Best Picture 2017: The Final Five

We have reached 2017 in my posts speculating on a specific piece of Oscar history. As awards followers are aware, 2009 saw the Academy expand the Best Picture category from five movies to ten. That lasted for two years and in 2011, it switched to anywhere from 5-10 with 8 or 9 as the magic numbers for several years. In 2021, the number reverted back to a set ten.

What if that hadn’t happened? What if the BP derby had stayed at a quintet? What pictures would have made the cut? If you missed my write-ups centered on 2009-16, they are linked at the bottom of the post.

There were nine nominees for 2017’s competition. If there were 5, we know Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water would have made the quintet. It won BP along with Director, Original Score, and Production Design and received 13 nods total (easily the most of all).

Of the 8 remaining movies, here’s my thoughts on which half is in and which half and is out.

Call Me by Your Name

Luca Guadagnino’s coming-of-age romance was a critical darling that won Adapted Screenplay. It was also up for Actor (Timothee Chalamet) and Original Song. The Academy likely almost nominated Armie Hammer for Supporting Actor and are probably glad they snubbed him.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but I struggled with this call. An argument could be made with the Adapted Screenplay victory. However, none of the other four nominees in this category were BP nominees (extraordinarily rare). Call could’ve heard its name up, but I have it sixth or seventh.

Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill was a recipe for a Best Actor win and it was up for Production Design, Cinematography, Makeup and Hairstyling (another victory), and Costume Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Despite its admirable turn in the tech derbies, this was all about Oldman. The lack of directing, screenplay, and editing noms leave this out. This is the rare occurrence where I’m saying the Best Actor winner’s movie doesn’t get in the BP race.


Christopher Nolan’s epic WWII tale earned 8 mentions (2nd behind Shape) and won 3 – both Sound races and Film Editing. Nolan also scored his first and only directing nod.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. I don’t think it’s 100% considering other contenders, but this probably had enough support and was generally considered Nolan’s strongest awards pic in his filmography.

Get Out

Jordan Peele’s heralded horror flick was a box office smash. Its other three nominations were Director, Actor (Daniel Kaluuya), and Original Screenplay where it beat out Shape of Water.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Like Dunkirk, not a guarantee but that screenplay statue (over the BP recipient and two other contenders) make me think so.

Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age dramedy nabbed 5 inclusions with Director, Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Supporting Actress (Laurie Metcalf), and Original Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Broken record… not a slam dunk considering it went 0 for 5. Yet it took the Golden Globe for Musical/Comedy (over Get Out) and was highly acclaimed.

Phantom Thread

Paul Thomas Anderson’s sartorial drama was an overachiever on nomination morning with six including Director, Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Supporting Actress (Lesley Manville), Score, and Costume Design (the sole win).

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but I was tempted. It really did perform better than anticipated. I could also see it just missing considering the competition. It might have been sixth.

The Post

Steven Spielberg’s Watergate era drama received only one other nom for Meryl Streep in Actress.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No and this is by far the easiest projection. Spielberg’s magic probably got it in the mix, but I suspect it was ninth.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A player in 7 categories, Martin McDonagh’s pic took home Actress (Frances McDormand) and Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell). Woody Harrelson was also up for Supporting Actor in addition to Original Screenplay, Score, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes, even with McDonagh missing Director. If for no other reason, I can’t imagine the four acting winners having none of their movies up. That would be the case if you left this off considering Oldman’s Darkest Hour and I, Tonya (where Allison Janney took Supporting Actress) not being in the nine.

If you weren’t keeping score, here’s my projected 2017 five:


Get Out

Lady Bird

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’ll have my thoughts on 2018 up soon!

Previous Posts:

2017: The Year of Tiffany Haddish

Like yesterday’s Year of 2017 honoree Kumail Nanjiani, Tiffany Haddish started 2017 as a stand-up comic not known to a large swath of the American public. Yet as the year draws to its close, Haddish is now quite well-known due to her scene stealing performance in the summer’s comedic sleeper hit.

Alongside Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, and Jada Pinkett Smith, it was Haddish who garnered the most buzz in Girls Trip, which surprised all prognosticators when it grossed $115 million. It was 2016’s Keanu that gave Haddish her first notable role, but that picture was largely ignored. Yet her raw, profane and outlandish Dina character gave the actress a showcase filled with standout moments.

Critics groups and Hollywood have certainly taken notice. Haddish became the first African American comic to host “Saturday Night Live” this fall. In 2018, she will reunite with Trip director Malcolm D. Lee for Night School with Kevin Hart.

Expect to see lots of Haddish in the coming years and 2017 was unquestionably her breakout.

