Share

The State of the Race: Ruminating on Argo as The Frontrunner

Richard_Zanuck

Before I begin, let me explain. It’s true that we’ve reached the moment in every Oscar year where the pundits and the bloggers have thrown up their hands and decided, the Oscar race is over.  Argo will win Best Picture and for the win to make sense it has to take Screenplay, Editing and perhaps one other award — score? Supporting Actor? Sound? Something in me prevents me from being to give my prediction completely over to Argo yet and that’s a certain nagging feeling that comes from looking at Oscar history.

Argo’s a great choice to win.  If it does split and make history, no harm done.  It’s not an embarrassment.  Freaky Oscar years do happen and it’s only when we look at them in retrospect that we use them to compare with today.  For instance, this NY Times piece about Driving Miss Daisy makes it seem obvious the film is a favorite to win and doesn’t make a big deal about the lack for a director nod but that’s because the movie was a bit of a phenom — led the nominations, made a lot of money, was about to win Jessica Tandy her first Oscar in decades and was a hit play on Broadway for years.

The thing about Driving Miss Daisy was that it was produced, famously, by Richard and Lili Zanuck — they were famous enough, like Ben Affleck and George Clooney are famous enough, to override the lack of a director nomination which could prove to be the key to this whole thing.  They also had a great story about a movie no one wanted to make, low budget, huge hit. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’d be Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg for Lincoln — a movie nobody wanted to make, a famous producing pair and Kennedy, the most nominated producer in history not yet winning an Oscar.

But back then, when Driving Miss Daisy won, the Oscars themselves weren’t an industry. They weren’t a reality show — they rewarded films that did well with the public first.  Now, the public are an afterthought in what is an insular awards industry.  If it was up to the (American) public, Lincoln would win hands down, a recent poll and a box office take of $170 million, in or very near the top ten for 13 weeks tells us so. But the industry doesn’t agree.

And yes, I will admit a certain bias up front for Lincoln.   Most will write me off for that reason. But if you don’t feel like writing me off and you’d like to hear my thoughts on this, read on.

Once we have a precedent-breaking year we simply have to redefine the precedents.  No woman had won before Bigelow. But not all precedents are measured alike. Having lesser nominations and no director nomination is not a history-making choice in a good way. It’s saying that the Academy got it wrong when they didn’t have the guilds to guide them.    I am not sure that is a precedent the Academy wants to set. But we all know most voters won’t think of it that way. They will just, simply, pick the movie they liked best. So why didn’t they pick Argo for more than 7 nominations if they liked it that much? Does the heart have a change of heart if the movie they liked heading in loses “buzz”? Is that how you explain the turnaround?

Since 1967, in split years, Best Picture or Best Director went to the films with the most nominations.  That would support an Argo/Spielberg split.  Splits usually occur when there are two strong films in the race. So far, we have no proof that Lincoln is particularly strong in the best director regard.  On the other hand, almost everyone is predicting Steven Spielberg to get the win. So if Spielberg gets the win, and Tony Kushner gets the win for screenplay and Daniel Day-Lewis the win for actor — how is it Lincoln isn’t going to win Best Picture?  If Lincoln wins only actor that opens the door for a strong Picture/Director film to step up and that could be Silver Linings Playbook or Life of Pi. Hell, Beasts of the Southern Wild could win.  It’s that wide open.

I lived through the Pianist year and I remember how it caught fire at the last minute heading into the race.  We don’t have a film like that in this year’s race, Amour would be the closest.  That’s why I can make the case that Amour could win Director, Screenplay and Actress while Argo wins Best Picture.

In the most recent split years, the films with the MOST NOMINATIONS heading into the race won Best Picture or Best Director — that does favor Spielberg — Crash vs. Brokeback Mountain, Reds vs. Chariots of Fire for director.  But I still think he would have won the DGA as Warren Beatty, Ang Lee did.

The more likely scenario is the DGA DOESN’T predict the split for Best Picture:

  • When Ang Lee won for DGA+Oscar for Brokeback Mountain and Crash won Best Picture.
  • When Driving Miss Daisy won, Oliver Stone won DGA+Oscar – that’s partly because Bruce Beresford wasn’t nominated for the DGA but we’ll never know will we.  That split and history making year was preordained when Driving Miss Daisy won the Globe without a director’s nomination.
  • When Warren Beatty won for Reds DGA+Oscar and Chariots of Fire won Best Picture.
  • When Mike Nichols won for The Graduate and In the Heat of the Night won Best Picture.

So now you’ll say, well none of those years really matter because there were only five Best Picture nominees. And yes, that’s partly true.  So let’s look at the split years when they had more than five (with five best director nominees, not four or three).

1939 –Rebecca-11 nominations, 2 wins – picture, cinematography
Grapes of Wrath-7 noms, 2 wins–supporting actress, director
The Letter-7 noms, 0 wins
The Philadelphia Story — 6 noms, 2 wins-actor, screenplay
The Long Voyage Home–6 noms, 0 wins
Foreign Correspondent–6 noms, 0 wons
Our Town — 6 noms, 0 wins
The Great Dictator–5 noms, 0 wins
Kitty Foyle–5 noms, 1 win–best actress
All this and Heaven too-3 noms, 0 wins

1936  – The Life of Emile Zola–10 noms, 3 wins–picture, screenplay, supporting actor
A Star is Born–7 noms (plus honorary win) 1 win–screenplay
Lost Horizon–7 noms, 2 wins– art direction, editing
The Awful Truth–6  noms, 1 win for director
In Old Chicago-6 noms, 2 wins — supporting actress, assistant director
The Good Earth–5 noms, 2 wins — cinematography, actress
One Hundred Men and a Girl–5 noms, 1 win for score
Captains Courageous–4 noms, 1 win for actor
Dead End–4 noms, 0 wins
Stage Door–4 noms, 0 wins

1935
The Great Ziefeld–7 noms – 3 wins — picture, dance direction, actress
Anthony Adverse-7 noms – 4 wins-supporting actress, editing, score, cinematography
Dodsworth-7 noms, 1 win art direction
San Francisco-6 noms, 1 win sound
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town–5 noms, 1 win–director
The Story of Louis Pasteur-4 noms, 3 wins–actor, writing/story
Romeo and Juliet — 4 noms, 0 wins
Three Smart Girls, 3 noms, 0 wins
A Tale of Two Cities–2 noms, 0 wins
Libeled Lady-1 nom, 0 wins

The truth is, no one really knows what movie is going to win.  No one knows what anyone in any category will be when those envelopes are opened. The Academy pulled a major surprise when they pushed the date back to being before the guilds. Did they do this to create what we have right now? Utter chaos and confusion? Or did they give us time to ruminate on what had just won the guilds.  And if we have time to think about it, what then?

Will voters go back and look at Lincoln a second time? Will they dig their heels in? Will they watch Robert De Niro cry on Katie and decide to give Silver Linings their vote on the basis of extraneous popularity appeal?  It’s anyone’s game, my friends, anyone’s game.  And these days, the campaigns decide the race, not the films.  Sadly.

At the end of the day, precedents were made to be broken.  This could indeed be one of those crazy years we look back on to compare confusing scenarios we’re faced with.  But for me, I have to adhere to the stats in the face of confusion – I am just built that way.

2012  Ben Affleck, Argo
2011 Michel Hazanavicious, The Artist Michel Hazanavicious, The Artist+
2010 Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech+
2009 Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker+
2008 Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire+
2007 Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country+
2006 Martin Scorsese, The Departed Martin Scorsese, The Departed+
2005 Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain* (Crash+)
2004 Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby Clint Eastwood, MDB+
2003 Peter Jackson, Return of the King Peter Jackson, Return of the King+
2002 Rob Marshall, Chicago Roman Polanski, The Pianist (Chicago)
2001 Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind+
2000 Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger Steven Soderbergh, Traffic (Gladiator)
1999 Sam Mendes, American Beauty Sam Mendes, American Beauty+
1998 Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan Steven Spielberg (Shakespeare in Love)
1997 Jim Cameron, Titanic Jim Cameron, Titanic+
1996 Anthony Minghella, English Patient Anthony Minghella, English Patient+
1995 Ron Howard, Apollo 13 Mel Gibson, Braveheart+
1994 Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump+
1993 Seven Spielberg, Schindler’s List Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List+
1992 Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven+
1991 Jonathan Demme, Silence of the Lambs Jonathan Demme, Silence of the Lambs +
1990 Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves+
1989 Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July (Driving Miss Daisy – director Beresford not nommed for Oscar or DGA)
1988 Barry Levinson, Rain Man Barry Levinson, Rain Man+
1987 Bernardo Bertolucci, Last Emperor Bernardo Bertolucci, Last Emperor+
1986 Oliver Stone, Platoon Oliver Stone, Platoon+
1985 Steven Spielberg, Color Purple Sidney Pollack, Out of Africa+
1984: Milos Forman, Amadeus Milos Forman, Amadeus+
1983: James Brooks, Terms of Endearment James Brooks, Terms of Endearment+
1982: Richard Attenborough, Gandhi Richard Attenborough, Gandhi+
1981: Warren Beatty, Reds Warren Beatty, Reds (Chariots of Fire)
1980: Robert Redford, Ordinary People Robert Redford, Ordinary People+
1979: Robert Benton, Kramer Vs. Kramer Robert Benton, Kramer Vs. Kramer+
1978: Michael Cimino, Deer Hunter Michael Cimino, Deer Hunter+
1977: Woody Allen, Annie Hall Woody Allen, Annie Hall+
1976: John Avildson, Rocky John Avildson, Rocky+
1975: Milos Foreman, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Milos Foreman, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest+
1974: Frances Coppola, Godfather II Frances Coppola, Godfather II+
1973: George Roy Hill, The Sting George Roy Hill+
1972: Frances Coppola, The Godfather Bob Fosse, Cabaret (Godfather)
1971: William Friedkin, The French Connection William Friedkin, The French Connection+
1970: Franklin J. Schaffner, Patton Franklin J. Schaffner , Patton+
1969: John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy+
1968: Anthony Harvey, Lion in Winter Carol Reed, Oliver+
1967: Mike Nichols, The Graduate Mike Nichols, The Graduate (In Heat of the Night)
1966: Fred Zinneman, A Man for all Seasons Fred Zinneman, A Man for all Seasons+
1965: Robert Wise, The Sound of Music Robert Wise, the Sound of Music+
1964: George Cukor, My Fair Lady George Cukor, My Fair Lady+
1963: Tony Richardson, Tom Jones Tony Richardson, Tom Jones+
1962: David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia+
1961: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise, West Side Story Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise, West Side Story+
1960: Billy Wilder, The Apartment Billy Wilder, The Apartment+
1959: William Wyler, Ben Hur William Wyler, Ben Hur+
1958: Vincent Minnelli, Gigi Vincent Minnelli, Gigi+
1957: David Lean, Bridge on the River Kwai David Lean, Bridge on the River Kwai+
1956: George Stevens, Giant George Stevens, Giant (Around/World in 80 Days)
1955: Delbert Mann, Marty Delbert Mann, Marty+
1954: Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront+
1953: Fred Zinnemann, From here to Eternity Fred Zinnemann, From here to Eternity+
1952: John Ford, The Quiet Man John Ford, The Quiet Man (Greatest Show on Earth)
1951: George Stevens, A Place in the Sun George Stevens, A Place in the Sun (An American in Paris)
1950: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve+
1949: Robert Rossen, All the King’s Men Joseph L. Mankiewicz for A Letter To Three Wives (All the King’s Men)
1948: Joseph L. Mankiewicz for A Letter To Three Wives John Huston, Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Hamlet)
1947 Elia Kaza for Gentleman’s Agreement
1946 William Wyler for The Best Years of Our Lives
1945 Billy Wilder for The Lost Weekend
1944 Leo McCary for Going My Way
1943 Michael Curtiz for Casablanca
1942 William Wyler for Mrs. Miniver
1941 John Ford for How Green Was My Valley
1940 John Ford for The Grapes of Wrath (Rebecca)
1939 Victor Flemming, Gone with the Wind
1938 Frank Capra, You Can’t Take it With You
1937 Leo McCary, The Awful Truth (The Life of Emile Zola)
1936 Frank Capra, Mr. Deed Goes to Town (The Great Ziegfeld)
1935 John Ford, The Informer (Mutiny on the Bounty)
1934 Frank Capra, It Happened One Night
1933 Frank Lloyd, Calvalcade

