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:

2022 Oscar Predictions: October 16th Edition

On the bright side for Netflix, I have Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio at #1 in Animated Feature where it’s been perched all along. That would mean the streamer could nab its first victory ever in that race.

Now the bad news as my current Best Picture nominees leaves Netflix on the cutting room floor. In 2018, Roma was the first hopeful in the big dance. It was expected to win, but lost to Green Book. 2019 brought double nominees with The Irishman and Marriage Story. Same in 2020 with Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7. And there were two contenders again last year in Don’t Look Up and The Power of the Dog (a frontrunner until CODA fever emerged).

I had All Quiet on the Western Front in the mix 11 days ago. Yet I’ve had a nagging feeling that another blockbuster not named Top Gun: Maverick will get in. So for the first time, Elvis is in the top ten. That moneymaker spot could also be filled with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (from Netflix), Avatar: The Way of Water, or Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Think could also be called the “Second Sequel” slot, I suppose.

Don’t be surprised if Netflix eventually gets back in. Quiet, the aforementioned Onion, Bardo, and Pinocchio are all viable (maybe even White Noise). For now, my BP hopefuls would mean a disappointing nomination morning for the streamer.

She Said received mostly positive notices when it was unveiled Thursday at the New York Film Festival. It could absolutely be a BP contender, but I’m got it just on the outside and feel more comfortable forecasting it as a lone screenplay nominee (I don’t love the current 76% RT meter for it). You’ll note I don’t have any of the cast in my top tens. Perhaps the eventual announcement of category placements could change that.

In other developments:

    • I’ve decided to move Babylon‘s Margot Robbie back in Best Actress instead of supporting (can we please get that placement announcement??). It means she’s back in and Olivia Colman (Empire of Light) is out.
    • Bill Nighy’s work in Living returns to Actor five with Diego Calva (Babylon) sliding into sixth position.
    • With Robbie returning to lead, Dolly De Leon (Triangle of Sadness) is elevated to fifth in Supporting Actress.
    • My Supporting Actor dual nominee projections of Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan for The Banshees of Inisherin shifts to Paul Dano and Judd Hirsch for The Fabelmans. That means Hirsch rises while Keoghan falls.

You can read all the movement below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (Previous Rank: 1) (E)

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

3. Babylon (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Women Talking (PR: 3) (-1)

5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)

6. Tar (PR: 6) (E)

7. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Whale (PR: 8) (E)

9. Elvis (PR: 13) (+4)

10. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (-1)

Other Possibilities: 

11. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 10) (-1)

12. She Said (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 12) (-1)

14. Decision to Leave (PR: 11) (-3)

15. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Till

The Woman King 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 3) (E)

4. Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (E)

5. Todd Field, Tar (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (+2)

7. Edward Berger, All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: 7) (-1)

9. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 9) (E)

10. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 10) (E)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Cate Blanchett, Tar (PR: 1) (E)

2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 2) (-1)

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

5. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: Not Ranked) – moved from Supporting

Other Possibilities:

6. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: 8) (E)

9. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Carey Mulligan, She Said

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 1) (E)

2. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 2) (E)

3. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 3) (E)

4. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 4) (E)

5. Bill Nighy, Living (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 7) (E)

8. Song Kang-ho, Broker (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Jeremy Pope, The Inspection (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Will Smith, Emancipation 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Claire Foy, Women Talking (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 2) (E)

3. Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 6) (E)

7. Nina Hoss, Tar (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Janelle Monae, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Thuso Mbedu, The Woman King (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Margot Robbie, Babylon (moved to Best Actress)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 2) (E)

3. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (E)

4. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 4) (E)

5. Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Woody Harrelson, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Tom Hanks, Elvis (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jeremy Strong, Armageddon Time

Micheal Ward, Empire of Light 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (-1)

3. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 3) (E)

4. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 4) (E)

5. Tar (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Babylon (PR: 6) (E)

7. Decision to Leave (PR: 7) (E)

8. Armageddon Time (PR: 8) (E)

9. Empire of Light (PR: 9) (E)

10. The Menu (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Broker 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Women Talking (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Whale (PR: 2) (E)

