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Dr. Feelgood – The Case for Silver Linings to Win Best Picture

In the coming days, I will make a case for each contender on the Best Picture plate to win Best Picture. Silver Linings Playbook goes first.

The qualifying round of the Oscar race is coming to a close. There are three major films left to be seen — Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained — that will either shift the race or they won’t. Many are betting that at least one of them will. History tells us that late entries have a harder time winning than films already tested for success. Winners with critics, winners at the box office with a winning team behind them. Two slam dunks in a row with another feelgood movie in their pocket, The Weinstein Co is very much in the game right now, or at least in a very good spot to win for their third consecutive year.

At the helm is Lisa Taback, maybe the most savvy of all Oscar strategists, who knows the Academy better than they know themselves. A film only needs to be perceived as the underdog to make audiences and voters want to root for it because they root so hard for the scrappy characters. This worked last year and it worked the year before and it worked for Slumdog Millionaire on top of that, and it could very well work again this year; the best thing that can happen to this movie is to repeat last year and the year before — Oscar pundits, save Fandango’s Dave Karger and Jeff Wells, are underestimating it. If it were number one across the board it would have a harder time being perceived as the scrappy underdog. Slumdog is the model for this type of Oscar win: the little movie that could, can and does makes people feel good.

The harder thing to overcome is being the frontrunner early on. It seems counter-intuitive but it almost always seems to work that way. Once Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty have been seen it’s going to be a different story, perhaps. But none of them will likely tickle the heartstrings and renew their vigor like Silver Linings does. It’s well liked, or even loved, across the board. Men, women, rich, poor, young, old — they all will connect with it.

If there is any Oscar year this pattern once again reflects, at least so far, it may be the infamous and overused 1976 when All the President’s Men and Network went up against Rocky. Rocky was the emotional win and the public’s favorite.  Funnily enough, Rocky wasn’t really a feelgood. It’s like Silver Linings, all the winning is in winning the girl.   It is also probably a ordinary-American-makes-good kind of movie which could help people feel better in our terrible economy. It’s a movie that doesn’t ask us to take a political sides. You can be conservative or liberal and like it just fine.

The decision to hold back Silver Linings from wide release was a smart one: if it goes up against The Guardians and Life of Pi, not to mention Red Dawn (which could take a lot of the football-guy ticket sales) on November 21 and doesn’t do so well at the box office that takes away some of its shimmer. But if they platform the rollout and people fight to see it, the box office soars in limited release.

It is a fairly recent phenomenon that fantasy-fulfillment movies win Best Picture.  Does it correlate to the rough economy? Depressed people want happy movies? It’s possible. Before Slumdog Millionaire, most Oscar winners needed a certain amount of gravitas, a deeper theme somewhere. Movies like Titanic and A Beautiful Mind and Return of the King — these weren’t feelgood movies.

Looking back through Best Picture winners to see whether there was a previous wave of fantasy/rescue-fulfillment and/or happy ending movies that did win, we observe when these came along in recent years — like Little Miss Sunshine or Juno, or As Good as it Gets — they fell short of the top prize.

Jerry Maguire lost to the English Patient, Sense and Sensibility lost to Braveheart, and on and on it goes. Shakesepare in Love, despite how people like to paint it, does not end happily. Quite the opposite, actually: Will loses his true love. She gets married and leaves him. In his fantasy she then becomes his muse for all time. Last year’s The Artist was kind of clever in that it flipped the familiar paradigm — the girl rescued the boy for once, which was just one of its many charms. Best Picture winners in which one partner rescues the other used to be few and far between. But what has changed to make that a trend now? What has altered our perceptions that we like to see the underdog give a speech or get the girl? Hard to say.

People like to feel good. When deciding between a handful of films that voters feel represent equal quality, nowadays, they more often go with the one that sends them out of the theater feeling more energized than they felt going in. Choosing from an expanded field for Best Picture, it might come down to that. With only five movies to weigh, it might have been easier to say, well that movie made me feel good but this other one is hands down the  better film. But with nine or ten, voter allegiance can become even more divided, so the more emotionally moving the film, or the more it makes you feel good, the better chance it has of reaching a consensus. Remember, The King’s Speech won with ten nominees, The Artist won with 9. How many suitors will we have vying for our minds and hearts this year?

The Weinstein Co./Lisa Taback + audience award in Toronto + great reviews + Dr. Feelgood + a plethora of superb Best Picture nominees could equal a Best Picture win for this formula once again. Add to that, David O. Russell has never won. He came closest with The Fighter but that movie was too hard-edged. Still, the lure of awarding someone who has been kicking around Hollywood a long time but has yet to win is always a good selling point.

How do you build Best Picture? You need to build it a branch at a time – Screen Actors Guild, Producers Guild, Directors Guild, Writers Guild, Editors Guild. BOOM.

