Awards Watch writer Erik Anderson, who I finally had the pleasure of meeting at TIFF this year, knows his stuff and his list of the ten films most likely to be rewarded with a Best Picture nomination, is, more or less, what we'll likely be greeted with come nominations day January 24th. Although, I would replace the impenetrable "If Beale Street Could Talk" with "Eighth Grade." Also, if "Vice," the Dick Cheney movie, fails critically and/or commercially, I can see "The Hate U Give," which is going to get a huge push with reviews and box-office intake, sneak into the Best Picture race.
However, I do disagree with the rankings. I think "Green Book" should be considered the front-runner. Yes, it's what you might call "safe entertainment" but it reminded me of those old-school Hollywood buddy comedies that just aren't made anymore (think "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" with much more socio-political relevance). It's not only one of the funniest, most entertaining films of the year, but it just feels right up the Academy's alley. After honoring some fairly artsier fare for Best Picture these last few years ("Moonlight," "The Shape of Water"), I believe we're going back to safe, feel-good entertainment being honored for Best Picture. The state of America demands it and "Green Book" is the kind of film both left and right can come together and agree is a very good movie.
There may be more finely-tuned, and worthier artistic statements this year ("Roma," "BlackKklansman," "Eighth Grade," "Leave No Trace" etc.) but people coming together to herald "Green Book" is an almost irresistible proposition for America, especially given its current state.