Crowded Race For Best Picture at the 2013 Oscars

Posted on January 16, 2013 by

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The year in movies is winding down, and we are left with a diverse, quality selection of movies that will be vying for the top prizes at the Oscars.

The 85th annual event will be held on February 24th and hosted by funnyman Seth McFarlane.

So far, the race for Best Picture is a crowded and competitive one. Some early favorites to win are being replaced by recent surprises. Take ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, for example. Several months ago, the buzz for this film was relatively low, but now it seems like the forerunner to win.

The film won’t open in American theaters until January 2013, but that didn’t stop the film from sweeping the New York Critic’s awards. This is director Katherine Bigelow’s follow up to The Hurt Locker, the Iraq war thriller that won Best Picture and Best Director in 2010.

Zero Dark Thirty will be competing with another procedural thriller, Argo for best picture. This film, directed by and starring Ben Affleck, had considerable buzz back in October, but it appears Zero Dark Thirty now has the upper hand. Argo will undoubtedly be nominated for several awards, including Best Picture and possibly Best Director for Affleck, but it is no longer expected to win.

There are two ‘period pieces’, movies taking place during the past that will be competing for the top prize. The first one is Lincoln, Stephen Spielberg’s passion project that details the life of the 16th president during the passing of the 13th amendment.

‘Lincoln’ is a relatively minor film occupying a minor timeframe during the president’s life, and it isn’t what one would describe an epic, a genre that has worked for Spielberg in securing Oscar nominations in the past, but the smaller scope also magnifies the fantastic acting from the terrific ensemble cast.

At the center of this is Daniel Day-Lewis, who portrays Lincoln. His breathtakingly realistic performance is guaranteed to earn him a Best Actor nomination, and many are already predicting him to win.

Les Miserables is the second period piece in the race. The musical is the 13th adaptation of the famous theater play. Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackaman, and Anne Hathaway star in it, and all three are predicted to be nominated. Director Thomas Hooper swept the Oscars in 2011 with The Kings Speech, and Les Miserables has been gaining huge buzz ever since the project was announced. The film opened on Christmas.

Django Unchained also opened on Christmas. Quinton Tarantino has now become a household name at the Oscars, and his famed genre-bending action comedies have not only gained the director a cult following but also widespread critical acclaim. If Django is anything like Inglorious Basterds, his 2009 film that was nominated for Best Picture, expect Best Picture, Screenplay, and acting nominations.

And how can we forget Silver Linings Playbook, a romantic comedy/drama starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, the latter a shoe-in for a Best Actress nomination.

Behind the frontrunners, but not completely out of the race yet, are a plethora of smaller films that could be nominated for the top prize. Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and The Master are all critical darlings that may or may not get nominated.

On the flip side of that, there were a number of audience favorites that most likely will be left out of contention. The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, The Avengers, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey may have racked in the box office receipts but are only expected to win in technical categories such as Cinematography. Life of Pi, Ang Lee’s adaptation of the notoriously unfilmable novel of the same name, is also expected to win in several technical categories.

So, who should win Best Picture?

In my humble opinion, the best film of the year, although I haven’t seen them all yet, is The Master. This is an electric, riveting film boosted by insane performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Far from a conventional film, its chances of winning are pretty slim. It will probably be nominated for Best Picture, and it can be compared to last year’s The Tree of Life, also nominated for Best Picture. Both films are more ‘artsy’ than what the Academy is used to selecting, but anything’s possible.

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