It is always this time of year when you know for sure whether a film is going to finish the race as the “winner” or not. The Producers Guild has, for the last two years anyway, been the turning point. The Globes come and go and one year it was Avatar and the next year it was The Social Network. Then the Producers Guild honored The Hurt Locker, and the Producers Guild honored The King’s Speech and such was the signal that it was all over but the shouting. It was especially exciting when The Hurt Locker won because everyone naturally assumed that the movie that made the most money in the race (Avatar) would beat the movie that made the least (The Hurt Locker). The Hurt Locker had been winning on the strength of Kathryn Bigelow’s underdog status, being a woman, and the simple fact that she had the better movie. But The King’s Speech beating The Social Network, Black Swan, Inception, The Fighter and True Grit? There was something else at play. There was profit, sure, but there was also low cost and there was also those swollen hearts. Everybody felt sorry for the stuttering King who couldn’t give a speech, his friendship with his teacher, and on and on and on it went. Masterpiece Theater for the ages. The King’s Speech wasn’t a bad film. It was a very very good film. It just wasn’t better than the best film. But hey, Rocky was a great film too. It just wasn’t better than Network. It just wasn’t better than Taxi Driver. It just wasn’t better than All the President’s Men. Time helped us to see that year more clearly but at the time, there was no stopping Rocky. Rocky and The King’s Speech are very similar in that way. You’re always going to find people who respond, still, to both movies. That the greater movies were nominated alongside them also speaks well of the Academy for noticing at all.

Producer: Thomas Langmann

Producers: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel, Clayton Townsend

Producers: Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

Producers: Ceán Chaffin, Scott Rudin

Producers: Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Brunson Green

Producers: Graham King, Martin Scorsese

Producers: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Brian Oliver

Producers: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum

Producers: Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Brad Pitt

Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg

We can’t expect a group of thousands to vote for the best film. I have never figured out what makes the producers tick. What I do know is that if they pick anything except The Artist (which I’m figuring they won’t) we will have a much more interesting race. Of course, awarding films — works of art — for our amusement isn’t really the aim of the game. We shouldn’t want the race to be more interesting just so that we won’t be bored. Of course, that’s what we want but people will never vote that way.

The producers used to consist of a much smaller group of people. But now they are less than the Academy, with 4,700 of them. What makes them more indicative of Academy voting is that they use the preferential system with ten Best Pictures. The least hated film is more likely to win because the film that isn’t the popular number one should be the second or third choice on a ballot. The DGA and the SAG don’t vote that way, only the PGA do.

The Producers Guild vote for the Best Picture now. They don’t vote for the “Best Produced” anymore, if they ever did. There used to be a lot more diversity in how the groups voted — but now, everyone votes at the same time and there isn’t a lot of time for reflection. It feels like there are still only two movies that can challenge The Artist. One is Hugo and the other is The Descendants.

Probably the producers aren’t going to care about giving back to the American film industry, which needs saving as much as the UK Film Council did last year. We’re in a sorry state right now and for the second year in a row it looks like an international film is going to take over our industry awards. That is the only thing I can see giving voters pause. Maybe they’ll want to say, you know, I loved The Artist but Alexander Payne and Martin Scorsese are American treasures who fortify our own culture of great filmmaking. Why can’t we reward that instead? Who am I kidding. We all know how this thing is going to play out. And in the end, no one can make a valid argument other than that as to why it shouldn’t win. Well, except for the money.

The Artist’s Box Office

Jan 6–8 18 $1,120,111 -14.5% 172 +5 $6,512 $7,097,612 7
Jan 13–15 15 $1,193,180 +6.5% 216 +44 $5,524 $8,789,959 8
Jan 13–16 15 $1,604,416 +43.2% 216 +44 $7,428 $9,201,195 8

The King’s Speech box office

Jan 7–9 9 $6,414,407 -17.5% 758 +58 $8,462 $32,896,665 7
Jan 14–16 4 $9,186,203 +43.2% 1,543 +785 $5,953 $44,710,062 8
Jan 14–17 4 $11,271,166 +75.7% 1,543 +785 $7,305 $46,795,025 8

The big question with The Artist is whether it could make any money.  As you can see, The King’s Speech was killing it in a much shorter time.  The Artist is no King’s Speech, which lit the box office on fire.  It’s hard to get people to see The Artist – I know, I’ve tried to pass around the screener. I actually know a voting DGA member who never saw it.  So I’m wondering how this will play out.