137 Comments on this Post

  1. Wouldn’t we have to wait UNTIL the BAFTA to see what film is catching fire at the very end? That’s how The Pianist made some eyebrows rise.

  2. Sasha I see what you mean about Argo having fewer nominations and therefore setting a bad precedent. But what I like is that most the noms it got were explainable. I.e. remember when Good Night and Good Luck got an Art Direction nomination for basically doing a 50s studio and a 50s bar? I thought that was overkill, and while I think Arkin, and the Sound noms are overkill, Argo is getting the nominations it deserves. It isn’t really eligible for Special Effects, or Costume Design, Production Design, or Cinematography. None of those factors in the film should be technical achievements. They should be competent and not distracting. And so they are.

    I also see no problem with a precedent where films with fewer nominations are awarded Picture. I think that’d be a great precedent, and help smaller, more intimate films win, like the two films by Todd Field.

  3. Should’ve said – I also see no problem with a precedent where films with fewer nominations and no best director nom are awarded Picture. This is because just because the directors branch doesn’t nom a subtle film that may also require less technical ‘achievement’ shouldn’t stop a film from being considered best overall.

  4. Jerry Grant

    Really good and helpful overview—
    It’s going to be a strange year no matter what happens! (It always has been a strange year.)
    Either: Argo wins Picture, which would be odd for non-correlating director non-win
    Or: Lincoln wins Picture and Director, which would come out of the blue given it hasn’t won any of the major precedent awards.

    Yes, after all the guild awards, I too am beginning to see the former as more likely, but only by 65% to 35% or something like that. That scenario itself will be sure to be strange no matter how it plays out–whether Spielberg wins, or if someone else wins (Haneke, Lee, Russell). If Spielberg wins, it will be strange because “Lincoln” will probably have won all the major awards (Director, Screenplay, Actor–yes, I am insisting it must win Screenplay) without winning the big one. How very odd a thing, as Sasha puts it above. If someone else wins (Haneke, Lee, Russell), it will be strange because it will come out of nowhere (in a way that Polanski winning, for instance, was not “coming out of nowhere”). That would mean some kind of three-way split between Argo, Lincoln and whatever that third movie is (Silver Linings, Life of Pi, or Amour).

    My predictions:
    Picture – Argo
    Director – Spielberg
    Adapted Screenplay – Kushner

    It will disappoint me to not see Lincoln take the big one, but quite honestly, if Spielberg wins Director, that will be all it takes to make me happy on Oscar night.

  5. Yes Argo doesn’t have a director nom or most noms, but it has won GG, DGA, Critics Choice and SAG.

    History will show that if you win all these precursors, you can win BP without most noms or director noms.

    That’s a fine precedent to set.

    They vote for the film they want to vote for, they don’t sit there and overanalyze like we do

  6. rufussondheim

    I really tire of the notion that just because a cinematographer didn’t nominate Argo that he didn’t like the film. I liked Deakins work in Skyfall above any picture this year, does that mean I want Skyfall to win Best Pic? Or course not. It just means I liked the cinematography more.

    Likewise, the costumes and set design of Anna Karenina are amazing. Does that mean I like the movie more than The Perks of Being a Wallflower? Of course not.

    A nomination in the tech categories just means that the Academy sub-group thought that was nomination-worthy, it does not mean that the sub-group thought it was the Best Pic of the year.

    Yeah, I know, very often the movie with the most nominations wins and that could lead someone to think that all of those tech nominations means it’s a better movie. Who knows? Maybe some people do think that way. They shouldn’t.

  7. And how the hell did DMD get the most noms or win BP. The worst BP choice I’ve seen

  8. The Last Emperor did not do well with the public first.

  9. Good point Georges – Life of Pi seems most likely in that sense.

  10. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    History will show that if you win all these precursors, you can win BP without most noms or director noms.

    That’s a fine precedent to set.

    It’s a terrible precedent to set. Why even both having an Academy if the guilds decide?

  11. If nomination count is so important than you’re justifying The King’s Speech’s win over The Social Network. 12 over 8.

    Every year a certain element is trotted out to support one’s stumping for their BP nominee (top 10 lists, aggregates, nomination support, guild support, box office). Whatever’s available. So if Lincoln is your horse, it’s all about nomination count and box-office. If Lincoln made only $100M but $500M worldwide, it would all be about international receipts. If watching Lincoln cured narcolepsy, it would all be about how Lincoln is the only movie which treats sleeping disorders unlike Argo, etc.

  12. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Georges, not true. The Pianist was driving hard before the BAFTAs. Also the BAFTAs only shifted their date to being before the Oscars in 2000. So they didn’t really have a lot of influence then.

  13. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    And how the hell did DMD get the most noms or win BP. The worst BP choice I’ve seen

    It had an amazing “Oscar story.” It was totally the little movie that could and had Jessica Tandy winning her first Oscar in many decades after decades.

  14. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    The Last Emperor did not do well with the public first.

    True but it didn’t split pic/director either.

  15. Why even both having an Academy if the guilds decide?

    Because one is for those in your immediate profession (and artistic union) to laud you, and the other is for the industry as a whole to decide.

  16. Ed kargir

    Period films are always going to get more nominations over a film like slp which is not going to be nominated for com,costumed or sets . This year the best film Bosw got the least amount of nominations should havebeen nominated for score editing and bda.

  17. The Last Emperor was also a fluke in the regard of BO, wouldn’t you agree? Forrest Gump was the end of that era of public approval first you wrote of, Sasha. Then it became spotty (titanic, 2000 – 2003). Of course, the Internet and other distractions were emerging. This was also the rise of miramax. One could argue that despite its popularity, they used the awards circuit for the first time in a way that had never been done with The English Patient. No? And then repeated that formula several t

  18. Bryce Forestieri

    Is it too late now for ya’ll (Sasha and Ryan) to make a post of your 2012 Top 10’s? I never got to share mine and I’m sure a lot of people on here had theirs ready…

  19. … Times.

    Anyway, you have to give props to Argo for being the uncommon film to win BP (if it does) despite being released before November. Being able to sustain enough buzz to be relevant in the awards circuit requires more of movies not released during the holidays.

  20. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Last Emperor was a huge fluke. I remember it being kind of a shocker at the time.

  21. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Because one is for those in your immediate profession (and artistic union) to laud you, and the other is for the industry as a whole to decide.

    No, most of these guilds are modern inventions — the awards I mean. SAG and PGA are pretty young. Eddie, DGA, WGA are older. This whole guilds sweeping then winning Oscar thing is a new invention that came about after they changed the date. Before that, there were two major influencers – the DGA and the critics. The Academy usually made the final decision. Now, the guilds pressure and decide for the Academy. I would like to see them rebel (unless they really do like Argo best)

  22. It’s hard to believe that Chariots of Fire beat Reds, which is a masterpiece in many of the same ways that Lincoln is a masterpiece. I still think Lincoln could win, but lately I get a gut feeling that it will be The Silver Linings Playbook.

  23. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Not to mention that just about any person can get into the guilds; not just anybody can get into the Oscars. As I said, what’s the point of having an Academy then.

  24. Sasha – I think the point about the BAFTAs is not only about timing in the season, but also an indication of support not reflected through the guilds. Argo may very well win there too (that nod for Affleck in lead shows strength), but it could be where Life of Pi’s remarkable popularity abroad really proves significant in the scope of the awards season.

  25. “Not to mention that just about any person can get into the guilds; not just anybody can get into the Oscars. As I said, what’s the point of having an Academy then.”

    This is exactly why people are getting ahead of themselves when calling the race over. That directing omission for Argo might just be one branch going their own way. But its possible that it reflects a preferential difference from the guilds to the more distinguished body that makes up the Academy. And if that’s the case, is it Lincoln, Life of Pi or Silver Linings Playbook that walks away with it?

  26. Not to mention that just about any person can get into the guilds; not just anybody can get into the Oscars. As I said, what’s the point of having an Academy then.

    Yeah, the Oscars are the oldest and most prestigious cinematic awards in the world. If they’re taking direction from the guilds (or pressure as you call it), that’s their problem. But the Guilds are more of a specialty for each field then the Oscars themselves (in terms of voting, not nominating). If I was anything but a sound guy in AMPAS, and I saw that the Sound Mixing Guild decided something was the best, I’d follow that lead. But I’m not sure that for the ‘big awards’ – acting, directing, picture, writing – are as beholden to that. That stuff is more subjective, less technical (or less seemingly technical).

