Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 16th. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories, saving some of the biggest categories for last.

Last year’s nominees: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

This year’s locks: 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, American Hustle

Very likely: Captain Phillips, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street, Her

Possible: Inside Llewyn Davis, Saving Mr. Banks, Blue Jasmine, Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club

Unlikely: The Butler, Fruitvale Station, All is Lost

The rundown: It would be so much simpler if there were ten nominees, and even better if there were only five. But, alas, this new system has produced nine nominees two years in a row. The stats for the last four years in terms of matchup with the Producers Guild of America list have been 8/9, 8/9, 9/10, and 8/10. The first ten films I’ve ranked above include just one film not selected by the PGA, but we’ll get there. Let’s start with the locks. 12 Years a Slave and Gravity are the two films to beat, and American Hustle is the one that could do it in the event of a vote-split, though I sincerely hope that’s not the case. Captain Phillips and Nebraska seem pretty solid but could always be the victim of a shocking snub since they’re sure to be rewarded elsewhere. The Wolf of Wall Street and Her should be good too, though they’ll definitely have their detractors. Then we get to the films that weren’t recognized by both the Globes and the PGA. Inside Llewyn Davis should follow the Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man” in landing a Best Picture bid without a PGA nomination, and it has the benefit of a Golden Globe Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical nomination, which their 2009 film didn’t. Saving Mr. Banks and Blue Jasmine, two films nominated by the Globes exclusively for their leading female performances, scored with the PGA and should prove to have the necessary Oscar appeal, but could just as easily be left off the list. Philomena was a Globe nominee, but that could also be relegated to the Best Actress race and Best Adapted Screenplay races. A nomination here for Dallas Buyers Club, a PGA nominee, would upset me greatly since it doesn’t compare to movies like “The Sessions,” “Beginners,” and “The Last King of Scotland” recognized only for their performances when they were all-around terrific movies worthy of a Best Picture nod too. The last three films that seemed strong from the outset but never quite materialized with the precursors are The Butler, which scored a few SAG nods but fizzled everywhere else, Fruitvale Station, an almost entirely absent film that was amazing and should hopefully astound everyone with multiple nominations on Thursday, and All is Lost, a film that hasn’t even been able to guarantee its star Robert Redford a nomination. We’ll see how it plays out. I’m betting that nine films get nominated again.

One possible crazy scenario: Despite director- and sex-related controversy, Blue is the Warmest Color scores a bid here since it isn’t eligible for Best Foreign Film. How incredible would that be if it actually happened?

Forecasted winner: I’ll bet on 12 Years a Slave.

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