This will be the first guild vote to test the popularity of The Artist.  I’m still going to bet it wins there, then wins the DGA and then the SAG and on and on.  But if it doesn’t win, what might?  The Descendants is probably the second best choice.  While not everyone loves it it has a lot going for it.  For one thing, it is still looking like the underdog.  Directed by Alexander Payne, who came very close to winning the big time with Sideways.  But The Descendants is also a very American story. It is about the preservation of our land and families for future generations. It is about a family — a dad who must take care of his kids.  It’s about telling the truth — about living an honest life, about how hard it is to talk about stuff to people when they’re right there in front of you.  Of all of the films this year, only two made me cry — well, three if you count War Horse – The Descendants and Hugo.

While it might not be the best year for film we’ve ever seen, there really isn’t a bad one in the bunch.

How about you?  Are we looking at an Artist sweep?  Does that first stop happen this Saturday when the PGA announces?

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  • Daniel

    If the artist doesn’t win this saturday, everything will change for the rest of the season, even if it wins at the end.
    if the artist does win this saturday, nothing will change even when the oscar race has finished.

  • steve50

    While the PGA has made some unusual choices in the past (The Crying Game, Moulin Rouge and Little Miss Sunshine) I think it is safe to call The Artist. As with nearly all of their previous selections, likeability seems to be the big factor, and they seem to go with the movie that makes the audience feel joy or emotion. It’s that positive factor that is measured by what one feels exiting the theatre. Scan the list of previous winners and compare to Oscar’s BPs, or the critics’ lists, even. Surprisingly, this is a group of tough nuts that likes to be moved and left feeling “up”.

    It is only recent that they have been in lockstep with AMPAS, but I think that will be the case this year.

  • RobertlowercaseA

    I hope The Descendant and Hugo pulls an upset over The Artist, but yeah, the safe bet is still on The Artist.

  • DCS

    I’m not sure I see the point in posting a box office comparison between The Artist and King’s Speech when the 5th column of your charts clearly shows that The Artist hasn’t even opened wide yet….it’s only playing on 216 screens while King’s Speech at this same point was already on 1,543 screens…..jeez, I keep seeing this nonsense on so many websites claiming that The Artist has been a box office failure or something. We will have a much better picture after this weekend when the film does start to go into its wider release.

  • steve50

    “We shouldn’t want the race to be more interesting just so that we won’t be bored.”

    We shouldn’t, but we do. We do because we (nearly every reader here, I would wager), realize that there is more than one “best film” out there. The absolute last thing any of us want is one film to take the lead in November and ride to the finish line, unchallenged. That would bore the snot out of us.

    That’s why your other remark is so true, Sasha – the importance of seeing “that the greater movies were nominated alongside” the eventual winner.

  • Edkargir

    I want the Artist to will because I Think it is the best film of the year . In 1977 Annie Hall beat Star Wars which made a ton of money. I think Annie Hall is one of 10 greatest film of all time and Star Wars one of the most overrated movies of ALL time. If this site existed in 1996 most would have wanted Fargo to win BP not the well acted but badly directed and boring The English Patient I loved Fargo but I wanted Secrets and Lies to win. A mOVIES gross should never be a factor as to win bp

  • Robert A.

    “The absolute last thing any of us want is one film to take the lead in November and ride to the finish line, unchallenged. That would bore the snot out of us.”

    I agree when the movie that takes the lead in November and rides to the finish line is a movie I’m not invested in or am not crazy about (like Slumdog Millionaire). But when it’s a movie I really love, I never tire of seeing it win again, and again, and again (like The Hurt Locker).

  • Sasha Stone

    @DCS – The Artist hasn’t opened wide yet because it knows it will BOMB if it opens wide. That’s the whole point: the King’s Speech COULD and DID. The Artist CAN’T and WON’T. People are just too dumb to go see it.

  • Luke

    I cannot wait to see The Artist this weekend. I have seen The Descendants, Hugo, and War Horse and they all left me feel like something was missing.

  • Kim

    Love the photo of Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock and James Stewart. These 3 men are responsible for some of my favorite films of all time!

  • On paper, sure, The Artist seems like an easy prediction…but I think The Help will take this just like Little Miss Sunshine and Driving Miss Daisy did. I also wouldn’t rule out a semi-shocker, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…they might want to kiss and make up with Fincher/Rudin, after all it was the PGA that crushed the otherwise perfect Oscar-chances of The Social Network last year.
    I would be VERY surprised if any other nominee won…although Midnight in Paris might sound like any producer’s wet dream, too…

  • Julian the emperor

    Phantom, you seem to be obsessed about possible spoilers for the upcoming (and in all likelihood, inevitable) Artist triumph at the Oscars these days. You used to be the voice of reason, now you see a The Help win coming on?? The fact that it did not get an ACE nom OR a DGA nom doesn’t bother you…?

    No, this is a done deal.

