Argo feat


As we head into Toronto, we still don’t have our presumed front-runner for Best Picture, unless it’s Argo, which it very well might be. Recent history has shown us that we’ve already seen our winner someplace by now. That makes it all the weirder that we’re headed into TIFF without one bobbing to the surface. Since 2007 when No Country for Old Men won, every BP winner has been seen before Toronto. The Hurt Locker was seen first at Venice, then Toronto, but not released until the following year.

The way it usually goes is that the movies everyone expects will do well, don’t. And the solid hits building buzz throughout the year and, to a degree, flying under the radar, tend to do better. Argo has a good chance because it is being underestimated by almost everyone. Ditto Beasts of the Southern Wild. No one expects either of those to win which automatically gives them the edge. Funny how that works but it seems to have all to do with expectations and very little to do with reality. If you expect a movie is going to blow you away chances are it won’t. Unless it does: Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, The Artist are three that were never diminished by their hype. Emotion drove them all the way to the win. With No Country, Hurt Locker and The Departed the slow and steady film won the race. These films didn’t win on emotion, but rather they stood out among lesser titles. Each of them can be argued as deserving or not but what I remember from those years is that they were the reliable steadies.

The Artist – Cannes
The King’s Speech – Telluride
The Hurt Locker – YYear prior but Venice (4 days before TIFF in 2008)
Slumdog Millionaire – Telluride
No Country for Old Men – Cannes
The Departed – October release… not on fest circuit.
Crash – TIFF 2004, US Premiere 2005
Million Dollar Baby – late comer

Really, Clint Eastwood’s win for Million Dollar Baby came at a year when another film was supposed to win. Actually, it often happens that the littler, more reliable film that makes voters feel like heroes discovering a hidden gem can often trump the bigger production, or the more highly praised film. The Social Network was supposed to win but they chose The King’s Speech instead. Avatar was supposed to win but they chose Hurt Locker instead. Benjamin Button was supposed to win but they chose Slumdog Millionaire instead. Brokeback Mountain was supposed to win but they chose Crash instead. The Aviator was supposed to win but they chose Million Dollar Baby instead. I lived through all of these years and remember them well.

To a degree what tips the balance for Best Picture isn’t always the film that wins but often the film that doesn’t. A vote against The Social Network was a vote for The King’s Speech. In a way, finding your Best Picture winner means finding the film they will actively vote against for whatever reason: it cost too much, we don’t like the director, it cost too much, it didn’t make enough money, it was badly written, it was cold, I didn’t feel anything. When you vote for a movie like The Artist or Slumdog Millionaire you are voting because it feels good, not because you should or because you believe one is better than the other — but voting for the impoverished Indian kids? Way better than a story about aging backwards (Oh Fincher, you genius). You could say Hugo should have made voters feel better last year but to feel better about Hugo they had to deal with their Scorsese issues, and the film’s budget compared to its profit. No such baggage attached to The Artist.

Avatar’s baggage was Jim Cameron, motion capture (actors would never vote for something that was going to replace their faces), and the terrible screenplay. The writing is so bad Avatar is almost impossible to watch now. And besides, voting for the first woman in 62 years to win Best Director and Best Picture? What could feel better than that. Many readers of this site will always say Avatar deserved to win. But no one will ever convince me that it is a better film than The Hurt Locker, a masterpiece I continue to stand behind (even though the critics that hailed it to the high heavens turned tail and ran when it came to compiling the Sight & Sound list, ditto The Social Network).

Crash and Brokeback Mountain is a can of worms in and of itself. To me, I’d have felt better voting for Brokeback Mountain. But I remember seeing Crash and crying at the end. I remember that it was a movie that might make voters feel better about the world by voting for it. It’s either that or their irrational fear of Brokeback Mountain prevented them from even seeing it — so how could they vote for it?

And if you were around for the Aviator vs. Million Dollar Baby you would have watched a car wreck. Then again, more people “out there” will name Million Dollar Baby as their favorite film compared with The Aviator. Best Picture winners, give or take a No Country for Old Men here or there, are almost always general audience movies: you can sit anyone in front of them and they will get it if not love it. The more complex the film the less likely it is that it will win. Which was why, after 13 years on the beat, I was stunned that there was that run of winners — The Departed, No Country for Old Men and The Hurt Locker. Those wins were not “business as usual” but represented more thoughtful voting. Perhaps this was because the voters reacted to being savaged by the press after choosing Crash over Brokeback. The next mini-quake would come when they failed to nominate The Dark Knight for Best Picture.

But none of that means anything for this year because this is a new year. The Oscar race, I have always believed, is fluid, not static. It is movable, changeable, unpredictable. And it remains that way until the inevitable happens. But because I’ve seen big surprises happen I always leave that door open. Who knows what might walk through it. Who knows how this year will turn out.

To find Best Picture, though, you might have to start by finding that movie everyone thinks will win but won’t because A) everyone already thinks it will and B) it is too delicious of an option to not vote for it.

Films that have already been seen and are reliable contenders:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Moonrise Kingdom
Ruse & Bone
The Master

Films that will be seen in Toronto that have not yet been seen
Cloud Atlas
Anna Karenina
The Place Beyond the Pines
The Silver Linings Playbook

Films that are already churning in the hype machine but haven’t been seen:
Zero Dark Thirty
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi (New York)
Flight (New York)
The Hobbit
Trouble with the Curve
The Promised Land

Total wild cards:
The Dark Knight Rises
The Avengers
The Sapphires

The only thing we know for sure is that this probably isn’t going to be a year like Slumdog Millionaire, The Artist or The King’s Speech, unless Argo or Beasts win. It might be like Million Dollar Baby or The Departed. Most would agree that, sight unseen, it’s a race between Les Miserables and Lincoln. The New York Film Fest might have our Best Picture winner in either Flight or Life of Pi.

Based on what I know about Oscar the winner will either be a runaway hit by a virtual unknown (King’s Speech, The Artist) or it will be one that is owed to a veteran of film who either hasn’t ever been acknowledged or is overdue for another Oscar win.

To that end, my instincts have me thinking of Best Picture this way:

  • Lincoln (Spielberg is overdue, written by the brilliant Tony Kushner, adapted from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Pulitzer Prize winner, in an election year, a film about the greatest President who ever lived).
  • Les Miz (it could pack an emotional punch, plus help validate the Academy’s bet that Tom Hooper has the stuff)
  • Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest American filmmakers yet to be honored with a Best Director or Best Picture win)
  • Flight (Zemeckis has been off course for a while now but will Denzel put him back on track?)
  • Joe Wright’s Atonement and Pride & Prejudice together have 11 Oscar nominations. Anna Karenina could conceivably rack up that many alone, combining literary pedigree with epic grandeur and promising to kick it all up a notch?
  • Life of Pi (the beloved Ang Lee might finally cash in on the Best Picture win his Best Director Oscar promised)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan is long overdue and this last film in the trilogy could finally give him the acknowledgement he deserves, but…)
  • Argo (just a really good film that might win because it isn’t the other movie that voters don’t want to win)
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild (the film is so emotionally affecting it might be the only one voters LOVE).

If there are any potential winners beyond that they are off my radar. The Master, while being hailed as brilliant, will be too obtuse to win over the middle of the road voters. The Hobbit, Peter Jackson was too recently rewarded (though it’s possible, of course), Cloud Atlas is still a mystery, The Silver Linings Playbook will probably be too light, The Place Beyond the Pines will probably be too depressing, Moonrise Kingdom too obtuse, etc.

This is how it stands on Wednesday, September 5. Once anything changes I’ll be sure to let you know. And I do sort of hope it changes and keeps on changing. Those are the best Oscar years, when nothing is as it appears and the twists and turns come so fast you can barely keep track of them.

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  • Koleś

    “Crash – Cannes 1996, European theaters 1996, US theaters March 1997”

    Ummm, I don’t think we’re talking about the same “Crash” over here.

  • therealmike

    You got the wrong “Crash”.

  • Ryan Adams

    That’s my bad editing mess — all my fault. I “fixed” something and got it wrong. Thanks, eagle-eyes!

    So stooopid of me. I want to just delete you guys and pretend this never happened.


