A Star is Born opened with a massive $42 million haul. That isn’t surprising, considering it has been one of the few films audiences have been excited to see. It is drawing out almost every demographic. It probably will make at least $150 million, maybe more. That more than qualifies it to be considered for Best Picture. But. There’s always a but. Each of the films that seem to have been earmarked for Best Picture have one thing about them that seems to put them in the category of a “maybe” rather than a “slam dunk.” A Star is Born is no exception.
Many in the punditry world have declared A Star is Born the frontrunner and a slam dunk for Best Picture. But remember, even just saying that winds up hurting the film’s chances. Funny how that works. But it’s true – when people hear “A Star is Born is going to win Best Picture” or “La La Land is going to win Best Picture” or “The Revenant is going to win Best Picture” that sets the movie up with impossible expectations. Now people are going in expecting something like Titanic. But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that it is going to be juggernaut many are predicting it will be. Let’s look at the trajectory of some of the winners in the era of the expanded and preferential ballot.
There are two kinds of Best Picture winners. Those that split with director and those that don’t. Since 2009, here are the ones that didn’t:
2009-The Hurt Locker (PGA/DGA/BAFTA)
2010-The King’s Speech (PGA/DGA/SAG/BAFTA
2011-The Artist (PGA/DGA/BAFTA)
2017-The Shape of Water (PGA/DGA)
And here are the ones that did:
2012-Argo/Life of Pi
2013-12 Years a Slave/Gravity
2016-Moonlight/La La Land
It’s a 50/50 split. And it’s hard to tell right now if it will split or if it won’t split. But I can say this – the only one of the split years that were easy to predict was 2012, because Ben Affleck could not win Best Director. All of the films that won were in the conversation for sure, but they were soft frontrunners, I’d say, not defacto frontrunners.
The ones that weren’t split, none of them except The Artist, could be predicted before the PGA rang in. None of these films were considered frontrunners heading into the race and didn’t become frontrunners until everyone realized they were going to win on a consensus vote.
With A Star is Born we’re either looking at a split or a non-split. Either way, once a film is declared the frontrunner it changes the film’s status, and makes it harder for it to overcome the odds and actually become the winner. That has been my experience but there are always exceptions and every year is different.
Will the new members have an impact on which film wins? Maybe. But they comprise 25-30% while the majority remains the older members.
None of the other films considered Oscar frontrunners have opened yet, with the exception of BlackKklansman and Black Panther. The former sits with $48 million, and the latter, a phenomenon with $700 million domestic. In a year with ten nomination slots it would be a no brainer getting both of these films in – with only five slots on the ballot? I don’t know.
A Star is Born is doing everything right – the press around Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s working relationship is good. She is doing the requisite publicity to be seen glammed up and ready for the red carpet. Indeed, she is such a big star it is hard to imagine anyone competing with her. It did seem like Glenn Close‘s to lose but the popularity around A Star is Born might make Lady Gaga’s potential win too big to ignore.
Many out there are calling Bradley Cooper to win Best Actor as well, but he has stiff competition from Viggo Mortensen in Green Book, and Christian Bale in the upcoming Vice. Part of what makes Cooper such a threat for awards is that he not only directed and starred in the film, he also co-wrote some of the songs and does his own singing. And probably if the Oscars were held right now it would win everything. It’s probably not a bad prediction to have both Cooper and Gaga to win the acting categories. I heard someone say they would be like Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt in As Good as it Gets. I don’t feel confident enough in knowing how this year will play out to make that prediction. I’m still leaning towards Mortensen and Close, but who knows, right? The Oscar race is indeed a RACE. It’s not a done deal in October.
The weird thing about this year is that every film that seems poised to win Best Picture has one thing about it that gives one pause.
Roma – black and white in Spanish, and from Netflix
Green Book – is it going to get hit with a Twitter shitstorm?
First Man – Not touchy feely/sappy enough
Vice – black comedies rarely win now.
BlackKklansman – will it turn off the white voters?
Black Panther – Marvel, superhero movie
A Star is Born – a remake of a familiar Hollywood film, gravitas?
Can you Ever Forgive Me – another black comedy…
The Favourite – too dark?
If Beale Street Could Talk – can’t think of any downsides at the moment.
Which bowl of porridge will Goldilocks want? Which will be just right?
Our first big hint will come when the Golden Globes announce their nominations, which is long way from now, December 11.