Oscars 2017 – Best Picture Power Rankings (January 30)

We’re getting closer and closer to the Oscars 2017 and so discussion is inevitably turning to who will win the big Best Picture prize on February 26. Over the next few weeks, various awards bodies will hand out their prizes and, as they do so, the pendulum of momentum will swing in favour of various different Best Picture contenders.

Every week, I will round up the relative chances of each film when it comes to winning Best Picture at Oscars 2017. This is not a list of personal preferences; it’s purely a judgement based on momentum and the way awards season seems to be going.

Here’s the first set of rankings…


Poster for 2017 musical La La Land

1. La La Land

There’s little doubt as to which film is in poll position. Damien Chazelle‘s ode to the musical is a toe-tapping delight and it is, as of right now, your best bet. The film’s awards chances are bolstered considerably by noms for directing and screenwriting and it also looks set to win the Best Actress prize for Emma Stone. Add to that a record haul of seven Golden Globes and it looks to be sitting pretty.

This week, it picked up the top prize at the Producers’ Guild of America Awards, which is one of the biggest Best Picture predictors, with eight of the last 10 winners going on to win the big statuette. Full review.


Poster for 2017 historical drama Hidden Figures

2. Hidden Figures

From out of nowhere, Hidden Figures became a major challenger over the weekend when it scored the main prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, beating out other major contenders. The top SAG gong is a good awards indicator, with six of the last ten winners going on to Best Picture. It’s SAG that has predicted surprise winners like Birdman in recent years.

On top of that, Hidden Figures gets an Oscars boost from its formidable box office performance. The film has netted more than $100m, smashing the takings of others. With an #OscarsSoWhite-busting cast and real public support, this could be a surprise package. Release: Feb 17.


Poster for 2017 drama Manchester by the Sea

3. Manchester by the Sea

It is Casey Affleck‘s remarkable star turn that has given Manchester by the Sea most of its awards momentum. Affleck has been hoovering up awards throughout the season, hitting its only setback when Affleck lost out to Denzel Washington at the SAG Awards on Sunday. Acting victories are a big help on the Best Picture hunt and Affleck is a near cert for Best Actor.

Affleck’s performance and the film’s serious, but sentimental nature make it the sort of project that is catnip to Oscar voters. Director Kenneth Lonergan is incredibly well-respected as a filmmaker too and he could carry his film to glory if voters decide La La Land is not for them. Full review.


Poster for 2017 drama film Moonlight

4. Moonlight

Barry Jenkins’ coming of age film scooped the Best Drama award at the Golden Globes and, as much as that positions it as one of the top contenders ahead of Oscars 2017 on paper, the award has only produced three Best Picture winners in the last ten years.

Moonlight benefits from a fair amount of acting award momentum thanks to the impact of Mahershala Ali, who has dominated awards season thus far in the Best Supporting Actor category. The film topped many critics’ lists at the end of last year and, despite underperforming in awards season so far, it remains a formidable contender. Release: Feb 17.


Poster for 2017 familial drama film Fences

5. Fences

Like Hidden Figures, this adaptation of a Tony-winning stage show gained real momentum at the SAG Awards. Viola Davis was pretty much guaranteed to win Supporting Actress for the film, which she duly did, but few had expected that her co-star Denzel Washington would upset Casey Affleck to take home the Best Actor gong.

It’s fairly unlikely that Fences will mount a major challenge for the Best Picture prize at the Oscars, but it has serious momentum coming off the back of the SAGs and could prove to be a spoiler in the acting categories for some of the more fancied names in the race. Release: Feb 10.


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

6. Arrival

When the nominations for the Oscars 2017 were handed out, Arrival finished up second only to La La Land with eight nominations. It was awarded recognition in a variety of categories, but its Best Picture chances took a big knock when Amy Adams was missed out of the Best Actress race. It’s that that has the film placing in the bottom half of this list.

Nonetheless, it’s not impossible that the Academy decides to go populist in the era of Trump and plumps for the closest thing the shortlist has to a blockbuster film. If the film can pick up a series of wins in the technical categories and add a screenplay win, it stands at least half a chance of getting the big prize. Full review.


Poster for 2017 war movie Hacksaw Ridge

7. Hacksaw Ridge

I saw Hacksaw Ridge over the weekend and I can confirm that it’s a tense, visceral experience that would be a prime contender for a Best Picture victory in just about any other year. However, in the midst of a strong Oscars 2017 field, it’s destined to be an also-ran in the race. It doesn’t stand a chance at winning its acting category and Mel Gibson is just too poisonous a name to win Best Director.

It’s a shame that the film is so far out of the Best Picture race given its quality, but the stage is set for something with a bit more of an uplifting message to win. As much as this is a soaring tale of a remarkable human being, it’s likely that a film with a bit more of a smile on its face will win. In cinemas now.


Poster for 2017 drama film Lion

8. Lion

With a sentimental true story at its heart and some beautiful landscapes to photograph, Lion is the kind of film that turns up every year and is summarily dismissed as ‘Oscar bait’. That’s perhaps not quite fair, but this certainly isn’t up to the high standard of the many other films on the list. Ultimately, it’s that lack of quality that will scupper the film’s Oscar chances.

There are some ripe scenes here to be included in acting montages and there will certainly be plenty of people getting misty-eyed over its amazing true story. But, Best Picture winner? Not a chance at all. In cinemas now.


Poster for 2016 crime western Hell or High Water

9. Hell or High Water

It probably came out a little too long ago to be right at the centre of Oscar voters’ hearts and it doesn’t have quite the A-list feel of some of the glossier entries in the Best Picture shortlist. It’s a tremendous film, with an incredibly sharp script, that richly deserves its spot among the best of the year, even if it stands no chance of winning.

Jeff Bridges could, however, be a surprise winner in the Best Supporting Actor category if Moonlight falls on its face across the board. It would be a real shame to see a film as good as this one leave the Dolby Theater completely empty-handed. 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.

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