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race to the Oscars
February 22, 2019

Could the voting system used to determine the Oscars' Best Picture winner make all the difference this year?

The Academy uses a preferential ballot to select Best Picture, which means voters don't simply check off one movie to win. Instead, they rank all of the nominees. When ballots are collected, a film wins if it was ranked first by more than 50 percent of the Academy.

But that's a difficult feat considering there can be as many as 10 choices. If no film captures a majority, whichever receives the fewest votes is eliminated, and those who ranked that eliminated film first have their second pick moved up to first. For example, let's say someone ranked Vice first, followed by Roma. If Vice receives the fewest votes during the first round, this person's Best Picture pick is now Roma. The elimination and movement goes on until one film earns more than 50 percent of the votes.

A common theory among Oscars pundits is that when the Best Picture race is fairly open, many voters' second or third favorite takes the prize. Or, as the Los Angeles Times puts it, the movie that is "least disliked" will win.

So what's the least disliked this year? Many have argued it's Black Panther, while others think it could be The Favourite, which tied with Roma for the most nominations. The system may not help Green Book, though, seeing as controversy around the film has divided viewers, much like last year's losing Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Bohemian Rhapsody could be set back for similar reasons, although the Academy has shown a surprising amount of love for that film.

It may be, however, that the system simply benefits the existing frontrunner, Roma. The technical accomplishments of Alfonso Cuarón's film can't be denied, even if it's not every Oscar voters' very favorite, and that may be enough to push it over the top. Brendan Morrow

February 20, 2019

Four days out from the 2019 Oscars, pundits are generally in agreement about what is likely to win in the top categories. But could some stunning upsets be in store?

A few scenarios are plausible, if still unlikely. Here are five potential outcomes to brace yourself for this Sunday:

1. Black Panther wins Best Picture: Roma is the clear frontrunner, but a foreign film has never won Best Picture, and there are some who believe its status as a Netflix movie may hold it back. If so, in years when no film runs away with the top prize, the Oscars' preferential balloting system can favor one with broad appeal. Green Book is controversial, though, and may not have the broad appeal of the $1.3 billion phenomenon Black Panther, which already picked up a win at the SAG Awards.

2. Spike Lee wins Best Director: The frontrunner here, Alfonso Cuarón, won five years ago, while the Academy has repeatedly whiffed on even nominating Lee. This year, voters could decide his time has finally come.

3. Bradley Cooper wins Best Actor: This would be the wildest upset of the night, since Rami Malek likely has this category locked up. But Cooper was shut out throughout awards season and snubbed for Best Director, which could actually work in his favor, earning him enough sympathy votes for a shocking victory, Argo style.

4. Olivia Colman wins Best Actress: This is Glenn Close's to lose, but don't fully count out Colman. There's plenty of affection in the Academy for The Favourite, which tied with Roma for the most nominations, and Colman already won an acting award at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs.

5. Rachel Weisz wins Best Supporting Actress: A potential red flag for this category's frontrunner, Regina King, is that she wasn't even nominated at the SAG Awards. If this sets her back, perhaps the Favourite love will continue and Weisz, who won the BAFTA, really is in contention. Brendan Morrow

January 28, 2019

After the 2019 SAG Awards, the Oscars' acting categories look to be virtually locked up, but the Best Picture race remains highly unpredictable.

Here are some of the key takeaways from Sunday's show:

1. Christian Bale is no longer set to take the Best Actor Oscar, as Rami Malek defeated him at the SAGs. In 24 years, the actor who won the SAG Award has gone on to win the Oscar 19 times. Couple that with Malek's Golden Globe victory and he's certainly in great shape for the Academy Awards.

2. Glenn Close is quite likely to take the Best Actress Oscar, having now won both the SAG and the Golden Globe, and tied at the Critics Choice Awards. The winner for Best Actress at the SAG Awards has ultimately won the Oscar 18 out of 24 times.

3. When it comes to Best Supporting Actor, there's very little chance that Oscar will go to anyone but Mahershala Ali, who took the SAG Award after already being crowned with the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice Award.

