Oscar watch! These 5 hits absolutely could win best picture this year, and here’s why
It’s perhaps a shade ironic that Academy Awards flirted with having a most-popular-film Oscar this year to get more eyes tuned into the Feb. 24 ceremony, and the best-picture slate might be inundated with hits anyway.
Oscar best pictures aren’t always the biggest box-office powerhouses: Last year’s winner, “The Shape of Water,” grossed only $63.9 million – not a lot, yet a mother lode compared with the $17 million haul of 2010 best picture “The Hurt Locker.” But the 2019 list of Producers Guild Award nominees – a bellwether for Oscars – offers up five films that have made more than $174 million (“Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “A Quiet Place” and “A Star Is Born”). And the upset victory for best drama by Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” at Sunday’s Golden Globes could be a sign that winds are blowing in favor of a populist crowd-pleaser.
Even though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences temporarily shelved a popular-film Oscar, the category where awards-worthy blockbusters like “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Black Panther” might have landed instead, next month’s ceremony looks to star some audience-approved entries. With no apparent front-runner yet heading into the Oscar nominations on Jan. 22, here are five cinematic smashes (in alphabetical order) that could take Hollywood’s biggest prize:
Key nominations from the Globes, PGA, Writers Guild Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards make an Oscar best-picture nomination all but certain for 2018’s cinematic superhero powerhouse, which will also place in some technical categories (and has an outside shot at supporting actor for Michael B. Jordan). The fact that it’s critically acclaimed and made $700 million help at a show that has honored blockbusters before (see: “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”). Add in the movie’s universal goodwill and a younger, more diverse academy voting contingent, and Marvel’s first Oscar might be a memorable one.
Love it or hate it, the cinematic ode to Freddie Mercury isn’t going anywhere. The Golden Globes win plus Screen Actors Guild best-cast nomination solidifies its place as a contender. “Rhapsody” also has a strong leading man in Rami Malek, who won a best-actor Globe, is up for the same honor at SAGs and has a good shot at landing in that Oscar category, too. People just love him in this movie, and enough academy voters might be wooed by the excellent Queen tunes. A “Rhapsody” best-picture win might have been laughable to some Oscar watchers a week ago – now it doesn’t seem so stone-cold crazy.
‘Crazy Rich Asians’
Of the likely best-picture nominees, the all-Asian romantic comedy is probably the biggest throwback to old-school Hollywood, and its ostentatious vibe and feel-good nature could play well for Oscar voters still into the classics. “Asians” has the right resume – with Globe and Producers Guild nominations, plus a best-ensemble nod from SAG, which makes up the largest voting bloc in the academy. And like with “Black Panther,” its emphasis on representation will appeal to a crop of changing Oscar voters.
‘A Quiet Place’
John Krasinski’s popular horror film is a true dark horse compared with the other four here, since “A Quiet Place” is sitting on the fence waiting to see if it’ll get invited to the party. But it has quietly ratcheted up an impressive awards campaign, earning nods from the Producers Guild and the Writers Guild. (Between this and “Mary Poppins,” Emily Blunt could boast of being in two best-picture nominees, though Globe-nominated “Poppins” doesn’t have the PGA and SAG cast nominations usually associated with the eventual winner.) “A Quiet Place” also could score nominations in technical Oscar categories with its innovative use of sound (and lack thereof); plus, the presence of “Get Out” in last year’s field suggests chillers are being taken pretty seriously these days. If no one or two films break from the pack, “A Quiet Place” could make some noise.
‘A Star Is Born’
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s built-for-Oscar musical love story won just one Globe out of a possible five – and lost to “Bohemian Rhapsody” for best drama and actor, which sent some heads spinning. Don’t panic: The Globes aren’t historically the greatest indicator for Oscar success, and “Star” remains the closest thing to a favorite there is this year. There’s a good chance it’ll earn a swath of high-profile nominations (as many as three acting nods, plus an obvious song nomination and likely director and screenplay honors, too), and it’s a well-regarded redo of one of the quintessential Hollywood tales. So no reason to throw away those acceptance speeches yet, Bradley and Gaga.