19 February 2012

Oscar Zone Vol. III, Part 5: Best Picture Chances

Well folks, we're a week out of the big Ceremony and today we're talking about the biggest category of all - Best Picture. It's time to go through the odds of all these great and sometimes crappy flicks vying against each other. There has been plenty of politicking the past few weeks, and unlike the tough touch-out finish last year, I don't think the winner will really be contested. Nevertheless, let's chat:

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011): Scott Rudin
This emotionally manipulative film barely squeaked into the nine candidates this year and there is very little chance that it will bring home a statue. Beyond the buzz for Max Von Sydow's supporting performance there is very little else here despite the presence of Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. This film overly caters to its Oscar desire and comes off as a very obvious and obnoxious piece of work despite its sensitive subject material.
Chances of Winning: 1/9

War Horse (2011): Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy
This, like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is the kind of expected Oscar bait that just doesn't really work anymore. More recently the Academy has awarded innovation such as Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and the Hurt Locker (2009). More than that, actually, it has awarded the films who can campaign the best. Spielberg, for all his greatness, has a relatively spotty history with the Academy, and if this year's complete snub of The Adventures of Tintin (2011) is any indication (overrated anyway), they're not in a mood to give Steve anything.
Chances of Winning: 2/9

The Tree of Life (2011): Dede Gardner, Sarah Green, Grant Hill, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohlad
I may look foolish for placing this so low on the list here. The strongest indicator of its success is the fact that little people predicted it would be considered for anything - it was too out there or too existential. Despite that notion, it received plenty of nominations and was leading in buzz way back last year after it won the Palme d'Or. That said, it is way too out there and existential to bring it all home. It's the least accessible and digestible nominee and in a year where film nostalgia has dominated the mind of the Academy it would be a shock to award such experimental innovation as Malick has done here.
Chances of Winning: 3/9

The Help (2011): Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan
This is riding a nice wave reminiscent of The Blind Side (2009) or The Kids Are All Right (2010). It's a patronizing film that the Academy can throw in to look progressive. It's that kind of feel-good about a tough subject that has stifled true Black Creativity since Remember the Titans (2000). It is looking more and more like it will sweep the Actress Awards, and its big SAG award for Best Ensemble gives it a boost, but it seems unlikely that it will be Best Picture.
Chances of Winning: 4/9

Midnight in Paris (2011): Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum
Woody pulled off a great upset in 1977 when Annie Hall beat out Star Wars, and that always seems to be a possibility. He has been irrelevant for years but Midnight in Paris seems to give his career some fresh life. I think it is tough for a director like him to get any real buzz behind his work, though, and like Quentin Tarantino his supporters are fanatical yet miniscule in number. We've all had our chance to jump on board the Woody train - we know what we're getting into. That hasn't happened in mainstream yet and it won't suddenly happen Oscar Night.
Chances of Winning: 5/9

Moneyball (2011): Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Brad Pitt
It's nice that this got nominated. It's the rare mainstream biographical film that was good enough to get some critics behind it along with audiences. It's well cast and well produced, but it doesn't really have anything to push it over the edge into winning territory. It's got far more of a chance in the Adapted Screenplay category
Chances of Winning: 6/9

Hugo (2011): Graham King, Martin Scorsese
Hugo acquired some nice buzz since its release but afterwards it never really landed on its feat like it should have. It got a surprising 11 nominations but it's more likely it leaves with only a couple of sound awards. It's similar to Inception (2010) last year, a huge technical achievement by a major director, but not really enough support to earn the best prize. Still, the number of nominations indicates that the Academy was a fan, and along with The Artist (2011), it's got that nostalgia factor working pretty high. Of all the upsets, this may be the most plausible.
Chances of Winning: 7/9

The Descendants (2011): Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
It's always a treat when the Golden Globes split Best Drama and Best Comedy, along with the Screenplay Awards splitting the two-major films between Original and Adapted. The Descendants and The Artist haven't really faced off yet, so it's difficult to say who is going to get what. These two films are counter to each other though. The Descendants is fundamentally depressing, about George Clooney's life falling apart. The Artist is a much more joyful romp and I think that this difference will bog down The Descendants. It's not like nihilism is ruling the day like No Country for Old Men (2007). The buzz isn't there.
Chances of Winning: 8/9

The Artist (2011): Thomas Langmann
Here we go. This is a fairly obvious choice. Despite existing as a black and white silent film in 2012 there hasn't been any film buzzing about like this one, in part especially due to its gimmicky nature. It's looking more likely that Jean Dujardin beats George Clooney at Top Actor and this flick cleans up about everything else. This was an early pic months ago and it's impressive that word has only increased from there instead of fading. It's also a perfect self-honouring move for Hollywood to award a story and dedication to itself, especially in a time when they are threatened by so much more outside media innovation. Why download illegally - watch this film and remember a time when the movie theater was the focal point for all entertainment. It's a great example of the MPAA's shortsightedness and just about a guaranteed win.
Chances of Winning: 9/9

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