Oscars 2013: Which Film Will Win ‘Best Picture’?

Suzanne Scacca

 

“The good news is that I've seen the films of one of the best recent years in cinema.”  Roger Ebert recently made this bold proclamation regarding the year 2012 in cinema, but is it really an accurate statement about the quality of films offered this past year?  2012 has had its fair share of ups and downs in movie selection just like any other year, but out of respect to Ebert, 2012 films nominated for this year’s Academy Awards are an excellent crop, which critics hailed as one of Hollywood’s recent impressive achievements.

 

The Best Picture of the year can usually be predicted before the Oscar nominees have even been announced.  This year, the Golden Globes awarded Argo with the Best Drama award and Les Miserables with the Best Comedy or Musical award.  While the Golden Globes have a track record of predicting the Oscar winner only 55 percent of the time in the past 20 years, the list of nominees and the two winners present an accurate glimpse of what is to come at the Oscars.

 

“Having 10 Best Picture nominees will allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize,’ AMPAS President Sid Ganis said at a press conference.”  While the expansion of the Best Picture category at the Oscars allows for more movies to receive the recognition they deserve, it does not change the fact that the voters lean towards awarding similar themes and performances every year.  They love dramas, lengthy historical epics, and tales of patriotism, controversy, and triumph over adversity.  Along that same line, if we take into consideration the rash of shootings across the country, the possibility of the United States having to intervene in another conflict in the Middle East, and the increasing long-range missile capabilities of other nations popping up across the news in 2012, it does not come as a surprise that three of the top contenders for Best Picture this year center around war and U.S. foreign relations.  

 

That brings us to this year’s nine Best Picture nominees and their chances of walking home with the Best Picture gold:

 

 

Amour (5 percent)

Foreign language films very rarely win the Best Picture honors at the Academy Awards.  Amour is almost surely to win the Best Foreign Language Film award this year, but its chances of taking the Best Picture award away from eight English language films is most unlikely. 

 

Argo (15 percent)

Roger Ebert listed Ben Affleck’s Argo in the top spot for his list of best movies of 2012:  “This film takes first place on my best movie list because it is above all else a movie -- pure, strong and sound. It has the classic values of a Hollywood thriller. It is ‘based on a true story.’”

 

Ebert is similar to the Academy Awards voters:  He prefers his movies based on true stories and he loves movies that tug at the heart strings (A Separation and The Social Network were his last two picks for number one.)  Argo fulfills both of these requirements as it gives us a behind-the-scenes look of what happened in 1979 when the CIA had to rescue six Americans from Iran.  Argo is Ben Affleck’s most adventurous work yet and deserves to be nominated for this award, but it will most likely be edged out by either Zero Dark Thirty or Lincoln, unless Hollywood decides it wants to not only award the film but also give itself a pat on the back for having been a part of that rescue mission.

 

 

Beasts of the Southern Wild (5 percent)

You have two stories about a big storm, a child learning about dangers in life and how to beat them, and they are both told with elements of fantasy strewn throughout.  Beasts and Life of Pi will cancel each other out here. 

 

 

Django Unchained (5 percent)

Quentin Tarantino is again putting a unique spin on a piece of history with which we are all familiar.  The movie deals with a controversial piece of American history, but it will likely not win Best Picture this year.  Tarantino is one of the more exciting directors to watch but his violent stories of revenge won’t win top honors – even if they deal with the history of slavery in the United States.

 

 

Les Miserables (10 percent)

Anne Hathaway is sure to take home the Best Supporting Actress award this year for her portrayal of the tragic Fantine.  Her short performance has everything required of a top actress award at the Oscars:  she lost 25 pounds, had her hair cut off, and she added a new skill of singing to her repertoire.  The Fantine story is only in the first part of the movie, however, and is not enough to propel the rest of the dimly-lit, live-sung story to Best Picture glory.

 

 

Life of Pi (5 percent)

As noted above with Beasts, this movie is most likely to be canceled out while running against another similarly themed fantasy movie.   Pi is a beautifully shot and well-assembled movie that will garner it plenty of awards in the editing and cinematography categories, but the story is not solid enough to give it a chance to win Best Picture.

 

 

Lincoln (24 percent)

Lincoln could take the top honor this year – especially with Daniel Day-Lewis’ spot-on performance as Abraham Lincoln.  Day-Lewis has won the Best Actor Oscar twice now:  once for My Left Foot and the other for There Will Be Blood.  He is sure to win it again this year with his portrayal of the 16th president of the United States of America.  The Academy voters love this kind of material; however, Lincoln can really only boast one award-worthy performance (Day-Lewis) and it might not be enough to give this movie the top award unless voters have already soured on the other overly-hyped war movie this year.

 

 

Silver Linings Playbook (5 percent)

Comedies – not to mention romantic comedies – do not fare well in this category.  All four of the main actors in this movie are nominated for awards in their categories (Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, and Jackie Weaver.)  This is the first time in 31 years that this has happened and is a good sign that this movie’s performances are well-received, but is not an indication that Playbook has any better chance at winning the Best Picture award than any of the other movies in this category.  If the Academy were bold enough to break free from the mold of Oscar history, the award would go to Silver Linings Playbook

 

 

Zero Dark Thirty (26 percent)

Most people living in the U.S. today remember the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011 – the actual event upon which this movie is based.  Most people also vividly remember the tragedy of September 11, 2001 – the reason that announcement, that death, and this movie could even exist. 

 

Zero Dark Thirty will win the Best Picture Oscar for this reason. As the discovery and murder of Osama bin Laden – the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks – took place less than two years ago, the idea and eventual script for this movie came about way too quickly to put together a cinematic piece worthy of sitting among the ranks of true-life stories of memorable events in the nation’s history.  However, the lack of story, lack of connectivity to the protagonist “Maya”, and the unnecessarily lengthy and hokey telling of the decade-long search for Bin Laden will be overshadowed by all of the controversy and drama surrounding the film and the constant chatter around it.  Come Oscar night, the award will most likely go to Zero Dark Thirty.

 

Author Bio:

Suzanne Scacca is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.

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