As someone who loves to keep up with the Oscar race every year, there is something that I have to deal with not being someone who receives advance screeners and someone who cannot attend the major film festivals throughout the year. That’s making predictions before actually seeing some films. While I usually end up seeing every film before The Academy Awards, the road leading up to the telecast is always full of holes and assumptions since it’s nearly impossible for me to see everything.
That being said, I still feel that there’s a way to make educated guesses without seeing certain films come awards season. Knowing the game, the people involved, and certain statistics can definitely give you an edge (or sometimes a better chance) when you haven’t seen the films yet. Why did I say it might give you a better chance? Because it’s not uncommon for your emotions to get in the way of making accurate predictions. Last year, I absolutely loved Life of Pi and was tempted to predict the upset to pair up with Ang Lee’s Best Director victory, but everyone knew that Argo was going to take Best Picture. The main thing to remember is “Who do you think The Academy will pick” not “Who do you think deserves the award.”
So as we prepare to enter this year’s awards season, I’ve only seen one contender thus far: Boyhood. It was a phenomenal film and easily the best film I’ve seen this year, but how is it going to rank against other serious contenders? More importantly, should I rank it as my #1 since it’s the only film I’ve seen, or can I legitimately rank films I’ve yet to see above it? Now I’m not saying I’m an expert with these predictions, but I do have a method to my madness. First and foremost, do I think Boyhood can win Best Picture? My short answer is: Yes, but not likely. Why? By all means it’s a fantastic film and Linklater’s passion project that spans over years to make. But it’s a lengthy, heavy film that some people could interpret as a string of Hollywood home videos instead of an Oscar-winning movie.
Is Boyhood at the top of my predictions so far? No, it’s not. But I do believe it’ll definitely receive a nomination for Best Picture. The film that I currently have as the best chance to win Best Picture is The Imitation Game. It received great praise when it was screened at the TIFF, plus it’s backed by Harvey Weinstein himself (which always gives a movie an edge). It has just enough power and drama for a film to win plenty of Oscars. I think, at least right now, it has a great chance to win, but then again, I haven’t seen it yet.
I know I’m not the only one who does the same, predicting films without seeing them, but the scary thing is that this is something Academy members do too. I don’t know how many, but there are certainly plenty of members who will vote for Best Picture films without seeing a handful of the nominees. To me, that defeats the whole purpose to voting for the most prestigious award in the film industry, but then again there really isn’t any way of confirming members have seen the films. So then the question of “Who do you think The Academy will vote for” becomes a lot more challenging when a percentage of them haven’t even seen the nominees. But this is all a guessing game and for what it’s worth, it’s a lot of fun.