In a way, Oscars 2013 could be summed up by “Kicking the Best Picture can down the road.” We keep looking to a new voting body to decide what the best picture of 2013 will be. Here’s a quick rundown so far of the majors.
Toronto–Audience award goes to 12 Years a Slave over Gravity
New York Film Critics – Best Picture goes to American Hustle, McQueen gets Director
National Board of Review – Best Picture goes to Her, Spike Jonze gets Director
Los Angeles – tie between Gravity and Her, Alfonso Cuaron gets Best Director
Southeastern Film Critics - 12 Years a Slave, McQueen gets Best Director
Golden Globes - 12 Years a Slave for Picture, Alfonso Cuaron for Director
Critics Choice - 12 Years a Slave for Picture, Alfonso Cuaron for Director
Producers Guild – a Tie between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave
SAG ensemble - American Hustle
Directors Guild - Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity
Eddies - Captain Phillips and American Hustle
Writers Guild - Captain Phillips and Her
Scripters - 12 Years a Slave
Now, we must kick the can down the road once more and await the final piece of evidence in the case for Best Picture. The BAFTAS. Here’s what you need to know about them and why they matter.
1) The Academy has a lot of British voters in it. That explains why last minute BAFTA nominations, and winners, often impact Oscar voting. It is less about influence and more about crossover voting.
2) The BAFTAS only started to matter for Oscar around the year 2000 when they pushed their date back before the Oscars. Up until then, they were held afterwards. But once the Oscar blogs started (back when it was just me and Tom O’Neil) the awards industry ballooned and everyone wanted to get in on the pre-Oscar frenzy.
3) They only changed up their voting practices last year. Now they vote like the Academy does – each branch does the nominating and the entire membership votes on the awards. Like Oscar, you don’t have cinematographers voting for the winning cinematography statue. That gives us only one year to compare their patterns with Oscar. Last year they picked Argo and Ben Affleck. They also picked David O. Russell for screenplay. They were the first to do that four nominations thing for American Hustle that the Academy went for.
4) They are holding their awards two days after Oscar ballots go out. If you’re familiar with fertility you’ll know that the ovulation window is just a few days long. This is within the ovulation window to make their winners have maximum influence on Oscar voting, especially given what the speeches might be.
5) Their membership is frighteningly similar to the Academy’s. They are 6,500 and the Academy is around 6,000. They are also likely to be white, but probably (and this is just a guess) more diverse gender-wise.
6) They do NOT USE the preferential ballot. They are fully on board with the weighted ballot. Argo was so popular it probably won the first round with the preferential ballot and easily won the weighted ballot. This year, with such a competitive group of films, we really have no way of knowing the Academy will go – there appears to be a split consensus for the first time since they installed the preferential ballot.
To tell you the truth, I’m a bit afraid of the BAFTA. I preferred them when they were the quirky outliers. I like them less now that they mimic the Academy. They didn’t used to. Still, a popular film is as likely to be popular here as there with a few notable exceptions (like No Country for Old Men, for instance).
Best Film for BAFTA
The King’s Speech (they liked it so much they also gave it Best British film but why wouldn’t they, right?)
The Hurt Locker
Return of the King
Fellowship of the Ring
As you can see, in recent years they’ve been more in lock-step with Oscar. Why this is, I really have no idea. All I know is that the consensus wants what it wants. We haven’t seen a year this wide open in a long, long time. The Atonement year was not a wide open year. It was always going to be No Country for Old Men for those who knew you couldn’t stop what was coming. The year it was The Queen versus The Departed, again, it seemed to me The Departed had it (but many did not believe me on that one).
The three films that are nominated this year for Best Picture and Best British film are: Gravity and Philomena. The other three nominees for Best Picture are 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips and American Hustle. Not Wolf of Wall Street, not Nebraska.
Best Director at the BAFTA would be:
Cuaron, Greengrass, McQueen, Russell and Scorsese. In all of their history, only one film has won Oscar’s Best Picture without a direction nod at the BAFTAS and that was Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby. This year anything can happen, but it’s probably more logical to assume Oscar’s Best Picture would be down to Gravity, 12 Years, American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Street and Captain Phillips. Which kind of puts us back where we started.
There are a few ways the BAFTA can go. Let’s take a look at Gold Derby and what those folks are predicting.
So far, it looks like all of the pundits, save one, are predicting 12 Years a Slave to take it. Moving on to Best British Film, five think that will go to Philomena, three think Gravity. I myself am torn here. I am predicting Gravity for Best British film but my instincts are telling me it will be Gravity for Best Picture and Philomena for Best British Film. I keep thinking the BAFTA, and Oscar, are going to kiss off 12 Years a Slave in the end with a single win for Supporting Actress. I will be convinced of this until it all comes to a close. This isn’t the worst thing in the world as Gravity’s win would be historic in its own right and I would celebrate that.
Best Director we’re rubber-banded back to the Alfonso Cuaron narrative. Here it’s seven pundits to three that it will be Cuaron over McQueen. If there’s any argument whatsoever to the whole “they like to award their own” it has to go to their hometown kid. See, I could be wrong here but if Cuaron is going to beat their hometown kid, Gravity is sure as shit winning Best Picture. Unless they do what everyone seems to be hoping for: that it will be 12 Years and Cuaron. I have never been able to reconcile that kind of splitting in my head, however.
Best Actress should easily go Blanchett’s way and the only real debate will have to circle around Best Actor, where our frontrunner, Matty McConaughey, is not nominated. Our pundits all say another hometown kid, Chiwetel Ejiofor, except me who says Leonardo and Jeff Wells who says Bruce Dern. But I would follow the pundits on that one. 12 Years a Slave is such a British movie all the way around – McQueen, Fassbender, Ejiofor. If it doesn’t do well here that will be a shocker.
Supporting Actor is also wide open since there is no Jared Leto. The pundits are all on Fassbender, while I think they might go a different way to award Bradley Cooper in the movie they love so much. It isn’t going home empty handed.
How all of this will impact the Oscar race is going to come down how voters feel when a certain film wins. Will they feel badly if Gravity wins or exhilarated? Will they feel overwhelmed if Steve McQueen wins to become the first black director to win in their history? That is something we will have to gauge in real time.
Check out my predictions and others over at Gold Derby. In the meantime, how do you think it might go? Apologies for this being more rushed than I’d like but I have to run out the door at present.