Best Picture: Follow the Money. Just…follow the money.
Because I like to help you out as much as humanly possible, I’m going to give you some more information that might help you out when you’re picking your winners tomorrow night. Do with it what you will.
I read an article, which I can’t find again for the life of me, that said, essentially, that the Academy likes voting for films that make money. It’s not enough for a film to be good, but the film must also be successful financially. It said that in almost every year that the Best Picture winner (when it was 5 nominees), was almost always in the top 2 grossing films on that list. Occasionally it was 3rd, and almost never was it 4th or 5th. So, basically, if a film is not in the top (whatever percentage) grossers of the Best Picture nominations list, then essentially it has no chance of winning Best Picture. Fucked up, right? Well, not really, in a business that’s predicated on dollars and cents. And has all dollars and no sense. Zing.
Of course, this is not a concrete theory by any stretch of the imagination, but when you’re dealing with something so difficult to guess — think of having to pick a game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns, where the spread is -3 toward the home team, whichever the fuck it is. And they were both equally the worst teams in football. It’s not that hard to picture. How could you honestly differentiate? You’d look for any kind of rationale to pick whichever team you’re going to pick for, using whatever kind of information you had at your disposal. Oh, the Bills played the Broncos once and lost by 3 points in overtime. And the Browns lost by one point to the Broncos last season! And the Bills are 2-4 at home and have trouble in November games. And, the Browns quarterback hasn’t taken a shit in three whole weeks. You know? You find the weirdest possible statistics when something appears so evenly matched (or you really don’t give that much of a shit about it). So, this is just that. More information at your disposal. If it works out I get to take full credit for it. “See, I told you! The numbers don’t lie!” And if it loses, well, it’s an interesting trend, and of course, it’s not binding. There were X number of factors that make it an anomaly and really don’t incorporate it into the part of the theory that makes it work. Plus, before giving the speech, the King hadn’t shit for three whole weeks, and that’s why…
What I’m saying is, I’m always right. It’s like dealing with a religious extremist. You can’t win with me. And I hate fags.
Seriously. Those things will kill you. Nothing but cancer, that’s all they bring.
So ignoring 2009, which had ten nominees and featured the lowest grossing Best Picture winner of all time — it made even less than The Last Emperor, but I guess inflation was what went and killed that cat — which, actually, might tell us that now that there are ten nominees, it’s possible for any film to win, but, disregarding that — let’s take a look at the last few years to see how this box office thing panned out:
(Note: Yellow is third highest grossing of five. Orange is fourth of five. Red is fifth of five. AKA last. We’re rising in threat level. Blue is when there are ten nominees. Different grading scale. Da be de da ba da.)
2009: The Hurt Locker was 8th highest grossing of the ten. That’s third from the bottom, for you glass half empty people. Just in case you were wondering how it did. Huge anomaly. Whoa.
2008: Slumdog Millionaire was the second-highest grossing film, behind The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and after it won the award, became the highest grossing of the nominees. Also notice that these two were the favorites to win the award.
2007: No Country for Old Men was also second. None of the nominees made that much money. Juno was first. That explains why it was nominated.
2006: The Departed was far and away the highest grossing nominee. Babel, it’s main competition, finished fourth.
2005: Crash finished second, behind, guess what — Brokeback Mountain. Technically it was first before the nominations were announced, then people were like, “I guess we should see if it’s actually any good,” then went and saw Brokeback. Either way, the two main contenders, once again.
2004: This one is weird. Pre-nominees, Ray was the highest grossing. Going into Oscar night, The Aviator was the highest grossing, and Million Dollar Baby was third. Barely. It only had like $2 million more than Sideways did. I guess that’s why it was considered an upset. So, we’ll call it third. Two main films, though, right up top.
2003: Return of the King was obviously the highest grossing.
2002: Chicago was second, though, but mostly due to the nomination. Before the nominations, Gangs was second. Either way, it was second. Two Towers was first. The Hours was fourth. Not much of a threat there, was it, really?
2001: A Beautiful Mind was second behind Fellowship. Moulin Rouge was third.
2000: Gladiator was easily #1. Erin Brockovich was 2, Traffic was 3, Crouching Tiger was 4. So, 1 and 3 this year.
1999: American Beauty was 3rd, behind Green Mile (#2) and Sixth Sense (#1). I’m thinking (since I don’t know) that there wasn’t much competition for American Beauty this year. Unless The Insider or The Cider House Rules were really gonna win.
