Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Oscars: Where They Stand - Best Picture

So after the first handful of precursors the haze over which films will be there and which won't begins to clear. The NBR, AFI, LAFCA, NYFCC, BFCS, BFCA and SFFCC have all had their say this week, and subsequently we're left with a much clearer picture -- especially with regard to certain categories.

Best Picture

Everybody has been talking about Letters From Iwo Jima this week, which has come from virtually nowhere to cement a foothold in this year's race. Its NBR victory (history suggests this signals a probable nomination, and problable loss), LAFCA win, and apparent consensus that it beats Flags, mean that in a very weak year, it has a great chance. Awards bodies also managed to dredge up United 93, which won the picture prize at DC and NYFCC, and placed in the AFI and BFCA. An ensemble award at NBR, and several mentions for Greengrass suggests that this is a potential nominee, if the academy chooses to honour this kind of realist docu-drama that really isn't what they normally go for.

Two films that didn't make as big an impact as they wanted also got some renewed hope. Babel
, which had quickly faded from favourite to outsider in recent weeks, nabbed a place in the top 10 of the NBR, AFI, AND the BFCA, who have held very strong oscar prognostications in recent years. And Little Children, a film that had promised and (apparentely) delivered a lot, yet had seemed to fall short of Field's previous hit, In The Bedroom. Its SF win and BFCA inclusion means it is definitely in the hunt, though NBR's dismissal of this (a type of film they love to reward) seems odd at the present time. Little Miss Sunshine, on every Top 10 list and there or thereabouts for every screenplay award, has kept its buzz for a long long time now and lack of stiff competition -- especially in the comedy sector -- means that it now has a realistic chance of grabbing a coveted nomination in this category.

But in terms of this year's race, it is the tightest since 2002's big 3-way battle. Currently four films really have a substantial claim at victory. The Departed could finally ensure Martin Scorsese has a big year at the Oscars; Jima could make history by being the first foreign language film to win the big one; The Queen could defy the trend of 'movies' winning, and Dreamgirls could bring the musical back on the right track.

Nobody expected to see Dreamgirls walk away with many critic awards I'm sure, and despite not getting any so far, it lacks a weakness unlike its competitors (Too much action, Foreign, Small). A media-driven piece like this one doesn't need awards to get by. It has a strong campaign and is a big movie musical blockbuster, and that's why it's still in pole position.

My Current Ranking:

1. Dreamgirls
2. The Departed
3. The Queen
4. Letters From Iwo Jima
5. Babel
6. United 93
7. Little Miss Sunshine

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