Academy Award for Best Pic­ture up for grabs

It’s per­haps a shade ironic that the Academy Awards flirted with hav­ing a most-pop­u­lar-film Os­car this year to get more eyes tuned into the Feb. 24 cer­e­mony, and the best-pic­ture slate might be in­un­dated with hits any­way.

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Brian Truitt

“Crazy Rich Asians,” with Con­stance Wu and Henry Gold­ing, is 1 of 5 films in the mix for the golden stat­uette.

Os­car best pic­tures aren’t al­ways the biggest box-office pow­er­houses. But the 2019 list of Pro­duc­ers Guild Award nom­i­nees – a bell­wether for Os­cars – offers up five films that have made more than $174 mil­lion (“Black Pan­ther,” “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “A Quiet Place” and “A Star Is Born”).

Even though the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences tem­po­rar­ily shelved a pop­u­lar-film Os­car, next month’s cer­e­mony looks to star some au­di­ence-ap­proved en­tries. With no ap­par­ent front-run­ner yet head­ing into the Os­car nom­i­na­tions on Jan. 22, here are five cine­matic smashes (in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der) that could take Hol­ly­wood’s biggest prize.

‘Black Pan­ther’

Key nom­i­na­tions from the Globes, PGA, Writ­ers Guild Awards and Screen Ac­tors Guild Awards make a best-pic­ture nom­i­na­tion all but cer­tain for 2018’s su­per­hero pow­er­house. The fact that it’s crit­i­cally ac­claimed and made $700 mil­lion help at a show that has hon­ored block­busters be­fore. Add in the movie’s univer­sal good­will and a younger, more di­verse academy vot­ing con­tin­gent, and Mar­vel’s first Os­car might be a mem­o­rable one.

‘Bo­hemian Rhap­sody’

Love it or hate it, the ode to Fred­die Mer­cury isn’t go­ing any­where. The Golden Globes win plus a Screen Ac­tors Guild best-cast nom­i­na­tion so­lid­ifies its place as a con­tender. “Rhap­sody” also has a strong lead­ing man in Rami Malek, who won a best-ac­tor Globe. A “Rhap­sody” best-pic­ture win might have been laugh­able to some Os­car watch­ers a week ago – now, it doesn’t seem so stone-cold crazy.

‘Crazy Rich Asians’

Of the likely best-pic­ture nom­i­nees, the all-Asian ro­man­tic com­edy is prob­a­bly the biggest throw­back to old­school Hol­ly­wood, and its os­ten­ta­tious vibe and feel-good na­ture could play well for Os­car vot­ers still into the clas­sics. “Asians” has the right re­sume, and as with “Black Pan­ther,” its em­pha­sis on rep­re­sen­ta­tion will ap­peal to a crop of chang­ing Os­car vot­ers.

‘A Quiet Place’

John Krasin­ski’s pop­u­lar hor­ror film is a true dark horse com­pared with the other four here, since “A Quiet Place” is sit­ting on the fence wait­ing to see if it’ll get in­vited to the party. But it has ratch­eted up an im­pres­sive awards cam­paign, earn­ing nods from the Pro­duc­ers Guild and the Writ­ers Guild. It also could score nom­i­na­tions in tech­ni­cal cat­e­gories with its in­no­va­tive use of sound (and lack thereof). If no one or two films break from the pack, “A Quiet Place” could make some noise.

‘A Star Is Born’

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s built-for-Os­car mu­si­cal love story won just one Globe out of a pos­si­ble five – and lost to “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” for best drama and ac­tor, which sent some heads spin­ning. Don’t panic: The Globes aren’t his­tor­i­cally the great­est in­di­ca­tor for Os­car suc­cess, and “Star” re­mains the clos­est thing to a fa­vorite there is this year. There’s a good chance it’ll earn a swath of high-profile nom­i­na­tions, and it’s a well-re­garded redo of one of the quintessen­tial Hol­ly­wood tales. So no rea­son to throw away those ac­cep­tance speeches yet, Bradley and Gaga.

WARNER BROS. PIC­TURES

ALEX BAI­LEY/20TH CEN­TURY FOX

Rami Malek stars in “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody,” win­ner of a pair of ma­jor awards at the Golden Globes.

MAR­VEL STU­DIOS

“Black Pan­ther,” star­ring Lupita Ny­ong’o, Chad­wick Bose­man and Danai Gurira, could be Mar­vel’s first big Os­car win­ner.

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