Every year as awards season heats up the debate as to what will win the Best Picture Oscar also increases. At the same time I find myself, along with many others, saying that the year’s race is one of the closest and most unpredictable ever. And of course when it comes to the competition between this year’s nominees the same has very much been said.
It seems that almost each week there’s been a new front-runner with the other nominees following directly on the tail of the supposed lead. And so, for the third year running I’m going to take a detailed look at each nominee and their chances of winning to attempt to predict what will win the top prize at this year’s Academy Awards.
For two consecutive years it seemed as if the Academy were changing direction in what they were awarding Best Picture to. Moonlight and The Shape Of Water appeared to almost be ushering in change after two years of #OscarsSoWhite, demand for more diverse nominees in every category, including the ongoing argument for more women in the Best Director category, and the diversifying of Academy members. And then last year voters decided to go back to the somewhat standard politically correct and lazy choice by giving the top award of the night to Green Book. And so, it seems only right to start with the most politically correct and lazy out of the nine nominees on this years ballot; Ford V Ferrari (or as it’s called in the UK Le Mans ’66).
While it seems to be one of the nominees that just slipped onto the ballot there’s no denying that Ford V Ferrari is very much an Oscar bait film. It’s also one of the films that could be likely to connect well with older voters, who make up a large proportion of the voters – after all it’s believed that this is how Green Book ended up with a Best Picture win. It is a fairly traditional, easy-riding Hollywood-underdog-buddy-film. The kind that a range of voting members, not just older voters, like. There aren’t many boxes in terms of style and genre that the film doesn’t tick. But, when compared with the competition that it has in the category it does seem to be the outsider of the bunch. In fact it seems to be the only outsider, often there are at least two or three films that stick out as being behind the rest of the pack, however this year Ford V Ferrari appears to be the only one. It’s almost been universally agreed that this is the case. Because of this attitude and the general response to the film (which has admittedly been fairly positive) there isn’t exactly a great deal to comment on when it comes to its chances of winning the Best Picture Oscar. However, of course, there is still a clear love with it, and it could very well be a surprise win. It has a number of the elements that make up a common Best Picture winner and it could be something of a guilty pleasure for a number of voters – and seeing as their ballots are mostly anonymous/ are never seen by the public, a number of voters could easily show favour to the film knowing this, giving it a bit more of a push towards winning the top prize.
The film definitely strikes as one that people ‘enjoyed’ more than one that they consider it to be the ‘best’. However, when it comes to the preferential ballot voting system of Best Picture – something which is very important when it comes to what the winner of Best Picture will be, and that I’ll come on to later – simply enjoying a film could mean that it’s placed consistently in a certain spot on the ballot. Meaning that by pure enjoyment and ‘liking’ of the film Ford V Ferrari could just about get away with continuing a trend – making the two years before Green Book something of anomalies.
In total the film only has four nominations (Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing), three of these are in technical categories. More often than not a film needs nominations in some of the big five categories (Leading and Supporting Acting, Writing, Directing and Picture)to have any real chance at a Best Picture win. With no Director, Screenplay and Acting nods this would supposedly make Ford V Ferrari’s chances very small. Despite this the film does have a nomination for Best Film Editing, something which is of understated importance when it comes to predicting what might win the honour of being labelled as the best film of the past year. Often it’s the editing that people are taken in by, how they feel engaged with the world and the film as a whole, especially when it comes to how concise the story is and how well it flows. This film in particular is a front-runner in this specific category, with many praising the racing scenes in particular for the way they show the action – something similar to the cases made for the concert sequences in Bohemian Rhapsody when it was announced to much surprise as the winner of this very award last year. When you also take into account the 2 and a half hour run-time of Ford V Ferrari the editing nomination is even more impressive, in anonymous interviews some voters have claimed that they haven’t selected Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman in this category due to it not being edited enough with it’s heavy 3 and a half hour run-time.
When all this is taken into account, the enjoyment of the well-edited racing scenes, the safe and traditional nature of the politically correct ‘buddy’ film and a potential win in the Film Editing category could overshadow the lack of support from other voting branches. The way that the film is simply ‘enjoyed’ and ‘liked’ could place it high enough on ballots to mean that the big win of the night could very well go to Ford V Ferrari.
Last year the biggest competition to Green Book was undeniably Roma. Netflix’s black-and-white foreign language film was, for many people, the favourite to win the top prize at the ceremony. It would have been a bold choice for the Academy but would have matched the changing shape of voters and winners. However, the general style seemed to be something not backed by voters, despite director Alfonso Cuaron being presented with his second Best Director Oscar (after winning for Gravity in 2014). But, it seemed that the main thing that may have pushed some, again mostly older, voters away was the fact that Roma was a Netflix film.
Many highly influential figures campaigned against Roma and placed the film at the bottom of their ballots specifically so that it wouldn’t win Best Picture. The likes of Steven Spielberg claimed that Netflix films weren’t proper films. They weren’t distributed properly, only the minimum was done to qualify for Oscar nominations and they were TV movies instead of proper cinematic features. Despite this the film still ended up with 10 nominations, three of which led to a win, and was a front-runner for the top prize. Similarly The Irishman is a Netflix film, however the argument against the company doesn’t seem to have been as big this year, in fact it barely seems to have come up at all. The studio has clearly done more to release their films into more screens and not simultaneously releasing in cinemas and on the streaming platform; often leaving a three week gap in-between the both. The Netflix label is also more notable because the film is directed by none other than Martin Scorsese.
Scorsese has been a lifelong devotee to the big-screen experience. And even with The Irishman he urged audience of see his three and a half hour mob epic in a cinema, instead of at home on the small screen, or even on their phones. With even the likes of Scorsese partnering with Netflix it may be hard for voters to simply vote against films because of the studio. What could make voters turn away from the film is the run-time, are they all going to watch a film that long on the small screen in one instalment? Surely not all of them, and if they watch it in instalments the film certainly doesn’t have the same impact, which could lead it to being placed lower on lists. Despite this the film still has a Best Film Editing nomination, which does indicate that the run-time potentially isn’t a huge problem for all voting members of the academy?
Alongside this the film also has nominations in key categories such as Best Director, Adapted Screenplay and two nods in Supporting Actor (for Joe Pesci and Al Pacino). In total The Irishman has ten nominations, showing love from a number of voting branches. Aside from this one notable exclusion from the film’s various nominations is that of Robert De Niro in the Best Leading Actor category. While he was widely praised for his de-aged, and at some points aged, central role in the film De Niro failed to gain a nomination in this category, possibly because his performance is one of a character who limits and restricts their visible emotions, something which is often overlooked at awards ceremonies. If the Academy couldn’t nominate the lead performance the eyes of which almost everything in the film is seen, then does that bode well for the films chances of receiving a big-step forward for Netflix in the world of cinema?
