And this is what it all comes down to. As I said in the Best Director post, this is shaping up to be a very strong year for films. I would say that there are actually at least twenty films with at least a ghost of a chance at a Best Picture nomination this year. Blogosphere activism is actually all over the map. I love it. I feel like there is still plenty of time for surprises and upsets. As things currently stand...
As always, June standings are listed in parenthesis. The buzz awards...
1.(2) The Master
4.(5) Beasts of the Southern Wild
5.(3) Les Miserables
6.(13) Life of Pi
7.(20) Silver Linings Playbook
8.(7) Zero Dark Thirty
9.(4) Django Unchained
10.(19) Moonrise Kingdom
11.(10) Anna Karenina
12.(6) The Dark Knight Rises
14.(9) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
15.(14) The Sessions
16.(11) Hyde Park On Hudson
17. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
19. Cloud Atlas
20. The Impossible
Leaving the Rankings: The Great Gatsby, Brave, Lawless, Killing Them Softly, To The Wonder
It's pretty difficult to argue with those top seven right now (unless you take the "Nobody's Seen Les Miserables" yet tact, which I won't), so don't be surprised when my top seven merely shuffle them around a bit. Most of the films above that didn't make my list do have some shot, although I think that Hyde Park On Hudson is probably completely out of the running. That being said...
1. Argo...I feel like I should go see this before I finish this article. Oh, well...This is currently the most critically acclaimed English language narrative film of the year to my knowledge. Ben Affleck is a young man that Oscar made an investment in long ago when no one had ever heard his name. This could be the year that investment truly matures.
2. Les Miserables...Source material, live singing, clips that blow you away, and a director who won the Academy Award with his last film. I've been out on this limb for this picture since the beginning of the year. Unless it breaks, I ain't coming down.
3. Silver Linings Playbook...It is increasingly likely that this will prove to be the Weinstein's most Oscar-friendly horse in this race. That's enough for me.
4. The Master...But you had better believe they intend to have two horses in it.
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild...This film keeps slipping down most pundit's lists, but I'm expecting support for it to rally when the DVD and Blu-ray drop. It may be the most unique thing going this year. That doesn't usually spell a win, but it should mean a nod.
6. Lincoln...Most critics have responded positively so far, but no one seems all THAT enthusiastic either. It's pedigree alone could get it in, but this is shaping up to be a tough year.
7. Life of Pi...Reactions have been either mildly or wildly positive, but it sounds a little weird and cosmic for AMPAS's usual tastes. Of course, that didn't stop The Tree of Life and this is apparently far more accessible (not to mention plotted).
8. The Promised Land...I love Gus Van Sant. I'm expecting great things.
9. Zero Dark Thirty...This is THE stealth contender of the year. Just when everyone started to forget about it, highly promising promotional materials started slipping in. The tone of the film is evident even in its PR approach.
10. Inside Llewyn Davis...Is this getting a qualifying run? I can't believe I'm the ONLY person whose radar it is still on. Hello? The Coens? Those Coens?
11. Django Unchained...Will Harvey Weinstein actually split his efforts three ways in this race? Does Tarantino even need him to? ??????????????
12. Amour...Although I was calling this a contender back in June, I actually think that being named Austria's Foreign Language Film submission lessens it's chances. Often, when a non-English language film breaks in to the top races, it is due to a snub in Foreign Language. Still possible, though.
13. The Impossible...Festival reviews have been quite good. Still, an adventure disaster flick faces an uphill battle with the Academy even in a year when the competition is weaker.
14. Moonrise Kingdom...This film has been universally LIKED but if stronger contenders continue to emerge the bar may wind up a little too high this year.
15. Cloud Atlas...Seems more likely to just get below the line recognition, but this film does elicit great passion in its admirers, and a strong opening at the box office could change the game here.
16. Hitchcock...Probably more likely for acting nods, but we'll have to wait and see when it screens at AFI fest.
17. The Sessions...It would need strong box office to transcend the acting races despite strong reviews.
18. Looper...Another film that is highly respected but likely to suffer from genre discrimination.
19. The Dark Knight Rises...It was a nice dream, but even if it deserves it (which it probably does)...sigh.
20, Middle of Nowhere...I believe in the influence of the blogger who is trying to start a grass roots campaign for this one and that is all I have to say.
And that's it for this round of updated predictions. I should be back on this horse sometime around Thanksgiving with another set of updates. Until then, I'll be watching the buzz and hopefully several of the contending films.
Related Posts: Sept. Oscar Buzz and Predictions - The Techs: Part 1, Part 2, The Genres, Screenplays, Supporting Performers, Best Actor and Actress, Foreign Films, June Oscar Buzz and Predictions - The Big Two, Best That the Summer Wields? (Beasts of the Southern Wilds
review), The Dark Knight Transcends