A lot can change in a few weeks in an Oscar race that is back-loaded with some of the biggest films still to be seen – Flight, Lincoln, Les Miserables, The Hobbit, The Promised Land. It’s crazy making that these movies have not yet been seen. One thing is for sure – they won’t be killed by too much early hype – but at the same time, it will be that much harder for those movies to get and hold their place in line. It’s a risk and we’re making this thing up as we go this year.

The Gurus of Gold have put out their second predictions of the year.  Part one is Best Picture and then the acting long shots. Part two will be the actors and actresses and will go up later today. I really thought I’d put Richard Gere down as an acting long shot but it doesn’t appear so on the chart. Either way, I DO count him as an acting long shot for sure in Arbitrage – one of his best performances.

It’s a tricky thing to predict too early. Even though Dave Karger has both The King’s Speech and The Artist in the number one slot, he then has Invictus at number 1 to win in November. That was, of course, before any of us had seen the movie. You can see how easy it is to fumble with a sight unseen prediction. Meanwhile, going back to 2009 at east the Best Picture winner will have already been seen by this point.

Anne Thompson was one of only two (along with Eugene Hernandez) predicting The Hurt Locker to win it. She also famously had The King’s Speech.  It looks like the winner is either one Anne picked or one Dave Karger picked, which would put the race right now between Life of Pi and the Silver Linings Playbook.  But we don’t how 2012 is going to play out. For one thing, Oscar ballots have to be turned in before the DGA announces their nominations. The DGA are usually the harbinger for Oscar – the guidepost, the lighthouse. But without the DGA? It shall be anyone’s game.

In the meantime, Tom O’Neil has challenged Scott Feinberg to a bet that Life of Pi is one of the frontrunners.

October 2012

October, 2011

October, 2010


November 4, 2009



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  • joe

    2012 is going to be the hardest predictor ever for oscar, golden globe and SAG. right now it’s anyones game and the field is wide open. but here’s my reviews of Arbitage and The Master

    A daughter gets to see her father in bankruptancy with his business because he made a deal to sell it to another company. This movie is a easy discussion. Robert Miller is a billionaire money manager whose well manicured world
    crumbles after years of engaging in fraudlent activities.
    He is prepared for a Bernie Mardoff comparison. “Arbitage” won a prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
    Richard Gere plays Robert Miller. Susan Sarandon is his wife, Ellen Miller. His daughter is Brooke
    Nate Parker’s character Jimmy Grant has to appear in court. “Arbitage” is a movie that goes way beyond standardized moviemaking. The film ends at a gala party for St. Victor’s Hospital New Oncology Center when her daughter introduces her
    father as a mentor, family man, and friend and then we cut to the credits. This Robert Miller guy is a billionaire playboy. First time director Nicolas Jardeocki fills time with story details and quick edit cuts. The film begins with Robert Miller in his office being recorded on tape. Than the film cuts to his birthday dinner to having the family alltogether.
    His business is Investowebpedia and his partnership is Mister Mayfield.
    He wants to share capitol with New Capitol. He’s also a art gallery collector. He sets up the best court lawyer in
    the city for Nate Parker’s character. Nate Parker’s character Jimmy Grant is a kid. He’s trying to get his life back together but he lied to the police and would be placed in prison for 15 to 20 years.
    Miller such a billionaire he should spending more time with his daughter.
    I did understand “Arbitage” and I enjoyed it plus had sympathy for the actors playing their roles perfectly.
    It’s an ensemble cast movie. And I liked Nate Parker in it. He is a newbie to the film industry.


    A World War II Navy Veteran named Freddie Quelle(Joaquin Phoenix) who’s fighting on the Pacific side ends up in a religious cult group called The Cause head mastered by Lancaster Dodd(Phillip Seymour Hoffman) after World War 2 has ended in 1950 because he has a nervous illness. Dodd is a writer, a philantripalist, a doctor, a scientist and a nuclear physicist. Quelle has a hard time just being himself and being around other people. Freddie Quelle is a human being with an idioysranrctic power. He has a girlfriend named Doris, like Doris Day the movie star. He’s basically a drunk with too much alcohol in his system. Lancaster Dodd is a good stick to the point person. A person who is of higher power. Then, there’s the loveable but cruel Amy Adams who nurses Freddie Quelle. Lancester Dodd questions his first book called “The Cause”. So he writes another book called “The Split Saber” which is about a guide to Homo sapiens, man. This book you’ll find all the answers in. There’s a lot of chemistry between Freddie and Lancester. They could agree or disagree on things. “The Master” is slick with originality and interpersonal thought. It has it’s flaws but detracts them. The movie is unpredictable, and something of daydream or nightmare that comes true. It’s heavy on drama and light on comedy. The film was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who is one of the few directors who sticks to independent film channels and following directions and details with his film art. He paints a culprit canvas. This is a not film to like; it’s a movie that inspires impact and tolerance plus striving for righteousness. The parts that grabbed me the most was when Dodd in his office his asking him these yes and no questions. Did you have sexual intercourse with your Aunt? Are you insane? Are you envious? Are you a liar? Do you lie? Do you have regrets? Another part that grabbed me is when Freddie Quelle gets upset and Lancaster Dodd asks him to touch the wall and touch the glass. Freddie touches the left wall inside the Dodd’s house. Then he is asked to touch the glass and describe in detail what it feels like. His response is “It feels like glass. It’s smooth and unbreakable.” Another part that grabbed me by the neck is when Freddie Quelle is riding Dodd’s motorcycle into the sunset. Another part that hit me is when Freddie is a photographer at a convention. He moves to the light closer to the person that is wanting to take the photograph and the man gets all in a teesy because the light feels hot but all Freddie wanted to do was the lighting right. I also liked the part when he’s passing out fliers outside of a theater on the streets to get people interested into “The Cause”. “The Master” has above average performances and visuals that context with human emotions like anger, acceptance, power, grief therapy, hypnosis, insanity, inappropriateness, frustration, smiling, war in peace, health, sickness, friendship, and much, much more. It’s one of the year’s most inspiring movies.

