Musings on Oscar’s Best Picture Nominations… and My Predictions

Hello and welcome to the eve of the Oscar nominations or Oscar night, namely the night only Hollywood folks and movie buffs give a damn about 🙂 Truthfully I almost forgot about the Oscar nominations if it weren’t for the Classical NPR station I listened to during rush hour traffic. They actually ran a special program called ‘Roll Credits’ where they played some Oscar-nominated scores, including one from The Big Country that’s on my top five list from Gregory Peck films.

All kinds of predictions have been circulating all over the place, and I’ll get to that later, but before that I just want to share some Best Picture history/trivia I learned recently. Now, out of a total of 24 categories given out at the Academy Awards, the one on everyone’s mind is which film is going to win Best Picture?’ That’s why it always came on last as people’d want to stick around to find out which movie take top honors.

The big question this year is…

How many Best Picture nominees will there actually be??

As you know, a couple of years ago, Oscar expanded the Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10. Now there’s yet another mind-boggling qualifying system… A film must receive at least 5% first place votes in the nominating process to qualify as one of the 5 to 10 nominees (per so there might be somewhere between 5-10 Best Picture nominees this year.

Here’s just a brief history of the Best Picture category specifically, thanks to AMC Filmsite:

The Oscars®, have been presented annually since 1927 (the first awards ceremony was held in May 1929) by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

The Best Picture category has been identified with a variety of names over the years: Outstanding Picture, Outstanding Production, Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Motion Picture, and Best Picture.

For the 1927/28 through the 1950 Awards, the nomination and ‘Best Picture’ Oscar went to the production company or studio that produced the film. [For example, Gone With The Wind‘s Best Picture Oscar was officially presented to Selznick International Pictures, not to David O. Selznick.] Thereafter, the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar was given to the producer(s).

The ever so fascinating—as well as discombobulating—tidbits about Best Picture nominees is the genre biases:

Most Likely to Be Nominated (or Win) For Best Picture: Serious dramas or social-problem films with weighty themes, biopics (inspired by real-life individuals or events), or films with literary pretensions are much more likely to be nominated (and win). Glossy, large-scale epic productions with big budgets (of various genres) often take the Best Picture prize.

Least Likely to Be Nominated (or Win) For Best Picture: Action-adventures, family-oriented animation, “popcorn” movies, suspense-thrillers, science-fiction, superhero films, horror, comedies (including teen comedies), Westerns, foreign-language films, and spy thrillers are mostly overlooked, as are independent productions and children’s films (although there have been a few exceptions).

Miscellaneous Trivia on Best Picture category:

  • The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) was the first non-US made film to both earn a Best Picture nomination, and win an Oscar of any sort (Best Actor for Charles Laughton, in this case). The first non-Hollywood (foreign-made) film to win Best Picture was Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948).
  • Only two novels that were made into films have won both the Best Picture Oscar and the Pulitzer Prize: Gone With The Wind and All the King’s Men
  • As I was researching about The Macomber Affair over the weekend, I found out from this Leonard Maltin site that the first film ever to win Best Picture Oscar, Wings, a silent film about WWI pilot starring Clara Bow and Gary Cooper, is NOT available on DVD. That’s a shame isn’t it?
  • In recent times since the advent of modern box-office tabulations, Best Director-winning Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker (2009) was the lowest-grossing Best Picture winner of all time. Its domestic gross earnings were $12.6 million at the time of its nomination, and only $14.7 at the time of its award.
  • Precious (2009) was the first-ever Best Picture nominee to be directed by an African-American filmmaker, Lee Daniels.
  • Oh and get this: Wings was also the only silent film to win ‘Best Picture’ … would this year the Oscar ‘come full circle’ if you will, with The Artist?

Anyway, I could go on and on as I love movie trivia, so I invite you to check out the comprehensive Oscar history on AMC Filmsite.

So, here are my best guess of Best Picture Nominees, just for the fun of it really as I haven’t seen everything that might considered. But hey, I won’t let that stop me 🙂 I just take a wild guess that there’ll be eight nominees, so here goes (in alphabetical order):

  1. The Artist*
  2. The Descendants
  3. Bridesmaids
  4. The Help
  5. Hugo
  6. Midnight in Paris
  7. Moneyball
  8. The Tree of Life
  • Drive
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Ides of March
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The Artist is the one I’m rooting for this year and I have a feeling it just might be the picture that’ll sweep the Oscars this year.

Any thoughts on Oscar or Best Picture noms specifically? Feel free to make your own predictions before the nominees are announced tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM eastern time.

28 thoughts on “Musings on Oscar’s Best Picture Nominations… and My Predictions

  1. I’d be happy to see Drive, The Artist, or Midnight in Paris scoop Best Picture, and I can see Scorsese giving Best Director a run for its money once more. Although part of me id dying to Nicholas Winding Refn scamper up on stage to collect for his work on Drive.