  • Koleś

    “To find Best Picture, though, you might have to start by finding that movie everyone thinks will win but won’t because A) everyone already thinks it will and B) it is too delicious of an option to not vote for it.”

    I got your answer right here – The Master

  • therealmike

    Oh, I think we´re underestimating “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. Maybe it´s because I love the book so much but to me it looks surprisingly awesome. Maybe it has a chance for adapted screenplay? Or maybe I´m just dreaming…

  • Nik Grape

    You’re spot on about almost everything here, except I would argue that There Will Be Blood would have been the better/smarter/more thoughtful choice than No Country for Old Men (which won mostly because the Coens were overdue).

    Also, I’m not sure how fair it is to slight the Sight&Sound critics for not including films like Hurt Locker and Social Network in their lists when the lists spoke about the greatest of all time. The general consensus is that films in the past 30-40 years don’t hold many candles to the films between 1920-1970.

    The fact that Tree of Life and There Will Be Blood popped up on some of those lists is a testament to the masterpieces that they are (in my humble opinion of course).

    As for the Best Picture race so far, it feels open and it’s interesting to me that you’re not giving The Great Gatsby any kind of chance (unless it’s been pushed back and I didn’t know?)..

    I’m willing to bet that it’s going to be a three way horse race between Lincoln, Les Miz and Life of Pi where movies like Beasts, The Master, Argo or Django are the deserved winners that will walk away with nothing except one or two awards for screenplay/acting.

  • mecid

    Considering that they gave Oscar to mostly historical real-person- based films, Lincoln can win. I think best actor will go to DDL. Because they gave it to Queen (Helen Mirren), King (Colin Firth) and other historical persons. Why not Lincoln? The greatest president of USA.

  • rufussondheim

    have you not been paying attention mecid. It would be his third Oscar, they don’t give a third oscar very easily

    DDL is a longshot unless the film is so amazing it’s one of the greats of all time or unless every other lead male possibility is vastly inferior.

    I doubt either case will happen.

  • keifer

    I also think the costume drama “Anna Karenina” has a shot at Best Picture with Joe Wright directing and Keira Knightley in the starring role.

    The trailer for the film looks amazing. I am dazzled already.

  • JamDenTel

    How is Spielberg overdue? He’s won two Oscars and directed a Best Picture winner. Lincoln could be a dazzler, of course, but I’m still a bit dubious.

    Also, I really don’t think Beasts is going to be the big player some are making it out to be. Not just because I thought it was overrated, but because I think it peaked too early.

  • Erm… what happened to LAWLESS? That was at Cannes. 😛

    Anywho, your picks give me my multiple blockbusters. Woot. *drops mic*

  • JP

    In some aspects, I stay with the critics. The Queen is better than The Departed (which was a popular choice too… I can’t understand why only the feel-good are said to be popular choices… The Departed was by far the most seen movie that year among the nominees), Slumdog is better than Button and MDB is better than The Aviator ( I have to say… The Aviator is one of Scorceses worst films to me… Thankfully the Academy chose to award him later. That film was sooo Oscar bait and there’s nothing special about it. Leo overracted too much there. He was much better in so many other films. And I can’t understand the hate for MDB. Its not feel good, its not a popular choice and considering every year it is debated how much the “oscar movie” has a men is its center… MDB is the only winner in the past decade with a female lead.

  • red_wine

    Regarding recent years. Which films were voted as the Top 250 Greatest Films of all time in the Sight and Sound Poll?
    The Tree Of Life
    There Will Be Blood
    and which films won that year?
    The Artist
    No Country Of Old Men

    Poor Wall-E was not even nominated for Best Picture. And The Dark Knight, how many votes did it get in the Sight and Sound poll? ZERO.

    Often the most lasting films don’t win or not even get nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. And most that get nominated or win gather the dust of mediocrity.

  • Koleś

    “How is Spielberg overdue? He’s won two Oscars and directed a Best Picture winner.”

    Well, actually it’s three. But you’re right, he’s most certainly not overdue. He had his share.

  • Christophe

    Whoever wins in the end, we should be grateful that 2012 is shaping up to be a very strong year with maybe a dozen legitimate contenders vying for the greatest honor.

    No offense intended against a decent movie, but I doubt THE ARTIST would have won in such a crowded field as this year’s.

  • Max

    The Master instead of The Dark Knight Rises. And I totally agree with Christophe above.

  • naruse

    I doubt The dark knight rises will win BP. This kind of picture is never BP material.

    I am not sure that Les will win either. The strength of the musical is in the songs and music, and a backbone of Victor Hugo’s universally appraised story. However the story was so simplified (unless they make significant changes) and the character development was weak.

    How can Spielberg be overdue after cashing in 2 BD Oscars already? Lincoln has better chance at acting awards than BP. I seriously doubt that this thing is gonna be superior to ET and Color Purple.

    Of all the films I have seen this year, Amour is my favorite but I cannot see a little foreign film grabbing BP. It would be a miracle if it is to get acting nods (richly deserved). Period.

  • JFK

    Sasha, I love reading your Oscar musings, they’re more thoughtful than other bloggers of your ilk and I commend you for that. I’m especially curious to hear your similar breakdown of where Best Actress lies currently, given it’s lack of “pedigrees” this year.

    For my predictions, I’ve got Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the top five, which I find surprising yet, exciting.

  • Drew

    Has there been any buzz at all about “Place Beyond the Pines”? The pedigree sugests quite a bit, but I litterally have not heard much aside from the Godfather comparisons that have been made by cast members. Any word form someone who hasn’t worked on the movie?

  • Jon

    I am surprised that there is no mention of THE SESSIONS for Best Picture. Obviously it is one of the strong, strong contenders in the acting categories but if the film as a whole is as good as the performances are, then you could have a strong Best Picture candidate.

    I would love to see THE MASTER and DJANGO UNCHAINED go head to head for Best Picture, but in the end of the day I am still going with Sasha and thinking that LINCOLN is going to be a gem. I think that Spielberg has another masterpiece in him (in my opinion he has made some great film since Schindler’s List in 1993 but nothing – in my opinion – of that ilk) and I think it is going to be LINCOLN.

    And while I STILL am going with John Hawkes for Best Actor, I really would not be surprised if DDL falls into the rare group of three time winner.

  • Mattoc

    I expect Amour will get there in the end. Unlike naruse, I think both actors are a lock. Haneke is all but a lock, and the film itself is such a kick in the nuts it would be strange not to have it nominated.

    The Foreign Film race will end up being very interesting this year. There’s going to be a few left out in the cold due to rules of entry.

    Of the ones I’ve seen and putting my AMPAS hat on, Moonrise Kingdom may be the front runner.

  • m1

    it could pack an emotional punch, plus help validate the Academy’s bet that Tom Hooper has the stuff

    The King’s Speech already did that.

    When you vote for a movie like The Artist or Slumdog Millionaire you are voting because it feels good, not because you should or because you believe one is better than the other — but voting for the impoverished Indian kids? Way better than a story about aging backwards (Oh Fincher, you genius).

    The Artist and Slumdog Millionaire were romantic, entertaining movies, and kick Benjamin Button to the curb every single time.

  • TB

    Avatar was supposed to win best picture? Why? Because of the Golden Globes? I didn’t know Benjamin Button was supposed to win either. I remember those races well, and I don’t remember that. I remember people made a big fuss over Avatar but I guarantee you that the reason it did not win was James Cameron. It didn’t help, obviously but the film was not going to win BP.

    I also remember people saying to me that it was very hard to watch MDB. And most of the people that I know who saw it said they wouldn’t see it again. Aviator was not for the general population either but it was easier to watch than MDB. I don’t understand why people keep saying it was an “easy” pick for the academy. In that instance though, I accept that it didn’t hurt Clint Eastwood was behind the camera. Imagine if that movie came out now, after the empty chair debacle? I bet it wouldn’t come close to winning.

  • TB

    was not James Cameron

  • TB, I think the point Sasha was trying to make was that both Benjamin Button and Avatar led their respective races until the actual winners proved themselves. It was all about Benjamin Button until Slumdog Millionaire started winning all around itself, and Avatar’s box office looked (for a time) like it might just be too big to be beaten.

