Contender Countdown: ‘Network’ and ‘King’s Speech’ lead the best picture race before Christmas

12.24.10 7 years ago 7 Comments

Paramount Pictures

Oscar pundits are bored and it’s not even January yet  On one hand, “The Social Network’s” daily drumbeat of winning one critic’s group best film award after another is becoming admittedly a yawnfest (yes, the media are shallow folk).  On the other hand, some prognosticators actually believe a film like “The Fighter” can come out of nowhere to win it all. 

As for myself, I can’t decide whether “The Social Network” or “The King’s Speech” is the true frontrunner at the moment. The “great settling,” as David Poland so accurately brought up, hasn’t occurred yet, but is usually felt after the membership spend the holidays deciding what screener to watch, what not to watch and, more tellingly, what to watch again. 

As for “Network,” yes, no one will doubt the critic’s adoration across the country is impressive. However, it’s still unclear the AMPAS membership feel the same way.  The biggest warning sign being Andrew Garfield’s unexpected snub for best supporting actor during last week’s SAG nominations.  Jesse Eisenberg and the film found respective best actor and ensemble nods, but Garfield was always considered the universal “lock” for a nod and he lost out to veteran John Hawkes for “Winter’s Bone” and “The Town’s” Jeremy Renner — both considered peripheral potential nominees.  And when you consider all three of the “King’s Speech’s” stars were nominated along with the cast in ensemble from the largest voting block in the Academy you can see the perplexing quandary for a pundit.

“Speech” is also getting its fare share of some major top ten lists (honestly more than even I expected) and the box office has been good in limited release so far.  But, will that needed financial story (you usually gotta be good and you gotta make money to win) be overshadowed by the bigger grosses the media hypes for “Black Swan,” “The Fighter” and “True Grit”?  Tough call indeed. 

In fact, this week’s new Guru’s of Gold rankings are a clear indication of how split the experts are.  Pete Hammond, Kris Tapley, Sasha Stone and I all voted for “Network” (I couldn’t put in a tie unfortunately) while Anne Thompson, Poland and Dave Karger stuck with “Speech.” Here’s hoping for some more perspective after chatting with Academy members after the holiday.  In the meantime, here’s a rundown of my current rankings to win the coveted Academy Award for best picture.

1. “The Social Network” (tie)
1. “The King’s Speech” (tie)

See above.  Perplexing.

3. “The Fighter”

Contender or pretender?  We’re not sure the membership really sees it as an Oscar champ.

4. “Black Swan”
There are those who dismiss, but the lovers love.  Are enough of them in the Academy?  Could they be swayed by a major breakout at the box office?  Keep watching.

5. “True Grit”
It’s in, but the more it makes the better it chances of upsetting will be.

6. “The Kids Are All Right
The nod is the win.  That simple.

7. “Inception”
In theory, should be a contender, but not landing an individual acting or an ensemble nod from SAG was a huge red flag.  The necessary Cotillard campaign just hasn’t happened.  She was the easiest nomination…as I noted in July.

8. “Toy Story 3”
Winning the big prize will never happen as long as actors, cinematographers, production designers, costumers, etc. see themselves as secondary in animation. Truth hurts.

9. “The Town”

Don’t buy the SAG diss.  Unless the magnificent “127 Hours” can turn things around, “The Town” gets in by default.

10. “Winter’s Bone”
SAG love for Hawkes and Lawrence, plus a massive number of end of year 10 best list mentions will lock this one up.  Sending out screeners early is an amazing thing.

Who do you think is going to win the Oscar this February? Share your thoughts below.

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