It could be argued that De Niro’s mob figure is one that he’s played before, especially in Scorsese films, although certainly not one quite like this. The Irishman is Scrosese’s return to the mob genre of which he is so commonly associated with outside of the likes of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. It marks a film where he almost looks back at his career in a highly reflective and wistful way, something which could connect with voters. While it’s been made clear that voters love stories about Hollywood, as some might put it ‘themselves’, there’s certainly a potential sparkle in The Irishman when it comes to a filmmaker looking back at their own career. Alternatively another debate comes into play against The Irishman winning the Academy’s greatest honour in relation to this. Scorsese has already won his Oscar. Back in 2007 The Departed won Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing – Director and Picture being firsts for Scorsese after so many years of movie-making, and filmmaker friends of his such as Spielberg and Coppola all having won the top awards. The only other nomination the film had, which it didn’t win, was Supporting Actor; indicating that De Niro’s lack of a nomination might not be such a problem for the film. The Departed is certainly not held as one of Scorsese’s best films, despite it being rather good. However, it was very much agreed that he was overdue an Oscar, and with the competition he did seem to have the upper-hand that year. And this was in the days of a first-past-the-post voting system for Best Picture, before the maximum of ten nominees in the category and the preferential system were introduced in 2010, after the uproar at the lack of a nomination for The Dark Knight the year before. All this aside, the point that Scorsese has already won his Oscar is very much in play. This could very much push him away from another chance at the top award.
However, after somewhat middling responses to the likes of Silence and Hugo – despite Hugo receiving a nomination in this category, as did The Wolf Of Wall Street – The Irishman could be seen as something of a return to form for one of Hollywood’s most highly held figures. A strike-back, or possible redemption story could be what the Academy want. They’re known for liking underdog stories, something which will also be mentioned later, and The Irishman does, to an extent, focus on one of these, and a comeback story is potentially even better? In fact this was a large talking point when the film was first released in early November last year – almost a prime spot for Oscar season, late October to mid-December being prime times for potential Oscar releases. For a long time this was the front-runner to win the award. Many considered the race to be over after nothing else really coming along to take it down, however conversation does seem to have died down as other nominees appear to have taken the reins. But, with clear support from across the Academy and Scorsese’s name attached to the project in a look back at his career, there’s certainly a strong chance that his return to the mob drama genre could very well usher a second film of his to be the one that those making speeches are thanking people for their involvement in at the end of this years ceremony.
The Irishman isn’t the only film that Netflix have competing in the Best Picture category this year. It seems that they’ve almost been fully embraced and that the campaigns against them that were so present in last year’s Best Picture race have almost completely vanished. Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is the writer-director’s second film with the company; following The Meyerowitz Stories: New And Selected, and shows the clear relationship that Netflix is forming with big filmmakers. Following its release not long after fellow nominee The Irishman Oscar talk soon followed – especially when it came to the fantastic natural performances that line it.
In fact the film boasts nominations in the Leading Actor, Leading Actress and Supporting Actress categories. Adam Driver was at one point a front-runner in the Leading Actor category, however it now seems as if there’s no stopping Joaquin Phoenix from winning for Joker. Scarlett Johansson is up against strong competition in the Leading Actress category, including Charlize Theron in Bombshell and suspected winner Renée Zellweger in Judy. And as for the latter category, it seems as if with her success at almost every other awards ceremony that Laura Dern has the award in the bag. With such strong performances running throughout the film they make for a number of memorable scenes. With this in mind Marriage Story is certainly a film that will likely be remembered by a number of voters, something which could come in handy on the preferential ballot. While some films may be more forgettable, thus placed lower on the ballots, those that are remembered more, if for good reasons, will likely be placed higher on such ballots as voters can recall more about them, specifically what they loved about the film, therefore possibly giving it more of a push for Best Picture.
One scene in particular in which this is the case is the much talked about moment in which Adam Driver passionately belts out Stephen Sondeheim’s Being Alive – the moment that alone could win him the Oscar if it wasn’t for the more physical nature of Joaquin Phoenix in Joker. There’s no denying that this is one of, if not the, most talked about moments of the film; next to the various monologues and arguments effectively placed throughout. This moment being placed very close to the end of the film, in fact it’s one of the closing scenes. It’s likely that this could be the moment that leaves the taste of Marriage Story in the mouths of voters, the impact that it has is potentially a lasting one that makes up the minds of voters on whether they liked the film or not. In most cases this point has been praised, meaning that Marriage Story’s ending moments could lead it to a high enough place on ballots to win Best Picture. Something which was talked about a great deal with the effective nature of the highly emotional closing moments of Roma last year.
Aside from all the acting nominations Marriage Story also holds a nomination for Best Original Screenplay – one of the under-discussed and potentially most unpredictable categories this year, where all the nominees (even Knives Out which has no other nominations) appear to have a potentially equal chance at winning the award. Noah Baumbach’s script has been highly praised for its thoughtful and natural style – having been inspired by his own divorce. However, with the natural feel of the piece there isn’t always a great deal of visual spectacle to marvel at as there is with other nominees, whether it be First World War action or high octane racing sequences. This is evidenced by both the lack of technical nominations, but more importantly the absence of nods in the Best Director and Film Editing categories. When considering this amongst the crowd of highly visual and potentially ‘inventive’ films it’s likely that the film could have its name lost in the crowd – if that hasn’t happened already. There’s a high chance that if it hasn’t already occurred the film could easily lose steam and simply not have enough push or momentum to earn it the iconic golden statue.
On the other hand there’s a great deal within Marriage Story that voters could potentially connect with. For a number of voters divorce is potentially something that they’ve gone through at some point, when seeing what the characters are going through on-screen they may find themselves connecting with the piece more than other nominated films due to understanding and sympathising with the figures as the proceedings unfold and become more complicated. All of this having effect and power as voters recognise the ideas that the film presents and therefore connect with it more, potentially making it come across stronger to them, as they give it a bigger push on their ballots. When it comes to those not going through divorce there’s still something for a large number of Academy members to associate with. The two leads in the film are a play director and actress, Johansson’s actor trying to break back on to the screen, after success in film she goes to the stage for her husband, however chooses to go to TV just before/ during the divorce. Thus by containing characters who work within the world of stage and film there may be more for voters to associate with when it comes to this than any other film. It’s known that the Academy are fond of films about themselves, even about former big-name actors working on the stage or just trying to get another big break – as was the case with Birdman, which also signalled something of a return for Michael Keaton to big leading roles back in 2015. And if that was enough for Birdman then it could be enough for Marriage Story. Plus, Birdman didn’t need a Film Editing nomination to win Hollywood’s highest award, and Green Book didn’t need a Directing nod either, or many nominations, to take home the award last year. So, why should Marriage Story? Especially when it has so much natural power that voters can easily identify and connect with?
