The Original BJ wrote
5. DOES THE PREFERENTIAL BALLOT HELP OR HURT GET OUT?
Get Out seems to have all the buzz this week -- I'm actually reminded of the last week before the Brokeback Mountain Oscars, when Crash seemed to surge in the conversation. And it's got a clear contingent of fans who very much want to see it win, many of whom are part of the new, younger, more diverse group of voters. But if the theory that being the second or third choice of folks whose favorite movie came in last (i.e. Room/Brooklyn voters were more likely to rank Spotlight higher than The Revenant, Fences/Hidden Figures voters were more likely to rank Moonlight higher than La La Land), I don't exactly see Get Out benefiting significantly from those whose favorite films are The Post and Darkest Hour, the seeming weakest Best Picture contenders. It's worth pondering that perhaps Get Out might be a more divisive movie than pundits think it is among the Academy's more traditionalist wing.
I agree with this point.
It's been a year since the greatest upset in Oscar history, both in terms of how dramatic the events were and, let's be honest, how unprecedented it was. What we know is that it involved: 1) the preferential ballot, and 2) the new Academy. This new Academy has gotten even newer in the past year and it's sent all of our predictions hither and thither, but this afternoon I took another look at the events of last year and something occurred to me...
La La Land hit a wall. It might have been 40% or 50.9%, but it happened.
I'm no psychic, but I'm willing to bet that on the first ballot La La Land had a strong lead over the competition. But then as every ballot was counted and as one film after another was dropped from count, La La Land's lead didn't grow. Let's say you had Lion at number one. Is La La Land your number two? Probably not. Let's say Fences is your number one. Is La La Land your number two? Probably not. But the events of last year are not comparable to this year's because there were essentially three groups of voters: 1) Team La La Land, 2) Team Moonlight, and 3) Team Looking For a Reason to Vote For Moonlight. I know that sounds like a stretch, but if it wasn't the case, then wouldn't La La Land have won?
When I try to play by this rationale, I come up with nothing because the two years aren't comparable. There aren't three "groups" of voters. There are more than ten.
Look at the year prior. My rationale that year was faulty. I thought that The Big Short and Spotlight (two talky movies about smart white people) would cancel out, making room for The Revenant. What I didn't realize was that The Revenant was going to hit a wall. It had a lot going against it (no writing nomination, no SAG ensemble nomination, it lost the PGA) and its lead was going to stop or slow. The question is would something overtake it? And the answer was Spotlight. It's not hard to see people voting for Brooklyn or Bridge of Spies as number one having Spotlight as their number two.
Try to forget the outcome and ask yourself a question about Birdman, 12 Years a Slave, Argo, The Artist, The King's Speech, and The Hurt Locker. All these movies were front-runners to varying degrees. Did they look like they were going to hit a wall? No. In fact, I would argue that the reason they all triumphed is that they were up against other films that were likelier to hit a wall. Like Boyhood or Gravity or Lincoln or Hugo or The Social Network or Avatar.
Let's assume that The Post, Darkest Hour, and Call Me By Your Name don't really have a chance at winning. Let's also agree that were Dunkirk or Phantom Thread to win, it would be even nuttier than last year:
Four films remain: Get Out, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Which film for sure is going to continue to gain?
The Shape of Water. It has nominations in almost every below the line category AND despite its lack of a SAG ensemble nomination it has three acting nominations.
Does that necessarily mean it's going to get to 51% before Get Out or Three Billboards...? No, but if I had to bet, that's where my money would go.