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Best Picture Is Now A Race Between “1917,” “Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood,” And “Parasite”

Something has become pretty clear over the past week or so. Well, a number of things, in relation to the Academy Awards, but today we’re focusing on one thing in particular, which is the Best Picture race. Specifically, it’s the fact that the Oscar category is now down to three contenders, and arguably even closer to just two. Yes, what was once one of the most wide open races for Picture has become at best a three horse race, more closely mirroring previous years than we might have expected. Essentially, the Academy will have their normal narrow choice to make, even if the films in question are not necessarily like what they normally pick between. When the envelope is opened next month, it will either say 1917, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, or Parasite.

Almost all of the titles up for Best Picture had an avenue at one point to contend for the win. Now, not so much. The Guilds have strengthened 1917 and Parasite, putting them to the head of the pack, leaving Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood as a distant third. The recent snubs for The Irishman have it down at fourth or fifth, probably too far back to make a play, lumped together with Jojo Rabbit, which would be the big shocker if it pulled something off, though don’t bet on it. Then, there’s Ford v Ferrari, Joker (despite leading the nominations), Little Women, and Marriage Story, which round out the Picture field but don’t seem like realistic threats. So, on to the ones that actually can win…

1917 seems to be in the pole position right now, especially with its Producers Guild win on Saturday evening. Factor that in with a Golden Globe victory in Drama, an almost assured of strong showing at BAFTA, and a great chance at taking the Directors Guild prize, and the numbers are coming together for Sam Mendes’ war movie to take Best Picture. Its main competition appears now to be Parasite, which could actually be a stronger challenger than any other title, but Mendes and company have to be feeling very good right now. In fact, how could they not?

A few weeks ago, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood was the odds on favorite. Then, the Guilds happened. After splitting Globe wins with 1917, it was fine. However, losing PGA to it and the Screen Actors Guild prize last night to Parasite was hugely damaging. Short of BAFTA rescuing it or DGA surprising, it’ll go into Oscar night with Critics Choice and Golden Globe (Comedy) as its big wins. That’s not likely to cut it. Stranger things have happened, and you shouldn’t sleep on the love for Quentin Tarantino’s period piece, but it’s a clear third place title at this moment.

Then, there’s Parasite, looming as an historic dark horse. Bong Joon-Ho’s beloved film pulled off a SAG win last night, so that, mixed with the immense love behind it, gives the flick a shot. An upset win at BAFTA or DGA would be the fuel it needs to be a last minute run to Academy Award glory. Does it have it in the cards? There’s no way to know for sure at the moment, but it will be a fascinating choice for Oscar voters to make if it’s between the tradition of war cinema and the chance to give Best Picture for the first time to a foreign film.

Overall, these three films are going to go down to the wire at the Academy Awards for Best Picture. Everything favors 1917 right now, but the passion behind Parasite is going to make it a very close race. Who knows, maybe those two split the vote and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood comes up the middle at the last moment? We’ll see what happens in a few short weeks, so sit tight…

Stay tuned to see which movie winds up winning the Oscar for Best Picture!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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