    In retrospect, with all the publicity surrounding Kathryn Bigelow’s Best Director win, and the fact that it won six Oscars (compared to Avatar’s three), it’s hard to imagine that The Hurt Locker didn’t even have Best Picture in the bag come Oscar night. There were still some who thought Avatar could push through. It was a recent release, breaking box office records all over the world, the highest-grossing film of all time, versus a summer release, the lowest grossing potential Best Picture winner for 54 years, and the lowest grosser of all time when adjusted for inflation.

  • tipsy

    I`m glad that Oscar bait extraordinaire Anna Karenina is getting the type of positive reviews that will not sustain the heat when big guns come out. The Master and Argo already have way better reception.

    That said, TDKR and The Avengers are not gonna happen. The Hobbit will if they keep 10 spots but it needs to be really special for director to break through really cutthroat competition this year. But I guess they just need a BP nom now and next year for the repeat of ROTK sweep with the third movie. Unless 3 movie split really bloats the story and turns off critics.

    Life of Pi looks The Lovely Bones bad. Same cotton candy vomit colors,ugh. Plus, the leading actor is terrible in the trailer. I get it`s famous book + Ang Lee but it looks like s***. Going by the trailer, Cloud Atlas looks like a masterpiece and while I don`t expect the movie to be, that trailer worths more than big director name and famous book hook that Pi goes for.

    I`m hoping for Flight to get in, looks fantastic.

  • BBBerlin

    “The Master, while being hailed as brilliant, will be too obtuse to win over the middle of the road voters.”

    Sasha, I remember very well your first reaction to THERE WILL BE BLOOD five years ago, that it wouldn’t be nominated and you won’t see it ever again.

    It’s ok if you don’t like PT Anderson (though BLOOD ranks as my #1 film of the Noughties), but I definitely see MASTER fill this year’s TREE OF LIFE slot.

  • Joe

    Wither Zero Dark Thirty?

  • tony r

    No, it’s not okay if she doesn’t like Anderson. He’s the best filmmaker working today, hands down.

  • phantom

    1. Lincoln (DDL playing Lincoln directed by Spielberg, rest my case)
    2. Les Miserables (remarkably Oscary pedigree, will it work ?)
    3. Argo (excellent early word + promising commercial potential)
    4. The Master (seems like PTA delivered another masterpiece)
    5. Django Unchained (could it be finally Tarantino’s year ?)
    6. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow…good enough for me)
    7. Moonrise Kingdom (‘early’ could be its problem)
    8. Beasts of the Southern Wild (ditto)
    9. The Hobbit (it’s a trilogy now, expectations will be high)
    10. The Dark Knight Rises (you know it’s time…)
    11. Anna Karenina (love/hate experience, the 5% rule could help)
    12. Great Expectations (could be a succesful late entry)
    13. Life of Pi (even with Ang Lee, this will be a tricky sell)
    14. The Silver Linings Playbook (rising stars, Weinsteins)
    15. The Sessions (Fox Searchlight is good with these)
    16. Killing them softly (great early word + Pitt’s star power)
    17. End of Watch (early whispers are remarkably promising)
    18. Cloud Atlas (masterpiece or epic fail ?)
    19. Hyde Park on Hudson (sounds a bit too obvious)
    20. The Impossible (needs strong BO and decent reviews first)

    21. Mud (it might just be a quiet little American masterpiece)
    22. Promised Land (Gus Van Sant + Matt Damon)
    23. Amour (very succesful festival darling)
    24. Rust and Bone (brilliant early word)
    25. A Royal Affair (very Oscary material and great reviews so far)
    26. Quartet (the Academy loves Dustin Hoffman and Maggie Smith)
    27. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Juno of 2012 ?)
    28. The Place Beyond The Pines (bluevalentinebrilliant ?)
    29. Butter (too divisive?)
    30. Seven Psychopaths (might not be the Academy’s cup of tea)
    31. At Any Price (ditto)
    32. On the Road (it seems way too divisive for mainstream recognition)
    33. Song for Marion (has to hit all the right notes first)
    34. Imogene (Kristen Wiig still has some momentum, so who knows ?)

    35. The Sapphires (Weinsteins are busy this year, HFPA ?)
    36. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (if the voters loved it…)
    37. Trouble with the Curve (they do love Eastwood…right ?)
    38. Won’t Back Down (has the potential to surprise)
    39. Hitchcock (still no release date)
    40. Arthur Newman (it will need a serious Toronto-push first)

    41. The Avengers (the Academy is rarely into sci-fi-s)
    42. The Hunger Games (ditto)
    43. Flight (it has been a while for Zemeckis)
    44. Magic Mike (critically acclaimed hit, directed by an Oscar winner)
    45. The Iceman (it will be probably too small to get on the radar)
    46. The Company You Keep (we’ve been waiting for a Redford-comeback)
    47. Passion (too thrillery for the Academy ? We’ll see)
    48. The Paperboy (early word was mixed)
    49. Only God Forgives (no buzz, probably next year)
    50. Byzantium (Neil Jordan’s vampire movie ?)

  • Jake G!!!

    The Dark Knight Rises is obviously the Best Picture frontrunner as of right now! Its the best, and I see the Academy awarding this grand epic over Argo! they cant resist an epic!

  • uegf

    “Christopher Nolan is long overdue.” Is this a joke? I expect this kind of sentiment from 15 year old fanboys who only watch action and comic book movies but grown adults who have developed taste and film knowledge? Embarrassing.

  • KMS

    Um, Avatar was never supposed to win. Also, are you hiring?

  • KMS

    Neither was The Aviator.

  • steve50

    It’s very dangerous to be an early favorite, as Sasha pointed pointed out. Last year was an anomaly because the late entries expected to make a big noise (War Horse, Iron Lady, Tintin, etc) did make noise, but it came from the wrong end. Hence The Artist sailed on through having overtaken The Descendants in the late fall.

    The Master has been designated, obviously, to the TOL slot, whatever that is, so all other reliable contenders pre-TIFF be warned – again this year, it looks like the latecomers will be strong, but you never know. Personally, I’m suspicious of any film that touts itself as oscarworthy, then deliberately avoids the wave of critics awards.

  • rufussondheim

    If any director is overdue, I’d go with Tarantino, especially when compared to Nolan. I’d even put Anderson ahead of Nolan, although he’s only had one film make it big with the academy but eventually losing. But Pulp Fiction is an iconic work that pretty much everyone knowledgable about film techniche agrees got shafted when the execrable Forrest Gump won. I’m no huge fan of Pulp Fiction, but even I can see the genius directorial aspects displayed in that film.

    I will say for the newcomers here that I am strongly on record predicting a Les Miz sweep. The trailer is just too strong, the vocal is so immediate and not remotely canned. The material and songs in Les Miz are so strong and so well-loved that someone with the skills of Hooper will likely not mess it up. This is a movie that has the potential to redefine what we expect of the filmed musical.

    I expect strong critical reception, but I expect this to be a huge blockbuster too. I expect 100 million within two weekends and a total that goes well over 200 million. I think the combination will be too big to ignore.

  • phantom


    “Christopher Nolan is long overdue.” Is this a joke? I expect this kind of sentiment from 15 year old fanboys who only watch action and comic book movies but grown adults who have developed taste and film knowledge? Embarrassing.

    And of course, the DGA-voters are clueless and have no idea what they are doing, because if that’s not the case, I can honestly say, I have no idea how to explain those 3 (!) nominations for Memento, The Dark Knight Rises and Inception, the same 3 DGA nominations that make Nolan overdue for his first (!) Best Director Oscar nod.

    And considering, ALL his 7 films were critically acclaimed ( ), you might as well add most of the top US-critics to your list of people who appreciate Nolan’s work therefore are clearly acting like “15 year old fanboys who only watch action and comic book movies”.

  • rufussondheim

    Years from now, I want it to be known that I invented the term “the The Tree of Life slot” when I used the term yesterday in the thread on The Master. It’s the only shot I have at immortality.

    For those that don’t know the term (or pretend not to) it will refer to the one slot that will be alloted to critically successful films that are too demanding for the Academy and mainstream audiences to embrace. You see, there can only be one The Tree of Life slot a year, because the academey doesn’t have a large enough group of members to give 5% to more than one film per year (as was shown last year when they ignored Drive and Melancholia)

    Of course the academy will likely thwart my attempts at immortality by changing the nominating rules next year, those bastards.

