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A Poll: On the Hunt for Best Picture

Given that our Best Picture winner will most likely emerge by October or November at the latest, but usually by the time Telluride closes its doors (September), it’s hard to see any clear frontrunner at this point, at least none that is based in reality. Sure, you can read the tea leaves and look at Oscar predictions for fun, but keep it mind it has to be only for fun. Oscar winners can’t be predicted when no one has seen the film.

Since Oscar pushed its date back by a month, the entire film schedule was also pushed back. Since then, no Best Picture winner has emerged in the old model of Oscar releases (late December).  By “emerged” that means seen by people either at film festivals or screenings.  When the film is released to the public is mostly immaterial (unless it flat out bombs).

But even still, it’s hard to find even the de facto frontrunners this year. That is, films that scream Oscar from the outset. There isn’t a Munich or a Charlie Wilson’s War.  So right now we can enjoy the moment before the moment everyone knows, or thinks they know, what will win.

I’m interested in what you AwardsDaily readers are thinking. I scoured the web for “sight unseen” Oscar predictions to find those poor films with the albatross already heaped upon their backs. Anyone predicting a movie to win right now is basically ensuring that movie won’t win because the expectations will simply be too high.  Interesting, though, that Brad Brevet’s predictions at Rope of Silicon have Unbroken in first place to win Best Picture but Angelina Jolie is fifth place to win Best Director.

Let us know what you think in the poll after the jump.

Gone Girl
Interstellar
Inherent Vice
Foxcatcher
A Most Violent Year
Wild
Birdman
Boyhood

40 Comments on this Post

  1. Al Robinson

    I voted for Foxcatcher. :-)

  2. I think the movie ‘The Toy Soldiers’ which doesn’t have a distributor yet could be a darkhorse best picture contender. Its a fabulous movie with great performances

  3. Al Robinson

    Thanks david. I will add that to my personal list. I have never heard of it.

  4. rufussondheim

    I would vote for into the woods, but according to Yesterday’s Variety, they made some major plot changes which has me thinking that the movie may end up being a failure. One of the major events that spurs much of the actions of a major character has changed, and a second huge event in the second act has also been removed making two of the highlight songs in the musical virtually unusable.

    It’s the fuckers at Disney.

  5. Al Robinson

    I’m still hoping that either The Grand Budapest Hotel or The LEGO Movie crash the BP nominations party.

  6. Al Robinson

    Where is Gail Withers when we need her?! :-)

    She could tell us a great story.

    Gail, if you see this, please let us know if you’ve had any psychic feelings on this subject.

  7. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Thanks David, I’ll look into that one. I’ll be doing one poll per month so that we can look at them later in the year for laughs.

  8. mileshigh

    I voted for BOYHOOD because I have actually seen the movie twice and cannot imagine anything else being better this year!

  9. Al Robinson

    She wrote this last year:

    Gail Withers February 21, 2013 at 10:10 am
    I am not a psychic per say, but I was born with a sixth sense- and I never have revealed to the world that I actually can predict and forsee the future. Last year I knew all the Oscar winners but never bothered posting, for fear of landslides of emails asking me to predict their own futures. But this year being so crazy, I have decided to come forth and let you all know who is going to win Sunday. Get ready for some major upsets, my own brain was going nuts when I discovered the truth. READ NO FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE WHO THE WINNERS WILL BE…

  10. Though I do think it’s unwise to guarantee a win this early in the race, I think it’s completely acceptable to gauge a film’s potential with the Academy, even though it hasn’t been seen yet.

    To me, at this point, “Unbroken” is the safest choice, because:

    1) The Academy deviated from its “standard” last year (I truly believe the Academy felt outside pressure to award 12 Years a Slave. I say that because Gravity took Best Director AND Best Film Editing, two categories that are key indicators of Best Picture, which means this split was, as Sasha Stone puts it, “agreed upon”. It was a conscious effort for voters to move away from Gravity and toward 12 Years a Slave because the industry wanted so badly to see a film by black filmmakers about black characters win the top award and create headlines), so I think they’ll revert back to a more traditional film this year (one that’s generally crowd-pleasing, uncomplicated, etc.). The King’s Speech followed The Hurt Locker. Slumdog Millionaire followed No Country for Old Men, etc. Unbroken seems to be that kind of film from what we can tell so far.

    I’m not trying to say that Academy members didn’t like 12 Years a Slave. It’s a fantastic film by a brilliant director, I just think that their voting pattern indicates that they wanted to award Gravity with top honors, but felt obligated to go for 12 Years a Slave. Again, purely based on how the rest of the voting (and the guilds) went.

