Every year Pixar puts out another great movie, sooner or later the talk turns to Best Picture. This is nothing new and has been around since Pixar has been making great movies (almost every one they’ve made has been the best animated films have to offer). That is, once they created a category for animated movies after Beauty and the Beast surprised the industry with a Best Picture nomination.
Perhaps it’s because Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt is behind it, but they’re pulling out the big guns for Toy Story 3, including a rather canned piece in the New York Times where they manage to float this idea, along with Secretariat getting some major play, while, at the same time, attempting to dislodge the force of The Social Network’s momentum. Even In Contention’s Kris Tapley is quoted in the piece as a source backup that the film is burning through fuel too quickly. It should also be known that Tapley floated the idea for the animated film winning Best Pic months ago, something he reminded me about via Twitter after I briefly lost my mind. He isn’t the only one who has put forth this idea. But I’m not buying it for one big reason: the only way an animated film is going to win Best Picture is if the other films in the offering are disappointments.
So far, at least two films – The Social Network and Inception, are anything but disappointments. If it were only up against Inception, it could maybe pull off a surprise win going on the old emotional content theory. Some will say neither Social Network, Inception and maybe not even True Grit will have emotional content. And I will not argue with that. What they will no doubt have is vivid direction, writing and most importantly, ensemble acting. Actors are the majority in the Academy by almost double any other branch. Are actors ready to give a film that doesn’t star any of them a Best Picture win? They’d have to really hate the other movies to do so.
But never say never. If you feel like that’s the way to go, that is the way you should go. Certainly, Toy Story 3 is one of the best Pixar movies; it is not the best, however. Wall-E is, to me, still their high point. This one, though, closes out a series with each one reaching a level of success that is unheard of with a trilogy; in fact, it might be the only trilogy with three perfect films. So if you wanted to argue its potential to win you would go on two factors – the first being its $400 million box office, the highest grossing film of the year so far, and the second being a reward for the entire trilogy. It is assured a nomination for Best Picture, at the very least, which it deserves. The top ten films should be the films they believe are the best of the year, whether they are animated, in another language or documentaries.
The article by Michael Cieply in the New York Times paints, what I think, is an inaccurate picture of the race as it stands now. Only a few of us have been been considering The Social Network to be the one to beat – Scott Feinberg and I, for the most part. As far as I can tell, my co-pundits around the web have been saying, no, it’s going to be The King’s Speech or True Grit (or something else entirely), so to say this in the opening graph seems wrong to me:
‚ÄúThe Social Network,‚Äù the heavily promoted, critically acclaimed movie about the founding of Facebook, has been seen for weeks as the film to beat for best picture at the 2011 Academy Awards. But its less than spectacular box office performance in its opening weekend has shifted the playing field ‚Äî upon which there may now be a brawl.
With the movie‚Äôs suddenly not looking quite as bulletproof as many thought it was, a range of other best picture possibilities ‚Äî perhaps even the animated ‚ÄúToy Story 3‚Äù ‚Äî now have more room to maneuver.
How many false ideas can you cram into two paragraphs? 1) it wasn’t ever thought of a can’t-lose film, and 2) it isn’t suddenly looking “not quite as bulletproof as many thought it was,” — a complete misrepresentation of the race as I see it and have been seeing it. However, I will say that seeing it as a non-winner is actually a good thing. From a publicity standpoint; the last thing you want to be is the frontrunner in October.
So far, one out of two objectives have been accomplished. 1) knock down The Social Network. Check. 2) lift up Toy Story 3:
Aside from rapturous reviews and $1.1 billion in global ticket sales, ‚ÄúToy Story 3‚Äù has the ‚Äúit‚Äôs overdue‚Äù argument going for it. Pixar, which Disney bought in 2006, has delivered an unprecedented 11 commercial and critical hits in a row. The strategy has worked before. The best picture triumph in 2003 for ‚ÄúThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King‚Äù was seen as the Academy‚Äôs making up for overlooking the first two ‚ÄúRings‚Äù installments.
