If you happen to be one of the 7,902 eligible Academy voters who have yet to cast your ballot, I would suggest you start thinking about it as you only have this afternoon to do it. Polls close at 5 p.m. PT, and that’s it.
The campaign — often a sorry excuse for decorum — finally will be over after starting in earnest with the fall festival trifecta of Venice, where Roma came out triumphant; Telluride; and then Toronto, where Green Book took the emerging race by surprise and won the all-important People’s Choice Award, often a predictor of Oscar glory. Common consensus has it that those two films are the two most likely to be left standing as accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers begins sorting through the ballots, trying to come up with Oscar’s least least-liked Best Picture contender out of the eight nominated. Then again, astoundingly at this point, it could be anyone’s ballgame as this has been a crazy year. That includes Sunday’s WGA Awards, where for the first time in decades, neither top film award went to a Best Picture Oscar nominee, and one of them (Eighth Grade) won Original Screenplay without having a single Oscar nomination to its name. The winner for Adapted Screenplay, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, is up for three Oscars, but like the other usually telltale and Oscar-predictive guild contests this year, there is absolutely no agreement on which film is best or delivering any momentum when it is needed most. Five different movies won at five major guilds, and the story was repeated fairly consistently at the other guild banquets. So which way will Oscar turn for the one award that really counts?
It is still a work in progress until 5 p.m, so if you want to be a king-maker, it’s time to fill out your ballot before Russia gets hold of it. This is the first year where no paper ballots are allowed; it is all online, which means there is still time, brother. Even in the pre-online era, voting consultants estimated that as many as 500 paper ballots would be walked into or messengered to the downtown Los Angeles offices of Pricewaterhouse on the final day. Now you can be a straggler with no sweat. I know of at least two voters who just turned in their choices late Monday, indicating there are a lot more just like them.
Oscar campaigners who have been waging the bitterly fought battle for the past six months are going right to the wire. Oscar ads on the morning shows today included Vice, If Beale Street Could Talk, BlacKkKlansman, Incredibles 2, Bohemian Rhapsody and, of course, Roma — which has had a non-stop presence on the air for several weeks. Those are just the ones I caught. No doubt Green Book, A Star Is Born, Black Panther and The Favourite are joining in. Amazon still was taking out full-page ads in the Los Angeles Times today and is all over the Net hoping to pull an upset for Polish Foreign Language Film nominee, Cold War. And so it goes.
The money has been flowing, particularly from streamers like Amazon but especially Netflix, which might have set a record — $25 million? $30 million? $50 million? Depends who you talk to — for spending to get their first Best Picture win. We’ll know soon enough if it paid off. This remains a wide-open race, and the outcome still is very murky thanks to the Academy’s use of preferential ranked voting in the Best Picture category.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time.