Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: Five to Ten for 2004

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Retrospective. Five to Ten is the fifth in a series of projects looking back at the past eight years of the Oscars, dating back to the first ceremony I watched and closely followed.

On the heels of the Academy’s announcement that this coming year will feature anywhere from five to ten films in the Best Picture list, I thought to look back at the most recent decade to determine what number of films would have ultimately earned a slot in the top category. Obviously, this is all guesswork and designed, above anything, to be fun. In the new system, films will need to earn at least 5% of the first-place votes. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments!

Five to Ten for 2004

The actual lineup: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray, Sideways

The locks: The above five were probably the only guarantees.

The benefactors: The closest two on the drama side were probably Golden Globe Best Motion Picture nominees “Hotel Rwanda” and “Closer.” The former earned a screenplay nomination and a SAG mention for Best Ensemble, while the latter did well with the Globes and then ended up with only acting Oscar bids. It’s also possible that “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” could have snuck in since it definitely had a fan base and garnered some number one votes.

The longshots: Plenty of contenders here. Golden Globe Best Motion Picture nominees “Kinsey” and “The Incredibles” probably could have scored well but probably wouldn’t have been able to muster up a Best Picture nod. There are two other films with more incredible stories that could have contended, though I suspect both were too controversial: Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

And the nominees could have been… The Aviator, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray, Sideways

Does it change the winner? Doubtful. “Eternal Sunshine” might be the indie choice, but even Martin Scorsese and the story of Howard Hughes couldn’t defeat the late-November onslaught of Clint Eastwood and “Million Dollar Baby.”

Which lineup is better? I liked “Eternal Sunshine” and I’m always in favor of including a more diverse set of films. I didn’t much care for “The Aviator” and I thought “Finding Neverland” was a “safe” and somewhat uninteresting choice, so I’m all for fantasy memory-erasure making the cut.

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