When the Academy Award nominations were announced, there was no question that Lincoln was the film to beat. But, something unique happened that the makers of Argo could never had predicted: Ben Affleck's snub for Best Director would catapult his film into the favorite's spot to win Best Picture. But will it? Oscar Watch looks at the race for Best Picture.
Lincoln began awards season as the clear front-runner. It has everything that the Academy loves: Steven Spielberg directing, Daniel Day Lewis in a role of a lifetime (and that is saying something) and a screenplay by Tony Kushner that is based on the definitive Lincoln biography A Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Our Lincoln review certainly felt that way! But, as the weeks went on, the momentum seemed to shift to...
Argo could become the oddest of Best Picture winners. In the last several decades only one film, Driving Miss Daisy, has won Best Picture without having its director nominated for Best Director. Sure, everyone was aghast when Affleck was the leader of the Oscar snubs. But, who would have thought that would have translated to a virtual love affair for his solid film resulting in Best Picture wins at the Director's Guild, Producer's Guild, the Golden Globes, Critics' Choice... you get the picture!
Zero Dark Thirty is not having that same rallying cry when its helmer, Kathryn Bigelow, was snubbed for a Best Directing nomination. One could argue it is the backlash against the torture scenes in the movie that depicts that decade-long effort to capture Osama bin Laden. Perhaps it is also because Bigelow recently won Best Director for her work on The Hurt Locker. Yet, looking at the most thrilling Zero Dark Thirty trailer, it's honestly hard to understand how her film isn't getting the same love as Argo. Wait... it's because Hollywood is the hero in Argo!
Django Unchained has become Quentin Tarantino's most successful film and one could argue it is also his most socially relevant. As we stated in our Oscar Watch: Predicting Best Screenplay edition, Tarantino is our pick to win Best Original Screenplay. But the chances that he wins Best Picture for his latest revenge flick are quite slim. We love you QT, but the Academy will not reward you this year in the big dance. Perhaps soon!
Amour gets the "glad to be nominated" award of all the Best Picture nominees. The Austrian-German film will win Best Foreign Film and even though its screenplay, director and lead actress are all nominated... it's best bet lies with Best Foreign Film. It is a wildly heart-wrenching film, as evidenced by these Amour quotes. The movie is definitely one that should be seen, if at all possible, before Oscar night.
All a viewer has to do is look at the Life of Pi trailer and see what director Ang Lee did is utterly magical. He took a book that was almost impossible to make into a movie and crafted one of the most compelling and original films of the year. Lee and his team will likely have to enjoy the awards they are likely to win for cinematography and set design, with Best Picture being a long shot.
There are some in the film community who believe that Silver Linings Playbook can upset the competition and score a Best Picture win. Movie Fanatic is not one of them. This is a two film race, but pundits -- such as Roger Ebert -- believe that as Lincoln and Argo duke it out, David O. Russell's film will eke out a victory. This film's best chance for Oscar gold seems to be from the surging Robert De Niro and his race to unseat Tommy Lee Jones for Best Supporting Actor.
Before the leaves started to change and fall hit, Movie Fanatic's favorite movie of the year was Beasts of the Southern Wild. It is a wildly passionate telling of the tale of a young girl growing up in the most harrowing of circumstances. Witnessing the Beasts of the Southern Wild trailer and one can see the power that is emitted by this independent film. Getting all its nominations should be reward enough for this little film that went on to bank more than $100 million!
Finally, there is Les Miserables. The blockbuster stage musical arrived on the big screen with enormous fanfare and two leads in Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway that blew our minds, as stated in our Les Miserables review. The film will have to take solace in its wins in other categories (such as Best Supporting Actress for Hathaway) as alas, this is not the year where a musical wins Best Picture.
In the end... as much as we want Lincoln to win, our prediction is Argo is your Best Picture. Movie Fanatic can live with that as Affleck's film is a true marvel and celebrates a moment in history where Hollywood, America and its neighbor -- Canada -- came together to save lives and give our country a moment of light in an otherwise dark time.