    But I don’t get it – you say that ‘just about any person can get into the guilds’, and that the guilds lead-up is a younger development in the Oscar race. So why would you NOT endorse the idea that the Academy ignores the Guilds and votes however it wants? Who needs precedent, especially in the arts?

  27. “If it was up to the (American) public, Lincoln would win hands down, a recent poll and a box office take of $170 million, in or very near the top ten for 13 weeks tells us so. But the industry doesn’t agree.”

    thanks god, the academy doesnt follow public polls, box office numbers or how many weeks a movie is near top10.

  28. Although it would seem weird for Lincoln to win director, actor and adapted screenplay and lose best picture, it’s happened before. The Pianist won those very 3 awards and lost to Chicago. BUT…this year should never be treated like any other year.

  29. I have watched the Oscars since 1985 very closely. I also was a distant spectator in this particular year, which is indeed the strangest I can recall. At this stage I am totally convinced that Lincoln will be the big winner of the the evening. To be absolutely clear, I have neither seen Lincoln nor Argo nor any other of the nominated films (at least not yet, blame the late DVD release in Europe). But I cannot see any other category in which Argo could succeed. In particular Tony Kushner should be a lock in the adapted screenplay category. And I cannot believe that Argo can win BP if it does not win anything else, while Lincoln will win at least actor, supporting actor and screenplay. Not sure about Spielberg winning director, but it should have BP in the bag.

  30. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Ben it would be fantastic to see life of Pi win a major award.

  31. @Stefan

    sorry, but how can you rate these movies if you havent seen any of them???

  32. As I said earlier, I’m still fairly certain that Lincoln WILL sweep the Oscars and all this Argo-love is actually good news for Spielberg and co.. This was the ONLY way that a prestige pic of THIS epic proportions (basically you needed at least a Golden Globe just to change the toilet paper on set) could actually become ‘the scrappy underdog’ of the season. In my opinion, NOW that powerful sense of injustice previously owned exclusively by Argo, could easily land in the hands of the Lincoln-people and the most crucial part ? If that happens, the timing will be EXCELLENT, the Oscar-voting starts next week and since Lincoln has failed to win anything ‘big’ so far, it can actually count on sympathy votes, something it wouldn’t have had, had it become the obvious frontrunner instantly, a status it so richly deserves. I think it will win Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Lead Actor the very least, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Supporting Actor, Original Score, Editing, Cinematography happened, as well.

    My only fear is that since the Academy LOVED Silver Linings Playbook considerably more than any other organization and – of course – Weinstein and co. are campaigning their asses off not to mention it is now a BIG Box Office hit (100M+++), the endgame might be a SIL/SPR kind of split which I would find remarkably insulting because A. as far as Weinstein-crowdpleasers with agressive Oscar-campaigns go, Shakespeare in Love was at least an excellent movie with great writing, elegant directing and top-notch production values and IMO Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t have any of those (though like SIL, it did feature great performances) and B. if THE great ones (Lincoln, Life of Pi, Amour) will lose, at least they should lose to a GOOD if not great film (Argo) instead of an arguably mediocre one (Silver Linings Playbook). And I can tell you right now what my biggest problem with SLP is : it will NOT age well. Even with all the SPR-controversy, Shakespeare in Love aged beautifully, and I could be wrong but to me SLP is already a loveandotherdrugsesque calculated little romcom (slash shameless Oscar-bait) taking itself WAY too seriously. My two cents.

  33. Paul Voorhies

    It’s an interesting, if convoluted read. I think it’s quite possible that Lincoln will win The Oscar. We usually get a whammie or 2.

    I say it’s down to Argo and Lincoln, and I’d give Argo a 52% chance to win. But, yeah, don’t write Lincoln off, or, for that matter, Sally Field out. Would it really surprise anyone if Lincoln does win?

  34. Ben, very simple, I do not rate them at all (at least not yet). But is it really about being “the BEST”? Then I missed something. Last year I had not seen The Artist, but I knew that it would win. Having seen all of last year’s contenders, now I would say that Hugo was clearly the best. So what?

  35. Sorry, I meant phineas.

  36. Argo haters are really desesperate.
    And, in the end, it’s very funny.
    Kkkkkkkkk

  37. Tero Heikkinen

    I’m ready to see Argo being the BP winner with the least categories won – in years. It’s a fine film, so why not award it? I just feel like Academy’s Directors’ Branch might have made this happen – whether they like it or not.

    I’m gonna have a great evening if Amour wins at least 2 of its 4 categories. Hoping for four, but three is very much likely, too.

    I mean, how can they not give Riva the Oscar?. All voters will watch BP nominees and that should settle it. The other performances don’t come even close. “Sur le pont d’Avignon” scene alone is more challenging than the other four got to do in their own films. Not saying that they couldn’t. Saying that they didn’t.

  38. The thing with Argo is that it is not a good enough film on Academy merits. Because of this it missed critical nods – directing, cinematography, lead actor/actress, production design). We have to focus on why Argo is getting an enormous industry support despite all the weaknesses. I am not saying Lincoln is a masterpiece but we have to accept the fact that it is the more Academy friendly movie. So it is still the favorite.

  39. Paul Gibbs

    Most of the nominees are good films. Some, like “Argo”, are truly great. But “Lincoln” is extraordinary in every category, even some (such as makeup) wherr is was not nominated. A brilliant script that would qualify as one of the great American plays were it written for the stage. The best enaemble cast assembled since “The Godfather”. And a brilliant director reinventinf himself again by using his fondness for the stage to tell us a story about people, words and ideas as fluidly and conpellingly as he told stories about action or wonder.

  40. (1) I’m not rooting for Argo, but I don’t think it necessarily sets a bad precedent if it wins just because the directors ignored it. From all intents and purposes, that was a total fluke–even if Argo doesn’t win BP, Affleck had enough street cred to pull off a nomination, so I can’t call the snub anything but a fluke.

    Anyway, I don’t think it’s necessarily a terrible thing for there to be a faction of voters who were always pro-Argo and don’t let go simply because of the Best Director stat. It would be worse for people not to vote for their favorite simply because they don’t think it stands a chance–though that kind of strategic voting is inevitable.

    (2) Then again, fluke or no fluke, Affleck’s snub is weird and confusing, and at this rate, it will leave an irreparable taint on this year for all history, whichever way Picture and Director go. At least Driving Miss Daisy was an intimate character study, basically a filmed play set in a car, while there were big-name auteur-ish directors in the mix with more complex films. While I applaud Academy members’ willingness to vote against the Best Director snub, even if I disagree with it, Argo winning BP will be one for the ages, not simply because of the Director stat, but because Affleck was never expected to be snubbed. So we’ll never know if the BP win is due to genuine love among the Academy (minus the Directors Branch, perhaps), or because of a retaliatory pity party with more staying power than Apollo 13. Argo’s fans will be happy for its triumph, but the rest of us, even those of us who like Argo or don’t even mind it winning, will always question the Academy’s intentions. Maybe Argo doesn’t deserve that fate, BP win or not.

    (3) Speaking of Apollo 13, maybe Sasha knows the answer to this, but I suspect that the Academy’s membership has changed so much over the years (younger, more diverse, less established) that there may be more overlap between the guilds and the Academy. So I’d think we’re less likely to see an Apollo 13 scenario repeating itself where a film sweeps the (top) guilds, due in part to a backlash against a Best Director snub, and then still lose Oscar. If Argo has won this many awards and it appeals to the younger, hipper Academy member (who somehow preferred The King’s Speech to The Social Network and everything else that year), then I think the Academy in bulk just might love Argo as much as the guilds do.

    (4) Driving Miss Daisy is a lousy winner. A fine film, but a lousy winner for 1989, but that’s SO the Academy. Most of the lasting, important, or most critically acclaimed films that year weren’t even nominated, which of course clears the way for DMD to beat Born on the Fourth of July, My Left Foot, Dead Poets Society, and Field of Dreams — films which, while also “important” with a capital I or sentimental, didn’t have the scope, quality, or power to be memorable Best Pictures in their own right. MLF is great for DDL, but as an indie, it never would have won. BOTFOJ won for Oliver Stone, but why frankly? It’s not as good as the hype, and Tom Cruise couldn’t even win, nor should he have over DDL. I get why people love Field of Dreams, but it wasn’t even a big B.O. hit at the time, and I think it’s one of the weakest, least sensible BP nominees ever. And Dead Poets Society is solid, and I prefer it to DMD, but it’s the kind of auto-nominee, auto-loser that’s par for the course with the Academy. Not fitting into the Academy’s mold, but arguably worthier than the actual nominees, are such complex films as Henry V, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Glory, and Do the Right Thing, and timeless crowd-pleasers like When Harry Met Sally, The Little Mermaid, Steel Magnolias, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and even Batman. But the winner was DMD, and many fondly remember it. Just as many fondly remember The King’s Speech. The Academy does their own thing, sometimes in line with public opinion and box office, sometimes not. History is kind to some Best Pictures and deservedly critical of others. Nothing new here.

  41. Tero Heikkinen

    “…an arguably mediocre one (Silver Linings Playbook). And I can tell you right now what my biggest problem with SLP is : it will NOT age well.”

    Yeah, Phantom. I already forgot that film.

  42. Victor Barreto

    “And these days, the campaigns decide the race, not the films. Sadly.”

    I disagree. Wasn’t Mary Pickford, the second best actress winner, known for heavily campaigning through parties and gatherings with voters? I actually read once she bought the award. oO

    I believe the real “mistake” was ignoring Affleck for BD. Giving him the award for picture, liking Argo or not, totally seems like something the Academy would do. In other words, Zeitlin’s nomination is the real bizarre thing, not Argo winning, IMO.

  43. Bottom line ….. at the end of the day the AMPAS Director branch fucked up – leaving both Ben and Kathryn off their BD list was ridiculous – that is where your story is …… how did AMPAS get it so WRONG!!!!

    And on a final note – I think there should be ways that those voting on the 8th SHOULD be able to turn it around if there is enough opposition.

    YOU MESSED UP OSCAR!!!!!

  44. @GlennUK – Academy quite correctly chose the better directorial efforts in Zeitlin and Haneke instead of Bigelow and Affleck. I would definitely do the same if I were the Academy!

    So directing branch did the correct thing by not nominating Bigelow and Affleck.

  45. Glenn UK

    @Sammy

    In your humble opinion. But how do you then back that up with their no-shows elsewhere in the awards season?

