Best Picture 2018: The Final Five


We have reached 2018 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.

2018 is a tricky year to winnow down. In fact, all 8 nominees have strong cases to make the final five. Only one thing is for sure. Peter Farrelly’s Green Book is one of the five considering it won Best Picture. It stands as one of the more surprising (and derided) victors in recent years. The race relations drama went an impressive 3/5 on its nominations – taking Picture, Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), and Original Screenplay and missing Actor (Viggo Mortensen) and Film Editing.

So what of the other seven hopefuls? Here’s my speculation:

Black Panther

The only MCU flick (and for that matter comic book adaptation) to score a BP nom was Ryan Coogler’s phenomenon with Chadwick Boseman as the title character. Its seven nominations included three wins for Score, Production Design, and Costume Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Besides BP, the other six mentions were all technical. It missed directing, any acting inclusions, screenplay, and even editing. It’s hard to leave this out though that’s the case with everything here.

BlacKkKlansman

Spike Lee received his first and only Oscar for his adapted screenplay. That’s the only victory of the night among its six total nods as Lee did make the quintet for direction. The others were Supporting Actor (Adam Driver), Score, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Had this not taken Adapted Screenplay, I’d leave this off. Yet that win has me (somewhat reluctantly) leaving it in.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Rami Malek was crowned Best Actor for his performance as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the biopic. Despite mixed reviews, Rhapsody was successful in four of its five noms. Picture is the only race it didn’t win as it took Actor, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. That 80% ratio solidifies it even without attention for the direction or screenplay.

The Favourite

The period piece from Yorgos Lanthimos tied all nominees with 10. The lone victory was an unexpected one as Olivia Colman took Best Actress over the favored Glenn Close (The Wife).

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite the 10% ratio, it still led all contenders with key placements in Director, two Supporting Actress bids (Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz), Original Screenplay, and Editing.

Roma

Alfonso Cuaron was your Best Director in the Mexican drama that was the other picture with 10 nods. It also won Foreign Language Film and Cinematography while contending in Actress (Yalitza Aparicio), Supporting Actress (Marina de Tavira), Original Screenplay, both Sound competitions, and Production Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes and easily. The Netflix property was supposed to be the streamer’s first BP (they’re still waiting) and was favored before that Book upset.

A Star Is Born

Bradley Cooper’s version of the frequently remade melodrama achieved 8 nominations and one win for the director’s duet with costar Lady Gaga “Shallow” in Original Song. Both Cooper and Gaga were up for their acting as was Sam Elliot in Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Sound Mixing, and Cinematography.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but another tough call. Star‘s shine with voters seemed to dim as the season wore on. This is evidenced by it missing directing and editing.

Vice

This is a good time to point out that all 8 BP hopefuls won at least one statue. Adam McKay’s biopic of former Vice President Cheney (played by Christian Bale) took home the Makeup and Hairstyling award. Other noms were for the direction, Bale, Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell), Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), Original Screenplay, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No and I really struggled here. Vice landed mentions everywhere it needed to. The so-so critical reaction made it a tad easier to leave it out. Simply put, this could’ve been in over BlacKkKlansman or Bohemian, but I had to make the judgment call.

So that means my 2018 final five is:

BlacKkKlansman

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book

Roma

I’ll have my post for 2019 up soon! The 2009-17 write-ups are here:

Oscar Predictions: Retrograde

Documentarian Matthew Heineman is no stranger to tackling hot button issues and awards voters have rewarded his features in the past. 2015’s Cartel Land was an Oscar nominee for Documentary Feature. Additional acclaim was bestowed upon 2017’s City of Ghosts and last year’s The First Wave, which took us into a NYC hospital at the height of the COVID epidemic. Heineman’s lone fictional work was 2018’s A Private War, in which Rosamund Pike nabbed a Golden Globe Best Actress nod in the Drama competition.

