Well the Oscar nominations are announced, along with the finest Picture race has hit its final phase. Following a number of ups and downs, we’ve got our closing eight contenders. There are still four months to proceed –and lots can happen in that moment –but for today quite a bit was illuminated, and it seems we’re down to two frontrunners to take home the main prize.
The first is Green Book, a movie that pretty much was not on anybody’s radar until it won the People’s Choice Award in TIFF–that historically guarantees a Best Picture nomination. It has had a rocky road since that time, struggling to fulfill its own expectations as a box office crowdpleaser and being hit with scandal after scandal. No matter Academy voters went for the feel-good play hard, nominating it for five Oscars in total.
The reason it’s a frontrunner contender has to do with precedent, largely. It won the Producers Guild Award, and seven of the last 10 PGA winners went on to win Best Picture. It is a major harbinger for Oscar glory, even though it can at times miss as in the cases of La La Land and The Big Short. But the PGA isn’t the only trophy Green Book has. It won the Golden Globe for Best Drama and picked up nominations from all the major guilds, from the DGA into the WGA to the SAG awards. It also carries with it important Oscar nominations which are harbingers of Oscar glory, most especially Best Film Editing. Really, the Best Picture winner has scored a finest Film Editing nomination almost every year for the past two decades.
Pictures The major knock against Green Book winning Best Picture is that it’s a divisive movie. Since the Academy uses a preferential ballot system to vote for Best Picture–significance voters rank their choices from favorite to least favorite–films that are popular tend to perform better (view: The Shape of Water) compared to the ones that are either loved or hated (see: Three Billboards).
Another major competitor to pull off the W, to my mind, is Roma. The movie faced an uphill battle not only due to perceived bias against Netflix inside the Academy, but also due to the fact that it’s a long, black-and-white, Spanish-language play free of movie stars. And the artistry of the movie is undeniable, and it scored a whopping 10 Oscar nominations. It’s among the year’s most critically acclaimed movies, and director/writer/producer/cinematographer/co-editor Alfonso Cuaron has picked up a number of Best Director and Best Picture trophies across the critics circuit. If Green Book is this year’s La La Land–a commercial, love it/hate it hit–then Roma can surely be this season’s Moonlight. And we all know how that turned out.
Roma has likewise picked up substantial guild support, also if Cuaron wins the Directors Guild of America award which could tip the film over the border into solid frontrunner status. The arguments from Roma winning are, nicely, that it’s a long, black-and-white, Spanish-language drama free of movie stars–i.e. it is possible not all Academy voters will venture to actually watch the movie. There’s also the perceived Netflix prejudice, but given the significant theatrical push and massive awards campaign that Netflix has been running, I have a sense that’s fading a little. Additionally, lots of Oscar voters themselves are now working or have worked on a Netflix film now.