Silver Linings Playbook Gets Raves

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62 Comments

  1. November 16, 2012

    Sasha, you make a strong argument for the possibility of Silver winning. I don’t think it will (It’s scope is too small and it’s a non-period film). But, it could. Perception is everything here. And no one knows how to play perception like HW.

  2. DaneM
    November 16, 2012

    Will Weinstein threepeat in the strongest year for the major studios in quite some time? If so, will the Academy take a hit to its reputation for being a puppet controlled by Harvey? Or will no one really care? Is SLP really the best film of the year?

  3. November 16, 2012

    Slumdog is the model for this type of Oscar win: the little movie that could, can and does makes people feel good.

    Silver Linings Playbook is not a little movie. An Oscar-nominated director, an two-time Oscar-winning living legend, two Oscar-nominated actresses and one of the most bankable leading men in the cast, the Weinsteins behind it. Not a little movie any way you look at it.

    I wonder about the Rocky comparison – another film in which a semi-lead actress gets pushed up to lead in the Oscar race. Not to hate on Talia Shire or JLaw, though. Both are very good actors.

    I agree about the rough economy generating less depressing Oscar winners. People always want what they don’t have or can’t get. There are literally countless examples of this in regard to art and media.

    This new release strategy will probably work well for Silver Linings Playbook, although I don’t think that’s because it might have done poorly versus Rise of the Guardians, Red Dawn and Life of Pi. Rise of the Guardians is targeting a different demographic, Red Dawn is too (and will flop hard) and Life of Pi may struggle – it’s a much tougher sell than SLP.

  4. Sasha Stone
    November 16, 2012

    Paddy, Rocky is probably apt. But you know, Rocky loses. If it were closer to SLP he would have won. This happy endings and Oscar thing, post-Slumdog, is pretty new. Weird, right?

  5. November 16, 2012

    Sasha, hold that BOOM for Les Miserables. 2 weeks and all the talk of Silver Linings winning will be put to rest. I fear, this oscar race is going to get too boring once Les Mis starts screening. It’s one of those films that will garner tons of nominations winning most of them. Boommmm

  6. Sasha Stone
    November 16, 2012

    We’ll see, Gautam, it’s entirely possible. We have a ways to go yet.

  7. November 16, 2012

    I remember hearing Ian McEwan commenting on the recent wave of crime thrillers which have come out of Scandinavia – Stieg Larsson’s Millennium, Jo Nesbo’s and Henning Mankell’s novels, The Killing, The Bridge etc. He suggested that it may be due to the relative social stability of the Scandinavian nations, with their low crime rates and widespread liberalism in the political and social collective psyches of their inhabitants. With such security, people began to crave that which they didn’t have – some danger, and these crime thrillers provided that. I believe that the proliferation of feelgood films with the Academy since the ’08 market crash represents much the same thing. People living under economic strain want something to cheer them up. Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, The Artist and Silver Linings Playbook all fulfill that.

  8. Radich
    November 16, 2012

    I am not an academy member, I’m not an expert like you all, but from my part as general audience, one thing I can say for sure – I laughed, I thought it was cute, and two minutes after I left the theater I had already forgotten about SLP. If there is a win, Jennifer Lawrence is the one, IMO, with the bigger chance.

    You make a good case, Sasha. And for you guys who are the experts, I believe is pertinent not to take this horse out of the race, yet. However, I will be disappointed if this movie wins BP. What can I say, this IS what I feel.

  9. bling
    November 16, 2012

    I don’t think it will win if it’s going against Lincoln. I mean it’s a movie about one of the most beloved presidents of all time and deals with American history. I bet the Academy is falling all over that film. Especially since it stars Daniel Day Lewis. He does one movie like every 2-3 years and never disappoints. People worship him as an actor. Just pointing out SLP’s competition.

  10. Karen
    November 16, 2012

    Silver Linings is a strong contender but does it hold its own against the likes of The Master, Lincoln, and Argo? I have a hard time belieiving that the academy will vote for a romantic comedy even if it’s really good. Also I had a hard time believing Jennifer Lawrence is only 22 years old while wathcing the film. She’s so talented and so good. I’m still shocked by her performance. Can’t imagine what she’ll be like in her 30′s…

  11. JP
    November 16, 2012

    “There are three major films left to be seen — Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained — that will either shift the race or they won’t.”

    I’d say there’s also a special case of another film that we still have to see how audiences/ critics react to it in America and that could possibly become a BP nominee: The Impossible.

    Right now, Argo/ Lincoln/ SLP are locked nominees. Next week, we could possibly add Life of Pi.

    Then we have those 3 unseen, the special case (The Impossible), the indie/alternative films (The Master, BOTSW and Moonrise Kingdom) and actually another special case (Amour). And, as very long shots, Flight, The Hobbit and Hitchcock. For me, it’s down to those 14. The Sessions, for me, is out. Not only box office is awful but it’s not the feel good movie of the year. That’s SLP. I don’t imagine The Sessions getting enough #1 votes. I start to even fear about John Hawkes getting snubbed.

