Boyhood is clearly in the number one spot to win Best Picture as of the end of September 2014. With many films still yet to be seen, Oscarwatchers often bet on that which they know already as opposed to that which they do not. David Poland had the pundits rank the films from 1 to 5 and anything after that gets an asterisk.
All of this is expected to change in the coming months but Boyhood has a huge head start over the competition since it’s already opened in theaters and word of mouth has helped it earn $20 million against a $4 million budget. Tough to get made over a 12 year period, only the dedication of the actors and filmmakers could they have pulled this off. That gives the film that something extra voters often need. But, it’s early yet. We still have to wait and see how the other films do as they roll out.
The films here that are in the top five are all films that have been seen except the film in the number 5 slot, the one Dave Karger has at number one, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken which looks about as good as you can possibly look on paper but, last time I checked no one has seen.
The most difficult part of Oscar season is managing expectations. High expectations destroy a perfectly good film because the movie not only has to meet and surpass expectations of the critics but it has to then be a desired prospect by thousands of industry voters. In all of the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never seen a movie people predicted at number one actually win Best Picture. I bet even in the Titanic days people were predicting LA Confidential to win.
The first time I learned this lesson was when Spielberg’s Munich was set to open. I was being interviewed by USA Today about the Oscar race and I was explaining how everyone believed Munich was going to win. He asked me if anyone had seen it and I said no. Doesn’t that matter, he asked? No, I didn’t think it did. But I’ve come to discover that yes, it does matter. It puts double the pressure on the film it wouldn’t ordinarily have.
This is why films released before or during Telluride and Toronto tend to do better – they don’t have as much time to build up those impossibly high expectations. How do we curb this problem? There isn’t really a way unless we Oscar pundits stop predicting movies we haven’t seen, as Indiewire’s Anne Thompson is doing this year. She is simply refusing to play along with the crazy game we all play to guess on films no one has yet seen. It is an interesting experiment. I’ll be curious to see how it plays out next year when we dissect the post-mortem.
Right now, three pundits at Gold Derby and the lone Dave Karger at Movie City News are predicting Unbroken to win. Hopefully it will live up to all of the expectations and then some. Hopefully it will be the movies pundits are seeing in their head. But I can tell you this much: the Oscar race would be better served if we all followed Anne Thompson’s lead. That might give late breaking movies a chance to do well without the birdshit dump of a hundred projected fantasies on its head. I don’t know. Just a thought.
***Please note – you might be wondering where Kris Tapley is. He’s decided to bow out of Gurus of Gold for the time being. You can seek out his predictions over at In Contention (I happen to know he’d have Boyhood at number 1 also).