Last year around this time it seemed like the race was between A Star is Born and Roma. Green Book was not really considered a major threat, even though it had already won the audience award in Toronto. The power of A Star is Born was, as it would turn out, 100% manufactured by the pundits — it can be hard to defy the status quo because you will be mercilessly mocked. But you know, at this stage, in a race as predictable as last year’s and now this year’s, anything is possible.
I can make a case for any film being a frontrunner — it will be a matter of several factors coming together at once: a desire to celebrate that particular project, an urgency to vote for that person or that film. At this stage it’s impossible to know because we’re all really swirling around in the same room with no actual intel.
What we know so far is simply this:
Parasite won the Palme d’or — if ever there was a threat for a foreign language film to win Best Picture this is it. I can win on a preferential ballot easier than it could otherwise but we’re not yet in the place of figuring this out. Parasite is something Roma was not — it’s a crowdpleaser.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has continued to hold onto its relevance and heat — with the major force that is Quentin Tarantino never having won Picture or Director. Let it be known that neither Alfred Hitchcock nor Stanley Kubrick ever won either. I can see that movie winning not just because Tarantino has never won but because his film is nostalgic and has a great many fans.
Jojo Rabbit won the Audience Award in Toronto. It beat everything else that played there, just as Green Book did last year. We don’t have any more intel beyond that, except for the few people who have seen it that felt like they couldn’t laugh at Shitler and the Nazis. What a powerful ending Jojo Rabbit has but you have to be willing to go with it. It can win a majority vote, however.
1917 is the mystery guest we’re all anticipating. Will this mystery guest be good enough to overcome the end of the year problem with Oscar contenders of late? Can it build enough of a consensus to win? It’s just impossible to say right now but it must be factored in all the same.
The Irishman is one of Scorsese’s best, hailed as a masterpiece, featuring a legendary ensemble to beat all ensemble casts. It just has to win a major prize and it’s on its way to frontrunner status but we’re not there yet.
Marriage Story – like the other films listed here just needs one big win to take over frontrunner status. It is actor driven, Noah Baumbach has yet to win an Oscar. As a family drama with marriage, divorce and child custody at its center it could become that universally appealing movie that hits the industry where it counts.
Do we have any other movies lurking that could be the sneak attack as the winner? Could Ford v Ferrari surprise everyone by being the kind of crowdpleaser that the consensus overall broadly likes?
Best Picture is driven by three main elements:
- Love for the film itself
- How many actors are in it and whether actors drive it or not
- Respect/admiration/love for the director
The film that wins usually has all three, though sometimes a film can win on a preferential ballot if it just has good enough intentions to win — as in, people feel an URGENCY to push it to the tops of the their ballots. What kind of movie usually has this is what I call the “kicking a puppy” theory. If criticizing the movie feels like kicking a puppy then you know you have the kind of movie that will do well on a preferential ballot. Argo, King’s Speech, The Artist, Moonlight, etc. Are any of this years top movies “kicking a puppy” movies?
Anyway, here are our current takes….sure to change next week.