The 90th Academy Awards honouring the best of 2017 films will be held on 4th March 2018, which is less than a month from now. The voting will open on 20th February (2 days after the British Academy Film Awards, the BAFTA) for all Academy members to cast their votes until 27th February. A number of major film communities (Gold Derby, Awards Circuit, Indiewire, etc), critics group and news reporters had revealed their Oscar predictions. I had also released my predictions in this post here alongside with the nomination list (https://vincentloy.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/nomination-list-for-the-90th-academy-awards/) about two weeks ago.
There have been many discussions out there on analyzing which film will win ‘Best Picture’, the last and most coveted prize of the Oscars’ evening. I too have my own thoughts on this topic after seeing some of those discussions and debates. This year’s race for ‘Best Picture’ is intense and exciting as there is no clear frontrunner at this stage unlike in previous years. Some pointed out that it will be a tight battle between ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ and ‘The Shape of Water’. This is reminiscent to the ‘Moonlight vs. La La Land’ last year, ‘Spotlight vs The Revenant’ in 2016, ‘Birdman vs Boyhood’ in 2015, and ’12 Years A Slave vs Gravity’ in 2014.
After looking at the 9 nominated films (I watched all of them) this year and seeing their performances in the past major precursor awards, I attempt to break them down into three tiers. The two films in the first tier has the most probability to win, while the four films in the second tier may have the chance to sneak in for the win, while the remaining three films in the third tier will be in a long shot for the win.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
Opinion: ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG). The movie had also won scores of awards in acting races (Frances McDormand in best actress and Sam Rockwell in best supporting actor). The disadvantages to the film are that it didn’t get a crucial director’s nomination in the Academy Awards and it is currently receiving several backlash and criticisms over Sam Rockwell’s racist character who tries to redeem himself at the end of the movie.
‘The Shape of Water’ won Best Picture at Critics’ Choice, and won top honours at Producers Guild Awards (PGA) and Directors Guild Awards (DGA). The movie also excelled in a lot of technical achievements, and hence collecting up to 13 nominations at the Academy Awards (film with highest number of Oscar nominations this year). The disadvantages to the film are that it did not manage to win anything at SAG (also not getting a nomination at all in the crucial Best Cast category) and that its premise of a woman falling in love with an amphibian may turn off some voters.
There are pros and cons to these two films. For right now, I think the Oscar for Best Picture will be handed to ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ while the Director prize will go to Guillermo del Toro for his work in ‘The Shape of Water’. The Academy always deliver a split here in recent years. In my personal opinion, I would prefer ‘The Shape of Water’ to take both the Best Picture and Best Director because I find it superior (much better) than ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’. I didn’t enjoy the latter at all. The preferential ballot by the Academy may also be helping ‘The Shape of Water’ as some voters may place ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ in the lower ranking of their best picture picks (that will seriously hurt its chance) due to its controversy and some who find it overrated. Yup…I find ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ over performed in the major precursor awards too.
Opinion: There is a possibility that the two films at the first tier above will cancel each other out and make way for one of these four films in this second tier that I have predicted. ‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Get Out’ are beloved by many critics group. However, they have not been receiving much love at the major televised awards. I myself didn’t have huge excitement for them too because I find ‘Lady Bird’ to be a very ordinary coming-of-age story of a high school female student while I think that ‘Get Out’ only managed to deliver a level above the typical horror flick which is still not deserving enough to get Best Picture win.
‘Dunkirk’ may stand a chance too but I find it overrated too. I don’t enjoy the movie and find it boring. There is literally not much drama at all in this war movie. As for ‘Phantom Thread’, it suddenly gained a lot of love from the Academy as proven by multiple number of nominations it received to everyone’s surprise. This period drama film that starred Daniel-Day Lewis (his final film) may sneak in to win in the end but the possibility at this point is still quite low. I find this movie boring too.
Call Me By Your Name
Opinion: ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is not getting much love from major precursor groups. However, it is receiving a lot of attention from online communities that comprise mostly of the younger generations that may have different takes with the older ones that form these major precursor groups as well as the Academy. Its queer love story may disturb many conservative voters. Remember back then when ‘Brokeback Mountain’ lost to ‘Crash’ for the Best Picture although everyone is rallying behind the former. Fortunately, the film is still receiving some Oscar nominations and is also a frontrunner to win ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’.
On the other hand, ‘Darkest Hour’ is certainly to pull off wins in ‘Best Actor’ (for Gary Oldman) and ‘Best Make-up and Hair-styling’ but is certainly not a best picture material to many. ‘The Post’ is first seen as a strong contender but loses all the momentum it needs in the major precursor awards. It didn’t win anything and has only two nominations at the Oscars (including Best Picture). I didn’t expect that this movie has under-performed to such level although it is directed by the mighty Steven Spielberg and starred the great Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep (nominated for best actress). So, it will be a long shot for either of these three films to win ‘Best Picture’. If it does, the world will be in shock.
Conclusion…this year’s best picture race is certainly an intriguing one because there is no one clear frontrunner at all. All films in my first and second tier groups have their chance to win (6 of the 9 nominated films). However, the awards buzz is following more on ‘The Shape of Water’ followed by ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’. The former is now the frontrunner to win best picture according to Gold Derby and Awards Circuit predictions. ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is now losing some crucial momentum although standing up tall in the earlier major precursor awards. It still has a high chance of winning. I predict it to win but I would personally prefer ‘The Shape of Water’ as I’m very engaged and amazed by all the aspects in the latter from its story, performances, directing, production designs, score, etc. What do you think?
By the way, the Academy should just include one more nominee in the best picture race to round it up to 10 films easily. ‘I, Tonya’ should be in the list too. I’m really excited to know which film will prevail in the end…But before the Academy Awards, there will be one more major precursor that many will be paying attention to; the BAFTA (British Academy Film Awards) which is set to take place on 18th February 2018.
(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)