1998: Shakespeare in Love finished second behind, you guessed it Saving Private Ryan.
1997: Titanic. Need I say more? L.A. Confidential was a distant fourth.
1996: The English Patient was second behind Jerry Maguire. I guess this is why Fargo didn’t win. It was fourth.
1995: Braveheart was second behind the favorite going into Oscar night, Apollo 13.
1994: Forrest Gump was first. Pulp Fiction was second. Shawshank was fourth. But really it was between those first two.
1993: Schindler’s List was second behind The Fugitive. Somehow I don’t think the competition mattered this year.
1992: Unforgiven was second behind A Few Good Men. Not sure what were the favorites this year. Scent of a Woman was third. That won the Globe. The Crying Game was fourth, and Howards End was fifth.
1991: The Silence of the Lambs was second behind Beauty and the Beast. JFK was fourth. Bugsy, which won the Globe, and was apparently a favorite, was dead last.
1990: Dances with Wolves finished second behind Ghost. Goodfellas was dead last. Maybe that shines a light on the situation. Please tell me someone got that. It’s not that difficult, but, someone…
1989: Driving Miss Daisy was first. Dead Poet’s Society was second. Born on the Fourth of July was third. Field of Dreams was fourth. And My Left Foot was fifth. Dear god…
1988: Rain Man was first. Working Girl was second. Dangerous Liaisons was third. Mississippi Burning was fourth. The Accidental Tourist was fifth. I have to assume this was between 1, 3 and 4. But, who knows?
1987: The Last Emperor was fourth. Fatal Attraction was first. Moonstruck, second. Broadcast News, third. This is the lowest a Best Picture winner has finished since 2009.
1986: Platoon was first. Hannah and Her Sisters was second. Children of a Lesser God was third. I guess there really wasn’t much competition here.
1985: Out of Africa finished second, behind the film that should have won, The Color Purple.
1984: Amadeus was first. Places in the Heart was second. The Killing Fields was third. Also, no competition, methinks.
1983: Terms of Endearment was first. The Big Chill was second, The Right Stuff was third. Uhh…I guess no competition, right? Maybe The Right Stuff had a shot? I don’t know. I wasn’t alive. No way they’d have gone Big Chill.
1982: Gandhi was fourth. E.T. was first, Tootsie was second, The Verdict was third. I’m sensing a trend emerging. Oh, wait, that was a disturbance in the force. I’m sorry. I thought I was being smart, turns out I was just being nerdy. Christ, I sound like someone who actually likes those films…I can never lay off a joke. I guess that’s why my overhead is so high.
Oh fuck you, you know that was funny.
1981: Chariots of Fire was third, behind Raiders of the Lost Ark (#1) and On Golden Pond. Reds, the presumed winner, was fourth. That explains a bit. Also, how dumb was America going to see Chariots of Fire so many times?
1980: Ordinary People was second behind Coal Miner’s Daughter. Raging Bull was fourth. Now, I say this from the bottom of my heart, but, whhhhhhyyyyy? (And, for fun: “Nooooooooooooooooo!”)
1979: Kramer vs. Kramer was first, ahead of Apocalypse Now, which was second. And All That Jazz, which was third.
1978: The Deer Hunter was second, behind Heaven Can Wait. Not really much competition this year.
1977: Annie Hall was #3. Star Wars was obviously #1. The Goodbye Girl was #2. The Turning Point, the presumed favorite and Globe winner, was fourth. I think. Either way, noticing any trends, Cosmopolitan?
1976: Rocky was #1. Explains a lot. All the President’s Men was 2. No word on where Network and Taxi Driver were. I’m guessing in that order, though. Marty historically never made much money on his movies.
1975: One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest was second, behind Jaws. Dog Day Afternoon was third. Nashville was fourth. Though I’m thinking it didn’t really matter here.
1974: The Godfather Part II was third, behind Chinatown at 2, and The Towering Inferno, at 1. But I think we can all agree that Towering Inferno was never going to win. So really those other two were the main competition here.
1973: The Sting was second, behind The Exorcist. American Graffiti was third. Two top threats, duking it out once again.
1972: The Godfather was first. Cabaret was second. Check.
