Eight films have been nominated for Best Picture. This is the most wide-open race in recent memory. In most years, there are normally two movies with the inside track on best picture. Last year, it was The Shape of Water and Three Billboards …” The year before, it was La La Land and Moonlight.
But this year, there are probably five legitimate contenders among the 8 nominated films.
Vice — Cynical, satirical, and devastating, this look at Dick Cheney is scary if only half of it is true. Christian Bale was the early front-runner for Best Actor but is now likely to lose. His spot-on impersonation doesn’t hide some of the shortcomings of this film. No chance to win Best Picture.
BlackkKlansman — One of my three favorite films of the year, Spike Lee’s hysterical and scary story about a black cop that infiltrated David Duke’s Klu Klux Klan couldn’t have been more timely. The fact that he beat us over the head with the relevance at the tale end of the movie made it blatantly political when it didn’t have to be. I loved it but it won’t win Best Picture.
A Star is Born — This third remake is perhaps the best one with Lady Gaga and Director/Writer/Star Bradley Cooper showing off their singing talents. Cooper’s transformation make him a deserving Best Actor nominee. But the early hype for the film has been dashed during the award season so far. Remakes aren’t chosen as Best Picture.
The Favourite — I’m tired of period pieces though this one has more touch of humor than most. Driven by amazing performances by three fine actresses, it relegates the men to thin roles, a reversal from most Hollywood big movies. In the #MeToo era, that makes this a possible Best Picture. Along with Roma, it garnered an Oscar-leading 10 nominations. It is a longshot but possible
Black Panther — The biggest, most expensive, most popular film to be nominated since Avatar, it has lots going for it: all almost all black cast, massive box office appeal, and a SAG award for best ensemble cast. Unfortunately, it is just another formula super-hero film driven by computer graphics and special effects. The old guard in Hollywood won’t vote for it, but it easily would have won Outstanding Popular Film if that category had been introduced this year. It has a legitimate shot at Best Picture.
Bohemian Rhapsody — Much more than just another jukebox musical, this film is a spectacular biopic look at Queen and its lead singer, Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek is magical, and the music is marvelous. Bohemian Rhapsody won the Golden Globe for Best Drama, which may sway some voters. It could win Best Picture under the voting criteria if the other films split the “political” vote.
Roma — Foreign films don’t win this category much, but Roma is one a roll. Mexican Director Alfonso Cuaron is winning every award so far and the only question is whether his film can take Best Picture the way Life is Beautiful did. Beautifully constructed and shot in black and white, Roma not only tells a story about the life of a servant who cares for a well-to-do, dysfunctional family, it would allow the Academy to send a political message about the “real” people of Mexico rather than the Trumpian view of rapists, drug smugglers, etc. This has a real shot though it is not the Best Picture.
Green Book — My favorite film of the year, Green Book tells a true unknown story about an African-American musician who tours the south in the early ’60s along with his hand-picked, bigoted body guard. The best “buddy flick” in years, Green Book features otherworldly performances by both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, both of whom were nominated for Oscars. Timely in the age of Trump, it is a story of redemption and bravery, changing attitudes and hypocrisy.
Voting for this category is different than any other. First, all of the Academy members vote unlike most of the others. This means that actors dominate because 75-80 percent of all members are in the actor’s wing. Next, voters rank their choices rather than vote for just one nominee. The votes are then divided by the top picks. It one film get 50% of the vote, it wins. But that may never happen. If not, the movie getting the fewest first-place votes is eliminated and those ballots are moved to those voters’ second choices. This goes on until one film gets 50% of the vote. As a result, the movie that is most “loved” may not win Best Picture.
If I had a vote, here is how I would have ranked the films:
A Star Is Born