If you missed where we examined the potential Best Picture nominations for Crazy Heart, District 9, An Education, The Hangover
, then please do check out Part 1
. We will look at five more titles here under the assumption that Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious and Up In The Air are all locks. Could one or all of these fill out the remaining five slots?
Of all the films on this list, Rob Marshall's musical probably has the most going for it and the most going against it. Starting with a first batch of Best Picture nominations that include the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Ensemble prize, Nine is in some pretty solid company. 28 of the last 34 films to receive those three nods have moved on to an Oscar nomination. The six watching from the sideline were Being John Malkovich (1999), Almost Famous (2000), Billy Elliot (2000), Adaptation (2002), Dreamgirls (2006) and American Gangster (2007). Of those 34 however, only two of them (American Gangster & The Reader) received not a single nod from the Producers', Directors' or Writers' Guild. They share that in common with Nine. Yes, Dion Beebe picked up a nom from the American Society of Cinematographers, but only 23 of their last 50 nominees were Best Picture contenders. Throw on top of that the middling box office receipts ($17.2 million through Jan. 12) and the negative reception it has received from critics (A.O. Scott called it an "abomination") and you could very well be looking at the worst reviewed film to be nominated for Best Picture in some time. Using the numbers from Rotten Tomatoes, you have both The Reader and Chocolat at 62% positive. Nine is currently sitting at 37%
A Serious Man
Best Picture chances: 49%
Fourteen features to the credit of Joel & Ethan Coen and only two of them have been nominated for Best Picture. Only three screenplay nominations too if you can believe it. But somehow the title of "Oscar favorites" have been attached to them. Sure, No Country For Old Men
was the big winner of 2007, but Burn After Reading
turned up donut at the Oscars. Take No Country and Fargo out of the picture and their films have received a grand total of six nominations (3 for Barton Fink
, 2 for O Brother, Where Art Thou?
and 1 for The Man Who Wasn't There
.) A Serious Man
has never quite left the conversation. Forget about the limited box office, this has been a critical darling since its first screenings. Chicago and the BFCA nominated it for Best Picture. Perhaps the star power of the film wasn't big enough for the Hollywood Foreign Press to nominate it - even if they did nominate Michael Stuhlbarg for Best Actor. The Coens also picked up their fourth WGA nomination and third for their editing doppelganger, Roderick Jaynes, from the ACEs. The snubbing by the Producers' Guild is troubling for its chances though. Seven films since 1999 have been mutually nominated by Chicago and the BFCA and ignored by the Globes and SAG. Only one (2000's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
) got a Best Picture nod. And truth be told it wasn't completely ignored by the Golden Globes as it was the winner of its Foreign Language Award. Ang Lee's film was also on the list of the PGA, WGA, DGA, ACE and American Society of Cinematographers. The same five bodies along with BFCA & Chicago that last year's The Dark Knight
failed to get a Best Picture nomination with. That's a lot of support that A Serious Man
does not have in its favor. It's more in line with the other five non-nominees. WALL-E
(2008) was disqualified from WGA & DGA consideration and we know the end of that story. King Kong
(2005) only got a extra nod from the Cinematographers. Far From Heaven
(2002) got one of those too along with a WGA nod. No Best Picture. You Can Count On Me
(2000) just got the WGA nod. Nada. Finally, United 93
(2006) got nods from BFCA, Chicago, the WGA and the Editors. Same as A Serious Man
. No Best Picture nomination.
Best Picture chances: 35%
Here is the one the fanboys are all waiting to hear about. The first outsider presumed to be on the playing field of the Best Picture expansion, announced 6 1/2 weeks into its theatrical run when it was the highest grossing film of the year to date. Time has passed though. Six films passed it at the box office including Best Picture lock Avatar
and contenders The Hangover
(if you put any stock in Part 1 of this piece) and Up.
It failed to get any major love from the BFCA, Globes, Chicago or SAG. But then the tide began to turn. Avatar
and District 9
were not the only sci-fi blockbusters to be nominated by the Producers' Guild. It then clearly benefitted from all the disqualifications by the WGA and snagged a nod. Then was amongst the ten ACE nominees. In case you need a refresher, 41 of the last 50 Best Picture nominees received an ACE nod. So let's zero in on that list. PGA, WGA & ACE. Five films on that list.
