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The State of the Race: Fumbling Towards Best Picture of the Year

In one week the season will start properly, as Telluride ushers in many of the films that will likely be among the major players. Turns out both Toronto and New York will also be in play this year with big movies showing up at both those festivals. David Fincher’s highly anticipated Gone Girl will screen in New York, as will Inherent Vice. Jason Reitman’s Men, Women and Children will hit Toronto. We also have Cannes still glimmering in the background, with Mr. Turner, The Homesman and Maps to the Stars, not to mention Leviathan.

“Please make your predictions,” said GoldDerby‘s Tom O’Neil in an email this morning. “It’s too soon,” I pleaded. But Tom explained to me that this was just a brief overview, not meant to be interpreted as an exact science. There is an element to feeling like a fraud when asked to be an “expert” about that which we do not know. Indiewire’s Anne Thompson refuses to play and has only predicted five films she has already seen that she feels confident in predicting.

Similarly, our contender tracker at Awards Daily only predicts those films that have been seen, which is why you won’t find any sight-unseen predictions there.

Anne’s current Best Picture predictions
1. Boyhood
2. Foxcatcher
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Mr. Turner
5. Get on Up

By contrast, here are EW’s Thom Geier’s predictions, which look a lot more like what you see around the web at In Contention and elsewhere.

1. Unbroken
2. Boyhood
3. Into the Woods
4. Selma
5. Exodus
6. Gone Girl
7. Wild
8. Birdman
9. Foxcatcher
10. Interstellar

Even though I operate in a similar fashion as Anne does — I feel uncomfortable predicting films no one has seen, always have, always will — Tom asks me to play and I agree. David Poland will also be gathering the first set of Gurus of Gold very soon.

For Best Picture, nothing can replace honest buzz — that is, the films people see and simply love. The Artist, Slumdog Millionaire, etc. You can’t see them coming. But for the most part the Oscar selection has become so small these days, being that Hollywood is giving itself over to what they know they can sell — branded sequels and remakes, family entertainment and stuff teens likes. Oscar Island is the last holdout for thinking people, adults and seniors, as it happens.

The problem with Oscar Island is its notorious lack of diversity. Several upstarts are shaking the tree in this regard. Last year, the Weinstein Co. pushed two films by black directors — Lee Daniels and Ryan Coogler — but Oscar Island did not select them. Another of those upstarts is Ava DuVernay, who is single-handedly trying to bridge the gap between African American audiences and art house cinema. She spotted the disparity and has been trying not to bring African American material to white audiences but to bring African Americans into the world of art house cinema. That is quite a bold move considering no one has bothered to do it. We always look at it like, “how can we make white voters like films about and by black artists?”

DuVernay is making a film about the American civil rights movement called Selma. It is going to be one of the most important films of the year. I do not know whether it will be good, or to the tastemaker’s liking. I do not know if Oscar Island will accept it or not. But I see a pioneer filmmaker and a film about Martin Luther King, Jr. and I think — yeah.

Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken has the Oscar sheen sight-unseen, not just because the trailer shows promise but because it’s about World War II, a favorite genre of Oscar voters. Written by the Coen brothers and shot by the esteemed Roger Deakins, Unbroken FEELS like an “Oscar movie.”

The collaboration of David Fincher and Gillian Flynn for Gone Girl might not look like an “Oscar movie,” and it’s all the better for it. The “hard R” Fincher is one of the few remaining film directors in town who doesn’t make films for the PG-13 set. Show up with a thinking brain, a pair of balls and brave constitution or don’t show up at all. Instead of going with a typical Hollywood choice of a male screenwriter to replace and rewrite Flynn (“move over, honey, I’ll drive”) Fincher put his faith in Flynn to bring her script to the big screen. Flynn herself is someone who writes cinematically, even if this film dwells inside the heads of its character. Because of that, it needed and inventive director who is not afraid of a challenge like that, but one who invites it. Fincher, and Flynn, like to get at the truth of who we really are, not the politically correct version of who we should be, but those plain elements that motivate, inspire, haunt, irritate and frustrate us. It isn’t that Gone Girl is going to be the kind of thing Oscar voters look for. Quite the contrary, I figure. But for the few of them who still look for great filmmaking to make their choices? I suspect Fincher’s film might be a welcome change. One never knows, of course. The five nominations slots on the ballot make it harder for voters to be liberal with their choices. They tend to go with their hearts, which often makes the slate these days driven by sappy emotion as opposed to bravura filmmaking.

If you want to find Best Picture by going through the potential five directors, it seems hard to imagine Birdman not getting in there. Supposedly González Iñárritu shot this thing in long extended takes. If last year’s Alfonso Cuaron led the Oscar race with his directing, it seems to follow that Inarritu’s camera work will drive this thing, along with Michael Keaton’s performance. Like Gone Girl, this is a dark film, not a sappy one, so it will be, again, a challenge for the emotionally driven voters. It is one of a handful many are excited about and is one that could win the whole thing.

The Imitation Game has the Weinstein Co. behind it, is about World War II and already has good word of mouth — that makes it seem like a safe bet this early. With a solid performance by Benedict Cumberbatch, it could one of the strongest to win.

J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year is a mystery but given his dedication to never making the same kind of film twice, I’m just tossing out this film as a potential one to watch. But no one knows anything about it yet. It has a strong cast, to be sure, but other than that it’s all been very very quiet.

Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is crashing this year’s Oscar race and could Million Dollar Baby itself to a win. The film is based on a true story about a sniper who then was shot at a firing range, of all places. If you’re looking to find a sight-unseen Oscar movie, look no further than Clint Eastwood.

