The All Is Lost team is indebted to Grantland‘s Mark Harris for completely dismissing the chances of J.C. Chandor‘s widely-hailed film (10.18) to even be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, although Harris puts Robert Redford at the top of his list of Best Actor contenders. This is how exceptionally good films get pushed off to the sidelines. Guys like Harris come along and go “very impressive but naaaah, don’t think so” and then the buzz starts to tilt a little more in that direction and before you know it it’s set in stone.
Note: In this piece I’m pasting DDI (i.e., Definitely Deserves It), SDI (i.e, Sorta Deserves It) and DRDI (i.e., Doesn’t Really Deserve It) after mentioning and/or discussing each film. Except, of course, for those I haven’t seen.
Harris’s list is a little weird in other ways, if you ask me.
12 Years a Slave (DDI) is his top pick, and yet Steve Pond’s 10.14 wrap piece provides yet another indication that Steve McQueen‘s masterpiece is encountering pushback from some complacent, brutality-averse Academy milquetoasts. Then comes Gravity (DDI) at position #2 (agreed — it’s a Best Picture lock) and the brilliantly composed but kinda-mid-rangey, not-exactly-earthshaking Captain Phillips in third place. The Butler (DRDI), a nicely-performed Black History Month high-school play captured on film, is Harris’s pick as the fourth likeliest Best Picture contender of 2013.
Harris figures that the not-bad-but-a-little-bit-underwhelming August: Osage County (DRDI) is the fifth most likely contender. Ryan Coogler‘s very deserving Fruitvale Station (DDI) is his sixth-place choice, followed by Spike Jonze‘s Her and Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine (SDI). Nicole Holofcener‘s Enough Said (DRDI), a better-than-decent “Holofcener film” but also a pet of Harris’s, is the ninth-most-likely followed by Ben Stiller‘s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (DRDI) in last place.
I’m unable to earnestly predict how the Academy is going to vote because I can’t get past my loathing for the way a good portion of membership too often votes. Christoph Waltz winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Django Unchained, for instance — appalling. What I do is suggest the Best Picture nominees that ought to happen and maybe will happen if the Movie Godz have anything to say about it and if Academy voters don’t completely regress into complacency and cluelessness.
My picks: (1) Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years A Slave (DDI); (2) David O. Russell‘s American Hustle; (3) Alfonso Cuaron‘s Gravity (DDI), (4) John Lee Hancock‘s Saving Mr. Banks; (5) Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska (SDI); (6) J.C. Chandor‘s All Is Lost (DDI); (7) Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Inside Llewyn Davis (DDI); (8) Spike Jonze‘s Her (DDI); (9) Paul Greengrass‘s Captain Phillips (SDI), and (10) Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street.