Oscar Nominees 2012: Best Picture

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It’s that time of year again, as Hollywood’s finest find themselves, with alarming regularity, donning outfits that cost more than your house and jewellery worth more than you will earn in a lifetime. But awards season is all building to one supreme event, the Empire Awards Oscars on February 26. Ahead of that milestone, we assess the chances of each nominee in the major categories, and see who’s looking good ahead of the big night…

Why It Will Win

All the stars are aligned in its favour and it’s won just about every award going so far. If there were such a thing as a sure thing in the Best Picture category, this would be it. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarwin.jpg%29 It has matching nominations for Editing, Directing and Screenplay – which, statistically, most Best Picture winners can boast. It’s brilliant! Charming, funny and moving, and focused on Hollywood itself, which could charm the Academy’s members. And in black-and-white! And silent! So daring!


Why It Won't Win

It’s a bit foreign. Foreign films generally don’t win Best Picture. The only foreign language films to win Best Picture are The Godfather Part II, The Last Emperor and Slumdog Millionaire – and all of those were made by English-speaking directors and featured English-language sections. Of course, this one’s pretty much silent so that may not apply. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarloss.jpg%29 While Hollywood stories are often nominated, they don’t often win. Will all the hype have a backlash among Oscar voters keen to show that they’re not that predictable after all? Probably not, but it’s possible! (see: Crash)

Why It Will Win

The essential ingredients are there: big star, moving performance, dysfunctional family drama, name director, adapted from a well-regarded book. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarwin.jpg%29 It has the necessary matching nominations for Directing, Editing and Screenplay, always a good sign. George Clooney is practically mayor of Hollywood. If only his close personal friends vote for him, it’ll sweep the board.


Why It Won't Win

While universally liked, it’s perhaps not so universally adored as The Artist. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarloss.jpg%29 The Oscars forerunners generally went for The Artist over The Descendants; while that’s no guarantee for the big show, it’s not a good sign. Most Oscar winners are set in the past – or at least a foreign country – rather than the present day. Also, Hawaii doesn’t say “big, heavy drama” so some might pre-judge on that basis.

Why It Will Win

Big-name, Oscar-winning stars. A director who’s been Best Picture-nominated for 75 per cent of the films he’s ever made. And Max von Sydow, one of the most respected men on the planet. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarwin.jpg%29 It’s based on a well-received book by a generally well-regarded author, which has a feelgood story against a tragic background. What could be Oscarier? Heck, the main character is even called Oskar. It’s about 9/11, the most seismic tragedy of our generation. What could go wrong?


Why It Won't Win

The reviews have been harsh, and it’s gone home empty-handed at every ceremony so far. The last time a film with less than 75 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes won Best Picture was 1994 – Forrest Gump with 71 – and this one has under 50 per cent. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarloss.jpg%29 It doesn’t have nominations for directing, editing or screenplay. It should’ve been Drive.

Why It Will Win

It was adapted from a hugely popular book, and deals with one of the important bits of history in a novel way. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarwin.jpg%29 It has lots of Acting nominations. Given that actors comprise the bulk of Oscar voters, films with room for acting plaudits tend to do well in Best Picture too. It's a feelgood story about a feelbad time, always a winner for the Academy, and it was a big box-office success (relatively) which often helps.


Why It Won't Win

No Directing, Editing or Screenplay awards. A very bad sign. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarloss.jpg%29 It’s female led: only two female-led films have won in the last 20 years. There’s a perception that it’s, well, slightly patronising in some quarters, which could very easily hurt its chances. Films about Civil Rights and racial politics are nominated a lot more often than they win.

Why It Will Win

It's from a name director, based on a beloved book and received almost universally favourable reviews. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarwin.jpg%29 It has those all-important Editing, Directing and Screenplay awards. It harks back to Hollywood’s roots while also looking ahead to its future in terms of its technical expertise. It has a bit with a dog, which Shakespeare In Love (and The Artist) tells us is important. And it tells a sad story in a hopeful way.


Why It Won't Win

It hasn’t had nearly the buzz of either The Artist or The Descendants, and may have hit screens a trifle too early for maximum impact. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarloss.jpg%29 Scorsese has his Oscar for The Departed now, so there’s no pressing urge to make up for years of neglect anymore. It’s a kids film, at least ostensibly. Know the last kids film to win Best Picture? (Arguably – if it counts as a kid’s film) Oliver! in 1968.

Why It Will Win

Woody Allen’s hasn't won Best Picture since 1978 - surely it's time. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarwin.jpg%29 It has a Best Director and Best Screenplay nomination to match, which is a good sign. It’s a fun-but-not-weightless film that takes in a host of intellectual types: if Oscar voters want to show they know history, this is the film to go for.


Why It Won't Win

The film has no Best Editing nomination, which every Best Picture winner since Ordinary People in 1981 has had. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarloss.jpg%29 It’s more-or-less a comedy! Comedies don’t win Best Picture. Woody Allen’s won Best Director once and Best Screenplay twice, and Annie Hall won Best Picture (strictly, he wasn't a producer so didn't share that). He’s covered.

Why It Will Win

Great performances, a great script and a clever-clever approach to a well-known topic make this a strong Oscar contender. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarwin.jpg%29 It has Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing nominations, a good omen. Most Academy voters are American, and all Americans like films about baseball. We think they have to. It’s, like, in the Constitution or something.


Why It Won't Win

It doesn’t have a Best Director nomination, which augurs badly for its chances of winning. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarloss.jpg%29 It hasn’t got any real heat behind it going into the big finale. It’s about maths. Nobody likes maths.

Why It Will Win

It’s one of the most gorgeous, original, beautiful films of the year, from an acknowledged master of the craft. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarwin.jpg%29 It has a Best Director nomination to match for Terrence Malick, and a nod for its astonishing cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki. It has star-power in the shape of Brad Pitt and Sean Penn and the so-hot-right-now Jessica Chastain. Also, dinosaurs!


Why It Won't Win

There’s no Editing or Screenplay nomination, which are bad signs. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarloss.jpg%29 Ain’t no way that a film this obscure is winning Best Picture. Seriously, they didn’t give it to Malick for the much more Oscar-y The Thin Red Line. There’s no way.
But go ahead, prove us wrong. We dare you, Oscars!

Why It Will Win

It’s a war movie with epic sweep, bags of emotion and some of the most moving moments you’ll ever see. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarwin.jpg%29 Based on a well-respected book and smash-hit stage play, and directed by Steven Spielberg, it has pedigree to die for. Who doesn’t like horses?


Why It Won't Win

It doesn’t have those all-important nominations for Directing, Editing or Screenplay to match its Best Picture nod, statistically placing its chances at almost nil. ![]%28/images/uploaded/oscarloss.jpg%29 The Academy doesn’t give Spielberg the big prize unless he gives them no alternative %28Schindler’s List%29. Horses: big, scary, smelly beasts. Eeek.