If there were any doubts before, there are no doubts now.  The black and white silent French film, The Artist, has taken the lead in this year’s Best Picture race, according to we Gurus of Gold and of course, over at Gold Derby.  There is always that point in the year when you just know.  And there is no stopping this movie. If there had been any stopping it it would have happened months ago.  But the hype is not destroying it.  If anything, it’s helping it.  It reminds me of the Slumdog Millionaire year, where there was just this one movie that took everything in front of it.  If we go by Anne Thompson’s branch-by-branch theory, The Artist has it all: actors, check. Director, check. Writers, check. Art directors, check. Cinematography, check. Costume, check. Score, check. Editing, check.  Sound, mais bien sur! Well, let’s say imaginative sound mixers would nominate the Artist for its clever and specific use of sound.  What it’s missing: gravitas.  That old song Oscar requires so that something feels bigger and more “important.” Of course, Chicago didn’t have it and that movie had what the Artist had (yes, Weinsteins pushing it but also) it was just a good time to be had by all.  The universal appeal of The Artist is what has it winning critics, industry and audiences alike.

Universal appeal is what gets the big house votes, the 9,000, the 6,000, the 100,000 guild voting blocks – ain’t no way they’re going to grow a pair and pick something outside that realm of “you can sit anyone down in front of it and they will get it if not love it.” What can override that, of course, is love for the filmmakers (Coens, Scorsese), or the desire to push forth real change (Bigelow).  But mostly, yeah, you get the idea.  What pleases, massages, comforts the most people wins.  It’s as simple as that. As far as those kinds of movies go, if the Artist wins it will be one of their better choices.

The Gurus top ten hasn’t altered what we knew of the race a month ago, that’s the weird thing about Oscar – you always think the year-end films might make a difference and they almost never do – why, because they’ve been vetted by critics, sometimes by the public, sometimes both.  However, it’s worth mentioning a few things that are different about this year.  Maybe it will turn out that the race ends up exactly as we presume it will.  We judge the frontrunner status on reviews, word of mouth, “buzz” and how many awards and nominations that film is wracking up.  However, we assume that the Academy will then go the way they’ve gone for decades.  This year, though, they are doing things in such a way as they’ve never done before.  To that end, it’s conceivable that there might be some changes you’d see this year that you wouldn’t see last year.

1. Let Love Rule – for a film to get into the race, it has to be not LIKED but LOVED.  Passion is going to come into play.  The movies that voters LOVE will likely get the requisite votes to make it to the second round with a healthy amount of surplus votes (The Artist).  The next thing that happens is that they go top-down from there.  The number 2 and 3 votes will start to fill out the list.  But no film that didn’t get any number one votes can be nominated for Best Picture.   Also? Voters are only picking five films.  That is how they used to do it before they had ten.  So they’re used to picking only five.  The difference is what film are they going to put at number one?

2. Surprises Maybe on the Horizon – knowing that The Artist is a shoo-in for a nomination, voters might decide to throw their vote not for their favorite film, The Artist, but for a film they think needs their help, like — oh say — A Separation (my no guts, no glory pick for Best Picture).  They could also thrust Harry Potter in to the second round by sacrificing what would be their number one vote (The Artist) and give to a film that would ordinarily have a hard time getting there.  Tree of Life seems like it might fare well under these conditions.

3. The guilds aren’t going to match Oscar in terms of voting – what the DGA will tell us is probably more valuable than the PGA this year (as it is every year) because it will tell us what five films are the most popular right now with 9,000 industry voters.  I expect those directors will be:

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Steven Spielberg, War Horse
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Bennett Miller, Moneyball — or Terrence Malick Tree of Life or Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris, or Tate Taylor for The Help

That fifth slot is the most important.  There is wiggle room in that category — and if, say, Tate Taylor is nominated, well The Help’s chances just soared.  The only director who is vulnerable is Steven Spielberg for War Horse — but that’s if the movie is panned by the critics, which it shouldn’t be.  I saw it at a DGA screening and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

But the DGA tells us which five are popular. It doesn’t rank those five.  When all of the guilds ring in with their favorites we will do what we always do – wrack them up and see who is in the lead. There are usually two, sometimes three movies that hit all of the guilds.  I expect the two strongest are going to be The The Artist and Hugo, which should do well across the board.  Then, The Descendants and War Horse should also be strong with the guilds.  Moneyball, The Help, Midnight in Paris and Tree of Life will hover around the fringe.

And again, we should remember that the Oscar race isn’t about Ms. Right.  It’s about Ms. Right Now.  When we remember that, figuring out who will win becomes easier and easier.  As an Oscar watcher this year, since my heart was pulled from my chest and stomped all over last year, I have to just shut down this year and play it as it lays.

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  • christiannnw

    The Artist is lacking in gravitas? A film about a silent film star fading in popularity due to the advent of technologies that render him irrelevant, a dynamic that parallels the current state of filmmaking transitioning from salt of the earth artisan efforts to 3-D and digital ones, yet somehow manages to demonstrate immense goodwill by suggesting that it’s possible to lend a helping hand to those left behind by such said transitions?

    Lacking in gravitas. Huh.

  • Wait a minute Tree of Life and Midnight in Paris….It was release before Harry Potter, and everyone knows HP8 ranked #1 in the summer.

    The Great Dane is right saying “Harry Potter deserves to be nominated for Best Picture (the best box-office and the best reviews of year combined should guarantee a automatic nomination, hell maybe even a win for Best Picture – how could you argue against the critics’s AND the public’s favorite film of the year?)

    It’s just weird that if it, as the evidence has shown, that Potter IS the strongest film of the year with the critics, when it comes to the critics’s AWARDS it’s just not good enough to vote for? Or are they just feeling too ashamed to vote for it? Maybe if it (like some earlier Potter films) had been a November release, it would be in stronger contention for a nomination? Fresh in people’s minds and “the talk of the town”? Problem is, good reviews and strong box-office or not, Potter is already old news.

    I feel sorry for the Potter fans out there. But I’m already mad about so many of them who are gonna flood the blogs on nominations morning: “F*** YOU ACADEMY! HOW COULD YOU IGNORE POTTER??!”
    FACE IT: It’s not going to happen. There is NO hope for it to happen. The Dark Knight didn’t get in, so Potter most certainly won’t.
    SAG cemented that Potter won’t make it. SAG represents the industry and the actors. Actors are also the biggest branch at the Academy, and if the actors can’t even nominate Potter for Best Ensemble of the Year (which everyone CAN agree on IS the best ensemble of the year – no film can top the list of actors that Potter 7B has), then there’s no hope. Potter’s ensemble IS its strength and biggest reason to get IN – and it didn’t. IT IS OVER. Face it now – there is not going to be a last minute surprise. It didn’t pass the SAG test – and it had to if it wanted to have a prayer left.

    I didn’t love the last Potter film, but based on (mostly) everyone’s feeling about the film back in the summer, I will gladly admit that I am in the minority and the film DOES deserve a Best Picture nomination. It DID get the best reviews of the year AND the biggest box-office. End of story. No discussion. How could that NOT make it the frontrunner of ALL films to get a Best Picture nomination? Problem is, it just isn’t. The Academy has NEVER truly embraced a sequel without having embraced all the previous installments of the series. Toy Story, Lord of the Rings, The Godfather – they embraced the last part of those series. But they had been embracing the first two installments all along.”

    And I don’t know why HP8 wasn’t nominated for Best Picture at the Critics Choice Awards, even though it got a 93/100 (higher than film did on Broadcast Film Critics Association, and it said “CRITICS’ CHOICE” on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    I think it’s been very clear for a while now that The Artist will win Best Picture. The question is what else will it get. Director is not a certainty, I can see a split. Well, I saw that last year too, haha. I think I’m hoping it – it’s too predictable otherwise.

    This could go all over the place this year. An example… if The Artist was nominated for the following 11:

    DIRECTOR (Hugo – Scorsese)
    SUPP. ACTRESS (The Help – Spencer)
    ORIG. SCORE (War Horse)
    CINEMATOGRAPHY (The Tree of Life)
    SOUND MIXING (War Horse)

    In this scenario The Artist wins 4. I don’t want to see sweeps, no matter how much I’d love the movie. I like spreading the wealth.

  • I dont know. What if The Artist only makes, like, $15-20 million? That would place it at the bottom side of Best Picture box office. The Hurt Locker won, but it was American and had universal critical approbation.

  • Let me ask you this question besides film critcs award shows, was The Artist ever been nominated for Best Picture at a real awards show (besides Golden Globes and Satellite)?

