Great analysis of where the race stands as we head into next week.
There's a good possibility The Post ends up having a Selma-like haul. I've learned not to bet against Meryl Streep -- and probably won't be doing so this year -- but should she miss, it's very possible the movie only hangs on to Picture and Original Score. (If there is one thing I will never bet against, it's a John Williams nomination). The WGA miss is a genuinely bad sign for its Screenplay chances, and can't really be explained away by the late release date. (For what it's worth, that screener came to us a week before The Shape of Water did, which still managed to land a nomination). That, and the DGA omission suggest folks just aren't quite jiving to it in the way many anticipated based on pedigree/subject, and I have a tough time seeing it overperform.
It's interesting that Sabin compared Sean Baker to Zeitlin (and I love that you referred to him as a young guy breaking through, as it's quite encouraging for me to hear a 46 year-old referred to that way). Because one thing I was thinking about is that both Amour and The Tree of Life, two films we've often used as arthouse precedents for Picture/Director candidates, were directed by veteran filmmakers with pretty established fan bases. (Malick even had previous Picture/Director Oscar nominations). Which is to say, I wonder if Anderson might have a stronger base of support within the Academy, making Phantom Thread a stronger player for this spot than The Florida Project. I still get the feeling Florida Project will end up like American Honey with an acting nomination, but of course it's still similar enough to Beasts of the Southern Wild that its hopes might not be completely over just yet.
Another interesting quirk is that, under the old system, Phantom Thread seems like the kind of movie that would get Director/Screenplay, but miss Best Picture (i.e. Vera Drake, Talk to Her, The Sweet Hereafter). But now with the expansion, and with the supremely competitive Director and Original Screenplay fields this year, I'd actually rate Best Picture the MOST likely of the three nominations for Phantom Thread to pick up.
It's pretty rare to have a movie that seems like it genuinely could be a Best Picture nominee, but could also blank completely, but The Big Sick still feels like it's right in that spot. Most of the other potential candidates have at least one or two dead-certain nominations, but The Big Sick is perilously on the bubble in all three of its potential categories. I could just as easily see voters embrace it wholeheartedly or not at all.
I of course don't think it will get a Best Picture nomination, but it's probably at least worth mentioning Wonder Woman, which got PGA AND AFI nominations, and which you know will be the subject of plenty of "the Academy snubbed popular movies" articles on nomination morning. (Or, god forbid, "the Academy snubbed female directors" pieces, if Gerwig misses.) The precedent for a nomination is about zero, but I might at least admit that its nomination chances are at least slightly above zero.