stage at the Dolby Theater, for better or worse.
It’s been a wild ride, Oscarwatchers. Tomorrow, we’ll dive into Best Actress and wonder whether this is the year Glenn Close finally crosses the finish line.