Oscars 2018: In mid-December, there are still 8 movies that could win Best Picture, compared to 2 this time last year

By mid-December you would think that the Experts would have the Oscar race somewhat narrowed down, but as of December 15 they are still split eight ways for Best Picture, even after nominations were announced for the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Awards over the last two weeks. Compare that to December 15, 2016, when there were only two films being backed by our Experts. I think we can chalk this up to the “Moonlight” effect.

Last year most of us thought Best Picture was a done deal for “La La Land,” including 22 of our Experts. Four of them disagreed, but they picked “Manchester by the Sea” and not the film that actually would upset to win in the end, “Moonlight.” That was the second film in a row to pull off an Oscar upset, after “Spotlight” bested “The Revenant” the previous year. The Best Picture Oscar is now decided by a preferential ballot in which voters rank the nominees instead of just picking one winner. This relatively new system favors consensus choices over potentially divisive films with passionate followings. It has also led to disagreements between the academy and some of the usually strong Oscar barometers, like the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, and the BAFTAs.

Now we’re all keeping our eye out for the next “Spotlight” or “Moonlight,” but no one agrees on which direction it will come from. As of this writing nine Experts predict the winner will be “Dunkirk”: Tim Gray (Variety), Dave Karger (IMDb), Michael Musto (NewNowNext), Krista Smith (Vanity Fair), Anne Thompson (IndieWire), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Sara Vilkomerson (Entertainment Weekly), Adnan Virk (ESPN), and Susan Wloszczyna (RogerEbert.com).

Five say it will be “The Post”: Erik Davis (Fandango), Andrea Mandell (USA Today), Jack Mathews (Gold Derby), Keith Simanton (IMDb), and Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times).

Another five say it will be “Get Out”: Edward Douglas, Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Kevin Polowy (Yahoo), Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly), and Sasha Stone (Awards Daily).

Two believe it will be “Call Me by Your Name”: Thelma Adams (Gold Derby) and Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere).

Two more are betting on “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”: Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby) and Brian Truitt (USA Today).

Joyce Eng (TV Guide) is predicting “Lady Bird.”

Tariq Khan (Fox News) says it will be “The Shape of Water.”

Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood) says “Darkest Hour” will prevail.

It’s hard to remember a year when there were still this many viable candidates at this stage of the game. Making this race even more confounding is the fact that even the early precursors have been giving mixed signals. “The Shape of Water” and “The Post” did great at Critics’ Choice and the Golden Globes, but then they both missed out on a crucial SAG Award nomination for their ensembles. Films like “Lady Bird,” “Get Out,.” and “Three Billboards” got those key SAG noms.

Those are the only major tea leaves we’ll get before the new year so that may leave eight big question marks for the remainder of 2017. Might we still be split eight ways by the time the Oscars arrive on March 4, or will we have more clarity by then?

Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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