I was just looking as a series of graphic Best Picture prints designed by Dean Walton and my mind wandered into a geeky Oscaroborus that I couldn't break free of. The series of prints is referred to as a "full series" but there's only five: Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Misérables, and Lincoln. Um. There are nine Best Picture nominees this year, Dean!
It got me to thinking. I don't even think those would have been "the five", had there been just five. It's not so easy to discount Argo, Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook given the final vote tallies. I think we might have had a year of 3/5 Picture/Director split year. Or even gasp 2/5... which has happened before believe it or not.
Way back in 1955 the Best Picture nominees were: Marty, Picnic, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, The Rose Tattoo, and Mister Roberts. The directors branch felt quite differently going with only Delbert Mann (for Marty) who won and Joshua Logan for the big hit Picnic (we recently discussed that film and its Broadway revival) from the Best Picture list. Otherwise the director's branch threw their support behind David Lean's Summertime, John Sturges' Bad Day at Black Rock and Elia Kazan's East of Eden.
But back to the here and now.
It's easy to twist yourself into pretzels devouring your own tail in trying to chase the "what if..." of five nominees. My guess is it would have been Argo, Lincoln, Life of Pi, Les Miz, and Silver Linings Playbook... but maybe that's too simple of a guess? We'll never know but it's fascinating to wonder. Number of nominations doesn't always tell the story -- remember when Four Weddings and Funeral crashed the Best Picture party in 1994 with only one other nomination to its name?!. What if it was Argo, Beasts, Lincoln, Les Miz, and Silver Linings Playbook with Life of Pi taking over the long held title of "Most Nominated Movie Ever Without a Best Picture Nom"? That dubious honor currently belongs to a great great movie known as They Shoot Horses, Don't They (1969) which won nine nominations but miraculous fell short of a Best Picture nod. (If you've never seen it you should drop everything and get right to that. It's better than almost all of the real Best Picture nominees)
Which five films do you think would have been nominated under the traditional system? Would Amour have been the first foreign film Best Pic nominated since Crouching Tiger (as it is know) or would we still be waiting for a subtitled picture to enter the race again?