I'm trying to decide how much to alter some of my current predictions when I post my final predictions (Tuesday night). Here are some things I'm pondering. Ponder with me in the comments. It's a Ponder Party!
The Academy ♥ Tarantino? OR...
The Internet ≠ The Academy
The Globes ≠ The Academy
Quentin Tarantino is indisputably a god of the internet. Were the internet a person it would be his insatiable whore, his dresser, his boyservant, his entire yes man entourage. But the Academy is not the internet. They never have been. (If they were Chris Nolan would have five directing nominations and not zero and The Social Network and Brokeback Mountain would have trounced The King's Speech and Crash). Consider: zero nominations for Kill Bill Vol. 1 (my choice for his best film and unarguably worthy in technical fields even if you don't much care for it as a whole). Zero nominations for Kill Bill Vol. 2. One measly nomination for Jackie Brown. "But they loved Pulp Fiction (7 nods, 1 win) and Inglorious Basterds (8 nods, 1 win)" - shouts everyone in the universe. They did, it's true. [more...]
But Pulp Fiction was inarguably seismic for cinema culture and Basterds was unexpectedly rich and new playing from a weird WW II angle (and WW II is quite possibly Oscar's single favorite thing)... what is Django Unchained bringing but for good timing, Basterds 2.0 (in some ways) and a surprisingly less-controversial-than-you'd-expect place to enjoy your bloodlust even in these nervous "is bloodlust okay?" times. Somehow Zero Dark Thirty has taken all the heat about how much inhumanity to man is okay for movies to indulge in even though Django is far more proud of its own bloodbath.
Many people point to the Golden Globes as evidence that Django is in for a major Oscar nom haul on Thursday but it's worth noting that the Globes are more Tarantino friendly than Oscar (and the Globes are very very Weinstein friendly in general). The HFPA liked Pulp & Basterds just as much as AMPAS but they also found ways to nominate both Kill Bills and Jackie Brown in major ways that Oscar didn't. I confess I have no idea what will happen with this movie. It could be anywhere from 2 to 10 nominations. Anywhere in there... but regardless I see it going home empty-handed on Oscar night.
Will Voters Finally Have a Fling With Lothario James Bond?
I've talked about the Academy's utter disinterest in the James Bond franchise often -- the franchise hasn't won an Oscar in 47 years and hasn't been nominated for one in over 30. And yet it still surprises people to read that only three (three!!!) James Bond theme songs have been Oscar nominated. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) currently holds the Most Nominated title among Bond films with 3 nominations. But all that said, if there's a record that's broken this year with Oscar, wouldn't more love for Bond be among the possibilities given the team behind and in the film and the 50th anniversary hoopla? I guess it's worth considering that Oscar doesn't honor men until they have some years on them so maybe hitting the big "5 0" is just what 007 needed? Still... 30+ years without a nomination is telling. I'm still torn!
Les Misérables (OR... The Internet ≠ The Academy Pt. 2)
After a week of railing at the world about the shitty treatment and weirdly stalker-like hatred that the musical has engendered (if you hate it so much why are you taking every chance you have to be close to it with your virtual mouth? You're like Javert with a Valjean bone. Let it go, Asshole!) I've calmed down. I mean, I've been so good I haven't even mentioned that grenade-throwing David Denby piece in the New Yorker which... well, Jeremy Smith already said it...
Whether or not one hate or loves the film -- it's roughly 50/50 among people I know and roughly 90/10 according to the internet and roughly 10/90 from Cinema Score ;) -- guess who doesn't get to vote on the Oscars? The Internet! *ding ding ding* You are correct! At worst the hyperbolic Les Miz haters (who have decidedly outshouted the more tempered: 'sure the movie has flaws but I loved it!' fanbase) will shame a few voters away that might have been feeling more generous without the vitriol... but my guess is it also strengthens the resolve of some who love it into really barricading themselves in "Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me ♫"
We won't know until the 10th whether Oscar has real passion for it. The keys will be how well it does in editing, directing and acting where it seems most vulnerable: Jackman is not truly locked (no one in Best Actor is beyond DDL given the super tight Best Actor field 5 men are still super strong for 4 slots) despite a passionate engaging performance. Less than 8 nominations would suggest that Team Javert has won and finally killed off saintly Jean Valjean '24601'. More than 10 would mean it's unkillable and still a threat to win the gold.
The most frustrating thing for me in advance (and mark my words that this will happen!) is that even if it shows a big nomination total of 8+ the haters will pounce on every miss as evidence that the Academy agrees with them that it sucks. Expect lots of schadenfreude gloating -- and you know where -- if it misses any of the following: Picture, Director, Actor, Editing, or even Song. The gloating will happen even if it misses only one of those!
Did the Precursors Kill Amour and Beasts... or Will Quality Prevail?
Back in the early fall I felt all super-star pundit when I was predicting a substantial nomination tally for Amour (Pic, Dir, Screenplay, Actress, Foreign Film) and a very small but potent nomination bookend set (Pic & Screenplay only) for Beasts of the Southern Wild. I figured Haneke's critical momentum (he's now basically a God among the taste-making set) would pay off but the precursors weren't all that kind to the picture, really, relegating it to its Foreign Ghetto for the most part. "Stay in your box!" Remember the days when Foreign Films could break in to the Best Picture lineup? They seem so inexplicably long gone. And since the critics groups didn't put their muscle behind Hushpuppy preferring the movie stars and A list Hollywood efforts from Lincoln to Argo, Beasts might now be shut out entirely on Nomination morning.
How many Best Picture Nominees will we have?
The way I see it there are 6 sure things: Lincoln, Argo, Les Miz, Silver Linings, Life of Pi, and Zero Dark Thirty and then things get tricky. Given the many variables from precursors to right-now discussions to general Academy taste in the past I'd say there are 7 more distinct possibilites, from wouldn't surprise me at all biggies to dark horse "wow, they pulled it off!" darlings: Amour, Django Unchained, The Master, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Skyfall.
Current Academy rules allow a fluctuating number of nominees (5 to 10) for best picture and last year, the first year of the system, we got 9. Because of that everyone assumes we'll get 9 again. I'd like to go on record that I'm hoping for only 5 just to watch the internet's smug head explode since everyone is like 'these 9 or 10 films are locked!'
Who on Earth is Going to Take the Fifth Slot in EVERY Acting category?
Well... we'll save this to the final prediction article because damn this year is crowded.