    2) The Academy is still old, it’s still white, and it’s still predominantly-male. This is an organization that is absolutely defined by that demographic’s taste (Did anyone read that article by Michael Musto that came out a few months ago where he anonymously interviewed an Academy member? Disturbing stuff.) There are some very backwards people in the Academy. Subject matter revolving around men resonates with them, and Unbroken is about a man overcoming a huge obstacle. In essence, it’s the “male-driven” film they want to see, and a male-driven film they’d “accept” a woman directing (like The Hurt Locker), because they certainly haven’t awarded any other female filmmakers in the Best Director category.

    3) Combine the first two reasons I gave with this one: it’s a period piece set during a war with a bunch of built-in technical nominations essentially guaranteed. Deakins will get in. The screenplay (if it isn’t terrible) will get in (people will see the Coens’ names and automatically associate it with quality even though they didn’t write the script from the ground up), the costumes have a strong chance of getting in…the film just has a technical powerhouse of talent behind it and I think that’ll drive it in important “lesser” categories that will bolster its position in the Best Picture race.

    4) Angelina Jolie is coming off of a very strong year. She won her honorary Oscar last year, she had a massive hit with Maleficent, and has a very good shot at being nominated for Best Director after riding on box-office success and a good pre-established standing with the Academy.

    Again, it’s all pure speculation, but from what little we know about the films we haven’t seen yet, it would seem to me that Unbroken seems like the most obvious choice at this point.

  11. Jordan

    After last night’s test screening, it sounds like The Imitation Game might be the one to beat.

  12. UBourgeois

    Gotta go with Foxcatcher. It has the critical weight, the Cannes endorsement, the prestige factor, and Bennett Miller. At this point in time nothing has more going for it.

    Granted, saying this in June basically means nothing.

  13. Al Robinson

    Huh? david’s right. This looks great.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foUqUEVqLsQ

  14. Al Robinson

    Oops. Huh didn’t need a ?.

  15. Richard B

    I’ll ride the bandwagon with Unbroken.It’s a super collabo. I also feel like the Best Pic this year won’t be the critical darling, which I assume will be A Most Violent Year or Foxcatcher. I don’t know, but I have a feeling Fincher will finally win Best Director. We shall see.

  16. @UBourgeois, does Cannes endorsement really mean anything in the grand scheme of the race?

  17. I voted for Foxcatcher as well, which is my most anticipated film of the year by a fair margin.

    I’m 2/3 through Unbroken (the book, of course) and I must say that the brutality in the film kept making me thinking that Steve McQueen would have been a great fit for this story as well. it’s a great book. I hope (and so far I have no reason to believe otherwise) Ms. Jolie knocks it out of the park.

  18. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    In past years when we conducted similar polls, we would a somewhat different methodology. Instead of pre-selecting a list of 10 titles culled from upcoming releases, we would provide a bigger alphabetical list of 30 or 40 of the most high-profile highly-anticipated films.

    Then we’d let readers chose any 5. The poll software would collate all the votes and rank them in order of the biggest vote-getters.

    This would give us a re-ordered list — illustrating reader expectation, from most-likely to least likely.

    Usually all 10 of the actual Oscar nominee would be present in the AD readers Top 15. (with outstanding boners each year, like All the Kings Men). Readers were able to name 90% of the future Oscar nominees among the collective Top 15 as early as a full year in advance.

    With your permission Sasha, maybe we can return to that process for the next monthly poll?

  19. ubourgeois

    @Joey: Certainly doesn’t hurt. We’ve gotten nine Cannes-premiered films as BP home since 2009, more than from any other festival. If nothing else, it can influence critics groups which can influence Oscar voters.

  20. ubourgeois

    *noms, not home.

  21. Unbroken, obviously.

  22. Bryce Forestieri

    I didn’t vote

  23. Q Mark

    “Unbroken” has Oscar movie written all over it. It’s the big favourite unless it’s terrible or unless something else major rises over the course of the year.

    As long as Roger Deakins FINALLY wins his long overdue award, it’s all good with me.

  24. Lorece

    Having seen Foxcatcher at Cannes, I think it will definitely get nominated for Best Picture but I highly doubt it will win. As many others have said, Unbroken looks the most Oscar friendly to me right now. But personally I can’t wait to see Interstellar and Gone Girl. I’m hearing very good things about Interstellar in particular; mostly that the film is breathtaking.

  25. Be funny if the Academy’s response is “Damn there’s some really good stuff, but none of it is oscar bait. The Judge is the closest thing. Alright let’s just give all the awards to that. No way are we recognizing Birdman. I mean come on.”

  26. steve50

    Right now, I’d have to go with Unbroken.