The Homesman has two advantages heading into the race. First, that it is full of popular actors. Meryl Streep, Miranda Otto, and above all, Hilary Swank. This is a film about women on the prairie and about mental health. It is a stark, unflinching film about how the west was won, what it took, what it did, the legacy we left behind. Tommy Lee Jones is not a director who is interested in sugar coating anything. This is a tragedy, one that we probably have not completely addressed. The other advantage it has is that it’s currently being underestimated by the tastemakers because of one scene involving Hilary Swank. Thing is, last time I checked we were all adults, right? Why must everything be softened? Oh, right, because Oscar voters are sentimental wimps — too old to remember what great art can do.

There are so many possibilities this year, with a wide open Best Picture race, at least so far. It is probably kind of fun to see how perceptions are shaped, and where the race goes from here.

Films I’ve Seen:
Foxcatcher
Boyhood
The Homesman

Films I haven’t seen:
Birdman
Gone Girl
American Sniper
Unbroken
The Imitation Game
Selma
A Most Violent Year

I had to keep the list down to ten but there are so many other films on my radar right now:

Interstellar
Fury
Inherent Vice
Men, Women & Children
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mr. Turner
Get on Up
Wild
Trash
The Theory of Everything
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Into the Woods

But we only get ten slots this time around. These ten will likely shift greatly by the end. Last year, my predictions at this stage were abysmal, though I top everyone here with 5 correct predictions compared to 4 on Gold Derby and anyone else except Susan Wloszczyna. If I had put Her on there I would have had 6. Oh well!

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gurus2 gurus1

 

Check out preliminary predictions in all of the major categories at Gold Derby.

63 Comments on this Post

  1. Sasha I think this is going to be a wide open year, in all the major categories. Do you agree?? I mean I don’t think there are going to be any so called ‘Locks’!!!

  2. Eoin Daly

    Following the best picture winner 12 Years a Slave there could be the possiblity that those stupid oscar voters will think didn’t we already award a black movie. I want Selma to do so well because MLK has never been captured on screen to be a definitive potrayel and I believe in the talent of DuVarney and Bradford Young her cinematographer.

  3. Al Robinson

    As of today, August 20, 2014, I see the Best Picture lineup like this:

    American Sniper
    Birdman
    Boyhood
    Foxcatcher
    Gone Girl
    Inherent Vice
    Interstellar
    Selma
    Unbroken

    For Best Director
    Clint Eastwood – American Sniper
    David Fincher – Gone Girl
    Angelina Jolie – Unbroken
    Richard Linklater – Boyhood
    Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher

  4. Al Robinson

    I also want to tack on that I think Best Animated Feature will come down to The Lego Movie vs. Big Hero 6. I will be fine with either winning. Best documentary SHOULD go to Life Itself. How could Hollywood not want to award the late great Roger Ebert?

  5. Al Robinson
    I agree with you on some of the movies for best picture. But I think there could be some surprises for best picture:
    ‘Begin Again’
    ‘The fault in our stars’
    ‘The Toy Soldiers’

  6. Bryce Forestieri

    OT: Everyone hooked up on THE KNICK yet? What an astonishing program. Based on just two episodes, I’m tempted to required all the TV cinematography trophies to be awarded to Peter Andrews! In all likelihood several other awards too!

    And by the way, RECTIFY is now on Netflix instant. You’re welcome.

  7. Al Robinson

    david,

    I just checked and it looks like The Toy Soldiers finally has a realease date set, so yeah, you could certainly be correct about it getting a BP nod. As for Begin Again, the fact that it premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and it doesn’t have a bigger Best Picture buzz worries me. Now, it’s certainly possible I just haven’t been paying enough attention. For The Fault in Our Stars, I’ll say that anything is possible, so… maybe. :-)

  8. Al Robinson

    It’s hard for me to give into the temptation to predict smaller films to get nominated for Best Picture, because, simply enough, it’s rare.

    For instance, in previous years, these smaller films didn’t get nominated for Best Picture, but deserved to:

    2010 – Animal Kingdom
    2011 – Margin Call, Shame, Take Shelter, Rampart
    2012 – Holy Motors
    2013 – Frances Ha, Kill Your Darlings, Short Term 12, Upstream Color

    Now, granted, these smaller films DID get nominated for BP:
    2010 – Winter’s Bone
    2011 – The Tree of Life

    So, yeah, I should take more chances, but I don’t want to get burned.

  9. Al Robinson

    Forgot
    2012 – Beasts of the Southern Wild

  10. joeyhegele

    @david

    Based just on the trailers, I would say the only “lock” is Interstellar for Visual Effects. There is certainly some great competition, but Interstellar’s visuals seem to go even beyond that of Gravity. It deals with not only space travel but also wormholes and possibly other planets as well.

    Other than that though, I agree there are no locks. However, at this same point last year, the only lock anyone could safely predict was The Great Gatsby winning for its costumes and sets…and some people even doubted that! I remember a few days before Oscar night, some people were actually predicting American Hustle was going to win in the costume category.

