I think it’s too early to call a winner in the 2012 Oscar race, particularly since FOUR key films have not been seen. Those FOUR are Lincoln, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained. All three could feasibly be the Million Dollar Baby of this year, sweeping in late and taking it all. There are a few others, too, that should be considered, Flight and Life of Pi and The Promised Land.
It’s a lot easier to call a race once the other films have been seen. On the other hand, I have to say, I agree with a lot of what Ebert said about Argo. I think it is one of those rare perfect films that give you a satisfying cinematic experience. It’s funny, suspenseful and ultimately moving. It is filled with great dialogue and performances. It’s, to my mind, perfect.
You’ll also want to read this post by In Contention’s Kris Tapley, Making the Case for Argo as the Zeitgeist Movie – which lays it out pretty well, I think.
Ebert tells it this way:
The winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture will be Ben Affleck’s tense new thriller “Argo.” How do I know this? Because it is the audience favorite coming out of the top-loaded opening weekend of the Toronto Film Festival. Success at Toronto has an uncanny way of predicting Academy winners; I point you to the Best Pictures of the last five years in a row: “No Country for Old Men,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Hurt Locker,” “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.”
Aside from the Oscar odds, “Argo” is just plain a terrific film. It tells a story as incredible as it is (mostly) true, about how five Americans were smuggled out of Iran after the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. A fake Hollywood sci-fi production was created as a cover story. There was a real screenplay, a big ad was taken out in Variety, and the CIA’s top “extraction” expert, Tony Mendez (Affleck) flew in to pose as a location scout. The five Americans, who had been hiding in the Canadian embassy, were given new names, passports and job descriptions.
I have to disagree with him on a couple of points. No Country and The Artist really got their boost in Cannes. Toronto only really solidified their lead. The Hurt Locker broke out in Venice. Slumdog — I’m not so sure if it hit in Telluride or in Toronto. Either way, that last stop to Oscar is an important.
Unless it turns out that the New York Film Fest might intro a strong entry as it did last year with Hugo.