Marriage Story isn’t the only film where Scarlett Johansson worries about her son during a feud that’s nominated for Best Picture this year (a rather tenuous link, I know). And in fact she also has an acting nod for her role in this film too, in the Supporting Actress category, making her the twelfth person to ever have two acting nominations in the same year (something also notable for the fact that these are her first two Oscar nominations ever). However, what’s more notable about Jojo Rabbit is those that Johansson’s character opposes. Specifically the way that the film pokes fun at them. These people, of course, being the Nazi’s. Much of the advertising for Jojo Rabbit, and indeed some of the awards campaign, has been based around the idea that it’s “an anti-hate satire”. Poking fun at Hitler through a comedic take on him, and how easily susceptible people were to his lies, through fantastical ideas and claims throughout the film, an early sequence comparing the way people treated Hitler to Beatlemania in the 60’s.
However, this is also where a number of people’s problems lie within Jojo Rabbit. The fact that it uses Nazi’s for the sake of comedy. There are many people who have taken issue with the film’s depictions of Nazi views, and for some its references and treatment of the holocaust. This is certainly not The Producers (which is surrounded by a great deal of other humour aside from the memorable Spingtime For Hitler sequence), which won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 1969. And while Jojo Rabbit has an Adapted Screenplay nod, and for some is the front-runner in the category, while others might say that the real lead in the race for this category is Greta Gerwig’s screenplay for Little Women. Add to this a nomination for Best Film Editing there is some heat behind Jojo Rabbit that could lead it to a Best Picture win – especially if it does win Adapted Screenplay. And this might be down to the fact that when it comes to the people who have enjoyed the film they’ve really enjoyed it, and when it comes to the preferential ballot that could really benefit the film. When mixed with the fact that this is a film that does make fun of, and takes aim at, the far right, to an extent, in a modern light it could somewhat reflect some voters views of America, and potentially the world, at this current point in time. If some voters want to bite back or try to make a point then they may too also place Jojo Rabbit high on their ballots, giving it a further push.
Away from all the Nazi related humour and fun poking the main plot of Jojo Rabbit is based around that of the main character, played by Roman Griffin Davis, discovering a Jewish girl living in the walls of his house. Thomas McKenzie’s Elsa uses Nazi stereotypes to scare Jojo and to keep herself safe in his home, creating further humour. In many ways instead of a biting scathing satire the film is more along the lines of a standard bittersweet Taika Waititi film. And this could go in one of two directions. Either voters don’t get what they were expecting and take against the film for not being a harsh satire with strong modern links; or, they find the charm within it, connect with the film and enjoy it. To an extent the general response from audiences to the film has mostly been the latter – the film won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival, which has often been a good indicator in recent years of what will win Best Picture. Whereas, there are a number of vocal figures who have views along the lines of the former point, and their grievances with the film are understandable. And if this line is taken, where some voters think, for example, that the film is making light of severe atrocities and simply lampooning Hitler, then that could damage the chances of the Audience Award and Toronto matching with this year’s Best Picture winner.
Aside from this the film doesn’t have a Best Director nomination for Taika Waititi, and, as already mentioned, just one acting nomination, supporting Actress for Scarlett Johansson – which it seems she will lose out to Marriage Story co-star Laura Dern. When looking at the other categories in which the film is nominated in it doesn’t quite seem to be the front-runner in any of them. And this could mean that other nominees overshadow it in the Best Picture category. If someone were to vote for Little Women for Adapted Screenplay, for example, they may remember how much they liked that film, and it’s screenplay, when it comes to Best Picture, possibly placing it higher than Jojo Rabbit. On the other hand, they may feel that Little Women has their vote in one category, so Jojo Rabbit should have the vote in another. However, this style of voting, in either case, is probably rather unlikely. Voters are probably more likely to vote per category with their individual thoughts – as seems to be the case from anonymous interviews online with various voters from different backgrounds within the world of film.
As with most of the films in this year’s group of nominees Jojo Rabbit really goes for it at the end; and, again, if people remember the ending of a film and the impact that it has, that may more likely lead them to support the film. Jojo Rabbit’s ending is a war scene that is somewhat reflective of the ending of Blackadder. After all the comedy it takes a moment to make a serious point through the emotional ending, and indeed some of the more serious and emotional points of the film. With this in mind, alongside a young performance from lead Roman Griffin Davis that shines during such moments, there could be a chance for the film.
Comedy is a genre that is highly subjective which is why comedies don’t tend to win, or even be nominated for Oscars that often. However, when it comes to Jojo Rabbit there’s a balance of humour and seriousness to creating a lasting impression of the film that voters may reflect on positively. They may think of this balance and remember that it’s difficult to achieve something like this; choosing to vote for the film for this achievement, and the points that it makes along the way. Jojo Rabbit certainly isn’t a film that when everything comes together it’ll lead to a Best Picture win. It’s more one where when the individual elements are thought of and remembered that’s what could push it to a win. While there are some who are quite against the film, or don’t quite see what all the fuss is about for those who support the film there is a real push. And that could very well be enough, if it’s a big enough push that is, to lead rapidly rising talent Taika Waititi the biggest award of the night!
Moving on from one film featuring a depraved, nihilistic murderer playing for laughs to another one of the most talked about films this awards season is Joker. Last year Black Panther was one of the big winners of the Oscars ceremony. Winning four awards and in the eyes of some people it had a good chance at winning the top prize. It helped to usher in, or rather reignite, a new wave of Oscar contenders in the form of comic-book films. Early on in the awards season campaign Disney were heavily pushing box-office smash Avengers: Endgame for awards, and it may have stood a chance if they’d kept the fight going, however the campaign seemed to quiet down a week or two after it was started and thus Endgame only shows up in the Visual Effects category. However, instead of Marvel it seems as if Academy members really favoured DC this year, particularly in the form of Joker.
Joker is possibly one of the most divisive films nominated this year. While there have been those who absolutely love it, placing it high on many best of the year lists, there are also those who have actively spoken out against it for it’s dark, nihilistic tone. Nonetheless the film still has 11 nominations in total, the most this year, so there’s clearly a love for it from almost all sectors of the Academy. Add this to the fact that the film is potentially one of the most widely seen of the nominees – having grossed over $1 billion at the box office; making it the highest grossing R (the American equivalent of a UK 15) rated film of all time and one of the most profitable films ever made – it’s likely to appear on many lists. It’s very likely that most voters will put all nine films on their ballots, however for those who don’t the films they have seen will have a big impact. And if Joker is on almost every list, having potentially been the most seen, then that could be enough to give it the win – especially if the love for the film is as strong as the nominations indicate.
