We’re almost there! In less than 72 hours, we’ll have a new Best Picture winner. Out of the nine nominees this year, here’s my breakdown ranking from lowest chances to highest changes, with pros & cons of each.
A couple factors to keep in mind: since Birdman, every Best Picture winner has also had a nomination for Best Film Editing, making the category a reliable indicator of what realistically has a shot of winning. Last year for instance, seeming front-runners Roma or A Star is Born didn’t make it in this category, which we should have taken as signs that they weren’t going to have great nights (particularly the latter).
9. Ford v Ferrari
- Pros: Best Film Editing nomination
- Cons: It hasn’t been nominated for Best Picture for many other awards, and has won from only the Satellite Awards (voted on by international journalists, which do not overlap with Academy members).
8. Little Women
- Pros: This is a movie people are really passionate about, and with Greta Gerwig’s inexplicable snub in the Best Director category could lead to a groundswell of support as we reach the finish line.
- Cons: While it’s received a lot of Best Picture nominations (and even wins) from critics’ groups, it hasn’t won among any of the guilds made up by Academy members.
7. Marriage Story
- Pros: This has been in the awards conversation since day one, nominated for Best Picture at nearly every awards circuit.
- Cons: Out of countless nominations, it has only won Best Picture with a handful of groups. Typically also, a “smaller” film like this with less flashy, obvious work below the line (costumes, set design, and more) might not catch the attention of the Academy at large.
6. The Irishman
- Pros: Also an instant awards contender, Martin Scorsese’s epic has earned several Best Picture wins from various critics’ groups. As a sweeping period piece, it also boasts the more clearly visible craftwork that would resonate with the Academy. Plus, it did make it into the Best Film Editing nominations.
- Cons: It hasn’t won awards from any of the guilds, and frankly has lost some of the awards momentum it had prior to the Golden Globes.
- Pros: It has a sure-fire Oscar win by star Joaquin Phoenix, and has the most nominations of any film this year. It also made it into the Film Editing category.
- Cons: This movie has proven to be incredibly divisive, and is likely to end up at the bottom of many ballots (though certainly at the top of some).
4. Jojo Rabbit
- Pros: While not universally beloved, it is generally well-liked and would likely be in the top half of many ballots. There’s also momentum behind it given recent wins for Best Adapted Screenplay, on top of its Best Film Editing nomination and its early Oscar contender status by winning the TIFF People’s Choice Award (also won by last year’s eventual Best Picture winner, Green Book).
- Cons: It has not won Best Picture with many groups, though is almost always nominated.
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
- Pros: This won Best Picture at several critics’ groups as well as the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy. Writer/director Quentin Tarantino could very possibly pick up his third Academy Award for his original screenplay. Plus, as an ambitious period piece, this boasts strong craftwork that the Academy could certainly go for.
- Cons: The momentum this movie had a month ago feels like it’s slowed down, and recent Original Screenplay wins have gone to Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, which could prove to be the big spoiler on Oscar night. This also does not have a Best Film Editing nominated.
- Pros: Of all the nominees this year, it feels like the one people are most enthusiastic about. It’s steamrolled through every Best Foreign Language Film Award, and has also picked up major awards like Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and more. Perhaps the most telling factor this season: its surprise win for the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, indicating strong support for this movie among actors (the largest body of voters in the Academy). This significant win also turned the tide for eventual-surprise Best Picture winner Crash (2005). Its support from both critics, and likely Academy voters, make this a major player this Best Picture race.
- Cons: It’s a given this will win Best International Feature Film, which may offset voters for supporting this when it comes to the Big One. Plus, 1917 just came off a Best Picture win at the BAFTAs, which sometimes (not always) aligns with Best Picture here in the States.
- Pros: It hit the ground running with a Best Picture – Drama win at the Golden Globes, and is nearly guaranteed to win Best Director given Sam Mendes’s track record (plus a recent DGA win). It is nearly universally admired and acclaimed for its technological achievement, something below-the-line Academy members can appreciate and rally behind.
- Cons: This does not have a Best Film Editing nomination, so if this does win, it’ll be the first Best Picture winner since Birdman to make it to the finish line without one. It was also shut out from the SAG Awards, a lack of recognition from actors – the largest voting body of the Academy.
1917 very much feels like the kind of movie anyone can admire and appreciate. Excellent filmmaking craft and technological achievement is on display in nearly every category, from the staggering production design, no-doubt complicated camera work, plus the sheer feat of acting, shooting, staging, plus resetting, such long takes.
But as much as audiences can marvel at 1917, it doesn’t seem to spark as much (or any) conversation, when compared to Parasite. Parasite feels like the movie of the moment and of our times – and deservedly. The film has a brilliant script, and is expertly directed by Bong Joon-ho, and, like 1917, every aspect of its filmmaking is impeccable: the literal levels of status and power of the set design; the razor-sharp editing; the tremendous performances, and so much more.
A Parasite win would also represent a truly historic moment as the first non-English film to win Best Picture, though these wins should never be to make a statement or prove a point. That said, it’s hard to think the Academy at large isn’t conscious of “Oscars so white” and how old-fashioned and traditional some of their choices lately have been. Not to discount the achievement of 1917 technically (I don’t particularly care for the story), but a win for that film would not be moving the needle forward of what the Academy is trying to stand for: diversity and inclusivity, on the global scale (even changing the name from Best Foreign Language Film to Best International Feature Film – claiming the word “foreign” had a negative connotation).
My head says 1917, but my heart says Parasite. However the night turns out though, this awards season has brought recognition and acclaim to a great director in Bong Joon-ho, and re-affirmed the excellent filmmaker that is Greta Gerwig, who followed up her debut Best Picture nominee Lady Bird with another Best Picture nominee in Little Women. (It’s not a fluke!)