Next month, a parade of lucky celebs will take the stage of Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre and say, “You like me, you really like me!” as they clutch their coveted Oscars.
But don’t get too comfy yet, stars. A lot can change in the next seven weeks — an eternity during awards season.
Voting opened Monday for the 91st Academy Awards, just a day after “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Green Book” shocked everybody by winning the top prizes at the Golden Globes. Then, on Tuesday, the Directors Guild left the one-time favorite, “The Favourite,” off its list completely.
As many as 10 films can be nominated for Best Picture, and as few as five. In the complicated mathematical system, all Academy voters list up to five top picks. And in in order to be eligible for a slot, a film must be the No. 1 choice of at least 5 percent of voters.
Figuring out who has the best shot at winning an Oscar is a pseudo-science that combines proper analysis, historical precedent and gut instinct. Of course a film’s chances are affected by its quality, but you also must consider voters’ affection for those involved — Marty! Meryl! — and increasingly the day’s news.
Take “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
In 2018, the acclaimed film was nominated for six Golden Globe Awards, winning four, including Best Motion Picture (drama) and Best Screenplay. And then the film’s momentum skidded to a halt when columnists began assailing the character of a racist, but likable, cop played by Sam Rockwell. Just like that, the film became associated with racism — not a good look — and by March, the Academy Awards only honored the film for its acting.
This year’s “Three Billboards” would appear to be “Green Book,” which just won the Globe for Best Motion Picture (comedy). It was also named best film of the year by the National Board of Review, won the Toronto Film Festival’s people’s choice award and has been nominated by the Producers and Directors Guilds. But some have called “Green Book,” about an Italian-American chauffeur and African-American pianist’s journey through the Jim Crow south, a white savior story among other controversies. The movie will pick up plenty of Oscar nods, but definitely won’t win Best Picture, because while the Golden Globes like to court controversy, the Oscars would like you to please stop tweeting at them.
I reckon the top dog for the moment is “Roma,” director Alfonso Cuarón’s visually arresting ode to his Mexico City childhood. Hollywood loves Cuarón (he won the Best Director Oscar for “Gravity”), and here he has written and directed a film artfully honoring a woman — his family’s housekeeper at that. “Roma” checks off a lot of boxes (diversity, established artists, snob appeal) and it’s the one movie this year every awards body and most critics can agree on.
But there’s still 44 days to go.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” (Up/#2)
The Freddie Mercury biopic divided critics when it was released in November. But it’s been saying “Don’t Stop Me Now!” ever since as awards bodies have continued to honor it. The Producers Guild — the best indicator of Oscars success, having correctly predicted 70 percent of winners in the last 30 years — gave it a nod for Outstanding Producer of Motion Pictures. And it won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (drama). According to RottenTomatoes, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the worst reviewed winner of that award in 33 years. However, the last time a movie that took home that trophy wasn’t nominated for the Best Picture Oscar was 1963’s “The Cardinal.” This is a film that defies the odds, maybe all the way to Best Picture.
“Roma” (Way Up/#1)
On Sunday, the Spanish-language movie won Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes, but more importantly Alfonso Cuarón took home Best Director, stifling the momentum of Bradley Cooper and his film “A Star Is Born.” It has won critics awards in many cities — New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Las Vegas — and has been nominated by the Producers Guild and Directors Guild. The erratic nature of this awards season has only helped the consistently-performing “Roma.”
“Green Book” (Down/#4)
“Green Book” has always been a dark horse. It did, to the surprise of many, manage to win Best Motion Picture (comedy) at the Golden Globes. But all the while it’s been marred by controversies: Many have decried it for being a “white savior story”; a 2015 tweet from its writer Nick Vallelonga recently resurfaced that promoted President Trump’s bunk claim that New Jersey Muslims cheered on Sept. 11; and director Peter Farrelly just apologized for flashing his genitals at women years ago. It will be an honor just to be nominated.
“The Favourite” (Way Down/#5)
What was once considered a front-runner for Best Picture, the costume-comedy starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz could easily go home empty-handed in February. Although Colman won Best Actress (comedy) at the Globes, the movie got a huge ding when the Directors Guild didn’t include it among its nominees this week.
“A Star Is Born” (Down/#3 )
When “A Star Is Born” — the big favorite at the Globes — lost Best Motion Picture (drama), Best Director (Bradley Cooper) and Best Actress (Lady Gaga), that team knew they had their work cut out for them. The film still has many admirers, but it has failed to win any major awards so far. Lady Gaga needs to be out there shaking voters’ hands and saying “goo-goo ga-ga” to a lot of Hollywood babies.