  46. Tero Heikkinen

    Sorry to interrupt, but…

    Zeitlin, maybe, but Haneke was all over the place and I was predicting him over Russell, for example.

  47. Once Speilberg is attached to a movie, it feels like a bit of a stretch to call it one no one wanted to make.

  48. Glenn UK

    @Tero

    I should have made myself more clear – not so much the nomination but the wins!

  49. daveinprogress

    A couple of psychology 101’s:

    An Oscar voter has the ballot in front of them.

    What has occurred in the recent weeks? Media story writ large about snubs for Affleck, Bigelow, Hooper and Tarantino. Finds focus primarily on Affleck. Exacerbated by GG wins, PGA, DGA, SAG. The story increasingly is the ‘overlooked Director of Argo wins everything’.

    If a voter is one of the 5600 that was not part of the director’s branch, and are faced with their ballot paper – do they: 1 Worry that others are going to over compensate for Ben’s omission by necessarily putting Argo at the top?

    2 Do they NOT want to follow the perceived trend in everybody following suit and awarding the same movie the top prize? Or do they simply follow what has occurred believing they got it wrong in not nominating the director of their best film of the year? I don’t think they will. An ego is a potent thing.

    There may be 6000 of them, but THEY believe that their Academy stands for something, and by changing the timeline of events, they unwittingly altered both the outcome and the race overall by shifting the order of events that have in the past decade (SAG and BAFTA dates) been the way the race has unfolded. Whether AMPAS members read blogs or Hollywood writers or not, the media saturation of a 2013 is a far cry from the 1989 or 1998 or even 2005 years. They would have to be living under a rock to not be at least swayed one way or another with their vote THIS year. And too much time to reflect on it, and too much chatter, for it to be as clear cut as it might have been in previous years.

    Personally i am leaning towards a Lincoln BP/BD double, and that may be a conservative prediction at this point with all we know, but that’s my point – it is a mess and it hasn’t been clear or usual. I could see several outcomes on Oscar night. BP/BD Life of Pi (A Last Emperor type win); or a Silver Linings win BP, and Lincoln or Pi Directing split. I just don’t see O Russell winning; but i can see the movie doing so. I can also see Argo winning BP and Spielberg or Lee directing win.

  50. Victor Barreto

    I believe Haneke would enter no matter what, and he deserves the nomination. When I say Zeitlin is the “cuckoo in the nest”, it’s based on this logic:

    – Spielberg and Ang Lee would be nominated no matter what;
    – David O. Russell had good chances due to the Wein$tein$;
    – Haneke would enter as the director of the most critically acclaimed movie of the year, kinda like Julian Schnabel or Peter Greengrass did not many years ago;

    There were FOUR logic possibilities left. Tarantino, Affleck, Bigelow and Hooper. Zeitlin somehow topped all of these, and I’m not questioning which deserved more, just which had more chances. This was one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen on the Oscars.

  51. daveinprogress

    It’s been mentioned before, but if there were only 370 or so in the director’s branch of AMPAS voting and this was a bumper year with directing contenders Lee, Spielberg, Affleck, Bigelow, Tarantino, Russell, Hooper, Zetlin, Haneke, Anderson x 2 (Paul Thomas and Wes) and others, and you only have 5 slots – it is probably a handful of votes that separates someone being nominated to someone being overlooked (or several somebodys overlooked).

    AMPAS created the issue – expanding Best Picture to 10 or some number betwene 5 and 10, but leaving other categories on 5. Unwittingly they have created this bizarreyear with their own changes and announcements.

  52. “In other words,

    Zeitlin’s nomination is the real

    bizarre thing, not Argo winning,

    IMO.”

    Victor, sure.
    Any blind can see this.

  53. I’m sure Argo can win with even fewer than that, Sasha. I’m wondering about maybe just Picture and Editing. It’s even possible that it could win Picture alone. Just as the separate branches voted not for their favourite films but their favourite achievements in their field at nomination stage, they could vote Argo for Picture, then Lincoln for Adapted Screenplay, Zero Dark Thirty for Editing, Life of Pi for Score etc.

    Lincoln winning Director, Actor and Screenplay wouldn’t be so unusual. The Pianist pulled that off, and Traffic won all four of its other nominations (Director, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay and Editing), just not Picture.

    BAFTA announcing two days after ballots are sent out might make its influence particularly pertinent this year. If they pick Argo (and they probably will), this won’t change much. They surely won’t pick Lincoln (no Director nod, of course). If they pick Life of Pi, look out!

    I think BAFTA is important because it’s the institution most similar to AMPAS in terms of membership. Similar sizes, similar compositions of memberships, similar tastes. Oscar Surprises are often forecasted at BAFTA: Alan Arkin, Marion Cotillard and Tilda Swinton, Meryl Streep (arguable), The Pianist.

  54. Unwittingly they have created this bizarreyear with their own changes and announcements.

    I think Argo would have been nominated even with a slate of five Best Picture nominations, and the same situation would have unfolded. But, certainly, the date change affected the race massively. They went their own way (the directors and actors branches, particularly) more than in all recent years.

    Can people please stop declaring that the Academy got it wrong in leaving Ben Affleck (and Kathryn Bigelow) off? Their nominations are their prerogative, and if the directors don’t want to nominate them, that’s their decision to make. It’s the right decision as long as it’s an honest decision, and there’s no evidence to suggest that it isn’t.

  55. Zeitlin and Haneke aren’t a problem. It was a massive year, there were bound to be cruel snubs. My problem is David O. Russell. He made the cut instead of 1. Kathryn Bigelow 2. Paul Thomas Anderson 3. Ben Affleck. I wasn’t even a big fan of Django Unchained or Les Misérables, but I would have preferred either Tarantino or Hooper over Russell.

  56. I would have preferred either Tarantino or Hooper over Russell.

    I would have preferred Pete Travis for Dredd. I would have preferred Barry Levinson for The Bay. I would have preferred just about anybody.

  57. Victor Barreto

    David O. Russell probably made it due to the Weinsteins heavy support for SLP this year. Like Jacki Weaver.

  58. Victor Barreto

    Fabio, just read other posts on this topic and you will see it’s far from being a consensus.

  59. Tero Heikkinen

    Does anybody like SLP on this website? :D

    Yes, all 5 nominated directors are fine, but in hindsight I’d change Russell for someone else, too. Probably Affleck (at least after all these guilds), because I really do believe that Bigelow had to deal with gender issues. Academy can’t admit that they only like this ONE particular female director so much. There has not been many female directors nominated in the past, and this is not going to change any time soon. And they already awarded one (yes, that one), so they are safe now.

  60. Bryce Forestieri

  61. I agree that David O. Russell should not be nominated. He should win.

  62. Bryce Forestieri

    I understand it’s past the time for any 2012 list but since there never was an official thread for that I might as well enter mine in a “State of the Race” thread. Seems vaguely appropriate. At first I thought top 50?! Nonsense, and I tried to chop it down to 30 but then I couldn’t, I promise I couldn’t :P I even tried to get rid of two titles not to force any ties but then I couldn’t again. Anyways, the star rating is the one I gave them right after I saw them the first time so the disparity is due to change of opinions and other consideration. I’ve seen most of them more than once already. As you can see I tend to like most kinds of films better than most everyone <3
    There's a couple of 2011 titles that I only saw last year but here it is:

    2012 Top 50

    1. Amour ★★★★★
    2. In the Family ★★★★★
    3. Moonrise Kingdom ★★★★★
    4. No ★★★★★
    5. Django Unchained ★★★★★
    6. The Master ★★★★★
    7. Lincoln ★★★★★
    8. Cloud Atlas/Prometheus [yes, tie!] ★★★★★
    9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower ★★★★★
    10. Looper ★★★★★
    11. Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo ★★★★★
    12. The Dark Knight Rises ★★★★★
    13. Cosmopolis ★★★★★
    14. Rust and Bone ★★★★★
    15. Bullhead ★★★★★
    16. Holy Motors ★★★★★
    17. Después de Lucía ★★★★★
    18. Beasts of the Southern Wild ★★★★★
    19. End of Watch ★★★★★
    20. Tabu ★★★★★
    21. The Raid ★★★★★
    22. Magic Mike ★★★★
    23. Mirror Mirror ★★★★
    24. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns ★★★★★
    25. Silver Linings Playbook ★★★★
    26. Keep the Lights On ★★★★★
    27. Headhunters ★★★★
    28. Barbara ★★★★★
    29. Zero Dark Thirty ★★★★
    30. Chronicle ★★★★
    31. 21 Jump Street ★★★★
    32. Cabin in the Woods ★★★★
    33. The Avengers ★★★★★
    34. Frankenweenie/ParaNorman [yes, tie!] ★★★★★
    35. Dredd ★★★★
    36. Bernie ★★★★
    37. Killer Joe ★★★★
    38. Hope Springs ★★★★
    39. Haywire ★★★★
    40. Seven Psychopaths ★★★★
    41. Wreck-It Ralph ★★★★★
    42. Rurouni Kenshin ★★★★
    43. Compliance ★★★★★
    44. The Secret World of Arrietty ★★★★
    45. Oslo, 31 August ★★★★★
    46. The Paperboy ★★★★
    47. Arbitrage ★★★★
    48. Ernest & Celestine ★★★★★
    49. Flight ★★★★
    50. Killing them Softly ★★★★

  63. Edward Copeland

    There would be broken precedents, new records or new members to exclusive clubs the way things are set up this year. If Spielberg wins director, he will join Frank Capra and William Wyler as the only directors to win three directing Oscars and be one behind the recordholder, John Ford, who won four. If Daniel Day-Lewis wins, he will be the first actor to win three Oscars all in the lead category. Walter Brennan won three, all in supporting. Jack Nicholson has three, but one was in supporting. Among the ladies, Meryl Streep and Ingrid Bergman have three, but each includes a supporting win. Only the recordholder, Katharine Hepburn, won all four of her acting trophies in the lead category. If anyone other than Spielberg or Ang Lee wins best director, it will be the first time someone not nominated for the DGA won the Oscar. If Argo wins best picture, it will be only the fourth time in history that the best picture went to a film without a directing nomination. If somehow Amour won best picture or Michael Haneke won best director, it would be the first time a foreign language film won in either category. It’s a tricky game knowing when a precedent will be broken or when it will stand firm, but the best advice is to tune out the noise, keep previous awards in proper perspective and trust your instincts.

  64. Tero Heikkinen

    You should write to a magazine that really licks studios’ asses. The amount of stars would keep them happy and they would shower you with gifts. Not saying this in a negative way, btw.