2017: The Year of Kumail Nanjiani

It was early in 2017 when The Big Sick started garnering buzz from its screening at the Sundance Film Festival. Nearly one year later, the unique rom com was a smashing box office success and established its star/co-writer as a fresh and exciting new voice on the big screen.

Kumail Nanjiani was best known for his role on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” and stand-up. He had appeared in numerous supporting roles in comedies such as Central Intelligence and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, but The Big Sick was something else entirely.

The Pakistani born performer penned the screenplay with wife Emily V. Gordon. Loosely based on their relationship and their dealings with her illness and cultural issues, the pic resonated with critics and audiences. The reported $5 million production took in $43 million stateside with a sizzling 98% Rotten Tomatoes score. Sick could soon attract Oscar attention, especially for Best Original Screenplay and Holly Hunter in Supporting Actress.

For Nanjiani, the year began with a festival screening that turned his movie into an audience favorite throughout the year. 2017 ends with his many new fans eager to see his next move.

2017: The Year of Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins

At the beginning of summer 2017, if you’d told most box office prognosticators like me that Wonder Woman would outdo the Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man that season, they would have thought your Lasso of Truth was defective.

That’s exactly what happened this year as the highest profile female comic book adaptation yet turned into the summer’s biggest hit. It will end up as the 3rd highest earner of the calendar year after Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Beauty and the Beast. 

Much of the credit goes to Gal Gadot, who was first seen as the character in last year’s not so well received Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. However, the inclusion of Gadot’s Wonder Woman and her take on the iconic character was seen as one of the film’s bright spots.

Her solo pic was not expected to gross $412 million domestically, but that it did. That’s more than the aforementioned Marvel heroes and also Thor. And, yes, it’s bigger than November’s Justice League, which also included her character.

Much credit is also due to Patty Jenkins, who crafted one of the most critically acclaimed comic adaptations. It’s even generating some Oscar buzz. Her directorial effort marks (by far) the most box office bucks a female director has ever achieved.

While Justice League was a slight damper on Wonder Woman’s cinematic portfolio thus far, it certainly should not tamper excitement for the sequel coming in November 2019. And you can credit the director and lead actress for making that happen in 2017.

2017: The Year of Blumhouse

As 2018 is nearly upon us, today begins an exploration on what and who made a lasting impression on film in 2017. And it does start with a what – in this case, a studio.

Blumhouse Productions, founded by Jason Blum, kicked off in 2009 with found footage hit Paranormal Activity. It was a massive money maker that spawned numerous sequels. From then on, Blumhouse became known for their low-budget horror flicks. This includes the Insidious, Ouija, Purge, and Sinister franchises.

Yet 2017 has marked their banner year. This started immediately in January with M. Night Shyamalan’s comeback pic Split, which debuted to $40 million and earned $138 million overall domestically. Shyamalan will be working with the studio once again with its spin-off/sequel Glass, due in 2019.

The success kept going in February with the release of Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Earning $33 million out of the gate, the acclaimed horror comedy went on to make $175 million. It’s even garnering Oscar buzz, something rare for Blumhouse (a notable exception was 2014’s Whiplash).

In the fall, Happy Death Day premiered to $26 million and $55 million total. Not all of the studio’s offerings landed with audiences this year, including The Belko Experiment, Birth of the Dragon, and Sleight.

Still, there’s little doubt 2017 has offered Blumhouse its most high-profile successes. 2018 will look to replicate the wins with new Purge and Insidious editions and a reboot of the Halloween franchise.

My look back on the winners in 2017 onscreen will continue…

Todd’s Early 2017 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

And here we are! After my first round of predictions covering the acting categories and Best Director, we arrive at Best Picture. The Telluride and Venice Film Festivals have shed light on some potentials heavyweights (Darkest Hour,  Battle of the Sexes, The Shape of Water, MAYBE Downsizing) while others (Suburbicon, Victoria and Abdul, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) have mostly fallen by the wayside. Obviously there’s many pictures left to screen, but here’s my first blush round of Best Picture nominees.

As you may know, the number of nominated movies can be anywhere from 5-10, but nine has seemed to be the magic number in most years so we’ll go with that. On Thursday, I’ll post my first weekly column where potential nominees in Picture, Director, all four acting races, and both screenplay categories are ranked as to possibility of nomination in this blogger’s mind.

Here goes –


Battle of the Sexes

Call My by Your Name

Darkest Hour



The Greatest Showman


The Post

The Shape of Water

Other Possibilities:

The Big Sick

Blade Runner 2049



Get Out

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Lady Bird

Last Flag Flying


Phantom Thread

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Wind River


Wonder Wheel

Wonder Woman

Todd’s Early 2017 Oscar Predictions: Best Director

Continuing on with my earliest Oscar predictions, we are at Best Director before my initial Best Picture estimates. At this juncture, it’s safe to assume that the five directors I’ve selected will all see their movies on my list for Picture when that’s posted.