1971: The French Connection was second, behind Fiddler on the Roof. A Clockwork Orange was third. I don’t know this year intimately, but I’m guessing these were the top three vying for the prize.
1970: Patton was fourth, behind #1, Love Story, #2, Airport, and #3, MASH. Surely you’ve picked up on it now, Shirley. Right?
1969: Midnight Cowboy was second, behind Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Hello, Dolly! was third. And excited.
1968: Oliver! was third, behind Funny Girl (#1) and Romeo and Juliet (#2). Uh huh…
1967: In the Heat of the Night, was fourth, behind The Graduate (#1), Bonnie and Clyde (#2) and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (#3). I like when everything just fits perfectly into your argument.
1966: A Man for All Seasons was third, behind Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Sand Pebbles.
1965: The Sound of Music was first. Doctor Zhivago was second. Two main contenders right there.
1964: My Fair Lady was/is second (the data only tells me what they’ve grossed until now, which, I feel is still what it would have been, since #1 was/is Mary Poppins. I’m not sure what the other threats were, if any. Becket doesn’t seem to be a threat. Dr. Strangelove was way too not their tastes to win, and Zorba the Greek was — I don’t think that was ever going to win.
1963: Tom Jones was third, behind Cleopatra at one, and How the West Was Won, at two. Hmm…
1962: Lawrence of Arabia was first. The Longest Day was second. To Kill a Mockingbird was fifth. Hmm again, says I.
1961: West Side Story was first. The Guns of Navarone was second. The rest, we don’t know. One would guess The Hustler was third or fourth.
1960: The Apartment was second, behind The Alamo (which probably only got in because of its success). Elmer Gantry was third and The Sundowners was fourth. Methinks there was no competition though.
1959: Ben-Hur was clearly #1. The Nun’s Story was second, and Anatomy of a Murder was third. Remember what I said about Titanic?
1958: Gigi was third, behind Auntie Mame at 1, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at 2.
1957: The Bridge on the River Kwai was first. Peyton Place was second. Sayonara was third. 12 Angry Men was either 4th or 5th. I don’t think there was much competition here.
1956: Around the World in 80 Days was second, behind The Ten Commandments. Giant was third. This really does seem to work almost every time, doesn’t it?
1955: Marty, we don’t know specifically where it finished (at least not without a lot of research), but since it made $3 million we can assume it finished 3rd or 4th, behind Mister Roberts at 1 and Picnic at 2.
1954: On the Waterfront was third, behind The Caine Mutiny (1) and The Country Girl (2).
1953: From Here to Eternity was second behind The Robe (which was the first big Cinemascope movie, making it a spectacle). Shane was third. Roman Holiday was fourth.
1952: The Greatest Show on Earth was first. Ivanhoe was second. Moulin Rouge was third. The Quiet Man was fourth. High Noon was fifth. And had that whole HUAC thing going for it. Or rather against it.
1951: An American in Paris was third. Quo Vadis was first, and A Streetcar Named Desire was second.
1950: All About Eve was fourth, behind King Solomon’s Mines (1) and Sunset Boulevard (2) and Father of the Bride (3). Born Yesterday was a close fifth.
1949: All the King’s Men was, get this, fifth. Dead last. We have our first one in five nominees. Behind, in order (1-4), Battleground, Twelve O’Clock High, A Letter to Three Wives, and The Heiress.
1948: Hamlet was fifth as well. Behind, in order, The Red Shoes, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Johnny Belinda, and The Snake Pit. Yeah, this year…
1947: Gentleman’s Agreement was first. The Bishop’s Wife was second. Miracle on 34th Street was third. Crossfire was an actual B-movie. Actually kind of perfect, in a historical sense, that it be this year.
1946: The Best Years of Our Lives was first. The Yearling was second. The Razor’s Edge was third. It’s a Wonderful Life was either fourth or fifth.
1945: The Lost Weekend was fifth, behind, in order, The Bells of St. Mary’s, Spellbound, Anchors Aweigh, and Mildred Pierce.
1944: Going My Way was first. Since You Went Away was second. Double Indemnity was third.
1943: Casablanca was third. Of ten. For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Song of Bernadette were first and second.
1942: Mrs. Miniver was first. Random Harvest was second. Yankee Doodle Dandy was third.
1941: How Green Was My Valley was second. Sergeant York was first. Citizen Kane was third. Hmm…
1940: Rebecca was first. The Philadelphia Story was second. Kitty Foyle was third.