    Two other reviews
    Hotel Translyvania:
    “Hotel Transylvania” is not your average Universal Monster movie. It’s a zippy by crazy motif of the original Universal Monsters but it has a heart. In fact it’s more of an animated cartoon directed by Gennedy Tratoversky writer of such shows as Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack. The overprotective, Dad Dracula(Adam Sandler) opens a resort where his teenage daughter and Gremlins and The Mummy can easily kick back for 1 hour and 31 minutes in safety and peace until one ordinary guy named Jonathan(Andy Samberg) stumbles on the hotel and takes a shine into the teenage daughter Mavis. There’s a lot of goofs and gags in this movie. Do yourself a favor go see “Frankenweenie” before you go see this movie next weekend. This one is a old-fashioned zany eye candy. “Hotel Transylvania” has it’s funny moments like the singing and the dancing and the goofs but all in all it’s made for money and publicity. The heart is cold on this baby. The characters like Eunice the Bride(Fran Drescher), Griffin the Invisible Man(Steve Buscemi), Murray the Mummy(Ceelo Greene) are so clever looking and out of date that the film say it’s all been done before. I did like Adam Sandler’s voice over say “I invented fun” and Jonathan saying it’s the 21st Century, anything is possible. Jonathan “What is this a hotel for monsters.” I also liked Jonathan saying “I got tickets to the Dave Matthews Band” and Dracula deports him to the cellar. Adam Sandler has a regular hair style for Dracula. It’s almost like a crew cut. Then’s the character Wayne(Steve Buscemi), Quisomodo(Jon Lovitz), Wanda(Molly Shannon), and Frankenstein played by Kevin James. Now Sadie Sandler makes a cameo appearance doing voice over animated acting in this movie and Robert Smigel even makes a appearance as the Fake Dracula. “Hotel Trannslyvania” has a lot of laughs but no sense of narrative or thought provoking plot. It’s just stuff thrown at you at the screen. You can throw popcorn at the screen in this movie and lift up your recliners and stand their throwing your soda at the screen. It’s like an old Ed Wood Picture and how he had his premieres of movies on opening weekends. The people ran out of the theater scared and frightened. But this one stays soft and cuddly, so your kids will be laughing instead of running away. I almost forgot the red eyes on Dracula’s eyebrows. Maybe that will scare them just a little bit.

    Side by Side:
    The new documentary film “Side by Side” investigates photochemical filmmaking vs. digital filmmaking. Keanu Reeves interviews and asks questions to 70 artists in the film industry about how this transition is changing the filmmaking process and also changing the way people make movies. Martin Scorsese was one of the passionate filmmakers to take part in this documentary. He feels that new dreams and new stories will come a long in the future but he also says that growing up on photochemical films, it’ll never be the same. George Lucas is all excited that he could do the next three Star Wars movies digitally or take the originals and format them digitally. “Side by Side” is for a film buff like me. It’s topic that holds my interest and curiousity. What’s going to happen to the future of film. Is this 19th Century invention ending? Is Digital film cheaper than photochemical? Can photochemical and digital work together? Can people do it themselves instead of going to film school? Is the editing becoming faster? Are editors getting younger? Are people really believing what’s being projected on the screen? Those questions I can answer for you. No, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, No Keanu Reeves was a good choice for the interviewee and man did he choose to interview so many film experts who have switched over to digital that do like it because of a certain camera like the F-900 or the Red Eye or the FRLA, and then the ones that don’t like it like David Lynch, and Vilmos Zigszmond the director of photography. No oneis going to tell the difference of whats good or bad anymore and what’s clean or dirty. You have decide for yourself.“Side by Side” opens up a whole new world for film tech wizards or those who dream up imagery in their minds. One other fact is that there 80 video formats since the 1950’s. None of those work now but their still archival. “Side by Side” is real and a must-see.

    End of Watch:
    Officer Taylor(Jake Gyllenhaal) and Officer Zavala(Micheal Pena) are in pursuit of South Central L.A’s biggest drug cartels.
    Their also caught up in gangland violence which is bad for their jobs because the gangs want to shoot the cops.
    Officer Taylor wants to get this documented on film. In what happens to be a riveting action thriller that’s like a YouTube video or bigger better episode of “Cops”, “End of
    Watch” is jumpy and exciting. It holds you fearful and fearless of ghetto street cops. Also on the scenes of the crime are
    are Officers Orcozo(America Farrera), Davis(Cody Davis) and Van Houser(David Harbour). Jaime Fitzsimmons is their Captain. His name is
    Captain Reese. The Officers of X13,X9, X21 or X7 report to him for further instructions. Officer Taylor has a girl who he marries. Her character
    Janet(Anna Kendrick) is a strong, likeable woman. Officer Zavala gets all the cops to love her at the wedding reception. Taylor and Janet even dance to Salt N Pepa’s
    Push It. Back on the scene of the crime, Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala are chasing down alleys full of gangs and criminal descriptions of character. Taylor and Zavala
    are a team that works hard and try their best to arrest and plead guilty any criminal that gets on their watch. Criminals like Big Evil, Demon, Sook, and LaLa need to be off the streets and
    behind bars before they shoot to kill at the innocent.