  11. As of now, I could see Unbroken, Gone Girl, Foxcatcher, Interstellar, and Boyhood making the cut.

  12. I think this year’s Foreign Language category is also going to be strong with already many great films

    Blue Is The Warmest Color
    Mommy
    Ida
    Winter Sleep
    Leviathan
    Two Days, One Night
    The Wonders
    Wild Tales

    I saw Boyhood last night for the second time. What an amazing film. It’s easily my favorite film of the year, although I can not wait to see Inherent Vice, Knight of Cups, Foxcatcher, Interstellar, Birdman and Gone Girl. (Although I’m 95% sure we’re not going to watch Knight of Cups until 2015 – maybe Berlin) Oh and I think “Rosewater” might have a good chance in getting a best pic nominations

    Other films that I’m interested in watching this year:
    Wild
    Fury
    Exodus
    Selma
    Mommy
    Winter Sleep
    Leviathan
    Rosewater
    Mr. Turner
    The Cut

  13. “I think “Rosewater” might have a good chance in getting a best pic nominations” I meant “nomination” oh also for some reason I think Inherent Vice will not get into the Best Pic category. We have to wait and see what will be the reactions

  14. Bryce Forestieri

    That movie doesn’t look all that good though — looks like the 80’s but all you hear is a lot of millennial-style whining — looks potentially worse then Assayas’ SOMETHING IN THE AIR by which I mean abysmal.

    I’ll keep an open mind about it because I love the 80’s!

  15. Al Robinson

    Sam, I think you could be correct in that Inherent Vice might not get a BP nom. So far, PTA only has 1 prior BP nomination, 2007’s There Will Be Blood. Around this time in 2012, I think most of us were not only sure The Master was getting a BP nom, I think we were even thinking is was winning BP. Then, it wasn’t nominated. But, so far Christopher Nolan only has 1 BP nom as well, for 2010’s Inception. But, I think it’s a safer bet to predict that if they came down to 1 spot left, Interstellar would get in, and not Inherent Vice. But who knows….

  16. Al Robinson

    Sam, yeah, I think you’re absolutely right about the strong Foreign film race this year. He’s my predicted 5:

    Blue Is the Warmest Color (France)
    Ida (Poland)
    Mommy (Canada)
    Two Days, One Night (Belgium)
    Winter Sleep (Turkey)

  17. Al Robinson

    Ah, so many typos from me. D’oh! >.<

  18. Al, that’s what I was thinking. For me The Master was the best film of 2012 and I really thought it was getting in or even win Best Pic or at least Anderson takes his first Best Director Oscar but nope, not even close. I haven’t watched any of Interstellar’s trailers but from the description and some stills it looks like a PG or PG-13 film and some people who had read the first draft of the script said it’s most likely a PG film and I think Oscar has a good connection with these kind of films. So I think Interstellar has a better chance than Inherent Vice. I also think Gone Girl is on the edge, it could be like The Wolf of Wall Street. Gets nominations in main categories and doesn’t win anything or does not get a best pic nomination but it does in other categories.

  19. Al Robinson

    Sam (and everyone else too),
    I guess when I think of other categories, I always think voters look at the main Best Picture films first to see about nominating them for things like Cinematography, Editing, Sound, Production Design, Costume Design. If those films don’t merit the ones mentioned, then I feel like they move to the other films. But, I really don’t know, I’m just speculating. I guess we’ll never know each voter’s process.

    My point is, in my opinion, it doesn’t seem likely that Gone Girl gets nominated for other categories, but doesn’t get nominated for Best Picture.

  20. Al, I see your point. I’m not sure but I think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an example that I can think of. Maybe it’s not the best example but I think this film could get a Best Pic nomination but it didn’t while it got nominations for Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing. But I guess we’ll really never know each voter’s process

  21. Al Robinson

    Sam, you have a great point too. I think we’re currently looking at Gone Girl differently, in a friendly, debatable way. Besides, you’re absolutely right about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. 5 nominations with no BP nom.

    In fact, let’s look at movies with most Oscar nominations without a BP nomination:

    The Dark Knight – 8
    Dreamgirls – 8
    Cold Mountain – 7
    Pan’s Labyrinth – 6
    Frida – 6
    Road to Perdition – 6
    Memoirs of a Geisha – 6
    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – 5
    Skyfall – 5
    Blood Diamond – 5
    Walk the Line – 5

    Sam, I think you may be on to something with Gone Girl. But, I really really hope you’re wrong, and it doesn’t join this group.
    :-)

  22. Al Robinson

    Sam, as you can tell, I really love looking at things from multiple sides / angles. It helps me to form my opinions, and predictions better.

    Mostly, I put the most stock in what’ll get nominated for BP by which films get nominated for the: Producers Guild Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Directors Guild Awards. Followed by the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Golden Globes.

  23. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    “how can we make white voters like films about and by black artists?”

    I’ll step up and be blunt. If there are white voters in the Academy who just can’t bring themselves to ‘like’ movies with black characters made by black directors then the only way the Academy will change is for those ignorant voters to go away. They need to die off.

    Happily, they are.

  24. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    - I do not know if Oscar Island will accept [a film directed by a black woman] or not.
    – [Oscar voters] tend to go with their hearts, which often makes the slate these days driven by sappy emotion as opposed to bravura filmmaking.
    – The problem with Oscar Island is its notorious lack of diversity.
    – Oh, right, because Oscar voters are sentimental wimps.

    Welcome to the glorious paradise of “Oscar Island” — just a lazy swim across the bay from Gilligan’s Island.

  25. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    But for the most part the Oscar selection has become so small these days, being that Hollywood is giving itself over to what they know they can sell — branded sequels and remakes, family entertainment and stuff teens likes.

    We’ll never stop having this disagreement, Sasha. :)

    In this very post you can name 21 great-looking movies right off the top of your head. I could easily add 10 more.

    I’d like to know which of the 85 years in Oscar History have ever had more than 30 movies worthy of Oscar consideration.

    How can 30 films be characterized like this: “for the most part the Oscar selection has become so small these days”

    No. What what culls the “Oscar selection these days” are people making tidy little lists who try to force us to whittle down the list of possibilities to 10 movies in AUGUST, and then it’s ONLY those 10 films that make it onto the life raft — the only life raft destined for “Oscar Island” — the only 10 films acceptable to the residents of “Oscar Island” with their admittedly sappy taste.

