Oscars Best Picture slugfest: Tom O’Neil picks ‘Green Book’ as winner

Gold Derby founder and editor-in-chief Tom O’Neil wrote the book on the Oscars — literally. He’s the one who bravely called that Eddie Redmayne would win Best Actor for “The Theory of Everything” long before the rest of us did. And this time last year he warned us that “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was a sleeping giant. So now when he says that “Green Book” is the front-runner for Best Picture, it’s smart to listen to him. Watch our Oscar slugfest above where he tries to convince executive editor Paul Sheehan and senior editor Daniel Montgomery that he’s right.

“‘Green Book’ is the movie the Oscar voters discover, and they walk out of there elated,” O’Neil argues. “It’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ It’s ‘Rocky.’ It’s that Best Picture potential winner that has the audience on its feet cheering.” Montgomery agrees that it’s a top player. Though he’s currently on the “A Star Is Born” bandwagon, he thinks “Green Book” could potentially over-perform in categories like Best Sound Mixing, Best Editing and Best Costume Design, in addition to above-the-line races for writing, acting and directing.

Sheehan, on the other hand, is boldly picking “Black Panther” to win the top Oscar. “It’ll be the most liked,” he predicts. “It doesn’t have to be beloved by a few, it has to be liked by a lot.” That’s because Best Picture is decided by a preferential ballot where voters rank their choices from best to worst instead of just picking one winner. That favors broadly appealing consensus movies over more divisive contenders. Then again, Sheehan concedes that “Green Book” could also end up being that consensus choice.

But “Green Book” is also structured as a pretty by-the-book road movie, so O’Neil admits that it lacks “the snob appeal” of other recent artier winners like “12 Years a Slave” (2013), “Birdman” (2014), “Moonlight” (2016) and “The Shape of Water” (2017). Nevertheless, though a lot could yet change in the Oscar race in the coming months, he thinks “the momentum is actually heading in that path” and that “Green” will take the gold.

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UPLOADED Nov 12, 2018 11:03 am