March 28, 2017

Where does the race for Best Picture stand?


We’re closing in on the Academy Awards folks. In just a few short weeks, a new film will be crowned the Best Picture of the year by Oscar voters. At this point, the Directors Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America, and the Screen Actors Guild of America, the big three, have chimed in with their awards. Those guilds often set the tone, showcasing just how strong a frontrunner is or if an upset could be brewing. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t seem like an upset is in the cards. Still, this is worth discussing, so let us break it down a bit now. The end result is unlikely to be shocking, but that’s simply the nature of the beast this year.

Right now, it seems for all the money like Best Picture is firmly a race to lose for La La Land. It’s in the pole position, but what are the other contenders? Up until SAG, it seemed like Moonlight was the obvious main competition. In fact, some even were predicting it to win, not even as an upset, but as the under the radar frontrunner. Then, the SAG loss crippled it somewhat, while DGA and PGA probably put its candidacy to bed. Barry Jenkins might be a Writers Guild of America winner coming up, but that WGA award won’t be enough to save the day. It’s still probably the number two in Best Picture, but it’s being lapped by Damien Chazelle’s flick. Moonlight will cross its fingers, but the facts aren’t particularly on its side. An upset will be totally unforeseen.

What about Hidden Figures, post SAG? For some, it’s the cool upset pick to be making. Well, it’s probably wishful thinking at best for this crowd pleaser to pull the epic upset. Now, the SAG win was a surprise and bumps it up in the Best Picture field to the top five, from potentially the bottom spot, but that won’t be enough. To overtake La La Land would be an absolute shock, and I just don’t see it happening. It’s overachieving, no doubt about that, but it will struggle to win anything at the Oscars, with Best Picture a pipe dream. They’ve been able to make things interesting, but that’s about it.

The only other contender of note is Manchester by the Sea, though it’s fallen way back. The same goes for Arrival, as they’ve become also-rans in the race. Kenneth Lonergan’s movie always seemed like a safe three, and it might be that still in Best Picture, but Manchester by the Sea just isn’t a realistic winner. Arrival is in that same boat, just hoping for a win somewhere. Denis Villeneuve’s film has overachieved, but in no way is it legitimate competition for La La Land. That’s just the truth. We have a clear cut frontrunner that’s all but running away with the top prize.

The PGA win for La La Land, combined with DGA, was pretty telling. That was the last stand, so to speak. Had anything, in particular Moonlight, pulled the upset, it would have been a different story. That didn’t happen though, so things are more or less wrapped up. Basically, this is La La Land’s to lose, plain and simple. The movie will look to tie or set the all time wins record at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture (along with Best Director as well). The race is over in almost every sense of the word. I only leave the door slightly ajar because I don’t want complacency to set in. Still, you can almost take it to the bank. La La Land is winning Best Picture, barring something absolutely out of the blue…

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Stay tuned to see how the race for Best Picture evolves!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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