If past is prologue, hundreds of Mill Valley Film Festival attendants have now seen this year’s Best Picture Oscar winner. In every year since 2010, that coveted award went to a film that had its Bay Area premiere at Marin’s big festival.
Whatever it will be, I haven’t yet seen this year’s winner. Although I’ve seen 17 feature films shown at the Festival, I was not able to catch any of the big titles. I didn’t see Loving, La La Land, or Arrival. American Pastoral eluded me. And I failed to catch Bleed for This.
On the other hand, there’s a good chance that I’ve seen the Best Foreign Language winner. My pick of what I’ve seen would be Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman. But Farhadi’s A Separation won four years ago, so he might not get it this time. But I’d be happy to see Julieta, Toni Erdmann, or A Man Called Ove win the subtitled Oscar.
Despite my not having seen it, I’m now going to predict this year’s Best Picture winner: It will be Mill Valley’s closing film, Loving.
Since I haven’t yet seen the movie, I can’t say that it should win. I want to see it, and I want it to be good enough to earn the statue I believe it will get. Here’s why I think it will win:
Remember @OscarSoWhite? Last year, the Academy embarrassed the whole industry by its overwhelmingly Euro-American selection of nominees. So this year, they’ll go for something that will tell the world that Hollywood isn’t racist (which, of course, it is).
But which African-American film should they celebrate? Birth of a Nation? There’s that rape controversy. Moonlight? I loved it, but everyone in it is black and the lead character is gay. That’s a little too tolerant for the Academy.
But Loving is perfect. It has white and black leads. It’s about the horrors of segregation. It’s set in the 1960s, which is just barely far enough away for us to feel superior. And we know going in that it has a feel-good, we’re-no-longer-a-racist-country happy ending.
So Loving will win the Oscar. Unless, of course, I’m wrong.