    Can’t wait for the noms!

  2. Matt Stewart

    I am honestly rooting for Scorsese to win Best Director, I think he deserves it the most. I just hope the Academy doesn’t go nuts and let War Horse sneak in and get the Best Picture win. Scary stuff haha.

    1. Well he just might get it Matt. I personally would rather have it go to Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. Yeah I hope War Horse won’t win, but that’s unlikely anyway.

  3. I’d give anything to see Nicolas Winding Refn get an award (or even a nomination), but I just don’t see it happening. My gut says it’s gonna be a sweep for The Artist, though, and I’m totally ok with that. The Artist was stunningly good.

    1. Y’know, I actually had War Horse on the list but then I thought, hmmm maybe The Academy would actually surprise us w/ nominating an all-female comedy for once. Ah well I guess they’re still as predictable as ever.

  4. I really couldn’t be pinned down to a selection. I have a few that i really want on the list, but I haven’t got a clue where to start.

    I will be watching the NOMs though. On here at 2pm…. in 2 hours!! woohoo

  5. Hi, Ruth and company:

    I’d like to see ‘The Artist’ win as well. Though I doubt the Academy will get behind what could be considered a novelty B&W foreign silent film. More’s the pity.

    My guess is that the Academy will once again push hard for Woody Allen and his Rom Com with young talent, ‘Midnight In Paris’.

    I can see the post awards marketing strategy: ‘A male Annie Hall lost in The City of Lights’.

    1. Hi Jack, yeah wouldn’t it be cool if The Artist becomes the second silent film to win Best Picture? Fingers crossed! I like Midnight in Paris but I do not think it should take the top honors.

  6. Great list Ruth. I guess I will do a post-morten of the noms for tomorrow.

    I think it is The Artist’s to lose. The Weinsteins will not have it any other way.

    I think Wings was actually the first silent film I saw. Not being from the time it is often hard to tell, but in this film there is no doubt – it is epic.

  7. LIke you i haven’t seen most of the movies being considered, but i am surprised Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close got nominated. I feel like it came and went without much critical acclaim or box office success.

    And btw i’ve had to change up my cast for the pitch thing. I ended up replacing Hoult with Efron because jack the Giant Killer got delayed, and Hoult has only 1 other movie coming out. I also added Morgan Freeman as a point pick since it doesn’t seem like Jolie will have any movies out next year

    1. Yeah I know! That’s on my WTF category on my Oscar reaction post. Heh, I guess the Academy voters must love Tom Hanks!

      My cast actually don’t really have much going on this year, but that’s not why I picked them. I think only Richard Armitage who’s starring in The Hobbit has the most going for him.

  8. wow! you were pretty close Ruth. Guessing 8 with the final result being 9! Nice work!

    It will be interesting to see if The Artist wins. Do you think it will with Hugo and The Descendants still to compete with?

    btw, I must say that I loved seeing the use of the word “discombobulating” in your post! Been a while since I’ve read that anywhere! 😉

    1. Well as I said it’s a wild guess, no scientific formula behind it at all 😀 I think Hugo is The Artist’s biggest rival, so it’ll be very interesting to see who wins. He..he.. I love that word, thank you for noticing!

  9. I totally forgot that the nominations were today 🙂 and when I finally saw them somewhere, I wished I forgot them totally: probably the weakest year ever, what can we say about year in which Brad Pitt gets a nomination and Michael Fassbender doesn’t?

  10. Insightful post Ruth. I see you didn’t have either War Horse or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close remotely near the top 10. Very surprising that they received BP nominations especially the latter. I’m also pulling for The Artist, should it get the DGA Award this weekend then the race will be over.

    1. Ooh, DGA is this weekend? I’ll be sure to pay attention and see who nabs Best Director, that’d certainly a good prognosis of what’ll happen next month.

  11. Looks like you were pretty spot-on with your predictions. It’s a shame that War Horse and Extremely Loud were included over much worthier films, but what can you do…

    1. I’m actually terrible at predicting this kind of thing, and clearly I still miss the numbers of films actually being nominated. Nine just seems like an odd number but whatever, Academy…

  12. I do feel the need to defend Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Moneyball. I thought it was a really good movie, and they were both very good in it. That said, I’m majorly disappointed in Fassbender’s lack of a nomination, not so much because I’m a fan (I am) or because I think his performance is awesome (haven’t seen the movie, but I’m sure it is) but mostly because I was hoping that the Academy would show some bravery in rewarding his performance and the movie, given that it released with the NC-17 rating and was still a critical success. Not taking anything away from the other performers (I’m very excited about Gary Oldman), but yeah, really disappointed.

    Otherwise I think the Best Picture nominees are really kind of weird (particularly the inclusion of Extremely Loud, which has gotten no other love, really), but I’m cool with it because I am confident that The Artist will pull out a win.

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