3. She Said (PR: 5) (+2)

4. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 3) (-1)

5. White Noise (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Living (PR: 6) (E)

7. Till (PR: 10) (+3)

8. Bones and All (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 8) (-1)

10. The Son (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

All Quiet on the Western Front 

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: 1) (E)

2. Turning Red (PR: 2) (E)

3. Strange World (PR: 3) (E)

4. Wendell and Wild (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. The Bad Guys (PR: 8) (+2)

7. The Sea Beast (PR: 6) (-1)

8. My Father’s Dragon (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Minions: The Rise of Gru (PR: 9) (E)

10. Lightyear (PR: 10) (E)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 1) (E)

2. Decision to Leave (PR: 2) (E)

3. Close (PR: 3) (E)

4. Bardo (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Saint Omer (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Klondike (PR: 8) (+2)

7. Holy Spider (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Alcarras (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Argentina, 1985 (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Corsage (PR: 10) (E)

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Descendant (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Navalny (PR: 3) (E)

4. All That Breathes (PR: 4) (E)

5. Fire of Love (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Territory (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Good Night Oppy (PR: 7) (E)

8. Moonage Daydream (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Last Flight Home (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Aftershock (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Sr. 

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Empire of Light (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (E)

4. Bardo (PR: 5) (+1)

5. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 6) (E)

7. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (E)

9. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 9) (E)

10. Emancipation (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Batman

Best Costume Design 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Elvis (PR: 2) (E)

3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 3) (E)

4. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Corsage (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Woman King (PR: 5) (-1)

7. The Fabelmans (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Living (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Blonde (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Amsterdam

Best Film Editing 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Fabelmans (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Babylon (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Women Talking (PR: 8) (+3)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Elvis (PR: 6) (E)

7. Tar (PR: 9) (+2)

8. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 5) (-3)

9. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Bardo (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Decision to Leave

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Whale (PR: 1) (E)

2. Elvis (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Babylon (PR: 2) (-1)

4. The Batman (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 6) (E)

7. The Woman King (PR: 10) (+3)

8. (PR: 8) (E)

9. Blonde (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Three Thousand Years of Longing (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Amsterdam

Corsage

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Babylon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Empire of Light (PR: 3) (E)

4. Tar (PR: 6) (+2)

5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Women Talking (PR: 4) (-3)

8. Bardo (PR: 10) (+2)

9. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 8) (-2)

Dropped Out:

Top Gun: Maverick 

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 1) (E)

2. “Nobody Like U” from Turning Red (PR: 2) (E)

3. “Naatu Naatu” from RRR (PR: 4) (+1)

4. “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman (PR: 3) (-1)

5. “Stand Up” from Till (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Carolina” from Where the Crawdads Sing (PR: 5) (-1)

7. “This is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 8) (+1)

8. “New Body Rhumba” from White Noise (PR: 7) (-1)

9. “On My Way” from Marry Me (PR: 6) (-3)

10. “Love Is Not Love” from Bros (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“I Ain’t Worried” from Top Gun: Maverick

“Heartbeat” from Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile 

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Elvis (PR: 4) (+2)

3. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Bardo (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Fabelmans (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Everything Everything All at Once (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Empire of Light (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Batman (PR: 10) (E)

Dropped Out:

All Quiet on the Western Front

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 1) (E)

2. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 2) (E)

3. Elvis (PR: 3) (E)

4. Babylon (PR: 4) (E)

5. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Batman (PR: 6) (E)

7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 7) (E)

8. Nope (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The Fabelmans (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Bardo (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Thirteen Lives

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 1) (E)

2. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 2) (E)

3. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (E)

4. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (PR: 5) (+1)

5. The Batman (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 8) (+1)

8. RRR (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Good Night Oppy (PR: 9) (E)

10. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Nope 

That equates to these movies getting these numbers of nominations:

