How will ‘First Man’ take off at the Oscars?

Now that Universal’s “First Man” has finally blasted off onto the big screens in America’s movie theaters, it’s officially in the Oscar space race. How many nominations and wins will it land?

It’s no longer orbiting a Best Picture win, which seemed possible back in early September when it was tied with “Roma” among Gold Derby’s Experts and it was the clear favorite of most of our users. “First Man” was greeted with lots of early euphoria by media and film industry insiders when it debuted at the Venice, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, but now none of our Experts pick it to prevail. It’s fallen to third place in our Experts’ and Users’ rankings for Best Picture behind “A Star Is Born” and “Roma” and must fend off fast-rising support by “Green Book” (also distributed by Universal) and “The Favourite” among the Experts. See latest rankings and racetrack odds based upon combining the Experts’ Oscar predictions.

“First Man” fell short at the box office this past weekend, but it faced strong competition for adult audiences from that sudden super-nova “A Star Is Born.” Film reviews are aces, which may matter more to academy members: 88 score from Rotten Tomatoes and 84 from Metacritic. Most important of all is the fact that its cast and crew are academy darlings, including director Damien Chazelle and music composer Justin Hurwitz (Oscar winners for “La La Land”), writer Josh Singer (Oscar champ for “Spotlight”) and stars Ryan Gosling (two-time nominee) and recent Emmy and SAG Awards victor Claire Foy.

All Gold Derby Experts have seen “First Man,” but only a few of them have updated their predictions in the past several days. Currently, the Experts believe that it will be nominated in 8 of the 12 categories where Gold Derby now features Oscar predictions. They rank it in third place for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Gosling) and Production Design, second place for Best Supporting Actress (Foy) and Cinematography and fourth place for Adapted Screenplay. Thirteen of 19 Experts now predict it will win Best Film Editing.

This movie about America landing on the moon should benefit from a surge in U.S. patriotism on the eve of midterm elections and it has additional fuel in its rocket blasters that may appeal to movie-goers: Chazelle paces it like an action flick. The Apollo 11 mission is remembered today as an historic triumph, so it’s easy to forget the tragedies and dangers that bedeviled its launch, but “First Man” tracks them with heart-pounding intensity. Demo of academy members skews older, even with the recent infusion of new young blood. Most Oscar voters lived through the real drama in 1969 and thus may appreciate its excellent retelling all the more.

Make or update your Oscar predictions here. Your picks factor in to Gold Derby’s official odds, so please keep them updated.

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