Right now the likeliest 2017 Best Picture nominees are Christopher Nolan‘s Dunkirk, Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics, 11.24); Steven Spielberg‘s The Papers (20th Century Fox, 12.22); Alexander Payne‘s Downsizing (Paramount, 12.22); Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Phantom Thread (Focus Features, 12.25) and Hugh Jackman‘s The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox, 12.25).
That’s six, but there could be two or three more: Guillermo Del Toro‘s The Shape of Water, Dan Gilroy‘s Roman Israel, Esq. and Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris‘s Battle of the Sexes.
Denzel Washington as attorney Roman Israel in Dan Gilroy’s film of the same name, due for Columbia Pictures release on 11.3.
That’s my best guesstimate so far. Leaving aside the excellent Dunkirk and Call Me By Your Name, the others will most likely register as pretty good if not more so. But the surest way to calculate the odds is not to consider suspected quality as much as the socio-cultural agendas of this or that group that will champion this or that film.
I’ll tell you right now that the lack of a significant contender portraying an African-American milieu (unless you want to consider Roman Israel, Esq., an ethical drama starring Denzel Washington, in this light) or made by an African-American director means things are wide open as we speak.
Dunkirk will have the support of anyone with the ability or willingness to acknowledge grand, ahead-of-the-curve greatness when they see it. It will surely gather special support from 40-plus males and members of below-the-line guilds.
Call Me By Your Name will definitely corral those who are soothed by naturalism and stirred by its lulling emotional bath elements and bucolic travelogue delights. It will occupy a special place for those with the ability to appreciate and revel in an Eric Rohmer-like realm.
The Spielberg drama, which is about how Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham (Streep) decided to grow a journalistic backbone in the midst of the Pentagon Papers episode of ’71, will obviously have the 40-plus feminist vote and the support of sedate older boomers who automatically kowtow to anything bearing the beardo stamp.
As Battle of The Sexes is another feminist-themed drama set in the early ’70s, it may be highly competitive with The Papers as far as the older-woman or feminist-sympathy vote is concerned. If, that is, it turns out to be exceptional.
The Greatest Showman, a brassy musical about P.T. Barnum, will obviously excite those voters who prefer cheery, sparkly entertainments to solemn, thoughtful dramas or this or that sort.
I’ve only seen 10 or 12 minutes’ worth of Downsizing, but my impression following a viewing of said excerpt during last March’s Cinemacon is that it’s a visionary, Metropolis-like film that will definitely turn heads.
The only ones I really know about about are Dunkirk and Call Me By Your Name. I’ve read early drafts of The Papers and Downsizing. Everything else is spitballing.