Best Picture Predictions (as of 11-14-12):
Silver Linings Playbook
Life of Pi
Considering all the great movies that have appeared since I last wrote about Best Picture, there’s surprisingly little change from what I already thought. Lincoln, Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, and Les Miz remain frontrunners, while Life of Pi seems like a near lock contender. Still sight unseen, Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty could be Oscar bait or they might be busts. And until critics have their say, The Master, The Sessions, and The Beasts of the Southern Wild seem highly unlikely to sneak into this race.
Argo is currently, and will likely remain, the least polarizing of all this year’s releases. While Lincoln has been widely praised, there continues to be strands of people calling it “boring,” “bloodless,” “stuffy,” or otherwise easy to dismiss. The only knock on Argo is that it’s too “perfect” – too Hollywood-y, if you will. A claim that’s valid when considering the longevity of great art, but one that hardly factors in with the Oscars, especially in an increasingly democratized Hollywood. However, the lack of a strong spine in Argo might hurt it for the win. Something might swing the way of a more confrontational piece like Zero Dark Thirty (assuming it’s confrontational). However, the status quo elections are fresh on our minds so a simple film told well about the nature of American policy might be just what the doctor ordered.
Obviously, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, and Argo are zeitgeisty movies with a finger on the pulse of American politics. I wonder if none of these films will standout enough to win. That makes something like Life of Pi a dark horse to take home the big prize. Ang Lee has much love from voters and he sat in the middle of a bad snub six years ago for Brokeback Mountain. That said, I don’t think Life of Pi, with it’s swatch of garish visual design and spiritual underpinnings has the legs to appeal to all voters. Likewise, Les Miz feels a bit overhyped to me. The trailer doesn’t blow me away and Hooper only has one household name under his belt. Musicals are usually more hit than miss (think Nine, Dreamgirls, and Sweeney Todd) recently. Additionally, they just gave it to Hooper for The King’s Speech so that may factor in as a strike against. I still wouldn’t be shocked if Les Miz was left out.
I’ve been wondering a lot about Django Unchained. The clips we’re seeing look more and more like the kind of fine, precise storytelling that makes Hollywood go gaga for their auteurs. Considering Tarantino’s stature is now going into it’s third decade, and he hasn’t been widely recognized with awards in a long time, one has wonder if the stars are aligned for him to have his big moment. The film, to my eyes, seems too niche and esoteric for the diverse group to universally take to. But then again, No Country for Old Men and The Hurt Locker got by with similarly outside-the-box ideas. When the Oscars decide to go all-in on a filmmaker that has tended to play in their corner of the sandbox, they do so in spades.
As for Amour, I think sometimes people get blinded but what they see as a “crowd-pleaser” amongst film festival folks. As great as that film is, I think that it will alienate most general American audiences. If it had a more black and white sentimental send-off then perhaps it could have pulled enough strings. It doesn’t, and therefore I doubt it will get more than maybe a Screenplay and an Actress nod. Maybe nothing.
Still the film with the least working against it is Argo. Like The Artist last year, people feel like something better has to come knock it off. But maybe that simply will not be the case.
Silver Linings Playbook
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty
Out, Unless Critics Rally:
Beasts of the Southern Wild