  12. Sasha Stone
    November 16, 2012

    Radich, I’m going to next make a case for Argo, then Lincoln, then Les Mis (I see that on the 24th) and Zero Dark Thirty (the 25th) we’ll which one I can most make a case for.

  13. Katie
    November 16, 2012

    People keep saying about how SLP is light fare (as if that is an insult) but frankly so is Argo. Even though it’s about a serious subject, Argo is a light crowd-pleaser that doesn’t challenge it’s audience in any way – yet people don’t seem to make the same accusations.

    I like a dark, challenging film as much as the next film buff but I also respect the challenges of creating a decent comedy and in having an audience genuinely enjoy a film without manipulating them into it with copious amounts of sentimentality. Not that I’ve seen SLP to judge for myself, but from what I’ve heard it manages to do this. Great filmmaking can be just as much about affecting your audience emotionally, as it is intellectually.

  14. phantom
    November 16, 2012

    If it delivers the Box Office, this film will be probably a top5 contender and might just go all the way, too. I think its biggest fear should be internal competition…what if Django Unchained is a relevatory, epic marvel ? What if critics groups go apeshit over The Master (something that might be more crucial Oscar-wise than in recent years, due to the early Academy-deadline) ? What if Guilds/Academy decide to recognize an acting legend’s directing debut that is also a well-received crowdpleaser (Quartet) ?

    Harvey Weinstein is clearly an Oscar-genius, but even though he has no trouble garnering multiple nominations in the same category, for the win he usually pulls out all the stops for only ONE…what if that ONE won’t be Silver Linings Playbook ?

    Also, while I see how it is perfectly likely that David O. Russell scores a Best Director nomination for this, I think it won’t be THAT easy : sure, for now we only have 2 locks (Affleck, Spielberg) and 2 strong possibilities (Lee, PTA), but if the unseens deliver, I don’t see Russell knocking out anyone from the Bigelow-Tarantino-Hooper-Jackson quartet…I also wouldn’t count out Nolan OR underestimate Bayona, Hoffman and Haneke just yet.

  15. steve50
    November 16, 2012

    “I fear, this oscar race is going to get too boring once Les Mis starts screening. It’s one of those films that will garner tons of nominations winning most of them.”

    Careful, guys – you’re really setting yourselves up here. The stage is being set for the second coming, and that’s gonna be a tough reach.

    I think the opposite is true, that once Les Mis screens, the race will break wide open.

  16. phantom
    November 16, 2012

    OT : According Deadline, LINCOLN is looking at a stellar 20M+ weekend and it is still only in 1775 theaters. 100M, here we come ! Now it has it all…unless one of the unseens break out (Les Mis/Django/Zero), it will go all the way. Sure, Argo and Silver Linings Playbook are already competition, but neither seems as strong as Lincoln.

  17. Radich
    November 16, 2012

    And I’m looking forward to read all those cases, Sasha. Argo and Lincoln are some of the greats this year, IMO. Cannot wait to see Les Mis and 0D30.

    phantom, I saw that BO info, and gave me hope.

    Yeah, by now you all know that I am bias towards Lincoln. I just love the fucking movie! Pardon my French. I wasn’t expecting to see that, so it made me really impressed. I just cannot conceive the thought that a movie like Lincoln can lose to SLP.

    I’m still waiting to see Les Mis, though. That might change or divide my alliances. We’ll see.

  18. November 16, 2012

    I think the main thing you can say about the recent Best Pictures is that they are incredibly eclectic. On paper, The Descendants really should’ve won as a mature adult drama starring George Clooney from a director that had been nominated but hadn’t yet won. Same for Up In the Air. There are other examples, but the winners seem to have defied pattern. By this I simply note that you really can’t rule a movie in or out due to its genre, i.e. romantic-dramedy. I’m not saying you’re doing that, obviously not in a post making the case, just speaking to my own contrarian voice in the back of my head on this one.

    But, yeah, loved the book, love David O Russell.
    #teamsilverlinings

  19. Tony
    November 16, 2012

    Just saw SLP today. I’m not sensing a BP win. I did with The Artist, and I did with The King’s Speech. I just don’t with SLP.

  20. JP
    November 16, 2012

    I agree with pretty much everything Sasha pointed out. Just don’t get why The Hurt Locker isn’t mentioned in the same “underdog level” as The Artist, TKS and Slumdog. I know THL is one of the untouchable films in AD but… Obviously it was Davi Vs. Golliah. Probably the biggest underdog story in the history of the Oscar. The lowest BOffice film to ever win toped the highest grossing film ever. A much bigger underdog than TKS.

  21. Antonio A
    November 16, 2012

    I just saw the movie and I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I don’t think it’s best pic material. From what I’ve watched so far, Argo seems like a better choice, but Les Mis can obviously dominate if it doesn’t disappoint. Aaaaaaaaaaand never discount Tarantino, Django can be quite a surprise…

    After watching SLP I thought Cooper delivered a MUCH stronger performance than Lawrence, he felt a lot more genuine to me, delivering the comedic goods and quirks while retaining a dangerous underlay to his character. I’m definitely rooting for his first nomination.

