It’s not as difficult these days as it once was to early-predict Best Picture. The thing about the awards race that we can pretty much count on: the fix is in. There was a time when Big Oscar Movies could be very disappointing out of the gate. Not anymore. Somehow movies go all the way even when they aren’t very good. This is a matter of timing, of less “real” critics on the beat (bloggers are less critical, more easily swayed), and great publicity teams. After all, there wasn’t a single win on Oscar’s stage in the major categories that didn’t have an unbeatable publicist behind it.
Sometimes movies can indeed break out in unexpected ways, and thus, they have their “Oscar story.” You really don’t need me to teach you about the importance of an “Oscar story” because we just lived through one. The comeback of Ben Affleck, his perceived snub, proved as unstoppable as Slumdog Millionaire’s “It was going to go straight to video” meme. I always figured no one could beat Lincoln’s “Oscar story,” which was actually real but no one cared. One perfectly spun Deadline story after the Golden Globes regarding Bill Clinton was all that was needed to derail that.