While a number of the categories in which Joker appears in are technical ones it also ticks off the key areas of Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, Leading Actor and Film Editing. Todd Phillips’ Directing nomination was something which was always uncertain. While it was likely that the film would get multiple nominations; as it had done at a number of other awards, Phillips was always an uncertain name for Best Director. This was mostly due to his comments about why he moved from comedies, such as The Hangover trilogy and Due Date, to dramas like War Dogs and now Joker. He stated that comedy had been ruined by “woke culture”, going on to say “all the f**king funny guys are like, f**k this s**t, because I don’t want to offend you”. When it came to the backlash towards the film a number of sources claimed that Phillips didn’t respond well to it. However, the fact that he’s managed to get a nomination, especially when voters often think of the past track record of an individual – one of the reasons given as to the lack of a nomination for Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems in the Leading Actor category – is impressive and shows that there’s potentially some real force behind Joker.
When it comes to force in other departments the most is clearly behind lead actor Joaquin Phoenix. With his current track record at pretty much every other awards ceremony he’s almost a lock-in to win this year’s Leading Actor Oscar. His physical portrayal of the titular clown prince of crime is certainly one of a troubled, tormented and eventually just plain twisted character. In many ways it’s a very Oscar bait-y performance. And with such a strong, highly-praised central performance that many are likely to remember, that makes up a large majority of the film and the praise that it received. Therefore when remembering the strength of Phoenix’s performance voters may very well remember the film, if they liked it that is (there are those who admit to thinking that Phoenix gave a great turn that object against the film), and place it favourably on their ballots.
However, despite the fact that people in various departments clearly favour the film there’s one group where uncertainty lies as to whether they’ve seen the film. That group being older voters. Last year a number of older voters said that they either didn’t like, or simply hadn’t seen, Black Panther, partly due to it being a comic-book adaptation. And with Joker also being one of these that might not help its chances of winning the main award on Sunday. But, it should also be said, as it has been many times before by a great many people, that Joker isn’t quite a conventional comic-book adaptation/ inspired film. There have been a large deal of comparisons to the work of Martin Scorsese, particularly the likes of Taxi Driver and The King Of Comedy – jokes were made on Twitter that the film got its Adapted Screenplay nomination for being based on the works of Martin Scorsese. With this style and feel some older voters may be pulled in, but also the film might act as a call back to this particular age of cinema. Allowing for such voters to connect/ enjoy the film more and give their vote to it, especially with the various themes and ideas of mental health and illness that it plays with.
Throw into the mixture undertones of Oscar bait and you would think that you have your Best Picture winner here. As said on Twitter by @Saachi, “Joker is a movie made by people who think they are underdogs (but are not) about a man who thinks he is an underdog (but ultimately is not)”. As already mentioned the underdog story is an Oscar favourite, no matter what form it comes in. The similarities between Moonlight, The Shape Of Water and even Green Book – in fact almost any Best Picture winner of the last decade – is the fact that they focus on underdogs in some form or another. Most of the time these figures are overcoming something, while in Joker the lead character doesn’t quite overcome anything, instead begins killing people to deal with his problems, which soon just becomes him mentally snapping into a state of uncontrollable madness and cynicism. Either way the character believes that he’s an underdog, and if voters view this as a general underdog story they may be more likely to lean towards voting for it.
It’s certainly been a divisive film; possibly the most divisive out of all the nominees. But, there are a number of clear pushes in favour of Joker, not just from individual Academy branches, but also from the general reception and style. This isn’t a standard comic-book film and that’s likely to give the film an advantage that other DC, or Marvel, adaptations wouldn’t have. There are multiple points that could almost all come together to create a big forceful push for Joker. And if Green Book was an anomaly and the Academy is truly changing direction, and even going away from the likes of Moonlight and The Shape Of Water then Joker may be the option in this case. It’s almost a step forward, but a step in the same direction as Green Book in a number of ways. It’s a complicated film, but somehow there could be enough support to finally give a comic-book adaptation Best Picture.
Moving on from one man’s war against the entire sane world to another film about a World War, 1917 may very well have turned out to be something of a dark horse in this year’s Best Picture race. It seems that for the first two and a half months of awards season nobody was even mentioning it. Part way through December the name began to be banded around as a potential competitor. And then suddenly, one day it just seemed to be a front-runner, completely flipping the table and changing the course of the race for this year’s biggest film award. And with the love that it’s had at other ceremonies – including wins at the Directors Guild Awards, Producers Guild Awards and the BAFTAs, there’s a big push for it. While a number of these awards show that where there is overlap between voters that the film is at the top of a number of lists. Admittedly not all Best Picture nominees have been on this list, so with nine instead of five nominees things could very well change. But, the Producers Guild use a preferential ballot just as the Oscars do for Best Picture, plus they’ve matched the best picture winner 6 and a half (technically 7 – there was a draw in 2014 when Gravity and that year’s Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave both won) times in the last ten years. But, whatever way you look at it there are clear trends at other awards shows that show 1917, as many believe it to be, as a clear front-runner in this year’s Oscar race. The potential winner that just one day came out of nowhere.
1917 has been highly praised for its technical achievements. Acting as a World War One action-drama that’s made to look like it’s done in two shots – using similar techniques to 2015’s Best Picture winner Birdman – the film follows its two main characters in a real-time setting, so to ramp up the tension that the viewer feels. Add to that the intense nature of the war environment, with many near-death situations for the characters the intent is to create a pulse-pounding war film that pulls the viewer in so they feel every gunshot and explosion. And that seems to have been successful due to the fact that the film has managed to pick up a number of technical nominations – and seems very likely to win a number of them. It appears that Cinematography is an almost certain win in a somewhat uncompetitive list, giving master cinematographer Roger Deakins his second Oscar. In the sound categories the only competition appears to be Ford V Ferrari (which could very well win) and the film has been discussed as a potential winner in Production Design and Visual Effects. While some say this could go to Avengers: Endgame there are those who seem to go away from the big franchise films. one voter has claimed that they don’t like the film, or franchise, and so won’t vote for it in a visual effects category. This same voter also said about the Best Original Song category that they wouldn’t vote for a particular song because despite liking the song they didn’t like the film (logic!) Nonetheless the film has been discussed as a Visual Effects winner. All of this showing that there is a clear love for the visual cinematic spectacle that 1917 offers.
In total the film has 10 nominations, including Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Sam Mendes almost seems to be a lock-in for the Best Director award. The category is actually titled Achievement in Directing. And with 1917 Mendes certainly comes under deserving this, while he seems to have competition from Bong Joon-ho and Quentin Tarantino Mendes as won directing awards at a number of other ceremonies in the past few months. And often the director Oscar it goes to the person who has made the biggest ‘achievement’ or piece with the most ‘spectacle’, so this could very well go to Mendes this year. And often Best Director and Best Picture have matched up, not so often since the introduction of the preferential ballot, but there is still the occasional match-up, and that could very well be the case this year. After all the reasons for why Mendes might win Best Director are almost the same as to why his film might win Best Picture, the sheer spectacle of the piece.