Obviously we are early in the Oscar predictin’ game, but here goes with the directors!

Here’s my quick tale – the Telluride and Venice Festivals over the weekend increased the chances for several directors, including Joe Wright (Darkest Hour), Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Battle of the Sexes), and Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water). Same goes for Alexander Payne in Downsizing, but the reaction for it has been slightly more split.

I’m reserving a predicted spot for Steven Spielberg for his Nixon era tale The Post (formerly known as The Papers). The rest of my predicted nominees are from films already out or screened. As always, lots could change but here goes for now!


Luca Guadagnino, Call Me by Your Name

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Dee Rees, Mudbound

Steven Spielberg, The Post

Joe Wright, Darkest Hour

Other Possibilities:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

Darren Aronofsky, mother!

Kathryn Bigelow, Detroit

Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Battle of the Sexes

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Michael Gracey, The Greatest Showman

Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman

Richard Linklater, Last Flag Flying

Alexander Payne, Downsizing

Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049

Best Picture is next, my friends!

Todd’s Early 2017 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

We have now arrived at Best Actor for my earliest 2017 Oscar predictions! At first glance, this appears to be potentially loaded with heavy hitters. This includes Gary Oldman going for his first Oscar as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, Daniel Day-Lewis going for his fourth (!) in Phantom Thread, and Tom Hanks going for #3 in The Papers. We also have Hugh Jackman in what could be a show stopping role as P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman and Joaquin Phoenix in his already screened and acclaimed performance for You Were Never Really Here. 

This is addition to several other very recognizable names listed as possibilities. Bottom line: Best Actor looks packed in 2017 and here’s my initial projections:


Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Tom Hanks, The Papers

Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here

Other Possibilities:

Chadwick Boseman, Marshall

Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes

Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

Matt Damon, Downsizing

Andrew Garfield, Breathe

Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger

Domhnall Gleeson, Goodbye Christopher Robin

Liam Neeson, Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

Robert Redford, Our Souls at Night

Denzel Washington, Roman Israel Esq.

Best Director is next, folks!

Todd’s Early 2017 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

In my earliest of Oscar predictions now that autumn and festival season is upon us, we’ve arrived at Best Actress! If you missed my previous posts on the Supporting categories, you may peruse them here:

Yesterday’s Venice screening of The Shape of Water significantly increased the possibility that Sally Hawkins could find herself in the mix. Another piece of the puzzle should come into focus this weekend as Frances McDormand’s work in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is screened for festival goers. Same goes for Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes, Judi Dench in Victoria and Abdul and Jennifer Lawrence in mother!

Obviously, there’s much uncertainty at this juncture but not for long and here’s my first pass at Best Actress:


Annette Bening, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game

Judi Dench, Victoria and Abdul

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Meryl Streep, The Papers

Other Possibilities:

Jane Fonda, Our Souls at Night 

Isabelle Huppert, Happy End

Diane Kruger, In the Fade

Jennifer Lawrence, mother!

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outisde Ebbing, Missouri

Carey Mulligan, Mudbound

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes

Debra Winger, The Lovers

Kate Winslet, Wonder Wheel

Best Actor will be up next!

Todd’s Early 2017 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

Bloggers Note (08/31) – UPDATE: It has been confirmed that Steve Carell will be campaigned for in Lead Actor not Supporting. Therefore, he comes out and James Franco goes in.

Continuing on with my earliest 2017 Oscar predictions, we move to Best Supporting Actor. If you missed my post on Supporting Actress, you can find it here:

In 2014, 2015, and 2016 – my initial projections yielded two of the eventual five nominees. For the last two years, the first predictions have named the winner (Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies, Mahershala Ali in Moonlight).

Let’s begin with some confusion – there are three potential nominees where it’s uncertain as to whether they’ll be campaigned for in Lead Actor or this race. They are: Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes), Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project), and James Franco (The Disaster Artist). The Best Actor race already looks incredibly competitive this year, so I’m currently operating on the assumption that all 3 will find themselves campaigned for here.

There are no sure things yet in this category, but festival season could easily change that. Here is my first blush take:


Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Laurence Fishburne, Last Flag Flying

James Franco, The Disaster Artist

Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name

Mark Rylance, Dunkirk

Other Possibilities:

Idris Elba, Molly’s Game

Richard Graham, Phantom Thread

Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Ed Harris, mother!

Garrett Hedlund, Mudbound

Ben Mendelsohn, Darkest Hour

Jason Mitchell, Mudbound

Michael Stuhlbarg, The Papers

Christoph Waltz, Downsizing

Predictions for the Lead Acting Races are on the way…