4. Regina King remains ahead in the Oscar race for Best Supporting Actress despite not actually being nominated at the SAGs. Emily Blunt won for A Quiet Place over the favorite, Amy Adams for Vice. An Adams SAG win could have suggested she'd throw a wrench in King's Oscars hopes, but if Adams can't even win when King, who won at the Globes and the Critics Choice Awards, isn't nominated, she probably won't be able to win while directly competing against her.

5. Black Panther took Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, but that only matches up with Best Picture at the Oscars about 48 percent of the time. The Marvel film's Oscars odds have received a slight boost, but the bigger story is that both BlacKkKlansman and A Star Is Born came up short, which could suggest both will be unable to defeat Roma at the Oscars. Brendan Morrow

January 22, 2019

A Star Is Born is looking less and less like a Best Picture Oscar winner.

The film, which was once thought to be the frontrunner for Best Picture at the Academy Awards but came up short at previous awards shows in recent weeks, picked up eight nominations on Tuesday. It came in behind The Favourite and Roma, which each received 10 nominations. Eight isn't a bad haul to be sure, but the film was snubbed in two key categories that bring its Best Picture chances into even greater doubt.

The first is Best Film Editing, a category in which the eventual Best Picture winner is virtually always nominated. That's been the case at every single Oscars in the past 20 years except in 2015 when Birdman was left out, although this made some sense considering the film was presented as taking place in one long shot without any edits. Weirdly, though, Roma was also snubbed for Best Film Editing this year, despite being the clear Best Picture favorite.

More importantly, Bradley Cooper was left out of the Best Director category for his work on A Star Is Born. It's extremely rare that a film wins Best Picture without its director being nominated. Only once in the past 20 years has that happened: with Argo's Ben Affleck in 2013, which was a big deal at the time because of how uncommon an occurrence it was.

Neither of these snubs rule out a win for A Star Is Born. But this, coupled with the movie's disappointing performance at the Golden Globe Awards, the Critics Choice Awards, and the Producers Guild of America Awards, does not paint a pretty picture.

If A Star Is Born is to have any chance of winning Best Picture, it must turn things around at the upcoming Screen Actors Guild Awards and Directors Guild Awards. If it's unable to, this could very well be Roma's year. Brendan Morrow

January 22, 2019

The 2019 Academy Award nominations have arrived.

In the top category of Best Picture, the nominees are BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star Is Born, and Vice.

Roma and The Favourite led the pack with 10 nominations each. It was a great morning for Roma in particular, scoring unexpected nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. The Netflix film is looking set to be the Best Picture frontrunner and could become the first foreign language film to ever win the top prize.

A Star Is Born earned eight nominations, but in one of the morning's biggest surprises, Bradley Cooper was not nominated for Best Director. He did, however, receive a Best Actor nod. Strangely, A Star Is Born and Roma were both left out of Best Film Editing, a category in which the Best Picture winner is almost always nominated.

The nominees for Best Actor are Christian Bale (Vice), Willem Dafoe (At Eternity's Gate), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), and Viggo Mortensen (Green Book), while Best Actress consists of Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Glenn Close (The Wife), Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born), Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), and Yalitza Aparicio (Roma).

In Best Supporting Actor, the nominees are Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), and Sam Rockwell (Vice), while the nominees for Best Supporting Actress are Amy Adams (Vice), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Emma Stone (The Favourite), Marina De Tavira (Roma), and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite).

The Oscars, which are not expected to have a host, will take place on Feb. 24. Read the full list of nominees at The Hollywood Reporter. Brendan Morrow

January 14, 2019

With just a few weeks left to go until the Academy Awards, Roma is looking like the Best Picture contender to beat.

The film took home the top prize at the Critics Choice Awards on Sunday, also winning Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Foreign Language Film. Since the inception of this awards show, which is voted on by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Best Picture pick has lined up with the Oscars' choice 14 out of 23 years, or roughly 60 percent of the time. The other awards also often match, and in 2018, Best Picture, Best Director, and all of the acting awards were the same at both shows.