  • James Francis McAnderson

    Is it just me or is it getting a bit ridiculous that we don’t have a trailer for Lincoln yet?

  • Scoreboard in the real world, Sasha, which is diametrically opposed to AcademyWorld, home of the 1%. Domestic boxoffice number and rank:

    Avatar: $760,507,625 (#1 all-time)
    The Hurt Locker: $17.017,811 (3,028th all-time)

    I choose to believe that some of that repeat business was because of, wait for it, Avatar’s *story*, which was nominated for a WGA Original Screenplay award, so there was early support in the guild for it. It will forever be a stain upon the Academy’s record of supposedly honoring the best picture of a given year. And all they wanted to do was to honor THL’s hack of a director because they couldn’t honor Sofia Coppola 6 years earlier due to the Return of the King sweep.

    My main concern is this; we’ve had a stretch where hardcore arthouse films have won the last 5 BP awards, and it really needs to stop here and now. We have 3 legitimate boxoffice heavyweights that critics were also bowled over with as well. The perception out beyond Hollywood Blvd is that the Oscars want nothing to do with big-ticket films and are OCD’ing over films that nobody’s heard of with next-to-nothing boxoffice totals to match. In an ideal world, if they want to change that narrow-mindedness, nominating The Hunger Games, The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers would be an awesomesauce start.

    But they won’t. Because sci-fi films don’t warrant the Academy’s respect, even 2 generations later. Remember, the ideal BP should be a film that ticks off both boxes; critic and fan support. What’s so wrong with that?

  • keifer

    Phantom: Thanks for your list. I enjoyed reading your one-phrase Oscar chance summaries.

    I haven’t seen anybody mentioning “Gangster Squad” yet on this site.

    It appears to me to have quite a good pedagree and has some Oscar potential in some major categories, Best Picture amongst them.

    Does anybody have any feelings one way or another on this movie’s chances for Oscar nominations? It’s one of my most anticipated movies of the year.

  • Sasha Stone

    JFK, thanks. I will do Actress soon.

  • Sasha Stone

    Wither Zero Dark Thirty?

    Sorry, dumb mistake. Added it back. Note to self: never make these lists when you’re lacking in sleep.

  • Ryan Adams

    keifer, you know Gangster Squad was to have opened this Friday, Sept 7. But there was a major climax at the end, already filmed, already shown in trailers, as mobsters with tommy-guns shot their way through a theater screen from behind and peppered the audience with gunfire.

    That trailer (now evaporated without a trace online) was showing in theaters just before The Dark Knight Rises — and then tragedy in Colorado threw the entire film off-course.

    Scenes had to be reshot, the film has been re-edited, and the release date for Gangster Squad pushed back all the way to January 2013. Two months ago we thought it might be a player, but it’s probably suffered too much collateral damage at this point.

  • steve50

    It’s official – the “rufussondheim TOL Slot”, which is only applicable when the list of BP noms is 7 or more.

    Named for The Tree of Life, it is retroactive to 2009, the first year in the modern games to have more than 5 nominations and designates the entry that causes head-scratching, palsy and severe irritability in most moviegoers but hailed as a masterwork by enough voters to make the shortlist.

    This entry has no hope in hell of getting the statue, but could turn up on critical all-time best film lists in a few decades.

    Note: the TOL slot is generally used for target practice by some non-fans who like their movies explained to them.

  • the “rufussondheim TOL Slot”

    Now I’m just going to start thinking of other things TOL could stand for. 😮

    and Nikki Grapes asked about THE GREAT GATSBY but that got moved to next year because… uh… I forgot why.

  • Ryan Adams

    It’s official – the “rufussondheim TOL Slot”, which is only applicable when the list of BP noms is 7 or more.

    Addendum: Prior to 2009, the TOL slot existed as a phantom presence that sometimes loomed so large just outside the BP Circe of Five it’s gravitational pull could cause ripples in the Best Picture/Best Director correspondence, resulting in rare anomalies when the prestige of the un-nominated TOL-slot films pushed their directors to a nomination. Paul Greengrass for United 93, David Lynch for Mulholland Dr, Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

    All those films would have fit nicely in the TOL slot had there been such a slot in past years.

  • TK

    We’ve been here before: The Spielberg film as the defacto frontrunner based on pedigree. You can’t ignore it. I too have tremendous respect for his resume and have high hopes that he nails this, while (of course) also honoring the history of such a complicated time period and character. I agree with what has been said. He is certainly not overdue and isn’t owed by the Academy. However, this may be his best (and last) chance to add to his Oscar collection, something that seems to be very important to him and his legacy, to be seen alongside the greatest filmmakers. I think what happens to this film will say a lot about the Academy, if they really like Spielberg OR if they hate his commercialism and the wild fluctuation in his quality (Lincoln…then Robopocalypse?).

    I have a feeling that the whole campaign around the film is very calculated on Spielberg’s part, which is why I’m eager to see the results. Even more so than a regular studio campaign. He knows this is a special project: Almost a decade of preparation. Closed media during filming. The guarding of the trailer and promotional material. His quiet appearances at the Oscars over the past decade to present best picture to keep visible. The War Horse and Tintin “tests” (not an unreasonable assumption) last year to not only get back in the game, but to make sure all mistakes in a multitude of factors–release date, publicity, box office strategy, and awards campaigns–are rectified for Lincoln the following year. Plus I think it burns him to get so few mentions from both critics and his peers on the Sight and Sound list, to see Scorsese being declared America’s greatest filmmaker (sitting through the 2012 Critics Choice where Scorsese was honored with the music+film award while Spielberg confronted Disney’s Rich Ross), to be written off in recent years… Is this ridiculous? I think these factors make it clear that Spielberg wants to make a strong return to form. He recognizes the opportunity and the pressure, and wants industry acclaim…and two more Oscars (“Am I allowed to say I really wanted this?”).

    Regardless of Lincoln’s reception, I would hate to see him awarded a third directing Oscar–in front of many other deserving filmmakers–if the film is missing a strong directorial voice and makes sacrifices for commercial and Academy appeal. I might actually prefer if the film swerves the course of the masterpiece rather than the path of bland best picture winner (if that’s even possible for a Spielberg film). We’ll see what happens in the next few months.

  • Ryan Adams

    Now I’m just going to start thinking of other things TOL could stand for.

    Tunnel Of Love Slot

  • KMS

    Tarantino and P.T. Anderson are the best English-language filmmakers to emerge since 1990, without question. I don’t know enough about world cinema to praise them beyond that, but it’s clear they both deserve a Best Director Oscar moreso than many who have won in the past 20 years.
    I’ve observed the ebb and flow of QT’s career since it began, trying my best to ignore the backlash that struck he and so many other directors of his generation. The fact is that he hasn’t DIRECTED a film I’d rate less than a B+. His influence is incalculable, and he’s proven to possess a wonderful balance of script and style. His work is far less flashy and far more elegant than many people realize or care to admit. I should add that I’m not considering his installment of Four Rooms as I write this, because it’s a chapter of an anthology film, and one I haven’t seen in 15 years. Still, I recall it being superior to at least 2 of the other segments (probably not R.R.’s). I should also add that I still view Pulp Fiction as a masterpiece, though numerous films should have beaten Gump that year (Ed Wood and Heavenly Creatures, for starters, but some actually-nominated films as well).
    As for PTA, he’s made one solid debut film, two masterpieces (BN and TWBB), and two dazzlingly unique works that make most every other filmmaker of his generation look like flashy hacks. I predict The Master will straddle those latter two categories and can’t wait to see it. Thankfully it appears he’s managed to avoid the Internet-fueled backlash that’s hunted down many of his contemporaries, though I’m sure he wouldn’t care less if that changed. I love his first 5 films and he’s been my director of choice since October 1997. I’m glad to see he’s fulfilled and even superseded the expectations set forth by Boogie Nights nearly 15 years ago. Hopefully he’ll make many more great and original films, and yes, win many awards, in the decades to come.

  • Ryan Adams

    Nikki Grapes asked about THE GREAT GATSBY but that got moved to next year because… uh… I forgot why.

    We’re stashing away a National Strategic Reserve of Pleasures in case all forms of pleasure are repealed under the terrors of a Romney regime.

