Oscar Watching: Consensus Evades 2013
As is the case with any awards-voting body, Oscar voters align with what they like. They named Tom Hooper’s light, biopic-like drama The King’s Speech 2010’s best picture and give it three other major prizes; the socially relevant critical darling The Social Network walked away with only an adapted screenplay win and two lower-tier trophies. Such sentiment could pave the way for Gravity or Captain Phillips (or maybe Hustle) to win over 12 Years – especially if it doesn’t start winning prizes soon.
But Oscar voters sometimes resist that temptation when an important milestone or film comes into the picture: 2006 was the year that voters saw fit to finally award Martin Scorsese, who might contend again with The Wolf of Wall Street; 2009 was “the year of the woman” as Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the best director Oscar.
People already say black cinema is 2013’s biggest story in film: Three movies led by black actors – 12 Years, Fruitvale Station, and Lee Daniels’ The Butler – could rack up several major nods on Oscar morning – including bids for their lead actors; as I wrote two weeks ago, The Best Man Holiday almost made twice its cost on its opening weekend and far exceeded box-office prognostications.
But to date, only two black men are Oscar-nominated directors; a director nod for McQueen would make three. (A win for Alfonso Cuarón would make history, too, but who’s talking about that?) Last year saw a director-picture split (for obvious reasons as anyone who followed the most recent race knows). I suppose a competitive year like 2013 might produce one, too. Pinning down the possible winners? No problem. Deciding on which movie does win? Different story.
Both the NYFCC and NBR ignored Captain Phillips and Lee Daniels’ The Butler, by the way, but the Globes and guilds should revive them. And can the motion-picture academy’s British bloc rescue Philomena?
1. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
2. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
3. Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass)
4. American Hustle (David O. Russell)
5. Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
6. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Lee Daniels)
8. Saving Mr. Banks (John Lee Hancock)
9. Inside Llewyn Davis (Ethan and Joel Coen)
9. Her (Spike Jonze)
10. Philomena (Stephen Frears)
11. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
12. Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)
13. August: Osage County (John Wells)
14. Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
15. Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallée)
16. Blue is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche)
17. Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve)
18. Enough Said (Nicole Holofcener)
19. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)
20. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller)
21. Labor Day (Jason Reitman)
22. Rush (Ron Howard)
23. One Chance (David Frankel)
24. All is Lost (J.C. Chandor)
25. Out of the Furnace (Scott Cooper)
Also worth mentioning: Short Term 12 (Destin Cretton), Lone Survivor (Peter Berg), The Past (Asghar Farhadi), Mud (Jeff Nichols), Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Justin Chadwick), The Book Thief (Brian Percival)
But who wins best director?