Perhaps the most unexciting category at the Oscars this year is Best Picture. Only two films were even in the conversation to begin with, and the momentum turned toward squarely toward just one of them in January.
Now for the diatribe. Maybe it was just the poor selection of Oscar-caliber films, but the new Best Picture voting system allowing for 5-10 films is a joke. A few of these films had no business being nominated.
Best Motion Picture of the Year
- (45%) “The Artist”
- (10%) “The Descendants”
- (1%) “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
- (5%) “The Help”
- (15%) “Hugo”
- (10%) “Midnight in Paris”
- (4%) “Moneyball”
- (8%) “The Tree of Life”
- (2%) “War Horse”
Prediction: ”The Artist”
More and more in recent years, Best Picture has been linked to Best Director. Only twice in the last 10 years has one film not taken both awards (Ang Lee for “Brokeback Mountain” when “Crash” won Best Picture, Roman Polanski for “The Pianist” when “Chicago” won Best Picture). And even in those two instances, the four losers were all at least nominated.
With that logic in mind, I should really be giving a zero percent chance of winning to The Help, War Horse, Moneyball and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but they will have small bands of voters who loved them and would have otherwise nominated their directors.
You have to especially knock down “Extremely Loud” and “War Horse,” as neither film received even a screenplay nod. I haven’t done all the research, but you’d struggle to find a Best Picture winner who didn’t have a nomination for Best Director of Best Screenplay. True, you could say the same for “The Help,” but Tate Taylor’s film looks to be walking away with two acting awards this year. “Moneyball” has an adapted screenplay nod, but despite it’s solid number of nominations looks to get completely shut out this year.
Of the remaining five contenders, The Tree of Life is the only film to not have a screenplay nomination. The film makes up for it by appealing to the artsy-fartsy voters who love rambling esoteric cinema art, but it would be the biggest surprise on the list to win Best Picture, unless it were to randomly steal Best Director.
I put Midnight and Paris and The Descendants on even ground, though the films couldn’t be further apart from each other in terms of subject matter and tone. Both films lack technical nominations, but are the favorites to with the screenplay awards. If “The Artist” should win Best Original Screenplay, however, you can turn off your TV because it’s a sweep.
Hugo has the most nominations thanks to its technical prowess. That said, it could win many of those awards and get stonewalled in the major categories. In addition to technical achievements, it would need a Best Director win to have a shot at the top prize. It has the second easiest path next to your front-runner.
The Artist is one of the most foregone conclusions in recent Oscar memory, at least since “Slumdog Millionaire.” It’s a crowd-pleaser, sometimes dramatic and serves as homage to classic Hollywood. What old white Academy voter wouldn’t be charmed?
You won’t hear about “The Artist” much in the technical categories in my estimation, but if you do, then it’s even more of a landslide victory than we imagined. I suspect it will take four Oscars. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Score. It could steal a fifth for Best Original Screenplay, but it could just as easily fall short in Best Actor.