It’s that time again – the time when film lovers everywhere stop debating each other and unite to complain about the Oscars. And there are so many problems to bring up. How bad are the nominations? How out-of-touch is the industry? Do some categories deserve to be banished to the commercial breaks? Lots of problems have plagued the Academy lately, but like any other year, we can at least pray that the host will offer some good laughs. (Oh, wait…)
No, the Oscars aren’t as widely-watched or revered as they once were. But they’re still the best barometer for measuring the internal state of Hollywood, which is important to people who constantly ask themselves how much the film industry digs a romance between a lady and a fish-man. So before the latest ceremony gets ripped up in Monday’s headlines, let’s take a look at the eight films that are in the running for the 2018 Best Picture.
What follows now is my ranking of the eight Best Picture nominees, from least to most likely to take home the gold. Keep in mind that this is not my personal ranking of these films (some of which I haven’t even seen); rather, it’s just me weighing the odds of which will emerge the victor.
As always, I must advise that you should not place any bets based on my predictions, but also that if you do and win any money from them, please send me (at least) 50%.
The nomination of Vice makes total sense. On the one hand, it hasn’t received much critical love, turned in a tepid box-office, and hasn’t gained much awards traction beyond Christian Bale’s central performance. On the other hand, it’s a film that mocks the George W. Bush administration, which cancels out those other issues. Bale has a shot at the Oscar (although he’ll probably be outshone by Rami Malek), but beyond that, the chance of Vice winning the night’s biggest award is less likely than Adam McKay making a sequel about Joe Biden.
7. Black Panther
For nearly a year, I refused to believe that Black Panther could snag a Best Picture nomination. Despite the film’s massive cultural cachet (and a Screenplay nomination for Logan last year), most Academy members probably spit their chamomile at the mention of a superhero movie. But Marvel finally managed it with the politically-charged Black Panther, the highest-grossing film to attain this status since Avatar.
But Black Panther will not win the award because it is – you guessed it – a superhero movie. (That, plus the fact that it was completely shut out of the writing, directing, and acting categories.) Marvel has a shot in the Animated category, where Into the Spider-Verse stands poised to win, but they won’t be taking the top prize. Sorry, Panther – guess you’ll just have to wrap yourself up in your $1.3 billion security blanket and deal with it.
6. Bohemian Rhapsody
As of this writing, Bohemian Rhapsody stands at 61% on the Tomatometer – just barely keeping it out of “Rotten” territory. That alone is a threat to its chances as a BP contender (it’s the worst-reviewed nominee since 2011’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), but couple that with the fact that is has “Directed by Bryan Singer” in its credits, and the chances go from slim to nil, Golden Globe victory notwithstanding. Rami Malek is favored to win for his performance as Freddie Mercury, but as far as the top award is concerned, another film bites the dust.
5. A Star is Born
A remake of a beloved film from Hollywood’s original Golden Age (which had already been remade twice in the past), A Star is Born has garnered wide acclaim from both critics and audiences, with Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” topping multiple music charts. Of the three box-office hits in this category, it’s got the best chance of taking home the gold.
And yet… A Star is Born hasn’t built up much momentum during awards season. It left little impression at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards, and – in a surprise upset – was defeated by the Oscar-snubbed Eighth Grade at the DGAs. Beyond an inevitable Best Original Song win for “Shallow,” it looks like this star has faded out.
4. The Favourite
Two months ago, I would have easily pegged this film as a frontrunner in the top Oscar category – it’s an historical film featuring a lot of old-fashioned dresses and British accents. And indeed, it’s garnered some preliminary Oscar love, with 10 nominations (including a three-peat for its trio of leading ladies).
But The Favourite just hasn’t earned the awards momentum needed to clear the Best Picture threshold. Though it did well with the British Academy, American ceremonies are less enraptured with the film, outside of Olivia Colman’s performance. Expect Colman to add an Oscar to her shelf on Sunday, but the film’s BP chances are less-than-favourable.
For the first time in his career, Spike Lee is nominated in the Best Director category, and though he faces stiff competition from Alfonso Cuaron (who previously won the award for Gravity), the Academy might feel enough remorse for all the past perceived snubbings to grant him the win. But where does BlacKkKlansman stand in its Best Picture chances?
Tough to say. The film’s message isn’t subtle, but it’s discomfortingly resonant, and plenty of Academy members may gravitate towards it as one of Lee’s more accessible efforts. But like The Favourite, it’s fared poorly in major awards ceremonies, despite multiple nominations. It’s not nearly a sure thing, but should the Top 2 films split the vote, BlacKkKlansman could just pull out the win.
The year’s biggest spoiler is, appropriately enough, the category’s most minimalist film. Roma is well-made, critically acclaimed, and has been showered with awards from all points of the globe. It’s a lock to win the Oscars’ Foreign Language Film award, and with its poignant black-and-white portrayal of 1970s Mexico, there may be just enough auteurs (or pretentious snobs) in the Academy to give it the top award as well.
Roma’s one major kryptonite is that it’s not a traditionally released Hollywood film – it was produced by and made available on Netflix (with limited theatrical screenings). This is a problem because a sizable chunk of the Academy – i.e. the members who rely on traditional box-office releases to produce their films and sustain their jobs – sees Netflix as the boogeyman, a threat to their traditional way of business. While a lot of Academy members are fine with celebrating Roma, some may shun it for non-qualitative reasons. (But hey, it’s the Oscars – what else is new?)
1. Green Book
Gun to my head, I’d name Green Book as the most likely winner. (Just please get that gun away from my head, you loon.) It’s a theoretically “safe” choice – a lightweight crowd-pleaser with an uncomplicated anti-racism message. It’s not a particularly risky film for 2019, but it packs just enough punch to please the average Academy voter.
Green Book has also cleaned up extraordinarily well in awards ceremonies, winning top prizes from the Golden Globes, the Producers’ Guild Awards, and the National Board of Review. That’s precisely the sort of momentum that could carry it to Oscars fame. (Or maybe not – sorry, La La Land.)
The downside (yes, there’s always a downside) is that Green Book has been plagued by a handful of controversies, not least one regarding the accuracy of the story it portrays (which has been contested by the family of Don Shirley, Mahershala Ali’s character in the film). Will some voters be put off by the film’s inauthenticity? Maybe a few, but it’s not like “inauthenticity” and “Hollywood” are total strangers.
A Roma victory would be more exciting and revolutionary, but a Green Book win seems more inevitable. When in doubt about the Oscars, always bet on boring.
Be sure to return to this article after Sunday night to laugh at how wrong I was.