Following the 3.6 posting of “Likeliest ’18 Best Picture Contenders“, I asked five or six publicists to tell me what I’d missed or should remove. Two of them said that I need to include Black Panther as a Best Picture contender, and more than a few HE commenters said the same. I agree — Black Panther will most likely be nominated but mainly for cultural and representation reasons. Because by the measure of cinematic merit alone, it’s not good enough until the last hour.

That said, Black Panther is a stronger, more satisfying film (at least in my book) than the absurdly over-praised Get Out.

I realize that Dexter Fletcher took over as director of Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer was canned for being AWOL a few times and clashing with the cast and crew, but it would seem awfully weird for Fletcher to be given sole credit, no? Even with Singer’s hothead rep.

I am very, very disappointed that Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman will, in fact, open sometime in ’19, and most likely during that year’s award season. The reason is extensive de-aging CG work. Steven Zaillian‘s screenplay (based on Charles Brandt’s “I Heard You Paint Houses“) is allegedly a series of flashbacks that will show the titular character, Robert DeNiro‘s Frank Sheeran involved in bad-guy activity over several decades. DeNiro will reportedly appear as a 30-year-old in one of these sequences.

One authority is hearing “terrific early word on Beautiful Boy — extraordinarily well done, beautifully acted.” They’re also hearing that Adam McKay’s Backseat “is going to be killer.” This same source has seen Dan Fogelman‘s Life Itself (Amazon, 9.21 — Oscar Isaac, Olivia Cooke, Antonio Banderas, Mandy Patinkin, Samuel L. Jackson, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening) and calls it “very charming” with a stellar cast and a “great” screenplay. I was told to add Burden, which won the Audience award at Sundance and in which Garrett Hedlund “gave a great performance. Another on-the-bubble title could be Sorry to Bother You — directed by Boots Riley, produced by Macro (Charles King) and being released bu Annapurna is releasing. “Not a Best Picture ‘hottie’, as you’re calling them, but certainly more noteworthy than some of the titles on the list,” the colleague says.

Also figuring in the conversation will be those that aren’t yet sold, which could pop up out of nowhere. Including, I’m told, Ed Zwick’s Trial by Fire, a death-penalty drama with Laura Dern and Jack O’Connell that has “tested through the roof.” The IMDB describes it as a “tragic and controversial story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas for killing his three children after scientific evidence and expert testimony that bolstered his claims of innocence were suppressed.”

On the doc front Tim Wardle‘s Three Identical Strangers (CNN Films/Neon) is said to be “getting a substantial push.”