As I kicked off some juice this past Monday and started some heated discussion, we’re looking at all the possible angles for any film to get love on Oscar night. We took a look a scenario where Silver Linings Playbook would fall in line with Mike Nichols’ The Graduate (1967). Ang Lee’s Life of Pi could join a very small pool of Oscar Best Picture Winners if it triumphed over Affleck’s Argo and Spielberg’s Lincoln. It would become just the 12th film to win Best Picture without any acting nominations to back it up. The most recent film to have this honor was Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (2008) when it won eight Oscars. Before that, the most rewarded film in Oscar history took home eleven Oscars and tied with Titanic and Ben-Hur. That film was Peter Jackson’s epic conclusion The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). Many have cited this possibility and it seems highly unlikely at this juncture unless it creates a new record that would be either tied or previously held by Cabaret (1972). Any guess what that could be?
Scenario #2 – “Life of Cabaret”
Bob Fosse’s musical sensation was nominated for ten Academy Awards in its respective year winning eight but losing out on Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay, the two awards that seem the most challenging for Lee’s film to conquer at this point. If Life of Pi were to sweep all of its technical nominations (Production Design, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Original Score, Original Song), and manage to Director citation for Ang Lee, it would become the most rewarded film NOT to win Best Picture, a possible outcome that might present itself to the Fox 2000 Studio film. Of the eight nominations that Life of Pi possesses below the line, there is really only one win that seems “out of the realm” of possibility and that would be Original Song that looks to be lined up for Grammy Winner Adele for her hit song, “Skyfall” from Sam Mendes’ Skyfall. However, upsets and surprises occur all the time at the Oscars especially in the Song category. Think “Al otro lado del río” from The Motorcycle Diaries (2004).
What makes the comparison even more bizarre is the year Cabaret lost its Best Picture prize to Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972), an upset I’m sure many are content with, Coppola’s film only managed three Oscars at the end of the night. Capturing Best Picture, Best Actor for Marlon Brando, and Best Adapted Screenplay, which coincidentally sounds a lot like something that Argo could imitate. While Argo’s acting nomination lies in Supporting Actor for Alan Arkin, the most wide open race of the majors I might add, we could easily see a mirror by numbers and design. If Arkin wins, it would be his second Oscar since he won for Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris’ Little Miss Sunshine (2004); when Brando won, he was winning his second Oscar as well.
Sometimes the Oscar years start to look like one another. Their runtimes are also only three minutes difference. Bad connection? Perhaps, but don’t ever count out the Roman Polanski’s, the Marcia Gay Harden’s, or even the Bob Fosse’s that can swoop in and make some history. Not to mention, Ang Lee would be winning his second directing award and as of today, is the only Asian to ever win the honor, let alone being winning it twice.
Can Life of Pi make history on Oscar Sunday? We wait and see.
More Scenarios to come…