    I grew up watching cop shows like “Cops”, “Miami Vice”, “Hunter”, “Southland”, “NYPD Blue”. I have never seen a movie that saves those shows merits and achievements like “End of Watch”.
    “End of Watch” is the best of it’s kind of genre. I’d see this movie again and again until the day I die. This movie has what it takes to become a police officer in whatever division you choose. Whether it be homicide,
    street gangs, robbery, extortion, disturbing the peace, rape and murder or helping someonne out in an emergency like a rookie.

    “End of Watch” also shows a well acted, well directed thrilling picture capturing the essence of the Los Angeles Police Department and all police departments throughout the United States.
    Take violence into our own hands and put a lid on it now. This picture shows how gruesome and disturbing gangs are and how screwed up South Central Los Angeles is.
    This picture shows the world that cops will do anything to be heroes. Cops are not super vigilantes. They men and women in a uniform cleaning up the streets and saving lives.

    My next door neighbor’s wife is a cop. She works for the Orland Park Police Department. When someone looks suspicious or there is a minor car accident she looks into and looks for
    evidence. I respect the police which is why I appreciate and having the courage of going out to see this movie written and directed by David Ayer. To me it’s inspiring, gripping, sad and

    “End of Watch” will please audiences with it’s shaky camera movements and prejudicial police procedures. No one will walk out of the theater without having something to say about this movie.
    Violence is a serious problem in this country and we need to come up with a solution to solve the problem. Last year here in Chicago almost 900 reports of theft and murder were reported. 900, could you
    believe that. I want to see those reports on my desk in the morning. “End of Watch” is one of the year’s best films and I mean one of the year’s best.

  • Unlikely hood

    It really does seem like the best year since 1999. Maybe 1993. Maybe even further back.

    Looking over these lists, it reminds us that there when the Best Pic noms were announced in the last few years, there weren’t *too* many OMGwewuzrobbeds. Dragon Tattoo and maybe Tinker Tailor last year. The Town the year before, although that was hardly a Cold Mountain/dreamgirls-level snub. Maybe invictus the year before, again not a glaring snub.

    This year the snubs will be bigger, the wounds will be deeper, the outcry will be outcryier.

  • Unlikely hood

    To put it another way, if even half these unseen films are as good as we’re being told, this will be the first year since the post-Dark Knight BP expansion that a film will get Dark Knighted (great scores, praise, awards, but no BP nom). Hint: it won’t be TDKR, because that film won’t get enough year-end juice for its eventual exclusion to be considered a big snub. (same with django, apparently.)

  • Jake G!!!

    My BP predictions:

    Les Miserables
    The Dark Knight Rises
    The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
    Silver Linings Playbook
    Zero Dark Thirty
    Life of Pi
    The Master

    Coming in close:Argo, Django Unchained, Cloud Atlas, Moonrise Kingdom
    Falling off: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Anna Karenina

    And Who’s the Best Picture winner? I have a feeling this will be a year of surprises at the Oscars and we won’t know who the Best Picture winner is. I also have a hunch that Anthony Hopkins could win best actor this year, he hasn’t won or been nominated since Lambs, he’s a respected actor, and he’s playing Hitchcock, in a performance that’s sure to be great.

  • Morgan

    Ugh – we haven’t even seen Lincoln or Les Mis. This is how War Horse and Extremely Loud still got nominated even though they were turds.

    Push films up the ladder that we know are quality and deserve it.

    Sasha, you talked about this at the end of last season – Screw what might be an Oscar movie – we need to push good quality movies up the race and into the spotlight. Vote for Beasts, Amour…

  • JP

    Karger is probably the best “predictor” but he had a disastrous BP prediction last year, defending there would be few the whole season… I guess in the end he predicted only 5 nominees. I think from those experts he was the one who predicted the least number of films. And I actually disagree with him over Silver Linings Playbook for the win. No film has won this in the past two decades or so without the support of the tech branches. And Silver Linining’s only shot at a nomination is editing and even there it will have to beat clearly stronger contenders to make the cut. Lincoln, Les Miserables, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchainded, The Hobbit, The Dark Knight Rises, The Master. And I totally agree on The Master. I think in the end it will have to fight for the nomination. From the win, it’s totally out. Harvey don’t campaign his films the same way. If SLP really happens, all his efforts will be with it. And Lawrence and DeNiro. The Master’s campaign will be about Joaquim Phoenix… unless Les Mis bombs… otherwise bye bye Amy Adams… not even Weinstein could change Anne Hathaway victory then.

    One category that I’m starting to feel could be interesting is Sup. Actor. 3 returning champs are leading (Arkin, DeNiro and Seymour Hoffman). Who can beat them? Hal Halbrook if Promised Land is a hit or his part on Lincoln is significative. Or maybe Leo or Ewan McGregor… But my feeling is DeNiro wins. They love comeback stories. And after years doing mostly mediocre films, one of the best actors of all time is back.

