Awards season is officially upon us following the Golden Globe awards and the BAFTAs. With the 90th Academy Awards getting underway this Sunday, we thought we'd present our tips for the highly coveted Best Picture, ranking the candidates from most to least likely to win.
Chances of winning the Oscar 90%
Until the Globes, the Best Picture race was perhaps something of an open field. But then Martin McDonagh's triumphant black comedy surged to the finish, grabbing Best Picture (Drama) and leaving the competition in the dust. Add to this its BAFTA wins for Best Film and Best British Film, and McDonagh's movie is surely now the frontrunner for the jewel in the Oscar crown.
The Oscars often place great stock in the awards wins that precede them, and Three Billboards has opened up a significant lead. Buoyed by a rave critical reception and flying high on a richly funny script that pushes all kinds of topical buttons (the Academy love a movie that speaks of the current climate), it stands a very good chance of winning.
Chances of winning the Oscar 70%
Guillermo del Toro's enchanting fantasy-romance The Shape of Water nabbed two Golden Globes – Best Director and Best Original Score – and if popular acclaim is anything to go by, it's the greatest threat to Three Billboards' chances of success. However, its chances were recently knocked by its lack of a Best Picture win at the BAFTAs, although del Toro won his first for Best Director.
Like Martin McDonagh's film it's attracted superlative reviews, albeit for somewhat different reasons. Whereas the former is largely driven by the intricate (and foul-mouthed) intricacies of its dialogue, the language of del Toro's film is primarily visual, a gorgeous throwback to the heyday of classic Hollywood monster and silent movies.
The Academy Awards are infamous for revering movies that reflect back upon the film industry (in 2012 black and white hit The Artist snagged Best Picture), and there's every chance del Toro's movie could prove the dark horse.
Chances of winning the Oscar 60%
Director Joe Wright's Winston Churchill biopic ticks all of the Oscar boxes. It's based on true events, is draped in intriguing layers of historical detail (Churchill's ascent to the role of Prime Minister on the eve of World War II) and the filmmaker himself is something of an Oscar favourite, his films Atonement and Anna Karenina having been recognised by the Academy.
Even so, pretty much all of the buzz on the movie is driven by one thing: Gary Oldman's transformative role as Churchill himself. It's Oldman's legacy of chameleonic performances, not to mention the uncanny accuracy of his performance, that is being driven as the main selling point of the movie. (Plus, he's won both BAFTAs and Golden Globes for the role.) Best Actor seems highly likely, but Best Picture may be just out of reach.
Chances of winning the Oscar 50%
Christopher Nolan is esteemed as a modern day cinema master. Having retooled our perception of time in films like Memento and Inception, and having delivered (for many) the definitive Batman movies in the form of the Dark Knight trilogy, there's very little he hasn't turned into box office or critical gold.
His Dunkirk marked a successful transition into a genre he hadn't tackled before: the World War II epic. It was a gamble (not least because the movie was sold to an international audience who may not have been familiar with the Dunkirk evacuation), but it hit big time with both critics and audiences, grossing over $500 million worldwide.
That should be enough for the chance at the Best Picture Oscar, but Nolan has been routinely overlooked in the past (nominated for Best Screenplay twice, and only once for Best Picture). Given the movie divided some over its battle between the intellect and the emotions, there's a chance the Academy will forego Best Picture, instead being overawed by the movie's formidable technical assets. This seems to have been borne out in its run at both the Globes and BAFTAs, routinely ignored in the Best Picture categories at both, while winning a (highly deserved) trophy for Best Editing in the latter.
Chances of winning the Oscar 45%
Paul Thomas Anderson is an Oscar darling, rarely having dropped the ball with a succession of critically acclaimed movies that date back to 1997's Boogie Nights. His ferociously brooding There Will Be Blood is regarded by many as one of the finest films of the previous decade, and many other of his films are similarly acclaimed, including Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love.
His latest, Phantom Thread, has more of an Anglo-centric focus, exploring the life of a reclusive English dressmaker (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) and his relationship with his muse (Vicky Krieps). In spite of Anderson's back catalogue the movie may simply be too niche for mainstream Oscar kudos, its best chances being reserved for Day-Lewis in the realm of Best Actor.
Chances of winning the Oscar 40%
Earlier this year, Greta Gerwig's acclaimed directorial debut held the record on reviews website Rotten Tomatoes, having sustained its 100% rating for a staggering amount of time. Sadly that spell was broken when one review brought it down to 99%, but it's still an impressive achievement for a fledgling filmmaker, and a sign of how highly regarded her movie is.
This warmly observed story of adolescent angst features a winning performance from Saorise Ronan as the rebellious Lady Bird, and it did win Best Picture (Comedy or Musical) at the Golden Globes. Nevertheless, it may be too intimate and small in scale to rival the other movies in contention, and at the BAFTAs it lost out.
We reckon if it's going to be awarded anywhere, it'll be for the performances, the beating heart and soul of a movie that, in its more intimate sense of scale, may lose out to the splashier, flashier competition.
Chances of winning the Oscar 40%
Running neck and neck with Lady Bird on our list is Luca Guadagnino's sensual love story, adapted from Andre Aciman's novel. A nostalgic and evocative look at the romance between Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer), set against the hazy backdrop of 1980s Italy, it went down a storm as one of 2017's critical darlings.
Even so, all that kudos for the movie (which also includes a script by Merchant Ivory period drama veteran James Ivory and songs from Sufjan Stevens) hasn't necessarily translated into awards gold. None of its three Golden Globe nominations bore fruit, although it did win a BAFTA for the aforementioned Ivory.
For a time, it seemed Chalamet was going to present a significant rival for Gary Oldman, particularly when he snagged the Screen Actor's Guild award for Best Actor. If Guadagnino's movie is going to represent any kind of upset or surprise, we reckon it's in this area, but given Oldman has now racked up the BAFTA in that category, it now looks less likely.
Chances of winning the Oscar 30%
Jordan Peele's horror sensation was one of the big talking points of 2017. However, it's not a movie that's intended to go down easily, and its acerbic blend of Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style chills with lacerating social commentary may be too difficult for Academy members to handle. There's no denying it encapsulates diversity conversations both in Hollywood and the wider world at the moment, but whether the Oscars are bold enough to reward this remains uncertain.
That said, the fact the film is nominated at all is worth celebrating. Horror movies usually fall foul of awards snobbery, and it's surely a sign of how Peele's movie has breached the cultural conversation. Maybe the Academy will pull a surprise out of the bag and award it to Peele for Best Director? Or perhaps critically acclaimed breakout lead Daniel Kaluuya, winner of the EE Rising Star BAFTA, will pull the ultimate upset from under Gary Oldman's nose?
Chances of winning the Oscar 20%
Having been completely shut out of the BAFTA nominations (it was also nominated for six Golden Globes, although it didn't win any), The Post's chances of winning Best Picture have dwindled somewhat. Even so, there's no denying the film's merit.
Directed by the esteemed Steven Spielberg, himself the recipient of two Best Director Oscars, with a heavyweight central duo of Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, plus a timely script favouring the freedom of a free press, it's got all the ingredients to win gold.
But maybe the movie's illustrious pedigree is perversely counting against it? After all, we've come to expect greatness from all of those legendary figures mentioned, and it could be there's no element of surprise in honouring those already garlanded with awards. Perhaps the time has come to reward spikier, more off-the-wall material like Three Billboards or The Shape of Water, whose filmmakers are the relative underdogs in this year's race?
What do you think will win the Oscar for Best Picture? Send us your tips and suggestions @Cineworld and be sure to tune into the Oscars on Sunday 4th March.