Saturday, February 03, 2007

Oscar Buzz - Best Picture

My brother got me obsessed with trying to figure out which film will take home the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards later this month...

I had assumed that my new favorite film of the year, Little Miss Sunshine, had no chance of winning, with it being the type of movie that's traditionally ignored a top-win by the Academy. I'm not surprised to have seen it nominated, though, since other movies of its kind often get nominated to seemingly "round out" the list of the nominations -- examples being Sideways in 2004, Chocolat in 2000, Ghost in 1990 and Working Girl in 1988.

But, it's looking like Sunshine has a real chance.

(By the way, I disliked The Departed -- I thought the dialog was over-the-top, the story was confusing, that Jack Nicholson had phoned in his typical "I'm a crazy nut" performance, and that it was way too long. I thought Letters from Iwo Jima was just okay -- the first 45 minutes were really boring. I loved The Queen -- one of my favorites of the year. I didn't see Babel.)

According to the Guros o' Gold -- which averages what 14 critics/industry insiders think -- on Movie City News, Sunshine will win. It's score is well in front of its closest challengers -- The Departed and Babel, almost neck-and-neck. Letters from Iwo Jima and The Queen take distant fourth and fifth places, respectively.

In the Jan. 26 Five Not-So-Easy Pieces post on his Carpetbagger blog, New York Times media critic David Carr asks readers for their predictions. Here's an interesting analysis that also supports Sunshine winning:
[Departed] and [Letters] will split the geezer vote, and weariness over heavy-handed social commentary that is "so last year" (Crash and Brokeback Mountain) hurts Babel. As for The Queen, missing nominations for "the Blairs" Michael Sheen and Helen McCrory in this wonderfully acted film hurt its chances, by process of elimination leaving us with the feel good black comedy [Sunshine], the only logical survivor of this tepid list of nominated films. What a shame that the Academy didn't have the vision to nominate the very best of the overlooked films of 2006: Children of Men, Pan's Labyrinth, and Notes On A Scandal.
And another:
Me thinks Departed will cancel out Iwo Jima which will cancel out The Queen and Babel. By a nose, [Sunshine] will prevail.
I can't remember a year when you couldn't automatically eliminate at least two of the films from the running. To me, this suggests a year where none of the films are really standing out. Given that, I'm beginning to wonder if the following influence will come into play: Martin Scorsese not having been awarded for any of his past works. The following posting embraces that influence and calls for The Departed to win:
As much as I'd love to see [Sunshine] take the top prize, I don’t think it's going to happen. I’m pretty sure Scorsese will win this year, and I think the Academy will toss the Best Pic win to The Departed by default.
The same poster also shares concern that Sunshine cannot win without it having received a Best Director nomination:
I don't understand why so many people think [Sunshine] is such a contender in the Best Picture race. If you look at Oscar statistics, it’s the only nominee you can almost certainly be sure will NOT win. It's virtually impossible for a film to win without a Best Director nomination. In fact, it's only happened three times: 1989 with Driving Miss Daisy, 1932 and Grand Hotel, and Oscar's very first year, 1927 and Wings. Even then, Daisy had the most nominations of any film in its year, and there were a lot of weirdnesses in the Academy's early days.
And then there's the Best Editing influence:
Has to be The Departed or Babel. Why? Editing nominations. Film editing is easily the most important (and under-appreciated) element in crafting film. In the last 40 years, only four Best Picture winners did not receive a nomination for editing.
Richard Corliss of Time magazine, though, suggests a factor that may quash the above points and lead to Sunshine winning:
In troubled times, Oscar sometimes looks for an antidote (or palliative), and chooses a happy-think movie for Best Picture. It happened during World War II, when the Catholic musical Going My Way won, and in the Vietnam War, with the Dickens musical Oliver, and at the apogee of the Watergate crisis, with The Sting, and just after the Clinton impeachment, when the modest comedy Shakespeare in Love snipered Steven Spielberg's bloody Saving Private Ryan. We are in another of those historical moments, with grim death gargling at you around every corner and people being slaughtered like sheep. Of course, Academy voters could heed the incendiary Zeitgeist and vote for Babel, a film about international chaos, or Letters from Iwo Jima, depicting the last days of a losing war. The Queen shows a head of state stubbornly resisting the popular will, and The Departed is a chic bloodbath. Or, surveying this bleak terrain, the Academy membership might turn to the one feel-good movie nominated for Best Picture. Voting for a comedy that celebrates life -- eccentric but essentially loving family life -- would be an affirmation of what Hollywood has done since its Golden Age: try to make America forget what makes it gloomy, and bring it a little Sunshine.
What do you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is the first year in a long, long time ... in which EACH ONE of the five nominated films has the possibility of winning Best Pic!

And what if...
"Babel" is too much like last year's "Crash" ... "LMSunshine" is a bit light weight for Best Pic ... "Departed" and "Iwo Jima" cancel each other out ...
and "The Queen" wins! Deservedly!(Remember Adrian Brody!)