Oscar Beat: This Is the Most Unpredictable Best Picture Race in Years

     February 19, 2019

The Oscars are less than a week away, and nobody knows what’s winning Best Picture. Normally at this point the field has narrowed to a couple of contenders, or two films going head to head, but this year all the stats and guild awards that prognosticators like myself use to help guide our Oscar predictions have completely and totally divided the field. Literally. The major guild awards have gone to the following films:

Directors Guild – Roma

Producers Guild – Green Book

Screen Actors Guild – Black Panther

Writers Guild – Eighth Grade and Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Editors Guild – Bohemian Rhapsody and The Favourite

black-panther-killmonger

Image via Marvel Studios

Add to that the fact that the American Society of Cinematographers went with Cold War for their top prize, and you have literally zero overlap between the aforementioned films. The Writers Guild of America Awards made it official, where presumptive winners Green Book and BlacKkKlansman came up empty handed. To drive home just how removed the Academy now is from the various guild awards, Eighth Grade won both the WGA and the DGA for First Time Feature Director (over Bradley Cooper no less) and Bo Burnham’s film isn’t even nominated for any Oscars.

So yeah, to say the Best Picture field is wide open is an understatement. There are signals that it could be narrowing to Roma and Green BookRoma took the top prize at the BAFTA Awards (aka the “British Oscars”) and the DGA and PGA Awards are the two guild awards that most often match up with the Oscars. But then again, it was just a couple of years ago that La La Land ran the table with PGA and DGA wins, only to lose Best Picture to Moonlight.

Indeed, it very much feels like we’re in the midst of a major turning point for the Academy, one in which they’re starting to really express themselves as their own independent voting body removed from voter overlap with the various guilds. It’s no secret that the Academy has been working to diversify its membership over the last few years, adding record numbers of new members who are younger and more diverse than the traditional voter. And I think that’s been reflected in just how spread out the Oscar wins have been in the last couple of ceremonies.

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Image via Fox Searchlight

Moonlight won Best Picture with a total of just three Oscars. Best Picture-winner Spotlight only has two Oscars. Even The Shape of Water only won a total of four Oscars, including Best Picture. We could be nearing the end of the days when a film like The English Patient (9 wins) or The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (11 wins) dominated the night, and the fact that something like Moonlight can win Best Picture with just three wins total over a film that won the PGA and DGA means something like BlacKkKlansman or even Black Panther genuinely has a shot to win this year.

It’ll be interesting to see where we are a week from now, and perhaps this is all a bit premature—maybe Roma will indeed take this thing home, or Green Book takes a predictable route to victory that includes Screenplay and Picture wins—but right now I can’t help but be tickled by the sheer diversity of the guild awards, and how they leave professional prognosticators like myself scratching our heads. Whatever your strong feelings on this Oscar season (and believe me, I have many), you can’t say it hasn’t been interesting.

Look for my final Oscar predictions in every category right here on Collider this Friday.

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