  • Unlikely hood

    Jake G Tony Hopkins has been nominated 3 times post-Lambs. The tragedy is that he was never nominated before (lion in winter, elephant man, etc). But I think you knew this and you intentionally got that wrong just to see if anyone read you at all. 🙂

  • steve50

    The scores in the total column – where do they come from? I’m asking because the “Totals” for this year are considerably smaller than previous years with only one film over 100 and one in the 90s. Compare with previous years, esp. 2011. Is it because everybody, especially #1s, are all over the map?

  • Jack

    I see a Director/Split with PTA. I belive The Master will get nominated, probably in the 4-6 slots, considering if there is more than 5 nominees, but Weinstein will put his marbles into Playbook for film, PTA is director. Spielberg and Ang Lee already won Best director before, and even in fact split. If Scorsese and Cameron couldn’t win for Best director, it’s be tough for Ang Lee considering he already won. Plus, I heard the visuals are amazing, but the screenplay wears down the film. I can’t see Tom Hooper winning for 2 consecutive films. However, unless Argo wins Picture, I doubt they won’t award Affleck the director. I see Bigelow missing out, look how long it took for a female to actually win, and with the new deadline, Zero will be one of the last screeners, and some cranky old voters may have already made up their mind.

    PTA has never won, and he already picked up Best director at Venice, without winning Film. That was a main complaint among critics- excellent filmmaking, not an excellent film, I disagree. I think we will have a Chicago type year-musical for picture, director split, actor winning for the best director, 2 different screenplays winning, etc. Plus, I don’t see PTA winning original screenplay, he may get nominated, but ambigious screenplays usually don’t fare well.

    1. Les Miserables
    2. Argo
    3. Silver Linings Playbook
    4. Lincoln
    5. Life of Pi
    6. The Master
    7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    8. Zero Dark Thirty

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

  • Jake G!!!

    @Unlikely hood: Definitely on purpose;)

  • he then has Invictus at number 1 to win in November. That was, of course, before any of us had seen the movie.

    That’s pretty funny. INVICTUS really sucked and it wasn’t even Matt Damon’s fault that time. He was pretty good in it.

    I grew up watching cop shows like “Cops”, “Miami Vice”, “Hunter”, “Southland”, “NYPD Blue”. I have never seen a movie that saves those shows merits and achievements like “End of Watch”.
    “End of Watch” is the best of it’s kind of genre. I’d see this movie again and again until the day I die.

    “Miami Vice” is my all-time favorite TV show and I hated END OF WATCH. However, I never ever wanted to watch “Cops”. It just wasn’t my thing. That’s what “End of Watch” seemed like it was trying to be to me. I know I’m in the minority on this movie. But I find it interesting that you brought up all TV shows, because after I saw the film and read how great everyone thought it was, my first question to the ether was “What’s cinematic about it?” If it reminds people of TV and that’s why they like it, that’s actually one of the reasons I don’t like it.

    “End of Watch” will please audiences with it’s shaky camera movements

    I really hate that and wish they would have disclaimers about shaky camerawork. If I knew it was going to be that shaky, I wouldn’t have bought a ticket. I mean that going into the future too. Put all my favorite actors into a shaky movie, let me know it’s shaky beforehand, and I’ll gladly skip it.

    Sasha, you talked about this at the end of last season – Screw what might be an Oscar movie – we need to push good quality movies up the race and into the spotlight.


  • Evan

    I’ve got news for all the “Gurus”: Les Mis is this year’s BP winner.

    You’re welcome.

    (Also, these charts helped me realize that SLP is this year’s version of The Descendants.)

  • That slipshod top 10, if it comes to pass that they are the BP nominees, ensure the Oscars will be the lowest-rated ever.

  • JP

    @ PaulH

    Nope. Last year proved that we can’t predict (I personally was thinking the same way that you are thinking one year ago) the ratings solely on the BP lineup. Compare 2010’s lineup to 2011. In 2010, 1/2 of the films made more than 100 million dollars. One of them made more than 400 million dollars and another one almost 300. And the ratings were worse than the 2011’s one.

    The tendency is that this lineup won’t be less public-friendly than last year’s. Last year they did an OK to good ceremony and Meryl Streep is Meryl Streep… she’s the world’s most popular and respected actress… the best actress race between her and Viola Davis was the high point of that awards season. And I sincerely believe her popularity gave a big boost in those ratings. On the other hand, the ceremony that crowned that masterpiece theatre inferior to all the Best Drama Series lineup from the Emmys (and most of the movie/ miniseries too) was a very bad one. Ties with 2008 (the NCFOM year… this one the lowest-rated ever) as the worst I’ve seen (have been watching since Shakespeare in Love won).

    In 2013 it looks like America’s two young stars in more evidence right now will reach the Dolby Theatre as the frontrunners: Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway. This is very likely to attract audiences.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    PaulH, those ten are too mainstream. The actual ten (if there were ten) will be less known.

  • Mel

    I liked jack’s predictions:
    1. Les Miserables
    2. Argo
    3. Silver Linings Playbook
    4. Lincoln
    5. Life of Pi
    6. The Master
    7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    8. Zero Dark Thirty
    1. Paul Thomas Anderson
    2. Ang Lee
    3. Ben Affleck
    4. Tom Hooper
    5. Steven Spielberg

    Those look pretty solid….though so much speculation on what “oscar movies” are….and someone earlier was right that it was this shit that got War Horse and EL&IC nominated. People just couldn’t let them go an accept they ended up floating in the Oscar speculation punch bowl like stinky turds.