  22. DaneM
    November 16, 2012

    Just got out of seeing Lincoln. Wow. That’s the kind of film I’d like to see win Best Picture. Unlike the King’s Speech, this historical drama actually matters. I hope the Academy decides to give it strong consideration — it’s one we won’t forget about years down the road

    Sasha – Whoever that blogger was giving you shit about Lincoln having no chance to win needs to have their head examined.

  23. Tero Heikkinen
    November 16, 2012

    “I remember hearing Ian McEwan commenting on the recent wave of crime thrillers which have come out of Scandinavia – Stieg Larsson’s Millennium, Jo Nesbo’s and Henning Mankell’s novels, The Killing, The Bridge etc. He suggested that it may be due to the relative social stability of the Scandinavian nations, with their low crime rates and widespread liberalism in the political and social collective psyches of their inhabitants. With such security, people began to crave that which they didn’t have – some danger, and these crime thrillers provided that.”

    Dude, I was just watching Boyz n the Hood today thinking we can’t do realistic drama about killing, cause that is so rare. We could do a portrait of a suicidal man – at least in suicide rates we lead.

    Personally I know three people who have killed themselves and I know of one murder (that happened inside the family even). Otherwise, this is as safe as it comes. Any 14-year old girl could walk alone at 4am, for example.

  24. Reno
    November 16, 2012

    Paddy, I just saw Iceland’s Jar City, and it’s as good as any crime thriller can get! I wonder what would be Ian McEwan’s view on why Hollywood keeps remaking these Scandi/Northern European thrillers.

  25. Tero Heikkinen
    November 16, 2012

    Melancholy. We are born with darkness in our souls. Some more than others, but that is a very Nordic thing. That must be appealing (although not bankable) in Hollywood.

    Bergman is world famous here, but analyse Nordic movies more, they are all similar.

    Kaurismäki is loved for finding a comedic language in this matter. Von Trier breaks the rules of filmmaking again and again. But they are all melancholy.

  26. Tero Heikkinen
    November 16, 2012
  27. Dan
    November 16, 2012

    A good film that has a very low chance at winning Best Pic. Sasha I love the write up tho making the case. Best Pic this year is between Lincoln (non stop talk and then more talk) vs. Les Mis(I think the Front Runner) vs. something? (Zero Dark Thirty has a shot because Bigelow is a terrific director. The Master is not Best Pic material at all even tho it has a solid shot at winning some acting awards. Lincoln I think is going to fizzle with the Academy (i hope) but I could be wrong, Silver Linings is good but not great and I don’t think it has the love to be a threat in Best Pic. Life of Pi I have high hopes for. Les Mis I have felt from the start is the front runner. AMPAS is rougly 30-40% British. And they usually all vote Best Pic in lockstep. Unless it completely flops I think that will win. Other chances…Dark Knight Rises (one of the top 5 films of the year easily but an up hill battle with AMPAS being a sequel and an action film), Django…I think a remote chance to win if it gets nominated (and I’m beginning to think a Best Pic nomination is very iffy)

  28. Jake
    November 16, 2012

    Silver Linings Playbook wont win, or Argo. Its between Les Miserables, Lincoln, or The Hobbit. I’m enjoying The Dark Knight Rises campaign and Im feeling good about its chance of a BP nod. It would be wrong of them to not award it. Im not so sure on Beasts getting nomimated, It needs a strong campaign. I still think Les Mis is the only one that the academy sees as a BP winner.

  29. Robert A.
    November 16, 2012

    “I think its biggest fear should be internal competition…what if Django Unchained is a relevatory, epic marvel ? What if critics groups go apeshit over The Master (something that might be more crucial Oscar-wise than in recent years, due to the early Academy-deadline) ? What if Guilds/Academy decide to recognize an acting legend’s directing debut that is also a well-received crowdpleaser (Quartet) ?”

    I don’t think we should over complicate the race. Quartet is just not going to happen. As good as The Master is (I’m a big fan), there’s no way it will be a threat to win BP even if it manages to get nominated, and surely Harvey knows this. Even a slew of critic awards won’t sway the Academy on this one, I don’t think. As much as I’m looking forward to Django Unchained, I just don’t see if being a big threat for Oscar’s BP. Of all Harvey’s movies, SLP is the one with the best chance at Oscar, and that’s the one Harvey will push, surely, although I agree that it doesn’t seem like the likely BP winner (admittedly, I haven’t seen it).

    “Also, while I see how it is perfectly likely that David O. Russell scores a Best Director nomination for this, I think it won’t be THAT easy : sure, for now we only have 2 locks (Affleck, Spielberg) and 2 strong possibilities (Lee, PTA), but if the unseens deliver, I don’t see Russell knocking out anyone from the Bigelow-Tarantino-Hooper-Jackson quartet…I also wouldn’t count out Nolan OR underestimate Bayona, Hoffman and Haneke just yet.”

