Friday, February 22, 2013

One Category at a Time: Picture

For this annual post I traditionally take a rigidly statistical approach to narrowing down the Best Picture nominees. I simply look for the contenders with the three key nominations of Director, Editing, and Screenplay, and consider them the only ones truly in the running. But in a year as off-kilter as this one, it has become apparent that my usual approach is not adequate.

Due to a compressed window for nomination voting, the directors branch overlooked Ben Affleck in that important category of Best Director. And yet after cleaning up with the Critics Choice, Globes, PGA, SAG, ACE, and WGA Awards, we must accept that Argo was always going to be the indomitable juggernaut this season.

It begs the question: which film stands to spoil the party? Of the remaining eight nominees, I suppose the runner-up must be one of the three that have that trio of important nominations. Lincoln, Life of Pi, and Silver Linings Playbook are all up for Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Film Editing.

Life of Pi looks like it might give Ang Lee a decent shot at Best Director, which logically makes it the second most likely to win Best Picture.

But I'm not so sure.

A strong phase two campaign for Silver Linings Playbook – orchestrated by the sneaky Harvey Weinstein – could put it in deceptively strong position. David O. Russell's surprise Adapted Screenplay win at the BAFTAs might be a telling sign that he could win Best Director. And if he could win Best Director, a Best Picture win is certainly within the realm of possibility.

And there may still be a contingent of Lincoln faithful ready to stump for the Oscar-y biopic. But the preferential ballot will hurt it a bit. It doesn't seem like everybody agrees on this film.

Of the remaining nominees, none feels like a winner:

Amour is too foreign. Beasts of the Southern Wild is too small. Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty are too divisive and controversial. Les Miserables has its share of champions, but it too has many detractors, not to mention a complete lack of the requisite Director, Editing, and Writing nominations.

Will win (ranked):
1. Argo
2. Silver Linings Playbook
3. Life of Pi
4. Lincoln
5. Les Miserables
6. Zero Dark Thirty
7. Django Unchained
8. Beasts of the Southern Wild
9. Amour

Should win (ranked):
1. Beasts of the Southern Wild
2. Argo
3. Amour
4. Lincoln
5. Les Miserables
6. Zero Dark Thirty
7. Silver Linings Playbook
8. Django Unchained
9. Life of Pi

Should have been nominated: Moonrise Kingdom

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