As you’re reading this, the Oscar voters have already made their final selections for each category of the Academy Awards, and there’s nothing left to do but wait for the results at the awards ceremony on Sunday. It got me to thinking, what kind of case has each Best Picture contender made for their shot at the award? Below are arguments that could be made, regardless of if I agree with them or not (I don’t completely, and obviously I personally am more or less fond of certain ones), as well as avoiding the precursor results. Later on, there will be a spot as usual for you to let us know the case you’d make for your personal picks in these groups (or all of them if you so desire), but for now, this is how I see it…as objectively as possible. In short, this how I think each film would pitch itself to voters at the last minute if they were standing on even ground going into the ceremony. Yes, I’m a bit bored in Florida (for those of you who know I’m temporarily out of New York City until sometime next month), but any writing is better than no writing. Anyway, here goes nothing…
The Artist- A tribute to an era of film that never really got its due from the Academy, it’s a classical tale with a happy ending, production values that honor both the old and the new, along with simply being one of the most unique nominees in a long time. Across the board support would definitely be achievable due to its strong acting as well. I feel like this would be an easy sell to voters no matter what, though when you bring nostalgia into play, you’re always doing a good job of helping out your cause. A comparable Best Picture winner might be Chicago.
The Descendants- The most emotional work yet from one of the best directors never to see his film win Best Picture or his work behind the camera honored with Best Director, voters could see this as the most pure “actors” film of the group as well. Alexander Payne’s “due” factor wouldn’t hurt, and since its early precursor love wouldn’t be factored in, there wouldn’t be the backlash that we’ve seen of late, making it a real strong player for Oscar members. A comparable Best Picture winner might be Terms of Endearment.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close- The resident tearjerker of the group, the case here is that no film brought out stronger emotions from a tougher premise than this one. You also have a consistently honored director and screenwriter doing different work than normal for them. Voters who cried more than once could be inclined to check it off. Worth noting is the fact that it’s a 9/11 film that was embraced by the voters, and very few of them have so far, so that’s a badge of honor for the movie. A comparable Best Picture winner is harder here, but I’d say Platoon or Rain Man are the best fits.
The Help- An appeal here to a difficult part of American history, you also have a large cast ensemble all doing showy work. Backed by Disney, it’s the type of film that could solidify the female vote and work as an appropriate flick for multiple age groups in a way that most of the other nominees (with one exception) can’t while also being the rare Best Picture nominee to not be an all white cast affair. This is another case of a movie with potential for across the board appeal from members helping its cause. A comparable Best Picture winner would be Driving Miss Daisy or Slumdog Millionaire.
Hugo- The rare live action children’s film (although it’s more than that) up for the top prize, this also has the added benefit of three things. One is Martin Scorsese as the director, doing something very different than he’s ever done before. Another is this being another love letter to cinema, and this one being about film preservation as well, something near and dear to plenty of members’ hearts besides Scorsese himself. The other thing is the strong and showy technical aspects, which can unite voters. A comparable Best Picture winner of sorts would be Oliver! or The Sound of Music.
Midnight in Paris- What could be the final chance to honor Woody Allen with the top prize could weigh in on the minds of voters here. A focus on how this the most purely enjoyable nominee of the group and a great case of escapism and wish fulfillment for audience members would help in the sell as well. Someone who is at least a bit jealous of the main character’s journey in the flick could combine that with their love of Allen and give him what could turn out to be one last salute (he is getting older, and the Academy doesn’t nominate him as frequently these days as they used to). A comparable Best Picture winner would be The Departed or Forrest Gump.
Moneyball- The rare sports movie up for the big Oscar, voters who love America’s Past Time and underdog tales in general could see fit to cast their vote in this direction, while on the flip side the business and personal quest aspects of the movie would be able to assist in getting other members to not even think of it as a baseball or sports flick. It’s also the sole biopic (or as close as you’re going to get out of the nominees) of the class this year, which helps its case to a degree, though it’s hardly the be all-end all (honestly, it’s writing would be a bigger draw, as it’s the wittiest of the nominees). Focusing on the underdog tale of Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics would be its surest path to votes. A comparable Best Picture winner would of course be Rocky.
The Tree of Life- One of the most experimental films ever nominated for Best Picture, that rebellious aspect could catch on with enough members to give it the votes needed for a win. Consider the rare movie output by the reclusive director and the fact that no flick this year is more unique, and the temptation to have a winner so different from any other in history would be a great selling point. Being among the most visually stimulating and beautiful films of this or any year is a plus too. A comparable Best Picture winner is almost impossible, but the closest might be The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King or The Silence of the Lambs.
War Horse- A throwback war epic that voters could see as the most traditional Best Picture contender of the bunch, it might be all but muscle memory to vote for this, while still being different enough by focusing on a different war than is the norm. Steven Spielberg in the director’s chair doesn’t hurt things either in the least. Beautiful technical work and happy ending combine to make this the kind of thing that an Academy member looks at as being a worthy winner if they found the quality to be on par with what they’ve voted for in the past. A comparable Best Picture winner would be All Quiet on the Western Front.
Obviously this doesn’t completely take into account the reality of the situation, but it’s interesting to wonder how you might look at these nominees if they were each on equal footing with each other for the award. Best Picture is really down to either The Artist or The Help, with The Descendants, Hugo, and The Tree of Life likely to get their share of votes as well, but for a moment it was fun to look at the race a little differently. Anyway, now it’s your turn…what case would you make for each of the nominees for Best Picture? Have at it!
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