    Again, I think this is over complicating matters. Nolan is not going to happen (when will we ever learn?), nor will Hoffman or Jackson. Hell, I think even Tarantino is a long shot, at this point. The Best Director race is down to Affleck-Spielberg-Hooper-Russell-Lee-Bigelow-PTA-Haneke. Affleck is in, and most likely Spielberg as well. Both PTA and Haneke will not get nominated. . . it will either be one or the other in a kind of Malick/auteur nomination, or both will miss out altogether. If the Academy embraces SLP enough, Russell will probably get nominated regardless of whether there are other superior directorial works out there. When AMPAS likes a movie enough, they’ll toss it a director nomination even if it isn’t really a “director” movie (Juno, for example).

  30. Yashar
    November 17, 2012

    One thing I’d like to add here is that the previous 3 examples for this kind of win (Artist, King’s Speech and Slumdog) all had a 3nd element besides the feelgood + underdog theme.

    King’s and Artist had the period / oldie factor. Old things equal nostalgia even if they’re not like Artist. As for Slumdog, it had exotic feeling along with some darker elements. The biggest challenge in front of Silver Linings is that it takes place in modern times and in US (Non exotic place).

  31. Lorcan
    November 17, 2012

    Will the Academy go for something different this year for best pic?
    SLP (modern, light), TDKR (movie hero), Flight, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Cloud Atlas

    or will they go the more traditional route?
    Lincoln (historical), Les Miserables (frontrunner), Argo

  32. Jack Traven II
    November 17, 2012

    I actually wouldn’t count out Peter Jackson. Even if The Hobbit is just as half as good as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was for so many people, the Academy will embrace him again, at least with several nominations – like they did with Coppola’s late Godfather film.

    But regarding the Oscar race itself. Well, maybe it will come to another Battle of the Genres – Drama vs. Musical/Comedy. Just like in 1999. And ironically, Steven Spielberg could again be one of the competitors. So, will Lincoln be up against Silver Linings Playbook or will it be Argo vs. Les Miserables? Or will it be mixed up? Who knows?

    As for my part, I’m pretty excited.

  33. rufussondheim
    November 17, 2012

    Sasha, have you seen The Impossible? If not, when is that on your schedule?

    I still think that will become a player in this. With the new 5% rule, I think it has a real shot. It’s a miraculous true story that’s apparently very well made. It has Academy-friendly leads and it mixes in some great special effects and action sequences.

    It also capitalizes on that old white guilt factor.

  34. rufussondheim
    November 17, 2012

    Oh, I should also point out, of the five reviews on metacritic, 3 of them are 100′s. Yeah, I know it’s early. But still, 3 of 5. That’s pretty good.

  35. Evelyn Garver
    November 17, 2012

    My question for Sasha and all: Could SLP follow the recent pattern of well-written, well-acted, heartfelt comedies [THE DESCENDENTS AND UP IN THE AIR] that start strongly with critics and audiences and eventually run out of steam come Oscar time. Full disclosure: I would love to see the wonderful Jennifer Lawrence win Best Actress.

  36. Unlikely hood
    November 17, 2012

    Evelyn: yes. You might have added “contemporary” (non-period) especially to distinguish it from the last two winners

  37. Unlikely hood
    November 17, 2012

    If the Impossible goes BP I will officially bow to Rufus. Right now that looks the Improbable.

    I like this piece because clearly Sasha doesn’t mean it. Dunno why I’m rooting against SLP sight unseen, hope my mind is changed when I see it

  38. Erik Anderson
    November 17, 2012

    I saw SLP last night and while I really liked it and especially liked Bradley Cooper, I have a hard time seeing this as being a major Best Picture contender (for a win, that is). Rather than make an underdog comparison to something like Rocky I’d rather make a more direct comparison to what this film is – an American domestic family drama.

    Since 1980 only three films that fall under that category have won; Ordinary People in 1980. Terms of Endearment in 1983 and American Beauty in 1999. Now, deconstructing those a bit finds that the first deals with a death in the family, the next cancer and the third a death as well, but done in a winky, clever, stylized way. SLP, by comparison, is very straightforward and not really in the echelon. The stakes just aren’t that high in SLP like they are in those other films. Not to mention the happy vs. unhappy ending scenarios of SLP vs. those other films.

  39. November 17, 2012

    This is a strong case for SLP, as strong as it’s gonna get really. My only question is, is that enough to push its way through a beloved/classic period-musical from an Oscar-wnning Director or a historical period-drama from a beloved Oscar-winning director and actor? From my vantage point, it looks like it’s going to be race between SLP, Les Miz and Lincoln and if someone held a gun to my head to make a prediction right now, SLP will end up as the “Little Miss Sunshine” / “Juno” of the group with Les Miz & Lincoln going down to the wire, maybe even splitting Director/BP.