His latest is the Nat Geo produced Retrograde, recounting America’s final nine months in the Afghanistan War. It’s out already on an awards qualifying run prior to a December 11th Hulu bow. Initial reviews are typical for the filmmaker at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Both Ghosts and Wave didn’t make the Academy’s cut. If Retrograde can manage to make the shortlist, it could certainly vie for one of the five spots. Based on recent history, I’m not yet comfortable slotting it there. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

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.

Dunkirk

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:

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’ll have my thoughts on 2018 up soon!

Previous Posts:

Best Picture 2016: The Final Five


We have reached 2016 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 2009-15, you can peruse them here:

We know one thing for sure – Moonlight from Barry Jenkins is in. As you may recall, it had to wait a tad longer to win Best Picture when an envelope mishap caused Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to wrongly proclaim La La Land as the voters choice.

As for the 8 other hopefuls (including La La), here’s my take on which half of them would have made the dance.

Arrival

Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama tied Moonlight for the second most nods at 8. In addition to BP, the director and adapted screenplay were nominated along with tech mentions in Sound Editing (where it won), Sound Mixing, Production Design, Cinematography, and Editing. On the flip side, star Amy Adams was omitted in Best Actress. It stands as one of the most surprising acting snubs of the past decade.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but I’ll admit I went back and forth here. There’s certainly an argument to be made that it gets in due to the high number of nominations. However, the Actress snub and it not making the Golden Globe five for Drama make me more comfortable leaving it out. **As a side note – I didn’t let my personal take on it interfere as it’s probably my favorite picture of 2016.

Fences

Denzel Washington starred and directed this adaptation of the August Wilson play. Washington landed an Actor nom while costar Viola Davis won Supporting Actress. The Adapted Screenplay was also up.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Had it materialized in Director, I might think twice but this was probably 7th at best of the nine contenders.

Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson made a filmmaking comeback in the World War II drama. He was up for his direction and Andrew Garfield earned a Best Actor spot. It won Sound Mixing and Film Editing and was up for Sound Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite its screenplay not being mentioned, the Editing victory puts it in for me. In the 21st century, the winner of the race has missed BP exactly once (2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Hell or High Water

Taylor Sheridan is best known these days for co-creating TV’s hit Yellowstone. He earned an Original Screenplay nod for this neo-Western that was also up for Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges) and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Director David Mackenzie wasn’t up and the 0 for 4 showing is a sign the final five wasn’t reachable.

Hidden Figures

Theodore Melfi’s true life look at African-American female mathematicians at NASA during the 1960s was a gigantic hit – blasting off to $170 million domestically. Besides BP, Octavia Spencer was up for Supporting Actress as was the Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No in spite of its box office. Of the nine nominees, it got the smallest number of noms and took home zero. It was also missed the Golden Globe and Critics Choice lists.

La La Land

Damien Chazelle won Best Director for his musical and Emma Stone was crowned Best Actress. The total number of nominations was 14 – which tied All About Eve and Titanic for the most ever. Other victories were Score, Song, Cinematography, and Production Design. The other mentions were Actor (Ryan Gosling), Original Screenplay, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Costume Design, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

A big and obvious yes. When Dunaway accidentally proclaimed it BP, no one was surprised since it was the frontrunner. It was very likely the runner-up in votes.

Lion

Garth Davis’s drama finds Dev Patel searching for his birth parents and it found its way to five other nods for Patel in Supporting Actor, Nicole Kidman for Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Score, and Cinematography. It did not win any of them.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. I will admit that this could be a stretch and Arrival might be the pick of others. I just think that there would have been enough sentiment for this one to make the final cut even without directing and editing mentions.

Manchster by the Sea

Kenneth Lonergan got a directing nod for this grief filled drama and Casey Affleck won Best Actor. Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams were up for the supporting derbies while Lonergan won Original Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The screenplay and Actor wins solidify this and it was probably third of the five behind Moonlight and La La Land.

Therefore my projected 2016 five is:

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

2017 is next!

Oscar Predictions: Spirited

Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds, and Octavia Spencer headline Spirited, a musical comedy take on A Christmas Carol. Slated for an Apple TV rollout on November 18th, it has a limited theatrical release this Friday. Sean Anders, who collaborated with Ferrell on both Daddy’s Home pics, directs.

