We end this first week of predicting the 2013 Oscars with Best Picture. While we still have a long way to go before the Oscars air on Sunday, February 24, 2013 and things are certain to change, we have to start somewhere and with Best Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay under our belts it's time to take the opening stab at the one award we will all have our eyes on over the course of the next five months.
I don't know if it will help with the conversation, but any kind of perspective I think adds to the conversation, so here's a list of the last ten Oscar winners before we take a look at this year's crop of contenders:
- 2012: The Artist
- 2011: The King's Speech
- 2010: The Hurt Locker
- 2009: Slumdog Millionaire
- 2008: No Country for Old Men
- 2007: The Departed
- 2006: Crash
- 2005: Million Dollar Baby
- 2004: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
- 2003: Chicago
I don't know about you, but looking over that list it strikes me at how upset we sometimes get over the eventual Best Picture winner, believing it wasn't entirely deserving and how sometimes we believe the Academy gets it "right". Yet, when you look over the list of the last ten Oscar winners I think it reminds you of not only the films that won, but, in some instances those that lost. When you see The King's Speech can you help but not be reminded of The Social Network? Does Slumdog Millionaire not remind you of the year both The Dark Knight and WALL-E were not nominated for Best Picture? Does Crash not remind you of Brokeback Mountain and Chicago of Gangs of New York and The Pianist?
So, while the eventual winner is typically the safe and expected choice among the nominees, and not always the one most film fans are passionate about, it's clear the films of each year are not forgotten. So don't look at these predictions as the film that is necessarily the "best". Have fun predicting what a group made up of largely 60+ year-old white males will declare the best film of the year.
And with our introduction out of the way, let's begin...
Only eleven days ago my Best Picture predictions had a different winner. Out of Toronto, Silver Linings Playbook and Argo certainly captured the conversation. Since then, the hype has settled down, reality has set in and Les Miserables has emerged as the default front-runner sight unseen.
For those of you that want to quickly rush and say, "But if no one has seen it how can it be the front-runner?!!?!? I don't get it!" To you I say, these are predictions, it's the very nature of predictions to predict that which cannot be known. Based on Academy history and what melts their hearts and gains their attention, the idea of a musical adaptation of one of the most famous written works ever, boasting a technique in which the actors sing live on set and featuring a seemingly perfectly tailored cast is a film many will look at as a clear Oscar front-runner. Of course, quality does play a role, and until the film is seen we will never know for sure, but for now it's a layup to place it at #1.
Don't, however, believe for a second Toronto stars Silver Linings and Argo are out of it as those two fall in my number two and three spots respectively.
My fourth and fifth picks could be flip-flopped, but for now I see Steven Spielberg's Lincoln as the more accessible Academy contender over Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master. It will be interesting to see how the season treats both of these films. The Master could very easily climb depending on how it is campaigned and whether or not the Weinsteins can get Academy members and pundits discussing the film now that it's in theaters and will soon be overshadowed by the major releases to come.
As for Spielberg's Lincoln, it will have its coming out party shortly. It's been rated by the MPAA, which means it's completed and will begin screening in New York and Los Angeles with screenings for various critical orgs around the country soon enough.
Next I have a couple of early year indie features in Beasts of the Southern Wild and Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom. Both have enjoyed critical acclaim and Moonrise had an excellent box-office run as it will make its way to DVD and Blu-ray mid-October and hopefully continue to gain traction. Both of these films, however, feel like wild cards that could very easily be overlooked as some major releases are right behind them.
First is Ang Lee's Life of Pi, which will actually have its coming out party only a few hours after the posting of this article at the New York Film Festival and reaction to that screening could very easily change these predictions only hours after they're posted. In fact, Variety's Justin Chang has already posted the first review and opens it with the following paragraph:
A literal crouching tiger is merely one of many visual wonders in Ang Lee's Life of Pi, a gently transporting work of all-ages entertainment that melds a harrowing high-seas adventure with a dreamy meditation on the very nature of storytelling. Summoning the most advanced digital-filmmaking technology to deliver the most old-fashioned kind of audience satisfaction, this exquisitely beautiful adaptation of Yann Martel's castaway saga has a sui generis quality that's never less than beguiling, even if its fable-like construction and impeccable artistry come up a bit short in terms of truly gripping, elemental drama.
Should I already move it up the ladder?
And to close out what I see to be a list of nine nominees at this point I have Joe Wright's Anna Karenina gaining the final, and tentative, slot on the list. It's a film I did not like, but as I said, predicting Oscars isn't about our taste, but the taste of the Academy and I think there just might be enough support for this one to find it among the final nominees... for now.
There is still plenty of competition just outside my top nine and things could change very quickly. Also playing the New York Film Festival is Robert Zemeckis' Flight starring Denzel Washington. It could easily become a major contender depending on early reactions.
I have Michael Haneke's Amour on the outside looking in at this time as I'm not sure the tough subject matter and foreign nature of it will win over the Academy. In fact, another film that takes a tough subject and puts a lighter spin on it in The Sessions could very easily trump Amour's chances.
Question marks such as the unseen Hitchcock, Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained continue to loom, the latter of which is now rumored to potentially make its debut at the Rome Film Festival beginning on November 9. The film doesn't hit theaters until Christmas Day and there is talk of a long editing process, but an Italian debut sounds rather appropriate given the nature of the product.
Other films to be considered include The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Considering all three Lord of the Rings films earned Oscar nominations when the field was made up of only five nominees is it possible The Hobbit will miss out when there are ten? Right now I have it in 13th position, but that could very easily jump to #10 or higher as films are seen and begin to fall by the wayside. After all, wouldn't the Academy love to get a few more eyeballs on their ceremony by awarding such a beloved product in the hopes it would pick up where Return of the King left off?
The Hobbit, however, is not my biggest question mark, that belongs to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I have not seen this film but it has a 77% RottenTomatoes rating and made over $131 million worldwide earlier this year. Not to forget it includes the likes of Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy among its cast. Could this be the one film all Oscar prognosticators are foolishly overlooking?
We still have a ways to go, but we have jumped out of the starting gate. Let's see where the race takes us.
- Les Miserables
- Silver Linings Playbook
- The Master
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Moonrise Kingdom
- Life of Pi
- Anna Karenina
Once again, get the full list here.