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What’s Hot, What’s Not In A Tight Best Picture Race [Contender Countdown]

Mar 14, 2023

This is a very big week in Oscar-land and in the race for the coveted Academy Award for Best Picture. No, it’s not because the Golden Globes return on Tuesday or that the Critics’ Choice Awards are Sunday. Honestly, whatever influence those telecasts ever had as a marketing opportunity may have been lost forever in the pandemic. What’s much more important is the trifecta of PGA Awards, SAG Awards, and DGA Awards nominations that drop by Friday. And that means we’ll at least know what the guilds – who have actual AMPAS members – think. Oh, but wait. We already know so much more.
READ MORE: “The Banshees of Inisherin” and “All Quiet on the Western Front” top 2023 BAFTA Longlist mentions [Complete Lists]
The advent of the Oscar shortlists truly been a game-changer for those waging campaigns and those tracking them. When AMPAS revealed the 2023 edition right before the holiday break, it had one major surprise, Edward Berger’s “All Quiet On The Western Front.” The Netflix release earned, along with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the maximum number of mentions possible it could qualify for five. While “Western” was long thought a likely International Film nominee (it’s a lock), the idea it would have broader appeal was something completely unexpected. That is, however, unless you’ve been talking to AMPAS members who have been watching it since its release on the streaming service before Halloween. But it’s also a movie that was also completely snubbed at the European Film Awards while many of its International Film category peers earned multiple nods. And then, last week, the BAFTA Awards revealed their longlists. And guess which film landed the most mentions? Including key Best Film, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Lead Actor, Supporting Actor, and Editing, among others? “All Quiet.”
Bing. Go.
And if Netflix tries to tell you they knew it all along? Or even knew in November? Lies, lies, and more lies. But the good news is the streamer can breathe easier with a “likely” Best Picture nominee in a year where they probably spent too much energy pushing “Bardo” and the animated “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” will have to rewrite recent history to make the cut. And they still have a shot for a potential second Best Picture nod with “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” but more on that later.
Another film that has emerged from the pack as a possible Best Picture nominee is Oliver Hermanus’ “Living.” The Engli-language adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s “Ikiru” wasn’t an Oscar shortlist player, but it made the 10-picture cut for the BAFTA longlists. BAFTA only nominates five pictures for Best Film, but those ten slots line up nicely with Oscar’s permanent 10. And, sure, they may generally favor U.K. set contenders, but the group didn’t vote for “Empire of Light” or “The Wonder” (although those films made the British Film category). And the Sony Pictures Classics’ release also had five other longlist mentions, including two acting notices. In a year of transition for the Park City festival, “Living” would also give Sundance yet another Best Picture nomination after “CODA” became its first world premiere to take home the prize. Could the period drama miss out and just find lead actor Bill Nighy earning a slot? Sure, but no one should dismiss its chances at this point.
The comeback player of the year may turn out to be Ruben Ostlund’s “Triangle of Sadness.” The Palme d’Or was seemingly DOA in the states after a very disappointing theatrical run in October and mixed reviews from a wide range of critics (full disclosure, it made my top 10 of the year). But as time has passed, it’s found some hard-core support. And then it almost swept the aforementioned European Film Awards, taking Best European Film, Best European Director, and Best European Actor (Zlatko Burić). Oh, and yes, there is a crossover in membership between European Film Academy members and AMPAS voters (although not as much as BAFTA or several guilds). And, like “Living” and “All Quiet on the Western Front,” it landed in the BAFTA Best Film 10. But perhaps this isn’t a surprise either. In a very competitive year, “Triangle” took the Palme from a jury where eight of the nine members were also AMPAS members. Let’s repeat that: eight of nine.
If there are films rising into Best Picture contention, that means there are films that are dropping out or struggling with making the cut. Oh, hello there, “Babylon.” Shocked, I tell you. Shocked. Well, anything is theoretically possible (“Don’t Look Up” somehow earned a nod), but the polarizing Paramount release didn’t spark in the AMPAS shortlists or BAFTA longlists and missed out on key mentions in the latter. And even “Don’t Look Up” made the AFI Top 10 (a group with some AMPAS voters). Granted, if you can find more than five random AMPAS members that simply adore it, please let me know. Then again, both SAG and PGA could absolutely breathe new life into its candidacy. Maybe.