The brief cinematic run leaves it Oscar eligible, but don’t expect this spin on the Dickens classic to garner much attention. It is worth discussing whether the Hollywood Foreign Press Association puts it on their radar for the Golden Globes. They have Musical/Comedy designations and seeing it nominated for Picture and Actor (Ferrell or Reynolds) is feasible.

However, the current 59% Rotten Tomatoes meter is not encouraging. There are certainly years where the Musical/Comedy acting lists allow for performances from films with mixed reviews. I wouldn’t totally discount Ferrell. He’s a two-time GG hopeful in Supporting Actor for 2005’s The Producers and lead actor for Musical/Comedy for 2006’s Stranger Than Fiction. I would say the competition would need to be pretty weak for his third nod. My Oscar (and Golden Globe) prediction posts will continue…

2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actress Race

We have reached Best Actress in my deep dives of the major Oscar races. If you didn’t catch my takes on the supporting derbies and lead actor, you can access them here:

Before we get to this very competitive Actress competition, let’s see how I did at this point in the calendar from 2019-21. Three years ago, I managed to identify all 5 eventual nominees – winner Renee Zellweger (Judy), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), and Charlize Theron (Bombshell). For the late October/early November frame in 2020 and 2021, I correctly called 3 of the 5. In 2020, that was Frances McDormand (Nomadland), who won her third Oscar along with Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman). Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) were mentioned in Other Possibilities. The victor was also named last year with Jessica Chastain for The Eyes of Tammy Faye as well as Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) and Kristen Stewart (Spencer). Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) and Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos) were in Other Possibilities.

So if the last three years are any precursor, you should find the eventual quintet in my ten picks! Frances McDormand could have company with performers sporting a trio of gold statues. A Supporting Actress winner in 2004 for The Aviator and lead actress recipient for 2013’s Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett is drawing some career best kudos for Tár. She’s been in my #1 spot for weeks and if she wins, she’d join McDormand, Katherine Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman as the only actresses to win more than two Oscars.

Her main competition could come from several performers. Michelle Yeoh is receiving a massive push for Everything Everywhere All at Once, which is a threat to win numerous big races including Best Picture. There’s another Michelle and it’s a surprise… Michelle Williams. As I discussed in my Supporting Actress write-up, her performance in The Fabelmans would likely be a guaranteed winner in that category. With the more competitive vibe of lead actress, it’s not even a guarantee that she makes it in.

While Till may struggle to get recognition elsewhere despite strong reviews and an A+ Cinemascore, Danielle Deadwyler looks pretty strong to make the cut. On the other hand, so-so critical reaction could prevent Olivia Colman (Empire of Light) from getting her fourth nod in five years.

There are two performances yet to be seen that could both make a splash: Margot Robbie for Babylon and Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston in I Wanna Dance with Somebody. It’s easy to envision either rising up if the reactions are positive enough.

Despite solid box office, Viola Davis could face an uphill battle for The Woman King. That narrative could change if both Robbie and Ackie falter. Some intensely negative audience and critical buzz for Blonde may leave Ana de Armas out. And there’s always potential dark horses. Emma Thompson will probably get a Golden Globes nom for Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, but Academy inclusion could be a reach. Women Talking‘s Rooney Mara might be ignored in favor of her supporting costars like Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley. Causeway may not draw enough attention for Jennifer Lawrence to make it and the same holds true for The Wonder‘s Florence Pugh. Decision to Leave (despite having a chance to take International Feature Film) may not see its cast be a factor. That would leave out Tang Wei.

Here’s my state of this race!

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1 . Cate Blanchett, Tár (Previous Ranking: 1) (Even)

2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 3) (E)

4. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 4) (E)

5. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 6) (E)

7. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway (PR: 9) (E)

10. Rooney Mara, Women Talking (PR: 10) (E)

Best Director is up next!