    I’d like to know which of the 100 years in Movie History have involved a Hollywood that DID NOT “give itself over to what they know they can sell.” Which year in Hollywood history has been devoid of “sequels and remakes, family entertainment and stuff teens like”?

    ( Let’s not even get into the discussion about whether or nor “family entertainment and stuff teens like” can very often result in great movies or not. because there’s no debate. “Family entertainment and stuff teens like” can describe 1000s of fantastic movies that we all grew up loving. Movies like Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz and dozens of GREAT Best Picture winners can ALL be called “Family Entertainment and Stuff Teens Like.” Were not Titanic, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Life of Pi “family entertainment”?)

    Plus, guess what? You and me and 5000 other select VIPs are not the ONLY the teenagers who grew up loving brilliant movies of ALL KINDS. I bet even Roger Ebert was a teenager once. I wonder if David Fincher was ever a teen?

    You seem to be unreasonably bothered that sequels can earn a billion dollars. But who cares?

    The box-office Top 10 has ALWAYS reflected middlebrow taste — because there have ALWAYS been 75 million people in America who LOVE middlebrow movies — and only ALWAYS 15 million people in America who enjoy highbrow films.

    The exceptions — intelligent highbrow movies that sell 75 million tickets — are so rare that we can count them on 10 fingers. Find me one that’s not about Killer Sharks or Gangsters or Demonic Possession — or one that doesn’t qualify as the dreaded despicable “family entertainment.”

    yes, Hollywood sure does love to make movies that people love to go see. All those Hollywood assholes giving people exactly what they want to see.

    But that had NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER on the number of great movies we still get to see year after year after year for the past 85 years.

    Let’s stop trying to satisfy Thurston Howell III and his wife Lovey, so that way Thurston Howell III can no longer dictate our pre-approved selections for “Oscar Island” — and then maybe we can appreciate the fact that we have 30 or 40 GREAT MOVIES every year. The same number of great movies every year as we’ve had every year since 1920.

    Hardly ever more than 30 movies have EVER been in the Oscar mix. And very rarely less than 30. It’s no different now than it was in 1935, 1945, 1955, etc.

  26. Looks like there’s been collective amnesia for Big Eyes. Don’t worry you’ll all realize soon enough that it is the Philomena/Blind Side-esque “Auntie’s favorite” slot for this year. Mark my words.

    There have already been 10 movies worthy of a Best Picture nomination this year. Already. More than 10 even. Here’s the list (not really in a particular order although Boyhood is clearly #1):

    1. Boyhood
    2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
    3. Snowpiercer
    4. The Immigrant
    5. We Are The Best!
    6. Blue Ruin
    7. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
    8. Joe
    9. Locke
    10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
    11. Ida
    12. Only Lovers Left Alive
    13. Under The Skin
    14. Calvary
    15. The LEGO Movie (Yes, I said the fucking Lego movie. If Pixar can get in why not this?)

    Now, you may quibble with some of those titles, but even if you drop 5 from that list you still have 10 movies that are as good (and in some cases better) than the majority of Best Picture nominees since 2000. And Oscar season hasn’t even started yet! We really are spoiled.

  27. Chris Price

    Films I’ve already taken a look at before the season begins:
    Birdman
    Big Eyes
    Men, Women & Children
    Queen Of The Desert

    I anticipate 2 of those getting in to the final list, but it could in fact be 3.

  28. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Who are these imaginary sophisticated Americans we fantasize existed 50 years ago before Hollywood “dumbed us down”?

    Casablanca earned $3.7 million in 1943. Movie tickets in 1943 cost 25 cents.

    That’s fewer than 15 million Americans who bought a ticket to see Casablanca — #2 on AFI’s list of most beloved movies of all time. Roughly the same number of Americans bought a ticket to see Fincher’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

    Blame Oscar Island for largely ignoring The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

    But don’t blame Hollywood — Hollywood made that movie.
    And don’t blame audiences — audiences paid to see that movie.

    yes, it’s a bit of bad luck that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo cost $90 million. It’s also a little bit hard to understand how it could possibly cost that much. (Gone Girl’s budget is half that).

    But who’s fault is that? Hollywood? Audiences? No.

    What certainly might have helped The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo attract another 5 or 10 million ticket-buyers is if it had got a Best Picture nomination.

    But the paradise of Oscar Island choose instead to honor Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

    Although it’s debatable that a BP nomination would have meant much for TGWTDT in ticket sales. The Departed won 4 Oscars including BP and it only sold 5 million more tickets than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

    hey, look. It’s ONE MORE EXAMPLE of this COLD HARD FACT: There are ONLY 15-20 million Americans who EVER go see mature movies made exclusively for grownups.

    This is no tragedy. It’s just the way it’s always been. That how it was in 1943. That’s how it is now.

  29. Al Robinson

    How to win Best Picture:

    1. Appeal to the most common denominator
    2. Make more money than spent
    3. Don’t be a “genre” movie
    4. Stay under the radar until it’s time for voters to vote
    5. Be a movie voters will want to vote for
    6. Don’t be the best movie, just be the one voters can best agree upon

  30. Boyhood, like The Grand Budapest Hotel earlier this year, will drop like a hot potato once Telluride and TIFF begin. It’s just not dazzling enough a summer release to last through the season.

  31. Bryce Forestieri

    Films I’ve already taken a look at before the season begins:

    ….

    Queen Of The Desert[!!!!]

    And what did you think, young child?!

