You might think that the sub line for this piece is a little bit too on the nose.
Sure, '1917' has been the frontrunner for some time now for Best Picture and it's not hard to see why. It's a war movie, that's always a good sign for Best Picture. It's incredibly well-directed and shot, done with a budget under $90 million and looks like it's twice that. It has a compelling story that rattles along and has won over audiences and critics alike. In short, it's got everything going for it to win.
You could swap out '1917' for 'Joker' or 'Parasite' and that paragraph above would be equally valid. So why then are we saying this about '1917' and not either of them? Because neither of them won the Producers' Guild Award last night and '1917' did. To give you an indication of how accurate the PGA is at naming Best Picture, here's a quick statistic. Since 1989, the PGA has accurately predicted 21 out of the past 31 winners. That's an accuracy of 67.74%.
You're probably thinking, well, 67.74% isn't all that accurate. Let's look it at another way then.
More often than not, the same people who vote for Best Picture are the same people who vote in the PGAs. In fact, the voting system in the Oscars is broken up into branches, meaning that by the time it comes around, you pretty much have an idea of where everything's going based solely on the individual awards for each branch.
The actors all voted for Joaquin Phoenix at the SAG Awards last night, so it means that he's all but a certainty to win Best Actor on Oscar night. It's the same with '1917'. The maths don't really allow for any other eventuality, even if people liked 'Joker' more or thought that 'Parasite' is more deserving.
Again, this is what's kind of frustrating about the Oscars, even with punditry like ours. The decision is telegraphed, so predicting it isn't all that hard to do. No doubt there might be an upset or two on the night of the Oscars, but when it comes to Best Picture, '1917' has the best chance of winning it.
For one, it doesn't come with the association and hang-ups that 'Joker' has. Nobody is writing polemics about how '1917' could be destroying mental health or the like. It's received a far wider release than 'Parasite' has, which isn't surprising seeing as how 'Parasite' was a foreign language movie. It's made a respectable amount of money at the box office, just enough to keep it from being a blockbuster. There's also the fact that the moving parts of it all synced together so well on screen.
After all, '1917' is a movie that's done (or at least made to look like it was) in one single shot. That requires a level of trust and skill that you really don't see all that much anymore. Producers and studios are risk-averse, and trying something new like this just isn't done. In spite of all the wailing that cinemas are dying, that movies are just vehicles for toys and action figures, '1917' is a movie that is as much a callback as it is boldly original.
It could be that 'Joker' might upset the script, that clinching a win for Best Picture would be exactly the kind of chaos you'd expect - but it seems unlikely. Like the movie itself, '1917' is on rails towards its conclusion as Best Picture.