Oscar night is upon us! So we are wrapping up our week of predictions with the Contenders in a crowded but not super competitive field for Best Picture. Nine films are nominated, yesterday we looked at four Pretenders. Today we breakdown the two true contenders and three potential spoilers. And thanks to the Academy’s bizarre voting system, an upset is never out of the question.
And the nominees are..
Honestly, this film should be grouped with the Pretenders. A good, timely film with an important message of free press and government tyranny. But not better than good. This is only in the Contender group due to its Hollywood pedigree. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks star and Steven Spielberg directs. It’s a Hollywood Holy Trinity.
But Hollywood’s not that impressed. Meryl, by either habit or statute, is nominated for Best Actress. But Hanks and Spielberg were left out of their categories.
Greta Gerwig tells a familiar story in a heartbreaking and compelling way. This movie definitely has spoiler potential. An ordinary story told extraordinarily, with two seasoned actresses leading the pack and new but immensely respected director. If votes get split at the top of the ticket, there is a chance Lady Bird could steal the Oscar.
There are two movies about this rescue this year, Darkest Hour being the other. We’ve said before that if a creative editor chopped up both films and combined the action of Dunkirk with the dialogue driven Darkest Hour, we would have a genuine Oscar contender. But Darkest Hour is firmly in the Pretender category and Dunkirk is a top tier spoiler. It’s a sprawling epic, shot on 70mm film. But none of the characters really connect with the audience. You’re obviously hoping everyone survives but aren’t emotionally connected to any of the characters.
But with Christopher Nolan a leading contender for Best Director, he could ride the wave to a Best Picture upset.
The Shape of Water
Beautiful from every angle. Story. Set. Costuming. Mood. Emotion. Guillermo del Toro grabs us with sympathetic characters and brings us with them on their journey to find love. The two main characters never verbalize a word and still manage to grab the audience and earn their love, respect, and sympathy.
This is our pick for Best Picture. But we don’t have a vote (maybe our Academy membership application will be approved next year). And people that do vote, from the Golden Globes to the BAFTAS, have voted overwhelmingly for one movie all awards season.
And that movie is..
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
This was our favorite movie until we saw The Shape of Water. Honestly it’s a close call. Frances McDormand’s performance is gripping and we hope she ties with Sally Hawkins and they each win Best Actress.
This film is heartbreaking throughout and peppered with gallows humor from McDormand’s character that’s been beaten down by life. Going in to the night this has to be considered the favorite for good reason. Three Billboards is an exceptional movie that resonates with you long after you leave the theater.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Last night we rec’d non alcoholic beer. What were we thinking? Tonight grab a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. It’s sweet and bubbly, everything Three Billboards isn’t, but it’s perfect to raise your glass to whichever movie wins!