    The other contenders? Hugo did not get a BAFTA bp nom OR a SAG ensemble nom (TGWTDT didn’t get either as well), I think it would be without precedence if any of them won based on that stat alone.
    The Descendants? No way, I just don’t see it (it won’t get any technical noms for one and that’s not your typical Oscar winner…). MIP: also didn’t get a BAFTA bp nom (with the overlap between the two voting bodies and what that indicates, I think it is safe to say that is not going to happen either)…

  • James

    You’re all wrong, War Horse will win.

  • Sasha’s Rocky/King’s Speech comparison is really good. 1976 had the advantage of Taxi Driver and Network but both years had a very good film beat a few better ones. It’s unfortunate, because I really liked The King’s Speech and I wish it could have been a feel-good hit that won Best Actor, got nominated, and lived on as a harmless bit of high entertainment. Instead, it’s the middlebrow flick that beat THE SOCIAL NETWORK and, in my warped world, The Fighter*.

    The Artist occupies similar ground. A well-done feel-good flick, though less popular, that will get propped too high up and then earn the bitter ire of scorned commenters like myself.

    *Anyone else think Shutter Island should have been nominated? I saw it with three friends and I loved it, one person liked it, one person thought it was okay, and one person hated it. Basically in line with the tomatometer. I am biased toward films where DiCaprio feels haunted by shit.

  • Would be interesting to run a simple Up-Down poll

    Question: Have you seen The Artist?
    – Yes
    – No

    I’ll bet The Artist is one of the least seen BP frontrunners in recent memory.

    That’s like a presidential candidate who refuses to do interviews.

    Don’t worry. Let the Powers That Be decide Best Picture. Real live moviegoers can see it in March or April when public opinion won’t make a difference anymore.

    or let’s be clear: Real Life Moviegoers can be more easily lured into seeing it after it’s been given the Best Picture Seal of Approval. Then it’s not about convincing somebody to see the semi-French b&w silent movie. It’s just about convincing them to see The Best Picture of the Year!

  • ^
    Remember how excited everybody was to see the grim movie about euthanizing the girl boxer? I wonder if anybody bought a ticket just to see why it won so many Oscars.

  • I saw “The Grim Movie” years after its release expecting to be underwhelmed because I knew the ending and figured it was overhyped. That’s the last time I judge a movie without seeing it because I was moved, blown-away, touched, etc. The Artist has its flaws, but when it became “that silent French movie” it was the kiss of death because too many hayseeds are going to make the same mistake I did and avoid the tagline rather than embrace the experience.

  • Craig S.

    The Artist is NOT going to win everything, because it’s simply not great enough to do that. I believe at the end of the day it WILL win Best Picture, but I think the major awards will be spread around. I think Marty has an excellent chance of picking up his second directing award, and Mr. Payne has a very solid shot at a screenwriting Oscar. Clooney may very well win. If the women of The Help and/or Meryl win, that’s spreading it around pretty good.

    The Artist just does not have the chops to get a sweep done. It’s not even the best film regarding the points it’s trying to make; just go watch Hugo and you’ll see the difference in a big way.

  • Patryk

    Anything but “The Help.”

  • …when it became “that silent French movie” it was the kiss of death because too many hayseeds are going to make the same mistake I did and avoid the tagline…

    Careful. I know you don’t intend to, but you’re coming close to disparaging my mother, and (if I’m not mistaken) Sasha’s mother too.

    You know, the true hayseeds don’t go see any of the Best Picture contenders at all. I honestly don’t think it’s exclusively country bumpkins who might be put off by The Artist — before, during, and after they embrace the experience.

    Jeff Wells had trouble embracing the experience. Let me know when you plan to tell Jeff he’s a hayseed. That’ll be an interesting cage-match to witness.


    Seeing M$B years after it slipped into the BP ring at the 11th hour might be better than watching it upend the Oscar race for 3 weeks after it premiered. Living through that ploy as it unfolded, a lot of us felt conned.

  • Jay

    Winner: The Artist

    Potential Spoilers:
    The Descendants
    The Help

  • Julian, I KNOW The Artist is the frontrunner and therefore is expected to take the PGA, I’m just saying The Help MIGHT have a shot, too, there is strong precedent after all. Frankly, I have been underestimating The Help from Day 1, thought that ‘yeah, yeah, great BO, but critics didn’t love it, early release date blahblahblah’ and now it is one of only 3 (!) bp-contenders that has all the important bp-nominations : PGA, BAFTA, HFPA, BFCA + SAG Ensemble. The fact that it received that BAFTA-nod and Hugo, Midnight in Paris, War Horse did NOT, proves to me that it is one to watch out for because it might just be (way) more beloved than we thought. Sure, the oh-so-crucial DGA/ACE nods never happened, but I still won’t continue to underestimate this one.