    And how come HP8 got a Critics Choice and 93/100 on BFCA?

  • Adam Lewis

    The Artist is going to win score though it should be Williams!

  • Sasha raises some valid points, most importantly : we have no idea how the new rule will effect the race and considering the precursors did NOT change their voting systems, they might not be THAT relevant when it comes to the Academy that actually DID. I think this new rule helps ‘name’ directors and could easily result another ‘The Reader-sitation’ : sure, films from Academy-fave directors like Clint Eastwood, Jason Reitman, George Clooney are NOT considered seriosly at the moment, but even if these probably won’t have many No2s and 3s etc., are we really THAT sure that they don’t have the passionate fanbase in the Academy that could provide the crucial 5% No1, either ?

    I wrote a piece about this a week ago ( http://awardscorner.blogspot.com/2011/12/could-new-rule-cost-help-best-picture.html#more ) because as great as for example ‘The Help’ has been doing lately, I am slightly worried that though it will have orobably no problem landing a bunch of nominations (3 in acting, maybe writing, song, costume etc.), but the new bp-rule might damage its chances for the best picture nomination and favor a film like J. Edgar.

    So although, I do agree with the Gurus’ top10-for-now, I do think a film like Harry Potter even if it doesn’t have the precursors it would have needed last year, might just EASILY have the 5% No1…technical branches, British vote, maybe even the actors considering the stunning ensemble…although the SAG-shut out probably means it “only” has the former two.

    The thought of Tate Taylor pulling a David O. Russel on us, seems perfectly viable. I mean, if he could land a DGA-nod and then knock Nolan out of the Oscar top5, Taylor has a shot at it, as well. But for now, I think we shouldn’t count out Fincher, Daldry and their respective films…’Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ and ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ could easily emerge as top5 players IMO, recent snubs (SAG, HFPA etc.) might be irrelevant if the majority of the voters hasn’t even seen the films.

  • Sasha Stone

    Lacking in gravitas. Huh

    Yeah. I mean, it’s not poor starving Indian children or even a stuttering king when a war is at stake. It ain’t the war in Iraq….nor the bleak landscape of America. It’s a serious story — a wonderful story but it’s not an “important” story. War Horse is more “important” — even Moneyball, The Descendants and even Hugo feels more important because it feels like it’s about preserving our cinematic past….The Artist lacks gravitas. But that doesn’t mean it won’t win.

  • Craig Z

    I personally find Best Director much more interesting this year. We got 4 legends in contention this year. (Scorcese, Spielberg, Allen and Malick). Plus couple of Academy favorites who came into their own in the 2000’s(Daldry and Payne) but dispite all this we have someone none of us had heard of last year is looming over them all (Havanavicius) I have no clue what is gonna happen.

    My predicted lineup at the moment is….


    Now the first three are pretty much in easy. Spielberg is Spielberg so he probably will too. I’m guessing Malick gets the autur vote but Woody Allen’s Globe nod may be telling and he is generally more Academy friendly than Malick….. Also after what happened in 2008 I’m sure not gonna count Daldry out.

  • How come it doesn’t show the rating for The Artist in bfca.org?

  • Craig Z

    OCO, The Artist has a BFCA score of 91. Though I don’t really take the BFCA seriously at all.

    And I honestly think that the main reason why Potter is ranked so high is because other than TOL it was the first great movie of the year and people kind of blew their wad cause most everything had been crap to that point(sorry for being vulgar).

    Now don’t get me wrong I really like that movie but it doesn’t really hold up that well compared to film like Hugo or The Artist.

  • yeah I see ur point, do people only see HP8 good at getting awards only in visual stuff?

  • Tero Heikkinen

    It really irritates me that I have not seen The Artist yet. They have not decided on the release date here yet. I expect mid-February (just before the Oscars), so then I could see it in a couple of weeks (I see things earlier than the public).

    You know what? Hugo has a release date here in late March. So, unless it gathers 10 nominations or something (which it could), it will stay that way. The people behind Hugo are somehow fucking it up. The box office in USA is not impressive and if one movie needs Oscars – financial-wise – it is Hugo. Hollywood might go for it BECAUSE of this. They don’t want to see Scorsese getting hurt.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    HP8 has so much competition in its categories. Despite its 4-5 possible nominations, it could still go home empty-handed.

    SOUND EDITING (The Adventures of Tintin)
    SOUND MIXING (War Horse)
    VISUAL EFFECTS (The Rise of the Planet of the Apes)

    ^That was just an example, of course. Not my final predictions.

  • Sasha – I think relevance or social importance probably would’ve been a better term than gravitas. It’s a bit facile to dismiss a film as unimportant or irrelevant just because it doesn’t feature starving peasants or wartime dramatics. The Artist deals with very universal and contemporary themes, and it does so through the prism of the black and white silent film era. To say The Artist is about black and white silent films would be just scratching the surface of things, because what something “is” is hardly ever what it’s about.

  • I think when it comes to a few supposed near-frontrunners, we should consider damaging factors that are barely even discussed anywhere.

    1. Hugo cost 150-170M and for now, it looks like it might not even come close to 100M in the US. Are we sure the financial flop-status won’t be a turn down come voting time ? I KNOW, it shouldn’t be a factor, but who are we kidding ? It’s Oscar-season…MONEY is always a factor.

    2. What if ‘The Artist’ doesn’t get a screenplay-nomination ? Sure, we consider it a lock because we consider the film and its director a lock, but realistically speaking, the script is rarely mentioned, probably because it isn’t the film’s strongest part. I’m not saying it’s bad, it isn’t, but I think as far as original screenplays go, this ‘A Star is Born’-like story might not be considered THAT seriously. I think it is a good script, but not necessarily a great OR a remarkably original one. And without a script-nod, could ‘The Artist’ win ?

    3. If War Horse received lukewarm/mediocre reviews, would the Academy still nominate Spielberg in Best Director ? The bp-nod seems like a done deal whether critics love it or not…right ?

    4. Could supposed-top-players like ‘The Help’ and ‘Moneyball’ receive every expected nomination EXCEPT best picture ? What if the new rule will indeed favor the films of ‘name’ directors ? Are we that sure ‘The Help’ has that 5% No1 ?

    5. Is there enough time for ‘Dragon Tattoo’ and ‘Loud and Close’ to become top players (bp-bd-acting-writing) ? Or the lack of precursors (at least partially) because of the last minute screenings, cancel it out in the eyes of the voters ? (I think if they get PGA-nods, both are IN…bd is a different story).

    And of course, the semi-unexpected surprises
    – Apparently, the Academy LOVED ‘My Week with Marilyn’. Will the Weinsteins push it OR will they play safe and go solely with ‘The Artist’ in best picture ? For what it’s worth, if both got bp, the studio would take Best Actor and Actress for sure…-á
    – The British vote MIGHT just be enough for ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ that failed to receive ANY nominations from SAG, BFCA, HFPA…but could be still a top BAFTA-player.
    – Bridesmaids got the oh-so-important SAG Ensemble Nomination instead of Hugo, War Horse, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Ides of March, My Week with Marilyn. Does that mean Bridesmaids might actually get a bp-nod ?
    – Harry Potter might not be considered seriously by BFCA, HFPA, SAG, but it could be an easy bet for PGA/BAFTA nominations…and that could put it in the top10…easily

  • Craig Z

    Yeah OCO, Potter will probably get 4 or 5 technical nominations.

  • TB

    Isn’t it weird that even though war horse hasn’t won anything, it is not been mention in almost all top ten list, and yet the gurus of gold have it at #4? what is that about? Spielberg wasn’t even nominated for the globes!!!! Not that the globes count but even i was surprise he wasn’t nominated. I now he is spielberg but i doubt he will get a dga or an oscar nomination. All war horse can win now is best score.

    It’s a shame, but like i said before, for spielberg to win again he has to make a masterpiece. The expectations people has on him are ridiculous. If war horse was made by almost any other filmmaker we would be going gaga over it.

    Anyway, I totally agree the artist should take best picture and anything else they want to award it. Except cinematography. Although i really didn’t like it, the tree of life deserves that award.

  • John-Paul

    You kind of hinted at this, but I’ll just go on record by saying that The Artist will most likely win Best Picture, but it won’t necessarily win Best Director. I think the Chicago comparison was a good one, because while it certainly has enough of a following throughout all the different branches of the Academy, it may not be seen as a “serious” enough film, and therefore a more established director could easily upset Hazanavicius. I think it’s very possible at this point that The Artist takes Best Picture but Martin Scorsese wins his second Best Director Oscar.