A piece that many have said should be viewed on the big screen, the biggest screen possible in some cases, and it’s understandable as to why people have said this. However, with the Oscars often films are seen on the small screen through screeners. Meaning that 1917 may not be able to unpack its full potential on those who decide to watch it on a disc at home instead of in a cinema, which could mean that it falters in impact and doesn’t get the maximum response that it could get from viewers. This was the case that was made by some when it came to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk not winning Best Picture in 2018. However, Dunkirk was a mid-summer release, 1917 has a potential recency boost with the fact that it was released in the US in December, qualifying it for this year’s Oscars. With this in mind there was the chance for voters to see it on the big screen, meaning that they could very well have had the full experience, and if this is the case, with the film being witnessed as the creators surely which it to be, and the fact that it’s a more recent memory in the minds of voters, this could all manage to work in the favour of the film.
One of the slight surprises of the film is the fact that it got a Best Original Screenplay nomination. 1917 is a very visual film, there’s not a great deal of dialogue in it. And many people weren’t expecting it to get a screenplay nomination, however, the fact that it’s earned one is certainly something for great consideration when thinking about its chances of winning Best Picture. At the point when this category was announced 1917 slowly began to show that it could easily be a dark horse in the race for the top Oscar, and it shows further love for the film in an unexpected category.
The film lacks an editing nomination, and there is potential for that to damage its chances. While the aforementioned Birdman didn’t have an editing nomination, due to the editing not being anything overly new, with various hidden cuts; just like 1917, managed to win Best Picture, it did have acting nominations. 1917 doesn’t have any acting nominations and that could prove almost as damaging, if not more so, than not having a Best Film Editing nod. If there aren’t any performances that prove strong, or memorable, enough for Oscar nominations what does that say about the strength and power of the film? While the two leads are still rising stars that may not be overly well-known to the Academy, in a year filled with many starry names, there was still room for Yalitza Aparicio in the Leading Actress category for Roma last year. And it even could be said that Olivia Colman was relatively unknown to the Academy last year. 1917 is very much an ensemble piece, which struggle to pick up Oscar nominations. However many of the big name appearances, which could easily be viewed as cameos, from the likes of Mark Strong, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch, are only on-screen for two-three minutes on average and therefore don’t really warrant awards attention. Even if Judi Dench did win Supporting Actress in 1999 for her eight minutes in Shakespeare In love.
There are those that have said that 1917 is “gimmicky” or something of a novelty. And that could do some damage to it. While there has been praise the groups of people who think that it’s nothing more than a technical piece with not much else of a punch then that could mean that its placed low on the ballots of a number of people. But, often when it comes to Best Picture the film that wins is the one that seems to have been ‘liked’ by more people, the one that’s been most consistently agreed upon as a good or enjoyable film – an idea once put across by film critic Mark Kermode, when explaining why he thought that Lady Bird was going to win Best Picture back in 2018. Hence why often, since the preferential ballot, it’s been the mostly agreed upon second or third best film that’s won the top award. And 1917 has won at a number of other ceremonies, as already mentioned, and with Academy members also being parts of various guild awards, etc then there is strong support for 1917 at the top of a number of lists. And if it’s placed somewhere in the top three, or even four at a stretch, on most lists, then depending on what’s above it it could stand a strong chance of winning Best Picture.
Alongside 1917 another rapidly rising frontrunner that seems to be dominating the conversation is Parasite. Last year we were talking about the fact that a foreign language film could very well be the first to win Best Picture, and this year we’re having the same conversation. And it seems that the event is more likely for Parasite than it ever was for Roma. There doesn’t seem to be a bad word said about Parasite by anyone, it seems to have had five star plaudits across the board. Add to that wins at the Writers Guild Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and prominent wins at other ceremonies, including Original Screenplay at the BAFTA’s, the race for Best Picture could very well stop here. Parasite has been praised by many as not just one of the best films of the year, but also the decade. It’s arguably the most loved and heralded film out of all nine of this year’s nominees.
In total the film has six nominations. This might not seem like much in comparison to other Best Picture nominees this year, but it ticks off almost all of the key areas; Best Director, Film Editing, Original Screenplay and even International Feature (the new name for Foreign Language Film, introduced this year). The sign that Parasite was going to do well when it came to nominations actually came when the Production Design nods were announced. The fact that a foreign language film that may not have been seen by many people has earned technical nominations is often a good sign, it certainly was for Roma. And Production Design is particularly interesting. It’s the way the sets in the film look and feel that shows the themes of class separation so well, especially when you compare the run-down, washed out almost cave like living spaces of the central family of the piece to the luxurious architect-designed home of the family they begin to work for and infiltrate. The house itself also feels like a cave with its various layers and hidden points, however the main areas almost feel like a fully renovated luxury cave, the type of which some people may very well book a room in for a holiday. Either way the fact that such an integral part of the story has been recognised in this category does show promise when it comes to whether the film can win Best Picture, it sounds weird when comparing to technical categories not always meaning a lot for other films, but in the case of Parasite it does show promise and a push for the film.
However, the fact that the film is nominated for, and is pretty much set to win, Best International Feature could pose a problem. As has been argued in the past, why should a film win both International/ Foreign Language Feature and Best Picture? After all, isn’t that basically winning Best Picture twice? There are also some people who may simply vote against the film, or place it low on their ballots, because it’s a subtitled foreign language film, or they might just refuse to see the film because of this. There are some voters who may do this because the Oscars are American awards. Why give an American award to a foreign film, or foreign actors, even if those actors do speak English, but come from the likes of the UK or Australia, a problem that some people have brought up this year with some of the nominees. However, as happened with Roma last year and various films in previous years this seems to be becoming less of a problem, if it ever was one to start with. But, when it comes to those who are voting on the film for its merit and how good they think it is, if people stick by their word and love it as much as they seem to claim to, and the wild praise is accurate, then Parasite is very likely to get a lot of number one placements of ballots. However, where others place it plays a heavy factor. Do they place it around the middle, in the top three, at the bottoms? If it’s the former or the latter then the film may be in danger of continuing the trend of no wins for foreign language films for Best Picture. But, if there’s enough strong support in the top three, to go alongside all the first place pushes, then it could just slip in to a monumental Best Picture win.
Continuing a similar theme some voters may feel that after the mixed (to an extent somewhat negative) response to Green Book winning last year that giving the Oscar to a foreign language film might act as some form of redemption for Roma and apology for Green Book. They may feel that something should be said or done and by positively voting for Parasite that’s doing something towards this, especially with its foreign language nature and the fact that it is, as Roma was, a strong front-runner in the race, that many are predicting to be the winner. In fact many are saying that it could even win Best Director, which isn’t outside the realms of possibility.
