As I noted in my end-of-the-year movie wrap-up (which in addition to my top-10 list included such idiosyncratic awards as “Best Letter Writer” and “Most Successful Mushroom Recipe”), 2017 was an excellent year for film. And, for the most part, I think the Academy did a good job when it came to Oscar nominations. Four of my top five movies of the year were nominated for Best Picture, and of them I think three have a genuine shot.
Now for the bad news: Of the top-10 Oscar categories, eight seem (strong emphasis on the word seem) close to sewn up. As someone who nailed nine out of the 10 categories last year—and appeared destined for a clean sweep until La La Land’s ceremony-closing Best Picture win was retroactively redistributed to Moonlight—I’m feeling decent about my odds.
But the good news for Oscar viewers (which is consequently bad news for my predictions) is that one of the two remaining races is for Best Picture, which is a more confusing competition than in any prior year I can recall. Typically, by now there’s either a clear frontrunner or the competition has come down to two plausible candidates, generally one more safe/mainstream and one more interesting/edgy. The overall safety-edginess varies, from years in which both films are relatively mainstream (Titanic versus L.A. Confidential) to ones in which they’re relatively unusual (La La Land versus Moonlight). But the breakdown customarily holds.