1. The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight)
This inventive fairy tale from visionary director Guillermo del Toro netted a field-leading thirteen nominations and won Best Picture with the Producer's Guild - the only other award's group to vote via the preferential ballot like Oscar. It clearly has broad support, but will it gain enough #1 votes over such heavy competition?
2. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight)
This dark comedy has proven divisive enough that it may be too prickly (or problematic, depending on who you ask) to seriously threaten for the prize, but the divisiveness might just be a creation of the internet and not reflective of industry opinion, as the film has steamrolled through the season with major wins at the Globes, SAGs, and BAFTAs.
3. Get Out (Universal)
There seem to be just as many factors working in its favor (exceptional reviews, fantastic box office, captured the zeitgeist) as there are working against it (early release, genre bias - both as a horror and as a comedy). Though perhaps Moonlight's victory last year signals that the newer Academy members are more willing to honor films and stories that appear less traditionally "Oscar-baity."
4. Dunkirk (Warner Bros.)
In years past, a World War II film from a respected and unrewarded filmmaker that received great reviews and exceptional box office would be a no-brainer to win Best Picture. Unfortunately for Christopher Nolan and the Dunkirk team, the momentum never shifted in their favor. Voters might be looking to award a more topically resonant film, and though it will may win a few technical trophies, without a screenplay or acting nomination, it's probably not the consensus choice.
5. Lady Bird (A24)
Coming-of-age and female-focused films are (unfortunately) not your typical Oscar fare, but Lady Bird has connected strongly enough with critics, audiences, and awards voters that it will secure a large block of first place votes to keep it in the conversation. Alas, it looks like it may go home empty-handed unless Greta Gerwig can surprise in Original Screenplay or Laurie Metcalf can overtake Allison Janney for Supporting Actress.
6. Call Me by Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics)
One of the most acclaimed releases of the year (and our favorite film of 2017), Call Me by Your Name will no doubt be #1 with a bullet on many AMPAS members' ballots. It doesn't appear to have connected with a wide majority and there may be hesitation to award an LGBT-themed film a second year in a row, but it can take comfort in its likely Best Adapted Screenplay victory.
7. Phantom Thread (Focus)
One of the real surprises of Oscar nomination morning, the film picked up expected nominations for star Daniel Day-Lewis and for the film's costumes and score, but also nabbed a spot here and for director Paul Thomas Anderson. The nomination is the reward here, though it seems likely to pick up the Costume Design Oscar, so it will at least walk away with some hardware.
8. The Post (Fox)
Given the talent involved and the timely subject matter, the film is a textbook example of a Best Picture nominee. Though the support never materialized beyond a presumed spot in this lineup and one for lead actress Meryl Streep (heard of her?).
9. Darkest Hour (Focus)
I suspect the British contingent (and anglophiles from all over) secured this fairly traditional biopic a nomination here, which only strengthens Gary Oldman's frontrunner status in Best Actor.