Back in 1999, when Oscarwatch.com first began, the highest of priorities was to correctly predict the Oscar race. There was only one other site, for the most part, that predicted the Oscars – Tom O’Neil’s GoldDerby.com. Tom’s site collected mostly film critics who lined up to give their Oscar predictions every year. The LA Times did theirs, with the help of Kenneth Turan, and no doubt the lot of you did your own Oscar predicting. My aim as an Oscarwatcher was to understand the process. If you ever read early interviews with me, when Variety and other outlets asked me why I started my site, I would always say that I wanted to find out why, for instance, Citizen Kane didn’t beat How Green Was My Valley,when the former is now considered, by many, to be the best film of the year — in fact, one of the finest films of all time.
I don’t know if you asked Oscar voters which film they thought was the best film ever made if they’d answer Citizen Kane. I know that film critics write film history. Oscar voters don’t. And now I know full well why Citizen Kane wasn’t ever going to win the Oscar. It took me a few years, a few heartbreaks, a few happy surprises to see how things go. And by now, I can feel the tide as it shifts and I can see what’s coming. I think people assumed last year that when The Social Network lost the Producers Guild that it was a big surprise. The big surprise last year was how many awards it did win leading up to the race: no one thought it could ever win Best Picture. David Poland proclaimed The Social Network. Dave Karger, our predicting head guru, provisioned The King’s Speech instead. This race was going to be a return to the conventional “Oscar movie” and an ice cold, brilliant piece of work by David Fincher would not. But then it started winning shit? Not only did it win everything but it won where it wasn’t supposed to, sweeping the NBR and the Globes. At some point it went from no way, to maybe? To oh my god, could it? Might it? Yes, it might! Yes, it can! Yes, it will! It can’t lose! So then you have people who folded their arms in front of them and now say “I knew it would never win.” “I never fell for it.” “It was always going to be the King’s Speech.” “Oscar voters aren’t critics.” On and on it went, the weathermen taking credit for the storm they saw coming, and those explaining away how they could have missed those clouds on the horizon, the temperature shift in the air, the signs.