    As for PaulH, god damn what a broken record. If they don’t nominate the ten highest grossing movies of the year the Oscars are over! No one is watching!! Give me a fucking break. Seriously, give us all a fucking break. The world will never stop watching. Ever. Though I’m sure AMPAS reads every one of your threats on here and is considering rigging the ballot boxes and only people who read comics will have their votes counted.

  • Mel, that’s just not so. I want balance; balance between critic/audience favorites vs. the arthouse contingent. 6 BP nominees is more than enough this year:

    Hunger Games
    The Dark Knight Rises
    The Avengers
    The Master
    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    low-budget, low-earning indie film TBNL (to be named later).

  • Mel

    Half the movies being the top three grossing movies of the year? I’m sorry but those just are not and will not be the best films. Film is still art you know, not just entertainment. The nominated films should encompass more than just entertainment, they should be the best which means they hit all the notes not just the bang bang explosions superheroes every asshole in America will watch this shit note.

    It’s the Academy of Motion Picture ARTS and SCIENCES. Not the Academy of Motion Picture Box Office Blockbusting Crowd-Pleasers. Just because a movie earns big money does not mean it is even mediocre much less a great film. I mean for fuck’s sake are you pissed that the Chipmunks weren’t nominated last year? Because people watched the shit out of that. If anything, very rarely are the highest grossing movies the best…they are just the common denominator.

    I loved The Avengers, I couldn’t imagine hardly anyone not at least liking it. It’s not a great film though. It’s not a great example of motion picture art. It does have some nice sciences in there though and it should only be nominated in the tech categories. If I were in an Academy and we were rewarding the best of our craft I’d be looking for what films said something new, took risks, changed something, ect. Not a standard comic-book film.

    The Hunger Games was a huge letdown. Gary Ross dropped the ball on it. Hard. He created no sense of urgency, no suspense, no….anything really. It lacked any creativity of any kind.

    The Dark Knight Rises…..I don’t get it why people fawn all over these films. They are cool I guess, but I personally don’t find anything special about them. I saw it the week it came out and left disappointed.

    There was nothing in any of those 3 that represent the best in motion pictures. Tell me what you see in them that makes you think they should make up half of the films nominated for best picture of the entire YEAR when we have so many great films this year that really seem to be doing something daring moving people (The Master, Argo, Life of Pi, Moonrise Kingdom, ect)

  • rufussondheim

    Yes, there are definitely going to be a lot of films deserving of attention. I think that there are so many contenders vying for votes that only a handful will be able to muster up the needed 5%.

    Some interesting battles, films that will likely battle each other for the same niche voters.

    1) Argo v. Zero Dark Thirty – two political thrillers that involve triumphs in dark times. Both are based on historical classified events that have recently been declassified. The CIA as heroes? Apparently, yes.

    2) Life of Pi v Les Miserables – two melodramas that have more intelligence than they are given credit. Both taking place in exotic locations. Both have a huge following even before they hit the screen.

    3) The Master v Dhjango Unchained – two top directors that push the envelope with every film they make. While Tarantino has greater commercial success the Academy has embraced both more than one would expect considering that their films are usually pretty esoteric.

    4) Moonrise Kingdom v. Beasts of the Southern Wild. – Two small summer releases that are audience favorites. Well, if audiences see them. MK had better box office and pedigree, but BotSW has better buzz. Both could be overshadowed by more high-profile releases even though both have passionate fan bases.

    5) Silver Linings Playbook v. The Sessions. – Two contemporary dramas that appeal to the heart. Silver Linings seems to have the edge here, but The Sessions also has great buzz for John Hawkes in a role that has traditionally been Oscar Bait. Last year it was shown the Academy had lots of room for films that tugged at the heartstrings.

    6) Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, The Avengers, The Hunger Games – All huge hits and likely all critical successes (an assumption that might not be true for The Hobbit). It’s rare to have so many blockbusters be so well-received by the critics. Could they all cancel each other out?

    And some films that don’t have an obvious competitor…

    A) Lincoln – no obvious competitor, but right now we really don’t know enough to say that with any conviction.

    B) Amour – A critical success about a difficult subject that might really hit home with the aged Academy members. But will the Academy want to give it a fair shot. The jury is out.

    C) Cloud Atlas – it looks like it will sharply divide audiences, but will the half that loves it love it enough to list it #1?

    I just think this is a such an interesting year. While there are obvious favorites and less-likely nominees among those I’ve listed, there are just so many films for the Academy to choose from. And there are just so many unknowns at this point. Can Looper claw it’s way into the race? Is the hastened release of Hitchcock going to change anything?

    At this time in years past, we usually have it narrowed down to three or four real possibilities. But right now I think at least 8 films have a real shot at winning, and there could be a field of 15 films that have a real chance at being nominated.

    It is early, but it’s getting later all the time.

  • Feinberg didn’t take the bet. Jeffrey wells not available to gamble over a pie?

