I’ve been tracking the Academy Awards for a few years, and while I wouldn’t consider myself anywhere close to an expert on the subject, I’m beginning to pick up on some patterns here and there. I know we’re only in the first full week of November and there are still a lot of Oscar-caliber films that haven’t been released to the public yet, but I think it’s time to call the Best Picture race for Lincoln.
Looking back at past Best Picture winners, I haven’t felt so confident (this early in the race) for a film to win than I do right now about Lincoln. The last two years, it took the Guild awards to really lock up who was going to win. Going into 2010, The Social Network seemed like the film to beat, but The King’s Speech simply appealed to the Academy more. It was the safe bet, along with last year’s winner, The Artist that beat out better films like The Descendants and Hugo.
But tracking back the years of winners, there hasn’t been a clear winner this early in the race:
– 2009 – The Hurt Locker wins Best Picture despite grossing only $17 million against the other front-runner Avatar, which grossed $750 million.
– 2008 – Slumdog Millionaire wins Best Picture despite receiving equal praise from critics along with the politically driven films Milk and Frost/Nixon and without having any acting nominations.
– 2007 – No Country for Old Men wins Best Picture despite being incredibly dark and winning against the BAFTA darling Atonement and the crowd-pleasing Juno.
– 2006 – The Departed wins Best Picture despite only totaling five nominations, being very violent, and receiving less critic praise than the Oscar-friendly drama, The Queen.
– 2005 – Crash wins Best Picture and still remains one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history.
While I haven’t seen Lincoln yet, I cannot imagine any movie replacing it no matter what the nominees are. It’s receiving outstanding reviews, it contains a cast who have won a handful of Oscars already, plus the most iconic director of the generation in Steven Spielberg. Just a hint at how much the Academy loves Spielberg, have you seen War Horse? THAT managed to be nominated for Best Picture last year.
That being said, there are still some competitors in the field:
– Argo has received very strong reviews and is a crowd-pleasing thriller with a lot of patriotism. Right now it’s Lincoln’s biggest threat but I see it more as the There Will Be Blood to No Country Old Men’s victory.
– Les Miserables is hitting theaters in late December and with a cast and story as strong as that, you have to be cautious. While Tom Hooper hasn’t done anything wrong yet, it’s been a while when a musical triumphed for Best Picture.
– The Master is too weird for The Academy and peaks with its great acting performances.
– Silver Linings Playbook will be the only comedy of the nominees and will fall like the rest has of late such as Little Miss Sunshine and Juno.
The last two years have started a trend, that is The Academy isn’t looking for something new to reward. The Academy knows what it likes and that is without a doubt going to be Lincoln. The Oscar sweeps have taken place the last two year (winning Best Picture, Acting, Directing and Writing), aside from The Artist losing in Best Original Screenplay, The King’s Speech and The Artist have won all the major awards. It’s very likely that Lincoln will follow suit: Best Picture, Best Director – Spielberg, Best Actor – Daniel Day Lewis, Best Adapted Screenplay.
In an election year, Argo brings the patriotism out of us, but Lincoln shows us our most legendary president. And if you don’t think that politics or the state of the world influences the Oscar race, then check again. I guess we’ll have to wait until February for the final results, but to me this race is already over.