According to our loose, casual read of stats, in light of today’s Golden Globes nominations these are the films that have the best chance to win Best Picture:
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Picture, director, screenplay, acting
The Irishman – Picture, director, screenplay, acting
Parasite – Foreign Language, director, screenplay
Joker – picture, director, acting
1917 – picture, director
Marriage Story – picture, screenplay, acting
Hardliners will say that it’s really down to two: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood vs. The Irishman. perhaps tipping toward the traditional Hollywood release, not only filmed on actual film, not just opened in theaters, but made by the guy who bought the New Beverly to keep the tradition of movie-going alive.
Films that, at least right now, look good for noms (I would hold a spot or two for PGA to shift the narrative):
Jojo Rabbit – picture, acting
The Two Popes – picture, screenplay, acting
Perhaps there will be a few more films vying for those last two slots – they have to be movies that 200-300 voters put as their number one, Best Film of the Year. Probably Little Women will take one of those. Even though it missed here, it should have enough women supporting it to push it through for a Best Picture nomination. I still believe Ford v Ferrari has a shot, and Dolemite Is My Name also has a shot as the lone nominee with a mostly black cast. Also, Knives Out has a really strong shot to make it in — were it an ordinary who-done-it, it might not, but with its strong anti-Trump message it just might.
Honestly, as much as it breaks my heart to let go of two my personal favorites, probably the last two will be Little Women and Knives Out.
Will there be surprises? There could be, absolutely. It’s not over till its over.
Netflix has countered Tarantino’s New Beverly move by buying the Paris Theater in New York, and by showcasing The Irishman and other films in select theaters.
Once Upon a Time comes in with $141 million domestic and $230 million International, has arguably a Best Supporting Actor frontrunner with Brad Pitt, and a bravura, beloved American director who has never won for Picture or Director. If he misses this year, he’ll have to take his place alongside the most famous and best directors who never won Oscars and it’s a prestigious list, mind you: Hitchcock, Kubrick, Altman… But as we’ve been saying since Cannes, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood started the year as the high-water mark and film to beat, and it remains the high-water mark and film to beat.
That production will go head to head with Universal’s deeply moving war epic, 1917 exactly 20 years after Sam Mendes won for American Beauty in 1999 (and coincidentally, the year I first started this site). And of course, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, which is packed with actors and industry veterans and is receiving some of the best reviews of his career. And then there is Parasite, which is beloved across the board and remains a threat to win either Director or yes, even Best Picture on a preferential ballot. That would just require all voting members to watch the movie and that’s really the key. What movie are they going to want to watch?
But let’s talk first about the ongoing factors impacting this race and why we might not be able to rely on past Oscar trajectories.
Never before in the history of the Oscar race, okay, recent history, have we had such a crunched season. Just one week has seemed to wreak unintended chaos on the race if you’re looking for precedent.
Not just the simultaneous DGA, PGA, and Oscar ballot deadline, but the race is unusually packed with late breakers:
Those films tip the race in an unpredictable direction because it was already packed. All three of them have Best Actor contenders in a race that was already packed. The usual rules we often follow might not apply.
A couple of folks on Twitter covering the awards make much of their anecdotal hearsay from Oscar voters, arguing that they have insider intel other people might not have. While that might be true, it isn’t true right now. Why, because every win, every speech, every event that shakes up our culture will continue to influence how the race goes. If you talked to voters around this time in 2016, voters would have been overboard for La La Land. Obviously, we know that things changed leading up to the race.
If you want to know what is going to get in by questioning Oscar voters? You have to do it right before ballots go out. You do not know what the Globes will do for any contenders, what the SAG awards will do — what kind of publicity or breaking news or SHITSTORMS might bubble up to shift sentiment and perception.
Sure, to read the race today we think we know how it is going to go. But the best way to approach this year’s race is to enter into it not assuming anything. Because we don’t know anything today except for what these nominations show us in terms of where Globe nominations have sat in the past.
You can only use the past, though, if not much has changed to alter how things are done. Well, this year we’re living through something that has never been seen before so we can’t know how it will go.
Things that look good right now, though, are these:
Joaquin Phoenix looks very strong to win Best Actor but he will have some competition with Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas
Eddie Murphy has a very good chance of cracking the top five after the showing at the Globes, though a SAG nom will certainly help even more.
Renee Zellweger might have some competition with Cynthia Erivo as Harriet if she is nominated for SAG and then Oscar.
Probably one of the most competitive of the acting categories, looks to be a three-man race: Brad Pitt, Joe Pesci, Tom Hanks
It appears to be Laura Dern’s to lose but Jennifer Lopez could catch fire if she ever gets up on stage
This is going to be a tough one: four seem to have a shot at the win: Tarantino, Scorsese, Bong Joon-ho and Sam Mendes.
That’s about all I got for today. This is an interesting stop along the way. Next up, SAG nominations.