10 Nominations

Babylon

9 Nominations

The Fabelmans

8 Nominations

Everything Everywhere All at Once

7 Nominations

Women Talking

6 Nominations

The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis

5 Nominations

Tar, Top Gun: Maverick, The Whale

3 Nominations

All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Bardo, Triangle of Sadness 

2 Nominations

The Batman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Empire of Light, Till, Turning Red

1 Nomination

All That Breathes, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Close, Corsage, Decision to Leave, Descendant, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Fire of Love, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Living, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Navalny, RRR, Saint Omer, She Said, The Son, Strange World, Tell It Like a Woman, Wendell and Wild, White Noise

Toronto Crowns The Fabelmans

Just how indicative is nabbing the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival of eventually receiving a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars? Let’s go the numbers: 13 out of the last 14 have and that includes the past 10 in a row. 2011’s Where Do We Go Now? is the only outlier since 2008. Of those 13 films, five would go on to win the Academy’s top prize (Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, Green Book, Nomadland).

So it was with anticipation that awards prognosticators like yours truly awaited the bestowment of the Canadian fest’s biggest award. True to form, it went to a movie widely anticipated to be in the BP mix: Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. The legendary director’s most personal work to date was his first journey up north and he was rewarded handsomely for it. When I did my latest round of predictions on Friday, I had The Fabelmans listed in first place and this helps solidify that decision. Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean the BP race is over (far from it). Yet there’s no doubt that The Fabelmans has positioned itself as a major threat to take the top prize.

That’s not all because TIFF also names a first and second runner-up. And those picks are frequent indicators of what will play down the road. Over the previous decade, nine of the 20 runner-ups have gotten BP nods. This includes victorious ones like Argo, Spotlight, and Parasite and nominees such as Call Me by Your Name, Roma, and The Power of the Dog. 

Sarah Polley’s Women Talking is first runner-up for 2022. It played to mostly raves at TIFF and I have it ranked 4th currently in the BP derby. Second runner-up was Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. The top 3 placement is something predecessor Knives Out didn’t manage 3 years ago. My estimates two days back put Onion on the outside looking in at 14th (though I did project for it for an Adapted Screenplay nod). My hesitation to put it in is this: just how many sequels could that Academy include in their group of 10? I’ve got Top Gun: Maverick already there (at 6th) and we still need to see Avatar: The Way of Water and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (whose predecessors were both BP hopefuls). However, at this point, Netflix may choose to go all in on Onion being their most likely contender.

There are a couple films in particular that could’ve benefited from a top 3 showing today. I think immediately of Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale and Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin. I still anticipate both to be in the hunt (I’ve got them ranked 5th and 7th respectively).

Bottom line: The Fabelmans had itself a meaningful premiere in Toronto that currently puts Spielberg’s latest in the Oscar driver’s seat.

Oscar Predictions: The Greatest Beer Run Ever

Peter Farrelly’s Green Book scored an upset Best Picture victory over Roma in 2018 and that’s still stuck in the craw of many cinephiles. While I actually found it to be pretty good overall, I get it. It is one of the weaker BP winners in recent times.

His follow-up is The Greatest Beer Run Ever starring Zac Efron in the stranger than fiction true story of a merchant seaman bringing some suds to his buds serving in ‘Nam. Russell Crowe and Bill Murray costar.

Like Green Book, it has debuted in Toronto before its simultaneous theatrical and Apple TV streaming debut on September 30th. Unlike Green Book, don’t expect this to attract any awards talk. The Rotten Tomatoes score is a skunky 42%. I saw it up north and would be shocked if it contended for any category. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Best Picture 2012: The Final Five

My latest Final Five post brings us to 2012 and the Oscars that occurred nearly a decade ago. If you’re reading this series for the first time, this is where I whittle the 8-10 Best Picture nominees from every year since 2009 to five. As you may know, it was in 2009 that the Academy stopped listing a quintet of movies for the big prize and expanded it upwards. If you missed my write-ups about 2009, 2010, and 2011 – you can access them here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

Best Picture 2011: The Final Five

As we do with each year, we start with the obvious. Ben Affleck’s Argo certainly would have made the cut since it won BP. 2012 was a strange year with the Academy’s voters. Argo emerged as the first film since 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy where the BP recipient’s director wasn’t nominated in that category. It’s happened twice since with 2018’s Green Book and last year’s CODA. I will admit that picking a fifth entry was challenging. The other 3 besides Argo seem pretty clear. Let’s get into it!

