Oscars predictions slugfest: Best Picture race is still a toss-up

“This is one of those interesting years where there’s not an obvious front-runner right now,” says Daniel Montgomery about this year’s Oscar race for Best Picture. “Even last year … everyone knew [‘The Shape of Water’] was likely to be a top contender … This year I don’t think we have anything that secure.” Montgomery was joined by his fellow Gold Derby Editors Chris Beachum, Marcus James Dixon and Joyce Eng to debate the current state of the Best Picture race, which they think is between “A Star is Born,” “Green Book” and … maybe “Black Panther.” Watch their slugfest above.

Eng thinks “A Star is Born” “has everything going for it,” though “a lot can happen between now and February. It has the reviews, it has the box office … so I think it’s the front-runner right now, but there’s still so many things left to open.”

Beachum is also backing “A Star is Born” for the win at this early stage. In addition to its critical and commercial success, it has broad appeal to both male and female audiences, but Beachum has “Green Book” in second place. After seeing that film “people just walk out happy. I think there’s a sentiment in society right now where they just want to be happy.” Audiences at large may be “sick of animosity all day long.”

Eng agrees that “Green Book” is one to watch out for. She thinks it’ll be a hit with “great word of mouth. It’s one of those irresistible movies … It has universal appeal for everyone,” so even if it’s not your number-one film of the year, it will probably be well liked across the board, and that kind of consensus is the key to winning the top Oscar in the era of the preferential ballot where voters rank the nominees from best to worst instead of just picking their favorite.

But Dixon is going out on a limb. “I had ‘A Star is Born’ for a while,” he reveals, “but I’m starting to feel the surge for — and this may shock some people — ‘Black Panther’ … I think it’s going to get way more nominations than any other superhero movie in recent memory … At one time in our lifetime a superhero film is going to win Best Picture. It’s going to happen, so why not this year.”

Like “A Star is Born,” “Black Panther” is that rare combination of box office blockbuster and critical darling. It has urgent themes about racism, colonialism and individual nations’ responsibility to the world community, so it could also resonate as an important film in our current political climate.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in this Oscar race. Don’t underestimate other top contenders like “Roma,” “The Favourite,” “First Man,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “Vice,” “Widows” and more, some of which haven’t widely been seen yet by audiences or even critics. It’s too early to count anybody out just yet.

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UPLOADED Oct 31, 2018 2:15 pm