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What if ‘Nomadland’ Loses Best Picture?

Frances McDormand in the film NOMADLAND. Photo by Joshua Richardson. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

In all likelihood, we’re now six days out from Nomadland being the latest Oscar winner in Best Picture. Voting for the Academy Awards ends tomorrow, so we’re truly in the eleventh hour for members making up their minds. Despite a small bump or two in the road of late, nothing really suggests that Chloe Zhao‘s film coming up short in the big category. However, as a thought exercise, if nothing else, it doesn’t hurt to consider this unlikely possibility. The movie is sitting rather pretty, but given the unpredictable nature of the awards season, could one final surprise be in store for us? Well…no, not likely, but let us ruminate on it for a bit, all the same.

First off, we should remind ourselves why Nomadland is almost assuredly winning Best Picture. It has the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Critics Choice in its back pocket. Aside from being ineligible at the Writers Guild, its only miss has been a Screen Actors Guild loss. Otherwise? The precursors were damn near a sweep for the beloved independent movie. That doesn’t always mean Oscar glory, but it’s never a bad thing to have working in your favor.

Searchlight Pictures

Now, how could it lose? Well, that’s not something that you can easily quantify. Part of it would certainly have to do with preferential balloting, but in this scenario, the year overall likely has more to do with it. It would be a resistance to something that’s presumably “too small” for the Academy to honor. That could be some of it. Some of it could be that the passion vote is ultimately split among a number of flicks. Then, there’s the female-directed movie “issue,” which is the most ridiculous, but the most conservative of voters could huff and puff about that. Finally, there’s the mostly manufactured recent Amazon-centric controversy. None of it holds much water, but if an upset happens, these are the things that probably have to be chalked up to it happening.

If in fact the film does lose, what would it actually lose to? Well, realistically, it seems like The Trial of the Chicago 7 has the best chance, with that SAG win. Otherwise, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, and Promising Young Woman loom with the hope of the passion vote coming through. I wrote about the chances for Promising Young Woman a few weeks ago here, though that possibility seems to have largely faded. The Trial of the Chicago 7 looms as the presumptive alternate selection, but it just doesn’t appear to have the precursor ammunition to pull it off. That being said, stranger things have in fact happened, as we all know from Oscar’s history…

So, what if Nomadland loses? Well, the world keeps turning on its axis. Life goes on. If we’re thinking Academy-wise, it just signals that this sort of more intimate, indie type cinema is still not always the easiest sell for them. Obviously, some of that factor will rely on what beats it. But, considering how unlikely this is, one has to assume it’s likely because the crowd-pleasing nature of The Trial of the Chicago 7 pulled it out at the last minute.

In any event, this is all very unlikely, so it’s more a thought exercise than anything else. Still, we’ve now at least considered the possibility. Six days from now, we’ll know for sure. Final predictions are coming at the end of the week, so sit tight there. Aside from that, just stay tuned to see what ultimately happens with Nomadland on Sunday evening….

Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

What do you think happens if Nomadland were to lose on Sunday night? Let us know in the comments!


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Written by Joey Magidson

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