2018 Oscar predictions smackdown over Best Picture: Tariq Khan vs. Tom O’Neil [Video and audio podcast]

In our fierce discussion of the Oscar race for Best Picture, Tariq Khan confesses why he just ditched “The Shape of Water” for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which I’ve had out front since last November. Watch our video above or listen to the audio podcast below.

“I picked ‘Shape of Water’ back in December because it seemed to be the film that was the consensus choice,” Tariq says. “But what I realized in recent weeks was that ‘Three Billboards’ keeps over-performing. It killed it at the Golden Globes. Killed it at the SAG Awards. At BAFTA, it pulled off a sweep. These are three important voting bodies. I feel that there’s more passion for ‘Three Billboards.'”

But I remind Tariq that “Billboards” is divisive. People either love it or hate it. Across Hollywood, it’s common to hear some people (albeit a modest minority) bash it because of its unrelenting rage and oddball characters and plot twists. Most Oscarologists nowadays believe “La La Land” got ambushed by “Moonlight” last year and “The Revenant” by “Spotlight” two years ago because they were the most divisive films in their races. If true, “Billboards” will probably bow to the much-loved “Shape of Water” on March 4.

But hold your horses, Derbyites! Tariq doesn’t agree that “Billboards” is more polarizing than rival Best Picture nominees.

“There are detractors for ‘Shape of Water,'” he insists. “There are some people who think it’s too weird. Some people even say it’s too gross. The sci-fi/ fantasy element is always a bit of a wild card. Isn’t this film really ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’? Does that work against it?”

Pay attention to Tariq’s Oscar noodling. Last year and in 2012, he had the best prediction-accuracy score among our team of Experts. See Tariq’s current Oscar predictions and how they compare to the rankings of 25 other top Experts. Make your predictions to see if you can beat us both and prove that you are the smartest Oscarologist on the planet.

Below: Listen to our audio podcast. Do a search for GoldDerby at iTunes to subscribe to our podcast channel.

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