The Oscar Race Heats Up As Lincoln Becomes Early Favorite

The Oscar race is a fascinating experience.  if you’re a crazed and psychopath Oscar-goer, then you know, like the NFL, there is no such thing as an off-season.  Once the Academy Awards are finished, the new season begins, and though our helpings of fresh and exciting news aren’t always constantly fed throughout the year, this season, November-December, is where the race really heats up.  This is where studios save their best for last.  Their highly placed treasures are in their back pockets, waiting and waiting, until the right moment approaches.  That’s why timing is everything in the Oscar race.  If you don’t understand this, then you’ll be easily left and forgotten as the Academy is no sympathizing angel.  It’s a monster, but a monster that can be tamed, if and when the right film comes along.

As the Oscar season hits full stream, I’ll be updating more with news, opinions and constant posts on how the Oscar season is shaping.  If you’ve read before, I’ve posted my first Oscar race post claiming that Argo is on top of the leader board.  Though it still is definitely a contender, it is no more the head honcho.

Best Picture

1.  Lincoln

Critical acclaim and box office success are necessary components to Oscar success.  If you don’t have either, you have to be one damn good film (to the Academy’s eyes) to overcome.  it’s happened before, but it’s rare, and it happens usually when the Academy doesn’t want another film to win.  Lincoln, however, is everything the Academy jumps on.  Besides the two important factors, it has a tremendous cast with Daniel Day-Lewis leading as its captain.  Then add in the best screenplay of the year by Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg (guarantee nomination), well you should get the picture.  Right now, it’s in the driver’s seat and peaked at a very good time as the early nominations move will certainly attribute to Lincoln’s awards success.  Right now, I’m projecting around 10-11 nominations for Lincoln, including a lock for Best Picture.  But it definitely has some large and difficult roadblocks ahead as…

2.  Les Miserables

If you’ve seen the musical, then you’ll know how emotionally engaging and fulfilling this production is.  Having just witnessed the touring production in Chicago, it’s a masterpiece full of excellent music and prospering roles.  So if one can adapt this on screen, Les Mis has the potential to be a monster of a hit.  This is what I’ve been hearing all over twitter from different sources as Les Miserables from Tom Hooper screened at multiple theaters over the weekend in Los Angeles and New York.  Though I’ve personally haven’t seen it, I’m ready to claim Les Miserables as a contender, knowing fully the response I had watching the musical.  I’ve personally been told “if you’ve seen the musical, you’ll love the movie” which means I know how I’ll respond to the film.  The only question is how will the Academy?  Anne Hatheway has been slated as a lock for snagging Best Supporting Actress already, which means it definitely is a film to be reckoned with.  Les Miserables has a few obstacles to overcome also as it deals with a Christmas release (a little late IMO), Tom Hooper winning BD and BP two years prior and a potential receptive culture hinging on prior experiences with the onstage production.  My personal feelings is that Les Miserables has the potential to pull a Million Dollar Baby here.  The Aviator had been the favorite for a long time, and then all of a sudden came this late December release.  What will be important to watch is the Best Ensemble Award for the SAG.  Lincoln and Les Miserables will go head-to-head there, and whoever wins that may dictate who wins Best Picture.

3.  Argo

Unfortunately for Ben Affleck and co., they peaked too soon.  This is a great film.  It’s classic filmmaking at its finest, and in any other year, it has the potential to win Best Picture.  But likewise for all the great films of 2012, it’s a clouded race with highly excellent candidates.  Argo needs plenty of support from the critics, and I don’t know if that’ll do enough for Argo to make a late push for Best Picture.  It’s one of those films that got hot too early and is starting to lose its steam.  But it has nothing to do with its quality.  The Oscar race is the Oscar race.  But Argo will definitely snag a Best Picture nomination.

4.  Silver Linings Playbook

I was personally torn and confused on where to put this film on the list of contenders.  Having just recently seen this film over Thanksgiving (review coming), it’s an engaging film driven by its performances.  Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawerence and Robert De Niro all put in their best work, and it is one of the more emotionally captivating films currently in the awards season.  That is its biggest element working for SLP.  The Academy goes ape-crazy for emotional films, and SLP is no short of an emotional experience.  The only thing is that all these films are emotional.  They hinge on the audience having strong feelings, and if that’s the only thing SLP has going for it, then it’s going to fall short.  Though members of the Academy are buzzing over the film, this Oscar race is a long and tiring one, and if the buzz is nothing short of Best Picture winner, then I don’t think it’s enough to put SLP in the top spot.  I may be wrong, but I’m going with my gut feeling on SLP.

5.  Zero Dark Thirty

Likewise with Les Miserables, it’s a film I haven’t seen but have heard roaring applause for over twitter.  Screenings have been taking place and many are saying it’s better than The Hurt Locker (Won Picture, Director and Screenplay).  The fact that this film is something different and particularly diverse compared to the rest of the field will help ZDT’s chances if all the major contenders play the emotion and feelings card.  This is a film strictly focused on killing Osama Bin Laden.  Nothing more.  Like Lincoln, it doesn’t stray away from it’s emphasis.  Much respect to Kathyrn Bigelow and Mark Boal for repeating their excellent work.  Considering that I haven’t seen ZDT, I can only put it at my number 5 slot.  But, look out for a potential underdog.

6.  Life of Pi

Oh Life of Pi, how much I appreciated you (review coming).  It’s such a grand and epic film in both visual and spiritual entities.  It’s a film that captures everything you want in a film experience, but like all the other contenders fighting for a spot, it’s main Achilles heel would be being released in 2012.  Being nominated will be it’s main achievement, and the Academy will also reward the film with multiple nominations including Director, Screenplay and Special Effects of course.   But for Life of Pi to be seriously considered a Best Picture contender, it would have to pull a huge upset in multiple facets of award programs and I just don’t see that happening.

Other Contenders/Potential Nominees

The Master

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Amour

Moonrise Kingdom

The Impossible

Django Unchained

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Goodness.  There’s just so much quality and greatness in this year’s potential 2012 Best Picture lineup.  What a major headache this will be for Academy members.  And this is what the Oscar season will be until the eventful night in February of 2013.  I honestly have no clue what’s going to happen.  Unlike last year where it was clear that The Artist was going to demolish everyone and everything in its sights, this year, we can have a wide range of awardees from major outlets and not have a clear concise favorite.  This is going to be an exciting Awards season and I hope you’re ready for the ride.

Prediction for Best Picture (11/26/12):  My gut tells me Les Miserables.

 

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