    Also, Tero: I think the general consensus by this point is that Harry Potter WILL go home empty-handed, so I don’t think it’s even much of a factor anymore. The buzz died pretty quickly, it hasn’t been showing up in precursors, and there are other movies that have outshone it in the tech categories.

  • If there will be a bp-bd split, we should definitely consider last year’s bd-runner-up, David Fincher, much more seriously.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Spielberg has his time a year later. Lincoln looks strong. It could already take Best Actor (first ever from a Spielberg film) and the third BA for Day-Lewis. Academy knows this. They have put War Horse aside.

    I agree that War Horse’s best shot is Williams, but even that will probably be lost to The Artist, in all honesty.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Phantom, I don’t know. When was the last time someone won Best Director without any other wins? A long long time ago. I know rules are meant to be broken, but Picture/Director has gone so much hand in hand lately that I can’t see a sole win in one major category for Dragon Tattoo.

    If there is a split, both pictures must have at least 6 or 7 nominations each, IMO (I say it like Rooney Mara says: “in my opinion”).

  • Jake G.!!!!

    Im predicting Young Adult because the Academy obviously loves Jason Reitman and this film is just as good as UP IN THE AIR!

  • Tero, ‘Dragon Tattoo’ might take editing and score, but you’re right, those two are not enough based on recent years. It would need an additional win in either writing or acting and THEN it would have a shot at a TrafficPianist-esque bd victory. Needless to say, if they campaigned Mara in supporting (obvious category fraud for sure, but wouldn’t have been any less ridiculous than campaigning Winslet,DiCaprio and Clooney in supporting for The Reader, The Departed and Syriana respectively), she could have had probably a much stronger shot at an acting win than she has now.

  • Connor

    HP8 has so much competition in its categories. Despite its 4-5 possible nominations, it could still go home empty-handed.


    No. Potter is winning Art Direction. They snubbed Stuart Craig every year, and honestly, I’ll be pissed if Hugo takes it. He’s never been rewarded for his brilliance.

    If Potter can only take 1, it will be this.

  • @ Tero

    The Graduate was the last film to win Best Director alone. Most films which win Director in a split tend to have major support behind them – often winning more Oscars than the Best Picture winner (Cabaret) or missing out on Picture by a whisker (Brokeback Mountain). The Graduate is far better remembered than In the Heat of the Night – at the time, it was quite the sensation too. That’s probably the only way Dragon Tattoo can win Best Director – with or without other wins – by creating a similar sensation. I’m expecting relatively big things for it, but maybe not quite that big. So yes, I agree, it would take a lot for this to happen.

  • Julia

    voters might decide to throw their vote not for their favorite film, The Artist, but for a film they think needs their help, like — oh say — A Separation

    Judging by who the voters are, A Separation is probably too foreign to get in. If there is a cinephiles vote, it will go to Tree of Life which has an actual shot. A Separation will be shuffled off to BFLM and that will have to count itself lucky. If push comes to shove it might even suffer the fate of the critically beloved The White Ribbon.

    I don’t see Fincher coming back into the race unless his movie becomes super-popular at the box office. For the same reason I have some trouble envisioning an awards ceremony where The Artist walks away with BP and Best Actor. One of them is more than possible, but both….?

  • Tero Heikkinen

    No way in Hell is Dragon Tattoo winning score. I don’t even see a nomination there. It’s just ambient stuff – completely melody-free. Even The Social Network had melodic themes. Dragon Tattoo has bass, cues, electric soundbites – but no melody.

    And more importantly it’s about how music is placed in the movie. When the Led Zeppelin cover during the early credits, an Enya song, and TO ME a fellow Finn-born Anna Järvinen’s song are the highlights in music.

  • If ‘Dragon Tatto’ only has a viable shot at winning editing AND it shocks and pulls off the bd-win, it will be very ‘Born on the Fourth of July’.

  • “Extemely Late and Terribly Absent” isn’t gettin’ ANYthing…It’s evidently a mess…

    “The Help” is fading…I don’t think it’s going to win anything and though it will get nominated. It’s not a Harvey film. And it seems to be a Harvey YEAR again.

    If “The Artist” wins Best Picture, how much more will it win? Will Jean Dujardin triumph over Clooney? If that happens, Jean Dujardin will give HW ANOTHER win.

    Then best actress is either Meryl Streep or Michelle Williams BOTH HW films. I think both Meryl AND Michelle will win Globes.

    And Best Supporting Actress is the category where if they DON’T award Dujardin, and they don’t award Hazanavicius, they’ll award his WIFE, the beautiful, bouncy Peppy Miller herself, Berenice Bejo.

    That is if Vanessa Redgrave doesn’t make it to Supporting Actress. She’s shown up NOwhere. I’m thinking they just are not being able to watch THAT movie “Coriolanus.” And if they don’t nominated Vanessa, it’s Berenice B.’s category to lose.

    They aren’t going to give an Oscar to a woman who does what Spencer does with that PIE. They Academy is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY to high brow for that. Like Melissa McCarthy and that SINK.

    The Supporting Categories are now the most interesting because I think they are really in flux. Even surprises could happen. Like Corey Stool could turn up for Hemingway in “Midnight in Paris.”

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Paddy, thanks. The Graduate trivia is good to know at all times.

  • moniquev

    wasn’t Social Network “a lock to win” this time last year?

  • Julia

    Not in hindsight.

    But really it’s a game of statistics, you look at pre-existing patterns and make the safe bet that your current event will follow one of these patterns. That’s why The Social Network was a lock to win until it wasn’t and The Artist is the frontrunner without any heavy competition before it has even scored one nomination.

    In hindsight it might be that silent, black and white French movie without any stars and a director no one has heard of before. Or it will be the heartwarming story about Hollywood itself that transcends language.

  • Munro202

    I think Redgrave or someone else has a chance to show up in Supporting Actress. That category goes wonky sometimes. Remember Maggie Gyllenhaal?

  • Stephen Holt

    ““Extemely Late and Terribly Absent” isn’t gettin’ ANYthing…It’s evidently a mess…”

    The critical consensus of Daldry’s previous film was basically the same…and we all know how that one ended.

    ““The Help” is fading…”

    Is it ? It is one of only 4 (!) films that received BFCA bp, GG bp and SAG Ensemble nominations, the other 3 are supposed frontrunners The Artist, The Descendants, Midnight in Paris. It also received SAG, BFCA, GG nominations for three individual acting achievements (Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain), that’s more than the 2-2 The Artist and The Descendants have (latter could have only one in the end, Woodley didn’t get the individual SAG-nod), not to mention ‘Midnight in Paris’ has zero viable acting contenders at the moment (Cotillard, Stoll could surprise), even though it is one of greatest ensembles this year. So, while I’m not sure the new rule will do ‘The Help’ any favors, the one thing this film is NOT doing at the moment, is fading.

    “And Best Supporting Actress is the category where if they DON’T award Dujardin, and they don’t award Hazanavicius, they’ll award his WIFE, the beautiful, bouncy Peppy Miller herself, Berenice Bejo. That is if Vanessa Redgrave doesn’t make it to Supporting Actress. She’s shown up NOwhere.”

    Berenice Bejo’s main competition is NOT Vanessa Redgrave, unfortunately she didn’t receive any top nominations this week, so even if she pulls off the Oscar-nod, she couldn’t win without a SAG-mention. I think Bejo’s main competition is Jessica Chastain…it is now seemingly decided that her main Oscar-bid is ‘The Help’, she has great critical support (NYFCC and LAFCA, powerful combination for sure) and if you think Spencer can’t win because what her character did with the pie (LOL), you will probably agree that Chastain’s role is EXACTLY the kind the Academy LOVES to embrace. Sure, you could bring up internal competition, but it didn’t really stop last year’s winner, did it ? I think, in the end, it will come down to Bejo and Chastain…former has the bp-frontrunner status, latter has the bp-nod AND NYFCC, LAFCA…and for all we know, Spencer could just sneak in and win the big ones (SAG, GG, BFCA).

  • Jenny Lee

    Well, TKS turn everything around after Golden Globes so I think it is still too early to say who is the winner right now.

  • @ Stephen Holt

    Surely not. Octavia Spencer is currently leading the field for Supporting Actress, IMO. Maybe I only feel that way because I have this unshakeable feeling that Berenice Bejo will be snubbed – well, there are so many potential contenders in that category that some inevitably will be: Bejo, Chastain, McCarthy, McTeer, Mulligan, Redgrave, Spencer, Woodley…

    Now Redgrave – I don’t think she needs a single precursor nomination in order to be Oscar-nominated. Yes, they’d help, and they haven’t been turning up, but she will remain a contender until her name is either read out or not. And as much as I love Octavia Spencer, Carey Mulligan, Janet McTeer, Jessica Chastain etc., who would complain at a second Oscar for Vanessa Redgrave? With BAFTA support, she could still be in with a shot. And to prove that people have not only seen her performance but liked it too, she has been recognised by the San Francisco Film Critics Circle (with a win!), the Detroit Film Critics Society and – the big one – 3rd place at the NYFCC.