(2002), My Big Fat Greek Wedding
(2002), Cold Mountain
That's only 1 out of 5. OK, Cold Mountain received a Cinematographer's nod as well. If you want to feel better, you could throw The Cider House Rules
(1999) on the pile which received PGA & WGA nods but nothing from the Editor or Director branches. How will sci-fi fans react if Star Trek
beats out District 9
for a Best Picture nod? Will they only be satisfied if both get in? Will Spock have to be reminded again in 2012 that he is going to be friends with Kirk?
Best Picture chances: 45%
Let's forget for a moment that Up is in the same boat as Invictus with just a BFCA & PGA nom for Best Picture to its credit amongst the groups we are examining. The BFCA-only group is just 2-for-21 the past decade with the "2" containing an Eastwood film and the "21" containing no animated features. The PGA-only group is 0-for-7 and that includes its fellow DGA & WGA disqualifiers Shrek (2001) and The Incredibles (2004). Let us look at the bigger and potentially troubling picture here. Even more than Star Trek, Up was an instant attention-getter with the expanded list now in play. After last year's disappointing lack of consideration given to WALL-E (despite winning Best Picture from Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and the Online Film Critics Society), surely the Academy would make up for that snub this year. What if that happens though? What if the dog finally catches the car? Then what? The Animated Feature category is still out there where its already the favorite to win. And even if its not, it certainly should be once it gets a Best Picture nomination, right? Have the Academy not then announced the Animated Feature winner? After all, you can't say it is one of the ten best films of the year and then deny it the award in the other category. What if Fantastic Mr. Fox were to upset it there, as some are trying to suggest? Then where is it's Best Picture nomination? All the more reason for the Animated Feature category to be disbanded altogether. But then we all cry again about the lack of respect for animation. I liked the suggestion in the other thread by one Adam Charles. As long as we are concentrating on ten nominees for Best Picture, just eliminate both the Animated and Foreign categories entire. Would they have a better chance at Top Gold though? More likely the Academy would have to create a Rooney Rule or something along those lines that say one slot must be reserved for a non-live-action and non-English feature. Call it the WALL-E Rule. Then we start screaming affirmative action as some Foreign Language feature with the word "wedding" in the title takes the spot that should have gone to Batman 3. Maybe there really are no winners in this race.
Best Picture chances: 65%
Critics have been asking for smarter films for children for years. They finally got one and nearly half of them said it was too smart. Or boring. Only the Chicago Film Critics Association (to which I belong) were smart enough to nominate it for Best Picture and five other awards. Indiana and the Online Film Critics Society nominated the screenplay as well. Chicago's neighbors went a step further in calling Spike Jonze the year's Best Director. The BFCA threw it a couple of technical bones, but for the most part the film (#1 on A.O. Scott's Best of 2009 along with myself and #2 with Michael Phillips, behind Up) has been ignored at the end of the year. No Guild nominations. Not even one from the Writers Guild and all their absentee scripts. They preferred Nora Ephron using two books to craft Julie & Julia rather than Jonze and Dave Eggers transforming ten sentences into such a wonderful tale for all ages. I guess they don't have the source material of a Sapphire. Anyway, Chicago's Best Picture nod is the only thing in its favor. Four other films since 1999 have such a nod from the CFCA when being shut out from everyone else - The Straight Story (1999), Waking Life (2001), American Splendor (2003) and Once (2007). This stinks.
Best Picture chances: 2%
As for all the suggestions of films that could have made this list of ten, there are many. But none of them received any of the necessary love from any of the Guilds or major voting bodies for Best Picture. The Blind Side has its $200 million and probably a nomination for Sandra Bullock. They can be happy with that. A Single Man has a Colin Firth nod likely in the bag and likely one for Julianne Moore for Supporting Actress as well. The Messenger could be in line for a pair of Supporting nods. The White Ribbon will be up for Foreign Film and Cinematography. The Lovely Bones, The Road and Bright Star just don't have the heat. Mind you these numbers are subject to change - based more on gut feelings than anything that the BFCA, Globes or even BAFTA have to say about anything. Their victors are liable to be chosen from the locks. The numbers of the last decade and further could all be moot though the expanded field. Maybe the Academy has a surprise or two in store for us on the list. Hopefully ones for the better. But how often are those moments? Precious and few.