There may be 9 best picture Oscar nominees, but they don't all have an equal chance of winning.


Only two contenders also have directing and film editing noms, long considered essential to win best picture. And only one of those also has acting noms, a big help since 17% of Academy members belong to the actors branch.


"THE SHAPE OF WATER's" 13 noms reflect across-the-board Academy support – including directing (pictured -- Guillermo del Toro), editing, original screenplay, lead and supporting actress and supporting actor. Its PGA win made it the Oscar frontrunner.


"DUNKIRK" has 8 noms, including directing (Christopher Nolan) and editing -- but no acting nods, a big disadvantage. 


"THREE BILLBOARDS..." has 7 noms, including editing, actress, 2 for supporting actor and original screenplay – but not directing. But with its SAG best cast win, it's "SHAPE's" top competition.


Oscar's byzantine preferential voting system favors consensus rather than passionate voting. So enthusiasm for "SHAPE" vs. "BILLBOARDS" could give us a surprise win that's widely liked rather than loved -- a third choice that everyone's perfectly fine with.


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Passionate voting for "SHAPE" vs. "BILLBOARDS" could prompt a surprise best picture win with broader Academy support.


"DUNKIRK" has 8 noms, but without acting nods it's an uphill battle. It helps that it's up for directing and editing.


"PHANTOM THREAD's" 6 noms include directing, actor and supporting actress. But not being diversity driven or in the editing race hurts.


"DARKEST HOUR's" 6 noms include a likely actor win for Gary Oldman, but it's not up for directing or editing.


"LADY BIRD's" 5 noms include directing, actress, original screenplay. Having a female director (Greta Gerwig – pictured) should help on the diversity front.


"GET OUT's" 4 noms include directing, actor, original screenplay. Its boxoffice success and diversity credentials are a big help.


"CALL ME BY YOUR NAME's" 4 noms include actor and adapted screenplay, but not directing or editing.


"THE POST's" 2 noms (picture and actress) aren't likely to be enough for it to prevail. But never count Spielberg out.


Meanwhile, ticket sales last weekend of $143M were up 1.2% from $141.4M last year, per comScore's Paul Dergarabedian. 2018 is up 2.2% from 2017 vs. up 2.7% a week ago.