A Most Varied Year, by Tyler Smith

With the Golden Globes nominees just announced, it’s fair to say that awards season has officially begun. However, to go by the various critics groups so far, it’s damn near impossible to predict which film is the frontrunner for Best Picture. So far, it has broken down thusly:

National Board of Review – The Post
New York Film Critics – Lady Bird
Los Angeles Film Critics – Call Me By Your Name
Washington DC Film Critics – Get Out
San Francisco Film Critics – The Florida Project
Boston Film Critics – Phantom Thread
Toronto Film Critics – The Florida Project

So, looking at this, I guess the frontrunner would be Sean Baker’s The Florida Project, with a whopping two wins! Not exactly the most reliable predictor. Granted, it’s still early to be looking for critics groups to all embrace the same couple of movies, as tends to happen, but for the slate to be so all over the place is very interesting. It’s indicative of a year that is abnormally weak or strong. I think my vote would be that this is an unusually strong year. This especially seems to be the year of the small, intimate character study, like the aforementioned Florida Project, Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name, and others. No big spectacle here; at least not yet. Expect that to come along in a few weeks, once the industry nominations start being announced (look for Dunkirk to start gaining some ground later this month). And then, slowly but surely, certain films will drop away, leaving only about one or two (sometimes three) in the actual mix for the Oscar.

In the meantime, however, perhaps we can be excited about this diverse list of Best Pictures. With no clear frontrunner yet, that means that there are still several movies that are still part of the conversation, with many hopefully shifting from mere awards debates to deeper, more thoughtful discussions of the inherent artistic merits of each film. And, in my view, that’s the whole point of awards in the first place: to give film lovers a starting point from which to dig deeper into the medium.

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