  • Too Many AJs

    Maybe, but it’s been an unpredictable year so far (just look at all the Ides of March all over the Globe nominations), and I’m not convinced The Artist will sweep Slumdog-style for two main reasons:

    (1) The director. I said that Tom Hooper was too inexperienced to win Best Director last year, and I was wrong, but the fact is the Academy loves celebrating seasoned English-speakers more than anyone else. Are they really going to give Picture and Director to a fairly green European director outside the Hollywood system two years in a row? And yeah, if The Artist wins Picture, it will win Director. I wasn’t sure of this with The King’s Speech, but The Artist is so much The Director’s vision; it rises or falls based on the way Hazanavicius lovingly crafts its world.

    (2) The actors. The actors will nominate The Artist, but will they give it the win? They’re the biggest branch of AMPAS, and will they acknowledge that a Best Picture can be made without requiring actors to talk? I mean, it surely hurt Avatar that so much of the film was CGI (which, if it won, would imply a Best Picture could be made without requiring actors to be seen), but will actors content to be seen but not heard? I mean, I think the performances in The Artist are fantastic and I love watching actors in silent movies communicate non-verbally, but those actors can be rather fickle.

  • Ellsworth

    Stephen Holt – ““Extemely Late and Terribly Absent” isn’t gettin’ ANYthing…It’s evidently a mess…”
    Why make broad comments when you haven’t seen the film? I’ve seen it with other Academy members and it was loved. Personally I think it’s a terrific film, well structured, with haunting moments and incredible acting. If people start to see the film (and I know they are here, in LA) then it will be a player.

  • John-Paul

    Jenny Lee- The Golden Globes didn’t do anything for The King’s Speech last year. The Social Network won Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Score there, which made most people even more confident that it was the frontrunner. TKS started gaining momentum once it won the PGA, and then after it won the SAG Ensemble, DGA, and BAFTA, it was pretty much in the bag.

    Actually, the Golden Globes rarely pick the eventual Oscar winner anymore. They did in 2008 with Slumdog Millionaire, but that’s the only time over the past 7 years that the Oscar winner for Best Picture also won in its category at the Globes. So even if the Golden Globes do a surprise pick and give Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) to Midnight in Paris, I don’t think it will bump The Artist down from its frontrunner position. The only thing that could do that is if the guilds rally behind a different film.

  • benito delicias

    i’m amazed at the constant listing of Tinker Tailor as a best picture possibility when Gary Oldman has been so snubbed these past two weeks by pretty much everybody. Not even a Globe nomination? SAG? Such a veteran, such a great actor can’t get love from other actors? That movie is far down on the list of Best Picture candidates at this point.

  • Jenny Lee

    John Paul

    I know Globe didn’t do anything for TSN last year. I’m commenting on the fact that it is too early to say who will be the ultimate winner of Oscar right now. Last year, TSN sweep all the awards til PGA, then it was all TKS.

  • Jason

    Uhh, I’ve never heard of The Artist, and it’s not playing in any theaters anywhere where I live.

  • MikeScott

    I wish DRIVE was higher. Please, please let it get a Best Picture nomination!

  • R

    The artist is NOT the front runner until it has been released in the US. Unless US audiences go crazy for it, it wont win. Too many times audiences say meh to the frontrunner and they lose all their steam. It is highly possible for this to happen.

  • @ R

    The Artist has been released in the US.

  • Scott

    Sasha, I don’t understand why last year was so upsetting to you considering you blogged the year of Brokeback Mountain. Oscar does not get it right very often and most of the time you write that you understand that fully. At least in 2010 it was not a surprise that King’s Speech won. You allowed that a lot of people liked KS even if you didn’t and the precursors pointed to a King’s win. Having read your site the year of Brokeback Mountain I was pretty convinced that all signs were pointing for a win for the cowboys. I still remember a beautifully written piece you posted describing why Brokeback should win and would win. Had I not been reading all the Oscar chat I never would have pegged that film for mainstream Oscar love. When Crash won I felt as though I’d been hit in the stomach and that was the year I let go of attaching a real sense of artistic triumph to the Oscars. It’s for the best.

  • JJ

    I refuse to see The Artist because I loathe the Weinstein company, who contribute little to the film landscape all year long, then jockey their way in during awards season with oscar bait tripe. Fuck The King’s Speech. And Madonna and her college girl diary movie. I would be so much happier to see ANYTHING else win than this film. And to not honor the magic and artistry of the entire Harry Potter series with this strong finale would be extremely wrong.

  • Logan

    Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is going to be loved by many. It didn’t show up on anything so far because its people rolled the dice and lost–didn’t get the product out in time. As people see it–which they have been for the past week or so–its stock is going to return to its previous buzz-based level.

  • Here’s my problem. They have a new voting system this year, but it only makes a difference if people actually vote their favorites. If it’s another mob mentality year, and it feels like it to me, then whatever is in front when ballots go out will win. Right now it’s THE ARTIST, but it could be something else by then. For people who are in the know, when people talk to you about how great THE ARTIST is, are they using that magic word “favorite” or are they saying that it’s so great, wonderful, blah, blah, blah? You’d hope they’d take the opportunity to use their vote for their favorite since this new system gives them a real chance to have a voice.

    Another question, when you have producers with star power like Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp do they do any more behind the scenes campaigning than they would if they were just starring in a movie?

  • alan of montreal

    If The Artist wins, would it be the first Best Picture winner not produced in the US or the UK?

  • Scott

    To be fair, Brokeback Mountain WAS a shock and The Social Network was not. Sure, The Social Network was the early fave, but when it came to the crucial Guilds, it became obvious that The King’s Speech will pull off the win without a hitch, it won the PGA, DGA, SAG Ensemble and it was not eligible for WGA, an award it would have probably won, as well considering it did win best original screenplay at the Oscars.
    On the other hand, Brokeback Mountain was the frontrunner from Day 1 up until the moment Jack Nicholson announced the Best Picture winner : it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, had the critics groups (including NYFCC and LAFCA), the 3 early big organizations (picture, director, screenplay awards at Golden Globes, Critics Choice, BAFTA), the guilds (PGA-DGA-WGA wins) and then on Oscar-night it won score, screenplay, director and I’m fairly certain 99% expected it to win best picture and it didn’t. That was the moment, I realized the Actors dominate the Academy and the SAG Ensemble should be taken much more seriously than I have previously. That’s why I think Bridesmaids should not be underestimated : it received the SAG Ensemble nod over films like Hugo, War Horse, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows etc.

  • @Scott Sasha was super in love with THE SOCIAL NETWORK. You could tell the difference in the way she wrote about it. At least I could. She got heartbroken. That’s why it’s worse than just getting a prediction wrong. I’ve been on both sides. It’s no fun. You’re probably better off with Harry Potter not even getting nominated.

  • Absidd

    The Artist is a French film, so there’s not a slightest chance of it winning the picture (though it’s a silent film). Academy voters will never want a French film to win the best picture Oscar. I think they will nominate it in the Foreign language category and eventually will lose to A Separation. On the other hand, the best director Oscar would never go to Michel Hazanavicius. There are many overdue directors like Alexander Payne, Stephen Daldry and most importantly David Fincher.

  • Absidd

    The Artist is NOT France’s entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category, and it might be French, but it IS about old Hollywood…and Hazanavicius could win Best Director over ‘overdue’ directors just as easily as Hooper did last year.

    Having said that, it is still to early to tell…this time last year we considered ‘The Social Network’ the frontrunner and then weeks later it swept the Critics Choice and the Golden Globes…and then within two short weeks, it was obvious to everybody, it will NOT win Best Picture. So let’s just wait and see…I wouldn’t be surprised if the Guilds went another way, Harry Potter, to be exact. It could sweep the technical guilds; as the highest grossing/best-reviewed of 2011, it will probably get the PGA-nod; the Writers might want to honor the 10-year-long work of Steve Kloves and then a DGA-nod is not that far away. I’m not saying it is a sure thing, I’m saying it is a viable scenario, even if it seems unlikely at the moment.

    And I also stick to my previous statement : ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ and/or ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ could still emerge as top players…people are only starting to see these films NOW, both are ridiculously late entries.

