One of the strangest things about the Academy Awards is the preferential ballot. Basically, the Academy asks members to rank all of the contenders 1-10 (or however many there are). Your favorite film gets #1, your least favorite gets #8 or 9 or 10. Seems simple enough, until you start adding the side rules. If no film reaches 50% of the #1 picks, then you throw out the film with the least #1’s and redistribute the votes to the #2 pick, and so on until you reach #1. Using last year as an example, The Revenant could have gotten the most #1 picks, but considering how many people hated it and would have reactively put it #8. So while it was the most loved film, it wasn’t the most liked. The best strategy to win the Oscar isn’t to be the best film of the year, but the most liked. Spotlight may not have been a vast epic with amazing cinematography and quick snappy editing, but it was quaint, well acted, and no one hated it, so it got the most #2s and #3s, and thus won the Oscar despite not winning any other awards.
Why do I bring this up? Well, because of the preferential ballot, Jeff Nichols’ Loving may be your winner for the 89th Academy Awards. It received a liked, not loved response out of Cannes (albeit from a notoriously picky crowd), no one really hates it, and it seems to be a major contender in the writing, directing and especially acting categories for this year’s Academy Awards. Combine that with the fact that Jeff Nichols already has a critically acclaimed film this year (Midnight Special), and it may be the perfect storm for the Academy. And now Loving has a new trailer.
Starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as the Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple in rural Virginia who are arrested, imprisoned and separated because they decided to get married despite his being white and her being black. After several years of separation, their case goes to the Supreme Court, where they strike a blow against injustice everywhere (if you consider this a spoiler, then you obviously don’t know history, and I pity you).
The film also stars Bill Camp, Nichols favorite Michael Shannon, and acclaimed comedian Nick Kroll as the Lovings’ lawyer. This trailer just cemented this film as a true Oscar contender, as well as one of my most anticipated of the year. You can watch the fantastic trailer below, and see Loving when it comes out November 4th.