The general Oscar prognostication consensus about ‘Drive’ has been for most of the season that it’s going to be one of the sadder snubs of the year at the Oscars, save for Albert Brooks in Best Supporting Actor. Ryan Gosling has a chance because of the year he’s having, but Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay has always seemed like wishful thinking, with the techs a question mark. I’m here to say that we might be underestimating this flick, and I’m pleased to write that it’s still in the race. Scott Feinberg recently tweeted his similar thoughts, writing “This may yet change, but I am now of the opinion that DRIVE will score a best picture Oscar nomination. I think it has 250 1st place votes.” This is something I’ve been saying for a bit, but always with a bit of hesitance, knowing the film was a longer shot than many others currently in the race. Passionately loved films like this could very well get the necessary 1st place votes to score a nomination, but if it doesn’t show up on any other ballots in the 2nd or 3rd slots, then it doesn’t have the widespread support it needs (more on this later). Despite not receiving a nomination from the Producer’s Guild, I see some Oscar love in this flick’s future.
The Academy has embraced bold films like this before, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t do so again. I’m all but positive it’ll never be able to get enough votes together to actually threaten to win Best Picture, but I think a nomination is well within its grasp. It’s got an incredible fan base at this point, probably more so than any other film in contention this year. While that doesn’t make for votes, it does make the flick more likely to be seen by those who might otherwise have skipped over it for more conventional Oscar fare. If you look at what’s been getting nominated in the past 5 years or so, there’s room for a film like ‘Drive’. Edgy and stylish fare like ‘Black Swan’ and ‘No Country for Old Man’ show that cool sometimes counts when it comes to non franchise fare. The Academy certainly could find that it’s not to their taste, but I’m looking at things and think that enough voters will feel like the critics have so far this year (myself included, as I named it my #1 film of 2011 here, and most of my colleagues cited it highly as well, not to mention you the readers) and write it in at #1 when doing their Oscar ballots. Let’s get into that now…
It’s going to come down to a few things for ‘Drive’ and it’s major Oscar chances, namely in the Best Picture field. You can somewhat disregard the strong presence it’s had on the precursor circuit since it’s mostly just been Critics Groups, and while they can influence voters, it hasn’t translated to the Guilds so far. This means that the fate of the film will be decided by if 250 members place the flick in their #1 spot, as well as how many people put it in the #2 or 3 slots. The new voting system pretty much means that your top 3 choices are the ones that really count, with few exceptions. The automatic nomination triggered by enough 1st place votes could benefit ‘Drive’, but if that doesn’t happen, I think plenty will have it as their 2nd or 3rd choice. Look at the other films that will have likely top pick love…there’s no abundance of them, so that benefits ‘Drive’. Besides ‘The Tree of Life’, no film will likely be on as many ballots as the #1 choice and left completely off of others, so it’ll just come down to how many passionate lovers they are. I think that there’s enough right now, and that could even help out the film in other places besides Best Picture.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s direction, Ryan Gosling’s lead performance, and Hossain Amini’s adaption of the novel could all stand to gain from this passion. I think Gosling could still get in regardless of Best Picture (though he could just as easily show up for ‘The Ides of March’ instead), but a big nomination like that could almost lock him in for a nod. Refn’s chances are tied in with the film itself. I think if the film gets in, then he’s one of the top 6 or 7 choices for Director, but if not…he’s a real long shot. The same goes for Amini’s screenplay, which could get in on its own, but will likely fall short without Best Picture. It’s essentially a domino effect, but I’d expect voters who love the film to support it all around and push it through. The other categories in play could include Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing, so keep that in mind as well.
Don’t assume I’m guaranteeing anything, since that’s a fool’s errand. The race has rarely been this unpredictable, and following along with what Oscar voters have been saying isn’t clearing things up at all. I’ve yet to get a consensus from the members I’ve talked to, and those who are on the internet tweeting aren’t unified around one film either. Just look at what filmmaker Rod Lurie recently tweeted. He wrote that he “Just filled out my Oscar ballot. Interesting how different my best picture list is from my best director list“. Think about what that means if enough people do that on their ballots. The prospect is certainly intriguing, but not necessarily beneficial to a film like ‘Drive’. We shall see…
In the end, it’s all just an educated guess right now. So much is still to be decided, and the voters of the Academy Awards do sometimes have a mind of their own, so one can only extrapolate so much from the critics groups supporting ‘Drive’. The fate of this particular flick is one of the more interesting storylines for this Oscar season, and I’ll be watching with baited breath. I know that many of you are pulling for the flick to score a whole host of nominations, and I’m with you there…I just want to stay objective. The evidence puts the flick kind of in an odd place, but still firmly in play for awards. Stay tuned for what happens, since it’s getting very interesting, to say the least!
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