In a 6.28 Playlist piece, Greg Ellwood floated several 2017 Best Picture candidates, breaking them down into likely contenders vs. potential nominees. Here’s a fast assessment of the first category with some titles dismissed because of some hair-trigger, highly subjective, highly personal rationale or perception. 22 films are assessed here; Ellwood has more on his lists:
Ellwood’s Likely Contenders (alphabetical order):
1. Denis Villenueve‘s Blade Runner 2049 / HE says nope — high-end sci-fi stuff walks — that test-screening report about Harrison Ford not showing up until the very end doesn’t help matters.
2. Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me By Your Name / HE says you bet your booty.
3. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon‘s The Current War / HE says nope — smells dicey — Benedict Cumberbatch delivering another eccentric genius scientist performance in the wake of The Imitation Game? — Ben-Hur director Timur Bekmambetov having produced (along with Basil Iwanyk and Steven Zaillian) implies trouble.
4. Joe Wright‘s Darkest Hour / Gary Oldman will obviously compete for the Best Actor Oscar, but no one has a line on the film itself.
5. Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal‘s Detroit / HE says you bet your booty, especially with those raised eyebrows over that August 4th release date having recently been lowered.
6. Alexander Payne‘s Downsizing / HE says probably, most likely …remember that Payne’s Cinemacon product reel sold everyone on this puppy…darkly funny while delivering an allegory that the dumbest popcorn-muncher will get…audacious concept, first-rate VFX, etc.
7. Christopher Nolan‘s Dunkirk / HE says senses uncertainty at this stage…post-production rumblings about it being more of a grand technical exercise than anything else….curious history lesson (“they got their asses kicked but they did it together, as a nation!”) mixed with knockout IMAX visuals.
8. Sean Baker‘s The Florida Project / HE says strictly Gotham and Spirit Awards.
9. Jordan Peele‘s Get Out / HE has been saying all along that this clever, racially attuned horror comedy, the kind of thing that John Carpenter might have directed in the ’70s or ’80s, has been way overhyped. Will this stop Academy members from nominating it for Best Picture? If you have to ask this, you don’t know the Academy kowtows.
10. Yorgos Lanthinos‘ The Killing of a Sacred Deer / HE says forget it…died in Cannes.
11. Richard Linklater‘s Last Flag Flying / HE says (a) maybe, (b) possibly and (c) who knows? The return of The Last Detail‘s Buddusky, Mulhall and Meadows.
12. Steven Spielberg‘s The Papers / HE says almost certainly, having read a draft of Liz Hannah‘s script (i.e., before she was rewritten by Josh Singer). Boomer Academy members will love it, at the very least. What’s with the weird title?
13. Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Phantom Thread / Daniel Day Lewis will likely collect another Best Actor nomination, but as for the film itself? Nobody knows anything.
14. George Clooney‘s Suburbicon / HE says dark Coen brothers-scripted suburban comedy-melodrama (infidelity and murder) falls outside Oscar derby for the usual reasons, but may well elicit critical praise.
15. Guillermo del Toro‘s The Shape of Water / HE says supernatural period fantasies, however brimming with GDT’s imaginative flourishes and first-rate FX, rarely connect with Oscar voters.
16. Martin McDonagh‘s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri / HE says definitely maybe.
17. Woody Allen‘s Wonder Wheel / HE says Woody has never created Oscar-friendly cinema as a rule. Why should be start now?
18. Lynne Ramsay‘s You Were Never Really Here / I missed it in Cannes so who knows, but Ramsay works, creates and operates on her own level.
For Some Reason Ellwood Has Classified the Following Prime Oscar Contenders (also alphabetical) As Less Likely:
1. Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton‘s Battle of the Sexes / HE says ya never know, but this one may work out surprisingly well.
2. Michael Showalter‘s The Big Sick / HE says this one could go all the way….maybe. Especially if the box-office is big.
3. Michael Gracey and Hugh Jackman‘s The Greatest Showman / Big-hearted musical in classical tradition. HE says definitely maybe.
4. Dan Gilroy‘s Roman Israel, Esq. (formerly Inner City) / HE says this could be the new Verdict…maybe. Never underestimate Gilroy.