Oscar Predictions: Matilda the Musical

Based on the 1988 Roald Dahl book as well as the musical stage show that followed years later, the cinematic rendering of Matilda the Musical streams on Netflix December 9th. That’s about two weeks after the UK rollout. It already made its festival debut in London to harmonious praise and a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Matthew Warchus is behind the camera, adapting from his own onstage direction in England and on Broadway (where Olivier and Tony Awards abounded). This is the second reworking of the Dahl book behind 1996’s version helmed by Danny DeVito. Alisha Weir plays the title character with a supporting cast including Lashana Lynch, Emma Thompson, Andrea Riseborough, and Stephen Graham.

Despite the praise, it’s a stretch to consider this an Academy contender. That is with the possible exception of Best Original Song where there are reported to be tunes separate from the stage version that could be eligible for consideration.

I wouldn’t sleep on Matilda‘s chances at the Golden Globes. The Musical/Comedy category could have room for a couple of surprises and this would fit the bill. Of the actors, Thompson is getting lots of love. However, I suspect Globes voters may honor her in lead Actress in Musical/Comedy for Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (which premiered earlier this year). My Oscar (and Globe) Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Amsterdam

From 2010-13, David O. Russell made three pictures (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) that collectively earned an astonishing 25 Oscar nominations. This included acting wins for Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Jennifer Lawrence. The filmmaker himself has yet to receive a gold statue and his previous effort (2015’s Joy) nabbed just 1 Academy nod for its lead Lawrence.

His latest is Amsterdam and the comedic mystery will be lucky to garner any attention during awards season. It was a curious decision when Russell’s first feature in seven years skipped the festival circuit of Venice, Telluride, and Toronto. Now we may know why.

Early reviews for the October 7th release are not encouraging. There’s only a handful of official reviews which show a 20% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Yet we also have plenty of social media reaction claiming this is a high profile disappointment. The impressive cast is led by Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington with tons of other familiar faces including Robert De Niro, Zoe Saldana, Taylor Swift, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Michael Shannon, and Chris Rock (to name some). I wouldn’t expect any to compete in the acting derbies. Bale and De Niro are getting some decent notices, but it shouldn’t matter (maybe Bale could show up at the Globes for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy if competition is light).

As I see it, Costume Design and/or Production Design are the only possibilities for Amsterdam to be an Academy player. It’s entirely feasible that it won’t show up at all. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Catherine Called Birdy

Catherine Called Birdy is actually Lena Dunham’s second 2022 directorial feature that she also wrote. Sharp Stick, which began streaming just last month, managed only a 47% Rotten Tomatoes score. The Girls creator might have better luck with Catherine Called Birdy. The medieval times set comedy played the Toronto Film Festival and begins its limited theatrical run tomorrow. Its Amazon Prime premiere is October 7th.

Based on a 1994 children’s novel by Karen Cushman, Bella Ramsey is the title character and the supporting cast includes Andrew Scott, Billie Piper, Joe Alwyn, Dean-Charles Chapman, Ralph Ineson, and Russell Brand. Reviews are certainly sharper than Stick with an 89% RT meter.

I don’t really see this as an Oscar contender, but I wonder if Amazon might attempt a play for Globes attention in the Musical/Comedy race. I doubt if it comes to fruition though the decent buzz doesn’t make it out of the question.My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: What’s Love Got to Do with It?

What’s Love Got to Do with It? is not a remake of the Tina Turner biopic nearly three decades after the original. Instead it’s a rom com about arranged marriage from Shekhar Kapur, best known for directing Cate Blanchett to two Oscar nominations for Elizabeth (1998) and its follow-up The Golden Age (2007). Lily James, Shazad Latif, Emma Thompson, and Taj Atwal are among the cast.

The film premiered at Toronto to a middle of the road reaction with 67% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. At the moment, Love is slated for a UK opening in January and it’s not clear if an awards qualifying run is happening for 2022.

I don’t think it matters. This might’ve been a pic that could make waves at the Globes in the Musical/Comedy races, but even that seems like a stretch. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…