    Quick check says that Cosmopolis is the one where we disagree the most. I gave it 2/5.

    At least you DO watch films. Could you name a couple of 2012 titles that are 1 or 2 star flicks?

  65. Bryce Forestieri

    @Tero

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2/5
    Total Recall 1/5
    Skyfall 2/5
    Ted 3/5

  66. “I lived through the Pianist year”

    Yours is the real story of triumph, Sasha.

  67. Tero Heikkinen

    Total Recall aside, I rank those three higher than you.

  68. I agree with CB regarding Argo’s nominations haul. Why does the BP winner need to have the most nominations (or close to it)? If anything, we need less coattails nominations at the Oscars, not more. I’m really tired of seeing the top three or four BP contenders coming out with tech nominations they weren’t deserving of (think Jacki Weaver, The King’s Speech for Best Sound Mixing, etc.). The best elements in any given film year never come from the same 10-12 films.

    And about all the talk of Kathleen Kennedy, let’s remember that this is the Academy and they go apesh-t for George Clooney. As big as the Zanucks or Kennedy are, he’s 3x as big at the Oscars.

  69. One could posit that this is the first year in which the directors branch has truly been honest, then.

  70. Also, Bryce, you are one positive boy! I couldn’t find the goodwill within myself to consider more than six films five-star-worthy last year, and that was pushing it!

  71. Jerry Grant

    Wow that is some 50-movie list. Does this mean we are allowed to share our top movies list? I feel very silly in comparison. I only have about 25 total, and only six that I would consider 4-stars, and nine that I would consider 3-and-a-half stars.

    Four Stars:
    1. Lincoln
    2. Zero Dark Thirty
    3. Silver Linings Playbook
    4. Django Unchained
    5. Life of Pi
    6. Argo

    Three-and-a-half Stars:
    7. The Master
    8. Les Miserables
    9. Seven Psychopaths
    10. The Impossible
    11. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
    12. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    13. Moonrise Kingdom
    14. The Sessions
    15. Cloud Atlas

    Have not seen “Amour” and many others

  72. Bryce Forestieri

    @Jerry

    The only bright side about living in North Carolina in terms of cinema is that you can anticipate all the titles that will never open anywhere near and then proceed to obtain them through any means possible. Easy, fast and cheap! :)

  73. David Lindsey

    Comment

  74. When “The Dark Knight” was snubbed in 2008 for Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture, there was an outcry that (probably is what) led to the rules being changed and the academy expanding the best picture field. Since best director wasn’t expanded there was always going to be a disconnect between best picture and best director (unless best picture worked out to 5 anyway). But it hasn’t been an issue bc Since the expansion, even though its been a short amount of time, Best Picture and Best Director matched up. Even when some people predicted a split, nobody was predicting a movie to win BP without best director. When People thought THR/Avatar would split both had BP/BD noms. TKS/TSN same thing, Artist/Descendants/Hugo, same thing. The expansion never really mattered when it came down to it bc the frontrunners that were being predicted were probably always going to be nominated in a year of 5. This is the first year where the expansion has been put to the test. We could see it not matter again if SLP, Lincoln or Life of Pi wins BP. IF Argo wins it will legitimize the expansion and prove that with an expanded best picture category, it is truly about the movie and not about the Movie AND Director, like it usually is. When ben affleck wasn’t nominated it led to a Dark Knight like outcry which is pretty much what responsible for the guild dominance. Momentum can change and another movie will win bp or argo will follow the guilds. Sasha, do you think if Argo does in fact win ( which shines more of a light on the Ben Affleck snub than Argo itself), like the dark knight leading to rules being changed, that next year we will see a similar rule change; best director being allowed to be more than 5 or possibly back to only 5 best pictures? Curious if you think anything will change in next years race due to all of the controversy in this years race.

  75. Tero Heikkinen

    Have to agree there. I’ve found two absolute five star films from 2012 so far (w/ about 20-30 potentially great films still unseen), usually it’s five tops for each year.

    I give four stars to MANY films.

  76. Jerry Grant

    I agree “There Will Be Blood” will outlive “No Country”. That is not to say anything bad about “No Country,” but just that TWBB just gets stronger and stranger with every viewing and with the passage of time. Surely top ten since the millennium, along with “Tree of Life,” “Brokeback,” and “Mulholland Dr”. I would also add “Children of Men”, “Moulin Rouge”, “Talk to Her”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Cache”, and I suppose a more personal choice is “Adaptation” over “Eternal Sunshine” (time will prove me right…there is no end to the scholarship that could be done on that masterwork).

  77. Jerry Grant

    @Bryce
    I live in North Carolina too, I guess I’m just way less diligent!

  78. rufussondheim

    Nice Bryce list, it reminded me of a couple of films that slipped through my fingers and failed to get onto my Netflix Queue. It also makes me want to move to NY or LA within walking distance of a good theater. Or win a billion dollars in the lottery so I can open a theater here in Suburban Philadelphia.

    I’ve just printed my top 20 elsewhere. Sadly, that’s about the cut off of where I can’t really recommend too much.

    By the way, I would gladly trade out Russell for Joachim Trier!

  79. Bryce Forestieri

    “Terms of Endearment is fondly remembered in the weak 1983, but David Cronenberg’s Videodrome is revered”

    Yess thank you

    “Cuckoo’s Nest is still considered great, but Barry Lyndon and Nashville even greater”

    Agree with this too..you just needed to say much much much greater.

  80. montgopl

    I think that the Oscar pundits got carried away with stats. In the end, after you award singular achievements, you just pick your favorite movie. That’s why I don’t mind Argo, if they think it’s deserving. 7 nominantions is a lot.

    That said, I think Haneke has a shot at Director. He has prestige clout going for him, it’s like giving an Oscar to Bergman Junior. In a split year, the Brits and other Europeans in the Academy might give him the gold. Amour is one of his lesser films to me, but that award would be a great pick to get serious again after Tom Hooper disaster.

    Actually, Argo and Haneke wins would be a great representation of two poles of moviemaking.

  81. Bryce Forestieri

    hey rufuss,

    What’d you think of At Swim, Two Boys? Wouldn’t it make a fine film adaption? If only Ken Loach (THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY) and Steve MacQueen (HUNGER) had a gay son.

  82. rufussondheim

    As for 5-star films, I would only give that to three films thus far – Zero Dark Thirty, Oslo August 31st, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I don’t like to give that designation to too many films, and I like to see them twice before I do.

    I also like it to be without too many flaws. Like I loved Liberal Artst to no end, but it has a lot of weak moments (kind of like Latter Days) but it spoke to me in ways I can’t really describe (‘I need to take you off postmodern authors”). And as I’ve said before, the final 5 or so minutes of Les Miz is gangbusters great but is that enough to raise it to five stars when much of the film is lucky to be three star material?

  83. I do NOT agree with Bette and Zach that DRIVING MISS DAISY was an “awful” winner. Not remotely. My two favorite films of 1989 are Branagh’s HENRY V and Greenaway’s THE COOK THE THIEF HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER, and I am a huge fan of DEAD POETS SOCIETY, DO THE RIGHT THING, FIELDS OF DREAMS, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, DRUGSTORE COWBOY, SANTA SANGRE, JESUS OF MONTREAL, MY LEFT FOOT, THE MATCH FACTORY GIRL, TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN!, MYSTERY TRAIN, MONSIEUR HIRE, A VILLAGE ROMEO & JULIET, THE LITTLE MERMAID, THE MAHABHARATA, SEX LIES AND VIDEOTAPE and of course DRIVING MISS DAISY, which would place in my Top 5.

    DRIVING MISS DAISY was victim to the inevitable backlash that accompanies a Best Picture winner, especially one that wins without a Direwctor nod, but few will remember that the film actually received very good reviews upon it’s release. Sure Kael and a few others were rough on it, but most acknowledges Alfred Uhry’s moving story, originally appearing as the off-Broadway play, and the delicacy of Bruce Beresford’s direction, which maximixed the Peach State setting with some dreamy visuals and the superb use of Antonin Dvorak’s “Hymn to the Moon” and a trio of extraordinary performances by Tandy, Freeman and Akroyd.

    Bette is right however in that Vanessa Redgrave’s accent was ineffective on stage, as I noted in my February 2011 review of the Broadway play with her and James Earl Jones:

    http://wondersinthedark.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/driving-miss-daisy-features-two-acting-icons-in-pulitzer-prize-winning-broadway-revival/

    (I am not trying to shamelessly promote an OLD review, and the fact that it is old is proof of that; I only link here to show I did see the stage show for comparative purposes)

    The material was as wonderful as ever in the stage show, but the film boasted the truly great performances that enhance it.

  84. rufussondheim

    I’ve not read At Swim, Two Boys, but it looks like I need to now. I trust you enough even though you have an enormously large like for Lincoln :)

  85. And I must say I do LOVE the lead-photo here of the Zanucks with their producing Oscars for DRIVING MISS DAISY!

  86. rufussondheim

    I’ve secured a copy, Bryce, and it is on my Kindle. Sadly it is #3 on my queue right now behind the latest Jonathon Kozol book, Ron Rash’s Serena (recommended by Ryan) and now this one.

    Sadly I am knee deep in current books, although I should finish a couple very shortly. The Fault in Our Stars is pure beauty, and I’m loving David Mitchell’s Number9Dream, a book I highly recommend to fans of Cloud Atlas (same author)

    I’m also reading the monstrous The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss and that silly book Team of Rivals that’s pretty obscure (at least in these parts)

    So hopefully I will get to it by the end of the month, Bryce. I will let you know when I do.

  87. If Lincoln wins Director, 2 Acting awards, and a number of other awards, it can still lose Picture. Cabaret leaps to mind as an example.

  88. I don’t get it. If people are hesitant to predict Argo the winner because it has only 7 nods and none for Best Director, why is the default prediction Lincoln? Just because it has the most nominations? Life of Pi with 11 nods received all the nominations it could have possibly gotten. It had no shot at nominations in acting categories. Our best picture winner could also be Life of Pi.

  89. Victor Barreto

    Bette, loving your analyses, the way you remember past races is fascinating.

    Absolutely loved the fact Driving Miss Daisy might have won some votes as an excuse for Do the Right Thing not getting nominated. Even with Denzel winning s. actor that year, this seems very believable.

