Can Ford v Ferrari Win the Oscar for Best Picture?

Champaign, IL — No matter which film is chosen as “Best Picture” at the end of Sunday’s Academy Awards, Ford v Ferrari has already made Oscar history as the first of more than 100 auto racing-themed movies to be nominated for the academy’s top honor.

Photo: 20th Century Fox

It’s also competing in the categories of film editing, sound mixing and sound editing.

Those are common nominations for racing films; Grand Prix notched wins for film editing, sound and sound effects in the 1966 awards while Bullitt received nods for film editing and sound in 1968, but only won for film editing. More recently, Days of Thunder was nominated for sound in 1990 but didn’t win.

Past results aside, a handful of film industry insiders think that Ford v Ferrari might have at least a better-than-average chance of winning Best Picture because it’s the first of the genre to bridge the gap between people who know motorsports and its players — and those who don’t.

That stems from artfully telling a real story of real people who were also involved with cars. First and foremost, it’s a film about the personal character traits at the foundation of trusted relationships. And it doesn’t hurt that everyone has heard of Ford Motor Company and that many are aware of Carroll Shelby’s influence on the Ford Mustang.

Yes, it can be debated whether Matt Damon was the best choice to play Shelby or if Christian Bale offered the right interpretation of Ken Miles. And of course Phil Remington never sported a mustache. You can also find subtle (and not-so-subtle) nuances that might not be entirely era-correct. But it’s a true tribute to the history of motorsports — and to the drivers who recreate those vintage times on tracks across the United States — that the movie was made at all. The fact that audiences loved it is like having your cake and eating it too. The nomination by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the proverbial icing on that cake.

We need to keep growing interest in vintage cars, especially among those under age 55, to keep the sport vital. That’s why it was good news to get the online audience analytics for January from RACER earlier this week. Those numbers reflect both significant overall audience growth year-over-year and increased reach among online visitors between the ages of 25 and 54, as well as among those under the age of 35. VintageMotorsport.com showed an increase of more than 458% in new users.

Okay, back to the film. Does it have a chance of winning? It’s pretty likely that the special care taken to capture the look and sound of testing and racing a four-wheeled rocket that could beat Ferrari will be rewarded.

And even though the National Board of Review named Ford v Ferrari one of its 10 best films of 2019, oddsmakers are giving it a fairly long shot at taking home the Best Picture Oscar. But the fact that new audiences are talking and learning about Le Mans, Shelby, Miles and Remington — not to mention Dan Gurney, Bob Bondurant, Bruce McLaren and many other legends — means that it’s already claimed the prize.