We’ve got a race

Sarah Posted by Sarah at January 23, 2018 17:27:22 January 23, 2018 17:27:22

Over the weekend, the two biggest guilds held their award ceremonies. The Screen Actors Guild televises their ceremony, so everyone saw Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri win their top prize, pushing it to the head of the pack. Right? Well, not so fast. Because over at the Producers Guild of America, they gave their top prize to The Shape of Water. The PGA is considered one of the best indicators for Oscar. So that means Water is the front-runner, yes? Eh, not quite. Because the two biggest guilds, representing the two biggest voting blocs in the Academy, are split. We saw it throughout the end of the year, as critics groups and early voting bodies spread the love around, with no consistent, clear choice among them. And now the Oscars are shaping up the same way. 

Water and Billboards might have the momentum right now, but the nominations reveal strong support exists for Get Out, and Phantom Thread (which wasn’t available until the very end of the year and missed much of the early voting rounds). Ever since Get Out opened last February, I’d been cautioning that, realistically, an Original Screenplay nomination was its best bet for Oscar (because based on Oscar history, it was, but Oscar seems ready for a new phase). But Jordan Peele got a directing nod, Daniel Kaluuya is in the lead actor pack, and it got a Best Picture nomination, too. Oscar nominations are preferential, which means not only do you have to get a lot of people to write you in, but you have to be consistently ranked high on the ballots. Get Out in the Best Picture field means there is a LOT of support out there. If Billboards and Water split the biggest voting blocs, does that open up room for Get Out to surprise everyone? At this point, I’m not ruling out anything.

And don’t sleep on Phantom Thread. Paul Thomas Anderson is generally considered one of the best—if not THE best—living American filmmakers and he made a helluva movie with Thread. A masterpiece, maybe (time will tell). PTA certainly has his fans in the Academy, and he’s made a relatively accessible film, and obviously people are going to those screenings, late as they’ve been, because Thread didn’t have long-lead momentum to build on. It’s coming up on reputation alone. Between PTA and Daniel Day-Lewis, it’s a heavy duty reputation, too big to ignore.

So we have a race. Right now it’s led by Three Billboards and Shape of Water, but we have a month to go until Oscar. Plenty of time for fortunes to change and momentum to build. And Get Out is riding high today, with Jordan Peele’s flashy triple-nomination and the Best Picture inclusion. Maybe that prompts some old fart to give it a chance, to pull out that screener and dust it off. 2017 was a good year for film, resulting in a strong group of nominees and no clear favorite among them. Well, The Shape of Water obviously has a lot of fans, but this feels like a year where there will be a Best Director/Picture split, and movies like Dunkirk and Phantom Thread will challenge it in the technical categories. So even with thirteen nominations, you can’t call Water the clear frontrunner. This is exciting. The best Oscar races are when you don’t know what will happen next.

See the complete list of nominees here

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