And so we've come to it! Oscar ballots go out today and voting begins. That's potentially great timing for The Wolf of Wall Street and (maybe) Saving Mr Banks neither of which have done well in the "precursors" -an awful reductive name, sure, but an accurate one since we're long past the days when awards groups weren't primarily existing to either influence or predict the Oscar race. Both of those late blooming films could still find Oscar favor if voters are taken with them over this holiday break. The timing is also probably good news for American Hustle which is doing strong box office and doesn't have that 'shrugged off' by precursors feeling to overcome.
But, if early predictions from the vast array of pundits hold, this is going to be yet another year that reminds distributors that October is a really great time to release Oscar contenders (Captain Phillips, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity) and maybe not everything needs to wait until the last week of the year.
THREE SUGGESTIONS FOR THOSE BLESSED WITH BALLOTS
01 Watch two more screeners before voting. You can do it. For those in the acting branch might I suggest Short Term 12 and Enough Said? For those in technical fields, why not try Spring Breakers or The Grand Master or something else off the beaten path? Sometimes the small, weird or foreign movies that can't afford huge campaigns have incredible performances and brilliant craftsmanship. Gravity doesn't need your votes anyway. It's safe.
02 PLEASE STOP CATEGORY FRAUD IN ITS TRACKS. The only cure for this madness is for you, the most important movie awards voters on the planet, to reject it. You have the power. If you think Julia Roberts is brilliant in August: Osage County vote for her in Best Actress. Even the author of that film refers to her as "the protagonist" Remember that when you pretend that leading movie stars are supporting, you are in point of fact, penalizing the hardworking character actors for whom the supporting categories were created in 1936. And with so many great supporting ladies available to you this year (Sally Hawkins, Léa Seydoux, Sarah Paulson are all under-loved and why is that?) why waste one of the five spots on a leading performer. Leading ladies have their own category. Vote for Julia there!
03 Ignore the precursors. If you want to vote for James Franco in Spring Breakers or Blue is the Warmest Color for anything or, if you're in the costuming or production design branches and really believe in the work that's happening in a contemporary or out of time film like Stoker or Her or The Bling Ring or whatever but you feel like you're wasting your vote, do it anyway! Longshots can win Oscar nominations but they only can when people like you go with your true favorites and not with whatever high profile accomplishments are happening within the presumed Best Picture nominees.
What three things would you ask AMPAS to consider?