It always comes down to the director. This is true for many things, including the product of the film. Any great film should be credited to the director, mainly because he/she was able to envision to film through the eyes of the camera, relating the material that’s on the script, visualize the necessary details from costume, set and effects, and provide the necessary education and motivation for their actors. The director is the success and failure for any film. And that’s why the Directing category at the Oscars usually dictates how Best Picture will go.
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Michael Haneke, Amour
Ever since the denial of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow, this group of nominees has been hard to decipher. You can genuinely tell the Academy really appreciated these five films, considering Life of Pi and Lincoln received the most nominations, Silver Linings received four acting nominations (first film in history) and Beasts and Amour received more than expected love as it received Screenplay, Directing, Actress and Picture. So if this is the five films the Academy loves, you would think the favorite to win Best Picture would be in this group, right? Well, not this year. I firmly believe that Ben Affleck’s absence is one of the main reasons why Argo has gained so much momentum. The “we feel so bad for him” card has worked like kings for Argo and their campaign, and the Argo momentum has not slowed down. I honestly do feel Bigelow’s “snub” is more disturbing than Affleck’s, because I honestly don’t think the Academy likes him as much as the guilds do. Bigelow has nothing to do with likability because she won three years ago. They were scared of her movie, and they were scared of the publicity. Reasons that never should be included in the way you vote. But let’s focus on the five nominees.
Michael Haneke and Benh Zeitlin are two nominees that should be honored just to belong in this group. Though the love of Amour and Beasts is surely present, I highly doubt that there is anyway possible they will win. Haneke is more likely than Zeitlin, but that has no relevance considering they’re ants in a monster race. That doesn’t diminish their film or their work, considering Zeitlin has created his first ever feature length film and Haneke is a great French filmmaker. They deserve to be there and have done amazing things. But the battle is not about them.
This is a three man race, and considering there’s no Affleck to sweep the awards, this is a very difficult category to predict. Most, including experts, will pick Steven Spielberg to win Best Director. And I most likely will stick with that choice, mainly because I want to see Lincoln win Best Picture, and if Lincoln doesn’t win Best Director, then you can for sure count out Lincoln for the biggest award of the night. If Lincoln is truly second place behind Argo, then it must win Director. If it doesn’t, then you’ll know there was this false idea looming around Hollywood that Lincoln was right there.
But if I had some courage, I would honestly pick either Ang Lee or David O. Russell. Lee would make more sense considering it’s the second most nominated film of the evening, and the Academy genuinely liked Life of Pi. Ang Lee has won once for Brokeback Mountain, but considering it lost to Crash for Picture, this could be another way of acknowledging Lee’s exceptional and masterful work in the director’s chair. My guess is that we can anticipate an Ang Lee win if Life of Pi wins specific categories that it wasn’t favored to like Sound Editing and Production Design. If it stays strong in the Techs, it’s very likely we see Life of Pi also snag Director.
But don’t ignore David O. Russell. He’s been put on the forefront for Silver Linings Playbook’s campaign, as they’ve stepped back with the Jennifer Lawrence promotion, and put the mental illness center stage, allowing Robert De Niro and Russell share their experiences with the troubles and struggles of witnessing a loved one go through instability and mood swings. It’s a great move, and puts Russell in a humanizing position, winning votes from members who are teetering between directors. If we see Silver Linings Playbook upset in Screenplay and/or see them win two acting categories, I think you should also assume that Russell’s name will be announced too. If the Academy truly loved Silver Linings as much as I’ve been hearing, it’s going to get rewarded, and it’ll be for the big awards.
In my heart, I still believe that Spielberg will win. I really can’t make much sense of it considering the rest of the industry has pretty much sunned Spielberg and Lincoln, but it makes the most sense at this moment. Highest box office out of all the nominees, most nominations, Spielberg’s name. You would think he would win, but this is one of those year’s you just can’t tell. Exciting but yet extremely frustrating…
Tomorrow I will preview the final category, Best Picture. Then on Saturday, I will release my picks on who’s going to win and who I would vote for if I were an Academy member.