    And to be fair, though The Artist is the strongest bp-contender at the moment, I think it is far from a “done deal” : this time last year The Social Network had basically 90% of the critics groups in picture-director-screenplay, won awards in these 3 categories at the Critics Choice and the Golden Globes, too and then it lost the guilds AND the Oscar. Sure, that rarely happens, but considering this year’s precursors, I think – as Sasha put it once – the Critics/Guilds separation might not end with reconciliation, or at least not this year. The Guilds ate up Dragon Tattoo, The Help and Bridesmaids, the critics were crazy about The Tree of Life, Drive, Michael Shannon etc. They mostly agreed on the top contenders, but they are definitely not in the kind of agreement that would make me think it is a “done deal” that the critics fave will match the guild fave.

  • @Ryan: I’m glad you called me out because I expressed myself poorly. I should have added a happy face symbol to show that I wasn’t in Jeff Wells rant-mode. 🙂 I’m indicting myself in that post as well because I fall victim to the same trait. My comment wasn’t about how disliking The Artist makes you a hayseed (I didn’t like it much more than Jeff.) It’s about choosing not to see something because of an unwillingness to open your mind. I almost never leave Los Angeles because i don’t like to be away from my gym and my supermarket. I’m just as bad as The Artist “hayseeds” in many respects. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • No problem. I knew you meant no haughtiness, Jesse. Your easygoing demeanor is the antithesis of haughty.

    Some of us write with such pointed syntax, we should walk around with smiley faces stuck to our foreheads so people know we’re not being pissy, just pithy.

  • Jeff Wells IS a hayseed. But I STILL read him every day. A hayseed masquerading as a cowboy/hipster. But I LOVE his writing.

    “The Artist” will sweep all in its’ path a la “The English Patient.” Ladies and Gentlemen, what is the French word from “Broom”? I should know that.

    AND THEY BROUGHT THE DOG TO THE GOLDEN GLOBES! There’s no stopping it.It’s like a “Slumdog Millionaire”. Even TKS had a uphill climb that “The Artist” does not. And TWC is leaving NO stone unturned. I’m interviewing James Cromwell by satellite tomorrrow morning and Penelope Anne Miller Friday AM.

    And they have Harvey. After doing this successfully for over a quarter century, he must know every Academy member by name, and also have their email and phone number!

    He was in a very different place with TKS last year at this exact time. This year,with “The Artist” is easy peasy by comparison.

    Everywhere I go in NYC that’s all people are talking to me about and they can’t stop talking about it. How it affected their lives. How HAPPY it made them. How life is so hard now for everyone financially and every other which way, and that “The Artist” swept them up into an enchanting love story.

    Oh, and the dog has his own “Consider Uggie” Facebook Campaign Page!

  • “Jeff Wells IS a hayseed. But I STILL read him every day. A hayseed masquerading as a cowboy/hipster.”

    well, I’m off to Nova Scotia! Safely outside the radius of the evacuation zone.

  • There’s two French words for “Broom” ~ balai or genet.

    Messieurs et mesdames, la balai, s’il vous plait.

    Meaning, I think “The Artist” is going to sweep all before it and win more awards this year than any other film. It COULD get Best Actor, Best Supp. Actress and Best Director, aussi, bien sur.

  • Sasha Stone

    Stephen did you know that you have to go all the way back to Oliver to find a year when the Golden Globe best pic winner for musical comedy won Pic AND Dir at the Oscars? Sure, I know that is nothing compared to it being a silent, black and white film but it made me think we might not be looking at a sweep…..

  • Please, my friend, can you just stop saying The Hurt Locker won ’cause it was the better and The King’s Speech didn’t deserve its win? I think the contrary (In the Loop, Inglorious Basterds were bastly superior to The Hurt Locker – which ain’t even in my top 10 of 2009 – and The King’s Speech was better in all levels than The Social Network, which is a great films anyways). I wouldn’t be complaining that much if TSN won, but The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, Crash, Million Dollar Baby and A Beautiful Mind make the ’00s probably one of the weakest decades in Best Picture winners in Oscar history. 1 bad movie, 2 mediocre and 2 “just good”. Thanks to Chicago, Return of the King, The Departed, No Country for Old Men and The King’s Speech for rising the average to some acceptability.

  • Plus, I haven’t seen The Artist, but anyone doubting it’s a stunt simply haven’t seen the previous films by this duo (director/actor): the OSS films, which are fun, but hardly GOOD.

  • Rope is one of the best Hitchcock movies. Better than the more obvious ones, imo.

