Contender Countdown: Does anyone care that we don't have a frontrunner?
I've worked on Oscar campaigns and have covered this beat for a long time, but boy this is odd. We are days, even hours away from Academy members pressing send on their newfangled computers to end phase one of yet another great Oscar season and yet hardly anyone in Tinsletown feels secure about their contenders or which of their competitors is the true frontrunner. Yowzas!
It started out with "Argo," then "Lincoln," then "Zero Dark Thirty" and then "Les Miserables" (possibly for a weekend) and since then it's been something of a mess. Obviously, "frontrunner" status is basically whomever is winning the PR war with the press, guild members and Academy's loose mouths, but it dictates how campaigns are run and where (and if) money is spent. And frankly, unless there is a major shock in the editing or directing category nods we won't know much until the PGA and DGA announce their year-end winners. At this point, I'm ranking "Argo" at no. 1 because its primed for a comeback, has always been an industry favorite and its not clear their is enough passion for "Zero Dark Thirty" or "Lincoln." Of course, that could all change next week, but as a snapshot of the race we are where we are.
While never a 100% baramoter the PGA Awards nominations on Tuesday did clear a few things up regarding the rest of the field. "Flight," "The Master," "Amour," "The Impossible"? The bubbles are popping underneath your best picture nomination dreams. The biggest question remaining is whether the Academy will honor nine or 10 films. Considering the lack of a consistent frontrunner for the past five to six weeks, it's easy to speculate that split first place votes will find 10 nominees this year. Then again, perhaps they'll shock us all and go with only seven or eight? Whatever the outcome the Monday Morning Quarterbacking (on Thursday morning) will no doubt blame any result on the shortened voting season and cranky member's complaints over the online voting system. In fact, that's the safest bet of all.
With that in mind, here's the Contender Countdown for Jan. 3, 2013.
Will it all come back to Ben Affleck's fall favorite? Is this 'The Departed' all over again? Some seem to think so.
2. Zero Dark Thirty
What political backlash? "Thirty" could land just as many nominations as "The Hurt Locker."
Some nice top 10 love, but only one critics' groups best picture of the year honor. It's a player, but is the passion there?
4. Life of Pi
The steady survivor in so many ways. Imagine if Fox Searchlight had run this campaign, it might have a shot at winning.
5. Silver Linings Playbook
After its sub par limited opening in November I bet a colleague it wouldn't make $30 million. Guess that word of mouth wasn't a joke, huh? By Saturday it will be time to pay up.
6. Les Miserables
Universal execs have to love the box office, but they also have to be scratching their heads over the viciousness of some of the reviews. At this point, making the nine or 10 nominee field would be the win.
PGA nod proves just how solid the industry adoration is. I've had it as "in" for almost two months, but hey, just sayin'.
8. Django Unchained
After debuting at such a late date, the in is the win.
9. Moonrise Kingdom
Could have been a true contender? Probably not, but after an overall rocky awards season Focus will be more than happy with securing a best picture nod for one of 2012's biggest indie hits.
10. Beasts of the Southern Wild
Should be in. Want to say it's in. Fingers crossed.
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
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