  32. Al, I really hope I’m wrong too! I’ve been waiting for Gone Girl since 2012 and I think it’s been on many people’s anticipation list as well and they better give it a Best Pic and Director nomination. Plus, rating-wise Gone Girl should be more tolerable than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but I guess it really depends on the person. Oh also about the Foreign Language category, I really like your list and Oscar’s list will be the same more or less (I mean is there any kind of dark horse that we’re not aware of? Maybe Timbuktu could be on the list as well). I think the potential winner is Blue Is The Warmer Color which is a great film in my opinion. Winter Sleep and Ida are great contenders as well. Sadly Oscar has never been a fan of Nuri Bilge. I hope Winter Sleep makes the list

    My prediction for nominees:
    Blue Is The Warmest Color
    Ida
    Mommy
    Winter Sleep
    Leviathan

  33. Ha ha, people once thought The Monuments Men was going to be up for Best Picture.

    I’m very reluctant to predict American Sniper for anything. Eastwood has been so off the boil lately (Jersey Boys was pretty badly directed) that I’ll need at least a trailer to give me hope.

    I’m also not all that confident about Wild, but that’s just me.

  34. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    1. Boyhood
    2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
    3. Snowpiercer
    4. The Immigrant
    5. We Are The Best!
    6. Blue Ruin
    7. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
    8. Joe
    9. Locke
    10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
    11. Ida
    12. Only Lovers Left Alive
    13. Under The Skin
    14. Calvary
    15. The LEGO Movie (Yes, I said the fucking Lego movie. If Pixar can get in why not this?)

    Now, you may quibble with some of those titles…

    Chris Price, no quibble from me. In fact, I’d add 3 more:

    Belle
    The Congress
    How to Train Your Dragon 2

  35. Al Robinson

    “Looks like there’s been collective amnesia for Big Eyes. Don’t worry you’ll all realize soon enough that it is the Philomena/Blind Side-esque “Auntie’s favorite” slot for this year. Mark my words.”

    FACT!!, Tim Burton has never had a film of his nominated for Best Picture. Chris, I’m hoping that Big Eyes could be his first. But first, I’m hoping that it’s good. I wasn’t crazy about Big Fish or Sweeney Todd.

  36. Al Robinson

    “Ha ha, people once thought The Monuments Men was going to be up for Best Picture.”

    JamDenTel,
    Once it moved to February, I knew it was the death knell. Too bad, I liked it. :-)

  37. History tells us that some of these films will fall on their face.

    With that I predict:
    Boyhood
    Foxcatcher
    Gone girl
    Interstellar
    Inherent vice
    Mr. Turner
    Birdman
    A most violent year
    The grand Budapest hotel

    Into the woods and fury as alternates

  38. Don’t know about other movies, but there isn’t a chance in hell of “The Homesman” being nominated over “Mr. Turner”.

  39. rufussondheim

    Perhaps the ongoing tragedy of WW2 prevented many people from wanting to see Casablanca upon its release.

    I think American Sniper is dead in the water, the book is very right-wing, and given Eastwood’s political leanings, I’m not sure how much Eastwood will deviate from the text. We’ve no idea even if the author’s death will be included in the film.

    After a lot a thought, I’m really throwing all my early unformed eggs into Little Red Riding Hood’s Into the Woods basket. Not sure why so many people are undervaluing it’s nominatability. Perhaps you think this is just a story of fairy tales, something light and fun and not much else. Sure it starts out that way, but it turns into something darker and ultimate something pretty damn satisfying and uplifting. The emotional appeal is right up the Academy’s alley, it kind of plays out the same way as The Artist. But trust me, it’s much more complex and thought-provoking then that film, but all of that is very subtle and not instantly obvious. (25 years after I first saw it, it’s still revealing it’s pleasures to me.) Plus it looks great, at least from the trailer. It’s clear there’s tons of money behind this. And I can’t foresee any backlash even with the late release date. And Rob Marshall is a proven Academy commodity (unlike Angelina Jolie as a director)

    And to those of you who think you won’t like it, I’ll give you a nickel each if you don’t like it, provided you give me a penny if you do. I bet I’ll come out ahead.

  40. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Let’s look at 1973 — by any measure one of the peak years of the peak decade of the Golden Age of the 1970s, yes?

    Here are 15 films (in English) from 1973 that are undeniably great.

    The Exorcist
    Badlands
    Serpico
    Paper Moon
    The Long Goodbye
    Mean Streets
    American Graffiti
    The Last Detail
    The Friends of Eddie Coyle
    The Sting
    Sleeper
    Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
    The Paper Chase
    The Way We Were
    Papillon

    Now let’s jump forward 40 years to look at 45 movies (in English) from 2013. Let’s see how skimpy our choices have become in this Shitty Age of Hollywood SuperSequel Blockbuster Greedy Remakes for Teenagers.

    Inside Llewyn Davis
    12 Years a Slave
    Her
    The Wolf of Wall Street
    Fruitvale Station
    Gravity
    Captain Phillips
    Nebraska
    Mud
    Frozen
    Before Midnight
    Frances Ha
    American Hustle
    Short Term 12
    The Counselor
    Enough Said
    All Is Lost
    Upstream Color
    The Place Beyond the Pines
    Blue Jasmine
    The Spectacular Now
    Dallas Buyers Club
    Philomena
    Pacific Rim
    The Bling Ring
    Out of the Furnace
    Lone Survivor
    In a World…
    The Butler
    Side Effects
    Kill Your Darlings
    Behind the Candelabra
    Aint Them Bodies Saints
    Much Ado About Nothing
    Prisoners
    Rush
    Saving Mr Banks
    The Invisible Woman
    The Great Gatsby
    World War Z
    The Conjuring
    What Massie Knew
    To the Wonder
    Star Trek Into Darkness

    Look how Hollywood pandering to those filthy stupid teenage boys has limited our choices to roughly double or triple the number of great movies last year as we had in 1974.

