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Wednesday, April 23, 2014



Oscar Contest: Category Highlight: Best Picture

With our annual Oscar Prediction contest underway, now is the best time to look at the nominees and try and figure out who the favorites are and which films should just feel honored to be nominated. Today we look at Best Picture and we actually have a real race in this category.

Best Picture

Avatar
Tomatometer Score: 82% positive
Total Oscar Nominations: Nine
Golden Globe Nominations: Four
Golden Globe Wins: Two
Guild Nominations: Three
Guild Wins: None
Notes: There has been a huge amount of buzz surrounding this film since before it opened, before the first scene was filmed, in fact before the first cast member was cast. That's because is the first James Cameron fictional film since Titanic. When Avatar was first given the greenlight, Titanic held many, many, many box office records, it was also a critical success, and the big winner on Oscar night 12 years ago. So far this film has topped Titanic at the box office, earned nearly identical reviews, and now it is up for a lot of the same Oscars. It is also one of two nominees with a serious shot at winning the Oscar for Best Picture. It is nearly guaranteed that Avatar will sweep the technical awards that it was nominated for, but I think this might work against it. The film is technically a great film, and I mean "technically" as in technology, not as in technicality. So since the film will be rewarded for its technical aspects separately, Oscar voters will be less likely to vote for it as Best Picture. Then again, there could be a lot of voters that could just vote a straight Avatar ticket and that might put it over the top in this category as well.

The Blind Side
Tomatometer Score: 69% positive
Total Oscar Nominations: Two
Golden Globe Nominations: One
Golden Globe Wins: One
Guild Nominations: One
Guild Wins: One
Notes: When they returned the list of Best Pictures to ten nominees like they had many years ago, it was done under the auspices of encouraging Oscar voters to vote for films that would not normally garner best picture nods, regardless of quality: Comedies, Sci-fi films, animated films, etc. Not films like this. The Blind Side's subject matter is very conducive to Awards Season success. On the other hand, its reviews are not. 69% positive reviews, while impressive compared to most wide releases, is simply not Oscar-worthy.

District 9
Tomatometer Score: 90% positive
Total Oscar Nominations: Four
Golden Globe Nominations: One
Golden Globe Wins: None
Guild Nominations: One
Guild Wins: None
Notes: On the other hand, this is exactly the kind of film the Academy was thinking of when they returned the number of Best Picture nominees to ten. This is a smaller genre film that uses a Sci-fi setting to tell a very human story. Its reviews are excellent; in fact, they are better than Avatar's and that film is considered one of the favorites. However, while they've increased the number of nominees, there is still a bias against genre films and it might take years and years before comedies or Sci-fi films are winning on a regular basis.

An Education
Tomatometer Score: 95% positive
Total Oscar Nominations: Three
Golden Globe Nominations: One
Golden Globe Wins: None
Guild Nominations: Three
Guild Wins: None
Notes: This film's Award Season buzz peaked before it even opened in theaters. Despite earning reviews that are 95% positive, it has been all but dismissed as a serious contender for any of the Oscars it is nominated for. And since it has not won many major awards, not even in its native U.K., it's hard to image it would break that streak at the Oscars. It's even harder to imagine it would to that with a Best Picture win. It deserves to be a serious contender, but it's not.

The Hurt Locker
Tomatometer Score: 97% positive
Total Oscar Nominations: Nine
Golden Globe Nominations: Three
Golden Globe Wins: None
Guild Nominations: Five
Guild Wins: Three
Notes: The other favorite to win Best Picture and its only real competition is Avatar. This film has earned better reviews, it has won more Guild Awards, etc. On the other hand, it's already out on DVD / Blu-ray while Avatar is setting records around the world. The free publicity from Avatar might be enough to put it over the top, but since The Hurt Locker is a better film in terms of story and emotional impact, it has a better chance at winning Best Picture. It should be a very close race, on the other hand.

Inglourious Basterds
Tomatometer Score: 89% positive
Total Oscar Nominations: Eight
Golden Globe Nominations: Four
Golden Globe Wins: One
Guild Nominations: Five
Guild Wins: Two
Notes: Quentin Tarantino has a lot of hardcore fans and there are many who are hoping this film will earn the auteur a lot of hardware this weekend. You can't completely discount the possibility, but of the film's eight nominations, it is only a favorite to win one of them (Best Supporting Actor) and it might pick up one or two others. Best Picture is not one of them. I think Quentin Tarantino has a best picture win in him, but not this year.

Precious
Tomatometer Score: 91% positive
Total Oscar Nominations: Six
Golden Globe Nominations: Three
Golden Globe Wins: One
Guild Nominations: Six
Guild Wins: One
Notes: Another film that peaked too soon. It's Awards Season buzz helped the film break records during its opening weekend, but since then there has been a minor backlash against the movie with some saying its overrated. A film with 91% positive reviews being called overrated... Okay. I guess that's possible. Regardless of the validity of these complaints, they have had an effect and its chances at winning the Best Picture Oscar are slim. But at least it is even less likely that the film will go home empty handed.

A Serious Man
Tomatometer Score: 87% positive
Total Oscar Nominations: Two
Golden Globe Nominations: One
Golden Globe Wins: None
Guild Nominations: One
Guild Wins: None
Notes: Two years ago No Country for Old Men was the big winner on Oscar night. For Joel and Ethan Coen, this film is a step back in terms of critical reception, previous Awards season success, and especially box office success. I don't think Oscar voters will give them their second Best Picture award in three years for the lesser of the two films.

Up
Tomatometer Score: 98% positive
Total Oscar Nominations: Five
Golden Globe Nominations: Two
Golden Globe Wins: Two
Guild Nominations: Two
Guild Wins: One
Notes: The best movie of the year. End of story. If Oscar voters voted purely based on merit, this would be the runaway favorite. However, there is a major bias against animated films and despite earning the best reviews of any wide release for the year, had there just been five Oscar nominees, I don't think this film would have picked up a Best Picture nod. There's almost no chance it will win this category. It should, but it won't.

Up in the Air
Tomatometer Score: 90% positive
Total Oscar Nominations: Six
Golden Globe Nominations: Six
Golden Globe Wins: One
Guild Nominations: Six
Guild Wins: One
Notes: This film is helping to establish Jason Reitman as one of the best filmmakers working today, as it is the second Oscar contender he has made in the past three years. However, while it is very likely he will win for Best Adapted Screenplay, it is also likely that will be the only Oscar the film will win.

Conclusion: Of the ten films on this list, seven are favorites to win at least one Oscar and another is in a relatively close race. However, of those eight films, five really only have a shot at one Oscar each. The only films with realistic chances at being multi-Oscar winners are The Hurt Locker, Avatar, and Up. In my opinion, Up deserves this award the most; however, it is likely going to be a two-horse race between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. I think it will be a coin toss, but if forced to choose, I would say The Hurt Locker has a slight advantage.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2010-03-06

Movies 
 Avatar
 The Blind Side
 District 9
 An Education
 The Hurt Locker
 Inglourious Basterds
 Precious (Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire)
 A Serious Man
 Drag Me To Hell
 Up in the Air