However, while it ticks of the likes of Director, Screenplay and Film Editing the film clearly doesn’t have any presence in any acting categories – despite the strong performances. Some expected there to be some support for Song Kang-ho in Best Supporting Actor (although I would personally argue that he’s the lead of the film) although this was something that didn’t end up happening. The acting branch of the Academy is by far the largest of all voting branches, with over 1,200 members (as of 2018). This is closely followed by the short films and feature animations branch, holding over 550 members, while the directing branch has just over 500 members. In total the Academy has over 8,400 members that are eligible to vote, so the acting branch makes up just over 1/7 of the maximum possible amount of votes. However, this is still a rather large proportion that can have a big impact, and if their votes reflect the performances they nominated then this might not bode well for Parasite. Despite this the film did win the Best Ensemble Cast award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, of which has some overlap, in terms of voters, with the Oscars. However, the Ensemble Cast winner at the SAG’s hasn’t often matched up with the winner at the Oscars. Although, in the last decade they have predict some underdog winners such as Spotlight, Birdman, The King’s Speech and Argo they have also opted for some outsiders in past Best Picture races like Hidden Figures, The Help and, to some degree, Black Panther. So, there’s almost a coin-flip chance of whether the Screen Actors Guild will match with the Best Picture Oscar winner.
There’s no denying the status and the power that Parasite has in this year’s Best Picture race. It rapidly became one of the major frontrunners, going on to wider releases in various countries than most foreign language films because of the awards attention that it has been receiving. While genre films don’t always win awards, particularly Oscars, due to how subjective they are – Parasite is very much a satirical thriller – this one seems to have connected with people really well, and there’s a lot of praise for it in anonymous voter articles and interviews. There’s a strong chance that it could very easily win Best Picture. And if voters do want to make up for Green Book, or prove that it was just an anomaly; then Parasite may very well be the way to go to help usher in a new age and time for the Oscars. Especially when it comes to the likes of diversity rows and the type of film that is nominated for, and wins, Best Picture. Parasite might just be the film to help bring some of this to an end, and help bring in a new, unique age for the Academy Awards.
While Parasite is certainly a unique, but somewhat more commonly appearing, film in the Best Picture category if there was one person who was almost sure to be there, alongside a number of other categories, it would be none other than Quentin Tarantino. The Oscars love nominating Quentin Tarantino, and occasionally they like to give him a Screenplay win, or one of his actors will take home a trophy. However, he’s never taken home a golden statuette with the words “Best Picture” engraved on the bottom, and perhaps this year could be his year with his ode to the film industry of the 60’s, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
As already established Oscar voters love films about themselves, or rather actors and the film industry in general. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood not only deals with struggling actors and stunt doubles but also features prominent scenes of film and TV making, people going to the cinema and also features Sharon Tate as a somewhat prominent character; just to name a few things. This film is a love letter to Hollywood. Tarantino is known for using many elements of classic Hollywood influences in his works, alongside his famous soundtracks, but Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is a new level for him, and with its style and the way it features the iconic land of cinema as a key background throughout the film. Add to that the lack of his standard brand of intensely bloody violence (apart from one specific sequence in the final 15 minutes) and it seems that this may be his best chance at the Best Picture Oscar yet, and if this is his penultimate film that might be a bit more of a push, although this is something that hasn’t really been made much of a deal of.
In total the film has ten nominations, including Best Original Screenplay and Best Director. Both of which are common Tarantino territory. The film itself has been widely talked about for Best Original Screenplay, however this is possibly one of the most unpredictable and closest races of this years Oscars; even Knives Out, which has no other nominations, could very easily prove to be a dark horse in this race. But, in each of these key categories Once Upon A Time In Hollywood has been a strong contender, and it could very easily walk away with the awards, in one or two cases potentially as a slight surprise, there is a lot of love for this film in various categories. Love that hasn’t quite been spoken about or had a light completely shone on it. Plus, there are a number of people who believe this years Best Picture race to be between three films, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, 1917 and Parasite. And if that is the case, with the love that it seems to have, then the former could quite possibly be the winner. There’s a likelihood that it’s consistently placed within the top three of ballots more than any other film, even if it’s mostly second and third rankings. Nonetheless that can be very beneficial and could slide it into, for some, a shock win.
Add to that two acting nominations, Leading and Supporting Actor, the film has favour from more key branches. It seems highly likely that Brad Pitt will walk away with Best Supporting Actor on Sunday night, judging from his track record at other awards ceremonies this season. While Pitt’s role is something I personally don’t quite get the love for, he’s good but I don’t completely get the awards attention? many have praised it for getting the stunt man trying to break-in more to the world of film and be seen and heard is good. DiCaprio has strong competition from both Adam Driver and Joaquin Phoenix – with Phoenix being almost certain to win Leading Actor – however he has also been praised for his performance of a once strong actor trying to recover from a period of one-off villain roles in TV shows. Both characters representing themes that voters love! This is a film that features a high level of Oscar bait – Oscar bait, served Tarantino style, something which both brings voters towards the film, but also turns some away. Tarantino is certainly a mixed bag amongst the Academy, there’s no denying that.
However, there is a notable absence of an editing nomination. Were there some people who thought that the film was too long? Did the extended scenes of filming a TV show feel too much like watching a programme instead of the narrative of the film? Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is 2 hours and 40 minutes, The Irishman managed to get a nod in the Film Editing category with a run-time of 3 and a half hours, and even Ford V Ferrari at 2 and a half hours. So, this could be damaging for Tarantino’s love letter to the world of classic cinema, which at one point he mentioned there’s a four hour cut of somewhere. There could be something in the run-time of the style of the film that meant that it didn’t earn an Editing nomination, and that could be reflected by the ballots of some Academy voters. Something which could prove to be a big issue for Tarantino if he finally wants to win Best Picture.
The authenticity and general style of the film is something that a number of anonymous voters have praised. The film has both Production Design and Costume Design nominations. In many ways the film is made up of large set-pieces, so a Production Design nomination is understandable, and in a number of ways this is also a front-runner in that category, but again it seems as if even this category is almost unpredictable. It seems as if most of the categories Once Upon A Time In Hollywood appears in are very close, almost too close to call in some cases, or it just has strong competition with one or two other films, often Ford V Ferrari, which is also something of a call back to more traditional forms of filmmaking and cinema. When it comes to Costume Design it just goes to show that members were brought into this world of 60’s filmmaking. A number of voters would have lived in this world, and some of them have praised the film for what it shows and represents, saying that its accuracy is what they loved most about the film, offering almost all of their possible votes to the film at any given opportunity. When people love this film they really love it and show their support in droves, something which could prove highly beneficial to it. There’s an authentically designed world here, and if people were truly engaged in it then they’re likely to show that through their votes.
