Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

So, with discussing the Best Picture Race for 2011 yesterday, I decided to do a quick update on the Best Picture 2012 Predictions (seen on the right side of the blog).  This will probably be my last update before the critic’s awards start rolling in, and I did want to do another update before heading off for vacation (this blog will be so quiet for three weeks…don’t forget about me!). 
Last updates Top Ten was:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Impossible
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
The Master
Silver Linings Playbook
In all honesty, I don’t see this changing much at the moment.  The only other film I truly go back and forth with is Moonrise Kingdom, which could have resurgence with the critics and is a near lock in Original Screenplay.  Still, this month has brought us some further insight into the race, and the weather is so wintery I can’t help but just fall into this ‘predict the Oscars’ mood.
As I have been from the beginning (and I mean EARLY THIS YEAR), I’m all in for Les Miserables to take this and I only foresee one dark horse in this race; Argo.  It’s topical, respected, entertaining and would make an appropriate winner, especially when you consider that Ben Affleck is respected and well liked in the industry, and his last two directorial efforts were very well received, The Town just missing a Best Picture nomination.  I still see those two films as out in front of this race in a pretty big way.  Les Miserables, while unseen, has the makings of an undeniable force this year.  The source material is respected and beloved and the cast is flooded with talented stars, Oscar winners and nominees and then you have the director who just won an Oscar two years ago.  Besides, denying that it will be huge after seeing those ‘behind the scenes’ clips is foolish.  This has the prospect of being not only a critical juggernaut but also a box office giant.
1)      Les Miserables
2)      Argo
So now we have Silver Linings Playbook, which stormed TIFF and became that overnight sensation last month.  It is still very much in this race and I don’t see a scenario where it fails to get in.  It has the charm (allegedly) and the poignancy (supposedly) and it’s just been raved to high heavens on almost all accounts.  This is looking to be a serious contender in more than a few categories at this point.  I think it is safely resting in this pocket of ‘sure to be nominated/no chance of winning’. 
Life of Pi got a serious boost this past month with reviews flooding in rapturous approval.  Critics were crying, fawning, weeping, praising; you name it.  They loved the shit out of this movie.  There was rarely a Tweet to be read that wasn’t drenched in hyperbole.  I think it’s safe to say that Life of Pi got the largest boost in this category (and probably Director) of all the candidates vying for a spot in the race.  Some have coined it this year’s Hugo (I was one of them) so let’s see how that works out for it.  I mean, if Argo isn’t a dark horse as much as the ‘next in line’ then maybe Life of Pi is the true dark horse in this race.
3)      Silver Linings Playbook
4)      Life of Pi
After this, things get sticky.  There are a large handful of films vying for a smaller handful of spots.  There won’t be ten nominees, but as last year proved; there could be nine (and the ninth nominee could be a complete surprise).  You can break down those potentials in a few categories.
Respected Pedigree
Django Unchained
The Master
Zero Dark Thirty
Critical Darlings
Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Impossible
Moonrise Kingdom
The Sessions
Out of Left Field Shocker
Cloud Atlas
The Dark Knight Rises
The Intouchables
That’s fifteen films and about four spots to fill.  I’m hedging my bets on eight nominees at the moment, because that just seems about right.  I think that the rule change with AMPAS and Best Picture should garner 7-8 nominations every year, unless someone BUYS themselves a nomination.  So, with four of those slots taken up, we come down to deciding which of these remaining contenders has the biggest shot at a nomination.
As was proved by War Horse last year, Spielberg can get his films nomination even when the reviews aren’t very kind.  I’ve said that Lincoln was getting in all year, and I haven’t changed my mind there.  The early word is positive from those who have seen it.  I should say ‘mostly positive’ since there has been some disappointment, and the reviews are nowhere near those experienced by Argo, Silver Linings Playbook or Life of Pi, but they are solid enough to pick up a Best Picture nomination.
The Impossible also has received a major boost over the past month, with the audience reaction to it at TIFF being rather rapturous.  It is a heartfelt and moving cinematic experience, and Oscar loves to vote with their hearts, so I think that The Impossible is looking good to snag quite a few nominations, even if it wins absolutely nothing.
I also think that Flight is going to be seen as the comeback for Zemeckis and maybe even Denzel in a way, and the fact that it is closing out NYFF is a good sign.  I think I completely underestimated this all year, and I’m willing to eat crow and say that it is looking really good in a number of categories, including this one.
5)      Lincoln
6)      The Impossible
7)      Flight
So that leaves me with one spot.  The Master would seem like the most logical choice, given the pedigree and the initial reception, but the buzz has faded and the reaction was very diverse, and that could spell trouble for a film of this nature.  Some find it utterly fascinating and others see it as empty and boring.  The pendulum sways so far.  It will surely get some #1 votes, but will it be 5% worth?  Moonrise Kingdom has been touted by some as this year’s Midnight in Paris, but I’m not so sure about that.  It would really need to pick up a ton of critic’s prizes to earn that badge, and I’m not sure it will do that (outside of Screenplay).  If it lands on NBR’s top ten and then starts to pick up Ensemble mentions left and right then I could see it sneaking in with SAG and becoming a real player, but at the moment I’m not so sure.  Sight unseen, I think that Django Unchained is going to disappoint and don’t really see it registering at all, and while I am beginning to wonder if Harvey Weinstein might really push The Intouchables to a Best Picture nomination; I’m still not sold on that possibility yet.
So, with much deliberation, I’m sticking with Beasts of the Southern Wild for that last spot.  Sure, the buzz has faded but it was such a huge surprise that I’m sure the critics will continue to eat it up and I fully expect a resurgence to come its way in late November.
8)      Beasts of the Southern Wild
So that is what I’m thinking.  I could be crazy, but it looks right about now.  I’m sure the next few months will throw in some wrenches and really, until a few films are seen we won’t know how Oscar will respond.  I’m holding my breath on Django Unchained, Hitchcock and Zero Dark Thirty.  They could play really well with Oscar, and then again they could be completely ignored.  Only time (and reviews) will tell.  Until then, I’m sticking with this top eight.


  1. Do you listen to In Contention's Oscar Talk podcast? Because Kris Tapley and Anne Thompson were just talking about The Master, and how it might not get nominated after all. I think it's very possible. Until the awards season really gets going, I still think it's in right now.

    I agree it's Argo vs. Les Mis, and that Les Mis appears to be gaining the momentum for Oscar glory. At this point, I'm going to be gutted if Les Mis is a letdown.

    1. I didn't, but I've been on the fence with The Master for a while. The reviews just weren't rapturous enough for it to cement a spot in the race, especially with all the 'end of year' big guns refusing to fail. I mean, it would really take one of the big boys to open to devestating reviews for The Master to get in at this point.

      But I could totally see PT Anderson getting a WTF Director nomination.

      And yes, if Les Miserables doesn't wind up being the best movie I've ever seen I'm going to be crushed :-P