There are nine films nominated for Best Picture. Nine. That’s a lot.
This collection of nominees is genre-spanning. There are films based on true stories, hilarious comedies, penetrating dramas and one sci fi epic.
Let’s be honest here: some of these movies have no shot at Oscar. None.
Nebraska and Philomena are too small. They simply didn’t make enough of an impact in scope or at the box office. Best Picture winners don’t have to be box office phenomena but they must become part of none cultural dialogue. The same can be said for Her. These are terrific movies, to be sure, but Best Picture winners? No.
The Wolf of Wall Street was too divisive. For all who loved it, there are an equal number of haters.
Dallas Buyers Club touched me deeply but, as I reflect on it, I think that the performances make the movie more than the movie makes the performances. Should that disqualify it as a serious contender? No. But I think the voters who cast ballots for Jared Leto or Matthew McConaughey will believe they’ve done enough and put their Best Picture support elsewhere.
Captain Phillips was powerfully good but it generated some negativity in that the narrative was not entirely faithful to the real events that inspired it. I have never been one to be too concerned about issues like this. I know the Captain Phillips is not a documentary. It’s a movie. But a lack of fidelity to the facts bothers some. This reason might be why Tom Hanks didn’t garner a nomination for Best Actor (which, to me, seems a crime and, perhaps, the biggest oversight this season). Captain Phillips doesn’t have a chance.
I want American Hustle to win. Of the nominees, this is the movie I enjoyed the most. Affecting and tautly constructed, American Hustle is a marvel of movie-making. The film perfectly evokes a bygone time. The soundtrack, the costumes, the settings, the entire vibe of the movie are perfectly pitched. Every actor received a nomination. The director, David O. Russell is nominated. The movie is terrific. But I don’t think it will win. For some reason, it doesn’t feel like Hustle’s year.
So, then there were two. It’s either going to be Gravity or 12 Years a Slave.
Gravity was something else. It was truly unlike any other movie on the list this year. It was a revelation and is suddenly the standard by which all adult science fiction will now be judged. Visually arresting and thrilling, the movie feels like it conveys great truths about life through its increasingly diabolical gambits. How Will Sandra Bullock survive this next death trap? Will she live? Why am I sweating in an air conditioned theater? These reactions and those like them will cost Gravity best picture. They just seem a bit… frivolous in the fact of the more serious themes exhibited in 12 Years a Slave.
12 Years a Slave is the winner. It has all kinds of Academy pedigree. It’s a true story. It has Oscar nominated performances. It quickly became a movie that people should see. The director has credibility. The star is rising. The film is beautifully constructed. It is nuanced for such a challenging subject. It will rise above the reactions that people have to difficult subjects. It will rise above Gravity. It will rise to the top.
12 YEARS A SLAVE IS THE BEST PICTURE OF THE YEAR