    All of this hinges on the popularity of Les Miz, which screens for press by end of this month. Once word gets out, whether it’s good or bad, the Oscar race will officially be on.

    Haven’t seen SLP yet but my gut tells me it won’t win. I just don’t see Weinstein winning three in a row, I think the Academy is a little Harvey’d out by this point. The only other real possibilities are Argo and Life of Pi. Argo is one of my favorite movies of the year, it’s flawless in its execution but movies like Argo just don’t win BPs next to such feel-goods/epics/historical pieces in the race. Life of Pi is also one of my favorites of the year, it took my breath away, but as universal as the story is the fact that it’s Ang Lee (who already won for Brokeback) and an unknown cast from a Canadian author about an Indian protagonist – it’s practically a foreign film and again, its competition has too much going for it in Academy standards who might think of it as just a pretty picture. Personally, I’d love to see either Argo or Life of Pi win, they would make for the most deserving BP winners since Hurt Locker, but I just don’t see it happening.

    ZD30 is the dark horse and it has to be a masterpiece for it to have any chance of breaking the top three leaders. It probably won’t be anything like Hurt Locker, but tell that to the voters. They’ll recall Hurt Locker’s and Bigelow’s recent win and decide to give someone else a chance unless ZD30 completely blows their minds. As good as it looks, I don’t see that happening unfortunately.

    People who are thinking that films like The Master (too abstract & ahead of its time), Amour (too serious & arthouse), The Impossible (too detached & unknown), Django (haven’t seen it, but judging from the script, the trailers, Tarantino’s pedigree, it’s too edgy & unsophisticated for the Academy), or anything else for that matter are just over-complicating things like someone else pointed out already. And forget Nolan and Dark Knight Rises. A nomination will be a win for that franchise.

    That’s how the Best Picture Oscar race look to me and the starting gun (Les Miz) hasn’t even been fired yet.

  40. The Great Dane
    November 17, 2012

    Feels weird that people keep saying “Jackson won’t happen, The Hobbit won’t happen, Zero Dark Thirty won’t happen, Les Misérables will win, Les Misérables won’t win, Django will or won’t win.”
    Like Sasha always says, WAIT till the films have been seen.

    How can anyone say that a likely contender is locked or bound to be ignored before anyone has seen it? Wait a week or two till they’ve all been seen, THEN we can champion or dismiss them. :)

  41. Erik Anderson
    November 17, 2012

    Because waiting until something has been seen is a bit of a cheat. If you can’t make an educated guess then you’re not really doing Oscar prognosticating you’re just compiling data.

  42. November 17, 2012

    ^
    “Because waiting until something has been seen is a bit of a cheat.”

    Similar to the way it’s a bit of a cheat to have sex with somebody before you commit to marriage.

  43. Erik Anderson
    November 17, 2012

    I am a virgin Ryan, and that comment is offensive to my very sensitive nature.

  44. The Great Dane
    November 17, 2012

    I too like to predict things that have not been seen. That IS a fun part of it. But no one can say “never”, “definitely”, “will” or “won’t” to possible strong contenders before anyone has seen them. “Likely”, “possibly” and “I think” or “I don’t think” are all good. But especially since NO ONE knows if Les Misérables is in the Chicago or Nine caliber, no one knows how serious or great “Django” is, and no one really knows ANYTHING about “Zero Dark Thirty”, and no one knows if “The Hobbit” gets completely snubbed or embraced like an old friend returning home – it’s way to early to jump to conclusions.

    I don’t believe in “The Hobbit” or “Django”, I do believe in “Les Misérables” (although it’s completely possible that it’s a complete failure like the latest trailer could be an indication of), and “Zero Dark Thirty” remains a mystery. Is it the next “United 93″/”The Hurt Locker” or the next all-the-other-9/11-related-films-that-have-bombed-at-the-box-office-and-with-critics? But I can’t say anything. I think “Les Misérables” (if amazing), “Lincoln” and “Argo” are the frontrunnes. Think. But who knows? Are Promised Land and The Impossible gonna swing round and upstage any of the other contenders out of the blue? Will Best Exotic, Beasts, Moonrise Kingdom or something else rebound like Inglourious Basterds did (completely written off, and suddenly emerging as a TOP 3 contender)? What WILL happen to “Life of Pi”? “The Sessions”? “Amour”? This is possibly the most unpredictable Oscar year yet. We are close to December, and so many films can geet nominated, and so many outcomes seem possible. I can still see 20 possible films ending up in Best Picture one way or another. Can’t wait to see what happens. The critics will narrow things down, but don’t forget: The critics erased War Horse and Extremely Loud from contention – and still, they ended up getting nominated. So guild and critic snubs do not guarantee a cold Oscar sholder with the new system. Nobody knows anything!

  45. Tony
    November 17, 2012

    Yipes, very middling box office for SLP, especially compared to Lincoln last week. Maybe most folks didn’t know that it was opening on a few screens yesterday.