1939: Gone With the Wind was obviously first. The Wizard of Oz, we think, was second.
1938: You Can’t Take It With You was first. The Adventures of Robin Hood was second.
1937: The Life of Emile Zola was fourth, behind One Hundred Men and a Girl, In Old Chicago and The Good Earth.
1936: The Great Ziegfeld was second, behind San Francisco.
1935: Mutiny on the Bounty was first. Top Hat, was second.
1934: It Happened One Night was fourth, behind Viva Villa!, Cleopatra, and The Barretts of Wimpole Street. The Thin Man was fifth.
These last ones are all shades of grey.
1932-1933: Cavalcade — we don’t know where (P.S. I can do that.) it finished. But based on the 1933 grosses, it was definitely no higher than fifth. And based on the subject matter, was probably closer to the bottom of the list.
1931-1932: Grand Hotel was second. Shanghai Express was first.
1930-1931: Cimarron was first. We don’t know what was second.
1929-1930: All Quiet on the Western Front was first. No idea what was second.
1928-1929: The Broadway Melody was the winner of a year where there were no “official” nominees. There was an unofficial list of “de facto” nominees based on three judges, Wikipdia says. Still, if we go by that unofficial list, Broadway Melody was second (based on Wikipedia, where there are no “official” grosses past ten). In Old Arizona was first.
1927-1928: Wings was the top grossing film of “1927 alone” according to Wikipedia, and The Jazz Singer was #1 of, whatever isn’t 1927 alone. We can still safely say that Wings fits in the general model.
These final six years are nebulous, because the number of nominees change, some of them don’t even have nominees. But I think we got all the information we need. Now, for the analysis…
In the 65 years of 5 nominees, 45 of them were the top two grossing films of the Best Picture nominees. That’s about a 69% rate. 12 times the Best Picture was the third highest grossing, which is about a 18 1/2% rate. Which, still, third highest isn’t bad. Depending on the year, one or both of the films in front of the film that won could have been films like The Towering Inferno, a film that was never going to win, and probably was only nominated because it was a big budget film that made a lot of money. Fourth and fifth, though, is where we start entering the Danger Zone. The Best Picture winner finishing as the fourth highest grossing nominee, happened exactly five times. That’s between 7 and 8%. Closer to 8. And fifth, finishing dead last, happened exactly three times, which is slightly under 5% of the time.
It’s also important to note that not since 1949 has a film finished dead last (of five) in terms of nominee box office grosses and won Best Picture (Technically The Hurt Locker, even at ten, would have been, percentage-wise, a low four, with a close five behind it. Though, based on the five Best Director nominations, and the five pictures everyone assumed would have been the five if there were five, it would have been dead last. You don’t break records for nothing). And of those three, 1949 was a weak year. It’s hard to pick a winner there. I’m not really sure what happened. 1948 is the worst year ever in terms of picking a winner out of the nominees. Literally, any one of the four other films nominated against Hamlet were better choices. The winner alone is what makes it a weak year. I cannot, and will not, defend that choice. Unforgivable. And the final one, The Lost Weekend was also in a weak year. It actually was probably the film that should have won. It was the only “important” film on there. Which would today be considered the “message” film. One was a sequel, one was a Hitchcock thriller, one was a musical, and the other was a noir, which, the time for noir was the year after this one. But, weak years are to contribute for two of the three, and the other is a terrible choice. Incompetence and poor decision-making. we can even include The Hurt Locker on there. At least, in my opinion. And this is my article, so I don’t give a shit about what yours is. And the other low grossing winner — Cavalcade. That’s in one of the grey years, so, I’m guessing — I don’t know. There’s clearly a better film on there. I can’t even begin to guess what happened then. I guess it was because they were just finding their legs, as an Academy. After that, Lieutenant Dan got new legs. New legs!
A film hasn’t finished fourth and won since 1987. And, the last three times a film finished fourth and won Best Picture, it was a big, historical epic — essentially, an “Oscar” movie. The Last Emperor, Gandhi, Patton. You don’t even have to have seen those movies to know what kind of films they are. They carry a certain ambiance with them that gives off the epic vibe (and the boring one. Man, those three are tedious). So, in those cases, they went with the “Academy” type film.
