Even though the showcase, based in suburban Washington, D.C., is only in its sixth year, the winner of this honor has factored into the Oscar race in a major way. The first four years of the festival saw the winner of this prize receive Best Picture nominations: “Philomena” (2013), “The Imitation Game” (2014), “Spotlight” (2015), which won the Oscar, and “Lion” (2016). Last year’s winner, “Mudbound,” missed out in Oscar’s top category but still managed to get four nominations, including Best Supporting Actress (Mary J. Blige) and Best Adapted Screenplay. “Green Book” is currently in sixth place to claim the Best Picture Oscar, according our combined odds.
Directed by Peter Farrelly, “Green Book” stars two-time Oscar nominee Viggo Mortensen and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (2016 Best Supporting Actor, “Moonlight”). Inspired by an actual friendship, the film tells the story of Tony Vallelonga (Mortensen), a bouncer at the Copacabana who was hired to drive a famous pianist, Don Shirley (Ali), for his tour through the American South in 1962, and the friendship that develops between them. “Green Book” beat out several other major contenders in this year’s Oscar derby, including “Roma,” “The Favourite,” “Widows,” “Boy Erased,” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Last month, it also picked up the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.
In just six years, Middleburg has quickly established itself as one of the most important stops for films hoping to capture Oscar buzz. To date, 38 of the films that have screened here have gone on to collect a total of 124 nominations, including 13 for Best Picture. In addition to the movies that won the Audience Award, movies that screened at Middleburg that went on to score Best Picture bids include “Nebraska” (2013), “Brooklyn” (2015), “Manchester by the Sea” (2016), “La La Land” (2016), “Moonlight” (2016), “Call Me by Your Name” (2017), “Darkest Hour” (2017), “Lady Bird” (2017) and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017).
Out of the 124 nominations, the films screened at Middleburg have won 22 Academy Awards all together. “The Imitation Game” took Best Adapted Screenplay and “Spotlight” won Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. 2016’s festival had films that collected 12 Oscars: “Moonlight” (Picture, Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay), “La La Land” (Directing, Actress, Original Score, Original Song, Cinematography and Production Design), “Manchester by the Sea” (Actor and Original Screenplay) and “The Salesman” (Foreign Language Film).
Last year’s screenings reaped an additional seven trophies for “Three Billboards” (Actress and Supporting Actor), “Darkest Hour” (Actor, and Makeup and Hairstyling), “I, Tonya” (Supporting Actress), “Call Me by Your Name” (Adapted Screenplay) and “A Fantastic Woman” (Foreign Language Film).
Farrelly and Mortensen were both on hand to help promote their winning movie. Other talent who traveled to the small Virginia town included Oscar nominees Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Kindergarten Teacher”) and Diane Warren (“A Star Is Born”), both of whom received career tributes. Also on hand were director Jason Reitman and co-writers Matt Bai and Jay Carson (all for “The Front Runner”), actor/director Joel Edgerton and author Garrard Conley (“Boy Erased”), actress Yalitza Aparicio and producer Gabriela Rodriguez (“Roma”), Peter Hedges (“Ben Is Back”), Nadine Labaki (“Capernaum”) and Elizabeth Chomko (“What They Had”).
Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, launched the festival as a way to showcase the town of Middleburg, which is located in the Northern Virginia exurbs of Washington, D.C. to the east of the majestic Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains. While it’s home to just around 750 people, the town lies in the southwest region of Loudoun County, a booming commuter region with one of the highest median incomes in the entire country. The combination of beautiful country aesthetics located not too far from the power center of the country have helped the festival firmly establish its identity in such a quick period of time.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.