This year the Academy implemented new rules that basically stated that depending on how nomination voting goes, there would be no set number of nominees for the Best Picture category as in year’s past. Through there would always be a minimum of five nominations, up to ten total could make the ballot depending on how voting went. Which is how we ended up this year with an odd number of nine Best Picture nominees.
I personally like this rule change even better than implementing the mandatory ten nominations that we’ve had the past two years. It still gives us the potential for more than five films to score a Best Picture nomination, but doesn’t force films in there that might not be worthy. Also, it definitely adds a sense of mystery leading up to the nominations as no one really knows which additional films will make it in (it’s almost like March Madness bracketology in some respects).
Something to remember about this category, it’s the only Oscar category that the entire Academy can vote on. Depending on what branch of the Academy a person is in, they can only vote on awards in those categories (ie: someone in the actor’s branch can’t vote on the Sound Mixing category, etc). In any case, here we are this year with nine nominees for Best Picture.
Who I Think SHOULD Win: The Descendants
I’ve been singing it’s praises for a while now and out of all the other films in the field, I like The Descendants the most. On a subconscious level it may be a homer pick, but aside from that it has a lot of other things going for it . . . first and foremost being great acting. Yes you’ve got Clooney in the starring role, but you’ve also got a great ensemble supporting him as well. Shailene Woodley first and foremost I think should have gotten a supporting nomination for her role as Matt King’s daughter. Then you’ve got really solid secondary performances by Robert Forster as Matt’s father-in-law and Judy Greer as the opposite spouse that’s been cheated on. Like I said, the cast is great top to bottom. The other thing that the film has going for it is great storytelling. I don’t know if it’s Kaui Hart Hemmings book or the way that Alexander Payne put the film together (probably both), but I thought they way everything unfolded, was explained, and felt; was great.
On everyone else . . .
The Artist: I like The Artist (as apparently so do a whole lot of other people). As a whole it’s wonderfully shot and wonderfully conceived, but like I mentioned in my previous posts about the actors’ race, I think the silent film “hook” of the film is what’s giving it a lot of play. Don’t get me wrong, the film has a lot going for it with great performances by both of the leads, but take away novelty and what have you got?
The Help: The film definitely has the best ensemble cast out of all the nominees with not just one, not just two, but count em, three actresses nominated for Oscars coming out of this film. The story is fun and the book is beloved by all. So why won’t it win? Partly because I don’t think there’s one singular thing for the audience to focus on in the film. When everyone in the cast is great–no one is great. Secondly, the Academy has a history of voting for smaller (not mainstream) films. I won’t be surprised if they go for another film over The Help. A lack of technical nominations isn’t going to help either.
Hugo: The film is a visual masterpiece and a wonderfully heartwarming story about the early days of cinema. And it’s also the one film that makes me wish I had a 3D TV (for when it comes out on blu-ray next week Tuesday). However, with no stand out acting performances in the film, it won’t take home Best Picture. Nostalgia is always best when you just look back fondly on things. Sadly, the same things goes for Hugo.
Midnight In Paris: Ok, Midnight is actually a curious case because it would seem like the perfect Oscar bait for The Academy to bite on. It’s got a great director in Woody Allen returning to form, it’s got art nostalgia with it’s main character visiting artists in the past, and it’s sent in Paris. But, Midnight is also afflicted with the same things that I just mentioned about Hugo . . . it doesn’t have great acting to support it and the nostalgia factor can only take it so far.
Moneyball: Like the Best Actor race, I really like Moneyball but it’s in my three spot after films I like more in The Descendants and The Artist. You’ve got wonderful performances anchoring with it and an unconventional sports story to boot. However, I think the story is too new for the Academy to recognize. Also, only a small percentage of sports films have been nominated for Oscars let alone have won the top prize (only three: Rocky-1976, Chariots of Fire-1981, & Million Dollar Baby-2004). With more to choose from with this year’s nominees, it’s going to be hard for Moneyball to snag the top prize.
War Horse: Everybody loves Steven Spielberg. Anytime he puts out a film you know it’s definitely worth going to see. Sadly though, I think our expectations for him our too high these days as I wasn’t all that amazed by War Horse. Don’t get me wrong, I was invested in Joey’s story and when he gets tripped up (literally) in No Man’s Land I winced along with everyone else in the crowd. The film is also wonderfully shot and put together as well. But, if anything, the film felt so stereotypically “Spielbergian.” If I had to convey to someone what a typical Spielberg film looked like, I would describe War Horse to them as everything seemed like it was a process or paint (or film if you will) by numbers. Typcial Spielberg isn’t going to win any Oscars.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close & The Tree of Life: Did not view.
Who WILL Win: The Artist
The reality of the situation is that The Artist has always been the frontrunner and seems poised to win. As I’ve mentioned before it’s got great acting and the ‘old Hollywood story’ that I’m sure the Academy will eat up. However, it’s also got 10 nominations going for it, which means that it’s also well liked in the more technical areas of the film as well (it’s nominated for Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Music-Original Score). Remember in the beginning of this post when I mentioned that all branches of the Academy can vote on Best Picture? That’s where having a lot of nominations comes in to play. The Artist will most likely be picking up votes from all branches of the Academy which will probably propel it to victory.
So some things came up and I had to change the order of my Oscar Watch posts. Yesterday I mentioned I would be covering the Oscar shorts today. Well that post will be coming tomorrow now instead (hopefully) and possibly one or two more Oscar categories to conclude our Oscar Watch coverage before the awards on Sunday. You have any opinions on the Best Picture winner or nominees for this year? Am I being too much of a homer by picking/wanting The Descendants to win? Let us know in the comments.
More Oscar Watch Reading . . .
Seems like Borat/Bruno star Sacha Baron Cohen (who is attending because he was in Hugo) wants to crash the Oscar ceremony dressed as his new character from his upcoming film The Dictator. Well of course the Academy doesn’t like that one bit. [link]
Speaking of voting for Best Picture nominees, over at Cinema Blend they look at ‘Why It’s Ridiculous to Have 9 Best Picture Nominees.’ Their solution is to go smaller, like down to three nominations for Best Picture. I think that’s a worse idea. [link]