    1. Triumph over adversity, with a dash or two of heroism (Olympic track star, plane crash, lost at sea, Japanese POW – doesn’t get any better)
    2. Adapted from a universally loved book by the Coens AND Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King) AND William Nicholson (Gladiator) – their perspectives on the world are not run-of-the-mill
    3. Shot by Roger Deakins, in environments that range from open sea to prison huts. Just turn the man loose with his camera. (and he’s never won an Oscar)
    4. Score – Alexandre Desplat. Say no more. (and he’s never won an Oscar)
    5. Editor – Tim Squyres – Ang Lee’s main man. He did all of Lee’s film’s, including CTHD, Sense & Sensibility and Life of Pi (and he’s never won an oscar)

    I don’t know how much pull she had, but Jolie has pulled together top drawer talent here. On paper, at least, it’ll get a shitload of noms and at least two overdue wins, and that’s grease for the BP bandwagon, for sure.

  27. steve50

    Squyres didn’t do Brokeback – typing too fast.

  28. twinzin

    There’s a trailer of The Judge on indiewire, check it out. Supporting cast and Downey look great.

  29. Al Robinson

    So, here is my theory as to why Foxcatcher is leading the pack in votes for Best Picture predicting by us. It’s a movie that we’ve already known for a while now, and have gotten comfortable thinking of it as a Best Picture contender. Since it was going to come out last year, and there was the first teaser trailer late last year. I think most of us saw that and thought, “hell yeah!” Or at least, some form of that wording. :-)

    Most of these other movies we can only speculate on, and our confidence may be lacking for the moment. I know I feel that most of these will contend, but you never know. Let’s use Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar as an example. I bet most of us were thinking that movie was going to be great, and be a BP front-runner. Then we saw it and knew it wasn’t. Not even close. So that’s why it’s hard to feel truly confident about movies we can only guess will be not only good, but “Oscar worthy”. My prediction is, as we move along through the year, our predictions will change over to some of these other films.

    One last thought though. Bennett Miller I think has earned the right be held in this high regard, in the fashion that were giving Foxcatcher the early lead, considering that he’s 2 for 2 in getting nominated for Best Picture.

    Whew! That’s more words I’ve type for some time now. Gotta rest. ;-)

  30. Christophe

    This is travesty! Where are Big Eyes, Grand Budapest, Exodus, Magic in the Moonlight, Mr. Turner? And many others…

  31. Jeremy

    I just have this feeling Unbroken is gonna be a bust, despite all the things going for it. Maybe cuz I have zero faith in Jolie directing, but I feel its gonna be this year’s All the King’s Men or Hyde Park on Hudson or J. Edgar.

  32. It is whether economic or not, but the age of “Masterpieces” is over. So, films with good promotion, handsome actors, well-known directors etc. would have the edge over the competition.

  33. Bryce Forestieri

    “I just have this feeling Unbroken is gonna be a bust”

    +1

    It’s not a lot to go by, but the footage we saw on that ad was very lackluster.

    “despite all the things going for it. Maybe cuz I have zero faith in Jolie directing, but I feel its gonna be this year’s All the King’s Men”

    +1

    The director is who make it happen or doesn’t, and I liked BEAUTIFUL CREATURES.

  34. Why is Unbroken a front runner for pic and in particular director? I don’t see Angelina Jolie winning an Oscar over guys like Paul Thomas Anderson and David Fincher.

    She’s helmed two films and the last one, In the Land of Blood and Honey, rated a 56% on both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes.

  35. I didn’t vote either, Bryce!! Too early to say something – waiting for Toronto and Telluride.

  36. “I just have this feeling Unbroken is gonna be a bust”

    Yeah, a couple of nominations (Deakins, Desplat and maybe Coens) and that’s it.

    “Unbroken” may be the “Invictus” of this season.

  37. If Unbroken had been directed by David Fincher we would have been discussing whether it would be getting ten plus nominations or not!!

  38. Eoin Daly

    I think Unbroken will be succesful and while Jolie is the question mark of the project I feel working with Deakins/Coens could help give her confidence to try with this film and the story is really dramatic and could work well.

  39. Sue Bee

    The Imitation game needs to be added to the list. Cumberbatch does an extraordinary job.

  40. Sight unseen I would have to go with Unbroken. I think The Judge could potentially be a player this year. It has the prime October slot that Warners gave to Argo and Gravity. As far as Gone Girl goes, I think the movie will be fantastic but having read the book and knowing that Fincher couldn’t win for Benjamin Button or Social Network, I think he and the film have zero chance of actually winning. I would love to see Boyhood pull it off but I have a feeling it’s going to be this year’s Beasts of the Southern Wild. Or the Oscars this year could finally be the night of Nolan.

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