As we've mentioned many times and has been borne out in the various awards so far, this has truly been a topsy-turvy year.
It's only now, with the BAFTA Awards announced, that a picture is beginning to form of who's going to win and lose on Oscar night. 'A Star Is Born', it seems, has crashed out of the race entirely whilst Rami Malek's march to Best Actor now seemed all but assured.
For the prestigious Best Picture category, however, it's decidedly less clear. By all accounts, there's a three-way tie between 'Roma', 'The Favourite' and 'Green Book' being the outside favourite to win. 'Green Book' picked up a PGA Award, which puts it in the race, yet 'Roma' also won Best Picture at the BAFTAs.
Here's our breakdown of the Best Picture nominees.
In our interview with Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe, both producers of 'The Favourite' discussed the serious campaigning that Netflix has done for 'Roma'. The rumoured figure is that the streaming giant has forked out close to $30 million to get it into contention - and it's paid off already as 'Roma' has moved up to pole position for Best Picture. If it wins, it won't necessarily be an upset, but it'll definitely prove that Netflix has been accepted and embraced by Hollywood.
Another point to consider is that 'Roma' is by far the most accessible Best Picture nominee, maybe ever. If you've got a Netflix account, you can watch 'Roma' right now. Most Best Picture nominees either have a short shelf-life at cinemas, and get a re-release around Oscar time, or it's a case of waiting for it be released later in the year for Irish audiences. 'Roma' received a day-and-date release, running at the Light House for a week-long engagement.
There's no denying that, had 'Roma' and Netflix's bottomless wallet been involved, 'The Favourite' would be the one to beat this year. Either that or 'A Star Is Born'. We'll dig into the awards wash-out for 'A Star Is Born' further down. For now, let's look at 'The Favourite' and its chance. It was expected to pick up the win at the BAFTAs earlier this week for Best Picture. Among its backers was Ireland's own Element Pictures, and the UK's Film4, and of course, Fox Searchlight.
While 'The Favourite' did pick up a total of 7 BAFTAs, it lost out in the Best Picture category to 'Roma'. It did, however, win Outstanding British Film, so it's hard to determine how this affect its chances for Best Picture at the Oscars. There's a big overlap between BAFTA members and AMPAS members, meaning the BAFTAs are one of the best indicators for how the Oscars will shake out.
In other words, it's a two-way race between 'Roma' and 'The Favourite' and they're neck and neck right now.
The Producers' Guild Award has mirrored the Best Picture winner 20 out of 29 times, and was accurate with last year's 'The Shape Of Water'. This year, 'Green Book' surprised everyone and took home the Producers' Guild Award. Up until that point, nobody had expected 'Green Book' to be any kind of a contender. Never mind the stink around the real-life family of Don Shirley proclaiming the whole story as fake, the fact remains that 'Green Book' was way too familiar and safe.
Twenty years ago, sure, 'Green Book' would be cleaning up left and right. Times and tastes have moved on, but not for the Producers' Guild Award. Could 'Green Book' take the win on the night? Yeah, maybe. The voting system in the Oscars is complex enough that there can be upsets, and 'Green Book' winning on the night could be just that.
After Bryan Singer's name was removed entirely from the BAFTA nomination papers, and Rami Malek publicly admitting that working with him wasn't the most pleasant experience, you can be virtually guaranteed that 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is not going to win here. As we previously opined in our Best Actor analysis, Rami Malek is picking up awards for his performance not just because he nailed Freddie Mercury, but because he did it all in spite of Bryan Singer.
That it won at the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture (Drama) shouldn't be taken into consideration. Remember, the Golden Globes has an incredibly small voting pool compared to the BAFTAs and the Oscars. All told, less than 90 people vote for the Golden Globes. The Oscars and BAFTAs, meanwhile, run into the thousands.
Had the Best Popular Film category actually materialised in this year's Oscars, 'Black Panther' would have won confidently and assuredly. There's been a lot to-do made about the fact that 'Black Panther' was the first comic-book movie to be nominated for an Oscar. More than anything, it's a recognition of the cultural impact 'Black Panther' has had, and it's a great thing to see.
Will it win Best Picture, though? Absolutely not. If it did in fact, it would probably be the single biggest upset on Oscars night in years. Last time we checked, the odds on 'Black Panther' winning was in and around 33 / 1. 'Roma' was 1 / 4, whilst 'Green Book' was 9 / 2. Again, it's a great thing for it to be nominated, but beyond that? Not a chance.
It really has been something to see the star fall of 'A Star Is Born'. Pun intended. When it was first released, pretty much everyone who saw it - ourselves, included - that it was the out-and-out favourite to win. 'The Favourite', brilliant though it was, felt way too weird for the Oscars' taste. 'Green Book', meanwhile, was too bland. Foreign-language movies tend to do reasonably well, but not at the level at 'Roma' is operating. By all conventional logic, 'A Star Is Born' was the most obvious choice.
Why the backlash? It's hard to say, really. The Oscars this year is really undergoing a personality crisis, and it's struggling for relevancy and meaning - and competing with diminishing attention spans. What's any of that got to do with 'A Star Is Born' is anyone's guess. It's been a strange awards season, and it'd probably be just the kind of upset Hollywood loves that would see 'A Star Is Born' triumph on the night.
Then again, maybe not.
Out of all the movies nominated this year for Best Picture, 'Blackkklansman' and the next entry are both excellent movies that haven't a chance of winning. It's a crying shame, but you have to remember just how violently opposed the Oscars is to change. Not only change, but movies that purposefully go against the status quo.
More to the point, there's a key scene in 'Blackkklansman' where Harry Belafonte gives a straightforward, direct speech to the camera about 'The Birth Of A Nation', DW Griffth's silent epic, and the impact it had on American racial politics. Belafonte describes how the movie was a blockbuster in its time, and was even screened at the White House for President Woodrow Wilson.
That a movie would charge so forcefully at the very industry it inhabits is breathtaking. Does that mean it's going to win an Oscar? Definitely not.
By its very nature, 'Vice' was never going to be a serious contender for Best Picture. For one, it was a particularly vicious dissection of a living politician. Academy voters tend to view their voting as apolitical, and wouldn't necessarily be seen to endorse something as partisan as 'Vice'. There's also the fact that the Oscars are trying desperately to get themselves neutral in an increasingly splintered America, so giving 'Vice' a Best Picture couldn't possibly work.
Leaving aside these considerations, there's also the fact that 'Vice' is too angry, too cynical and too good for the Oscars. It's a biting, on-the-nose political satire that will long outlive this awards cycle. Plus, you can be guaranteed that Adam McKay and Christian Bale couldn't give a f*ck whether they're win or lose, so all the better to them.