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Our Oscar predictions for 2018's Best Picture

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Awards season is officially upon us following the recent Golden Globe awards and the BAFTA nominations. With that in mind, and with talk of the 2018 Oscars starting to ramp up (the nominations are announced on 23rd January), we thought we'd present our tips for the highly coveted Best Picture, ranking the candidates from most to least likely to win.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Chances of winning the Oscar 90%

Until the Globes, the Best Picture race was perhaps something of an open field. But then Martin McDonagh's triumphant black comedy surged to the finish, grabbing Best Picture (Drama) and leaving the competition in the dust. Add to this its BAFTA nomination for Best Film, and McDonagh's movie is surely now the frontrunner for the jewel in the Oscar crown.

The Oscars often place great stock in the awards wins that precede them, and Three Billboards has opened up a significant lead. Buoyed by a rave critical reception and flying high on a richly funny script that pushes all kinds of topical buttons (the Academy love a movie that speaks of the current climate), it stands a very good chance of winning.


The Shape of Water

Chances of winning the Oscar 70%

Guillermo del Toro's enchanting fantasy-romance The Shape of Water nabbed two Golden Globes – Best Director and Best Original Score – and if popular acclaim is anything to go by, it's the greatest threat to Three Billboards' chances of success.

Like Martin McDonagh's film it's attracted superlative reviews, albeit for somewhat different reasons. Whereas the former is largely driven by the intricate (and foul-mouthed) intricacies of its dialogue, the language of del Toro's film is primarily visual, a gorgeous throwback to the heyday of classic Hollywood monster and silent movies.

The Academy Awards are infamous for revering movies that reflect back upon the film industry (in 2012 black and white hit The Artist snagged Best Picture), and there's every chance del Toro's movie could prove the dark horse.


Darkest Hour

Chances of winning the Oscar 60%

Director Joe Wright's Winston Churchill biopic ticks all of the Oscar boxes. It's based on true events, is draped in intriguing layers of historical detail (Churchill's ascent to the role of Prime Minister on the eve of World War II) and the filmmaker himself is something of an Oscar favourite, his films Atonement and Anna Karenina having been recognised by the Academy.

Even so, pretty much all of the buzz on the movie is driven by one thing: Gary Oldman's transformative role as Churchill himself. It's Oldman's legacy of chameleonic performances, not to mention the uncanny accuracy of his performance, that is being driven as the main selling point of the movie. Best Actor seems highly likely, but Best Picture may be just out of reach.


The Post

Chances of winning the Oscar 50%

Having been completely shut out of the BAFTA nominations (it was nominated for six Golden Globes, although it didn't win any), The Post's chances of winning Best Picture have perhaps been pegged back a little bit.

Even so, there's no denying the film's merit. Directed by the esteemed Steven Spielberg, himself the recipient of two Best Director Oscars, with a heavyweight central duo of Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, plus a timely script favouring the freedom of a free press, it's got all the ingredients to win gold.

But maybe the movie's illustrious pedigree is perversely counting against it? After all, we've come to expect greatness from all of those legendary figures mentioned, and it could be there's no element of surprise in honouring those already garlanded with awards. Perhaps the time has come to reward spikier, more off-the-wall material like Three Billboards or The Shape of Water, whose filmmakers are the relative underdogs in this year's race?


Dunkirk

Chances of winning the Oscar 50%

Christopher Nolan is esteemed as a modern day cinema master. Having retooled our perception of time in films like Memento and Inception, and having delivered (for many) the definitive Batman movies in the form of the Dark Knight trilogy, there's very little he hasn't turned into box office or critical gold.

His Dunkirk marked a successful transition into a genre he hadn't tackled before: the World War II epic. It was a gamble (not least because the movie was sold to an international audience who may not have been familiar with the Dunkirk evacuation), but it hit big time with both critics and audiences, grossing over $500 million worldwide.

That should be enough for the chance at the Best Picture Oscar, but Nolan has been routinely overlooked in the past (nominated for Best Screenplay twice, and only once for Best Picture). Given the movie divided some over its battle between the intellect and the emotions, there's a chance the Academy will forego Best Picture, instead being overawed by the movie's formidable technical assets.


Phantom Thread

Chances of winning the Oscar 45%

Paul Thomas Anderson is an Oscar darling, rarely having dropped the ball with a succession of critically acclaimed movies that date back to 1997's Boogie Nights. His ferociously brooding There Will Be Blood is regarded by many as one of the finest films of the previous decade, and many other of his films are similarly acclaimed, including Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love.

His latest, Phantom Thread, has more of an Anglo-centric focus, exploring the life of a reclusive English dressmaker (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) and his relationship with his muse (Vicky Krieps). In spite of Anderson's back catalogue the movie may simply be too niche for mainstream Oscar kudos, its best chances being reserved for Day-Lewis in the realm of Best Actor.


Lady Bird

Chances of winning the Oscar 40%

Until recently, Greta Gerwig's directorial debut held the record on reviews website Rotten Tomatoes, having sustained its 100% rating for a staggering amount of time. Sadly that spell was broken when one review brought it down to 99%, but it's still an impressive achievement for a fledgling filmmaker, and a sign of how highly regarded her movie is.

This warmly observed story of adolescent angst features a winning performance from Saorise Ronan as the rebellious Lady Bird, and it did win Best Picture (Comedy or Musical) at the Golden Globes. Nevertheless, it may be too intimate and small in scale to rival the other movies in contention.

We reckon if it's going to be awarded anywhere, it'll be for the performances, the beating heart and soul of a movie that, in its more intimate sense of scale, may lose out to the splashier, flashier competition.


Call Me By Your Name

Chances of winning the Oscar 40%

Running neck and neck with Lady Bird on our list is Luca Guadagnino's sensual love story, adapted from Andre Aciman's novel. A nostalgic and evocative look at the romance between Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer), set against the hazy backdrop of 1980s Italy, it went down a storm as one of 2017's critical darlings.

Even so, all that kudos for the movie (which also includes a script by James Ivory and songs from Sufjan Stevens) hasn't necessarily translated into awards gold: none of its three Golden Globe nominations bore fruit, although it stands a chance with its four BAFTA nods.

For a time, it seemed Chalamet was going to present a significant rival for Gary Oldman, particularly when he snagged the Screen Actor's Guild award for Best Actor. It's likely that if Guadagnino's movie is going to represent any kind of upset or surprise, it's in this area.


Blade Runner 2049

Chances of winning the Oscar 35%

If awards were determined by sheer sense of scale and awe-inspiring spectacle, Blade Runner 2049 would run away with this. Denis Villeneuve's sequel achieved what many thought impossible, honouring the cerebral and visual heritage of Ridley Scott's 1982 masterpiece whilst also staking out fresh territory as an engrossing standalone story in its own right.

It generated some of the strongest reviews of any film last year, but then there's the Academy's infamously poor track record with honouring sci-fi and fantasy cinema. Hang on, you say, isn't The Shape of Water higher up on this list?

Yes, but Guillermo del Toro's film perhaps strikes a more populist register than Blade Runner 2049, off-setting its monster movie trappings with a sweet central romance and acting as a more audience-friendly experience than Villeneuve's film, which had intellectual overtones that may account for its lower-than-expected box office performance.

In the end, 2049 may simply be too ambiguous for the Oscars to handle. However, if cinematographer Roger Deakins doesn't win his long-overdue award, it will be a calamitous oversight.

What do you think will win the Oscar for Best Picture? Send us your tips and suggestions @Cineworld.