    Notice also how 30 of the best movies of 2013 got made and got seen with no help at all from Thurston Howell III and his wife Lovey with their sap-soaked Oscar Island Ballots.

    Anyone who disagrees should please feel free to add 30 more 1973 movies that you think compare favorably to #’s 15-45 on my 2013 list.

    There’s a way to make me shut up about how much I appreciate movies we STILL get to see every year: We can stop trying to pretend that there are no good movies anymore — compared to the 1970s or any other decade.

  41. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Perhaps the ongoing tragedy of WW2 prevented many people from wanting to see Casablanca upon its release.

    due respect, rufussondheim… but 11 of the 13 top-grossing movies at the box-office in 1943 were war movies and jingoistic patriotism movies.

    1. For Whom the Bell Tolls
    2. This is the Army
    3. The Song of Bernadette
    4. Hitler’s Children
    5. Star Spangled Rhythm
    6. Casablanca
    7. Air Force
    8. Destination Tokyo
    9. A Guy Named Joe
    10. Coney Island
    11. So Proudly We Hail!
    12. Behind the Rising Sun
    13. Guadalcanal Diary

    This is the Army! (starring Ronald Reagan) earned 4x more than Casablanca earned.

    Those are the Top Box-Office Movies of 1943.
    Anyone want to trade your Maleficent blu-ray for my Hitler’s Children blu-ray?

  42. rufussondheim

    Perhaps I misunderstood the gist of your post, Ryan. It seems like you were bemoaning how few people went to see Casablanca at the time. My response was meant that maybe people were just busy. War in the early 40’s was an all-in proposition for many, unlike now wherein we’ve been simply asked to shop.

    I’ve never seen For Whom the Bell Tolls. I love the book though. It’s a rollicking good read, probably the most accessible of Hemingway. I think he just wanted to write a good story on this one. And it is pretty darn gripping. Highly recommend it. And there’s a pretty sweet bonus when you get to the final sentence which is shockingly similar to the very first sentence, but yet the reader perceives them quite differently. It’s a pretty nifty literary trick.

    (On a side note, Bryce, I’m really looking forward to The Knick – but right now I’m hooked on The Leftovers, The Divide, The Bridge and for sheer fun, Tyrant. And Rectify has been on my short list for far too long)

  43. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Perhaps I misunderstood the gist of your post, Ryan. It seems like you were bemoaning how few people went to see Casablanca at the time.

    Not bemoaning at all. If you’ve seen some of the other box-office comments I’ve posted over the past couple of weeks, what I’m doing is the opposite of bemoaning.

    On the contrary, I’m trying get people to stop bemoaning the so-called “decline of grown-ups who go to see grown-up movies.”

    15 million Americans bought tickets to see Casablanca.
    13 million Americans bought tickets to see Chinatown.
    9 million Americans bought tickets to see It Happened One Night.
    13 million Americans bought tickets to see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

    Even allowing for increase in population over the decades, there is always a core group of the American population that represents about 8%-10% of Americans. That number does not change.

    Neither does this other number ever change: The 30% of the American public who go to the movies to enjoy themselves =– people who might not be the sharpest knives in the drawer.

    So I wish we would please stop complaining that Hollywood makes movies for middlebrow people (and for highbrow people who sometimes enjoy a middlebrow movie) — because THIS IS NOTHING NEW. It’s always been that way, throughout American movie history.

    And more importantly: the 300 relatively stupid movies that get made every year never EVER interfere with the 40 or 50 movies EVERY YEAR that continue to get made for those of us who go see them.

    People did not stop going to the movies during WWII because they were too busy — nor did they stop going to the movies during the Great Depression because they were bummed out.

    If anything, movies attendance always goes up during times of terrible national stress.

    meanwhile, yes, of course, 30 million Americans made This Is Cinerama! the #1 Box-Office movie of 1955.

    50 million people buy tickets to see junk today, and 50 million people bought tickets to see junk in 1955.

    That didn’t stop A Streetcar Named Desire from getting made.

    only 8 Million Americans paid to see A Streetcar Named Desire
    — and 6 months later 30 million Americans paid to see The Greatest Show On Earth.

    That’s not because Hollywood was dumbing people down. It’s because there are plenty of dumb people to begin with. Approximately 60 million middlebrow people in America alone. And that’s why whenever Hollywood makes movies for dumb people those movies will inevitably make a lot of money — because there are more dumb people who already exist who buy tickets.

    (Reminder: Making money seems to be one of the main reasons studios produce movies — movies of any kind.)

    I get so bored trying to explain this every time somebody on this site bemoans the decline of discerning American movie audiences. When the hell were more than 10% of Americans ever renowned for being discerning?

    American audiences have ALWAYS paid more to see dumb movies. And they always will. Get used to it.

    Let’s PLEASE Enjoy the 50 fantastic movies made for highbrow audiences every year, and please stop worrying about the movies made for the less-educated people all across America who are regarded with such scorn.

    THERE HAVE NEVER BEEN ENOUGH HIGHBROW PEOPLE ALIVE AT ANY POINT IN AMERICAN HISTORY TO SUPPORT THE AMERICAN FILM INDUSTRY.

    WITHOUT MIDDLEBROW PEOPLE BUYING TICKETS TO SEE THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS OF MIDDLEBROW MOVIES FOR THE PAST 100 years, THE AMERICAN FILM INDUSTRY WOULD NOT EXIST.

    Jesus Christ, How long would Hollywood studios exist if they only tried to satisfy the 15 million American highbrows and made 150 movies like Boyhood and 12 years a Slave every year — and made no movies for the 75 million other moviegoers in America?

    Making movies that only cater to 15 million people who think they’re better than everybody else, 15 million highbrows who try to ridicule typical American taste week after week — that’s no way to run a movie business. Unless your goal is to run the business into the ground.

    Likewise any movie writer who tries to tell readers that there are only 10 movies every year worth writing about better be prepared to see a lot of true movielovers get offended — readers who KNOW there are more than 10 worthwhile movies, no matter what paltry little handful Tom O’Neil or Jeff Wells tries to peddle.

  44. First of all, my anticipation and excitement levels have gone up significantly.

    Secondly, I would love to make my predicted ten as early as this. But it is really tough. It is not September yet and if the majority of these movies make the cut it will be a cracking year. I was going to say competitive, but that is a different thing – and voters might kill that competition before out very eyes. If this were an album it would be a “Best Of”.

    The feeling I get whenever I look over these movies, is directors. The Director race may well be more exciting than the Picture race. Look at these contenders:

    Angelina Jolie
    Wes Anderson
    Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
    Mike Leigh
    Rob Marshall
    Tommy Lee Jones
    Clint Eastwood
    Ava DuVernay
    David Cronenberg
    Ridley Scott

    Oh yeah, and also:

    Paul Thomas Anderson
    Christopher Nolan
    David Fincher
    Bennett Miller
    Richard Linklater

    The latter 5 are my personal favorites. Only one winner? What a shame. Listen Academy, take a leaf from Cannes’ book, and please distribute the awards across individual movies. Just for this year. Thanks.

    Okay, so I went back to 2008 recently, and went through that whole race again {Ryan and I are sorry for all the Twitter notifications Sasha and Craig}. And what a race it was – until right at the end obviously when Slumdog destroyed everything in it’s path. It was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at one point. It was Milk for a little bit. The Dark Knight rode the wave until the end. Even Revolutionary Road was massive at one point, but that flunked. I suspect, though, this year won’t be like that. Not for the sheer mass of household names and potential great movies. Some of which we have seen already, and can confirm this.

    What we don’t want, as mentioned already, is another case of a movie like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close making the Picture list, but something incredible like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo being left out. With that in mind, are we looking at a “they are due” year? Pack your bags Academy you are going on a guilt trip. Look how many of these movies were nominated for the Best Picture and/or Best Director Oscar:

    The Royal Tenenbaums / Fantastic Mr. Fox / Moonrise Kingdom
    Amores Perros / 21 Grams
    Naked / Happy-Go-Lucky
    Middle Of Nowhere
    A History of Violence / Eastern Promises
    Alien / Blade Runner / American Gangster
    Sydney / Boogie Nights / Magnolia / Punch-Drunk Love / The Master
    Memento / Insomnia / The Dark Knight
    Seven / Fight Club / Zodiac / The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    Before Sunrise / Before Sunset / Before Midnight

    And look how many of these went on to win the Best Picture and/or Best Director Oscar:

    Babel
    Secrets & Lies
    Vera Drake {BD nomination but did make the BP list}
    Thelma & Louise {BD nomination but did make the BP list}
    Gladiator {won BP, nominated BD}
    Black Hawk Down {no BP nomination but did make the BD list}
    There Will Be Blood
    Inception {BP nomination, but no BD nod – ridiculous}
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    The Social Network
    Capote
    Moneyball {nominated for BP but not for BD}

    Yikes!

  45. Jesus Alonso

    not so much off topic… I wouldn’t discard “Guardians of the Galaxy” making in the Best Picture finalists… it’s extremely likeable, already being labelled as the new “Star Wars” (and it’s honestly funnier than Lucas’), its smashing box-office against all odds, and will have a broad support by the guilds. Plus, the cast is excellent and full of big guns (I mean, Glen Close, John C. Reilly, Benicio del Toro, Bradley Cooper, Djimon Hounsou… a really well-balanced cast. Reviews are good enough and I guess we’ll have a case like Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, that missed the cut for Best Picture, probably, by a narrow margin when it was only 5 BP nominees. By the end of the year, it’ll be one of the stand-out films and Marvel Studios right now have 2 out of the 7 highest grossing films, and 4 of them are based upon Marvel characters… actually, in one week, Marvel wil have the TWO highest b.o. films of the year and probably its year would be too big to be ignored by industry (as both films also have scored great reviews). Right now, I’d say GotG is a longshot for the BP nom, but looks likely will score some technical noms… big question being, does Marvel even consider Oscar prestige?

    I don’t think so… I don’t believe that, if they didn’t push hard for The Avengers, they’ll be doing so for GotG, but that does not mean it won’t happen… people has, sometimes, memory, and not always you vote for the one that shameless look for gold.

  46. Bryce Forestieri

    “I wouldn’t discard “Guardians of the Galaxy” making in the Best Picture finalists”

    Will never happen

    Should never happen

  47. so you two are really committed to this “oscar island” metaphor eh?

  48. Ryan, for 1973 you forgot “Payday” and “Detroit 9000″.

  49. Why isn’t IDA even on the possibility list for Best Picture. Along with BOYHOOD, it is the best reviewed movie of the year. AMOUR, IL POSTINO and others have gotten Best Picture noms. It’s a longshot, but it DESERVES to be part of the discussion, Sasha. If not by Oscar bloggers, then who?

    And, why is it assumed that BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR will be France’s official submission? Might the politics of the situation inside of France choose something more current than a movie that have been shown at Cannes over a year and a half earlier?

  50. Bryce Forestieri

    “France choose something more current than a movie that have been shown at Cannes over a year and a half earlier?”

