Oscars 2017 – Best Picture Power Rankings (February 20)

This Sunday is the Oscars 2017, where the glitziest and most glamorous names in cinema will gather together to pat each other on the backs for how well they’ve done over the course of the last 12 months as awards season comes to an end. With that in mind, it’s time to get the predicting hat on for the final set of Best Picture Power Rankings before we find out which film will be walking out of Hollywood’s Dolby Theater with the golden statuette.

Here’s the latest, and final, set of rankings…


Poster for 2017 musical La La Land

1. La La Land (-)

I think we can all conclusively agree at this point that La La Land is a huge frontrunner to win Best Picture at Oscars 2017. The film has been the darling of almost everyone during the race to the Oscars, winning the big prizes from the DGA and the PGA, as well as the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. The two guilds, in particular, are big indicators of success and so, with those in the bag, the path is pretty clear for La La Land.

There has been a sizeable backlash in critical circles against the ubiquity of La La Land, but this is the most obvious race in years and no backlash can stop this behemoth winning big. Full review.


Poster for 2017 drama Manchester by the Sea

2. Manchester by the Sea (-)

Thanks to the fierce momentum of its leading actor, Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea is the biggest potential spoiler that could prevent La La Land from romping home. Affleck has won Best Actor at almost every precursor ceremony and this leaves his path clear to the Oscar. If Affleck wins, that’s the first building block for the film to potentially win Best Picture.

The key to Manchester by the Sea‘s chances will be the Best Original Screenplay category. If scribe Kenneth Lonergan can best Damien Chazelle in this category, then his beautifully potent film could be on the way to pulling off a major upset. Full review.


Poster for 2017 drama film Moonlight

3. Moonlight (up 2)

Moonlight has had a rather turbulent awards season, but it mounted a late charge at the Writers’ Guild of America Awards on Sunday. There, the film beat both La La Land and Manchester by the Sea to the Best Original Screenplay prize. This was a big scalp for the movie, particularly given the fact it will actually be appearing in the considerably less competitive Best Adapted Screenplay field at the Oscars, due to an odd Academy decision.

The film is elegant and restrained, which doesn’t exactly suit Oscar voters. It does, however, position the film as a counterpoint to the bombast of La La Land. If that niche is big enough, it could win. In cinemas now.


Poster for 2017 historical drama Hidden Figures

4. Hidden Figures (down 1)

The WGA Awards were a huge chance for Hidden Figures to pick up even more momentum to bolster the pace created by its triumph at the SAG Awards a few weeks ago. However, the film lost out to Arrival in the Best Adapted Screenplay category and, as a result, it falls another spot in the rankings this week.

Hidden Figures is an unashamed crowd pleaser of a movie and it may well be one of the more memorable contenders from this list. Without more precursor momentum, though, this one is going to struggle to be the serious challenger it previously looked like. In cinemas now.


Poster for 2017 familial drama film Fences

5. Fences (down 1)

Adapted from a beloved stage play and featuring a pair of formidable leading actors, Fences looked every inch a serious Oscars contender when it was first announced. Now, though, it has repeatedly played second fiddle throughout the awards race, with the exception of Viola Davis‘ deserving dominance in the Best Supporting Actress category and Denzel Washington‘s surprise SAG win over Casey Affleck.

Both of those performers need to win on Sunday to give the film a fighting chance and, although Davis likely will take to the stage, Washington almost certainly will not follow her. Fences is a good film, but this is not going to win Best Picture. In cinemas now.


Poster for 2016 sci-fi drama Arrival, starring Amy Adams

6. Arrival (up 2)

Like Moonlight, it has been a funny old awards race for Arrival. The film, which is nominally a glossy blockbuster, had its crowd-pleaser status usurped by Hidden Figures and it was dealt a major blow when Amy Adams missed out on a Best Actress nomination. On Sunday, though, it won big at the WGAs with the Best Adapted Screenplay prize, giving it a final note of momentum in the dying days of awards season.

Arrival stands a fairly decent chance of replicating its WGA victory on Sunday at the Oscars 2017 and it may pick up a smattering of technical awards if it can hold off the love for La La Land, but Best Picture is now totally out of the question. Full review.


Poster for 2017 drama film Lion

7. Lion (down 1)

After a surge last week at the BAFTAs, Lion has fallen back down the pile after failing to replicate its triumph in Best Adapted Screenplay at the WGA Awards, where it couldn’t even manage a nomination. In fact, outside of the BAFTAs, the film has struggled to muster much support anywhere and, as a result, it’s already feeling like a forgotten contender.

In this year’s Best Picture race, Lion definitely feels like the least accomplished film. It simply doesn’t have the same groundswell of critical or commercial adoration as other films and, therefore, it feels like it doesn’t have a horse in the race any more. Full review.


Poster for 2017 war movie Hacksaw Ridge

8. Hacksaw Ridge (down 1)

Barring a miracle of blind American patriotism, Hacksaw Ridge stands no chance of leaving the Oscars 2017 ceremony with the award for Best Picture in its grasp. The film is brilliant, but it has simply not built enough momentum in recent weeks to keep itself in the discussion to slay the musical giant that La La Land has become.

The lack of any real buzz around its central performances or script has also hurt the film and the only places it could win are in the editing categories, recognising its visceral action sequences. Given that Mel Gibson might be about to board a major superhero film, I don’t think he will be shedding too many tears when his film doesn’t win on Sunday. Full review.


Poster for 2016 crime western Hell or High Water

9. Hell or High Water (-)

As the final days pass by on the race to the Best Picture prize, it’s still the case that Hell or High Water feels like something of a forgotten beast. It has not built a great deal of momentum from precursor awards ceremonies and, on paper, it certainly doesn’t seem like the most obvious candidate to receive the love of the Academy on Sunday.

The WGAs were the last chance for some buzz to form around Taylor Sheridan’s excellent script, dealing with the complexities of life in post-recession Texas, but they went for Moonlight instead and, with that, consigned Hell or High Water to non-contender status. Full review.


What do you think of my Oscars 2017 rankings? Which film will emerge victorious with the Best Picture prize this weekend? Let me know in the comments section and be sure to take a look back at how things have changed my looking back at previous power rankings.


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