The BAFTAs are taking place next weekend in London, and in a bit over a fortnight, we will know this year’s Academy Award winners. Indeed, I’ve already written an article on approximately the same topic several weeks ago, but many things have meanwhile changed. For one, the nominees were announced. Other awards took place: The Golden Globes honoured both 1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with Best Picture trophies, while Parasite won the biggest of the SAG Awards. Any look at betting odds will tell you that the three are the main contenders for the Best Picture prize at the two remaining mainstream competitions. So, let’s look at each of them’s chances.
Things that help: It’s already won a couple of the big awards so far, a run which has made it the frontrunner. It’s a war film, and the genre hasn’t received the top recognition in a while. In a year that has started with war tensions between the US and Iran, it serves as a good reminder about what war is and what it does. It’s filmed and edited so as to give it a one single shot look, a technique which is well loved by juries – Birdman won Best Picture at the Oscars and did the same feat. British film, likely to get recognised by the British Academy.
Things that don’t help: It doesn’t play with social and political topics that are relevant nowadays, which are usually greatly prioritised especially by the Academy. It already won a Best Picture (Drama) Golden Globe, and such honours do not usually align with the Oscars.
Things that help: It’s arguably the best of the bunch. Despite being exclusively spoken in South Korean, it has received wide acclaim from both European and North American audiences, thus defying its initially indie nature. It has the highest critic aggregate score, and highest user score on IMDb of the bunch. It deals with issues such as social inequality, poverty and class. Roma, another foreign language film, didn’t win Best Picture at the Oscars last year, which makes it likelier for that to happen this year. Lastly, it would allow the Academy to fight back against some of the backlash they received for alleged ‘lack of diversity’ in their nominations this year.
Things that don’t help: Very poor track record of non US or British films when it comes to the Best Picture prize. Might be considered a bit too ‘arthouse’, and doesn’t easily adhere to a specified genre.
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Things that help: Exactly the type of film which such ceremonies like to award. It’s a homage to the Golden Era of Hollywood, which is a strong incentive for the Academy Awards to select it. Deals with Hollywood figures. It’s one of the few opportunities left for Tarantino to win a Best Picture award, if he does indeed intend to retire after his 10th film. Deals with some social issues, and the psychological struggles of actors, especially with typecasting. American film, likely to be recognised by the American Academy.
Things that don’t help: It was the most poorly received Tarantino film since Death Proof in 2007, both by critics and public. Best Picture winners are rarely very violent, and this film certainly is. It’s a summer release, and historically these rarely win Best Picture.
BAFTA Best Picture: Should win – 1917 ; Will probably win – 1917
Oscar Best Picture: Should win – Parasite ; Will probably win – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood