It must be Oscar ballot time! Remember what I told you, Oscar watchers. The film that usually wins King’s Speech style is the one that people say they love while saying another (bad) movie will win. Happens every year. “Lincoln is so boring it has to win. But I loved that Argo!”"The Social Network has won everything, it HAS to win the Oscar but my favorite is The King’s Speech!” That’s the awards race in a nutshell. Perception. It’s all about perception.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, your average BAFTA voter. Meet Toby Young, admitted BAFTA member with a Telegraph piece entitled “Is 12 Years a Slave Torture Porn for Guardian readers? This is when the average voter begins to feel victimized and starts talking about how the movie that’s going to win shouldn’t win.
Everything you’ve heard about Gravity is true. I actually paid to see it at the cinema in spite of being sent the DVD and it lived up to the hype. It’s mesmerising, spellbinding, thrilling. A thing of beauty. But I can’t see it winning many of the big awards because, essentially, it’s a popcorn movie. Yes, yes, Sandra Bullock is good in the central role, but she’s notthat good and I doubt there’ll be enough feminists among Bafta’s membership who’ll vote for her because, you know, she’s proved that you can still be a female movie star after the age of 40. Best Director? Too much competition in that category. As for the script… no. It’s rubbish.
On American Hustle:
Hands down the best movie of the year. Had me grinning like a baboon from start to finish. Such brio! Such panache! And the performances!!! I’ve been a fan of David O Russell since seeing Flirting With Disaster on the day it came out and if you haven’t ever seen that, you must. It’s like a classic Hollywood screwball comedy starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. Indeed, I liked it so much that I’ve been disappointed by everything he’s done since, including Silver Linings Playbook, which was pretty darn good. But with American Hustle Russell has finally fulfilled his potential. This is the most gifted director of his generation at the very top of his game – like Coppola with the Godfather II or Scorsese with GoodFellas (and, believe me, The Wolf of Wall Street is no GoodFellas). Should win everything going, but won’t. It’s just too much fun.
On 12 Years:
Torture porn for Guardian readers? I’ll give director Steve McQueen the benefit of the doubt when he says he simply had to include scene after scene of Chiwetel Ejiofor being beaten, whipped, flayed, you name it (not to mention Lupita Nyong’o being beaten, whipped, flayed, etc) becausethat’s what really happened. But, frankly, I got the point after the first 30 minutes. Did he really have to spin it out for three hours? And the hero is so dreary. The one thing that kept me going, as Ejiofor suffers degradation after degradation, was the hope that he’d eventually turn on his torturers and give them a taste of their own medicine, Django Unchained style. But no. McQueen would never be so crass as to stoop to including something cathartic. There’s no vengeance, no sense of release. This is a three-hour civics lesson. It’ll probably win big.
Yeah so that happened.
Once a film is labeled as a frontrunner, and in this case, 12 Years a Slave, suddenly people begin to think “it’s good, it’s not THAT good.” The trick is to fly under the radar Argo and King’s Speech style so no one is looking at you. They think you aren’t a threat so they don’t bother even considering your presence. They just know, I liked that movie but it’s probably not going to win because (fill in the blank of the defacto frontrunner). This is why Kris Tapley’s piece about how voters were surging for 12 Years a Slave makes a difference a crucial time and why that dubious BAFTA article that appeared in the Guardian about their fake voting matters. Those folks across the pond do not have the same rules the Academy does – so basically it’s a hit piece free-for-all.
You all think you know how this race is going to go. I’ve been down this same awful yellow brick road so many times. This story was finished once Kyle Buchanan wrote that 12 Years a Slave was going to win Best Picture right after Telluride. It might look like Oz but there is a little old dude behind the curtain pulling the strings. Best off returning to Kansas.