a theatre, film & pop culture review
I complain about this every year, but: If you’re going to sanction ten nominees, Academy, why not actually nominate ten films? Especially when there’s a film as great as Before Midnight out there (which, for the record, is my favorite film of the season). But I digress.
For a while there, Best Director seemed up for grabs, between Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity and Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave. Now that Cuarón’s win is a sure thing, does that mean Gravity will take home the big award?
Only four times in Oscar’s 85 years has the Best Picture Academy Award gone to a film that wasn’t at least nominated for Best Director. So: Sorry Her, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, and Philomena. The odds are decidedly not in your favor.
As for The Wolf of Wall Street, the Academy may love Marty no matter how gratuitous he gets, but they’ll never award a film that (they feel) rewards the immorality of Wall Street. And, just as Alexander Payne’s nomination for directing was a surprise, Nebraska is just happy to be considered a top contender here.
And so, we’re down to three. On the surface, this may seem like a two-dog race, but because of how the voting process works for this particular category, the winner is not nearly as predictable as you may think: A film with only 11% of the #1 votes could actually win here. (For an explanation of why that is, watch this super-helpful, short video). Basically, what that means is, in a close race such as this, the winner will likely be the one with the largest presence in the top few spots. My gut is telling me that though a large number of people will vote for 12 Years a Slave for the top prize, it won’t be enough to give it a majority, and many of those who don’t put it at #1 are going to put it further down the list (not at #2 or 3), thus lessening its chances even further. Votes for American Hustle, on the other hand, will likely be nestled largely in the top three, giving it a better chance over 12 Years.
But the safest bet of all is Gravity, because Cuarón is going to win, and Best Director is so closely connected to Best Picture, but also because the one thing everyone can agree on this season is that Gravity is one of the most visually innovative films in cinematic history, thus ensuring its presence near the top of every voter’s ballot. The pundits may still be calling this one for 12 Years, but that’s just a pipe dream at this point.
As for me, I’d be happy with any of my top four above winning. But if you want to know which were my personal favorites out of the 57 nominated films, here’s my top ten:
1. Before Midnight
4. Captain Phillips
5. 12 Years a Slave
6. The Great Beauty
7. The Square
8. All Is Lost
9. Ernest & Celestine
10. The Wolf of Wall Street
Runner up: Just Before Losing Everything