One of the hardest parts of Oscar watching is the inevitable truths that come out every year about the behavior of Academy voters, who are more like your average movie-goer than they are like film critics. A friend of mine said, after seeing 12 Years a Slave, that if the Academy chose that film for Best Picture it would be a step forward for a group that tends to pick more comforting, uplifting fare. Probably the two most challenging Best Picture winners in recent years have been Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men. Both of these wins had the rooting factor included – the first woman to win, and finally rewarding the beloved Coens. Regardless of what Academy voters are doing now, regardless of their resistance to “difficult” movies, there is a very strong added element to this year’s race: making Oscar history. And not just because Brad Pitt will finally win an Oscar.