The 91st annual Academy Awards are less than 24 hours away, so it’s time to hear the closing arguments from every contender. All the votes have already been cast and the winners are decided, but speculation over Hollywood’s biggest night is still covering the internet.
In the ceremony’s biggest race, eight films are battling to take home the title of Best Picture: “BlacKkKlansman,” “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite,” “Green Book,” “Roma,” “A Star Is Born” and “Vice.”
Typically, the award shows leading up to the Oscars tend to give some sort of clarity to what will unfold, but after Golden Globe wins for “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Green Book,” a BAFTA win for “Roma” and a SAG Awards win for “Black Panther,” things are as unclear as ever.
After “A Star Is Born” came out of the gate as an immediate frontrunner in October, it’s momentum has all but sputtered out – leaving it all but winless, save for a few Original Song victories for “Shallow.”
While “Green Book” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” may seem like the two frontrunners after their victories at the Globes, they’ve each been marred by significant controversy. For “Green Book,” it seems the scandals are never-ending – factual inaccuracies, sexual assault and blatant racism, to name a few.
The controversy surrounding “Bohemian Rhapsody” may be more straightforward, but no less horrifying, as the film’s director Bryan Singer has been followed by sexual assault allegations for over 20 years. Singer may have been fired 85% of the way through the film, but he was still credited as its director, and those involved claimed to have been unaware of the allegations. On top of this, viewers have taken offense to the film’s representation of Freddie Mercury.
Both films are no doubt crowd-pleasers, one being a warm, feel-good story and the other a rocking sing-along, but with so much controversy surrounding them, it would be shocking if either is able to take home Best Picture.
So, we’re left with a showdown of two films that were at one point considered underdogs: “Roma” and “Black Panther.”
Alfonso Cuarón’s passion project, “Roma,” is a Netflix darling, and the streaming service’s first shot at winning the industry’s biggest prize. However, that also brings up the film’s greatest competitor – itself. If the Academy is known for one thing, it’s being progressive and having an open mind, right? HA. As a result, a major campaign from a non-traditional media outlet may not sit well with voters, and despite it being one of the year’s best films, it could be overlooked.
In the same vein of progressiveness, a big-budget Marvel blockbuster isn’t necessarily making voters happy either. But with Cuarón essentially guaranteed to win Best Director and “Roma” a lock for Best Foreign Film, it could open the door for a superhero-sized upset.
“Black Panther” was the most important film of last year. Regardless of who wins the awards, it will hands down be the movie everyone associates with 2018. Ryan Coogler crafted an absolute masterpiece with tremendous cultural and social significance – leaving lasting impacts on audiences and Hollywood. The need to give children around the world a hero they’re able to look up to and identify with was far overdue, and “Black Panther” does that, and so much more.
Hopefully the Academy can overlook its bias against non-traditional nominees and make a statement by rewarding a film so focused on diversity – something the Academy claims to be emphasizing.
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.