The fourth was All About Eve. I’m not sure how or why that won Best Picture over Sunset Boulevard, but — those are the two top films on that list. Maybe it was a victim of just not making any money? Then again, King Solomon’s Mines is not actually much of a good film. It is, however, a Technicolor film shot entirely on location, which might have had something to do with its grosses (and its nomination).
So, finishing fourth were four “Oscar” films and one, “probably really only third” film.
And just to finish off this line of analysis, let’s look at the twelve years where films finished third and won Best Picture. Just to see if there’s any kind of a pattern.
2004, Million Dollar Baby and 1999, American Beauty. 2004 seems to be a minor upset. More like, they went another way. That might be the best way to describe it. The Aviator looks like the clear winner, but, they went another way. Then, 1999, The Green Mile or The Sixth Sense were probably never going to win. I think American Beauty was one of those, probably should have been considered first or second. Because, really, what was going to win? Also note, aside from these two, it has not happened since 1981.
1981, Chariots of Fire was a huge upset. Reds, though, was ranked even lower. Personally, I loved Raiders of the Lost Ark, but, I don’t think the Academy would have ever voted for it. So, I think they went for something that made more money, and gravitated toward the “feel-good” aspect.
1977, Annie Hall is widely considered a huge upset. Star Wars is what it is. Even though Star Wars wasn’t the favorite to win. The Turning Point was. So here’s a second case of straying toward more money. I think the Spielberg and Lucas films weren’t thought that highly of at the time. Kind of the way we don’t respect movies like Transformers now. But, different. So I think they went for the highest nominee possible. I’m not sure why they chose Annie over The Goodbye Girl, but still, third is third. Another way, I guess.
1974, Godfather II was clearly #2, because Towering Inferno got the “money” nomination. Actually, it’s a cross between the money nomination and the “prestige” nomination. Example, The Blind Side = Money nomination. It made $200 million when no one thought it would. They acknowledged that. Cleopatra = Prestige nomination. Personally, I like the film, but most people considered it a disaster when it came out, and no doubt it got nominated because a lot of money was spent, and because that’s what it was supposed to do. Towering Inferno is sort of a cross between the two. Appropriate in the era when everything was changing. So, this one doesn’t really count as a third. This is the Academy. Awesome pictures are never a threat.
Oliver! was in a very weak year. Romeo and Juliet, Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter and Rachel, Rachel were the other nominees. Rachel was a Paul Newman-directed film, and I think they nominated it because he directed it. One would assume. Because it’s really not very good, and it got in instead of 2001. So how else can you explain that? Other than they hated 2001. I think the two that were most likely to win here were Oliver! and The Lion in Winter. And I think they went for more money there. Romeo seems too old school for them at this time. So that had to be why Oliver! won. It’s feel-good. Right? Bait, glorious bait, is it not?
A Man for All Seasons may have been an upset, since Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? looks to have been the big threat that year. The Sand Pebbles seemed to be making its money either because its a historical epic, and/or the fact that it was a Steve McQueen movie. I think this is like 2004, where the Academy just went another way.
Tom Jones came in another very weak year. Cleopatra, as I said before, was considered a disaster and was almost certainly not getting voted for. How the West Was Won is a big, sprawling epic with no real narrative. It’s literally like four separate movies loosely dealing with one family. But really, it’s a huge Cinerama movie (the curved screen), and has a parade of stars, and each person gets their section. Jimmy Stewart is a tracker, I think. John Wayne is a general. There’s a section about homesteading. Shit like that. I don’t think it would have won, because it was probably considered a spectacle film. America, America is a brilliant film, but is more of a passion project, and isn’t much of a film the Academy is likely to embrace. Plus, it was almost certainly the fifth ranking movie. And the last one was Lilies of the Field, which I think was more of a filler nominee. I think it was Sidney Poitier getting Best Actor carrying the film over to Best Picture. Kind of like Ray. So, I think they went with more money in this case. Plus, they may actually be racist, that Academy. (And by may, I mean — you can count the black Oscar winners on two hands. The actors anyway.)
Gigi also came in a weak year. In fact, these last three years (by that I mean, 68, 63 and 58) are widely considered (by me), to be the weakest in the Academy’s history. Auntie Mame wasn’t going to win. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof could have won, but it’s a big stagey, and very much looks like a play on screen. The one that probably should have won was The Defiant Ones, which was fifth. So, once again, I think they went more money.