  • There was nothing in any of those 3 that represent the best in motion pictures. Tell me what you see in them that makes you think they should make up half of the films nominated for best picture of the entire YEAR when we have so many great films this year that really seem to be doing something daring moving people (The Master, Argo, Life of Pi, Moonrise Kingdom, etc)

    You didn’t ask me but I’ll answer. I cannot speak to the films I haven’t seen. And I won’t. But I can explain why I personally will put well made blockbusters ahead of well made tiny films. For our purposes I’ll take THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and MOONRISE KINGDOM and compare them since I’ve seen both and I would only include one on my tentative BP list.

    How did they do grades and class rankings when you were in school? We had five levels of classes. Level 5 classes were almost college courses that you could sometimes get college credit for. Level 1 meant you were probably going to drop out. On our report cards we had two class ranks one was just based on your grade point average. The other was weighted, meaning that it would take into account what level your classes were. Okay so the kid with the more challenging course load would have a higher weighted class rank than the kid with lower level courses. But their normal rank could be the same if they had the same grade point average. Obviously the weighted rank tells you which children really did the best in their studies, right? No one would really think it was fair to give children who got As in a level 1 class the same rank as a child who got As in a level 5? No, of course not. That wouldn’t be fair. So people really only paid attention to the weighted ranks.

    If we’re talking about movies, I personally think the same way. If I were voting I would take that into account too. Difficulty. Is this movie more difficult to make than that movie? Was the acting a more difficult challenge? Is the music a sweeping orchestral score or is it someone playing a rubber band?

    These are the things I think we should take into account. It’s been my observation that most people don’t. I think most people don’t stray too far from what they think was the film with the best script when they choose which they think is best. So that always makes me wonder if they really like movies or if they are really book people.

    Anywho, when I look at THE DARK KNIGHT RISES I see a major piece of work. Of course we have to think of the quality of the work. But what I’m differentiating here is the quantity of work. We wouldn’t be talking about any of these films if they weren’t of a certain quality. Thinking about how much work goes into a massive film like TDKR boggles my mind. I don’t know how these guys keep track of it all and how it doesn’t devolve into a mess. You have to do all that background stuff and then still get the actors to give nuanced performances. Think down to Tom Hardy having to act through a mask and basically doing some nifty eye acting. So you have to get that performance but also you have to blow up a stadium and wreck Gotham. And you have to cast a bazillion extras, and keep people interested in a story that has spanned three films without corrupting anything and keeping the fans happy. Not easy and it’s a great, maybe one of the best 3rd installments of a trilogy ever. A trilogy that needs rewarding. It’s a cinematic saga that everyone believed and was completely invested in. About a man, in a batsuit, fighting crime with gadgets. Getting people to take genre films seriously isn’t easy. By TDKR no one questions the universe at all.

    Now what MOONRISE KINGDOM has in common with TDKR is a stellar ensemble cast. But the majority of the film follows two children on their adventure straying from camp and the mess that it causes. Now there were some scenic shots and you had the part with the storm. But on the whole this was a much smaller film. Things happening in tents, little trailers, and a bit on the roof. There isn’t a lot of character development except for these two kids, the adults were really just in the background. My favorite character in the film’s name was Social Services, which tells you how much that was “developed”. Now I’m not a character development Nazi but these are usually the complaints we hear about blockbusters and here in this smaller film, it wasn’t that important either.

    And that’s where I’m coming from. Both movies have a great ensemble cast. More people in TDKR had more to do. But the two stories are different so in terms of the cast I’ll call it even just to avoid a fight. I personally like the story of TDKR better. I think it had to weave into two preexisting stories which might make it more difficult. MOONRISE KINGDOM was relatively simple, not too complicated nice story about these kids. It was good. I actually don’t understand why it would be impressive to anyone. Maybe the people who like it don’t care about impressive. I don’t know. But for me it doesn’t have enough of the elements I care about to make it onto my list. It’s a cute quirky story that I wasn’t in love with. If you’re not in love with it, there’s not a lot to see here.

    We could go point by point but I’d be here all day. Just imagine a scorecard for both films with every category listed. Then think of the grades it would get in all those categories. Then average that. Whatever you get would be the grade before you took into account how many categories it got grades for and how much work went into that. If one film can get 11 nominations because it draws from all those departments should it get a better score than a film that really can only compete in 5 or 6? Should the score be weighted by how many departments did stellar work? I say yes. I think most people say no. But like I said, I think they might be book people.

    This is why I will always lean toward the larger epic, cast of thousands, blockbusters with special effects and a soundtrack people actually buy. I know this is my bias. But if there was a little film with two people that the story was so moving and so profound that it outweighed all the other work that the big guns have going for them, then I would give it that credit. But it so rarely happens. And I don’t think it’s gonna happen this year. It’d have to be a new Annie Hall or something.

    Now I just want to reiterate I’m not saying a blockbuster on it’s own has credentials to be a BP film. TDKR does, TDK did, definitely. I don’t think at the end of this year, I’d include THE HUNGER GAMES and definitely not THE AVENGERS. They lack the quality. But I would understand why they were considered. And if everything else coming up bombs I could see THG making it because it was very very good.

    At the beginning of the year when I looked down the calendar and saw so many movies with all the elements I need for a BP, I started to think we could have a multiple blockbuster year in the Best Picture category. We’re already to October and that’s still a possibility. I’m really psyched about it honestly.