Amour

Michael Haneke’s French drama was the easy winner of Foreign Language Film and nabbed 3 other nods: Director, Actress (Emmanuelle Riva), and Original Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, though an argument can certainly be made. I would venture that with only five, the narrative would’ve been that it had no trouble in the foreign race and that would be the reward.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

This micro-budgeted indie fantasy from Benh Zeitlin scored a surprise directing nod as well as Actress (Quvanzhane Wallis) and Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. It received the least amount of nominations of the nine nominees and won none of its four mentions. That said, it’s not entirely out of the question that it could have snuck in.

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino scored the biggest hit of his career with this Western which won Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz). It also received nods for Cinematography and Sound Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, though an argument can be made yet again (especially with the Original Screenplay victory). That said, misses for directing and editing are indications that it might have just missed.

Les Miserables

With 8 nominations and wins for Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway), Sound Mixing, and Makeup and Hairstyling, the adaptation of the famed musical was one of the biggest box office performers of the bunch.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No… and stop me if you’ve heard this before… but an argument could be made. Like Django, the directing and editing omissions prevent me from saying it is top five.

Life of Pi

Ang Lee’s visually striking adaptation of a bestseller tied with most nominations (11). Lee would win for his behind the camera work and it would pick up gold statues for Score, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. Unlike our last two contenders, it did receive an editing nod.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Furthermore, it was probably the runner-up for the win.

Lincoln

Steven Spielberg’s historical tale was the other movie to receive 11 nominations. The sole win was for Daniel Day-Lewis’s embodiment of the 16th POTUS in Best Actor.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite the 1 for 11 showing, the sheer number of nods strongly suggest its inclusion.

Silver Linings Playbook

With 8 nominations and Jennifer Lawrence taking Best Actress, this was the rare pic that scored nominations in all 4 acting derbies. Unlike Lawrence – Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver didn’t win their respective races. This was also up for David O. Russell’s direction, Adapted Screenplay, and Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes – based on where else it landed attention.

Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to her Oscar winning The Hurt Locker won Sound Editing. Jessica Chastain was up for Actress with Original Screenplay and Editing nods making it five overall. Bigelow’s snub in the directing race was unexpected.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes, but this is the one I’m most unsure about. One could easily make the case for Amour or Beasts or Django or Les Miserables. The fact that this had the screenplay nod and editing made me pick it.

So in my view your abbreviated 2012 BP lineup would be:

Argo

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty 

2013 is up next!

Oscars 2021: The Case of The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog is my ninth Case Of post covering the Best Picture nominees for the 2021 Academy Awards. If you missed the previous entries, you can access them here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Belfast

Oscars 2021: The Case of CODA

Oscars 2021: The Case of Don’t Look Up

Oscars 2021: The Case of Drive My Car

Oscars 2021: The Case of Dune

Oscars 2021: The Case of King Richard

Oscars 2021: The Case of Licorice Pizza

Oscars 2021: The Case of Nightmare Alley

The Case for The Power of the Dog:

And it’s quite a case to be made. Last week, the Netflix period drama ruled Oscar nominations morning with an even better than expected 12 nods. It even garnered unexpected mentions in Sound and for Jesse Plemons in Supporting Actor (alongside his costars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, and Kodi Smit-McPhee). In doing so, Dog landed placements in all of the down the line races where a BP win is key: directing, performances, adapted screenplay, editing, and so forth. At the Golden Globes (where many were predicting a Belfast victory), it took Best Drama. It’s also been the beneficiary of numerous critics groups awards for Best Pic.