  90. Bryce Forestieri

    @rufuss

    Christ! I can barely do two at the time and the have to be non-ficition/fiction otherwise my brain fries. Right now: The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson/Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. And never know what I’ll read next.

  91. Top 10 for 1989:

    (anyone willing and able too are encouraged to provide there own as well; I love reading lists. Ha!)

    1. Henry V
    2. The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover
    3. Field of Dreams
    4. Driving Miss Daisy
    5. Dead Poets Society
    6. Do The Right Thing
    7. Jesus of Montreal
    8. Glory
    9. Crimes and Misdemeanors
    10. The Match Factory Girl/Santa Sangre (tie)

    CINEMA PARADISO is technically 1988 now, though back then it was considered 1989 by some critics. If it counts for 1989 it would probably be #1 or #2. But I do believe it is 1988 now, since it released in Italy that year.

  92. Pierre de Plume

    Bette, I admire your vast knowledge and passion. Sometimes I agree wholeheartedly with you, sometimes not. Although I don’t think Driving Miss Daisy was the best film of the year, I do think it’s a fine film.

    Thing is, the Academy has its own collective criteria for excellence (i.e., what is “best”). It’s different than yours, different than mine and most likely different than most of the people who visit this site. Like every institution in our society, the Academy is comprised of humans who are imperfect – some of them prejudiced, swayed politically, subject to petty impulses and even ignorance. We’re free to criticized as we see fit, but when you go after the Academy with a vengeance then what about Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, the Food & Drug Administration, our bank, the U.S. Congress and maybe even our parents or other relatives? I for one am not going to not watch the Oscars because the Academy has made some bad choices over the years. To me, it’s tradition, it’s fun and it’s kitsch.

  93. Beasts of the Southern Wild is a very good film, but it’s highly overrated. Affleck and Bigelow’s accomplishments far exceed Zeitlin’s and, even if you think Argo and Beasts are equal as far as directing prowess, you can’t argue that Affleck has done more to earn the nomination (Gone Baby Gone, The Town). When I believe two performances or two accomplishments to be equal, my vote goes to the choice that “deserves” it career-wise.

    Affleck should’ve been nominated. Do I think Argo should win? No. But this argument that Haneke and Zeitlin deserved it because they out forth BETTER directorial achievements than Affleck or Bigelow is asinine. Beasts is a mix of shaky-cam and stylistic choices aping Malick. Amour is not a director’s film at all, it’s a writer’s film.

  94. @rufussondheim

    So happy someone mentioned “Oslo, August 31″. It’s a remarkable film, one of the few I would give 5 stars – along with “Holy Motors” (my favorite), “No”, “Beyond the Hills” and “War Witch”.

  95. My 13 least favorite Best Pictures, in chronological order (but I haven’t seen them all):

    1. The Great Ziegfeld
    2. Gigi
    3. The Life of Emile Zola
    4. Lawrence of Arabia (I’m sure it’s just me)
    5. A Man for All Seasons
    6. Patton
    7. The French Connection
    8. Out of Africa
    9. Driving Miss Daisy
    10. The English Patient
    11. No Country for Old Men
    12. The Hurt Locker
    13. The King’s Speech

    Needless to say there are countless others I disagree with, but these are the weakest, though some of them are solid films.

    20 Best Pictures I agree with (always subject to change):

    1. Grand Hotel
    2. It Happened One Night
    3. You Can’t Take It With You (though Robin Hood was the original LOTR)
    4. Gone with the Wind
    5. Mrs. Miniver
    6. Casablanca
    7. The Apartment (not really over Psycho or L’Avventura, but this has grown into one of my favorite films)
    8. West Side Story
    9. The Sound of Music (sort of; not really over Repulsion, but again, among my favorites)
    10. The Godfather
    11. The Godfather Part II (I prefer it to Chinatown)
    12. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (tentatively ahead of Jaws)
    13. Annie Hall (this or Close Encounters of the Third Kind)
    14. The Deer Hunter (but really Grease is my favorite from that year)
    15. Dances with Wolves (maybe; preferred it to Goodfellas)
    16. The Silence of the Lambs (also Beauty and the Beast)
    17. Schindler’s List
    18. Forrest Gump
    19. Titanic
    20. Shakespeare in Love at the time (but now I prefer Run Lola Run and Pleasantville)
    21. Gladiator (also Almost Famous)
    22. A Beautiful Mind (also Moulin Rouge! and Mulholland Dr., which probably hold up better)
    23. Chicago
    24. LOTR: ROTK
    25. Crash (don’t. hate. me. It’s not like this is one of my enduring favorite films)
    26. Slumdog Millionaire
    27. Lincoln if it wins!

    So I often like Oscar’s choices, which is probably why I enjoy the Oscar race so much, year after year.

    But I would have hated to be Oscarwatching in the ’80s.

    More in line with the article, isn’t it telling that every year there’s a Picture/Director split, it’s unexpected? And every year we think, oh, they’ll split, one film dominates? Born on the Fourth of July was expected to beat Daisy; Saving Private Ryan was considered the frontrunner over Shakespeare in Love (though, come on, this was always a lot closer than anyone believed it to be); few were predicting Roman Polanski to win for The Pianist; nobody was predicting Crash. But people were hopeful for a King’s Speech/Fincher split after the BAFTAs. Many were vocal for Scorsese to win for Hugo last year even as The Artist was set to win, though I don’t think many were predicting a split. And Million Dollar Baby and Eastwood–I think more were predicting Eastwood than M$B. I can only imagine what people were predicting in the Apollo 13/Braveheart year or even Goodfellas/Dances with Wolves and Ordinary People/Raging Bull. (I can’t believe how long it took Scorsese to win.)

    The one time it split and everyone seemed to be calling a split was Gladiator/Soderbergh, even if people expected Ang Lee–but a very predictable outcome in hindsight.

  96. Good analysis – and reality check – Bette! Time always withers the pretenders.

    I wouldn’t change much on your 1988 list, Bryce. Maybe switch TCTTHWHL with Jesus of Montreal and unashamedly put Field of Dreams in the top spot and leave the rest.

    Books – I really hope someone has optioned Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. It would have to be someone “altmanesque” to be made properly. Another one (actually 3) begging to be filmed is Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy (PTSD/WWI/art&war/sexual identity/Brit class structure potboiler).

    Could never understand how people only read one book at a time. We can manage more than one TV series without mixing up the plots. Maybe it’s the lack of visuals.

  97. Zach – Can’t believe I’m not the only person alive who likes You Can’t Take It With You! You’re almost forgiven the Lawrence of Arabia lapse.

  98. rufussondheim

    Now with the advent of the Kindle (or any e-reader) I find it very easy to read multiple books at a time. I like reading just a chapter or two at a time, it allows me to savor it and toss it around and think about it before I plow onto the end.

    Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a great read. One of my faves I finished in 2012. I don’t like to call a book unfilmable, but I don’t know how one could film it properly. Someone Altmanesque as the director is the clear answer, but even that wouldn’t be entirely fitting. Sometimes a book just needs to remain a book. Maybe it will get some people to read.

    Speaking of movie adaptations, I would love to see The Fault in Our Stars made into a movie, and I’d love to see Ezra Miller play Gus. Whenever I read a book now and cast the film in my mind, Ezra Miller is always somehow involved.

  99. rufussondheim

    Oh, and it looks like Regeneration is now #4 in my queue. Ack! No one else recommend anything!

  100. rufussondheim

    I’ve never seen the film version of You Can’t Take it With You, but I did see a great community theater production of it. I’m surprised I’ve never gotten around to seeing the film.

  101. Michael Lewis

    What a year, what a year! First of all, you have to say that this is one of the most exciting Oscar seasons in recent memory. This year’s Oscar show will arrive with suspense and surprises galore. Great! Should help the TV ratings factor, too.

  102. Sasha Fucking Stone:
    “Argo’s a great choice to win.”

    Sold!!

  103. Going back to 1980, there’s a clear pattern: the majority of films that won Best Pic also won Dir & a Screenplay; Of the Best Films that didn’t win the “Triple Crown,” all but 4 of them had the most nominations (one of those 4 being “Brokeback Mountain”); Only 3 films have won Dir & Scrn but NOT Film (2 of those lost to films w/most noms, the other “Brokeback” we all know had homophobia at its roots).

    So the road ahead for a Best Film win for “Argo” is possible, but precedence is not on its side. “Lincoln” should win Director and Screenplay. If it loses Film, it will join “Brokeback,” “The Pianist” and “Traffic” as Dir and Scrn winners not winning Best Film… again, the latter two films lost to films with the most nominations, and “Lincoln” has the most nominations this year.

    Also, look at the caliber of films that won the ”Triple Crown” as opposed to those who didn’t. Which group do you see “Lincoln” belonging to? I guess I’m looking to anything for a “Lincoln” win, but if “Argo” does win, while very good, it would fit into that group on non-Triple Crown winners very comfortably.

    Best Films That Won Pic-Dir-Scrn
    The King’s Speech; The Hurt Locker; Slumdog Millionaire; No Country for Old Men; The Departed; LOTR: Return of the King; A Beautiful Mind; American Beauty; Forrest Gump; Schindler’s List; The Silence of the Lambs; Dances with Wolves; Rain Man; The Last Emperor; Out of Africa; Amadeus; Terms of Endearment; Gandhi; Ordinary People

    Best Films that didn’t win Triple Crown
    The Artist (10 nom, 5 wins) Hugo 11 noms
    Crash (5 nom, 3 wins) Brokeback Mountain 8 noms
    Million Dollar Baby (7 nom, 4 wins) The Aviator 11 noms
    Chicago (13 nom, 6 wins) most noms
    Gladiator (12 nom, 5 wins) most noms
    Shakespeare in Love (13 nom, 7 wins) most noms
    Titanic (13 nom, 11 wins) most noms
    The English Patient (12 nom, 9 wins) most noms
    Braveheart (10 nom, 5 wins) most noms
    Unforgiven (9 nom, 4 wins) most noms
    Driving Miss Daisy (9 nom, 4 wins) – most noms
    Platoon (8 nom, 4 wins) tie-A Room with a View 8 noms
    Chariots of Fire (7 nom, 4 wins) Reds 12 noms

    Films That Won Dir & Scrn but not Film
    Brokeback Mountain
    The Pianist
    Traffic

  104. 1. Victor, So, they’re all blind. Not for dob’ see a consensous, but for can’t see the truth.