  • I always “grade” flicks in a vacuum. No thought to its budget, genre, what I think a movie “should” do. A movie with a bigger budget has an advantage over a 5mil picture because it can be more stylized, maybe attract major actors, tell a layered narrative that traverses over different locations and time periods. Tres cool. But then I look at The Avengers and see well-done fluff whereas Killer Joe and The Deep Blue Sea are smaller budgeted movies that manage to place their emphasis on character development and personal choices and NAIL it.

    Then again, films with higher budgets have to appeal to a broader swath of people and often lose a bit of intimacy, potency, ballsiness…To me, TDKR was strong because of the performances and some great set-pieces like the football stadium explosion Antoinette mentions. The latter element is something only a major budget could produce, the former is something that can and should arise from a script with any cost potential. That’s probably why I usually dig the mid-range fare, enough money for a good look and a sharp cast but not such an overblown price tag that it needs to appeal to quadrants and cross-sections and “the kids” and the demos, etc etc.

    Antoinette’s right about Moonrise being too simplistic and rather under-developed, although that’s not a budgetary issue; Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums had FANTASTIC stories and characters for similar costs to MK. Every year, we’ll find quality at various prices. I think how we respond has to do with taste preferences, not objective critical assessments.

  • Oh, and nice rundown, Rufus.

  • Craig Z

    Morgen, I think you are missing the point of the Gurus of Gold. They aren’t “voting” on anything. They are predicting who will be nominated. Not who should.

    @everybody, just ignore PaulH, he has been repeating the same nonsense so single mindedly it boarders on insanity. Nothing you can say will get to him.

  • Craig Z

    Regarding the chart. I think everybody is underrating The Impossible and overrating Amour. The Academy isnt ready for Haneke.

    Now I’m not sure what the rules are for this. (are we voting for most likely to be nominated or most likely to win? There is a difference) I’ll try to aim down the middle..

    1. Argo
    2. Life Of Pi
    3. Silver Linings Playbook
    4. Lincoln
    5. Les Mis
    6. Beasts of the Southern Wikd
    7. The Master
    8. Django
    9. The Impossible
    10. Zero Dark Thirty

  • I’m going Les Miz for #1 because bigass musicals are rare and if it’s as good as the trailer it’ll break a lot of hearts. Django seems to be getting the short straw so far, which is odd because Basterds was a player and was probably the #3 behind The Hurt Locker and Avatar. Is the gleeful tone in a slavery movie turning people off or are journos figuring critics won’t be all that favorable? The Christmas Day release leads me to believe that Harvey likes his odds.

    Plus DiCaprio needs a friggin nod. The hotter Django looks, the better his chances for a Waltz-type run in supporting especially since Foxx has a brutal field for lead.

  • rufussondheim

    Antoinette, that’s a nice post, but somehow I don’t think PaulH thinks that deeply.

    Thanks, Jesse – except I forgot The Impossible and Anna Karenina, two films I think that will be on the outside but do have real shots. It cannot be forgotten that War Horse, The Help AND Extremely Loud all got the required 5%. None of these films lit up the critics and they all still got in. To me, it shows how many academy members are prone to sentimentality over a strong critical reception.

    So a film like The Impossible, which will undoubtedly be emotionally affecting, should not be overlooked.

    And well, Anna Karenina, I have no idea what to make of it in the BP race. It will likely get several nominations with a major one for Kiera Knightly.

    And this is why I think we might only see 5 nominees this year. So many options. Legitimate Options.

  • Morgan

    “Morgen, I think you are missing the point of the Gurus of Gold. They aren’t “voting” on anything. They are predicting who will be nominated. Not who should.”

    I think you’re missing the point of my comment.

    At the end of last season Sasha said that she should focus on promoting films that deserve it because bloggers have the power to put films in the oscar “discussion” or “spotlight”. This is true.

    If 1 or 2 of the bloggers put Amour or Beasts high up their rankings they become shunted into the discussion. This increases the chances of an AMPAS member taking Amour or Beasts a little more seriously.

    Instead, we are shoving Lincoln and Les Mis into the discussion sight unseen just like we did with War Horse and Extremely Loud last year. We put them in the discussion and kept the spotlight on both those movies right throughout the race – and as a result they were included. If the bloggers didn’t rate them until they had been seen, they would never be in the discussion. The chances of those films being taken seriously or even watched may change.

    Of course there are no certainties – and the AMPAS voters will like what they like. But bloggers have the power to put certain films into the discussion and Sasha discussed this at the end of the last season.

    My point being, it is very disappointing seeing Lincoln so high up and films like Beasts and Amour lower down.

    Sasha seems to have forgotten or changed her mind on this…Which is disappointing.

  • steve50

    I agree that War Horse and Extremely Loud, etc, gained votes last year sight unseen. Members voted on buzz, expectation, and director reputation, assuming that they would be worthy of nomination – which they weren’t. One big reason? They were in the prognosticators’ conversations as “sure things”.

    Morgan is correct in that the unreleased should not be part of the conversation until they have been seen. Otherwise, we’re feeding the fire at the expense of worthy, smaller films as well as some of the bigger critically acclaimed blockbusters that are already discounted for being successful.

    To put Lincoln or Les Mis on top of a predictions list after seeing little more than a trailer doesn’t make sense and seems a bit off. Yes, AMPAS will vote what they like, and they love sentimentality, but it would be great if we could be sure that they were voting after having seen the actual product and not just from sniffing the predicters’ cork.

  • Mattoc

    ^ Agree.