The Case Against The Power of the Dog:

Being the frontrunner doesn’t always pan out and we’ve seen it in three of the past five Oscars. Just ask La La Land (which lost to Moonlight in 2016), Roma (which fell to Green Book in 2018), and 1917 (which came up short to Parasite in 2019). Getting the most nominations also doesn’t mean you’re taking the big prize. Just ask Mank from last year. Or Joker two years ago. Or The Favourite or Roma from 2018.

The Verdict:

While the case against is somewhat persuasive, there’s no denying that Dog is unquestionably the favorite to win. Yet there’s compelling evidence that an upset is certainly feasible.

My Case Of posts will continue with West Side Story

NBR Delivers for Pizza

The National Board of Review bestowed their honors today for their finest of 2021 and they delivered it to Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza. The coming-of-age dramedy took Best Film and Director. The awards certainly solidify its status as a major contender in the Picture race at the Oscars. In the 21st century, only 3 of the 21 winners (2000’s Quills, 2014’s A Most Violent Year, last year’s Da 5 Bloods) did not manage to make the Academy’s cut. On the flipside, the victorious picture here usually doesn’t win. In this century it’s happened thrice (2007’s No Country for Old Men, 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, 2018’s Green Book). So if we’re going by recent history, Pizza should get nominated but probably won’t take the gold.

This voting branch also names nine other movies in their Best Of rundown. Over the past five years, the number of NBR selections compared to Oscar BP contestants ranges between 4-7. In 2016, it hit the high mark at 7. There were six in 2017 and 2019, five in 2020, and just four in 2018. The other nine films in 2021 are Belfast, Don’t Look Up, Dune, King Richard, The Last Duel, Nightmare Alley, Red Rocket, The Tragedy of Macbeth, and West Side Story. From that list, I would say only Duel and Rocket seem like major longshots to get attention from the Academy. All others are feasible.

The biggest omission from NBR’s list is absolutely Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, which I’ve had ranked at #2 in my BP standings for awhile. The solace for Dog is that two recent BPs (2017’s The Shape of Water, 2019’s Parasite) didn’t make the NBR ten. Other pics that missed NBR: Being the Ricardos, C’Mon C’Mon, CODA, House of Gucci, Mass, Spencer, and Tick Tick… Boom!

As for the actors – Will Smith (the Academy frontrunner) took Best Actor for his King Richard while costar Aunjanue Ellis won Supporting Actress. Both are widely expected to play in the Oscar race and either or both could win.

NBR did not choose Academy favorite Kristen Stewart for Spencer and opted for Rachel Zegler in West Side Story (her debut role). I had Zegler placed sixth yesterday in the crowded Actress derby, but she could be on her way to making the final five cut.

The wide open Supporting Actor derby favored Ciaran Hinds for Belfast. I am completely unsure what the Academy does in this race. This could forward a narrative that Hinds is more likely to receive Oscar attention than his costar Jamie Dornan (though they could both get in).

Screenplay races provided a couple of surprises. Pizza would have been the logical choice for Original, but NBR instead chose Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero. In Adapted, Joel Coen was selected for The Tragedy of Macbeth (which also took Cinematography). Most pundits (including myself) have Power of the Dog as the winner, but the category opened up on this platform since it missed the ten.

Lastly, the Animated, Documentary, and Foreign Language races all featured movies that could prevent Flee from taking any of the three prizes at the Oscars: Encanto, Summer of Soul, and A Hero. 

My blog posts on the state of the 2021 Oscar race will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Swan Song

Playing at AFI Fest ahead of its December 17th streaming premiere on Apple TV, early word is out for the futuristic drama Swan Song. Marking the feature length directorial debut for Benjamin Cleary (who won the Oscar for Live Action Short Film in 2015 for Stutterer), Mahershala Ali stars as a terminally ill man faced with decision of cloning himself. Naomie Harris, Glenn Close, and Awkwafina costar.