    2. All this of Sight & Sound again? Oh nooooooo…

    3. Please, more respect to Terms of Endearment.

  105. Great piece Sasha, as usual. Now you just need to do another podcast with Craig and Ryan. I miss hearing your guys’ thoughts and hilarious banter.

  106. Joe Clinton

    All of this is very good news for SLP which has had never really been a frontrunner (once most of the contenders were released), and is just now peeking in popularity (2 months after its release). Never underestimate a Weinstein picture.

  107. I think Joe Clinton is on to something. I’m certain we haven’t seen Harvey’s big push yet, just bits here and there. Watch out when the final ballots are out on Friday – he’ll have 10 days to make his case when nobody else has any ammo left.

  108. When Picture and Director split, the “happy” film wins. The “better” director wins. Lincoln is better, but it’s also happy. Happy enough.

    Lincoln left me with more of a high than Argo: freeing the slaves vs. that ambiguous last scene with Affleck and the ending credits which admit Canada’s involvement.

  109. PaulinJapan

    Lots of deluded commenters on this site. Time to inject some reality via gambling odds with UK bookmakers.

    For Best Pic:
    Argo 1/4
    Lincoln 9/2
    All others 40/1 ~

    For Director:
    Spielberg 1/5
    Lee 6/1
    Others 8/1~

    Of course, they often get it wrong (which is how I make money this time of year).

    My money is on Argo, and at this stage it would be a shock if it doesn’t win. Still, I’ll not count my money until the envelope is opened. I only see it getting Editing beforehand, so many Argo haters will be hopeful their pony’s name will be called come the end of the ceremony…… but they’ll be disappointed!

  110. acmilan03c1

    Hmmm… I wonder what the odds were when Crash won… When Shakespeare in Love won… When Braveheart won…
    Yes, they FREQUENTLY get it wrong! And that’s exactly why it would be no shock, in fact, not even much of a surprise, if Argo were to lose. :) Well, it’s not just that, it’s mostly the stats, but it sounds better this way.
    Surprises happen, bro! Get over it! But, trust me, in a year like this, when the oh-so-big favorite hasn’t got a Best Director nomination and sits only in 5th on the most nominations list, nothing short of Beasts winning is a real surprise…

  111. When have the guilds not matched Best Picture in recent years? Crash, right? And even Crash had SAG. Has any film won Best Picture with NO guild awards? I’m just curious, as I’m in the Lincoln camp. But it seems a bit interesting that every time Argo wins, we hear “Well that was just Broadcast Film Critics, wait until the Globes…” Then the Globes go with Argo, and it’s “Well that was just the Globes, Producers Guild will even things up”- Argo wins again, then it’s “Well SAG ensemble will be Silver or Lincoln, Argo wasn’t about the actors”- and Argo won AGAIN, then it’s “Well Lincoln will def win Director’s Guild, they know Ben Affleck isn’t up for an Oscar…”- and again Argo wins. Now it’s “The Writer’s Guild awards will be telling, and BAFTA.”

    I just have a bad stomach ache that Argo will (sigh) win Writer’s Guild too, and BAFTA, and Oscar. Though the Broadcast Film Critics and Globe awards were decided BEFORE nominations, I think Affleck’s snub helped fuel a backlash against the Spielberg team to cause people in the guilds to go Argo simply because it would be a “Fuck you Academy”. I mean I understand it winning the Producer’s Guild Award because it could be a favored film, but when it won Ensemble? Really? That smells more like a sympathy plea. Same with the Director’s Guild- the voters knew Affleck had no chance to win the Oscar but still voted for him? Huh? And this is the group that snubbed him. THAT kind of shit smells foul to me.

    You say Argo has to win more then Best Picture to justify it for the history books? Watch it win for Arkin, the screenplay and everything it’s up for. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if it went 7/7 come Oscar night- Sound and Sound Mixing are easy giveaways, and Original Score could also be celebrating the fact Alexander Desplat has yet to win despite being nodded so many times (though Thomas Newman is the true overlooked artist in that group). It just reeks an Argo Takes it All kind of year. The moment Argo won the Producer’s Guild, I knew it would take the SAG ensemble- it just seemed the ovations for Affleck will go on until he can’t win anymore.

    The biggest injustice will be Tony Kushner losing Adapted Screenplay. That will be the ultimate Damn It moment of the night. But Kushner is, in fact, a Hollywood outsider in a way- his only other credited film he wrote was Munich. That could be the reason voters also ignore his name. Remember the Guilds are about awarding who they think will win Best Picture, not who deserves it- otherwise explain Argo winning Ensemble, explain Slumdog in 2008 winning Ensemble. Seriously, it’s no longer about what is best in the category, it’s about What is the frontrunner to win Best Picture- and vote for it in everything possible to validate it’s success at the Oscars.

    I want more then anything to believe it’s all a big nightmare and Lincoln will prevail Oscar night. But right now I don’t see how all the guilds have gone one way and we are to believe the Oscar voters will say Lincoln instead. If they do, I will be the happiest man at the table to eat crow. But you get the feeling that this is Ben’s year, and voters are going to see fit he gets every cherry he can on the top of the sundae. Watch Alan Arkin win, Watch Adapted Screenplay go to Chris and not Tony, watch the sound awards be given here instead of the more deserving Zero Dark Thirty/Life of Pi. I’m telling you if Argo is winning Best Picture it’s winning everything else. It either will win Editing and nothing or Picture and everything. Lincoln is going to either win Actor for Lewis and nothing else, or Actor for Lewis and a lot of something else. It’s going to be ONE crazy ass night. I hope everyone has top shelf vodka ready, you’re certainly welcome to come to my place and share.

    One thing’s for certain- Sasha has every right to be perplexed and annoyed this awards season- this will go down in history as one of the strangest years to date, and if Argo gobbles everything up- it won’t look good down the line. Good luck everyone.

  112. PaulinJapan

    @acmilan. Crash was 20/1….. and I had money on that;)

    The prizes will be spread around this year. Argo Best Pic, Spielberg Best Director, some love for Pi in the technical categories, and SLP with an acting prize or two.

    Best Actress is still a race. I wouldn’t rule out Chastain just yet (though maybe wishful thinking as I backed her at 25/1 months ago!).

  113. Jason Travis

    @Bette: In what universe is Return of the King considered the weakest of the three LOTR films??? I don’t buy that for a second. Most if not all people agreed it was the best film of 2003, and even the New York Film Critics gave it their highest honor. It is the superior film in many ways, and most say Two Towers is the weakest.

  114. comedywontwin

    At this point of the race, and after all the major awards that Argo obtained….the best picture race is OVER. I see how Lincoln lovers are desparate, but is is really Over. With a director or without a director…a film can win best picture even without editing award, trends are broken especially after having unlimited best picture nominees….everything can go. Argo is best picture for 2012. End of Story.

  115. christiannnw

    I’m still not able to stomach the “Argo” gravy train that’s being enabled by the three major guilds and two localized precursors. Sure, it’s a surprising feat following it’s Best Director snub, but I think the Academy tends to go “ooh la la” when it comes to their ultimate winners. “The Artist” had it (silent film novelty, charismatic lead performance, beautifully executed elements), “The King’s Speech” had it (inspirational cumulative effect, nice threads, terrific acting, Weinstein), and “Slumdog Millionaire” had it (unavoidably cheery, slum children making it big, game show conceit).

    While I understand that “Argo” is extremely popular in Hollywood, I don’t necessarily get what about it piques that something something that has propelled seeming underdogs to resounding victories recently; it’s a professionally well made film through and through, but I think it’s rather hollow and fleeting.

  116. acmilan03c1

    Comedywontwin, it’s easy to just say “the race is over” without backing it up with arguments. I have a rather long and clear-cut analysis of all the relevant stats and how they stack up and it’s 5-1, 5-2 at worst in Lincoln’s favor. And all of the stats that favor Lincoln are stronger than the 1-2 that favor Argo. If you like, I can paste it here, just give the word. But, sadly, I’m afraid you’re just one of those people who can’t wait to give verdicts without actually looking at all the angles and doing the minimum necessary research, just to sound smart or whatever, so I don’t think you’re worth even that much bother.
    To Jason Travis: you’re not giving the Best Director snub its due importance. Is it because it came first, before the guilds? There are just as many ways in which that makes it more relevant as there are ways in which it makes it less relevant.
    The movies that swept the guilds in recent years all won Best Picture, sure, but did ANY of those not have a Best Director, Editing or Screenplay nomination? The answer is no. And what happened the ONE TIME a movie swept the guilds but DIDN’T have a Best Director nomination? It lost… That was Apollo 13 in 1996.
    Coincidence? :) That’s what it all comes down to, really. But can you tell me absolutely for sure that it’s a coincidence? If you can, then Argo is a lock. If you can’t, it’s not. It doesn’t mean it’ll lose, but it DOES mean it’s nowhere near certain to win. And, honestly, 80 years of Academy Award history speak pretty conclusively about whether it’s a coincidence or not…

  117. I am still of the mind Lincoln will win, that the Academy will go their own way — however let’s not forget that the best directed, shot, edited and sounding film, Saving Private Ryan (1998) lost Best Picture to Shakespeare in Love (1998) — the 12 nominations will go a long way for Lincoln (2012) and I believe the days of bashing Spielberg within the Academy are long gone, despite what Mr. Welles as Hollywood-Elsewhere has tried to revive — Affleck’s DGA win, to me, was a shock, because it should have gone to Spielberg — I truly believe the Academy will honor Lincoln, and it will be one of those years like The Godfather Part II (1974) when a great film that richly deserves to win…does.

  118. Number of noms help. But didnt Crash and The Departed win Best Picture with less nominations than Argo?

    I just feel like Argo will win because a) people really really enjoy it b) the preferential ballot favors it a tad c) it won PGA, DGA, SAG, GG, CC. It also won themost critics awards. And BAFTA coming up (Affleck nommedfor best actor).

    I see Love for thefilm everywhere. Further,ore, whos to say that some directors in the directors branch wont vote for Argo for BP? Im sure there were quite a few of those 369 whoDID vote for Affleck.

    Lincoln is my favorite film of the year. I think it deserves to win. And it just may (I actually think its in better shape than some people think).

    Who knows, perhaps the Academy loves Lincoln a lot more than we think. Perhaps Lincoln has been right on Argos heals for every single race there has been.

    But i am just trying to see all the ways Argo CAN win so thatif and when it happens … I wont be shocked.

  119. Jason Travis:

    Yes RETURN OF THE KING is absolutely the BEST of the three LOTR films. It;s operatic in scope and the most emotional in the series, and yes the many awards besides Oscar show it has vast support.