    The King’s Speech wasn’t a bad film. It was a very very good film. It just wasn’t better than the best film. But hey, Rocky was a great film too. It just wasn’t better than Network. It just wasn’t better than Taxi Driver. It just wasn’t better than All the President’s Men. Time helped us to see that year more clearly but at the time, there was no stopping Rocky.

    People have the right to their opinions of course. I’ve seen All the President’s Men a couple times. Network probably five or so. Taxi Driver probably somewhere around ten times. Rocky? Oh, about 150.

    I didn’t like The King’s Speech myself. I thought it was okay. I thought Colin Firth was fantastic. But I wouldn’t never say that it’s definitely not the best film. I might gripe that my favorite from last year didn’t win. But that’s just opinion. My opinion against theirs. Or mine against yours. You get the idea. No one is “right”. For the record again my favorite was the more popular one Inception. And it usually is. I usually agree with the people.

    What I feel the Academy should do and maybe the producers even more so is award the film that is going to live on. Which film is the one that will be the standout so that 30 years later everyone will look back and think that they liked it then, but they still like it? That it represents that moment in time but also transcends it. IMO, that’s why something like Rocky continues to live on. Every sports movie, every triumphant movie, is compared to it. It set a standard. That, imo, is exactly what the representative movie of any given year should do. I think that by this point most people who watch films and consider themselves to be a fan of the movies have seen All the President’s Men, Network, Taxi Driver and of course Rocky. I’m guessing if you took a poll today and asked people out of those films, which is your favorite, most would say Rocky. And it’s not because they’re dumb or it’s the only one they’ve seen. It’s because that movie does what most people want movies to do. Not everyone but most people. Think about how the other three movies end. Think about what the message is, if there is a message. Most people don’t want a downer ending. Some people will hate a movie if it doesn’t have a downer ending because if there’s a happy ending then somehow it’s bullshit. But the thing is when something is awarded, a group of people choose it and what wins is the one that the most of them like. It doesn’t make them or their choice dumb. It’s just how it is.

  • Sasha Stone

    People have the right to their opinions of course. I’ve seen All the President’s Men a couple times. Network probably five or so. Taxi Driver probably somewhere around ten times. Rocky? Oh, about 150.

    Yikes. Rocky once maybe twice. All the President’s Men — too many times to count, at least 100. Note the site’s main title. Taxi Driver, equally. Network quite a few times: those films are masterpieces. Rocky was great for what it was when it came out.

  • Sasha Stone

    I will consider the notion that Inglourious Basterds was AS GOOD AS The Hurt Locker, which is saying a lot. That Bigelow movie is my favorite Best Picture winner after No Country for Old Men of the last fifteen years. Hurt Locker is cinematic perfection. One of the best films ever made. Basterds is magnificent too but it does have that bar scene — #1, you’re fighting in a basement. I love Basterds too. But Hurt Locker – nothing was as good. Sorry. And King’s Speech was masterpiece theater. I’m trying to let it go and stop ragging on it but it’s the worst best picture winner I’ve seen since I started doing this, second only to Crash.

  • Inglourious Basterds was my favorite but I saw The Hurt Locker on DVD and probably would have been more impressed had I seen it on the big screen. I think it was my #4 that year. I liked A Serious Man a lot as well.

    In the same vein as Rocky being the standard to which inspiration/sports films get compared to, I think every haunting guy movie gets held up to Taxi Driver. For my own writing, I look to what Taxi Driver accomplishes and try to match it. Christ.

    What made 1976 special is that all four films were quite different, occupying urban nightmares, media satire, escapism, and a recreation of near-current events. 1976 was such a bizarre year for America overall, with stagflation, the presidential election, the bi-centennial…Hippies were growing up, the silent majority was giving way to Carter’s idealism, and drugs were all over the place but representing darker elements not as present with the 60’s turn-on counterculture. The real world seemed pretty grim so films took on a critical importance and man, they delivered that year.

  • Jerry

    I’m going to stick with THE DESCENDANTS for the PGA win and THE ARTIST for the Oscar win. I really don’t think THE ARTIST will win at both events. It’s a black and white silent film there is no way it’s going to blow out the box office like a crowd-pleasing conquering-an-adversity movie like THE KING’S SPEECH. TKS was more of a 4-quadrant movie, ARTIST will always be limited in audience appeal.

  • Robert A.

    “For the record again my favorite was the more popular one Inception. And it usually is. I usually agree with the people.”

    I usually don’t. *shrugs*

    I actually get sort of annoyed when I’m with people who automatically dislike a movie or dismiss it because it has a grim or a “downer” ending. To me there’s something so limiting about watching film in that way. But to each his/her own.

