Last Updated: February 6th
At long last, the Oscar nominations have finally arrived, and with their arrival comes the complete upheaval of my Best Picture predictions. Well, not entirely, but if you’ve been keeping tabs over the last couple of months as I’ve updated this piece, you’ve seen a variety of films move in and out of a “frontrunners” circle as I tracked how the race to land a Best Picture prediction was shaping up. The Florida Project, The Big Sick, and I, Tonya were left out in the cold, while Phantom Thread snuck in there at the last minute.
So where does this leave us with the nine films nominated for Best Picture? What are the frontrunners? Do we have a frontrunner? Well if statistics are your poison, there are quite a few different variables that point to three or four films as your most likely Best Picture winners.
If we simply take a look at the guilds, The Shape of Water won the Directors Guild of America and Producers Guild of America awards, while Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri won the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Ensemble. The actors make up the largest voting branch of the Academy, but the SAG award for Best Ensemble is an iffy predictor of Oscar success—of the last 10 years, only six SAG winners for Best Ensemble went on to win Best Picture. So it’s about a 50/50 success rate. When it comes to the PGA, 8 of the last 10 winners won the Oscar for Best Picture, and 8 of the last DGA winners’ films went on to win the Best Picture Oscar. So the statistics would appear to be on The Shape of Water‘s side here, with the Writers Guild of America Awards still yet to weigh in.
However, we must also account for variables—Moonlight didn’t win the PGA, DGA, or SAG and only took home the WGA prize, yet it went on to win Best Picture. The makeup of the Academy is radically different after a concerted effort to diversify in recent years—not just in terms of race, but also gender and age as well.
So, all of this being said, the primary frontrunners to win Best Picture at this point—at least in my eyes—are The Shape of Water, Three Billboards, Get Out, and Lady Bird. They all have passion, which is a necessity, and Shape has a bevy of Guild support. If Shape wins the Writers Guild Award over these films it will far and away be the frontrunner to win, but if it doesn’t, I still say this race is kind of wide open.
As for Three Billboards, it clearly has support, but it’s also the most “hated” nominee of this frontrunner bunch. There are those who love it, but there are also those who really, really do not. The same can’t really be said of something like Shape, which some may think is just fine. Given that the Academy uses a preferential ballot where the most liked film ranks high, a lot of #2 and #3 votes would work in the favor of movies like Shape, Get Out, or Lady Bird, where you could see more than a few ballots that have Three Billboards at #9 even though quite a few also have it at #1.
So at this stage, here’s my Best Picture predictions in order of likelihood to win.