    Sink or swim I say aka: watch the fucking film

  • steve50

    Here’s a suggestion: to fight it, we need a label for this condition where unseen films are acclaimed as BP winners, sight unseen. It seems to be a cross between Stockholm Syndrome (hostages developing empathy for their captors) and premature ejaculation (firing before the actual games begin).

    Hereby dubbed “Les-Linc Syndrome”. Now we need a vaccine.

  • Nik Grape

    Agreed with Morgan, steve, Mattoc.

    Give the foreigners and the little ones a much needed push, and stop predicting studio juggernauts that haven’t even been released yet. It’s counter-productive like drinking coffee to get some sleep. Makes no sense and this pattern should be forsaken.

  • joeyhegele

    “I’ve got news for all the “Gurus”: Les Mis is this year’s BP winner. You’re welcome. Also, these charts helped me realize that SLP is this year’s version of The Descendants.”

    I have to say I agree 100%. I thought The King’s Speech was a good movie with great acting, but I was not impressed with the directing. So you can imagine how unimpressed I was to hear Tom Hooper was directing Les Miserables.

    However, my opinion completely changed after I saw that teaser with Anne Hathaway singing/crying her way through I Dreamed A Dream, and I saw some of the impressive visuals. Les Mis is one of the most beloved musicals of all time, and unlike say The Phantom Of The Opera, people actually take it seriously.

    The most important reason Les Miserables is going to win Best Picture is how emotionally powerful it is. The story and the music make people cry throughout the entire show. It is the emotions of The King’s Speech which secured its win, and it is the same thing that will take Les Mis all the way.

    I also agree that The Silver Linings Playbook is this year’s The Descendants or Up In The Air. Both of those movies received very positive reactions from audiences and critics at film festivals, but despite finding success at the box-office they failed to go all the way with Oscar voters. All three of those films mix comedy and drama effectively, but voters just did not connect with them the way most people expected. I still think Jennifer Lawrence has a good shot at winning Best Actress though.

  • Mel

    No one would really think it was fair to give children who got As in a level 1 class the same rank as a child who got As in a level 5? No, of course not.

    So is it fair then if one kid had a bunch of hours of private tutoring and supportive parents who really pushed while the other had parents who didn’t give a crap, no tutor and little support?

    You understand budgets I’m sure. You understand studio support I am sure. Your reasoning falls flat and does not hold up. Thanks for at least telling me why you think the way you do though, even if it seems faulty. As I said above some really do hit on the “sciences” of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and those are always the big budget movies that can afford all those sciences and huge productions. If anything though, I think it would be far harder for a director to figure out a way to tell a story that engages hearts and minds with little money to rig it with all the things the average viewer wants out of a movie.

    I did not find MK simplistic. I found it very complex and thoughtful in a deceptive way. It seemed simple b/c we are exploring the life and world of an outcast child and I think WA told the story through Sam’s lens which is unique and adolescent in nature.

  • Mel, here are a few rotten tomatoes scores for ya 🙂

    Hunger Games – 85% (81 BFCA)
    The Dark Knight Rises – 87% (91 BFCA)
    The Avengers – 92% (90 BFCA)
    Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked -13% (42 BFCA)

    One of these films is not like the others. If a blockbuster gets this high an average number with *critics*, then it shouldn’t be summarily dismissed because it committed the cardinal sin of making a mint. They should be at least considered for a BP slot. That’s all. At least toss a bone to the average moviegoer.

  • steve50

    “The story and the music make people cry throughout the entire show.”

    Sounds like fun.

    What makes me cry is, “…Les Miserables is going to win Best Picture ….” You haven’t seen the frickin’ thing, yet.

  • rufussondheim

    Maybe sites like Gurus of Gold could have two charts. One for movies that have been seen and another with movies that have not been seen.

    I do think it’s kind of silly to have an Oscar Predictions site if you can’t have predictions. And to predict, well, you need to include stuff you haven’t seen. It’s just the way it is.

    So maybe if the chart has some way of reflecting that certain movies just haven’t been seen. Because if you look at the chart now, you’d not know what’s been seen. People may improperly assume that the predictors have seen all of these films when they have not.

  • Mel

    Paul, liking a movie doesn’t mean you think it qualifies for the Academy’s highest honor. Like I said, I can’t imagine anyone not liking The Avengers, but it’s just not groundbreaking or special in any way. It’s just a really fun day out at the movies, not changing the game or raising the artform.

    I think you are more interested in People’s Choice Awards, which do exist. There actually should be a little snobbery when it comes to the Oscars, imo. The only one of those films that should come close to qualifying would be TDKR I guess b/c it is just so fucking dark and different for a “superhero” movie. I can admit that, even though it did nothing for me personally. It just felt ok.

    It’s not like Oscar has snubbed anything b/c it was a huge hit. What in the hell do you think The Kings Speech was? It had made over 100K domestic before the Oscar ceremony. That’s a bona fide hit in my book, considering it cost 15K to make. Not to mention pretty much everyone who saw it loved it. You got your wish. It beat the clearly superior film that should have won. You gonna pretend that isn’t yet two years ago and keep bellyaching that they never go for a hit? Admit it, they never go for whatever gives you boners and stop applying that to everything.

  • Tom

    95% of these movie city ‘experts’ swore that VDavis was winning for The Help. They really have their hand on the pulse of things.

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