Back in December, I presented five reasons why I was predicting “The Shape of Water” to win the Best Picture at the Academy Awards. At the time, it seemed like the film most likely to prevail on the preferential ballot. After it took top honors at the Critics’ Choice and Producers Guild ceremonies and reaped a near-record 13 nominations, I felt pretty good about my analysis. But as the derby has progressed, I have started to doubt myself. To the point where I finally (and somewhat reluctantly) moved “The Shape of Water” down to number two.
Here are five reasons why I am now expecting “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” to steal away the biggest prize at the Oscars.
1. “Three Billboards” has over-performed in many of the most important contests
It started at the Golden Globes, where it virtually left the competition in the dust. “Call Me by Your Name,” “Dunkirk,” “Get Out” and “The Post” all posted zeroes, as “Three Billboards” claimed four of the night’s biggest prizes. It continued at the SAG Awards, where it dominated once again. And earlier this week, “Three Billboards” generated more BAFTA headlines than Kate Middleton‘s dress. (Well,
almost.) Such strong showings from three very different voting bodies cannot be ignored.
2. The preferential ballot might favor “Three Billboards” over “The Shape of Water.”
I know, this contradicts what I had previously written. And no one is more confused than I am. (Insert your own joke here, Tom O’Neil.) Let me explain. In speaking to both academy members and moviegoers, I am detecting a passion” for “Three Billboards” that I am not for “The Shape of Water.” Many seem to love the former, while they just respect and admire the latter. And for all the talk about “Three Billboards” being divisive, my polling has found that “Shape” has just as many detractors. Some say that it’s overrated. Others have described it as being too weird and even “gross.” (And “Fifty Shades Freed” isn’t?) It reminds me of the small pocket of “La La Land” critics that I encountered last year. There may not be many of them, but in a close race they can make all the difference in the world.
3. The presumed victory for Guillermo del Toro for Best Director works against “The Shape of Water” for Best Picture.
By this point, even the Amazonian sea creature being locked away in “The Shape of Water” knows that Guillermo del Toro has Best Director locked up. That’s a very prestigious award, and one that will honor the film as a whole. So by giving “Three Billboards” a higher ranking for Best Picture, Academy members can do justice to both movies. Remember, neither one is going to sweep. A picture/director split is the most fitting way to end the night. Which leads me to my next point…
4. “Three Billboards” winning follows the trend of recent years.
There’s a divide between Best Picture and Director. The film with the most nominations loses. And the one that has the SAG ensemble nod defeats the one that doesn’t. Sound familiar? It’s a replay of “The Revenant” vs. “Spotlight” and “La La Land” vs. “Moonlight.” If “Three Billboards” secures Best Picture, we’ll look back and wonder how we didn’t see it coming.
5. In closes races in recent years, the film with strong support from actors prevails over the one with strong support from the tech branches.
That’s why the gigantic “Avatar” was hurt by “The Hurt Locker.” That’s how “12 Years a Slave” defied the powerful “Gravity.” That explains “Spotlight” outshining a revelation like “The Revenant” and “Moonlight” seeing sunshine as it rained on the lavish “La La Land.” They say that actors have big egos. Well, they also have the largest voting block in the Academy. If they act (and vote) as we expect, all signs point to the revenge drama “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” getting the ultimate revenge inside the Academy Awards come March 4.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on March 4. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our movie forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.