We’re now just two weeks away from the Academy Awards and, with it, there are the last few opportunities for awards season contenders to gain crucial momentum ahead of the Oscars 2017. Yesterday marked the British Academy Film Awards and, although La La Land inevitably reigned supreme, there were some interesting surprise wins and shocking snubs that have changed the landscape underneath Damien Chazelle‘s runaway leader as we move closer to the finishing line.
Here’s the latest set of rankings…
1. La La Land (-)
It’s looking increasingly certain that nothing is going to stop the La La Land juggernaut. Chazelle’s joyous musical has hoovered up precursor awards, including the coveted PGA and DGA top prizes, and had another good showing at the BAFTAs. The film scooped up the Best Film gong in London and also picked up wins for Chazelle’s direction, Emma Stone‘s leading performance and the cinematography from Linus Sandgren.
At this stage, a yawning chasm has opened between La La Land and its closest competitors. Barring a real shock, it’s going to be Chazelle and his team who lift the Best Picture statuette. Full review.
2. Manchester by the Sea (up 1)
There has been a quiet consistency to Manchester by the Sea‘s awards season but, at the BAFTAs, the film stood out as a candidate to put an end to La La Land‘s unencumbered ascendancy. Casey Affleck has won many Best Actor prizes, but the film also won Best Original Screenplay.
It’s definitely possible to read too much in to the BAFTA triumph of Manchester by the Sea, but the film immediately becomes a contender if it can win a screenplay prize at the Oscars. Nine of the last ten Best Picture winners have also won a screenplay gong, so a surprise win for Kenneth Lonergan could shake things up considerably. Full review.
3. Hidden Figures (down 1)
Some of the shine has come off Hidden Figures since its surprise SAG Awards triumph catapulted it right into the heat of the Best Picture race and it had a quiet night at the BAFTAs. It stood a decent chance of walking away with the Best Adapted Screenplay prize, but that went to Lion, which was something of a favourite at BAFTA. But more on that later.
The thing the film has in its favour is its crowd-pleaser status. Last week, the film stormed past La La Land to become the biggest grossing Best Picture nominee. The Academy rarely plays to the crowd, but Hidden Figures has a groundswell of public support that is hard to ignore. Release: Feb 17.
4. Fences (up 1)
Strong performances in acting categories have continued to thrust Fences into the Oscars conversation, but its bump up the rankings this week comes more as a result of Moonlight‘s disastrous night at the BAFTAs than its own success. Viola Davis picked up another award at the BAFTAs and so her path to the Best Suporting Actress Oscar is virtually assured at this point.
The key to Fences‘ potential success is the incredibly tight Best Actor race between its star Denzel Washington and the aforementioned Casey Affleck. If Washington can pull off the same shocker he managed at the SAG Awards, he could well help lead the film right into the heart of Best Picture contention. Release: Feb 17.
5. Moonlight (down 1)
Just a few weeks ago, Moonlight was considered to potentially be the film that could dethrone La La Land. However, it now seems like Moonlight‘s moment has somewhat passed. It has failed to pick up the necessary precursor awards and was completely shut out at the BAFTAs. Even its guaranteed winner, Mahershala Ali, missed out to Lion in the Best Supporting Actor category.
That’s not to say that Moonlight now has no chance to win the Best Picture Oscar, but the odds are certainly stacked against the film, which has lost a great deal of the momentum it had built. Release: Feb 17.
6. Lion (up 1)
Of all of the films on this list, it is arguably Lion that had the best night at the BAFTAs on Sunday. Out of nowhere, the film left the building with awards for its script and for Dev Patel‘s supporting performance. This is the best the film has done in awards season thus far, even with the caveat that Patel certainly benefited from the British skew to the BAFTAs.
All this is not to suggest that Lion stands more than a remote chance of scooping the Best Picture gong when the Oscars 2017 ceremony takes place. It has had a moment in the sun and is building momentum, but it’s no giant killer. Full review.
7. Hacksaw Ridge (up 1)
It’s shocking and wowing cinemas across the UK, but Hacksaw Ridge has been rather short on awards season momentum thus far. The film managed to win Best Editing at the BAFTAs, which is a significant prize and therefore gives it a little bump in these rankings, albeit partially due to the under-performance of the film below.
We’re in the area of the rankings where there is almost no chance of a Best Picture win but, of all of the film’s down here, Hacksaw Ridge is perhaps the one that, in a less stacked year, might have stood a lot more of a chance of winning some of the big prizes. Full review.
8. Arrival (down 2)
Arrival didn’t necessarily have a terrible night at the BAFTAs and indeed it won an award for Best Sound. However, it was nominated for nine awards, more than any other Best Picture nominee other than La La Land. With that in mind, Arrival needed to be able to convert some of those nominations into victories to build momentum.
Technical categories are Arrival‘s forte and it will need to pick up a few to stand a chance. The film is again in second place when it comes to number of nominations at the Oscars 2017 and it will have to do a much better job of getting victories out of its eight nods if it’s going to have any path to Best Picture. Full review.
9. Hell or High Water (-)
It’s sad that Hell or High Water is destined to be the forgotten nominee of this year’s race to Best Picture. The film is a bracing, beautifully shot thriller set against the backdrop of recession America, but it simply hasn’t caught fire with awards voters and lacks the crucial nominations in acting categories that any serious contender for Best Picture needs to have.
In fact, it’s only hope is that Taylor Sheridan’s script can beat both La La Land and Manchester by the Sea to the Best Original Screenplay gong. Unless that happens and Oscar voters have an attack of nostalgia for the western, there’s just not a hope for this one. Full review.
What do you think of my Oscars 2017 rankings? Which film will emerge victorious with the Best Picture prize? Let me know in the comments section and come back next week for another set of power rankings.