For the most part this has been a Tarantino feature that has avoided controversy, and as already mentioned mass amounts of bloodshed and violence. However, one scene in particular seems to have garnered some backlash towards its representation of Bruce Lee. Lee is portrayed as rather arrogant and full of himself, something which is family, who object against the scene and the representation of the iconic martial arts movie star, say he never was. There are also people who claim that he comes across as nothing more than an Asian stereotype and that the scene is offensive and lazy. This was very much a big talking point when the film was first released back in the summer. However, now that awards season is upon us it seems to be something that is barely discussed, if not at all, almost as if it has been swept under the rug. However, there could still be some people who hold this view and vote against the film for such a reason. There may also be others who simply disagree with the degree of violence in the final stages of the film. While only in a brief scene some say that Tarantino still went where other directors wouldn’t, the ending is, to an extent, an overall happy one, however in the final scenes there are a number of bloody decisions made to get to there (obviously no spoilers for those who haven’t seen the film). But, that moment is relatively brief, and for the most part, much like the Bruce Lee scene, doesn’t seem to have been brought up much or referenced at all. So, both of these potential issues may not be present at all, and may very well not affect people’s views of the film and where they place it on their ballots.
Linking back to the film’s release back in the summer; out of all the Best Picture nominees this year Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is the one with the furthest away release date. In the US the film was released on July 26th, a fair couple of months outside of standard awards season hopeful territory. This could mean that the film hasn’t been viewed for quite a while by some voters, not all of whom may return to it, therefore this could affect it when it comes to the recency value of other nominees. Alternatively this could be viewed as voters have remembered the film fondly. It’s something that has stayed with them and so they may be more likely to vote favourably for it due to the ‘loyalty’ that they have with it, or how good they remember it being, judging all other films on how well they remember Once Upon A Time In Hollywood to be.
While it’s difficult to tell how well the film will do at this years Academy Awards juding by its track record – at some ceremonies, such as the Writers Guild awards, the film hasn’t been eligible due to Tarantino not being a member of the guild – there’s no denying the fact that this is very much a strong piece of Oscar bait. A celebration of 1960’s Hollywood that also acts as a buddy film about an actor and his stunt double written and directed by Quentin Tarantino? In many ways it’s pure Oscar gold. It’s a different film from him and also his best chance at Best Picture yet. He has all the right elements and despite a lack of an editing nomination he has almost every other box ticked. The audiences seem to have enjoyed his film and that comes across with technical nods that show their engagement in the world. 2020 may very well be the year where a Quentin Tarantino film finally wins Best Picture, and with his producer credit on the film he’d be making the speech!
Finally, after discussing all the many achievements in each of this year’s Best Picture nominees there is perhaps one that stands out more than the rest. How does a Best Picture nominated film that looks wonderful, has a screenplay considered one of the five best adapted screenplays of the year, manages to get two performances so good that they also earn nominations amongst a strong ensemble cast and so much more direct itself? Well, according to Academy members the answer is very simply. It just has to be Little Women. That’s right Greta Gerwig’s much praised, by women and men alike, managed to earn her an Adapted Screenplay nomination but not a Best Director nod, despite many people believing that she could earn one. Back in 2018 Gerwig rightfully earned a Best Director nomination for Lady Bird, after backlash that she was missed out at other awards ceremonies where the main feature was, as Natalie Portman so wonderfully put it when presenting the award at the Golden Globes, “the nominees who are all male”. People thought that after similar backlash happened this year that Gerwig would surely get her deserved nomination for directing Little Women; her direction of this film is genuinely brilliant. However it was not to be, in fact none of the big audience pushes seemed to happen this year – no Wild Rose is Original Song, no Jennifer Lopez in Supporting Actress for her brilliant turn in Hustlers, Lupita Nyong’o seemed to be nowhere near the win she should have in the Leading Actress category for her phenomenally distressing dual-performance in Us, and most of all no sign of Hugh Grant in Supporting Actor for Paddington 2, even if he was only eligible for that last year.
Therefore Little Women could be receiving a push from some voters who feel like they owe some form of justice to Gerwig for missing her out of the Best Director category, therefore they may give her film a push in the Best Picture category. Although they may choose to just do this in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, for which the film also has a nomination in, and could prove to win, where its only other competition seems to be Jojo Rabbit, which has proved to be fairly divisive amongst Academy voters. And an Adapted Screenplay vote could lead voters to remember how much they like the film, potentially giving it a boost on their ballots if that were to be the case. Plus, it seems that Greta Gerwig is generally liked amongst the Academy. Her last film, Lady Bird, was successful in obtaining some big nominations and for some posed a potential threat to the frontrunners in the race that year. Admittedly the film left trophy-less, but in a number of ways it may have helped to also give Little Women a push, and it could, likely, go home with a golden statuette or two on Oscar night.
Little Women does strike as another, potentially of only two, nominee that only just slipped into this year’s Best Picture race. However, it does actually stand a good chance. Partly because it is a very good film, and also because of the general response that it seems to have had. Of course there are the female audience members that have enjoyed the film and may given it a push from a feminist angle, especially in a category dominated by stories about white males and whatever problems they seem to have. And this isn’t to say that the only vote for Little Women will come from the female audience. Far from it, Little Women has been enjoyed by a wide range of people, and that has shown in the support that it’s had. It dos stand a good chance of winning, it has been consistently liked and praised by people and that could be beneficial. As already mentioned the film that wins Best Picture isn’t always the one that people love the most or gets the most nominations, or indeed anything like that. Often the film that wins Best Picture is the one that people agree upon the most, and Little Women could very well be that film.
That being said the film hasn’t overly had success at other awards, but then again it hasn’t really been nominated at a number of them, and so hasn’t really been given the chance to shine. And with that in mind maybe this will be its chance. 1917 and Parasite have had their time, so has Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and even to an extent Joker. So why shouldn’t voters have their say on Little Women? It’s certainly got the strength and positive responses to do it. Admittedly the lack of a Best Director or Film Editing nomination could prove damaging but, the film does have two acting nominations. One for Saoirse Ronan in Best Leading Actress (making her, at the age of 25, the second youngest person to ever receive four Academy Award nominations, behind Jennifer Lawrence who was only four months younger when she received her fourth nomination back in 2016) and the other for Florence Pugh in Best Supporting Actress. Pugh who made her debut back in 2016 in Lady Macbeth skyrocketed last year with prominent roles in Fighting With My Family, Little Woman and Midsommar – if the Academy gave horror a chance that she may have even found her name appearing in the Leading Actress category for her deeply unnerving turn in Ari Aster’s two and a half hours of dread and discomfort. For a still rising star, who’s appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe arrives in May, to get nominated at the age of 24 amongst such a strong cast there’s a strong argument for the memorable nature of the performances that line Little Women. And if that’s the case then there may be an equally strong love for the film, after all if the performances are remembered fondly then it may be likely that the film is too.