Roma also had a great night at the Golden Globes, winning two out of the three awards it was up for. Meanwhile, A Star Is Born, which for a while was considered to have the best shot at the Best Picture Oscar, was shut out of four of its five Golden Globe categories, only winning the award it had virtually no chance of losing: Best Original Song.

While again not taking the top prize, A Star Is Born fared slightly better at the Critics Choice Awards. It again won Best Song, and Lady Gaga tied with Glenn Close for Best Actress after Close defeated her at the Golden Globes. Meanwhile, Christian Bale, Mahershala Ali, and Regina King all upped their odds of an Oscar win by taking home acting prizes after previously winning at the Globes. But Bohemian Rhapsody, winner of the Globe for Best Picture - Drama, was shut out.

A Star Is Born will be looking for a win at the Producers Guild Awards to regain some of its awards-season momentum now that the narrative has shifted in Roma's favor. The PGAs will be given out on Jan. 19, and the Academy Award nominations will be announced on Jan. 22. Brendan Morrow

January 9, 2019

After a bizarre Golden Globe Awards left viewers in a state of confusion about the Oscar race, the BAFTA nominations are here to provide some clarity.

The British Academy Film Awards each year are handed out before the Oscars, and there are often parallels. After all, as Deadline points out, plenty of people are members of both voting organizations.

The BAFTA's Best Film nominees this year are BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, and A Star Is Born, helping cement that narrative that the Best Picture Oscar race is down to Roma and A Star Is Born, both of which picked up seven nominations. The Favourite received the most nominations of any movie, 12, including an award that A Star Is Born and Roma were not eligible for: Outstanding British Film.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association awarded Bohemian Rhapsody Best Picture — Drama at the Golden Globes, leaving many wondering if it had become an unexpected Best Picture contender at the Oscars. But at the BAFTAs, the film was left out of the top category entirely. Although the BAFTAs and the Oscars don't always select the same top film, it's rare for a movie to win the Oscar without being nominated for the equivalent BAFTA; the last time that happened was with Million Dollar Baby in 2005. Bohemian Rhapsody did, however, receive seven BAFTA nominations.

Black Panther's Best Picture momentum has also stalled a bit as it, too, was shut out of the top BAFTA category; it received just one nomination, for Best Special Visual Effects. Vice and If Beale Street Could Talk weren't nominated in the BAFTA's Best Film category, either. Other BAFTA surprises include Regina King not being nominated for If Beale Street Could Talk and Viola Davis being nominated for Widows.

Read the full list of nominations at Deadline. Brendan Morrow

January 7, 2019

A series of highly surprising choices at the 2019 Golden Globes has placed some Oscars expectations into serious doubt.

Golden Globes picks don't always line up with the Oscars, but the show certainly has an effect on buzz surrounding certain films and actors heading into the Academy Awards.

The most baffling result was Bohemian Rhapsody winning the top prize over the heavy favorite, A Star is Born, which for months has been considered a frontrunner for Best Picture at the Oscars, along with Roma.

That's still the case, but since 2000, no film has ever won the top prize at the Globes without being nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, meaning Bohemian Rhapsody has probably earned itself an Oscar nomination it may not have otherwise received.

Roma is in a particularly great position after winning two out of the three awards it was nominated for: Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director. But A Star Is Born has stalled a bit, losing four out of its five races. This included Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama, which unexpectedly went to Glenn Close rather than Lady Gaga. After Close won and delivered the evening's best speech, an Oscar category previously thought to be all locked up for Gaga is now a real competition.

If Beale Street Could Talk's Regina King has likely guaranteed herself an Oscar nomination and possibly a win after taking Best Supporting Actress; this had been called into question after she was completely shut out of the SAG Awards. Finally, a few expected Oscars frontrunners were pushed closer to the front of the pack with Globes wins, including Christian Bale for Vice and Olivia Colman for The Favourite.

The Oscar nominations will be announced on Jan. 22. Brendan Morrow

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