    Maybe because I’m not a man of the people, I just don’t view Rocky at nearly the same level as I do ATPM/Network/Taxi Driver. But then Taxi Driver makes my Top 20 Films of All Time list, possibly even breaking into the Top 10, so the thought that Rocky (which perhaps wouldn’t make my Top 1000 of All Time list) defeated it back in 1976 still rankles.

    I also agree with Sasha that No Country for Old Men and The Hurt Locker are the best BP winners of the past 15 years.

  • Aubrey

    Never underestimate the power of CHARM, it has bewitched the Academy. Flatters the Francophile of very rich people.

  • NPAC

    The Artist is this year’s Rocky and The King’s Speech in terms of emotional appeal but if for whatever reason there’s resistance to it then I think Hugo can sneak in. The Descendant’s would be next in line.

  • John W

    For myself, I look forward to upsets at this stage to make for a more interesting race. The eventual BP winner doesn’t mean much to me; the title has lost its luster over the years, since the Academy rarely awards true works of genius (the last for me was The Return of the King). The best that can be hoped for is that a wide variety of great films get recognition.

    For that reason, I hope we see something different from The Artist for either the PGA or the DGA (Scorsese might get this).

  • “I will consider the notion that Inglourious Basterds was AS GOOD AS The Hurt Locker, which is saying a lot.”

    Indeed 🙂

    Well The Hurt Locker has seriously grown on me. I still think the script is formulaic, but the direction, editing and sound (love it on bluray) are fantastic. But Basterds..? Cinematic perfection.

    I have yet to see The Artist, or Hugo. I believe Hugo’s shutout of the Baftas’ means its out of the race. So nothing else beats the french film, Alexander Payne’s fantastic The Descendents is probably the better of the bunch, but lacks something to make it happen.


  • Andrew

    Sasha it seems a bit disingenuous of you to talk about the artist’s box office as a factor when you consistently played down hurt locker’s

  • Last year The King’s Speech was, to my mind, arguably the worst of the 10 nominated. This isn’t to say its bad. On the contrary I gave it an 8 out of 10 and particularly enjoyed Geoffrey Rush’s performance. Some of the camera work was fantastic. It was a very classy production. But last year was notable for me in that it was the first time in a long while that my own top 10 matched the Oscar 10 so closely. The only movies nominated last year that didn’t make my list were The King’s Speech, The Kids Are All Right and Winter’s Bone. So I was particularly bummed at the outcome after having so many of my favorites in the running. What a strong group of movies we got last year. My favorite was Black Swan, btw. And the year before that my favorite was Fantastic Mr. Fox with A Prophet a very close second.

  • mecid

    I do”nt agree with you about Rocky. There were 2 great films in 1976. Rocky and Taxi Driver. But Taxi Driver was only about a man that had mental problems, it showed too more violence and plot was not enough good for Oscar. But think about Rocky. How many generations have grown up with Rocky. It showed us how to live, how to struggle. How many people began to went in for sport. And today when you watch it again and again, you feel same things that you felt first time. Thank you for Reading!!!

  • m1

    Actually, I think The Artist is going wide this weekend. I checked the directories for tomorrow and it is playing at both of the theaters near me. An exact theater count will probably be announced today.

  • James

    @Sasha, “Note the site’s main title”

    In Lawrence of Arabia (1962), T.E. Lawrence, after extinguishing a match between his fingers, was asked by William Potter if it hurt. Lawrence then said: “THE TRICK, William Potter, IS NOT MINDING that it hurts.”

    And then in All the President’s Men (1976), Deep Throat was telling an anecdote where Liddy extinguishes a candle flame with his hand and when asked what’s the trick, he answered: “The trick is not minding.”

  • m1

    Also, The King’s Speech is better than all the films you mentioned except The Social Network. And that film is only slightly better than The King’s Speech, so I have no problem with TKS winning.

  • julian the emperor

    NCFOM and HL are by some distance the best two winners of bp in the last fifteen years…that’s hard to argue against.

    But was TKS the worst (except for Crash)? That’s a bit harsh, when you consider previous winners like A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator, Chicago and Million Dollar Baby (and LOTR3, but I know that is a very idiosyncratic choice for “worst Oscar winner” on my part…but for fuck’s sake, it beat Sideways! Shameful!)

  • Bob Burns

    reading this, surprisingly, I’m still hopeful this awards season might be magical….. still vividly recall waking up to the mind bending Moulin Rouge PGA win. Hugo, Hugo……

  • Robert

    The Descendants is overrated. Clooney only gives so much to the camera then he looks lost. The plot is predictable. You know from the beginning he is not going to sell that land. The Artist is surprising and accomplished in every way. Jean Dujardin gives everything to the camera. And then he tap dances. Clooney can’t do that. Pitt can’t do that. Get over it everybody. Some performers are just more talented than others.

