If you listen to the muggles out there in the world there is only one movie they’re talking about and it’s American Sniper. Granted, it’s probably the only movie nominated that most have seen. To date, Sniper has made $300 million. It does kind of feel like American Sniper is the film that should be winning Best Picture, doesn’t it? When I hear the polls taken by people on ABC News by George Pennacchio by theater goers in Los Angeles and they all say they think Sniper is going to win, or talk to anyone on the street who knows very little about how the race works, they’ll say the same thing. That’s all I keep hearing about – Sniper, Sniper, Sniper. Even the brutally honest Academy voter was talking about Sniper.
But. They don’t know what we know. It has no Best Director nomination.
That didn’t stop Argo but Argo had the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild and the Screen Actors Guild, just like Birdman has. Sniper came too late in the game, just like Selma did, but manages to land its nominations before any of its controversy hit. It flew so under the radar no one really saw it as a threat. Certainly most Americans are unaware of the controversy, which is twofold. On the one hand, the controversy revolves around Clint Eastwood’s decision not to clarify the reasons Chris Kyle went to war. In the film he goes because he saw the towers downed. We know that isn’t why our country invaded Iraq. The character saw it that way but the film leaves it at that. It also shows sympathy only for the sniper and none for his victims. To add insult to injury, Kyle himself was outed for having told some outrageous lies. No one really knows who he killed over in Iraq because his ability to tell the truth has been called into question. Film critics had no problem separating fact from fiction, willing to defend the film as a film which should not be held accountable for the real Chris Kyle’s life story.
All the same, it’s hard not to notice a distinctly American film made by one of the town’s most legendary directors. The ways I agree with the elderly “brutally honest Academy voter” is that I do think the Oscars should recognize films that resonate with the public and the critics. There should be wide spectrum. What you have now is the “Oscar movie,” films that are made specifically for them and win awards because of that. American Sniper is a film that serves all purposes – popular with the public, did well with critics and the public. Gone Girl should have also been included as it did exactly the same thing.
An American Sniper win now would be completely off the charts, stats wise, and a total improbability. The Oscar race isn’t so hard to predict. The only thing that gets in your way is your own heart. The stats really can figure out the race for you. The big guilds decide the race now. That’s just the way it is.
But it’s odd the way everyone is talking about the movie and makes me think, with a little more time, Sniper could have stolen this whole season. Nowadays, the way the Oscar race goes, you need more time for a controversy to hit then die down before the voting takes place. If Sniper had been rolled around in September I think it would have been a force to be reckoned with.
Can it still win on Sunday as so many tuning in are going to hope for? There is probably a 5% chance of that happening, as much of a chance as Selma has.
What other big shocks might happen on Sunday?
Anything but Birdman
The only big surprise that happened at the BAFTAs was that Birdman was not popular with them so you could say that a Birdman near-shut-out would be a huge surprise. Even though people are predicting Boyhood to win, Birdman has the edge stats-wise, with all of the guilds unanimous in their support. Any other film winning would be a huge shock, even Boyhood.
The last time a film won without any of the guilds was before the guilds were really put into motion. The voting happens all at once since the Academy changed their date, which makes it harder for big surprises to happen anymore. Given another month another film might pop up and take its place. Braveheart and Mel Gibson would be your last example of a film that didn’t win any major guild before winning the Oscar. Even Shakespeare in Love had the SAG ensemble vote.
Wes Anderson surprising in Best Director
It won’t happen, of course, but there is so much love for The Grand Budapest Hotel that it winning screenplay (if it does, as many are predicting) could be combined with Anderson winning. It’s not unheard of for a surprise director to emerge in a tight year, as when Steven Soderbergh won for Traffic up against Ridley Scott and Ang Lee.
Everything is Awesome beating Glory for Selma
That brutally honest Academy voter put her vote with that song as a nod towards the snubbed Lego Movie. Glory is such a brilliant song and fit so well with Selma only a truly awful bunch of people would deny it this one award. But you know, voting is done anonymously. Like trolls in a comment section, they do whatever they want to do.
Finding Vivian Maier or Virunga or Last Days in Vietnam beating CitizenFour
I doubt anything will beat CitizenFour
but with the Academy you have to watch all five docs to vote on them. You can’t simply vote on the most popular – that’s why some weird shit happens in this category when it comes to picking a winner. Never mind. You don’t have to watch all of the nominees – so CitizenFour probably has it. BUT if you did have to watch all five….CitizenFour is slow and plodding and not all that great of a film on its own. It’s really more about the time and place, what it captured, how history making it was that makes it so powerful. All four of the other documentaries are better films, cinematically. Virunga is an absolute tearjerker, features much of the same uncovering of deadly secrets on in this case it’s about saving the mountain gorillas. Vivian Maier is just delightful from start to finish, a true masterpiece. Last Days in Vietnam is so good it’s almost better than all of the Best Picture contenders. The docs and the foreign language films really wipe up the floor with (most of) the features this year.
The Dam Keeper beating Feast in animated short
Feast is the more popular for sure – it’s definitely more widely seen. But the Dam Keeper is really moving, just an astonishing work from start to finish. While it doesn’t leave you with as much exhilaration as Feast, I think it might be hard for voters to turn away from the Dam Keeper. It’s a long shot prediction, to be sure, but one I think might occur.
What other surprises do you think might happen on Sunday?