The Oscar race officially kick-off September 1st with the start of the Telluride Film Festival. Its rare nowadays for a film to not play at Telluride, Toronto or Venice and win Best Picture.

We are beginning a year after the Moonlight surprise that will define Oscar history. The wrong name read from the envelope, La La Land and the right movie actually winning, Moonlight. It was hard not to predict La La Land as the winner.  When La La Land was announced, it wasn’t a huge shocker. It had been the frontrunner all season long. Except when you look at the stats, Moonlight was bound to win. It had the SAG ensemble nomination. Actors rule the SAG and Actors liked Moonlight. The preferential ballot also comes into play. The system is designed for the movie that is the least hated to win. Doesn’t necessarily mean its the best movie of the year, just the lease decisive.

We don’t expect this year to be much different. If the Oscars were held today, Dunkirk would mist likely win Best Picture and it still can. Its a movie that is generally liked and their is not too much bad to say about it.

But first we have the Fall film festivals where movies will be judged by the people who decide what gets into the Oscar race. Venice gets underway this week. Telluride next week. Both are important stops to getting a Best Picture nomination.

2010: The King’s Speech (Telluride) 127 Hours (Telluride)
2011: The Descendants (Telluride) The Artist (Cannes and Telluride)
2012: Argo (Telluride)
2013: 12 Years a Slave (Telluride) Nebraska (Telluride) Gravity (Telluride and Venice)
2014: Birdman (Telluride) The Imitation Game (Telluride)
2015: Spotlight (Telluride) Room (Telluride)
2016: Moonlight (Telluride) Arrival (Telluride,Venice) La La Land (Telluride, Venice) Manchester by the Sea (Telluride, Sundance)

Assuming Dunkirk only gets a nomination, your Best Picture winner is likely to come from one of the following festivals:

Venice: August 30-September 9

Telluride: September 1-4

Toronto: September 7-17

New York: September 29-October 15

San Diego: October 4-8

Middleburg: October 19-22

AFI: November 9-16