  • Fielding


    “It is one of only 4 (!) films that received BFCA bp, GG bp and SAG Ensemble nominations, the other 3 are supposed frontrunners The Artist, The Descendants, Midnight in Paris”

    I hadn’t realised that Midnight in Paris was in this select group until you pointed it out. Wow. Which makes its relatively low position on the Gurus’ (hah!) list all the more flabbergasting. Especially since it’s well-known that the Academy loves it.

  • @alan of montreal I thought it would be harry potter and the deathly hallows part 2?

  • Alexandra

    That DGA nod for David Yates is NOT happening…

  • Alexandra

    …and there is absolutely no way in hell, Tom Hooper could possibly win the DGA instead of David Fincher…oh, wait !

  • steve50

    Re: Brokeback & TSN losses, I was extremely disappointed (disgusted, frustrated?) when The Social Network finally lost last year. We just watched while TKS gained speed at the end of the year. A bit of a rally at the awards, just before Hooper’s award killed all hope, just made it all the more bitter. It was a helpless feeling. But when Brokeback lost, it was a kick in the chest and almost felt personal. It came out of nowhere, for no reason other than some negative campaigning. The result of both was that two of the best films of the decade don’t have the oscar recognition they deserve. So, yes, Scott, to save yourself some real discomfort, you’d better hope that HP cleans up in the tech noms, but steers clear of BP.

    The late entries (ELAIC and Dragon Tattoo) had better ignite on impact. Releasing that late was a huge gamble and I’m not so sure it will pay off because I doubt the sea will part for either. Gross miscalculation combined with the critics’ groups shuffle forward with their awards (which usually didn’t even start until around now).

    And all this hate for The Artist because it’s a “Weinstein” movie – c,mon – Harvey was smart enough to recognize a gem, snatch it up fast and he’s doing what he does best, which is promoting the hell out it. That’s a gift well-deserved for this wonderful movie that absolutely nobody would have bothered with otherwise.

  • Alexandra

    I´m confused…does the DGA have 10 slots like the PGA or they stayed with five???

  • John

    Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is dead. This film has received very mixed notices by Academy members. The fact that it only got a BFCA nomination for Best Picture and there’s no NBR, no SAG and no Golden Globe love pretty much indicates that. The film’s problem is that it was released way too late and there was too much secrecy. Furthermore, it hasn’t been well-received. Many say that the kid is horrifically annoying, the film is too messy and too long, while Hanks and Bullock have around 20 minutes of screentime.
    Its only potential nominations are for Best Supporting Actor (Max von Sydow) and (ha!) Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat).

    Due to the problematic nature of both the film and its release, Warner Bros will eventually focus on Potter. Completely. The film has made some critics lists, has gathered some critics nominations (mostly in tech categories), it has won a few and, most importantly, has some BFCA nods, the NBR nomination and special award, and AFI’s special award to the film and the entire series. So, technically, despite the lack of SAG and GG love, the film’s been doing better than Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Warner Bros will logically focus on Potter. What it needs right now is the PGA nomination and some serious BAFTA love.

    I’ve been hearing that the British members of the Academy are almost 15%-20% of its total members. Now, some say that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will be greatly supported by the British people. I actually doubt it. Why? Because the film has absolutely zero buzz. There’s been no love for poor Gary Oldman. There have been some random Screenplay nominations, but that’s all. The film is out of the Oscar race. At the British Independent Film Awards, Oldman lost to Fassbender and the film lost to Tyrannosaur. It only won Best Production Design. The film is too ‘European’, dark, subtle and confusing and it’s just not Oscar-bait.

    Which means that the British will logically focus on Potter. I’m sure it’ll make their top 5s and it will get a great deal of #01s. It needs 5% of #01 votes and even if it doesn’t get 350 #1 votes, it needs at least 250 of them and another bunch of 100-150 #02 and even #03 votes. Could a BP nomination actually happen?

    On a sidenote, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has officially no chance in getting in the race. Despite the very positive reviews,the film has zero buzz, except for Best Actress (Rooney Mara), Original Score, Editing and Sound Mixing. That’s all the film can get, I’m afraid. It’s too ‘anal’ for the Academy, as Fincher mentioned very successfully. It’s not their piece of cake, which is a pity, because the film is said to be one of the year’s very best.

    Finally, I think we need to talk about the 5% voting system. This means that only films with passionate support will manage to be nominated. But it needs passionate groups of supporters.
    Which films are going to be on many voters’ #01? The Artist. It’s the big frontrunner so far. Many people will vote for it. The Descendants. Clooney’s star power and the film’s critical acclaim guarantee the film’s success. Midnight in Paris. It’s another film with many lovers in the Academy. They love it. And then it gets quite tricky.

    In terms of groups of support, I’d say that The Tree of Life is one of those films. It’s an elitist film, actually. Lots of older members will vote for it and there are many people passionate about it. And there are definitely many fans of Malick. So I think that the 5% is happening.

    Now, it gets trickier. We have other massive BP contenders. These are The Help, War Horse, Moneyball and Hugo. I’m sure that all 5 films will get lots of #1 votes. But are they films with passionate supporters? They are the frontrunners and they will all make A LOT of top 5 lists and they’ll even score a lot of #1s, but are they able to enjoy more than 350 #01 votes?
    I think that Hugo will have this support and The Help is close, but Moneyball strikes more like an Oscar machine for Brad Pitt, the Screenplay and even Jonah Hill who scored GG and SAG nominations. But is it one of those films that will score a lot of #1s? Top 5s? Sure. Plenty. But #1s? I don’t know. War Horse needs a strong campaign and its only nods have been some BFCA nods, the NBR nod and two GG nods (for Picture and Score). People say that the film will be very mixed, critically. It’s not doing extremely well at the precursors and the Screenplay and actors have no chance at all. If it gets in, it will be because of Spielberg but if it continues not doing that well, I can see it not getting enough #1 votes.

    Which leads us to the ninth BP contender: Harry Potter.

    Let’s check the list of the Academy’s branches:

    Academy Membership by the Numbers
    Actors Branch: 1,170
    Art Directors Branch: 359
    Cinematographers Branch: 201
    Directors Branch: 366
    Documentary Branch: 157
    Executives Branch: 441
    Film Editors Branch: 220
    Makeup Artists & Hairstylists Branch: 117
    Music Branch: 233
    Producers Branch: 444
    Public Relations Branch: 363
    Short Films and Feature Animation Branch: 343
    Sound Branch: 402
    Visual Effects Branch: 286
    Writers Branch: 375

    Now, where is Potter’s support? First, the Art Directors and Visual Effects Branch. Can it get some #1s here? Out of 487 members, I’d say that Potter can get, let’s say, 30 #01 votes. Yes, just 30.
    Now, let’s go to the Film Editors, Music, Sound and Makeup branches. We have a total of 972 members. I’m sure Potter can take another bunch of 30 #01 votes here. We are at 60 out of 350.

    The Actors and Writers branches will help Potter a bit. There are MANY British members, especially in the Actors branch. And there are many people who’ve worked in the film. Now, we have a total of 1,545 members here, but I’m sure Potter will somehow get another bunch of 40 #1 votes. We’re at 100 out of 350.

    And now we’re left with the Producers, Executives and Public Relations branches. Here lies Potter’s biggest strength. They’re a total of 1,248 members. Producers and Executives will support the film. Not firmly, but there will be some decent support. The Public Relations will also support it, because they know, better than anyone, how good Potter’s BP nod will be for the ratings. And WB is a major company that will cleverly campaign the film inside the industry. Now, I think that Potter can get around 100-150 #1 votes. We’re at roughly 200-250 total #1 votes. Very close to getting the freaking nomination.
    In order to manage this, Potter needs the BAFTA and PGA love. I’m sure it’ll have it. It also needs an even stronger campaign inside the industry. WB seemed very determined to campaign the film and they’ve done very well so far, but they were also waiting for their big Oscar-bait film, ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ which failed to get any SAG, NBR and GG love. At least Potter has NBR. And it will have BAFTA as well. It’s the only reasonable thing to do. So, can we still get a Best Picture nomination? I think, yes. It’s not a surefire nominee. We know that. Its exclusion from the SAG and GG nods hurt it. But why do I feel that Potter was #06 or #07 at the SAG Ensemble spots? I can’t see any other film other than Hugo getting over Potter. Don’t forget that LOADS of SAG members are TV actors who supported Bridesmaids because of Melissa McCarthy. So I guess Potter lost some of its strength because of that. I also think that Potter was either #07 or #08 at the Golden Globes. The Ides of March is an all-star film. Clooney, Gosling, Hoffman, Rachel Wood. They would definitely nominate it. War Horse has Spielberg. Hugo has Scorsese. Moneyball has Pitt. The Help and The Descendants are clear frontrunners. It’s not surprising that Potter lost a GG nomination. So, maybe hope isn’t lost, after all.