  • phantom

    Thanks, Keifer !

  • Gautam

    @ Sasha ..

    A film that you completely missed .. The Impossible … it’s going to be a tearjerker and uplifting … a done deal with Academy members …

    Secondly, I feel don’t undermine chances of The Master as yet … it’s still happens to be the best reviewed film of the year … nd since it’s not as much abt scientology as ppl had thought.. it’s non-controversial .. so I dont see Academy not voting for it … Here’s my prediction according …

    1. Lincoln
    2. The Master
    3. Les Mesrables
    4. Life of a Pi
    5. Argo
    6. Beasts of Southern Wild
    7. Django Unchained
    8. The Impossible

    That shd be it !!

  • alan of montreal

    Here are the winners from the Montreal World Film Festival:

  • Is the NC-17 rating for Killer Joe the kiss of death? The acting and directing was phenomenal and incomparable to anything I’ve seen in a while. Albeit, extremely uncomfortable and violent, but definitely leaves an impact.

    And I’m 100% for Beasts of the Southern Wild winning everything. Inexperienced actors showing up Hollywood.

  • The Dude

    Honestly, I just don’t believe in all this Oscar potential both for Lincoln and Les Miserables. War Horse on paper was perfect Oscar material and yet it disappointed people and barely got an Oscar nod.
    Two years and later and TKS is barely remembered, so I’m not sure they will be in a much of a rush to reward Hooper- Oscar winning directors getting a nomination for their very next film is an exception, not a rule, specially when the win was far from unanimous.

    That said, Argo does sound like a strong contender, specially considering how the Academy loooooooooooves to give best director Oscars to famous actors for some reason.

    Regarding the S&S poll: it’s not fair really to blame voters for not having the likes of TSN and THL yet- after all, honestly, in your top 10, how many of those are films you watched for the FIRST time in the last 4 or 5 years?

    Our favorite films are usually defined when we become truly cinephiles, and I doubt most most people’s tastes and favorites change much after our formative years as film buffs.

  • steve50

    “Paul Greengrass for United 93, David Lynch for Mulholland Dr, Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. All those films would have fit nicely in the TOL slot”

    Yes, Ryan, and I’m pretty sure I would have selected each one as BP over the eventual winner.

    This year there is a race for that position: The Master, Beasts, Cloud Atlas, Moonrise Kingdom, so far. Last year, Tree scooted in because of a fork and dragon jacket in Drive and Shame stumbling over a penis on the backstretch.

    Ah, the excitement that is the TOL slot.

  • Helen

    How likely is it that the Academy will soon recognize motion capture acting? I know is was only briefly mentioned here, but I’m very curious as to when- or if ever- motion capture actors will be considered as legitimate.

  • rufussondheim

    It’s like people have forgotten how electrifying the Les Miz trailer was. And unlike most trailers, there was no deception here, you got 90 seconds of vocals that will make the film. We pretty much know what we’re going to get from that film at this point (even though we’ve not seen it)


    The TOL slot is an honored slot. I don’t know if there’s a more honored slot in Hollywood. THanks for making my dream come true. Now all I need is for that Stephen Holt guy to google his name and come along and use it on one of his internationally renowned television shows.

  • Dylan

    so The Hobbit wont win cuz Peter Jackson who won in 2003/2004 was rewarded to recently, but Les Miz could win even though Tom Hooper was rewarded in 2010/2011 7 years after Peter Jackson’s win, yea that makes sense

  • rufussondheim

    I never said that Peter Jackson can’t win.

    I don’t think he will, at least not until he does something that’s worth a win. I have no idea if The Hobbit is that film. But in a year like this year I have my doubts.

  • Maxim

    Avatar writing criticism sure seems especially ironic considering it’s wrong.

  • Pete

    Based on festival buzz, does Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell belong in the Dark Horse category?

  • Jon

    To the comment about Tarantino and PT Anderson being the best American born filmmakers since 1990, I absolutely agree. Though I would also personally add the brilliant Alexander Payne to that triumvirate. While he is not as TECHNICALLY gifted as PT and QT, his writing and storytelling ability are as good as it gets. After those three (I guess I put them all in the same generation) it is a different story. Spielberg, Scorsese and The Coens I associate prior to 1990 (though all three have made multiple masterpieces since then).

  • Bernard

    1. Anna Karenina has been seen
    2. Thank you for finally adding Avengers to the list of considerations!

  • KMS

    @Jon: Payne is right up there for me as well, though Schmidt and The Descendants are not as masterful or rewatchable as Election and Sideways. I may even prefer Citizen Ruth to the first two I mentioned. You’d love this “Payne’s World” shirt my wife made from a drawing she did of the major characters from his first 4 films.

  • My ideal BP lineup:

    Dark Knight Rises
    The Hunger Games
    The Avengers
    Les Miz
    The Master

    Mix of populist/critic vs. critic-only favorites. Amour and Rust & Bone are auto-DQ’d because they’re foreign-language films and there’s already a category for them.

  • Hawkeye

    Benjamin Button was supposed to win?
    Avatar was supposed to win?

    These films were never the frontrunner for their respective year, so I’m not sure where you’re coming up with these statements. Slumdog could never be stopped. For 2009, it was a showdown between Up in the Air and The Hurt Locker with the guilds eventually leaning toward Hurt Locker, making it the clear frontrunner.

  • Hawkeye

    Just for fun, here’s what I’m thinking the BP lineup will be:

    The Master (This seems to be the year’s first sure thing given the excellent reviews out of Venice)
    Les Miserables (Tom Hooper + big stars + large production of a famous musical)
    The Hobbit (All three LOTR films got BP noms. No reason not to expect this to do the same.)
    Lincoln (Spielberg + Day-Lewis + Biopic)

    After that, it becomes more speculation:

    Moonrise Kingdom (Got great reviews + Wes Anderson deserves a little recognition)
    Beasts of the Southern Wild (Another one that got great reviews)
    Django Unchained (QT + great cast. Although the screenplay was not as strong as Basterds, I always give QT the benefit of the doubt.)

    A lot of people seem to be thinking Dark Knight Rises will be getting some big nominations (some seem to think that The Avengers even has a chance). I simply don’t see that happening and would be utterly shocked if it did.

    There are a few others that I’m just not sure of, like Cloud Atlas. I loved the screenplay, but I don’t know if it will have what it takes to impress the Academy. Life of Pi is also being talked about because of Ang Lee and Zero Dark Thirty is being talked about because of Kathryn Bigelow, but again, who knows if they have what it takes.

    This is certainly shaping up to be a very interesting year.

  • Rob D

    Sasha – Principaly because of your review, the film I’m most looking forward to seeing is Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell and if it’s as interesting and inventive as you claim – it could shake the BP possiblities from top to bottom.

  • Mel

    Hi Guys,
    Where has my beloved sidebar gone? The one that tells me where all the hot commenting is right now.

  • Has the sidebar been bumped down to bottom of the page underneath the main article column? I can’t see from phone interface. That happened last weekend. Maybe check.

    Problem noted, thanks. Will look into it.

  • rufussondheim

    Mel, it comes and goes – but as of an hour ago, all the comments were going here. I’m sure it will be back soon (I hope, I rely on it)


    It wasn’t until earlier this evening that I put much thought into Peter Jackson and The Hobbit movies. I decided it’s a huge uphill battle for them. I quickly came up with three reasons, all three of which seem valid.

    1) LOTR was a huge financial risk at the time, Jackson had no financial success at the time (with only two major releases in Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners, neither of which was a box office hit) and New Line (was it?) risked a ton on a vision that was truly epic in scale. Such is not the case this time. Especially with the expansion of the much slimmer book into 3 movies, voters will see it as a cash grab, not a grand epic vision.

    2) The Academy is in a different place right now than it was when LOTR came out. With Forrest Gump in 1994, Braveheart in 1995, Titanic in 1997, and Gladiator in 2000, they were in the practice of awarding big epics and box office smashes.

    The academy is in a different phase right now, they are finding ways to recognize smaller films, films that ssem to find niche audiences rather than mass audiences. They seem to be disfavoring grand scale epic films that they loved just a decade earlier.