    SAINT LAURENT*

  51. Chris Price

    Bryce,

    There’s a FANTASTIC historical drama in the classic, on-location, verité style that Herzog prefers contained within the roughly 2hr15min cut I saw. That said, the love story with James Franco is painfully dull and detrimental to the much more interesting geo-political intrigue of the real story. What’s more, it serves to undercut a far more engaging love story later in the film involving Damian Lewis, because one has already scoffed too much at Franco and Kidman’s corny love letters (all read in earnest narration), so when Lewis picks up the ball it feels like a retread of something we’ve already rejected. I sincerely hope they cut this early section down significantly (and I suspect they will) because without it, this is a fascinating tale of a true female role model; a mold-breaker and vanguard whose life deserves a proper evaluation that doesn’t undermine her fierce independent nature by putting her on the arm of so many dullards.

    Robert Pattinson is very charming in the film, btw. I actually wish he was in it more. :)

  52. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    “so you two are really committed to this “oscar island” metaphor eh?”

    I’m afraid I might be more committed to eroding the beach of Oscar Island. :(

    Honestly, the Oscar Island playlist is not the list of movies I’d want to have if I were stranded on a deserted island.

    Hard to understand how we can repeatedly agree that Oscar voters are timid sap-addicted wimps and then book a vacation on Oscar Island with those people.

    But most of all, I strenuously object to the implication that everything that’s not on Oscar Island is a Sea of Shit.

    If Sasha and I agreed about everything how boring would that be? We’d be as boring as some Oscar nominations often are.

    I’m just trying to cause trouble, sorry. I’m a terrible person.

  53. Al Robinson

    If I were on an island, with only 10 movies, I’d want:
    The Godfather – 1972
    Jaws – 1975
    Caddyshack – 1980
    Pulp Fiction – 1994
    Independence Day – 1996
    Titanic – 1997
    The Dark Knight – 2008
    Avatar – 2009
    The Social Network – 2010
    The Wolf of Wall Street – 2013

    But if I was actually on stranded on an island or a boat, then I would obviously want:
    Cast Away – 2000
    Life of Pi – 2012

  54. Richard B

    You didn’t include Foxcatcher in your predictions. Why? I have a feeling it will benefit the most if Unbroken tanks.

  55. I just wanted to thank Ryan for all the passionate arguments he has posted on the boards lately regarding the quality of American movies and the amount of moviegoers who see certain movies.

    I will probably not have Captain America, Maleficient, Edge of Tomorrow, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or Guardians of the Galaxy in my top ten list at the end of the year if the Fall releases are as good as they look(Snowpiercer will probably stay high on my list though), but that doesn’t lessen how much I enjoyed them or how good I think that they are. There are movies released for every audience. I had no desire to see Spiderman, Transformers or Ninja Turtle, but I don’t bemoan the people who did and enjoyed those movies. I am always happy when a movie like Boyhood or The Grand Budapest Hotel find an audience and they are both successful, despite not coming close to blockbuster status, because they found their audience too. We are lucky we get to have so many choices and while I think there can sometimes be too many choices, I much prefer that to a model where only movies guaranteed to make money or win Oscars are made. Every year has had its share of clunkers(The Godfather II finished well behind The Towering Inferno, The Trial of Billy Jack and Earthquake in box office rankings), but we forget that as years go by. There are plenty of good American films being made and they aren’t all aimed at arthouse audiences.

  56. Chris Price

    Ryan, the three titles you added are three I haven’t seen yet. So I’m not even qualified to quibble! I want to see all 3 of those, and I plan on seeing The Congress in particular very soon. Belle is something I’ll have to wait to stream since I missed its run. HTTYD2 will be down the line as well. Loved the original. Made my top 20 that year at number 20 I believe.

  57. Twinzin84

    This maybe off the BP topic but there’s a new trailer for Nightcrawler out. It looks soooooo freaking intense. Indiewire.com has it.

  58. Interesting reading the early predictions last year (and how far off most of them were).

    The Monuments Men? LOL! I fearlessly predict Unbroken=Monuments Men.
    And Selma=Mandela.
    Birdman=Inside Llewelyn Davis
    Gone Girl=Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (but not as classy)
    Gravity= Interstellar

    It’ll be Boyhood vs. Interstellar.

  59. Why would anyone want to make someone else like a movie? That’s dictator stuff.

    Anyway, it almost seems like this is going to be another mediocre year. I hope that’s not the case.

  60. Cameron

    Good Jesus God Al Robinson, talk about Captain Obvious

  61. My current visual effect predictions
    Guardians of the galaxy
    Snowpiercer
    Xmen days of future past
    Godzilla
    Dawn of the planet of the apes

    My current best picture predictions
    Boyhood
    Exodus: gods and kings
    Foxcatcher
    Fury
    The hobbit the battle of the five armies
    Interstellar
    Into the woods
    Serena
    Unbroken

  62. Easily if boyhood is the best reviewed movie of the year, its clear that it will win all the way from the precursors to Oscar night. This is Richard linklaters year. He may not except an Oscar but he sure is getting one, two or three.

  63. Paul Gibbs

    Okay, I have to say that I’m disappointed to see a feminist like Sasha Stone use a sexist expression like “show up with a pair of balls”. Let’s think about what that says: it equates courage and artistic integrity with maleness. There’s no way around that.

    Now, it’s obvious to even a complete idiot that Sasha Stone is not a sexist by an stretch of the imagination, and I would never accuse her of such a thing. I’m just suggesting that it’s a poor choice of words and a perfect example of deeply ingrained sexism is in our vocabulary that even a champion of feminism can make the mistake of accidentally using an expression which is demeaning to women. Please take this in the spirit in which it is intended and do not see it as an attack.

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