  • I feel irritated that I haven,t seen the artist or midnight in paris.

  • Harry potter 8 not winning bp is not the end of the world. It will be recognized for visual effects. Now if the hobbit doesn,t get nominated next year that will suck. Bonkers. That should be a great returning movie to lotr. A fantasy film like that visionary doesn’t cpme around too often. Besides the artist appeals to the academy2 taste. Those old movies like tgat skew to a older generation of filmgoers than the younger crowd

  • Brad pitt will get a statue before leo di caprio wtf

  • Ben Z.

    I finally saw The Artist last night and I truly hope something else manages to beat it for best picture even though I know statistically speaking that looks nearly impossible at this point.

    I just feel that this a silent film made for people who would like to feel good about themselves for liking a silent film. Anyone who has seen Sunrise/Metropolis/any Chaplin movie/any Buster Keaton film would be able to tell instantly that this film is a failure in both writing/directing departments. The visuals are bland and boring (it felt like I was watching Broadway Melody of 1929) and the screenplay is lame and full of cliches.

    It really pales in comparison to any of the other likely best picture contenders and I truly believe we would not be talking about it if not for the clever campaigning of Harvey Weinstein.

    It will most likely win, but it definitely doesn’t deserve it.

  • JP

    @ John

    Don’t think Extremely Loud is dead. You can’t consider it dead and consider that Harry Potter alive right now. If Extremely Loud gets PGA nom (it probably will… Potter also) and turns out to do well at Box Office, it may pull-out a The Reader-like surprise. It’s a Stephen Daldry film, they love him. I really liked Potter and think it should be nominated, I think the Academy should have stayed with the previous Top 10 to diversify its BP nominations giving chances to blockbusters, animations, foreign films… and even docs. With this new system, there will hardly be space for those kinds of films and istead of nominating 5 Oscar baits like did until 2009, they will nominate 7 or 8.

    Other points:
    – Bridesmaids is obviously not getting nominated just like The Bridcage (ensemble winner), Hairspray and Nine didn’t.
    – I really don’t get why people insist to put Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy in the predictions. It’s ranked higher than Drive, that showed up in many critics lists and was nominated for Critics Choice. It’s obviously dead. Its only remote hope is Oldman, but BP… this film will not get enough high positions on the ballots. Even in the european ballots.

  • JP

    @ Ben Z

    I haven’t seen The Artist yet but I fear to have the same reaction you had: ”I just feel that this a silent film made for people who would like to feel good about themselves for liking a silent film.”

    Right now, I don’t think it’s possible to say If The Artist is Slumdog Millionare or The Social Network in terms of awards season.

  • Ben Z / JP

    I liked ‘The Artist’, I just don’t think its screenplay was good enough to receive a script-nomination, it received BFCA/GG nods probably because of the film’s frontrunner status, and that kind of annoys me. It will probably knock out a GREAT original screenplay (Take Shelter, Beginners, Shame, Young Adult, 50 / 50, Win Win, Beginners, The Tree of Life, Bridesmaids, Margin Call), although it is basically a stylish, well-executed variation of ‘A Star is Born’ story. I consider the film, the directing achievement, the two lead performances definitely Oscar-worthy, but I just can’t get on the bandwagon and accept the script as the serious contender that it is at the moment.

    Although the critics groups seem to back me up on this : they awarded the film in bp 8 out 14 times so far, 4 awards in Best Director and NONE in screenplay. 50/50, Margin Call, Midnight in Paris, Win Win ALL managed to win something (50/50 took NBR and DC, impressive), yet our supposed frontrunner can’t pull off a script award ?

    Anyway, it will be extremely difficult to win bp, if if doesn’t get a script-nod…but at this point, it seems it will get it thanks to its bp-frontrunner status.

  • JP

    What is amazing is that Woody Allen will probably win his Oscar number 3 at the Screenplay category.

    The Artist will get nominated because there are basically those 2 films directly involved with the BP category which have original scripts.

  • Ed Kargir

    Ben Z The Artist is nothing like you described it. I loved ever second of this brillant film. Everyone reacts to films differently I didnot line TTol or Drive as many people on this sight have.

  • Tony


    It’s your site, so you can be as opinionated — and sometimes rude — as you want to be. Your whole TSN vs. TKS thing last year bothered me so much that I stopped reading this site for many months this year.

    In the piece about Meryl Streep on “60 Minutes,” you hope that they weren’t advocating the removal of “sex scenes and/or profanity” in movies. Removal may be too far, but we could use LESS of them in films. People swear so much IRL; it’s vulgar and renders true vocabulary meaningless. Maybe if there were less profanity in movies, there could be a shift IRL. I am not in a gang or in the military, I swear very rarely; therefore, when I do, it MEANS something. As for the sex scenes, adults know what sex looks like, must we be voyeurs? If we want to know what the characters are feeling during sex (pleasure, disgust, etc.), we can get the information from their faces. We don’t need her breasts, his butt, ….

    “What [‘The Artist’ is] missing: gravitas” — Sure, it’s not about the Iraq War or poverty in India, but it’s not fluff. Too many people fail to see the value in black-and-white films or in silent films. This movie may help change that. It won’t bring about world peace or an end to hunger, but it’s still something worthwhile.

    “[A]in’t no way they’re going to grow a pair and pick something outside that realm of ‘you can sit anyone down in front of it and they will get it if not love it.’ What can override that, of course, is love for the filmmakers (Coens, Scorsese), or the desire to push forth real change (Bigelow).” — “Grow a pair” is childish. I’d like to think that each person who voted for Bigelow truly felt that she was the best director, not because of a desire to make history by having a female winner. Similarly, I’d like to think that each person who voted for the Coens or Scorsese truly felt they were the best, not because they weren’t awestruck by others’ smaller body of work.

  • Ben Z.

    But The Artist is fluff. The story isn’t just unoriginal, it’s poorly executed as well.


    For example, George Valentin finds that Peppy has bought all his possesions. For some reason this throws him into extreme mental depression. Why? Why doesn’t he just assume that she did this as a way to protect/save him? The answer here is that Hazanivicius needed something to artificially raise the stakes in the third act. Every movie has this, but smart writers are able to do it in a way that surprises the audience and is organic to the story. It’s terrible writing and if it was a sound film you wouldn’t buy it.

    If you want to see the value in black and white/silent films then you should turn on TCM. There are literally thousands of films from that era that exemplify the best that cinema has to offer. The Artist is not one of them and it does not deserve a pass on it’s story flaws.

  • Patrick C.

    I have to admit that I am lacking this year up to this point in seeing most of these films. But I can’t believe the hype with Moneyball. Ranked 7th on this list…this has to be the worst sports movie made in some time. The story is so inaccurate it isn’t funny. No mention of the big three in terms of the pitching staff and you wouldn’t know that someone on that team won MVP. You are made to believe that a team won a 100 games because of a no named first baseman.

    I haven’t seen the Artist yet (in fact I don’t think it’s playing in my area yet) but the premise of a silent film in the 21st century is a little ballsy. It may be absolute crap but personally I can’t wait to see it

  • CarsonT

    Wow, lots of 1’s.

  • Logan

    @Tony: I, too, got so sick & tired of the never-ending railing against The King’s Speech last year and the overblown superlatives for The Social Network–in actuality both fine films–that I stopped clicking into this website. Not since Roger Ebert openly campaigned for Crash to win Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain had I felt (inexplicably, I admit) so offended.

  • jhg

    “I just feel that this a silent film made for people who would like to feel good about themselves for liking a silent film.”

    That’s exactly how I feel about Hugo, it is only for people to feel good about Martin Scorsese and his love of classic film. The movie itself is a mess. I think people are just giving it a free pass.

  • Funny, of that list, I’ve seen 2 (Potter and Paris, both of them I loved) and walked out of 1 (Bridesmaids).

    My feeling of the other ones, before aproaching them are clear: The Tree of Life seems to be the kind of film I’d like to see taking Best Picture.

    Before hand, The Artits looks to me as a stunt, Moneyball as Jerry Maguire 2, The Descendants fails to appeal to me, Hugo looks stunning, I’m against remakes (Dragon Tattoo), EL&IC seems shameless Oscar-bait, as War Horse…

    I still miss more awards attention to The Skin I Live In (Almodovar’s best since Talk To Her), Red State (I completely understand why it got bashed in the States), Tintin (BETTER than Raiders of the Lost Ark, imho) and Habemus Papam… but of course those four films appeal more to us europeans.