    3) There is a lot of competition in Big Blockbusters this year. The Hunger Games, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises are three huge box office hits that have gained significant critical success. The Hobbit will likely be the fourth film this year to pass 400 Million in domestic box office.

    With the new nomination procedures it’s important to look at the one year we have data for, and that’s last year. HP7.2 failed to get a nomination even though it was a mainstream box office hit and had widespread critical support. In other words it couldn’t get 5% of the votes of the academy. And it had no real competition for a Blockbuster slot.

    I realize it’s based on one year so it’s hard to draw any generalities. We have no idea if most years there will be a box office slot (much like a TOL slot.) Maybe there will be, but with HP7.2 being overlooked last year we can’t assume there will be one this year. But even if there is a BOH slot, there are four potential films vying for it. It will be quite tought for any one film to garner 5% of the vote when it appears the academy isn’t inclined to vote for that type of film. It’s an uphill battle for any of the four to be included.

    Conclusion: The Hobbit will have to be better than LOTR to have a shot at a nomination. The Hobbit will also have to be clearly better than the other three box office smashes that are in the mix this year so it gets the majority of the support of that small portion of the academy that might vote for it. IN addition, it will also have to gain support in a what appears to be a very crowded year of previously successful directors.

    I just think there are too many obstacles for The Hobbit to overcome at this point.

  • Mel

    Has the sidebar been bumped down to bottom of the page underneath the main article column?

    Ahhhhh, there it is. It moved to Antarctica.

  • Good on Courtney for mentioning Killer Joe, which was sleaze done right. It won’t get nominated, partially because of the NC-17 but also the small-scale nature and lack of real attention paid (last I checked, it hadn’t even grossed $700,000 in the U.S.). Matthew McConaghey might get a nod for something this year and that’s the one time Killer Joe’s name could pop up, although he’s a much likelier bet for Magic Mike because of its high-profile and relative safety for viewers.

  • Mattoc

    Looking through the films that were scheduled for this year, I noticed World War Z has been pushed back to…maybe never. I was looking forward to this one due to the ‘oddness’ of talent and source material involved in the project. I expected it to be a clustefuck and from the sounds of it, it is. Why won’t they release this clustefuck as is?

    As a consolation, I get Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead, from Japan. Great!

  • For those who say the Academy isnt elitist, out of touch with mainstream America, I need to remind you that Beasts of the Southern Wild is on its last financial legs and will struggle to get to $12 million domestically, if that. Choose this as your BP, AMPAS, and you’ll just be proving that school of thought *right*…

  • Mattoc

    ^ Your paragraph doesn’t make sense…read it back to yourself quietly.

  • SmartMovie

    I would argue that There Will Be Blood would have been the better/smarter/more thoughtful choice than No Country for Old Men (which won mostly because the Coens were overdue).

    Coen’s won most of the critics awards that year, it wasnt like they just won the Oscar and it certainly wasnt because they were overdue, it got more raves than TWBB. And I certainly disagree that There Will Be Blood is more smarter and thoughtful than a true masterpiece like No Country For Old Men, which has strangely enough become an underrated best picture winner because of Blood becoming so overrated.

  • rufussondheim

    Who cares if the Academy is elitist? I sure as hell don’t. You act, Paul, as if elitism is a terrible thing. I think elitisim is a great thing. I don’t want to have to go home and watch NCIS and Dancing With the Stars every night. I want to be given options like Mad Men and Breaking Bad and Community, shows that about 25% of the audience the big shows do.

    Mainstream audiences have their awards for box office hits. It’s called the box office report. They have a site called BoxOfficeMojo that just lists the numbers. The Avengers, if you didn’t know, is the #1 film of the year so far. Hooray for the Avengers. It is the current frontrunner for the PaulH Movie of the Year Award. Congratulations to The Avengers. Speech! Speech!

    I love the fact that the Academy is finding options outside of what aminstream audiences embrace. For some unknown reason we as a country care about what this group of old fogeys think. Perhaps it’s because the organization is filled with people who have made a career in Hollywood. These are people who have made and been part of making blockbusters in the past. It’s not like the Academy membership committee goes to Cannes each year and searches for the three people that find that whole affair to be dimwitted. The Academy gets their own to join.

    What makes the Academy choose the films they do? I don’t fucking care. But I’m glad they don’t exclude a film just because it hasn’t found a mainstream audience. I find that inordinately refreshing. They judge a film on its merits rather than its audience. What more can you ask for in an organization whose most high profile endeavor is to give awards?

  • Glenn UK

    Don’t like the comments “should have won”. NOTHING is set in stone when it comes to the Oscars. Oscar voters are a different breed to critics and bloggers. Plus, its not as if the Oscar winning movies were that far away from winning with critics either – they were in the mix. I could understand the attitude of being wronged if something ridiculous like Dumb and Dumber had won. It all simply boils down to personal taste and people generally root more for a great feel good movie than something as emotionless and cold as The Social Network. It really doesn’t need an essay to get to the bottom of the answer.

  • Paul

    I would actually argue that Sideways was a better and more deserving film than both Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator, but that’s just me…

    Also, I’d have to agree with most that Avatar and Benjamin Button were never “supposed” to win. It was The Hurt Locker all the way, and I think as the big even got closer, Inglourious Basterds and Up in the Air become the runner-ups. Benjamin Button may have been a solid third in its year, behind Slumdog and Milk and only because The Reader isn’t terribly good and Frost/Nixon was more of an acting showcase.

    And I do think Nolan is “overdue” for a nomination, but I don’t think he should receive it for The Dark Knight Rises, one of his absolutely lowest films — though massively entertaining and moderately satisfying. Let’s wait until he delivers something more along the lines of Memento or The Dark Knight — I really think Rises is out of the picture for this year.

    Anyways, that’s just me! But here are my current predictions as of now:

    Best Picture:
    1. The Master
    2. Lincoln
    3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    4. Les Miserables
    5. Promised Land
    6. Argo
    7. Life of Pi
    8. The Impossible
    9. Django Unchained
    10. The Sessions

    Best Directing:
    1. Paul Thomas Anderson, “The Master”
    2. Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
    3. Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
    4. Tom Hooper, “Les Miserables”
    5. Gus Van Sant, “Promised Land”

    Best Actor:
    1. Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
    2. Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”
    3. John Hawkes, “The Sessions”
    4. Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”
    5. Russell Crowe, “Les Miserables”

    Best Actress:
    1. Quvenzhane Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
    2. Marion Cotillard, “Rust & Bone”
    3. Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”
    4. Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”
    5. Meryl Streep, “Hope Springs”

    Best Supporting Actor:
    1. Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
    2. Leonardo DiCaprio, “Django Unchained”
    3. Hal Holbrook, “Promised Land”
    4. William H. Macy, “The Sessions”
    5. Dwight Henry, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

    Best Supporting Actress:
    1. Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
    2. Sally Field, “Lincoln”
    3. Amy Adams, “The Master”
    4. Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
    5. Samantha Barks, “Les Miserables”

    Also, when are you going to update the sidebar of contenders?

  • rufussondheim

    Paul. Russell Crowe will be in the supporting category, unless there is massive category fraud.

    He only has one solo song, one brief duet and small parts in a couple of other songs. If the film is three hours, he’ll have 30 minutes screen time tops, probably closer to 20 minutes.

  • Nik Grape

    Coen’s won most of the critics awards that year, it wasnt like they just won the Oscar and it certainly wasnt because they were overdue, it got more raves than TWBB. And I certainly disagree that There Will Be Blood is more smarter and thoughtful than a true masterpiece like No Country For Old Men, which has strangely enough become an underrated best picture winner because of Blood becoming so overrated.

    I guess that’s why TWBB is popping up on all-time great lists and NCFOM isn’t? I love No Country for Old Men, it’s a fantastic movie and seeing it win over TWBB didn’t anger me that much, but if we’re talking about something being overrated … the fact that it was such a critic’s darling and received so much critical praise that year made it eligible for being overrated. It sucks to realize that a movie you admire so much can actually be overrated by the critics…it was hailed as some form of masterpiece and yet it’s TWBB that keeps popping up in “All Time Great” conversations.

    The Coens got a love that year because it was their year, they made a great movie and it became overblown because they were one of the most consistent filmmakers around, without much to show for it apart from Fargo’s screenplay.