    Yet Dujardin still lags behind Pitt and Fassbender on your awards tracker. Even though he was won a Golden Globe, that is not indicated next to his name. Do you have a bias against an unknown foreign actor?

  • Tero Heikkinen

    “Stephen did you know that you have to go all the way back to Oliver to find a year when the Golden Globe best pic winner for musical comedy won Pic AND Dir at the Oscars?”

    Hmm, this is a rather interesting statistic. Will we finally get a split? The Artist for PICTURE and Scorsese for DIRECTOR? It’s hard for me to think that anyone else could get Director. Even Fincher’s makeup Oscar wouldn’t go that far, cause Dragon Tattoo would probably win nothing else, but Hugo could win Editing, Costumes and Art Direction quite easily. Heck, it could even win Cinematography if The Tree of Life is not getting the love.

  • Byron Gray

    After 40-plus years of obsessing about the Academy Awards, and having had the scary thrill of predicting who will win as a film critic for a daily newspaper with a 50,000 circulation, I’ve learned one thing: Of course there have been hits and misses in the Oscar’s 84-year history. It’s an elective honor, voted by human beings, with everything that suggests. I truly believe, however, that Academy members take their votes seriously. And, in that, they have my respect.

  • Jack Traven II

    I actually bet on “The Descendants” to win the PGA award. Not meaning it will also win at the Oscars. But will “The Artist”? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe they’re just tired of Harvey W. Maybe they don’t want to honor a non-american film for the second time in a row. But apart from that a split at the Oscars is also possible. And, maybe, after last year’s upset of “The King’s Speech” (a film that’s just a bit above the average IMO) winning BP and BD it’s time for a compensation. So, David Fincher (finally) at least winning for BD? Who knows? … But does all that have anything to do with honoring the best film of the year? Of course not. But who can really say how the Academy members feel about such things?

  • Are we really THAT sure that Harvey will pull this off in two consecutive years ? Shouldn’t we at least consider the possibility of a King’s Speech-backlash ? I think The Artist is the frontrunner, The Help could pull a Daisy/Sunshine AND the most viable shocker is a ‘sorry for snubbing you last year’ award to the Fincher/Rudin film.

  • OCO300
  • Robert A.

    “But was TKS the worst (except for Crash)? That’s a bit harsh, when you consider previous winners like A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator, Chicago and Million Dollar Baby (and LOTR3, but I know that is a very idiosyncratic choice for “worst Oscar winner” on my part…but for fuck’s sake, it beat Sideways! Shameful!”)

    Actually, it was M$B that beat Sideways. I cringe just typing that.

  • Roberto

    I hope, hope a win by “Hugo” or “The Descendants”; however, I think “The Artist” is the one with the most chances.

    I agree that last year was a dissapointment, specially, considering the movies “The King’s Speech” was against to (Social Network, Black Swan and Inception).

  • Avi Viswanathan

    It’s nice to see you have some positive things to say about the King’s Speech. I felt that throughout the year you attacked it a lot and made it seem like you thought it was a bad movie just because it was winning awards. The King’s Speech was by no means a terrible film, it was simply not the best. I honestly fell into the trap of the emotion of the movie and adored it when I saw it. Then I saw all those others again and realized how it didn’t stack up. It can be a hard process to admit you were wrong.

    I do see similarities between The Artist and The King’s Speech. I loved The Artist when I saw it, and I do believe a lot of that dealt with the emotion. And I must admit that as I’m re-watching other films my opinion of it is dropping slightly. In some respects, I’m not even sure that The Artist uses “silences” better than other films. Moneyball for instance uses silence brilliantly throughout the movie.

    But I’d like to leave you with this thought: a silent movie hasn’t won Best Picture since Wings. So if the world does end in 2012, it would be a solid bookend – but of course wouldn’t Hugo be as well?

  • AJ

    The one I’m really wondering about is “The Help”. It was a big, surprise hit (producers love those) and will probably have been the most emotionally satisfying nominee for a lot of voters. The question is if it can overcome the question of legitimacy (is this really the year’s best film?) as well as its appeal among straight white men.

  • I actually get sort of annoyed when I’m with people who automatically dislike a movie or dismiss it because it has a grim or a “downer” ending. To me there’s something so limiting about watching film in that way. But to each his/her own.

