My head is spinning as fast as Sandra Bullock's tiny white spacesuit body during Gravity's terrifying opening calamity. The Producers Guild of America, which could have ended the Oscar race with a win for American Hustle, which had been gaining strength via high profile Globe and SAG wins, opted out. They looked elsewhere, two elsewheres to be specific: Gravity and 12 Years a Slave tied for their top prize. [more...]
I demand a tiebreaker in which Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sandra Bullock reenact Parent Trap in split screen. Best Hayley Mills impersonation wins! (Full disclosure: This is my preferred tiebreaker for competitions of any sort.)
But if we must stick to this year's movies, I demand a tiebreaker in which Steve McQueen remakes Gravity and Alfonso Cuaron remakes 12 Years a Slave. As I typed that I was immediately enthralled fantasizing about what McQueen would do with endless shots of fear and stamina on an actress's face in outer space means that I'm rooting for 12 Years a Slave to win the Oscar but you knew that already.
This tie is a true shock considering the PGA votes with a preferential ballot. That means a tie is something like a miracle and mathematically far-fetched in the way that a 50/50 vote count could never be. The spread the wealth decisions at the Globes and the BFCA and SAG are also pointing us to a highly unpredictable final outcome. Essentially none of the frontrunners have been able to really rally enough of a voting block to storm its way to the Best Picture win on March 2nd. We have a true three-way race on our hand. That's something we haven't seen in arguably 13 years (since the great Traffic/Gladiator/Crouching Tiger wars) So, let's break it down.
AMERICAN HUSTLE Golden Globe (Comedy), SAG, NYFCC
In its corner: It's the freshest. The acting branch is (by far) Oscar's largest branch so they wield a lot of power in final outcomes and the fact that it's nominated in all four acting categories - half of which were in very competitive races for nominations. David O. Russell's momenum from Silver Linings Playbook. Box Office Hit. If they're really undecided on more serious pictures, they may just want something to cheer them up. And lately Oscar has preferred the lighter pictures so we might just be in one of those cycles.
Working Against It: Even people who love it don't seem to think that it's the best movie of the year (despite that NYFCC)
GRAVITY Golden Globe (Director), PGA, LAFCA
In its corner: Some people think it's a masterpiece. Cuaron is the frontrunner for Best Director even if his film can't manage the win, People think of this movie as revolutionizing the cinema. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are two of the biggest and most popular stars both within the industry and outside of it
Working Against It: No sci-fi film has ever won Best Picture, it hasn't been able to manage Best Picture wins that weren't ties really. See also LAFCA. It's arguably both thin and short. I personally love short movies but statistically speaking Oscar is a size queen, preferring both massive girth (Meaty Themes/Obvious "Importance") and length (Running Times)
12 YEARS A SLAVE Golden Globe (Drama), PGA
In its corner: Some people (including me) think it's a masterpiece. McQueen has been building with each film so he has artistic momentum. It has the obvious "Important" factor in spades. Voters could feel really great about rewarding it. Oscar likes movies about history and civil rights struggles.
Working against it: Some people have refused to see it due to is honest depiction of the inhumanity of slavery. Though it seems indelicate to point it out (because obviously many factors decide each best picture race) no black-centric picture has ever won Best Picture. Given how amazing the movie is shouldn't it have had an easier time steamrolling awards season?