Of the 13 likely Best Picture contenders on HE’s Oscar Spitball chart, I’ve only seen four — Dunkirk, Call Me By Your Name, War For The Planet of the Apes and Get Out. But I’ve read scripts or heard enough about the other nine to know they’ll be in the mix, almost for sure. The ones closer to the the top look stronger, of course, but you knew that. Who knows how things’ll shake out four and five months hence, but it’s these 13, trust me. If I’m missing a title or two…naah, this is it.
Dunkirk (the only one of the exalted thirteen that isn’t a personal journey tale) is ranked first because everyone’s seen it and unanimously agrees it’s a Best Picture contender. Call Me By Your Name is an easy inclusion — has been since last January’s Sundance Film Festival debut. I’ve seen 10 or 12 minutes of Downsizing and read a draft of the script — it’s in there. Sally Hawkins‘ wordless performance in Guillermo del Toro‘s The Shape of Water is a Best Actress lock, but I’m also 85% persuaded that it’s GDT’s personal best since Pan’s Labrynth, and Lord knows he’s due. I’ve read Dan Gilroy‘s Roman Israel, Esq., and it’s fair to call it a moral-ethical thing along the lines of Sidney Lumet and David Mamet‘s The Verdict.
The Papers is a smart, high-toned, well-textured historical drama with the Spielberg stamp — no denying it. We know that films by Paul Thomas Anderson have rarely kowtowed to Oscar-season criteria, but it’s a likely keeper on the strength of containing Daniel Day Lewis‘s (possibly) final performance. Last March’s Cinemacon preview convinced me that The Greatest Showman will be a Best Picture contender; ditto Battle of the Sexes and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — two personal journey sagas (both distributed by Fox Searchlight) that will most likely stick to the ribs. War For The Planet of the Apes is a flat-out masterpiece of its kind. Many have lamented the over-praising of Get Out, but there’s a critical contingent that won’t take the hint and back off. (Somewhere John Carpenter is shaking his head and grinning.)