    I don’t actually know many people who do that. I was mentioning people who I’d probably call film snobs who do automatically dismiss movies with a happy ending. I don’t think people should dismiss anything automatically. But I do think most people usually keep a movie that made them feel good closer to their hearts. I didn’t mean to say they’d dismiss the others outright.

  • CT

    I’d be happy with anything but The Artist. So overrated.

  • RobertlowercaseA

    CT, totally agree with you!!
    Robert. The Descendant is overrated in your opinion.

  • lazarus

    To the poster above who said The English Patient was “badly directed”, I’d love to hear your explanation. Minghella did a fantastic job of juggling the epic and the intimate, and also weaved in and out of the various time frames with very creative visual and aural transitions.

  • Bobby C

    I hope the guilds go for Hugo beginning with the PGA! 🙂

  • Luke

    I love that someone is pointing out the title of this site: The trick is not minding. It turns out that Sasha does mind. A lot. This year her favorites are The Help, Viola Davis, Hugo, and Dragon Tattoo. She will continue to push them at the expense of leading contenders like Meryl, The Artist, etc.

  • love that someone is pointing out the title of this site: The trick is not minding.

    oh, burn! gotcha!
    rilly cool that someone finally noticed that.

  • Evan

    Where do you guys the idea that The King’s Speech was aided in its win by its low budget? I’ve heard that mentioned several times here and was just curious where that idea came from. I tend to think of it benefiting more from the uplifting storyline (and of course Harvey Weinstein).

    Re: The Artist’s release. You’re right. People would have been too dumb to see The Artist if it had gone wide in December without all the buzz it’s gotten since then. I do, however, believe that as indicated by the spike in attendance after its GG win, that people will want to see it when it is “Oscar-nominated The Artist” and possibly, “Oscar winner The Artist.” They’re smart to hold out its wide release until it gets significant acclaim. Who can blame them?

  • mecid

    Hope The Artist or War Horse will win for film and Tintin animated film.

  • Elton Almeida

    1st. I do admire Sasha’s work and her blog is one of my favorites. I think she writes very well and she always give us interesting posts. But I also think that anyone that, in some cases, defends that one movie is better than other as an clear true is naive and silly. The King’s Speech had a very good critical reception too and lots of people consider it better than The Social Network. To say that the movie only won because of its emotional appeal is an absurd. The movie has lots of “artistic” qualities but in a different way than The Social Network. Tom Hooper’s directing shows, in many scenes, how a filmmaker should tell us the cerne of a story only with the manipulation of the images – mainly with the framing – and the power of his cast. Fincher’s directing is from another kind, good as well, and focuses other aspects. I wouldn’t underestimate the people that made and are making the stronger film industry in the world. And let’s remember that to judge the qualities of artistic activities is very subjective, just look at the visual arts.

    2st. We cannot forget that, just like the actors and the directors, the producers do not only vote for the film, but for their professional colleagues. In this year’s list we can find a series of important names. Just like Scorsese, Allen and Spielberg are well liked in the industry, are also Kathleen Kennedy, Graham King and Scott Rudin. They vote for best picture because the producer are the film owner. Since the beginning of American cinema, is the producer who “makes” the films, buy scripts, hire directors and actors, controls everything. He is the boss. That’s because a producer does not become an actor or a director, but lots of actors and directors are also producers. I agree that The King’s Speech’s winning was possible due the producers support. A cheap film making lots of money? That’s genious for a producer, a great credit. He believed in a good script, hired the perfect cast to play it and a director whose profile fits in it and then released it very well. So it could be a negative point for The Artist. But, this film reminds that a good story, with no special effects, not even with sound, can be memorable and award it, even being a foreign, could be a example to the american producers. But there’s another question: The Artist was made in the way French do cinema: a director has an idea, writes the screenplay and finds someone to produce. It’s a heritage from Novelle Vague and the Auter Cinèma, a way of making films totally different from the american.

  • Tone

    The PGA members vote for the “story” behind the picture as much as the picture. Many times they go for the perceived Oscar frontrunner but if you look at the course of their wins, they tend to pick films that were in ways a “labor of love” for the producers involved. Last year those news pieces about the background story of “The Kings Speech” (which I found more fascinating than the picture itself) definitely gave it a last minute boost. This year “The Artist” fits that role as well as being the Oscar frontrunner. The only other picture that fits having a “story” behind the production is “The Help”. So it’s between those two with “The Artist” being ahead at this point.

  • Zach

    Just my opinion, but I highly doubt most Academy members think of Alexander Payne as a “national treasure” just yet, let alone in the same sentence as Scorsese.

  • Lenny

    Artist all the way…not even close…book it…The End!!!

  • RobertlowercaseA

    I can only hope that the film industry pulls a “The King Speech” this year.
    Anything but The Artist.

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