Alright, this is it. My prediction for Best Picture. Conventional wisdom, and Oscar history, would tell you that any film whose director doesn’t get nominated cannot and will not win Best Picture. Between 1932 and 2011 it only happened once when Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture in 1989. But then Argo happened. Maybe it was because it was Ben Affleck but he didn’t get nominated. I am going to stick to my guns and say that any of the Best Picture nominees that didn’t also get a Best Director nomination (as great as they may be) are immediately out of contention.
Best Picture Nominees
American Hustle – I completely enjoyed this movie. It was fun, funny, well-crafted and is chock-full of great performances. David O. Russell just knows how to make great movies. American Hustle is just the latest in his recent string of successes and could very possibly bring him his first Best Picture win.
Captain Phillips – Captain Phillips is evenly paced and very well done. Paul Greengrass should have been nominated for Best Director. His work is always so incredibly solid. I felt it was missing some of the emotional connection until you get to the end and Tom Hanks cranks it up to 11.
Dallas Buyers Club – My one and only complaint on this film is that the end felt abrupt and a bit anticlimactic. But this is seriously such a great movie that between Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto’s likely Oscar wins it will be long-remembered.
Gravity – Beyond the technical marvel is the heart-pounding story and fantastic performance from Sandra Bullock. This film is much, much more than just visually amazing. It is the classic story of voyage and return and it is told very well. Taking the medium to a new level is just the icing on the cake.
Her – Smart and original, Her is also buoyed by solid performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson and Amy Adams. However Her runs out of steam and the end left too much unresolved in a story that desperately needed a strong resolution.
Nebraska – I wish there was anything about this film I didn’t hate. I love movies so much that it just bothers me when I see an especially horrible one. I recently read an anonymous Oscar voter’s commentary on the nominees and who they were voting for and why. They were pretty brutally honest and in some categories had the polar opposite view to mine. So I understand that art is subjective. I hated Nebraska. Other people love it. That’s part of what makes movies great. We all experience them differently. But seriously, this movie was garbage.
Philomena – I am glad this sweet, tender film has received the attention it deserves. Honest performances from Judi Dench and the underappreciated Steve Coogan should get the spotlight whenever possible.
12 Years a Slave – I wish there was more of a connection made with Solomon Northup in this film. I never felt that I really knew him or cared about him in a personal way. I cared about him as a human being in an inhuman situation. But as opposed to Roberto Benigni’s Guido in Life is Beautiful, Adrien Brody’s Władysław Szpilman in The Pianist or even Kerry Washington’s Broomhilda in Django Unchained, I didn’t care about him in any specific way. I think the overall impact of the film suffered as a result, which is too bad because Chiwetel Ojiofor is excellent in the role.
The Wolf of Wall Street – I think Martin Scorsese would have 3 or 4 more Oscars by now if he could just bring himself to edit his epics into 2-hour films. The Wolf of Wall Street is a great film. But there isn’t anything in it that I liked that would have been hurt by cutting some of the other superfluous elements. I love Rob Reiner but his character and storyline are unnecessary. The same is true for the subplot about the Belfort’s butler. There are other examples but you get the picture. A tighter story would have made this a more legitimate contender.
OSCAR WINNER: Gravity
SELBY PICK: American Hustle
The sad thing for me is that the best picture I saw this year isn’t in this race. August: Osage County was stellar on every level. I have hopes that Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts will win their next Oscars but the Academy wasn’t kind to this amazing film. But they also missed mightily by not recognizing Inside Llewyn Davis either. Both incredible pictures you should check out.
OK. There you have it. Whadya think? Post your comments below, be sure to vote and make your voice heard. And as always you can find me on Twitter (@cmselby).
I’ll be back next week to recap the winners and see how sound my predictions were. In the meantime, you can check out my predictions in all the major categories here.