Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Predictions: Who Should Get a Best Picture Nomination in 2013?

2012's Best Picture Winner, cast and crew for The Artist
We are in an exciting time for Oscar enthusiasts. We are officially one week away from the announcement of this year's nominees. In order to contribute some thoughts, I will be going down the major categories (Acting, Directing, and Best Picture) and predicting who will be the most likely to get nominated, as well as a few tidbits on why I agree with these decisions. Be warned that every story that I am going to write in relation to predictions will not actually feature any bias towards who should win. However, I will be detailing why I think each should be nominated. Also stay tuned for post-coverage in which I will actually be sharing my thoughts on the nominations and solidify who I believe should win in each category.

I have recently covered Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Director. Now, with less than 24 hours until the announcement, I finally get to the juiciest category: Best Picture. I will be honest, as intriguing as the other categories can be, I take pride in a very well constructed Best Picture category. Sure, there will always be some duds like War Horse, but for the most part I still believe that this category should be reflective of the year in cinema. As it stands, I look back on year's past and accumulate what society was like by what won Best Picture. For instance, war and period pieces seemed oddly popular in the 90's and the 00's featured films exploring identity. 

I feel like we cannot fully judge Best Picture winners immediately. Sure, we can complain that our film didn't win (I still cannot forgive them for crowning The King's Speech over The Social Network), but I feel like these are capsules for the future. When I look back, I imagine that the best of the best will be featured in the lists. Otherwise, I doubt that I would have heard of some of those films. 

As I get further and further into movie criticism, I will admit that there have been some obvious cheats, but I still admire the event because it is an appreciation of film on a scale that has yet to be matched. I mean,  can you take the Golden Globes seriously? No you can't. The Oscars, however, are an established institution, and that is why I trust their opinion and take personal obligation to criticize their every move. I want the best films to be representative of the year, and more importantly the time period.

Before I dive in, I would like to state that I am actually fine with 10 nominees. True, the general five has long been a part of our culture, but the recent 10 slots has given films recognition. I mean, District 9 will now be able to find an audience 20 years from now because it was nominated for Best Picture. I am kind of proud of that. I feel like it gives more films a chance to be explored. However, I am peeved by the sliding scale of 5-10. That bugs me not just because it makes the nominations that much harder to predict, but because it seems sloppy and inconsistent. This was a great year for movies, and I really would like there to be 10 slots. Until last year, that could be possible, now it is a crap shoot. Don't get me wrong, I am still excited, but the sliding scale is one of my personal peeves, along with last year's sole two nominees for Best Original Song.

Onto the predictions. This is an exciting, though more established bunch than I would have assumed. Unlike the last few days, I will not break them up into definitive Front-Runners and Possible Upsets. I will have the Front-Runners still in place, but I will attempt to predict the sliding scale, then cut it off. After that point, I will select the Contenders, or the movies that could fill the remaining slots. This will be challenging, so stick with me.


WHAT: Argo
WHY: Because I seriously believe that it will be Best Picture. While it isn't my personal favorite,  I notice the universal appeal of the story and its ability to blend comedy, tragedy, and a tale about Hollywood (which is one of the Academy's soft spots). It is also just a really well crafted film and probably one that I feel appeals to the biggest audience of the batch. It's exciting and fresh, and Ben Affleck is quickly becoming a director to respect. At very least, this will be one of the top five nominees.

WHAT: Zero Dark Thirty
WHY: I am most intrigued by this film because it feels like it is fighting Argo for the title of most relevant historical event thriller of 2012. Also, director Kathryn Bigelow previously won for The Hurt Locker and with this film ending up on a lot of critic's top 10 lists and sweeping awards season, there is little doubt that this film will at least get nominated. It feels like the Academy is ready to accept post 9-11 stories, as evidenced also by Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. This film is almost also a shoe-in.

WHAT: Les Miserables
WHY: Because not only is Tom Hooper a returning Academy Award-winner, but it is a musical of grand, epic scope. While I still feel like Hooper will be shut out of Best Director for controversial camera work, I still feel like Les Miserables will be a strong contender in this category just for being audacious and ambitious. Also, it helps when there are some fantastic performances and is based on a beloved stage show. It has been awhile since a musical was last nominated and won (Chicago), which gives it more of a chance of recognition as well. 

WHAT: Life of Pi
WHY: Because it is gorgeous and shows what the future of cinema looks like. Ang Lee is a veteran nominee and past winner. The spectacle is fantastic and I feel is one of the most unique experiences in cinema this year. The fact that Lee is able to turn a CGI tiger into an emotionally complex creature is a revelation. I would be crushed if this film didn't get nominated just because it is one of the more interesting selections out there.

WHAT: Silver Linings Playbook
WHY: Because we need to represent comedy somehow? Also, David O. Russell's The Fighter was previously a Best Picture contender, so why not?

WHAT: Lincoln
WHY: Because director Steven Spielberg made an apt portrayal of Abraham Lincoln and since he managed to get War Horse nominated last year, there is a strong chance that its sloppy cousin will get nominated. But hey, at least it looked like someone put effort into the cinematography.However, I want to note that this is an example of me disliking a film because it isn't the best of the year. Actually, I dislike it more because it undermines what I feel Best Pictures should be: lively, engaging, and important to the time. All of the pictures previously mentioned all have more to say about 2012 than Lincoln does.


WHAT: Django Unchained
WHY: Because despite director Quentin Tarantino being a shoe-in with Inglourious Basterds, I still feel like this bloody, racist flick will be a little much for the older Academy voters. His previous film got far because it was a love letter to cinema in the guise of a World War II movie. Here, they have westerns, but a little too deranged for a Best Picture slot. However, his previous credibility may give him an edge in landing a slot.

WHAT: Beasts of the Southern Wild
WHY: I feel like this will be the stock choice when it comes to the representative indie film success story. I feel like there is at least one slot int he past three years that has recognized a smaller film that rose above and somehow became a hit. Beasts of the Southern Wild may not be keeping the traction up and may have been sliced out of the Golden Globes, but I believe that there's something about this film that the Academy will recognize. Either that, or my support will look foolish.

WHAT: The Master
WHY: Because I love this film and want to see it succeed. While I initially pegged it for a front runner, it fell behind and would have to rely on director Paul Thomas Anderson's credibility to get a Best Picture nomination. Otherwise, great performances and direction is not enough, especially as it is more dry and controversial. Still, if Anderson can get recognized for There Will Be Blood, there is still hope for the less universal The Master to sneak in a nomination.

WHAT: Moonrise Kingdom
WHY: It is my favorite movie of the year and I still argue it is the most accessible Wes Anderson film in years.  True, he got nominated last time for Fantastic Mr. Fox, but it would be far more fascinating to see if that credibility can help him land a Best Picture slot. It is a crowded year and I think that he stands the least chance of winning, but I would love to imagine that the Academy's decision to dedicate a few slots to smaller films will benefit Anderson's tale in the long run.

Come back tomorrow for my thoughts on the published nominations.

Is Argo capable of winning Best Picture? Is Beasts of the Southern Wild due for a comeback? Am I naive to assume that Moonrise Kingdom can sneak in the bottom portion?

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