Despite five Oscar shortlist mentions, “Wakanda Forever” appears to have settled into a below-the-line, Original Song and Angela Bassett Supporting Actress play. Things could get interesting if it lands a SAG Ensemble nod, however.
And last, but certainly not least, the aforementioned “Glass Onion” is a puzzle. It got shut out of both Best Film and Best Director at BAFTA, earning just four mentions overall (for comparison, “All Quiet” earned 15 mentions, and “The Banshees of Inisherin” earned 14). Like “Babylon” and “Wakanda Forever,” a SAG Ensemble mention would be a major boost and of the three bubble films it is the most likely to earn a PGA Award nomination. Could that knock it back into the Best Picture 10? Ponder.
One additional note on the super competitive Best Actress race. Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All At Once”), Cate Blanchett (“TAR”), Michelle Williams (“The Fablemans”), and Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”) seem like safe predictions for four of the five slots. One slightly under-the-radar contender who is making significant headway for the fifth nomination is “To Leslie’s” Andrea Riseborough. The indie premiered at SXSW and hit theaters with little fanfare on Oct. 7. There was no follow-up screening at Telluride, TIFF, or even the NYFF. But Riseborough’s performance in the quintessential American indie is making waves with her peers. Charlize Theron, Sarah Paulson, Jennifer Aniston, Edward Norton, infamous Rick Caruso supporter Gwyneth Paltrow (#NeverForget), and Courteney Cox have all hosted screenings of the film. Frances Fisher, Rosanna Arquette, Debra Winger, Patricia Clarkson, Ed Harris, Amy Ryan, Helen Hunt, Pedro Pascal, Juliette Lewis, Anne Archer, Mary Louise Parker, Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney, Minnie Driver, Ellen Barkin, Carla Gugino, Alan Cumming, Jennifer Garner, and Demián Bichir have also publicly supported the film. While the Academy’s acting branch is the biggest branch overall, it’s nowhere near as big as SAG’s voting membership. Even this number of voters could make a difference. Riseborough’s campaign is one to keep an eye on as Oscar voting commences in just a few days.
As for the Best Picture race, here’s the latest Contender Countdown. Will the same films make the top 10 after the DGA, PGA, SAG trifecta this week?
Oh, and you read that correctly. We’ve got three films pretty much even at the top of the chart.
January 9, 2023
1 “Everything Everywhere All At Once”
Can it win without enough first-place votes?
1 “The Banshees of Inisherin”
Is this the second-place vote winner? Searchlight does have a lot of experience with this (“The Shape of Water“)
1 “The Fablemans”
When only one of your actors gets a BAFTA longlist mention you are no longer the frontrunner. Hey, I don’t make the rules.
4 “Top Gun: Maverick”
Is it the contender with the most heart? Likely. Is it too much of a popcorn movie to win? Ponder.
5 “Elvis”
The most unstoppable filmmaker campaigner of the year, part 1.
6 “TAR”
Went from a perilous player in October to beyond a safe nominee by January.
7 “Avatar: The Way of Water”
The BAFTA Best Film longlist snub is a red herring. It should be OK. Unless it gets a PGA snub and then all bets are off.
8 “All Quiet on the Western Front”
Life is wild, man.
9 “Women Talking”
It’s on very shaky ground after the BAFTA longlist Best Film snub. PGA and SAG will tell the tale.
10 “Triangle of Sadness”
The BAFTA longlist mention for Best Film and all those European Film Award wins should not be ignored.
11 “Living”
Will longtime SPC toppers Michael Barker and Tom Bernard pull off another nomination miracle? Never bet against those two.
12 “RRR”
Can AMPAS support from big names such as Jason Blum, Jessica Chastain, JJ Abrams Ryan Gosling, Steven Soderbergh, The Russo Brothers, Sean Baker, Adam McKay, Ava Duvernay and Jordan Peele get it across the finish line?
13 “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”
It played like gangbusters in theaters. Online and member reaction indicates it doesn’t seem to have played as well at home. Maybe. But people watched it. So. Yeah. Maybe.
14 “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”
The most unstoppable filmmaker campaigner of the year, part 2.
15 “The Woman King”
Let’s see what PGA and SAG bring to the table. There are small signs of life.
16 “Babylon”
Gonna need some PGA and SAG love for this longtime pundit to even consider throwing it in the top 10.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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