Marty is another year that’s considered weak. But, even though there are good films here, there isn’t that one “Oscar” film that you could point to as, “yeah, that seems like one that would be there.” Picnic is a big, Cinamescope film, but isn’t great, and is kind of melodramatic. Love is a Many-Splendored Thing is not very good, and I don’t think would have won. Mister Roberts is amazing, but is clearly a play on film. Though it could have won, I guess, but Marty is actually a better film. Oh, and The Rose Tattoo is more of a play than Mister Roberts is. So, this one, I guess was them going for quality. Maybe. Not sure.
On the Waterfront seems to be an anomaly. I don’t think anyone would disagree with this decision. It just didn’t make as much money as the other ones. Maybe the public didn’t understand the importance. That makes sense. They’re dumb.
And, An American in Paris. Why A Streetcar Named Desire didn’t win this award is beyond me. Really. I don’t get it. I consider this a poor decision. But still, by the numbers, it’s them going another way. Half-wits.
So it seems they went with the third nominee most of the time because the film that was supposed to win didn’t made enough money to please them. Or they made a bad decision. Or just went another way.
What I’ve extrapolated here is that, when they move down to third highest grossing, it’s either because they’re moving up from fourth or fifth, or don’t like one or two enough to vote for them. And in a lot of those cases (all of them, in fact), one of the two nominees above it almost certainly wasn’t going to win. So, really, you might be able to cross off the moneymakers without chances and then redistribute. Perhaps. Before we figure that out, let’s finish up with the years of ten nominees. We’ll be quick, I promise.
Since the majority of the winners in the five nominees categories came within the top two, it makes sense that we’ll call the top four in a ten nominee field the primary targets. See what I did there? Doubled it? Yeah. Okay, now let’s see how faithful they fit…
Once. Last year. Every other year (except for the Cavalcade year, which, is just weird), the Best Picture winner was in the top four grossing of ten. Holy fuck. Five 1s, two 2s, a 3 and two 4s. And incorporating the gray years into it, all but Cavalcade were first or second in their respective years. So, in all, we have, in total, of the ten nominee years, eight 1s, four 2s, a 3, two 4s, and two below fifth.
That means, that in total, of 82 years, the Best Picture winner has finished in the top 40% of the grossers (top two in five, top four in ten) 60 of 82 times. That’s a cool 73% of the time. It finished third 12/65 times. Which means, 72 out of 82 times, the Best Picture winner was in the top 60% of the highest grossing nominees. That’s almost 88%. That’s a pretty fucking consistent number.
Now, to what this is leading to — I know the suspense is killing you — this is how the Best Picture nominees rank (*as of today*, but with the ceremony tomorrow, there seems to be enough space between them that we can be pretty certain this is how it’ll stay):
1) Toy Story 3 — $415 million
2) Inception — $292.6 million
3) True Grit — $164. 6 million
4) The King’s Speech — $104.7 million
5) Black Swan — $101.8 million
6) The Social Network — $96.7 million
7) The Fighter — $88.3 million
8) The Kids are All Right — $20.9 million
9) 127 Hours — $17.5 million
10) Winter’s Bone — $6.4 million
Pretty Chien Andalou, huh? (Eye opening. Everybody gets one.) The bottom three on the list are ones that no one assumes even have a chance at winning. And 1 and 2 are assumed to not have enough support based on other categories and/or lack of nominations. So, what we’re saying here is that essentially, the Best Picture winner is almost certain to come from the #3 through #7 spot. If we’re gonna take off the top two, then really everything involved has a shot. If we’re not taking off the top two, however, that means The Fighter has absolutely no shot to win Best Picture. So, anyone thinking of picking that as a spoiler, you have about a 12% chance of that happening. Feeling lucky?
On the flip side (The B+ side), if we’re going by tradition alone, the four top films that seem to be able to win Best Picture are Toy Story 3, Inception, True Grit, and The King’s Speech. Oh, the bell hath tolled, hathen’t it? We know those first two have no shot, with that other category specifically designed for it and the whole lack of Best Director and Best Editing nominations. So, really, the two that should be the favorites are True Grit and The King’s Speech. Though, it can be said, if The Social Network does win, it can be considered the Academy, “going another way.”
