Oscar Index: Is It February Yet?
Welcome back to week five of Movieline's 2011-12 Oscar Index -- week five! Already! We're entering the second month of this sucker, and our scientists and the Institute for the Advanced Study of Kudos Forensics remain hard at work uncovering new hints and implications every passing day. Well, not every passing day. OK, like, maybe a couple times a week. What can I tell you? It's still early! Let's have a glimpse at the latest -- if light -- movement this week.
[Click the graphs for full-size images.]
The Leading 10:
1. War Horse
2. The Artist
3. The Descendants
5. J. Edgar
6. The Help
7. Midnight in Paris
8. The Ides of March
9. My Week With Marilyn
10. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Outsiders: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy The Tree of Life, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
After last week's belabored (re)statement of purpose that pretty much nobody read, instead zeroing in on the graphs as some sort of subjective dream scenario (yes, I really, really must see War Horse walk away with everything, please, nothing would make me happier than more lugubrious Spielberg-ian Oscar bait devoured by a self-satisfied bunch of blue-haired Hollywood shut-ins), I'm just going to cut right to the chase this time around: The Artist is a very, very good film that earned a nice profile boost last week in the closing weekend of the New York Film Festival and as the Audience Award winner out at the Hamptons Film Festival. (It overshadowed The Descendants at both events -- though not by much -- and added another award at the Chicago International Film Festival as well.) A cluster of pundits reiterated its status as the current film to beat, though the experts aggregated at Gold Derby collectively have it topping out at fifth in the race.
Perhaps the more intriguing discussion this week concerned just how many Best Picture nominees there would have come Jan. 24. According to Steve Pond's calculations, the Academy will choose seven:
Yes, it's conceivable that 10 films could end up with the 250-or-so votes needed to land on the Best Picture slate. With nearly 6,000 voters eligible to cast ballots, that number shouldn't be unreachable.
But given the way votes will be spread out among dozens of films, and the limited opportunity to make a move after the initial count, I suspect the number of nominees will be closer to five than to 10 most years.
The Academy, after all, revealed a crucial piece of information when it announced the change: PricewaterhouseCoopers went back and studied 10 years worth of voting, and concluded that if the new system had been in effect, it would have resulted in years of five, six, seven, eight and nine nominees.
But never a year of 10.
Sasha Stone, meanwhile, sees a little more expansion, with The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Midnight in Paris and Moneyball locked into the running for sure and a few unseen prestige pics taking up the remainder of slots -- however many that means:
The final number of Best Picture nominees will probably be between 5 and 9. 5% of 6000 is 300. That is a high estimate of how many ballots will be turned in. Likely, we're looking at a lower magic number. To reach that number of 300 you either have to have a film with enormous support (like 20% of number 1 votes) or else have enough votes heading into round two that, with the partial votes left over from the 20% ballots to reach 300. [...] I'll probably end up predicting 9 nominees. Unless one of these films that hasn't yet been seen drops off. There is wiggle room for one or two surprises, but they'd have to be really stunning, enthusiastic ones.
Speaking of which, a few possibilities arose with The Adventure of Tintin (which earned raves out of its London premiere) and even Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which Scott Feinberg reports has a major awards push forthcoming from Warner Bros. We've been hearing this for months, of course, and it's a tremendous long shot under the rule requiring 5 percent of first-place votes for a nomination. But stranger things have happened. Wait. Actually, no they haven't. Nothing more colossally fucking strange than the second installment of the seventh film in a fantasy franchise based on bestselling young-adult novels being nominated for Best Picture has ever happened in the history of the Academy Awards. Ever.
The Leading 5:
1. Steven Spielberg, War Horse
2. Alexander Payne, The Descendants
3. Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
4. Clint Eastwood, J. Edgar
5. David Fincher, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Outsiders: Stephen Daldry, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; George Clooney, The Ides of March; Bennett Miller, Moneyball; Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris; Tomas Alfredson, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Tate Taylor, The Help
How to enliven what is shaping up as the worst category of the year? How about a game? With no clues to go on except the graph above, guess the date on which this story ran at Gold Derby: "Oscarologists split between directors Spielberg and Payne." Only 18 more weeks to go, everyone!