Now, you can view this one of two ways, folks. This can either be a betting guide if you like having a punt on the Oscars, or you can treat it as an itinerary for your cinema viewing over the next few months.
Either way, Star Wars won’t be on it, because it’s pure sh*te.
Like every good organisation on the planet, the Academy are likely a corrupt shower of b*stards. When people talk about certain films being pure ‘Oscar bait’, they refer to films with well-known directors, star-studded casts, big production companies behind them, topped off with cinematic trailers to direct themselves to award hype.
Of course, there always has to be a balance, doesn’t there?
After the #OscarsSoWhite outrage of 2016, it always seemed likely that those in power would go out of their way to project equality. And so they did.
Despite ‘La La Land’ being one of the best films released in a decade, ‘Moonlight’ – a harrowing tale of the taboo associated with homosexuality in black male gang members in the United States – took the Best Picture gong. Whether it’s a better film is definitely subjective, but it can certainly be seen as a fuel for the conspiracy theorists.
Now that 2017 has been forgotten, expect the Academy to go back to the status quo this year. Although, from the outset, some of the favourites in the Best Picture category are somewhat unconventional in their narratives.
The market is led (3/1) by Martin McDonagh’s (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’. It tells the story of a mother whose daughter had been murdered. She purchases, as the title so bluntly suggests, three billboards just outside of town to highlight the local police force’s lacking efforts on the case.
It’s a black comedy from a director who really struggles to get away from playwriting. It shows up in his films, and it would be a huge surprise should this one land the gong. Keep an eye on Sam Rockwell in the Best Supporting Actor market, though.
Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ is a wartime attack on your senses. It’s not much of a plot and it contains no characters worth caring about. In that sense, it’s an ideal fly-on-the-wall recreation. It leaves you speechless, borderline deaf and battle-tested. It’s the ultimate visceral experience, but it probably won’t win Best Picture due to its lack of narrative. He could well be in with a shout for Best Director, though. Keep that in mind.
Of the films on the outside of the betting market, you could easily forget ‘Blade Runner 2049’. It’s a superbly-directed, well-acted sci-fi thriller, but it didn’t do well at the box office whatsoever. That tag will follow it.
Get Out would be an incredible winner of Best Picture as it may be the biggest mish-mash of genres every seen in a film potentially spoken about in these circles. Jordan Peele crafted a motion picture that dissects racial discrimination and hypocrisy in the twenty-first century, while also introducing horror elements and comedic undertones. It’s just not an Oscar film, so a price of 10/1 probably exaggerates its chances.
So, of the market principles left – you can scratch off ‘The Shape of Water’. It’s a Guillermo del Toro film about the relationship between a sea monster and a woman – because – of course it is.
That leaves three likely contenders: ‘The Post’, ‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Call Me By Your Name’.
‘Call Me By Your Name’ is a genius screenplay that focuses on the evolving relationship of two men who learn about themselves in process. However, the shots are too raw, it’s far too long for its own good and it contains a scene of a man shoving his manhood into a peach. That’s one way of writing yourself out of the winners’ circle.
The film getting a lot of praise on the critic circuit is ‘Lady Bird’, but unfortunately for Greta Gerwig, she’s thirty-four and never produced anything of critical acclaim prior to this production. In a year where the Academy will show just how inclusive they are yet again, she has a major contender to get past.
‘The Post’ (4/1) is a prototype Oscar film. It’s a re-enactment of a major event in US politics, starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. What better way to restore the dull, by-the-book protocol of the Academy by handing Steven Spielberg a Best Picture award for an underwhelming production that feels too drawn out and overacted.