    Btw, has anyone here seen Anna Karenina? If Keira (or anyone else in it) isn’t likely to get nominated, I don’t want to waste time seeing it. It’s not exactly playing down the street, and I’ve already seen other versions of AK.

  46. rufussondheim
    November 17, 2012

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the lack of box office for SLP just yet. No it’s not in Lincoln territory, but there is a huge appetite for Lincoln since it has so much PRESTIGE surrounding it. And there are a ton of Spielberg fans waiting at the gate to see it immediately.

    SLP has great buzz, but there are lots of other options so people don’t need to cram into the theater this weekend.

    The Sessions, on the other hand is pretty much DOA, which is surprising since it had some nice buzz about it, and the reviews are pretty strong. I personally blame the trailer. It makes the film seem very unappealing.

  47. rufussondheim
    November 17, 2012

    Unlikely hood. I don’t think The Impossible will win BP, but it’s definitely my current No Guts No Glory pick for a nomination at this point since it’s not on many people’s radar.

  48. JP
    November 17, 2012

    The Impossible is definitely gonna be better received than Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, last year’s late entry about a recent tragedy.

    I think we will never be able to state same things about the up-to-10-nominees system. We will never be able to generalize some things. Either weak or great years can probably lead to many or not so many films nominated for BP. Last year, apart from The Artist’s victory, set in stone since the beginning, there was a lot of split of love between the other films, what made 8 other films join the lineup.

    But there’s one thing we can state: ELIC had Scott Rudin/ Steven Daldry in its side. Rudin may be the guy that knows the most about Oscars campaigns (Harvey Weinstein is hors-concours… doesn’t count… he’s way above everyone else). And Steven Daldry’s films have a very direct and effective appeal to the Oscar members. 3/4 in Picture and 3/4 in Directing is really impressive.

  49. OI
    November 17, 2012

    I found Silver Linings Playbook fine. Got tired of the yelling, the Hollywood portrayal of mental illness (Jennifer Lawrence’s big symptom is she has lots of sex!) but was charmed by the performances. It’s problem isn’t that it’s light fare–it’s that it’s really not that good.

    With everything Lincoln has going for it, expectation are high–and yet it surpasses them. Argo is solid across the board. The Impossible is both epic and intimate. SLP just doesn’t even come close.

  50. November 18, 2012

    I’ve been thinking about the political side of the Oscar a bit more and felt like sharing my thoughts here. Not sure how important this is in the grand scheme of it all but something tells me it is, and I could be wrong so for the real experts out there put in your two cents on this one.

    Studios.

    All this talk about Weinstein as marketing genius and this God (Meryl Streep’s words, not mine) got me thinking about the Oscar track record for Studios. The ones that I think are the three leaders as it looks and feels now are Universal (Les Miz), Touchstone Pictures a.k.a. Dreamworks a.k.a. Walt Disney (Lincoln) and Weinstein (SLP) . So, when you break it down it looks something like this:

    Weinstein Co. has two wins, two noms all from the last four years

    The Reader (2008) nomination,
    Inglourious Basterds (2009) shared with Universal, nomination
    King’s Speech (2010) – win
    The Arist (2011) shared with lucky foreign studios, win

    And if you include Miramax, one more win and one more nomination.

    Shakespeare in Love (1998) shared with Universal, win
    Gangs of New York (2002), nomination

    Universal, including its two shared ones above, has 9 wins, 27 nominations. Starting from 1930. But, their last win was 2001′s A Beautiful Mind shared with Dreamworks, over 10 years ago.

    Under the Touchstone Pictures banner, there’s 4 noms, zero wins. Dreamworks has a hat trick in ’99-’01- American Beauty, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. 5 more nominations. Walt Disney’s got 4 noms, no wins.

    We always talk about actors, actresses, directors being due and having that extra edge because of it. But what about studios? Does it factor in there as well?

    And just coz I’m baked, add 20th century fox (Life of Pi) and Warner Brothers (Argo)

    20th Century Fox: 8 wins, 49 nominations. Last win was Titanic in 1997.

    Warner Bros: 9 wins, 64 nominations. Last win, Slumdog in 2008.

    Don’t know. Could be nothing, could be something. Either way, it’s worth to get thrown in the mix.

  51. JP
    November 18, 2012

    @ Nik G

    Its not only about the wins and nomination. Your list of Miramax is incomplete (The Piano, Pulp Fiction, The Postman and The English Patient to name a few) but for me, HW’s greatest accomplishment in terms of Oscar is none of those. I really doubt anyone (and I really mean anyone) could have made a tough brazilian film… a true masterpiece but a very tough film get 4 Oscar Nominations including Screenplay and Director, which nobody really was expecting to come even close. And Weinstein did it. He is a marketing genius.