Ironically, though, the two that are “most likely” to win by this rationale are the two films that have the most nominations. The King’s Speech has 12 and True Grit has 10. The Social Network has 8. Inception has 8. The Fighter has 7. 127 Hours has 6. Black Swan has 5. Toy Story has 5. Winter’s Bone has 4. The Kids are All Right has 4.
Plus, against The Social Network, The King’s Speech really only has the extra four nominations from two extra acting nominations (understandable), Art Direction (which, yeah) and Costume Design (also, yeah). So, really it’s right in there in terms of nominations. They all got the essentials, and really, this race is truly almost too close to call. Which, really you knew already, and essentially I was wasting your time this whole time. But, I did get to put forth my theory and you have to admit it was at least interesting for a couple of minutes.
I’m just saying, though, if you want to go by this trick, which is fairly accurate, you might want to say that The King’s Speech is going to take it. You have a 73% chance of being right with The King’s Speech and about a 15% chance of The Social Network. Taking either of those is an 88% chance, which, we’d all say is about the likelihood of one of those two winning out. Probably more. But, if you like percentages, this is an interesting one to take into account.
Either way, a whole can of worms is going to open up here. If King’s Speech takes Picture and Director, then everything goes mostly according to what it seems. The PGA, DGA, the fact that it’s their kind of film. All that’s left is some pissed off viewers such as myself. But if that happens, The Social Network then becomes the first film in the history of the Academy to win the Golden Globe, National Board of Review, and the New York Film Critics Association but lose Best Picture. (I knew about the first two, someone told me about the third one). Oh, also, if it wins The King’s Speech will become the first film to win Best Picture with a British monarch as the central character. Just saying. Also of note, they really haven’t picked a film like this for Best Picture in a long time. Twelve, to be exact. Granted, this isn’t exactly like that, but, it kind of is. They were both sort of variations. Colorful characters and stories within the stuffy British world. We really do have another 1998 on our hands, don’t we? Harvey, you sly dog.
Now, should The King’s Speech win Best Picture but not Best Director, then we’ll be bucking that whole Director’s Guild trend that’s existed for 62 years til now. You know, the whole, all but six times thing. That would be interesting. If the split happens in the wrong direction…
Then again, if the split happens in the right direction, then The Social Network takes Best Picture but loses Best Director. Which — why in the world would that happen? It makes sense that it would win both. But, if it wins both, Best Picture and Best Director, then all it does is buck the DGA trend, which has happened twice in the last decade anyway, so it’s not like it’s that sacred a record. Then everything goes back on the track we thought we were on, and the whole PGA thing was a minor apparition on the road to success. And it means we all got worried for nothing. But you know what, if you realize you got worried for nothing, you still feel all right in the end.
Also, I’d like to say — the Golden Globes, which are historically the one organization that goes with the “traditional” Oscar film — Babel, Atonement, Avat—well, what exactly was Avatar?, The Hours, Sense and Sensibility, etc. — will have actually been the ones giving the award to the trendier picture. The last time that’s happened was — wait for it — that’s right, 2005, Brokeback Mountain. Since then, either they’ve matched up or Oscar went for the “trendier” pick. And by trendier, I mean, not boring.
Really what this comes down to is — will the Academy go back to their familiar, comfortable ways, or, will they adapt to the times and pick a movie that the people and the critics are saying is the best film of the year (I don’t actually know what “the people” are saying, but the people are stupid, so it really doesn’t matter. But I say. I’m the people. Les gens, c’est moi. Motherfucker). After 2005, when the Academy went comfortable, they spent the last five years making up for that. Will they now retreat back to their old ways, giving up on all the good will they’ve been engendering the past five years, or, will they continue what they’ve been doing and come off like a cool group who actually matters and maybe, just maybe, might be a group worth listening to for once? Either way, it’s going to be exciting.
P.S. — Someone brought up how the Academy has gone back to their comfort zone in another regard — all white people. Not one black person has been nominated for an acting award this year. A lot of people are saying the Academy felt that after last year, giving Oscars to Geoffrey Fletcher and Mo’Nique for Precious (Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire), they met their affirmative action quota and went back to the well once more. I don’t know how much weight that argument holds, since I haven’t actually given much thought to who in the running was white or black or whatever (I don’t see color. I only see if people are thin. And also, it’s based on the performance, so…), but you know if these awards don’t go the way I’m hoping, I’m gonna pull that motherfucker right out of the deck and wave it around like it’s my cock and I’m Keifer Sutherland at happy hour.