2013 Oscar Nominees Profiled: 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 24. 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…

See also: Best Adapted Screenplay Profiles
See also: Best Original Screenplay Profiles See also: Best Supporting Actor Profiles See also: Best Actress Profiles See also: Best Actor Profiles
See also: Best Supporting Actress Profiles See also: Best Director Profiles

brightcove.createExperiences(); Why It Will Win

Why It Won't Win

1 An Amour win would gain the Academy some cred with the European arthouse massive. And obviously the Academy wants to look cool to the Cannes crowd. Probably. 1 It’s a small, meditative, tightly-focused character piece that grossed under $2m in the US. These do not win the Best Picture prize. 2 It’s a profound meditation on love and aging, and a lot of Academy voters are elderly so are more apt to be struck by its subject matter. 2 It’s not nominated for Best Editing. Every Best Picture winner for over 30 years has had a Best Editing nod, so that’s a bad sign. 3 After The Artist, it’s clear that French films can win big prizes at the Oscars. It’s already got two BAFTAs, so arguably the momentum is building. 3 It’s entirely in a language other than English. No entirely foreign language film has ever won.

brightcove.createExperiences(); Why It Will Win

Why It Won't Win

1 The current frontrunner, Ben Affleck’s film is a taut political drama with a classy cast – just the sort of film Oscar likes – and it seems to have gained huge underdog momentum latelyfollowing Affleck’s Best Director snub / oversight. 1 The lack of a Directing nomination is a bad sign, suggesting that Oscar may not be as much in love with it as everyone else. Underdogs in Oscar season tend to get more column inches than awards. 2 The film has a matching Editing nomination (a good sign) and Adapted Screenplay nod, as well as a $100m+ box-office total. It also won big at the BAFTA, SAG, DGA and PGA Awards, which is a very good sign. 2 It may be a bit too thriller-y to go against more obvious Oscar pedigrees like Lincoln (biopic) or Life Of Pi (literary adaptation) and Silver Linings Playbook (mental illness). 3 It’s a film showing Hollywood in a positively heroic light – can the Academy resist? 3 Gigli. Can there be forgiveness?

brightcove.createExperiences(); Why It Will Win

Why It Won't Win

1 It’s a stunningly beautiful and timely piece on environmental disaster, poverty, family and growing up. 1 This feels like the annual be-thankful-you’re-nominated nomination for a smaller film with little chance of really winning. 2 The performances are extraordinary and – as we keep repeating – actors are the biggest voting block. 2 It is the second lowest-grossing nominee, and unless you’re The Hurt Locker a low gross usually means low chances. 3 It would send a great signal that indie filmmakers are people too and deserving of serious awards attention. 3 Its defiantly under-signposted plot and understated ending may scupper its chances with the Academy, which famously prefers its subtlety to be overstated.

brightcove.createExperiences(); Why It Will Win

Why It Won't Win

1 It’s impeccably made, jam-packed with great performances and tackles a more serious subject than most of Tarantino’s work. 1 There’s a lot of blood-splatter, and that rarely wins Best Picture; even Saving Private Ryan lost out to the bloodless Shakespeare In Love. What’s more, controversy about the film’s subject matter, language and violence may block its path to the top. 2 It has nominations for Screenplay, Cinematography and Supporting Actor, which aren���t bad categories to have, and it’s the second-highest grossing of the nominees, which never hurt. 2 There’s no Best Director or Best Editing nod to match, a bad sign. 3 The Academy doesn’t want to turn around in 20 years and realise that they never gave a big award to one of the filmmakers who defined his generation. See Scorsese, Martin. 3 Tarantino still has a reputation as an enfant terrible to overcome, and the Academy tends to err towards the more conservative end of the spectrum when it comes to Best Picture.

brightcove.createExperiences(); Why It Will Win

Why It Won't Win

1 Made by an Oscar-winning director, based on a massively popular but respectably literary source, starring big names playing down their good looks while singing – how could it not? 1 Hathaway aside, the momentum doesn’t seem to be there. 2 It’s a period piece, and Oscar tends to like those, and a weepie, which also bodes well. 2 There’s no matching Editing or Directing nod, never a good sign. 3 It’s done well at the box office, which never hurts a film’s chances (except maybe Avatar’s, which did perhaps too well). 3 In a land that offers “freedom fries”, can a film about France really win?

brightcove.createExperiences(); Why It Will Win

Why It Won't Win

1 It is a barnstormingly successful adaptation of a blatantly, clearly, obviously unfilmable book that combines likeably accessible adventure with satisfyingly complex subplot. 1 It perhaps feels a little too philosophical and, well, Eastern for the red-blooded Americans who comprise most of the voting body. 2 It has all the necessary matching nominations for Director, Editing and Screenplay, as well as a box-office take north of $100m, which is traditionally a requirement for winners. 2 It doesn’t have any acting nominations, and the acting block is the biggest and most significant segment of the Academy. 3 It’s utterly beautiful, and can command the affections of the Academy’s technical branch as well as the more traditionally minded voters. 3 Will the voters penalise it for being 3D? Academy voters can also be part of the 3D backlash, after all.

brightcove.createExperiences(); Why It Will Win

Why It Won't Win

1 It has the more nominations than any other film of the year, including Director, Screenplay, Editing and three acting nods, and it’s the highest-grossing nominee. 1 Spielberg only wins Best Picture when he gives the voters no reasonable alternative: he’s only won once, and that was for Schindler’s List. Even Saving Private Ryan only nabbed him Best Director – and never forget: his adaptation of The Color Purple took 13 nominations and zero Oscars. 2 It provides a credible and compelling look at America’s secular saint, Abraham Lincoln, from a respected director who is mates with most of Hollywood. 2 It’s possible that the acting block may be inclined towards Silver Linings Playbook, which picked up a lot of nominations on a much smaller platform, while producers and directors seem to feel a groundswell of support for Argo. 3 This may sound weird, but we reckon the fact that a President from Illinois won re-election, and then delivered a barnstorming second inaugural that left America feeling optimistic, may boost its chances. The parallels feel sort of overwhelming. 3 Those political parallels might hurt its chances if they’re shouted too loudly.

brightcove.createExperiences(); Why It Will Win

Why It Won't Win

1 Actors love it; it’s the first film in decades to be nominated in all the Acting categories. 1 It doesn’t feel quite big enough for Best Picture, up against the more political likes of Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. 2 It has those all-important matching Director and Editing nominations. 2 It missed out on the SAG Ensemble Cast prize, so maybe the actors don’t love it that much. 3 It’s likeable, light without being weightless and concerns mental illness and sport, two subjects that Hollywood traditionally enjoys. 3 If Quentin Tarantino has an enfant terrible reputation to overcome, surely that goes double for the director of Spanking The Monkey?

brightcove.createExperiences(); Why It Will Win

Why It Won't Win

1 It tells the story of the biggest manhunt in history, as the tagline has it, in a way that’s gripping, dramatic and in many ways surprisingly apolitical. 1 There has been endless controversy about its treatment of torture and the sources for many scenes – to the extent of a Congressional inquiry. Not a good sign. 2 It comes from an established Best Director and Best Picture-winning team, so it has good pedigree, and a heck of a character cast. 2 It has yet to break the $100m barrier at the box office (then again, The Hurt Locker didn’t) and Bigelow didn’t get a Directing nomination. 3 It won at the National Board Of Review and AFI awards already this year. 3 It has been nominated but not triumphant in most of the pre-Oscar races that really matter.