Over all, Disney is readying one of the most ambitious ‚Äî and expensive ‚Äî Oscar onslaughts in its recent history, pushing ‚ÄúAlice in Wonderland‚Äù; the forthcoming ‚ÄúTron: Legacy‚Äù; a new animated entry, ‚ÄúTangled‚Äù; and ‚ÄúSecretariat,‚Äù which stars Diane Lane, in various categories.
Why will the most critically acclaimed films of the year, like Black Swan, 127 Hours, and the upcoming The Fighter and How Do Know not succeed in the Best Picture department?
Largely missing from the fray this year is an older generation of filmmakers who have often dominated the conversation.
The otherwise known, “silent majority.”
And if you think they are working hard enough to burst the balloon, this:
None of them will fight harder than Mr. Fincher [to win]. Like Jason Reitman with ‚ÄúUp in the Air,‚Äù which hit the festival circuit in September of last year and was well received but ultimately won no Oscars, Mr. Fincher will be facing a test of endurance against films that will not be widely seen for many weeks, like ‚ÄúKing‚Äôs Speech.‚Äù
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs burning fuel really fast,‚Äù Kristopher Tapley, the owner and editor of Incontention.com, said of ‚ÄúThe Social Network.‚Äù Mr. Tapley noted that the film, which opened in nearly 3,000 theaters, was powered by the kind of media attention that is more often peppered across the long months of an awards campaign.
I don’t even know where to begin – but that’s a new one.¬† Up in the Air is The Social Network. Let’s get this straight – the movie that was a spiritual, moving experience for like five male bloggers out of Telluride (Up in the Air) but then fell flat once it opened (after the buzz had been hanging in the air for many months before it hit theaters) is The Social Network. Ergo, David Fincher IS Jason Reitman. That is a pretty fat burrito I’m having to choke down early in the morning.
Finally Cieply writes one really great paragraph, and the only remotely approaching something that is actually real:
Still, attention to ‚ÄúThe Social Network‚Äù is unlikely to flag, given the track record of its scrappy promotional team, which includes Terry Press, who ran campaigns for films like ‚ÄúDreamgirls‚Äù for DreamWorks; Emily Bear, who previously worked at Miramax; and Cynthia Swartz, a Weinstein veteran who, as a partner at the publicity firm 42West, is orchestrating the ‚ÄúSocial Network‚Äù awards push.
Take a look at the paragraph. What is the only film mentioned? Oh forget that Cynthia Swartz was behind No Country for Old Men and that 42 West was also behind The Hurt Locker. So far, it’s Up in the Air and Dreamgirls.
Finally, if the Academy believe Toy Story 3 is the best film of 2010, by god, they should vote for it. It isn’t for US to decide what SHOULD win. We are not the ones who vote, nor are we the ones who have to live with that decision. We’re merely here to hopefully expose, express and debate the merits of the potential winners.
Toy Story 3 is a great film to my mind. It made me cry and made me remember the whole decade or so while I raised my nephew who loved Buzz Lightyear and Woody and who is now a full fledged teenager like Andy. So I would never say it wasn’t a great film. But stories like this one make me want to take up arms. And since we’re talking about works of art here, that seems in appropriate.
What the NY Times story did tell me, in no uncertain terms, this is going to be a bloody fight. May the best FILM win.
And may it win because it DESERVES to win, not because it was voted in out of necessity due to the age of the voters and their inability to connect to vital, stimulating, well made films. The old timers in the Academy lived through the best era in their history: the 1970s. They saw films like Midnight Cowboy, The Godfather and The French Connection win Best Picture. I think they know, maybe even better than the new blood, what is and what isn’t a great film. So maybe you disapprove of some of their choices and think they have middling taste overall. The Departed, No Country for Old Men, Slumdog Millionaire and The Hurt Locker are not middling films.