The critics have spoken, even the Hollywood Foreign Press has weighed in, although they are indicative of nothing, so tread around their choices carefully. Now that everything has been seen, Here are the films currently vying for the 5-10 spots – yes, even though the Academy went to 10 nominees for Best Picture two years ago, they have once again revised the rules, creating a weighted system of voting that means we can have anywhere between 5-10 nominees, based on a weighted vote. complicated? sure is, but just know that we can expect 7-8 best picture nominees this year, and here they are:
“The Descendents” – WAS the early favorite. It’s directed by Alexander Payne, who has made “Election”, “About Schmidt” and “Sideways”. Add George Clooney in a nominated leading role, and you have the type of “Oscar cred-beloved Actor-terrific reviews” perfect storm. However, as more films emerged, the heat is somewhat off of this film, which is now trending a bit like “Up In The Air,” last year’s early favorite that faded. A nomination is guaranteed, the question is whether it has been passed over as a best pic winner by the most unlikely of movies:
“The Artist” – you know, a black-and-white silent musical from France – just what Oscar ordered. Well, in fact this is a charming little movie that is sneaking up on everyone at exactly the right time – buzz builds in the industry, then explodes when the general public hears there is a magical gem of a film playing down the street. That happened with “The Artist”, especially after the critics all weighed in. and it has The Weinstein Company behind it….they took “Kings Speech” to Oscar glory last year. Now considered the one to beat.
“War Horse” – Weinsteins beat Spielberg in 1998 when “Shakespeare In Love” shocked “Saving Private Ryan” for Best Pic. Steven Spielberg would nowmlike to return the favor, and he has the film to do it. He has made another film that the heartland will LOVE – and that passion will carry over to the older Academy viewer – this has it all: pedigree, heart, emotion, depth and a serious message, all presented by a filmmaker the Academy loves. And he has a horse. Seriously, a heartbreaking tale involving a heroic animal? Oscar will eat it up.
“Hugo” – America’s master filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, makes a love letter to movie making. A nomination is a given, but can the 3D/kids combo hurt it with older voters? If you vote with your heart you go with the “Horse”.
“Midnight In Paris” – Woody Allen’s biggest hit ever, and a return to Oscar attention after a very checkered 20 years. Cannot win, but will be nominated. A bit of an over-reaction in my opinion. A somewhat slight film that isn’t very funny, and why did he need to turn Rachel McAdams into such an unpleasant person? Very off putting, and the ending is so, so, SO slight.
“Moneyball” – this year’s “Blind Side”, an inspirational sports story that has very admired and pretty well liked. Not the type of film, in a year like this, that can win Best Picture, but can be nominated. And Brad Pitt will be a serious contender for Best Actor.
“The Help” – this year’s “The Blind Side” – no, not a sports movie, but an emotionally-fulfilling film that speaks to a greater good. The kind of film that surprises people when it gets nominated, but then they smile and thank the Academy for nominating a movie they loved. This has made Viola Davis the front runner for the Best Actress Oscar.
“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” – early viewers love it, but acknowledge it is an intense intense experience. Still, it’s made by a master film maker, and remember that “The Departed” and “No Country For Old Men” WON… That said, now that it has been seen, it will just be a monster box office hit that won’t get much Oscar love. Seen as too commercial to be an award-winning film. Don’t get mad at me, that is a driver in the voting process.
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” – Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock take on 9/11…no way to know on this one…it has the kind of story, told by the right people, that gets nominated, and reviews have been the kind that drive academy voters to the polls…
“J. Edgar” – the flip side, an Oscar nominee UNTIL people saw it. Just not resonating. Clint Eastwood has won best picture twice, but this has the feel of one that tried to hard and too seriously to be an award-worthy picture…and it won’t be.
“Tree Of Life” – Terence Malick makes another art house masterpiece. Does that mean a BP nomination? 50/50 at this point, but no matter how many critic groups praise it, they don’t vote for the Oscar.
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” – you mean the old PBS mini-series? No, this will surprise people because it is SO SO good…the only question is whether enough people will see it to get it the attention it deserves.
There you have it, the latest on Oscar.
Best picture locks are Descendents, Artist, War Horse, The Help, Midnight in Paris and probably Hugo. The seventh and eighth are in my opinion Moneyball and Incredibly Loud…we will see!