Best Picture Chart - 23 Weeks To Go
1. "Silver Linings Playbook" (16)
So, uh, yeah, we underestimated this one. THE popular success of TIFF, and one that a number of prognosticators walked out of naming a Best Picture lock. The question remains for us, though -- does it have a real chance at winning? "The Descendants" stayed strong throughout the season last year, but never really felt like it could take the top prize, and the same could well be true here. But if unseen fare like "Les Mis" and "Lincoln" falters this will hold steady.
2. "Argo" (3)
We'd long suspected this would have the goods, and word from Telluride and TIFF suggests it really does. There's some minor controversy about its politics, but nothing that feels like it'll make a dent, and recent world events only make it feel more relevant. But box office is important here -- if it does, say, "Ides of March" numbers, the possibility of winning slips a good deal.
3. "Les Miserables" (1)
Universal, probably rightly, are keeping their cards to their chest on this. Has a lot of plus points, but could it feel too Oscar-baity? Say what you like about the last few winners, but none were necessarily designed as awards fare n the way that this clearly was.
4. "Lincoln" (2)
Not a wildly enthusiastic response to the trailer the other day, but people weren't doing backflips over "War Horse" either.
5. "The Master" (5)
Harvey Weinstein arguably got the best case scenario at Venice -- it didn't win the Golden Lion, but got director and actor, and the leaked story that the jury wanted to give it the top prize too only makes it seem more like a once-in-a-lifetime film. But will it be accessible enough for older Academy voters? Opening already means it has a long slog ahead of it, but critics' groups in November and December will help a lot.
6. "Life Of Pi" (4)
Still an unknown quantity at this point, but we're only a few weeks from the film's NYFF premiere, so it'll become clearer soon. Unless Suraj Sharma really surprises, it's unlikely to do much in the way of acting nominations, but that didn't stop "Hugo" dominating the technical awards last year.
7. "Zero Dark Thirty" (11)
With "Lincoln" finally unveiling footage, this is the contender of which we've seen the least amount of footage so far. We could see a new trailer as soon as with "Looper," but we think Sony will hang on until "Skyfall" for another glimpse of the film.
8. "Beasts Of The Southern Wild" (6)
Taking the backseat for now to the festival pictures, it remains to be seen if it'll hang on into the Best Picture race -- at one time, it felt like it could even challenge for the top prize, but other films have superseded it. That said, with Quvenzhane Wallis looking like a dead cert for a nomination, that should help a good deal.
9. "Moonrise Kingdom" (10)
Hitting DVD any day now, the film, like 'Beasts,' is in it for the long haul. People really like the film though, even older audiences traditionally cooler to Anderson's work, so don't count it out, but it will likely fighting it out for one of the last few slots.
10. "Promised Land" (8)
On paper, this late threat has all the ingredients for something very Oscar friendly. But it doesn't hit until December 28th, so might well be too late for critics groups, and even precursor awards like the Golden Globes. By then, will the field be too tough to break into? Focus would do well to start screening it as soon as they can.
11. "Amour" (-)
Some believe that this is a lock for a nomination, and we're starting to come around to it. Sony Pictures Classics will fight hard for it, but Playlist staffers who've seen it believe that the film's simply too tough. The Academy's predominately 60+ plus members couldn't bring themselves to give Julie Christie an Oscar for "Away From Her," a few years back, and that film is "Hope Springs" compared to Michael Haneke's latest.
12. "The Impossible" (7)
Those who love Juan Antonio Bayona's film, really love it, and sometimes that's enough, but there are plenty of naysayers, and given that the film has some disadvantages (a late release date, a smaller studio behind it), it may struggle to crack the nominees. Still has a good chance, though.
13. "Flight" (12)
Like "Life Of Pi," this skipped Toronto in favor of the NYFF, where it'll bow in early October, so we're not too far from finding out how it is. For what it's worth, we've heard really good buzz on the film, but it may face an issue in that a number of other smart, star-driven studio dramas (most notably "Argo") are in contention too. Will this just come off as their glossy, commercial big brother? Or might that fact help it?
14. "Cloud Atlas" (15)
We're not sure if the film screening at Toronto actually helped clear the air on this one. The film's loathed by some, and adored by others, and again, if it can land 5% of first choice votes, it's in the final number. That said, our hunch is that younger audiences respond better to it, although Tom Hanks' presence may help the older crowd see it.
15. "Anna Karenina" (14)
Well respected, for the most part, but not a lot of critical raves behind it (although it's becoming something of a favorite among the Playlist team). There's a lot of respect for the boldness of Joe Wright's vision, which will likely be reflected below the line, but the performances haven't bowled many over, and a disappointing UK opening (likely severely affected by a gloriously sunny weekend) suggests it might not be a financial smash. That said, it's not to be counted out.
16. "Django Unchained" (17)
We can't decide if "The Master" and "Silver Linings Playbook" both looking like major contenders means that Tarantino's latest -- which we've always felt is mostly commercial -- will get overshadowed by the other Weinstein Company pictures, or if it's better off as a result. We still think this'll ultimately be on the outside, but after "Inglourious Basterds," it could still happen.
17. "The Sessions" (13)
While it seems good for acting nominations, we feel like Best Picture is a longshot at this point. All that said, it could get another groundswell behind it when the film's released in October.
18. "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (-)
As some of the more middlebrow-type fare falls off -- "Hyde Park On Hudson," "Quartet" etc -- this one, as a proven solid-gold hit, ekes up again. Hardly a critical favorite, but couldn't be more in the Academy sweet spot if it tried. Will it be too far in the past, though?
19. "Rust & Bone" (-)
Continuing to draw raves after appearances at TIFF and Telluride, can it piggyback Marion Cotillard -- now essentially the front-runner for Best Actress -- to a wider nomination? We suspect that one or the other of this and "Amour" will get in, but not both, and right now the Haneke pic is SPC's priority. But in a way, Jacques Audiard's film is more Academy friendly, even if it's also got a rough edge to it.
20. "Killing Them Softly" (-)
Harvey Weinstein claims that the release delay, to November 30th, is to better place the film for Oscar consideration. Whether you believe him or not (we don't), it did make us wonder if it's worth reconsidering. The film, like some of these, others, is nicely timed in terms of its political message, and we feel like it might connect better with U.S. critics than it did in Cannes.
Bubbling Under: "The Dark Knight Rises," "Song For Marion," "The Hobbit," " This Is 40"
"Hyde Park On Hudson
," which basically no one likes and even Bill Murray
's Oscar nomination is in serious question. "To The Wonder
" pretty much bombed in Toronto, and it still needs U.S. distribution, which at this point could be a hard sell. Certainly, major indies won't be circling Malick's latest too hard unless the price tag is very low. And even if it does get picked up, it's going to be 2013 for this one.