First of all, if it had been last year, yes, the ones a lot of people are mourning at the moment – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, Drive, The Tree of Life – would have been considered OUT after failing to receive the oh-so-crucial PGA-nominations
I think it’s time to seriously consider the potential effect of the Academy’s new voting system, because it should be emphasized, that they DID change it, while the guilds and other precursors did NOT. So in the end, who knows, we might just find out that the precursors became perfectly irrelevant when it comes to the Academy's Best Picture category.
The new rule states that to secure a nomination, a picture will have to collect at least five percent of the first-place votes cast. This will result anywhere from 5 to 10 best picture nominees. So what could that mean for our 2011-favourites that doesn't seem to get the kind of traction (we think) they deserve ? Let's see one by one :
THE TREE OF LIFE
In my opinion, it is EXACTLY the kind of film that could be helped greatly by the new rule…it doesn’t need a lot of votes, it just needs 5% No1…and I firmly believe there might be a passionate fanbase there to pull that off.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
It seems to be recovering well after the whole 'way-too-late-entry-might-fuck-up-our-Oscar-chances' fiasco. I firmly believe David Fincher will get a DGA-nod and the film will be a strong Oscar player in the end. I also think Rooney Mara will get in and knock out Tilda Swinton, because the Academy doesn’t seem to get her (Julia ? I am Love ?) and Mara will be – probably – in a bp-nominee. It also helps that she started building great buzz around the time the voting started…
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART II
Last year, this would have been the moment (the PGA-absence) when I had given up on it, BUT the new 5% rule changed the game…just like I’m really not that sure (at all) that ‘Bridesmaids’ will get 5% No1, I am VERY sure that the critically acclaimed last chapter of the highest-grossing franchise STILL has a shot. I’m not saying it WILL get in, I’m saying – thanks to the new rule – it shouldn’t be ruled out just yet. All they need is a relatively small (5% No1) passionate fanbase…and I think in this case, the technical branches and especially the British-vote might just cover that crucial 5%. Although the fact that the British-voters have another, more than viable option (Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy) could be a problem for the Harry Potter-cammpaign, because if they don’t have the Actors (SAG-snub), and they have to split the British-vote, all they have left are the Technical Branches…and boy, do THOSE guys have options this year (Hugo, War Horse, The Tree of Life, The Artist) !?
THE IDES OF MARCH
If Clooney gets a DGA-nod, ‘The Ides of March’ is IN. Sure, the semi-unexpected GG/PGA love was a surprise, but let’s face it : the industry LOVES George Clooney. So if he gets the DGA-nod, that would prove to me that there will be probably 5% No1 in the Academy, too, even if not many No2s, No3s etc…so this is AGAIN, a film that the new rule will probably help…although considering the HFPA and PGA did NOT change their voting system and still nominated it, might prove already, that we had been probably seriously underestimating this one. Well, not anymore!
This is a tough one, because the problem here is NOT not getting traction – it gets plenty –, it is the public perception. Could a female-centered broad comedy get a best picture nomination ? Are we really that sure that there are 5% in the Academy who will put ‘Bridesmaids’ at No1 ? I think, even if there is the considerable girl-power in the Academy to pull that off, they are probably championing The Help, another film that might sound VERY strong, but could be hurt by the new voting system. These kind of impressive precursors would have put ‘Bridesmaids’ in lock-status last year, but this is EXACTLY the kind of film that could prove that the bp-precursors might have become irrelevant this year because the Academy changed their voting system in the Best Picture category…and the others did NOT.
And finally…Drive....for what it’s worth there IS considerable critical support behind it (BFCA-love, 4 bd-wins, 1 bp-win, 1 script-win, 13 supporting actor-wins), the problem is, critics do NOT vote for Oscars…although they MIGHT influence the ones who DO.
Considering all that AND the fact that voters are fully aware that they HAVE TO put their faves at No1, I think we will have 9-10 Best Picture nominees this year :
FRONTRUNNERS (the films that I expect to score DGA/Oscar-bd nominations)
1. The Descendants (Critics, BO, precursors, star power…this one has it all.)
2. The Artist (…well…it HAS the critics and the precursors and in time, it MIGHT have the BO.)
3. War Horse (An emotional war film from Spielberg…rest my case,)
4. Hugo (Scorsese’s most personal film to date…enough said.)
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Hmm...hunch ? Although the PGA-nod helps, too.)
6. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen’s greatest hit to date...I think he will 'only' get the script-nod.)
ON-PAPER-LOCKS (the films that might be hurt by the new rule)
7. The Help (It has the precursors, on paper that should be enough ... even without a 'name' director.)
8. Moneyball (Ditto.)
9. Bridesmaids (Ditto.)
POTENTIAL SURPRISES (the films that might be helped by the new rule)
10. The Tree of Life (I think it HAS that 5% in the Academy.)
11. The Ides of March (Not sure, but the PGA/GG love is promising. DGA will be the dealbreaker.)
12. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II (Sentimental votes + Technical branches ?)
13. Drive (Critics LOVE it, but could they influence the Academy ?)
14. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (British-vote ? At this point, that's all this one's got.)
15. J. Edgar (On paper, the director could pull off that 5% on paper.)
16. Young Adult (Ditto...hist last two dramedies made the cut and this received great reviews, too.)
17. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Maybe the Daldry/Rudin factor could do wonders ?)
18. My Week with Marilyn (Apparently the Academy-screening was a smash hit.)
19. Margin Call (It has supporters and some buzz, but probably too small in the end.)
20. The Iron Lady (Hopefully the Weinsteins stick with ‘The Artist’ and won't push this in bp.)
My two cents.