  • I never give movies a free pass. I thought HUGO was an extraordinary film. To go further I like the idea of fixing things/people. Maybe you have to be broken. I don’t know. For instance, on the TV show LOST it was supposed to be the main character’s flaw that he was always trying to fix people. But I always rooted him on. That’s what the point of HUGO was. And it was beautiful to look at. And it used 3D technology the way it should be used. It’s a terribly hopeful film about restoring things to the way they should be. In fact, I really like that movie RESTORATION from way back. I spent years hoping its star would be restored and don’t you know, it happened. Maybe that theme has to mean something to you, in order for you to like HUGO.

  • Daveylow

    I have no idea why Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy hasn’t gotten more recognition during this awards time. What an intelligent and well crafted film. First rate acting, production design, music. The screenplay is smart though I would have liked to have seen more character development for those suspected of being the mole.

  • Marie

    I personally thought Moneyball is one of the best sports movies of all time with great acting, strong writing, and a lot of compelling subversive psychological, analytical, and emotional elements. I can’t stand people simplifying its plotline and the sudden backlash against Jonah Hill/Pitt. I thought it would be a huge contender this year but it got slammed down by The Artist and The Descendants because it ignited its actual campaign late with the precursor lineup being announced too early. Now it is probably only going to get two nominations. It might not even make the BP cut with five extra slots.

    I am also in the minority now thinking that Leo gave a phenomenal performance and that Armie Hammer is also deserving of a nom.

    I also can’t believe War Horse, Tree of Life, The Dangerous Method, and many other movies lost their traction. My friend Tess and I already discussed why so I won’t go into that. Don’t get me started on the Potter snubs.

    I personally think The Artist and The Descendants is making 2011 seem like a weak year when it isn’t. I wasn’t impressed with The Descendants but at least it had a strong screenplay and I finally saw some range from Clooney. I understand some of the hype around The Descendants, Drive, and other movies but I cannot comprehend it with The Artist.

    The Artist is not receiving backlash because it is a Weinstein film but because many people didn’t jump on that bandwagon and feel it is strongly overrated especially when compared to other 2011 films which are getting the shaft because of it. I agree with Ben Z, I felt The Artist was trite cliched fluff that is being propelled by the well-played gimmick of it being a silent film from Weinstein from a French director when there have superior silent films as well as better movies made about that era & storyline. It was mildly entertaining but it lacked the depth, complexity, and importance when compared to War Horse, Tree of Life, Moneyball, and even past contenders like TKS, The Social Network, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, and so many other movies. In fact, I feel The Artist would have a different reaction if not for its elite French cast and if Weinstein were not behind it. The Artist is the frontrunner because it had the best campaign and is coasting on nostalgia. It is a lame, easy pick that can pass off as high art. I agree, it lacked major gravitas when compared to the other movies this year. It was a well-made gimmick but there was nothing special about it. Oooh, let’s be edgy and pick the silent film. It was more challenging because it had no words. Give me a break.

    Rewarding The Artist also seems like a conceited and pseudo-intellectual interplay for cinemaphiles. I personally Hugo was a superior film that had a stronger plotline, characterization, and really touched upon the magic of early cinema from the old style of original filmmaking. Hugo moved me and made me cry. It had real sentiment. There were themes of redemption and restoration in Hugo that were handled beautifully. We also saw themes of loss, sacrifice, and family. It was viewed through the lens of a victimized orphan.

    Any two A-listers could have played the two leads in The Artist. Dujardin and Bejo didn’t do anything impressive and if two high profile American stars had been cast…people would have underwhelmed and would have expected more. The plotline was as cliched as it gets. We see an arrogant actor’s downfall when the time changes. He cheats on his wife with the young starlet. I have seen this arc before. It is most the cliched and unoriginal premise they could have used for a throwback to a silent movie or old Hollywood movie. It almost seems like coddling by the industry to recognize a movie like that. If it weren’t for the hype, it would be forgettable.

    I was terribly disappointed with The Artist and it is a shame that it seems to be the frontrunner. Moneyball, Tree of Life, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, War Horse, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Dangerous Method, Hugo, Take Shelter, Shame, and others were much better movies for me. I even liked J.Edgar more than The Artist. I even liked The Help more than The Artist which is saying alot considering I was definitely not an advocate of that movie.

    Moneyball, Tree of Life, and War Horse don’t have a chance in hell in winning right now. The three top contenders so far seem to be The Artist, The Descendants, and Hugo. What a lackluster race when there could be stronger frontrunners. We can only judge by the actual winners but I guess I am forced to root for Hugo. I can see The Academy deviate from the critics and other precursors by favoring Hugo which displayed far more depth, skill, is a unique film, and they love Scorsese.

  • Marie

    Seriously, does The Arist or The Descendants truly deserve to be recognized as the best of the year? They are ignoring more ambitious films with top-notch directors for these two overhyped movies that the media rallied behind. If The Artist wins, it will possibly be the weakest and worst Best Picture pick for me. Such laziness. It is easy to promote The Artist as the movie that cinemaphiles should love and it is very easy for the average moviegoer to understand ( considering the familiarity with the plotline). Oooh Weinsten and two French leads with an artsy director like Michel H. I really hope that The Academy goes in a different direction. I wasn’t even a fan of The Kings Speech but I felt that movie trounces The Artist. I am not liking this downward spiral.

  • Marie

    The Artist is the ultimate case of rewarding style over substance and celebrating the conceit of cinemaphiles instead of respecting in-depth and challenging movies. I thought Wall-E had more intelligence, emotion, depth, and higher craft than The Artist!

  • Marie

    “I agree with Ben Z, I felt The Artist was trite,cliched fluff that is being propelled by the well-played gimmick of it being a silent film from Weinstein by a French director when there have been superior silent films as well as better movies made about that era & storyline. It was mildly entertaining but it lacked the depth, complexity, and importance when compared to War Horse, Tree of Life, Moneyball, and even past contenders like TKS, The Social Network, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, and so many other movies.

    In fact, I feel The Artist would have a different reaction if not for its elite French cast and if Weinstein were not behind it. The Artist is the frontrunner because it had the best campaign and is coasting on nostalgia. It is a lame, easy pick that can pass off as high art. I agree, it lacked major gravitas when compared to the other movies this year. It was a well-made gimmick but there was nothing special about it. Oooh, let’s be edgy and pick the silent film. It was more challenging because it had no words. Give me a break. ”

    Re-posted because I made some mistakes.

  • Christine J

    Marie–I agree with every single word you said. Hugo is a far superior homage to the cinema than Artist.

  • there’s just something I just don’t get, if it’s so popular in france than how come when it was releaseed in the US, only on it’s opening weekend made only $204,878?

  • PaulH

    It’s their awards, guys, and if they want to continue to render themselves irrelevant to the rest of America, then by all means pick The Artist. Just like they did with gender politics trumping actual film quality in ’09, just like they disrespect Christopher Nolan at every turn. The Oscars will be on pay per view before long. The Artist will go down as one of their worse choices because in 2011, a silent film should not be eligible for anything except an honorary special Oscar. Too many folk around here are brainwashed by the Weinstein Aura to call this demon megalomaniac out on how he buys Oscars every year like we buy groceries.

  • Nic V

    The bloggers seem to “want” to control what the members of the Academy should or should not acknowledge with an Oscar. This site has for the three years I’ve been reading here has pushed and pushed certain films almost to the point of you wonder if they are on the production payroll. In some instances they are when you look at all the advertising.

    I don’t think The Artist is going to win BP. I think it will get nominated and the picture will garner a great deal of nominations. Best Original Screenplay? For what blocking scenes and directing facial expressions? I mean come on.

    I happen to agree with the general consensus that directors like Eastwood, Speilburg, and even Scorcese were held to a different standard this year than Hazanavicus. I remember earlier this year at this site there was talk of Hugo being a disaster before it was even released. But at the same time this site was championing Hanna and some other duds. This site raved about Dragon Tattoo and too be honest the buzz ain’t there. Even on the morning magazine shows it’s clear it ain’t all that “loved”. The critics have jumped all over certain films and created an entirely different film than one sees when one views that same film.

    Take for example The Help. The Help is not a great movie. It’s a very entertaining and socially educational piece. The acting is for the most part good with a few exceptions. Chastian and Spencer are the stand outs in that film. As much as I respect Viola Davis she just doesn’t measure up to the performances by the previously mentioned two and has done much better work. The direction is mediocre.

