B’s Pre-nomination Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

For the last couple of months, I’ve been intensely tracking the Oscar race: in a year without a Hurt Locker or King’s Speech, the race has been a bit difficult to track. At least, until now. With the Oscar nominations set to be announced in just a few days, I decided I’d visit the potential nominees one last time and take my most educated stab at the films that I think will be nominated for Best Picture when the official announcement comes on Tuesday, January 24th.

With so much going on in the last few weeks, I’d say there has been a bit of a shakeup in the Best Picture Pool. Let me start off by saying this: almost every film in my top 8, each of which I believe will earn a nomination for Best Picture, has been moved around, if only minimally; and there are more drastic changes in the second tier.

Let’s recap what’s gone down in the past few weeks:

The Artist and The Descendants each won top honors in their respective categories at the Golden Globes, proving that the Best Picture race is likely comprised of two top stallions and six horses hoping to finish the race; however, Hugo did earn Martin Scorsese the Best Director prize at the Globes in a bit of a shocker. The Artist also took home the top prize at the Critics’ Choice Awards a week ago, and has earned 12 nominations at the BAFTA awards, including Best Film.

On Saturday night, The Artist also had a huge, potentially tide-turning win at the Producers Guild Awards, a guild which has been a solid Oscar prognosticator since it was first handed out in 1990. The PGA Award and the Best Picture Oscar have been given to the same film 15 out of the last 22 years, meaning that this could signal the beginning of The Artist‘s gallop to Oscar gold.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy earned 11 BAFTA noms, the second most of any film, including double duty in Best British Film and Best Film, where it is joined by The Help, Drive, The Descendants, and, of course, The Artist.

I should note as well that The Tree of Life, Terence Malick’s ethereal artistic journey of life and the universe that has done so well with critics, was left off the PGA nominations list, which makes me question whether or not this film can still earn a nomination. While it has fared well among critics, it has not done so great with any of the more meaningful Oscar-predictor awards.

Could 'Bridesmaids' get some Academy love?

The Ides of March and Bridesmaids, two of the seasons big surprises, have come on strong at the right time, with both earning Golden Globe nominations in various categories as well as each being nominated for Best Film by the Producers Guild of America (PGA).

Aside from that, Bridesmaids has picked up steam with a Best Ensemble nomination from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), their equivalent of a “best picture” award, as well as an original screenplay nom from the Writers Guild of America (WGA). Bridesmaids, although I don’t see it winning any of these prizes, could prove to be the Cinderella of this year’s Oscars, crashing the party late and maybe even picking up an upset win somewhere. Bridesmaids has also picked up a nomination from the American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Awards for Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy).

Despite its somewhat meager box office returns, David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo earned itself a surprise Best Picture nomination from the Producers Guild, as well as an Eddie nomination in the Best Edited Feature Film (Drama) category. David Fincher was also recognized by the Directors Guild, earning a nomination for Best Director by a guild that typically matches up well with both the Best Director and Best Picture fields at the Academy Awards. I honestly believe that the 8th and (in my opinion) final Best Picture nomination is entirely up for grabs between four films, with Dragon Tattoo being one of them, but I’ll get to that later.

Moving on, the sentimental 9/11 film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close looks to be all but out of the Best Picture conversation, opening to very middling reviews. What looked like a lock for a nomination back in September looks to now be a film waving the white flag in the Best Picture race.

So what does all of this mean for the Best Picture race at the Oscars? Well, I sense a minor shakeup in the nomination pool, and I think we could be in for a couple of potential surprises once the nominations are announced on January 24th. There can be between 5 and 10 Best Picture nominees, but as I have thought since September, I think we’re going to see 8 nominations in the field once it’s all said and done. Here’s how I see it shaking out (with my previous rankings in parentheses, if changed):

NOMINEES                                                     IN THE RUNNING
1. The Artist (2)                                                 9. The Tree of Life (8)
2. The Descendants (1)                                  10. Bridesmaids (NEW)
3. The Help (4)                                                  11. The Ides of March (15)
4. Hugo (3)                                                         12. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (–)
5. Midnight in Paris (7)                                   13. Drive (11)
6. Moneyball (5)                                               14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2 (13)
7. War Horse (6)                                               15. A Separation (NEW)
8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (10)

'Dragon Tattoo' slides into the #8 slot

As you can see, lots of minute changes and tweaks across the board, but only one change in the films that I think will earn nominations. I’ve moved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in at #8 and dropped The Tree of Life out of the nomination pool and into the #9 spot, that ever-curious bubble-position that could really go either way. I’ve also flipped The Artist and The Descendants for the umpteenth time, just based on all of the awards that The Artist has been racking up, but I think it will be a very close race and that prediction is definitely subject to change.

However, as an aside to that, I think that there is a great appeal to a silent film in today’s Hollywood: it speaks all languages. Silence is among the few truly universal languages, and save for a few English subtitle cards throughout the film, The Artist is probably the most audience inclusive movie of the year, which is why I’ve put it at #1 for now. Well, that, and its big win at the PGAs.

With the new voting format this year, we have a chance to see between 5 and 10 Best Picture nominees. While I don’t think we’ll see 5, I adjusted my rankings to reflect the films that I think would be nominated if there were only 5 films in the race. If that were to happen, I think we’ll hear The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, and Midnight in Paris get called before an abrupt and disheartening end to the announcement.

Of course, there is also the option that 10 films could be nominated, despite my belief that that won’t occur, in which case I think The Tree of Life is probably in at number 9 and Bridesmaids, The Ides of March, and Tinker vying for that 10th and final nomination. While not much has been made of Tinker in recent weeks, its important to remember that there is a rather large and influential British constituent in the Academy, which played a role in the tide of support turning from The Social Network to The King’s Speech in last year’s race, so don’t be surprised if Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy earns the final nom, especially considering its whopping 11 BAFTA Award nominations.

Despite those possibilities, I firmly believe we are going to see 8 nominees in this year’s race, with Moneyball, War Horse, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in at #6, #7, and #8, respectively. However, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if War Horse and Dragon Tatto were replaced with, say, some combination of The Tree of Life/Bridesmaids/Ides/Tinker, with Drive being a very unlikely long-shot to land a nomination, despite its love from critics the world over.

I don’t see the latest Potter installment making much of a splash in the major awards categories, but it warrants recognition on the list for its achievement and near-unanimous critical praise.

And finally, a new movie in the 15th and final slot on my list, the Iranian film A Separation, a foreign language film that has garnered all sorts of attention recently, with a huge win in the Foreign Language Film category at the Golden Globes. I don’t think it will be in the thick (or thin) of the Best Picture race at all, but it, too, deserves some recognition for what it has achieved thus far.

To finish off those previously on my list, I think Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has probably taken the biggest hit of any of the potential nominees. Back in October, it sat at #2 on my list. By mid-December, I moved it to #9, and now, it’s completely gone. That’s what happens when you don’t get much attention from any of the Oscar prelude awards.

'The Artist': Not-so-silently picking up steam

And there you have it: my final Best Picture predictions, pre-nomination announcement, with The Artist sitting at the top. Sometime between the announcement and the midway point in February, I will likely put out my initial predictions for the winners of each award category, with my final predictions on the entire roundup to come in the last days leading up to the big show.

In the meantime, kick back, relax, catch a few flicks, keep on reading the blog, and maybe even make some predictions of your own! Also, be sure to check out my other Oscar-related posts, where I’ve taken the liberty of predicting all of the acting categories, production/writing categories, feature categories, and all of the typically unpredictable (at this stage at least) technical and art categories.



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