  52. November 18, 2012

    @ JP

    Thanks for that observation (I was a bit out of it last night..). Overall Miramax had 4 wins, 17 nominations. For a Studio that had its first ever Best Picture nomination in 1989 (My Left Foot) that is an impressive record.

    Yeah, the City of God nominations were a total (extremely pleasant) surprise and prove that Harvey really is a marketing genius. Just to clarify, I never intended to imply that he wasn’t. You can also just look at what happened last year. No one could have gone all the way with The Artist like he did.

    I just wanted to lay out the stats and show why I think this time around we might not have a Weinstein BP winner.

  53. John Flake
    November 18, 2012

    I love how many people are counting out Kathryn Bigelow already. Does anyone remember The Hurt Locker? Don’t sleep on Zero Dark Thirty. And I think the author of the article is wrong on one thing: early success does not guarantee Oscars. Remember Social Network? It basically swept all the major film festival awards but the Guilds undeservedly screwed it over thanks to Harvey’s wining and dining. But I don’t think he will win this year. ‘Zero’ comes out wide in January and could sneak a win at the Guilds and change the race. Hey let’s not forget that many critics were calling ‘Locker’ one of the best films of the decade. Seeing that it its an entirely new area and is relevant to the times, ‘Zero’ is a serious contender, especially if it remains the only film of its type in the field. The other films could easily split votes.

  54. JP
    November 18, 2012

    @ JP

    “I just wanted to lay out the stats and show why I think this time around we might not have a Weinstein BP winner.”

    Sure. Totally agree with you. He definitely doesn’t have a typical-surefire Oscar contender this time as he had in 2010/2011. He has 2 great films and probably a 3rd one unseen. And even if he had this kind of contender, I don’t think it would top Lincoln. And the fact that we are comparing his accomplishments Oscar-saying to big studios just shows how far has he gone. And outside Oscars, his importance to the rise of independent cinema in the late 80s and 90s is crucial. Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting are definitely two of the most acclaimed films of that decade.

  55. November 18, 2012

    “Silver Linings Playbook is not a little movie. An Oscar-nominated director, an two-time Oscar-winning living legend, two Oscar-nominated actresses and one of the most bankable leading men in the cast, the Weinsteins behind it. Not a little movie any way you look at it.”

    But since it played on the arthouse festival circuit (Toronto), one can make the case it’s another independent film that is going to have a struggle at the boxoffice. Why cut down on the expansion of it from 2000+ theaters over Thanksgiving to just 400? Lack of interest outside the Hollywood crtitic and festival echo chamber?

  56. November 19, 2012

    Don’t think Toronto is an arthouse festival… maybe it used to be, but today it probably shows the most commercial and mainstream films out of any other festival there is.

    Other than the story it’s telling, (which is what I think Sasha was thinking about when she wrote “little”) SLP is by no means small or little.

  57. SallyinChicago
    November 21, 2012

    I haven’t seen Jennifer Lawrence in one good movie yet. I didn’t like Winter Bones (too slow and the people were sickening)….and Hunger Games (I didn’t read the book, so it made no sense to me, and it was boring!)…I walked out of both movies. I’m going to give Ms. Lawrence one last chance with me with Silver Linings this weekend, and if the movie fails, I’m done with Ms. Lawrence.

  58. jp
    November 22, 2012

    I’m late to this post, but I didn’t want to read it until I saw the movie. I saw it last night with my fiancee. Both of us absolutely loved it. The crowd reaction was excellent throughout as well. Going in, my fiancee only went to accompany me. Going out, she was telling me how I needed to buy the DVD upon release. Jennifer Lawrence was terrific, but I loved Bradley Cooper’s performance more. Robert De Niro of course was wonderful as well. All three deserve some Oscar recognition for SLP. Jacki Weaver was good, but she disappears a little throughout the movie.

  59. Jose P
    November 22, 2012

    *sorry* I didn’t realize there was another “JP”. Previous comment is mine.

  60. brian
    November 25, 2012

    The Subjectiveness of Movie Enjoyment
    Funny how movies strike people in different ways. I went and saw Argo a few weeks back and thought to myself … great movie, very well made. I went and saw SLP last night and thought to myself, that’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Completely floored, mesmerized by the camera work of Mr. Russell, the ensemble acting performances, and the snappy dialogue. I’m going to see this movie again while it’s still in the theaters.

    David O. Russell has risen to the top of my favorite directors list. I love the movies. :)

  61. Alfredo
    November 25, 2012

    For the newbies to the Oscar game: never underestimate the power of crowd pleaser! See: Slumdog Millionaire. Silver Linings Playbook is indeed a film that you can sit anyone down and they will love it. And when we’re talking about roughly 6,000 individual people (we like to think of the Academy as one giant entity but really it oscar voting is a private thing that happens in privacy of ones mansion) we have to look at the film that the majority of the people love.

    I for one LOVED Silver Linings Playbook. The entire cast was fantastic. I hope they all receive Oscar noms.

    Saw The Master and it left me completely cold. Hated it.

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