Based on a rather small sampling of critical reaction, the buzz seems mixed. Some reviewers are hailing it as an effective weepie while others are more soft in their praise. The bulk of write-ups are quick to point out the fine work from Ali and Harris. This isn’t their first collaboration. Five years ago, Ali knocked out all competitors to win Supporting Actor for Moonlight. Two years later, he would again be victorious in the same race for Green Book. Harris made the cut in Supporting Actress for Moonlight, but ultimately lost to Viola Davis for Fences. 

With two gold statues to his name, it’s hard to fathom this is Ali’s inaugural sole lead cinematic part. Apple will probably mount an awards push for him and Harris. However, I suspect it could be too late in the game for either to have a legit chance and the varied reaction to the quality of the pic itself won’t help. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Belfast Takes Toronto

It’s a wrap for the Toronto Film Festival as prognosticators awaited the naming of the People’s Choice Award. Why? It has become one of the most reliable indicators for a movie nabbing a Best Picture nomination from the Academy.

As in – 12 of the latest 13 victors have done so. Five have gone onto win the big prize: 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, 2010’s The King’s Speech, 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, 2018’s Green Book, and last year’s Nomadland. That’s one heckuva track record.

When Kenneth Branagh’s black and white coming-of-age drama Belfast premiered at Telluride and reached Toronto, it became somewhat of a surprise awards contender. Yet coming into today, it was not an unexpected development for it to take the People’s trophy.

Belfast was listed at #4 in my BP possibilities last Sunday. I can guarantee it will rank higher when I update my projections tomorrow. Simply put, Belfast can be written in pen with your ten nominees in the BP derby.

Toronto also has runners-up. They were the Canadian drama Scarborough (which shouldn’t factor into Oscar chatter) and Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog (which certainly will). Campion already took directing honors at Cannes for Dog and the Toronto appreciation solidifies her latest as a major player. Don’t be shocked if Belfast and Dog are listed at 1-2 tomorrow and perhaps not in that order.

Bottom line: Belfast has been moving up the charts and what occurred this evening keeps it moving in the right direction.

The Importance of Being Venice

For those who don’t follow the Oscar game and film festivals like I do (which is understandably most of you), this post looks to be a helpful primer on why such festivals are so important when doing predictions.

The 2021 Venice Film Festival kicks off tomorrow and you can anticipate plenty of Oscar speculation chatter on the blog in the next several days. You may ask – why is this Italian extravaganza so key in determining how this year’s awards landscape may look?

Let’s look at just the past five years as prologue. Of the 43 features nominated for Best Picture from 2016-2020, 31 were originally screened at the various high-profile festivals. There were six from Sundance and four each premiered at Telluride, Toronto and Cannes (with one emanating from the New York Film Festival). Eleven had their start in Venice. That’s right. Essentially one in four. That means that, lately, the average year has seen two to three BP nominees coming from this one event.

Of the last five Best Picture winners, all of them kicked off at a festival. 1 from Telluride (Moonlight). 1 from Toronto (Green Book). 1 from Cannes (Parasite). Two from Venice: The Shape of Water and last year’s Nomadland. 

How about the acting derbies? Of the 20 winners in Actor, Actress, and the supporting fields from 2016-2020, only two were performances that did not come from a festival screened film. There’s 1 from Cannes. Three each from Telluride and Toronto. Four from Sundance. And seven from Venice.

This is why the titles hitting Venice in 2021 currently hold lofty positions with prediction makers like myself. It’s why Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog took over House of Gucci (not currently slated for a fest) at the #1 slot in my BP rankings. This explains why I’m keeping a close eye on pics like Dune, The Hand of God, Parallel Mothers, Spencer, and Last Night in Soho. Maybe Spencer won’t win Best Picture, but it could nab Kristen Stewart her first nomination and victory.

Of course, only the screenings themselves will demonstrate the viable contenders. Yet there’s a recent history proving that Venice has become the most important festival of all. Ask the makers of Nomadland and The Shape of Water. Or Emma Stone (La La Land), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), or Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) to name just some.

My coverage of the Venice Film Festival begins tomorrow!