    But it has become fashionable with the blogging fraternity in recent years to devise the “brainstorm” that the other two films or either one is “better.”

    Right. Keep spinning.

  120. I’m glad I’m not alone in favoring ROTK. And it’s not hard to argue that it was better than Two Towers, though that perhaps the most beautiful cinematography in the series.

  121. I watched all three Lord of the Rings films again last year in advance of The Hobbit. I liked The Return of the King the least of the three! For years, I’ve regarded The Fellowship of the Rings as the best. Nothing to do with fashion. I might change my mind when I watch them again.

  122. rufussondheim

    The first of the LOTR trilogy was the only one I enjoyed of the three. I thought it set up the trilogy quite brilliantly, but after that first one, the movie didn’t seem to capitolize on that set up and instead just became an extended action sequence with very little complexity and character development.

  123. Robert A.

    My favorite of the three is also The Fellowship of the Rings, for what it’s worth.

  124. Paddy, I was NOT aiming my comment at YOU!!!! I was making an observation of what I perceived was true of the general reactions.

    Geez.

    You like it least? Fine. More power to you.

    I’m happy the critical establishment, the Globes, the Oscars and just about every other awards group thought otherwise.

  125. Me, too – Fellowship was my favorite of the three. Return of the King was one grand finale crescendo after another for about what seemed at least 45 minutes, to the point where I was glad when it was over.

  126. Jason Travis

    @Bette’s breakdown:

    Agree with some, but I’m going to also argue against some of her points regarding what films have held up the strongest in terms of Best Picture:

    1975: She mentions One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but that Barry Lyndon would be remembered more- by WHOM? Exactly?! Maybe snobby film elitists, but the general public has barely heard of it. Most people on the street know of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and YES that is a testament of standing the test of time- if the general public can still nod their heads, it means the academy was doing their jobs. Cuckoo’s Nest was and is one of the best winners ever.

    Then she says Godfather- and tries to argue. Again, this sounds more like someone who is trying to “impress” people with their knowledge of film fare vs. being honest and truthful. The Godfather WAS the best film of 1972- anyone who argues differently is just trying to go against the crowd to look “cool” and “different”. The academy made the right decision. Ditto for 1974- Godfather Part II was superior to it’s competition, yes even Chinatown.

    Terms of Endearment is PURE CLASSIC! It’s James L. Brooks in top form, has a top cast and includes arguably the biggest tearjerker moment in modern cinema history with Debra Winger and her children. It is still talked about today. Just because you thought 1983 was a weak year doesn’t take away from this film’s power and staying power- it still holds up wonderfully today. No one knows what the hell Videodrome is- again unless you’re an elitist snoot, that film would not hold up well.

    Gone with the Wind weaker then Wizard of Oz? ON WHAT SOIL? Both are great films, but the former is and always will be superior. You’re just arguing against it for the sake of arguing.

    Yes Psycho is better known then The Apartment, but Wilder’s film still holds weight.

    Titanic, as much as people want to act like it was a fluke- was THE FILM of 1997- and I am so glad the academy went for a movie audiences were seeing multiple times, in homage to oldschool movie times where people went to the theater repeatedly. Who cares if the majority of them were teen girls into Leonardo DiCaprio? They were still going. And it was Cameron paying homage to one of history’s biggest disasters. LA Confidential was never going to win best picture, and sorry- its confusin film noir that isn’t worth much of a second viewing beyond Kim Basinger’s neck line.

    I understand you’re trying to justify that other films were more “critically respected”, but over all the best picture winners I talk about all are more remembered and known then your alternatives.

  127. rufussondheim

    She’s talking about respect within the film community, especially amongst the academics.

    I’m sure she’d agree with you about popularity amongst commonfolk. But that’s not the issue here. She’s responding to someone by listing moments when the Oscars got it right according to the people who study film.

    If you want to discuss popular reaction to film, then I suggest you go down the list of People’s Choice Award winners to see how well they hold up.

  128. Jason Travis

    @Rufus: The film community generally also agrees The Godfather was the superior film in 1972, and it’s sequel; That Cuckoo’s Nest was the best choice, that plenty of the movies she named were still favored. If you don’t think films like Godfather hold up well in Best Picture, I don’t know what to say to you.

  129. Frank Gallo

    I also consider Return of the King the best LOTR film.

    And I also think it was fashionable to say it was not the best of the three after it won all the awards.

    The second film, The Two Towers is the least of the three imo.

  130. acmilan03c1

    Crash was tied for second most nominated in its year. The Departed is the only exception to the top 3 rule since Chariots of Fire. Much like Titanic’s no-screenplay-nomination win. Titanic was a huge event and we all know why The Departed couldn’t lose in its year. Argo doesn’t have that kind of power or story. Its narrative (compensation for the Affleck snub) seems quite weak to me compared to those two. Does the Academy really care THAT much about Ben Affleck being snubbed? Since when is he such a big thing with them? He’s liked, sure, but I don’t see why we should assume he’s universally loved. Not THIS much, not so much as to make them break with all that Oscar tradition that they love to uphold year in, year out. Like Sasha keeps saying: they obviously don’t like being told what to do! Unless that’s what they were going to do anyway, of course. :) Is that the case this year? The nominations say otherwise.
    The preferential ballot is one of the arguments I accept that favor Argo. I don’t think it favors it THAT MUCH (over Lincoln), though, but yes, it does seem to be taking advantage of it a bit more. Is it enough? We’ll see… I should mention that I ran a simulation of the preferential ballot procedure on the IMDb Movie Awards board. 61 people voted and Lincoln and Argo were the first two to be eliminated! In other words, they got the fewest 1st place votes (and by far). I know it’s different with the Academy but I would definitely say that it’s an indication of how close things will be in the first rounds with this group of nine. You never know just how far down the people who liked, but didn’t love, Argo and Lincoln have them on their ballots and it might just be that neither of them even make the top 3 or top 4. You’re all saying Argo is the least hated. That might work in its favor, or it might not. It might not get enough 1st, 2nd or 3rd place votes to make the final rounds. So, yeah, people don’t “really enjoy it” all that much… Not enough to love it and, even in a preferential system, that matters. In your words, slightly amended: “the preferential ballot (probably) favors it a tad”, at best a tad.
    Of the precursors you mention it’s won, the GG and BFCA are very weak predictors and, therefore, pretty much irrelevant. Yes, even put together with all of the ones that are relevant. You see, all of the statistics I use are in the 80-90 percent prediction accuracy range (at least), whereas the BFCA and Globes are both at around 50-60 percent, but under 60, if I remember correctly. If you correlate two 55% stats, you’re not going to get much accuracy anyway, and adding them to the ones that actually matter won’t change much at all. If you correlate two strong stats, the result will still be a strong stat. Those are, of course, only the guilds and the Oscar nominations. And, as we all know, there are enough precedents of a movie dominating the guilds but losing due to not having a key Oscar nomination. Sure, things were switched around this year, calendar-wise. But there’s two ways of looking at it: either you think the Academy is influenced by other people’s precursors, in which case there’s no way of denying that the Director snub (which is THEIR decision, as is not nominating Argo for more than 7 awards) is just as important and probably more important than any guilds sweep; or you think they don’t care and just vote for what they like… in which case their nominations are by far the best indicator and then there’s no reason at all to consider Argo the favorite. Personally, I believe it’s probably somewhere in between, which makes things not that clear, of course. But you certainly can’t argue that either of these scenarios or anything in between improves Argo’s chances…
    For the umpteenth time I must emphasize this: I’m NOT saying Argo doesn’t have a very strong chance of producing an upset and winning BP; what I’m saying is it WOULD be an upset (a minor one, but still), because Argo is not THE favorite.

    P.S.: I’m one of those who like The Fellowship of the Ring more than the other two but, of course, it’s a bit unfair to rank the trilogy, as all three are absolutely fantastic, there’s no real drop in quality at any point and, therefore, it’s just easier to look at it as one giant, 10-hour masterpiece.

  131. rufussondheim

    Dude, not sure where you saw that I detest The Godfather. Because I don’t. Yeah, I would have voted for Cabaret most likely. But both movies are probably in the top 10% of BP Winners, so it’s not like either is a bad choice.

  132. Count me as another person who prefers Fellowship over the other two and finds Return of the King the most flawed of all. God forbid that we the minority have a different opinion than that of the sheeplike fanboys or the Academy.

  133. Nah Gustavo, not the Academy at all. This has always been a major misconception.

    Aim your gun while you are at the NEW YORK FILM CRITICS CIRCLE and numerous other critics’ groups who annointed RETURN as the best film of the year well before the Academy lined up behind it. The Oscars it won were really only the icing on the cake.

    RETURN remains the most emotionally rsonant of the three films, and the best easily in my opinion.

  134. I love Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. I guess that makes me a “sheep-like fan-boy” of these great works of western culture that are revered by everyone. Never liked that term. Either you like something or you don’t. Passion should not be demeaned with the fan-boy label, but that’s the assault weapon always used by the nay-sayers.

    Right.

  135. acmilan03c1

    It (ROTK) is the most emotionally resonant of the three, for sure (though The Two Towers is pretty close), but it’s not quite as full of the mystery, wonder and magic of the first film. That’s what always tips the scales for me. Also, the first film is just so much more quotable. The third, apart from having a marginally weaker screenplay (we are, of course, comparing two masterpieces, so everything is marginal), also has some pacing issues. This is purely an opinion, I must specify. I (again, marginally) prefer the steady, brooding, dark – but also full of wonder and awe – tone of The Fellowship, to the high-paced action, impossibly tense and ominous one in ROTK, the same reason for which I prefer Alien to Aliens, even though I love both immensely; ROTK is a bit too full of climaxes (this works better in Aliens, actually, but that one has some other issues so no, clearly it’s not as good as ROTK; Alien is, though, I would say, although it’s hard to compare them), and that’s my only real complaint about it. It’s the nature of this part of the story that’s to blame, so perhaps it’s Tolkien’s fault, but still, it works against it, slightly… The emotional impact is, however, fantastic, and it is a more than brilliant conclusion to the series. I was not at all disappointed, and that’s saying something considering what kind of standard the first two films set. I think they’re all easily top 20 all-time material, maybe even top 10. They definitely make MY top 10…

  136. Fair enough ‘acmilan’. You qualified yourself superbly there.

Leave a Comment

Warning: Assholes get their comments deleted