    I was one of the first to say that Midnight in Paris was going to be a contender and now I’m going to say don’t count out Extremely Loud just yet.

    What’s even more amusing is to write off a performance by Fassbender for Dujardin who in my opinion appears to be doing a more subtle version of Charlie Chaplin. Just as I found Chastain to offer a rather horrid impersonation of Falconetti in Tree of Life. I can’t remember the film or maybe it was an interview where an actress was exmplaining how she had been told how to react in silent film to what a director wanted with expression. Every time I see a clip from The Artist I wonder if Hazanavicus told Djuarin or Bejo too look “surprised” or too “give us a big smile”.

    Earlier this year Tree of Life was the film at this site. Tree of Life. Tree of Life. Tree of Life. You can almost hear the “mea culpas” each time you heard Tree of Life mentioned here. In one article Tree of Life was the film of the year here and then it was Rise of the Planet of the Apes and then it became “wait til you see” Dragon Tattoo.

    This site has been all over the spectrum this year much in the same way film has been and the critics. What we all need to remember is that the members of the Academy are people and they see film like anyone else. They’ll love it or they’ll hate it. Most of them, unless they are in the technical branches won’t even see the flaws they’ll just walk out shrugging their shoulders going “I don’t know what all the hype was about”.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    “there’s just something I just don’t get, if it’s so popular in france than how come when it was releaseed in the US, only on it’s opening weekend made only $204,878?”

    It’s in 17 theaters. SEVENTEEN. Yesterday its theater average (after two weeks) was higher than #1 movie Sherlock Holmes 2 had on its opening day. When it opens wide, it will do serious business. This 15 million dollar film will probably make 100-200M worldwide. So far, it has made over a million in USA alone.

    The fact that it’s silent hurts the box office, but not much, I think.

  • I wrote about this on Friday. Short version – In an era that’s inexplicably nostalgic for everything they loved as a kid and trying to revamp every quasi-popular franchise that existed in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, when being famous once for any reason gives you a divine right to always be famous, and when films merely emulate a genre or a sub-genre of a bygone era with no insight or artistry of their own, The Artist is actually the most appropriate choice to win Best Picture in for 2011. And yes, it’s fitting that despite several films that critically examine nostalgia and confronting past glories (The Muppets, Hugo, Young Adult) that The Artist, the one to be crowned with the top prize despite merely reveling in and arguably condoning the themes in question.

    If you care – http://scottalanmendelson.blogspot.com/2011/12/sadly-appropriate-why-artist-deserves.html

  • Patrick C.

    This is to Marie. Although I respect your opinion, I disagree with the comment on Moneyball being a great sports movie as well as this being a strong contending year. First of all, a movie should be accurate when it is telling it’s story. Although Hattenburg certainly helped the A’s to win that year, strong pitching and an MVP shortstop probably helped out more. There was no mention of that.

    The other thing to is…so far this has been a weak award season. There hasn’t been any talk about any front runners. All I keep hearing about is the Descendants and Hugo because they are out now. The only movie that has kept the momentum this year has been the Help. What happened to Drive? The Debt? From what I can tell this isn’t turning out to be a good year.

  • Tony

    @Logan: Thank you! I feared I was gonna get a beatdown for bringing up the TKS/TSN, ahem, mess.

  • Daveylow

    Marie, yes both The Artist and The Descendants deserve to be awarded Best Picture of Year. Not sure either will win. I just don’t War Horse to get the prize. Except for the acting branch that seems like the type of film made for Academy voters.

  • Daveylow

    And I agree with Patrick C that Moneyball is not a great sports movie. It’s a fine character with sports as a backdrop.

  • Daveylow

    Scott M–I read your piece and I don’t agree that The Artist isn’t a good movie. It was made with love and care. Not sure if it’s a great movie but I enjoyed every minute.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    I need something cheerful like The Artist now (somebody send me a screener, ok? Haha). I now tell you something, cause you are a bunch of unknown people to me… A sad tragedy took place in our family yesterday. My cousin (age 28) was brutally murdered. Sad days. I may be on and off this website for a while.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    My life is a movie now.

  • menyc

    I predict the Guilds will really split, making the predictions being even more confusing. A good thing and appropriate for the year. I’m all for The Artist winning BP, just not convinced and the backlash begins in 1… 2… 3…

  • Dominik

    That´s tragic news, Tero- hope you will be alright!

  • I have no idea why Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy hasn’t gotten more recognition during this awards time.

    Maybe it’s because a week after it’s highly publicized release date it’s still only in 12 theaters in the US. Maybe this will somehow be an amazing strategy but imo this should have been a normal person’s movie. It’s not difficult to follow. It’s not an arthouse film saving for the fact that they decided to release it this way. Had they released it wide, on December 9th*, I think it would have been a hit. I personally think it’s slower than I would have liked. But the performances would have won everyone over. It seems like they’re releasing it the way they release something like Brokeback Mountain. That needed rolling out because people needed to get used to the idea of gay cowboys. This needed no rolling out with that star power, especially since people have been hearing about it since its British premiere. There are many fans who are getting disenfranchised because they’ve had to wait so long. They’ve posted lots of comments on IMDb and facebook.

    *December 9th ended up being a complete dud of a weekend. No one went. There was nothing decent opening. I think that was a huge missed opportunity for TTSS to be THE movie that weekend.

  • Alexandra

    Tero,my condolences to you and your family 🙁

  • Gregoire

    Neither Hugo nor The Artist should be nominated for Best Picture. I’m as much a cinema lover as you can find, but I just don’t think these two fetishizations of film history merit praise over an ACTUAL film.

  • James

    The Artist will not win because Hugo will!

    Toy Story 3 was nominated for BP last year so Harry Potter part 7 part 2 will also make it.

    TKS deserves its 4 Oscars, should have gotten more. Can’t wait for Les Miserables, its got the best music among Lloyd Webber musicals.

    Loved Melancholia, I’ll keep predicting Kirsten Dunst will be nominated.

  • MikeScott

    Something like Melancholia deserves to be crowned best film of the year, but it won’t even get any nominations.

  • Martin Pal

    ODDS & ENDS from reading these comments:

    JAMES says: “Can’t wait for Les Miserables, its got the best music among Lloyd Webber musicals.”

    I SAY: Llloyd Weber didn’t write the music to Les Miserables.


    –“If The Artist wins, would it be the first Best Picture winner not produced in the US or the UK?”

    — “The Artist is a French film, so there’s not a slightest chance of it winning the picture (though it’s a silent film). Academy voters will never want a French film to win the best picture Oscar.”

    These two comments above are exactly why I think THE ARTIST has no chance of winning the oscar for Best Picture. Some have speculated that ONE of the reasons Brokeback Mountain lost votes is this credit–Executive Producer: Alberta Film Entertainment. Although, maybe academy members won’t notice since it was filmed in Hollywood and used some Hollywood supporting players. But then, they never awarded a silent film from Chaplin Best Picture, so would they seriously award a foreign produced silent film this honor?

    By the way, I love that THE ARTIST is being appreciated and enjoyed by many. Why not?


    To the guy who dissed ELAIC and wrote about Harry Potter being a logical choice among British who make up 10%-15% of ampas–I hate to disillusion you, but there was a BAFTA screening at the Arclight in Los Angeles and the audience really liked that film. My bafta friend said ELAIC is his favorite film of the year.


    Award season is when we love or hate movies more than we normally would because they are getting less or more attention than we think they deserve.

  • Saulo

    I’ve yet to see so many of these – I don’t even feel safe commenting on the race just yet. I’ve only seen The Help, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, The Ides of March, Drive and Bridesmaids so far. Drive is the only movie that truly stood out for me out of the whole bunch. Other than that, it’s been a pretty tame and underwhelming race so far. But I almost never like what the Academy deems the “best pictures”.

    PS: And I really liked The Ides of March as well, but I don’t see that going anywhere in the race. But I thought it was great. Or it might just be my love for Ryan Gosling getting the best of me.

  • @James

    I don’t think Les Mis is Andrew Lloyd Webber. And I’m half not looking forward to it, because there are so many actors who can sing better than the ones cast. I’m a huge fan of musicals and they just keep getting it wrong. lol I know Hugh Jackman has sold himself as the “musical” guy but that doesn’t make him the only one remotely qualified. I’d have picked Patrick Wilson if it were me. And maybe Antonio Banderas. JS

  • CarsonT

    Gotta say though, crowning it this early is probably a little dangerous. I’m gonna see how this pans out.

  • James

    OK sorry Lloyd Webber didn’t write Les Mis.

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