The 92nd Academy Awards are three weeks away, but already the front-runners have changed at New Jersey sportsbooks in the biggest Oscars race of all: Best Picture.
Sure, the acting categories are pretty chalky, but the Best Picture and the Best Director races continue to be pretty competitive.
You may be wondering what could possibly change between now and the night of the Oscars on Feb. 9. Well, the answer is a lot.
There is a surplus of awards from a variety of critics’ organizations and guilds. With each ceremony, each of the nine Best Picture shuffles up and down the Oscars odds board.
With that in mind, let’s look at who’s up, who’s down, and who’s drawing dead to win Best Picture this year.
Trending Up: 1917, Parasite, Jojo Rabbit
1917 snags PGA honors
If there is one award you want to win in the awards leading up to the Oscars, it is the Producers Guild of America Award.
The PGA is the single-most accurate predictor of what film will win Best Picture. In the 30 years that the PGAs have existed, the winner has gone on to win Oscars’ Best Picture 21 times.
This year’s winner was the World War I drama 1917.
Moreover, in the 19 times that the PGA winner also took home a Golden Globe for Best Drama or Best Musical or Comedy, that film won the Oscar 79% of the time.
The only four instances in which the film didn’t were:
- 1998: Saving Private Ryan
- 2004: Avatar
- 2005: Brokeback Mountain
- 2017: La La Land
You may see Saving Private Ryan and get nervous that 1917 could suffer the same fate. It is possible, but keep in mind that the Shakespeare in Love upset came in the era where Harvey Weinstein and Miramax Pictures expended millions and millions on Oscars campaigns.
Yes, Netflix shells out the big bucks on Oscar For Your Consideration ads. Neon, the American distributor of Parasite doesn’t have that kind of money to spend on Oscars campaigns.
Parasite aiming to be the next Moonlight
What Parasite does have is something money cannot buy: momentum.
It was a good weekend for the South Korean film. Despite losing the PGA, Parasite did win one of the two American Cinema Editors awards over the weekend.
Then, the real surprise of the weekend, the cast of Parasite took the Best Ensemble prize at the SAG Awards.
What makes this award really interesting is that no individual cast member of Parasite has gotten significant awards recognition. The cast prize was the film’s lone nomination at the awards.
While the SAGs don’t hold the same water as the PGAs, they do have some correlation with Best Picture winners. The actors’ branch is the largest branch of the Academy, and every Academy member votes for Best Picture.
Granted, the body of SAGs’ voters is much larger than the Academy, but it does tip the hand of what the performers’ preferred film is.
There is one thing that should temper the excitement of these two wins at NJ sportsbook apps, though; Parasite was not competing against 1917 for either prize.
Jojo Rabbit still a long shot, just less of one
It seems like only three films have received all the major accolades so far, but that is actually not the case.
Along with Parasite, the American Cinema Editors chose to honor Jojo Rabbit as well. The film’s director, Taika Waititi, managed to earn a coveted Directors Guild of America nomination, but the Oscars snubbed him, opting instead for Todd Phillips and Joker.
Still, with the backing of editors and, it appears, fellow directors, Jojo Rabbit stands more of a chance than other long shots to pull a crazy upset on Oscars Sunday.
Trending Down: The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
SAG-less The Irishman could win nothing on Oscars night
The SAG Awards were all set up for Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese to take a big victory lap for their opus. De Niro received the career achievement award but failed even to secure an acting nomination for the film.
It seemed like the cast of past Oscars’ winners would potentially take Best Ensemble, as they did at the Critic’s Choice Awards, but that didn’t happen either. Instead, like at the Golden Globes, The Irishman went home empty-handed.
With the traditionally old-school PGA opting to award something else, too, it is looking like Scorsese’s movie is quickly finding a spot in the “it’s an honor to be nominated” section of the field.
Once Upon A Time in Hollywood could not end happily ever after
It seemed like the lesson from the Golden Globes was that Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino would battle for old-school Hollywood’s support.
Since then, Once Upon a time in Hollywood prevailed at the Critic’s Choice Awards, but that is about it. Tarantino and Scorsese may be splitting the vote so much so that both will be on the sidelines for the two big Oscar awards.
The SAG award for Best Ensemble seemed like the film’s to take, especially given that Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margot Robbie all earned individual nominations for their roles as well.
In a year where critics are decrying the lack of diversity in the most lauded movies, this could be the start of the backlash against what is a mostly white cast, save for a questionably racist scene involving Bruce Lee.
Drawing Dead: Joker, Marriage Story, Ford v. Ferrari, and Little Women
If there is one thing NJ sports betting fans should know is there are four of the nine films really stand no shot of winning. And nor do they show any signs of life that things may turn around.
Let’s quickly run down what each has been working against them:
Joker is too polarizing to win Best Picture
Since the Academy Awards expanded the Best Picture field and switched to a preferential ballot system for the top honor, it is less about being the most-loved film and more about being the least-hated movie.
Voters rank their Best Picture choices 1-9. The way the ballot works, it is better for a movie to have a lot of seconds and thirds on ballots than a bunch of firsts and nines. Those last-place votes are absolutely killer.
Some people love Joker; however, there is a large group of people who absolutely hate it. With that in mind, it may have the most nominations, but it doesn’t have a chance.
Ford v. Ferrari lacks critical nominations
Argo and Green Book showed us that it’s possible to win Best Picture without a Best Director nod.
Once in a blue moon, you can pull a Titanic and win Best Picture without a screenplay nominations. If you don’t have either, plus no acting nominations, it is virtually impossible to win.
Thanks for playing, Ford v. Ferrari.
Marriage Story lacks traction
Marriage Story has a lot of quality Oscar nominations, like Actor, Actress, and Original Screenplay.
It lacks a Director nod, but, more importantly, it is not picking up any awards to get the momentum going. With director Noah Baumbach’s pedigree as a writer, you would think he could pull a couple of writing awards. He is up against Tarantino though.
So far, this is a battle that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is winning, while the only thing Marriage Story will take home is Best Supporting Actress.
Like the Oscars are going to give Best Picture to a movie about chicks
There have been four film versions of Little Women over the years, three of which have garnered some sort of Oscar nominations.
Everyone will tell you these are well-made movies, but the male-dominant Academy is still not willing to concede that these movies are up to the same standard of merit.
Only one film directed by a woman has ever won Best Picture, and even then, it was in the more awarded genres, the war movie.
In that instance, director Kathryn Bigelow also managed to get nominated and win Best Director for The Hurt Locker, too. Director Greta Gerwig got no such nomination, so don’t expect big things from Little Women.