As we enter the second year with ten Best Picture slots, you have to wonder how wide will Oscar open its legs this year to let the right ones in?
Apologies in advance for that opening sentence. Let’s start this again. It seems to me that ten Best Picture slots can still mean a great many possibilities. They didn’t crack five more slots open so that they could continue to honor films that don’t keep the business of Hollywood running. Ideally, you have a handful of big studio films that are still great films that happen to also make a lot of money. Last year, the two films that seemed to have Best Picture to lose were on completely opposite ends of the spectrum in every way except for their united anti-war theme. Avatar, the biggest blockbuster of all time, versus The Hurt Locker, one of the lowest for a Best Picture nominee and winner.
The Hurt Locker’s win proved that Oscar voters don’t care about money. They took the long tail approach — a great film like that made on the cheap, uncompromising in its artistic vision was impressive up one side and down another. The entire awards community said “yes please” to that kind of nuts-and-bolts filmmaking.
It came at a time when technology is sprouting wings and legs simultaneously. 3-D is on the rise. Movies like Avatar cost more than twenty Hurt Lockers would cost. What side would you rather support? If you’re a writer or an actor or a director, your future is invested in movies that are attainable. How many Jim Camerons are there in Hollywood anyway? Not many.
And so now we find ourselves about to enter the second year of the ten Best Picture slots being up for grabs. I’m sensing a wide open race where anything can happen. It isn’t a matter of finding ten good ones – there are so many great films in the mix already. What will be the deciding factor this year? Will money be a major player? If it isn’t, I will be very surprised.
In other words, is it finally time for the AMPAS to recognize the Harry Potter series?
The biggest problem with the films so far is that they’re only really good if you’ve read the books. Like the Twilight series, the plots to these films don’t work so well without the filled in context. Filmmakers don’t need to work as hard because they know they have a built in audience. With the Harry Potter movies, it has never been a question of technical excellence – art direction, visual effects, costumes, makeup – always first rate. But what about the story? Can this, the second to last Harry Potter film either have enough gravitas, or depth, to place it in the top ten for Best Picture? The odds are against it.
It’s a sequel. It’s an effects-driven movie. None of the other Harry Potter movies have been nominated before.
On the other hand, if there was ever a time to honor this beloved series, it is now. After seven reliable years of box office success, why the hell not. If they can award Sandra Bullock with an Oscar for her box office achievements throughout her career (but mostly for 2009), why not the Harry Potter series?
The Sorcerer’s Stone – $300 million
The Chamber of Secrets – $262 million
The Prisoner of Azkaban – $250 million
The Goblet of Fire – $290 million
Order of the Phoenix – $292 million
Half-Blood Prince – $302 million
That is an impressive history, no?
I am getting the feeling that Oscar will go bigger this year than it did last year, and much of that has to do with the studios putting out really good films.
To that end, I’m thinking the big studio films this year that I think have a really decent shot at Best Picture include: Sony’s The Social Network (obviously), WB’s The Town, Inception and maybe The Deathly Hallows Part 1, Disney’s Secretariat, Paramount’s True Grit and/or Shutter Island and The Fighter. And needless to say, Toy Story 3, which is 2010’s biggest money maker so far.
Half will be big studio. And the other half will likely be the more traditional-of-late niche studio offerings, like The Weinstein Co.’s powerhouse The King’s Speech, and maybe Blue Valentine, Focus’ The Kids Are All Right, Fox Searchlight’s 127 Hours, Sony Pictures Classics’ Made in Dagenham and Another Year.
Rope of Silicon’s Brad Breve laid out his Oscar predictions recently, and he named Secretariat as one of the potential ten. I’m assuming he’s already seen it. His top ten right now:
1 The King’s Speech
2 The Social Network
3 127 Hours
4 Black Swan
6 Another Year
7 Toy Story 3
8 True Grit
Kris Tapley‘s top ten (in no particular order):
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
Made in Dagenham
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Indiewire’s Peter Knegt’s top ten:
The Kids Are All Right
The King‚Äôs Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
I can’t do a top 10 so I have to do a top 20 — I think I would have to do something like this (I always do my Best Director five and work back from there – True Grit is still a huge wild card):
1. The Social Network
2. The King’s Speech
4. 127 Hours
5. True Grit (wild card)
6. The Kids Are All Right
7. The Fighter (wild card)
8. Made in Dagenham
9. Another Year
10. Toy Story 3
11. The Town
13. Blue Valentine
14. Black Swan
15. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
16. Winter’s Bone
17. Fair Game
18. Shutter Island
19. The Tempest
20. The Tillman Story
So what do you think, readers? What are you top ten