    Anyway, it’s all just like our opinions, man. The Big Lebowski should have won Best Picture 😀

  • Nik Grape

    and Nikki Grapes asked about THE GREAT GATSBY but that got moved to next year because… uh… I forgot why.

    Good lookin’ out Antoinette, thanks. I think Gatsby would have drowned next to all these big guys and gals (forgot about Bigelow..) so I’m not surprised it got pushed out.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    I read Perks yesterday LOL and what a sack of shit it is! Again how is that in some peoples’ radar?? Now Barnes better give me back my money like they did when I returned the Carlos blu-ray 3 weeks ago.

  • Jon

    While MILLION DOLLAR BABY was a fine film, I absolutely agree with the poster that SIDEWAYS was – in my opinion and well most of the film critics in the United States – so far easily the best film of 2004 that it was beyond ridiculous. Very rare – in my opinion – does that happen where there is a film that is so clearly the best film of its group that it is a no-brainer. In my opinion, 2004 with SIDEWAYS was one of those years. It really didn’t happen again until THE SOCIAL NETWORK in 2010. Alas, critics don’t vote for the Oscars, so it didn’t matter.

  • Robin

    What Sasha means is “Avatar” and “Benjamin Button” were the films that ON PAPER looked like obvious picks for the top prize. Of course, the race never really played out that way, and I doubt either was even a runner up (that would be “Precious” and “Milk”). This year that film is “Lincoln” and once again it’ll no doubt recieve a respectful if indifferent reaction and the Academy will go for someting that they really fall in love with. Looking at the contenders so far “Beast” would apear to be that film, but maybe it’s just too small. Maybe our winner really hasn’t emerged from the shadows yet at all. Whatever it is, it’ll be someting the Academy both actively roots for, and feels good about voting for at the same time. Those are the keys. Appeal to their heart, and appeal to their conscience. Oh, and don’t make it too obvious that you ARE trying to win them over, because that’ll just turn them off (see every failed december bait of the past 10 years).

  • Nic V

    As we all know too well I’m not a fan of the “overdue” supposition. There have been “too many” overdues that never placed that golden little statue on their mantles. One of the best examples currently is Glenn Close. Unless someone finally brings Sunset Boulevard to the screen [muscial] I doubt she’ll ever win an Oscar. She’s too old to play a prostitute and it would have to be a very complex role that would give the voters a softer side of her that they can relate too in order for her to win. But that’s my opinion and we know what opinions are worth. I don’t see a Dangerous Liasions or Fatal Attraction in her future. And I did see Albert Nobbs and was very disappointed.

    I don’t see The Dark Knight Rises as a bp contender on a short list but on a larger list it’ll probably be there even though I don’t think it should be.

    I think and again this is my opinion that there are really two films two watch for and those are Lincoln and Les Miz. They’re both going too generate incredible box office and if they are well written and or adapted then one of them could easily walk away with the big prize. They both have casts that will also attract audiences and casts that are held in a certain esteem in the industry.

    I also think that Beasts and Argo will be included.

    I’m not sure yet about Django but I have too say and I’ve said this from the beginning Django is probably the most interesting to me of all the releases this year only because I want too see if Quenton can restrain himself enough for the Academy to truly embrace his vision. He’s also got a cast that is talented and will attract an audience but the thing that I think affects Quenton’s chances are his “over the top” caricatures and his excessive violence. It’s funny because most audiences will accept the violence in films like TDKR [just an example] and object to Tarantino’s pushing the envelope. I don’t care much for Tarantino’s films but he’s definitely an innovator and he does takes risks. I’m just not crazy about the risks he’s taken in the past. I personally have seen Pulp more times than I can count and to me it hasn’t seasoned well. I liked Inglorious much more but me saying I liked Inglorious is like someone saying they liked food poisoning. If he’d just toned down the comic book aspects I would have loved it. Again that’s just my opinion.

    I’m sure there will be those who support The Master but there are some really mixed reviews and I listened to David Edelstein on Sunday Morning and was surprised by his very brief pan of the film.

    I’m still on the middle of the road about Anna K only because of the casting of Jude Law and whatever his name is as Vronsky. I just saw Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and the man who played Robert the British Officer who went missing would have been a much better Vronsky. I’m also think Emily Blunt might have been a better choice for Anna. But then I like Emily Blunt a lot.

    Rarely do we see a foreign film make it into that top list of bp contenders but I think if any foreign film this year might pull that off it will Amour.

    I’m interested in Zero but not jumping up and down about it or as interested in it as I am Django.

    This morning was the first time I saw film this season where “Oscar” was used in the advertising and that was Arbitrage. Of course the label was attached to Gere but it’s the first advertising of the awards season that I’ve seen so far.

    I’m big fan of Ang Lee but I also have reservations probably because I really don’t know much about Pi.

    I have to agree with Sasha regarding Crash vs Brokeback. I found Crash to be an amazing compliation of vignettes that were interwoven so carefully and skillfully that it was hard to resist the choice. I was shocked when it won but not terribly disappointed. I had issues with Brokeback. I loved it but, and this is funny considering I’m gay; it’s not a film that I really watch over and over. Perhaps it’s just the two straight men playing to gay characters and there just seems to be something missing between them. Jake is more believable to me in Brokeback than Heath is but again that’s my opinion.

    I also agree that we been Hobbited to death and unless it’s really a mesmerizing and imaginative project I think it’ll just do damn good box office and catch a lot of tech awards.

  • MovieFan

    TWBB is better because it keeps popping up on Greatest films of all time lists? Its only been 5 years since its release, maybe the standards of films today are so low that it stands out and critics nowdays seem to love films with inconsistent storytelling, just as long as it has some great cinematography and set pieces.

    NCFOM well and truely deserved its Oscar win. Its a deeper more resonating film, with much more subtext, better storytelling and yes better direction. In my opinion of course, 🙂

  • Nic V

    Someone mentioned the Hunger Games. I have to admit that I object strongly to the subject matter of the film. Just a personal opinion but…and this is a big BUT….I’ve seen it three times already and could actually watch three more times. It’s not that his is a great film but…and again another big BUT…Jennifer Lawrence is amazing.

    I wouldn’t write her off the possible nominee list just yet. There’s a line in the movie that Donald Sutherland makes and professes regarding hope. The thing that Lawrence suceeds at in this film is that she is truly the epitamy of “Hope Springs Eternal” and you never once question her belief. I think if anyone succeeded at establishing the “rough tough hard woman” as a viable character Lawrence does it because the character is crafted for us to be able to relate to her will too survive simply because of her softness. Something Saoirse and Rooney didn’t accomplish in their respective films. I didn’t feel as connected to Saoirse or Rooney’s characters as I did Lawrences.

    I don’t think the Hunger Games will make the top teir of nominees but I wouldn’t be surprised if Lawrence did.

  • tipsy

    Jennifer Lawrence was getting true star-making performence reviews for THG, much much better than “she`s fine, always works best with Wright” Keira Knightly. Yet anti-YA bias means JL won`t be nominated for anything save Saturn awards while KK will snag a filler nom at the Oscars, BAFTA, GG and maybe even SAG because AK is a literary classic. Zzzzzzzzz.

  • Robin

    Lawrence’s shot is for “Silver Linings Playbook”. If that film makes a mint at the BO and the Weinsteins push it hard she could even win considering how weak actress is.

  • KMS

    The 3 best films of 2004 were Sideways, Before Sunset, and Eternal Sunshine.

  • matt

    Apparently the 3rd part of Linklater’s “Before” series, “Before Midnight” will be screening at Toronto as well… no idea if it has any Oscar chances, but here’s to hoping it will at least garner the Original Screenplay nom its predecessor did.

  • K. Bowen

    IN a year without a front-runner, why not a comedy for omce? And why not one of the best films from one of America’s best directors? Moonrise Kingdom.

  • Jerm

    I had the chance to see Beasts of the Southern Wild this week and I thought it was completely overrated. I personally think it is too indie and out there for the Academy. The acting was so-so, nothing that warrants a nomination. That is just my opinion, and I could be wrong about the Academy going for it or not. I think there are more “academy friendly” movies that will be nominated before they get to Beasts.

    I think this would be an awesome and fun year if they took best picture from 10 nominees to 5. The thought of all of these amazing movies fighting for those spots would be VERY interesting to see….just a thought.

