Monday, September 16, 2013

What a Race: My thoughts on the Best Picture and Director Oscar races...

Is this really happening!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
Well, with the Audience Award at TIFF going to 12 Years a Slave, it looks like I’m going to have to eat some crow and finally face the facts that my prognosticating radar was defective at the beginning of the year.  To be fair, it’s not like I didn’t have reason to doubt that the Academy would embrace a film by Steve McQueen, but it looks like the subject matter (which is complete AMPAS catnip) won over his auteur direction and has led to unanimous raves that all but guaranty this film a Best Picture nomination. 

The real question remains; can it win?

This is something that will be wildly debated over the next few months, especially with equally auteurish offering Gravity earning raves and frontrunner mentions by many.  Still, as locked and loaded these two films are for nominations, I’m questioning EITHER of them winning Best Picture at this point.  Judging from Oscar’s track record, something more mainstream and ‘safe’ is bound to come along and knock out the ‘special’ and more deserving film.

I’m still banking on American Hustle.

Still, this is looking to be a really interesting race this year, with two clearly loved and significant films gaining traction this early, which is a blessing and a malediction, but the fact that they’ll get nominated should prove to be the biggest blessing of all.  I mean, Steve McQueen and Alfonso Cuaron getting their films in Best Picture and snagging Directing nominations is, without any question, the coolest thing to happen to Oscar in quite a while.

Let’s hope that it sticks.

So, without further ado; here are my current Best Picture predictions (the rest of the categories to come before the month’s end, hopefully).

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Fruitvale Station
Inside Llewyn Davis
Saving Mr. Banks
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Wolf of Wall Street

The tepid reaction to All is Lost has caused me to lose faith in it as a factor outside of Lead Actor, and the more I think about Monument’s Men, the more I’m convinced it is our Oscar failure of the year.  I’m also dropping Her for the time being.  I admit that I went a tad overboard with my reaction to the trailer, and in a year with this much BAIT it does feel like Her just won’t gel with this particular category, but I do feel strongly about its chances elsewhere (more on that to come).

With all this Best Picture talk, I might as well complete this particular picture and give you my current thoughts on Director:

Ryan Coogler/Fruitvale Station
Alfonso Cuaron/Gravity
David O. Russell/American Hustle
Steve McQueen/12 Years a Slave
Bennett Miller/Foxcatcher

So, I dropped Chandor and Scorsese, although I feel like dropping Scorsese may come around and bite me on the ass (never underestimate Scorsese), but McQueen is pretty much a done deal, and Weinstein is getting someone in, and Coogler seems like a really safe bet for a film that is sitting pretty in the Top 5.  I’m thinking that Foxcatcher is going to be a GIANT hit with Oscar, and I’m actually thinking that if the reviews are there then this could be our darkhorse in quite a few key categories, including Picture, Director and Actor.

So, that is all for now.  I’ll be talking some other categories later this week and hope to have it all wrapped up by the end of the month!


  1. Interesting predictions Andrew! I think '12 Years', 'Gravity' and 'American Hustler' are shoo-ins this year. Hmmm, is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty really gonna be THAT good? Well, now you made me curious about it.

    – ruth

    1. I just have a feeling that Smitty is going to be that rousing crowd pleaser that sneaks in with a Christmas release.

  2. Yeah, I think they're both pretty much locked for nominations. Though, I'm worried about Fruitvale Station's chances, and I'm not convinced that American Hustle and Foxcatcher will be that big, especially if Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks come on strong.

    1. I still think Fruitvale is top 5 right now. Things may change, but I'm not dropping it yet.