Perhaps one of the biggest, or at least most understated, factors that could guide Little Women to Best Picture success is its style. The film is very much a rather traditional period piece, the kind that won Best Picture back in the 60’s, and has every couple of years had a resurgence. Amadeus in 1984. Shakespeare In Love in 1999, and potentially even the likes of 12 Years A Slave in 2014 or The Artist in 2012. While a proper period piece hasn’t won in recent years there have certainly been a number of strong competitors. Just last year The Favourite was a strong potential winner; although in the end it only took home a deserved Best Leading Actress for Olivia Colman. Is this the year where we finally see another period piece winning Best Picture. It’s the type of film that could connect well with older voters, but also with the themes and ideas that the film presents, and the general style and feel there’s a lot there for voters of all ages to like and connect with. It’s an easily accessible film, despite some voters claiming to be confused by the way the film is told (there are literally children who have been able to follow it with ease), for pretty much everyone. Place on top of that the generally positive reception that the film has had, and the recency factor, having been released in mid-December, meaning it might be fresher in some voter’s minds – something which might be more convenient than before with this year’s early Oscars – then one of the most under-discussed contenders might not be so much of an outsider as some people might think. When you look at the amount of forces working in favour of the film they build up to create what is possibly quite a large push. Little Women could very well end up winning this year’s Best Picture Oscar.
And now, we come to the point of this entire piece. Deciding what is likely to win this year’s Best Picture Oscar. The film that all 8,000+ members of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences have deemed to be the best film released in the United States (that meets qualifying guidelines) in 2019.
Most of the time there are at least two or three films that can be instantly cancelled out as clear outsiders. However, this year there only seems to be one film that from just looking at the rest of the nominees it can be said it’s highly unlikely to win. Therefore Ford V Ferrari finds itself driving out of this year’s race.
To an extent Little Women does seem to be a film that just slipped into the nominees, and while it could do well it just doesn’t seem to have the steam that a number of the other films in this category have. In fact it seems that a number of films have simply lost steam and haven’t been discussed as much as they were early on during awards season. Thus we find both Netflix productions, Marriage Story and The Irishman knocked out of the race. Honestly, if you asked me a month ago, and even for a large part of this awards race I would have said that The Irishman was going to win Best Picture. If I were the betting type then I may have even put money on it. The love and praise for the film was so immense that I was absolutely certain that it would win, however it now seems as if that isn’t the case anymore. Martin Scorsese won his Oscar with The Departed and that was that.
Now, we come on to the more divisive films. Sometimes films are surrounded by some form of controversy. Whether it be to do with the director, things people have said in relation to the film or simply a scene or character within it. But, this year controversy doesn’t seem to be overly present. Nonetheless there are still divisive films present. The most notable one being Joker. While Joker has been highly praised its dark, and as some claim twisted, nature has proved to split audiences, seemingly more than any other of this years nominees. It’s simply too divisive. Similarly Jojo Rabbit has also proved to have its supporters and haters. While some simply don’t want to vote for a ‘Hitler comedy’ or simply don’t like the film there are others who protest against it’s depiction/ discussion of the holocaust. This is likely to prove damaging to the film’s chances of winning Best Picture, even if there are a number of people who really love it and show their enjoyment by placing it high on their ballots.
And now there are three films left; 1917, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Parasite. For a couple of weeks after the nominations were announced many believed Once Upon A Time In Hollywood to be a front-runner in the field. In fact there are still a number of people who believe that it could just about get away with the win, there seems to be some rising support for Quentin Tarantino in the Best Director category and it has long been a lead amongst the other nominees for Original Screenplay. However, it’s the name Tarantino that could both cause the film to win Best Picture or push it away from that prize. This is certainly a different film for him, and the film based focus causes an even bigger case for his film to win. However, I think that the film isn’t quite strong enough in the competition to compete with the two solid front-runners of this year’s awards race. Therefore the 2020 Best Picture Oscar is between 1917 and Parasite.
Often the style of film that wins Best Picture changes with the decade, as the final year or two of a decade come around the style slowly begins to shift, as if with every tenth Oscars the films that win have a shared theme, alongside that of the underdog. Often the point in which the slight theme changes comes around the end of one decade into the next, as if every ten years the Academy celebrates the films they give Best Picture slightly change, or rather evolve. And this seemed to be the case when Moonlight won, followed by The Shape Of Water. However, Green Book disturbed that and makes it slightly more difficult to try and decide what will win this year’s Best Picture Oscar. And with 1917 and Parasite, two very different films, the clear leaders making a prediction that one is fully satisfied with. Both films have large pushes yet also moderate forces acting against them achieving the title of the best film of 2019.
Parasite has nominations in Best Director, Original Screenplay and Film Editing, and a large degree of love, there might be some who vote against the film because its a subtitled film in a foreign language. However, there is clear support in major categories and the film is likely to earn a lot of first place votes on preferential ballots.
In the case of 1917, the film has Best Director and Original Screenplay nominations but no Film Editing nod; most likely due to the editing being slightly noticeable/ easy in terms of the two-shot look. There are those who have said that the film is slightly gimmicky or something of a novelty, and that could hurt its chances too. But then again the film has won a number of awards, including the DGA, BAFTA, Golden Globe (but they mean nothing) and the PGA, which has the preferential ballot. This shows it’s number one on a number of lists. But, some of these other ceremonies didn’t have the same amount of nominees, or just the same nominees, as those in the Best Picture category at the Oscars. Either way, there could likely be a number of consistent placements of the film in the top three of ballots, which is often more important than having the most first place mentions.
And that brings me on to the annual point of the preferential ballot. The preferential ballot means that voters rank the films nominated in the Best Picture category. When a film gets 51% or more of first place votes that’s when it becomes the winner of Best Picture. This isn’t likely to happen in the first round, so the film with the least amount of votes is taken out of the race. For example if Ford V Ferrari obtained the least votes then it would be removed, the people who voted for that in prime position then have their second place option move up to their first place choice. This continues to happen until a film achieves at least 51% of the vote.
Thus it’s often more important that a film gets more votes in the second and third place positions than first. It’s also important to think about what will be placed consistently higher on more ballots 1917 or Parasite? One is widely loved and praised, but also might have some lower mentioned, while there seems to be consistent placement for the other. But, the love for the former could just about prevail and lead to a monumental change in the winner of Best Picture, something which many people have been calling for. Whereas the latter, while having a big push, would continue current trends while also following traditional voting lines.
I’ve waffled on enough in this piece. If you’re even still reading by this point then well done. If you’re just skimming through, or have just taken a couple of minutes to scroll through the whole thing in the hope of just reading the verdict, then welcome, here it is.
If Parasite wins Best Original Screenplay then that will likely give it more of a push to win Best Picture, even more so if it manages to nab Director from the seemingly locked-in Sam Mendes, and even against Tarantino, who seems to also have some love behind him in that category. In fact even a Film Editing win would be big, it’s certainly not impossible. And all three would be something truly special! Aside from all this there’s already a lot of love for it as it is for Best Picture. But, when considering the winner of Best Picture it all comes back to the preferential ballot. And, with that in mind you have to think of what film will place consistently higher on each ballot, often in the top three of ballots. And with that in mind, this year I am going to say that the film joining the likes of The Godfather, Gone With The Wind, Moonlight, The Silence Of The Lambs and Green Book (ok, you get the picture now, let’s just get to the likely reason you’re reading this) as a Best Picture Oscar winner will be Parasite.