    I think the fights will definitely be between: Les Mes vs Lincoln, Hooper vs Spielberg, Jackman vs DDL vs Hawkes, Naomi Watts vs Knightly vs Linney, Leo WILL win this year, Anne vs Amy. I could be wrong.

  • g

    Just got back to the hotel after seeing Rust and Bone at the Elgin theatre! Omg! Fabulous! Theatre fabulous! Marion looked amazing and was so nice to sign lots of autographs! I had no idea this movie was based on a short story by a Canadian author!

    I am still completely freaking out! I can’t believe I got to see this movie! I am in la la land! And Toronto rocks!

  • I rewatched THE HUNGER GAMES last week and thought that I hadn’t given it enough of a chance initially. That’s one of the films I think shouldn’t be left out of the discussion. A lot of the Oscar bait that remain to be seen look like they’re going to be love it or hate it stuff. THG is generally well liked. I still think that’s most important.

  • Dan Ashcroft

    ‘Lincoln’, ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘The Hobbit’ are all very obvious Best Picture nominee-types – but they are the sort of film which would have won 10 years ago. Judging by the past 5 winners of Best Picture, the Academy’s taste has certainly changed, so I don’t expect it to be any of those. The Academy has moved on from well-crafted epics, it likes films that are more idiosyncratic.

    The past 4 Best Picture winners have also been won by directors receiving their first nomination, so that would also rule out ‘Lincoln’, ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘The Hobbit’.

    My dark horse – if it appears in time is ‘Hitchcock’. A film set in Hollywood about a legendary filmmaker making his most famous movie. Remember, the 2011 Oscar battle was between ‘The Artist’ and ‘Hugo’, two films about movie making.

  • Al Robinson

    If only 5, based on past oscars, and gut feeling Best Picture nominees will be:

    Django Unchained
    The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
    Les Miserables
    Life of Pi
    The Master
    Zero Dark Thirty

    I predict 8 films will make the final cut. I am not at all going to predict the winner at this point. Way to early.

  • Al Robinson

    Wow, that was just stupid of me, “If only 5… I predict 8 films.” Cancel the “If only 5”. Not paying attention. Oy.

  • keifer


    Two movies I really thought would be in contention this year – Gangster Squad and The Great Gatsby – get pushed into 2013.


    Looks like I’ll have to get my annual Sean Penn movie fix by rewatching “The Assassination of Richard Noxon”

  • Al Robinson

    Hey Keifer, what about his (Sean Penn) directorial “Into the Wild”? I’d watch that one even though it makes me sad.

  • g

    I just saw Kon-tiki at TIFF! Omg! Another premiere with most of the cast and director, writer, producer…it was amazing! And I shook hands with 2 of the actors and spoke with the director! Wow TIFF is awesome!

  • Pierre de Plume

    The King’s Speech is to the Oscars what George W. Bush is to the gallery of American presidents.

  • tipsy

    Oh shoot, so it begins! Stupid TIFF gave Karenina a standing ovation. And since their taste is so like AMPAS (wasn`t that awful BP winner Slumdog launched from TIFF?) this is going to sweep. Think about it. AMPAS that awarded silent movie gimmick will sure like to award theater movie gimmick. Especially since it`s the biggest Oscar bait of all Oscar baits based on a classic. Sorry The Master and PTA, sorry Argo and Ben, this s*** is going to win BP and BD because s*** like this wins.

  • Marion

    What about “ON THE ROAD”? Isn’t it nominated for BP and/or other categories? If it isn’t nominated in any category, what’s the reason it is excluded? Maybe I missed something, just asking…

  • Alexander

    “I might actually prefer if the film swerves the course of the masterpiece rather than the path of bland best picture winner (if that’s even possible for a Spielberg film).”

    Sounds like a great deal of Spielberg’s output in the last decade, including A.I., Catch Me if You Can and Munich.

    As for the debate regarding There Will Be Blood vs. No Country for Old Men, I resent the argument that the Coens won because they were “due.” That may have played a minor part in that, but No Country won critics prize after critics prize and after seeing it for the hundredth time or so last night, I can say that it holds up magnificently and will continue to do so. Blood, meanwhile, loses something for me each time I take another look. Some lists placing There Will Be Blood as an all-time great only five years after both films were released don’t carry too much weight to me.

  • g

    Rushed Argo in the rain this morning and got in! 3 days of TIFF and I am losing it! Only 3 hours of sleep and I was on the biggest adrenaline rush of my life this morning… Argo is amazing, such tension, amazing performances by the cast and Ben affleck introduced the movie, I say we have a best picture winner. We missed the master rush by 2 people! Bummer but we have seen 3 amaze balls movies here so who cares!

    We met someone in line who was at Anna Kerinina and she said its “stage” style was really disappointing, she didn’t like the movie, so I’m sure it won’t win the people’s choice! I have heard good things from people about the place beyond the pines, the master, and tonight is the wp of cloud atlas!


  • Tufas

    Recently, IGN did a piece on most overrated films of all time, and Hurt Locker showed up.

    While it isnt a bad film, it does have a basic script and one dimensional characters. Avatar wasnt the best film that year. Wall*E and (my favorite) Inglorious Basterds were. Oh, and A Prophet. Great year for film. I was happy for Bigelow, but Tarantino should have won script, director and IB the BP award. So I’m guessing Zero Dark Thirty will be more of the same. Weak script, applauded by everyone. Good directing, but that is to be expected of Bigelow. But it will still be an action movie with little substance. Here’s hoping it tops THL.

    This year I have zero interest for Les Mis. I thought the trailer was terrible. I’m actually looking forward to Cloud Atlas, Django, Argo, The Master and The Hobbit. Anna Karenina interests me, because of Joe. I love Atonement to pieces. LOVE IT. Life of Pi, while at first I loved the trailer, on 3rd and 4th viewing the pristine look of the film takes it into CGI sterile territory. Everything looks so fabricated, I’m on the fence. Love Ang Lee but he has failed before (Hulk).

    All and all, cant wait for this awards season and there better not be a kings speech this year. That movie was terrible.


  • Jack

    1. Argo
    2. Lincoln
    3. The Master
    4. Les Miserables
    5. Silver Linings Playbook

    6. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    7. Life of Pi
    8. Zero Dark Thirty
    9. Promised Land

    10. Anna Karenina, Amour, The Impossible, Django Unchained

    1. Ben Affleck
    2. Paul Thomas Anderson
    3. Steven Spielberg
    4. Ang Lee
    5. Tom Hooper

    1. Joaquin Phoenix
    2. John Hawkes
    3. Daniel Day Lewis
    4. Bill Murray
    5. Denzel Washington- Flight

    1. Jennifer Lawrence-Playbook
    2. Quvenzhane Wallis
    3. Marion Coitillard
    4. Maggie Smith- Quartet
    5. Keira Knightley

    1. Philip Seymour Hoffman
    2. Leonardo DiCaprio
    3. Robert DeNiro- Playbook
    4. Russell Crowe
    5. Hal Holbrook- Promised Land

    1. Anne Hathaway
    2. Helen hunt
    3. Amy Adams
    4. Sally Field
    5. Judi Dench

    1. The Master
    2. Amour
    3. Moonrise Kingdom
    4. Promised Land
    5. Django Unchained

    1. Argo
    2. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    3. Lincoln
    4. Silver Linings Playbook
    5. The Sessions

    1. Argo
    2. Zero Dark Thirty
    3. The Master
    4. Lincoln
    5. Les Miserables

    1. The Master
    2. Life of Pi
    3. Anna Karenina
    4. Les Miserables
    5. Django Unchained

  • This is hard year for Oscars. There are too many films that mostly equally deserve to be the best picture.

    I believe that the main race is among Lincoln, Les Miserables and Argo. Spielberg has long break for directing award since 1998 and he can easily be a comeback. Hooper is the most recent award holder among nominees and Ben Affleck is like a discover for Hollywood as a director and he’s god huge chances.

    I agree with the author that Argo is magnificent movie and could be a better candidate for Oscar than Lincoln or any other. But my total fav is Les Miz, I really love it and as it’s more than ten years Musical has not won major award, this one can be a comeback.

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