What a crazy Oscar race! 4 films jockeyed for lead

Usually, the Oscar race for Best Picture involves two films jockeying for the lead — like “The King’s Speech” vs. “The Social Network” (2010) or “The Hurt Locker” vs. “Avatar” (2009). However, this derby season has been extraordinary — four films have moved in and out of the front position six times.

Silver Linings Playbook” initially broke out of the pack at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September, then “Les Miserables” leapt ahead in mid-October after word spread that audiences went wild for it at a secret test screening in Hollywood. A week later, “Argo” opened and quickly grabbed the lead thanks to boffo b.o. and huzzahs from film critics — and there it remained for more than a month.

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That is, up until “Les Miserables” was finally shown to Hollywood industry insiders, who greeted it with cheers, tears and loud applause. To the vast crowd who first saw it at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in late November, “Les Miz” seemed to live up to its early promise. Most of Gold Derby’s Oscar pundits were in attendance and they rushed home afterward to shove it back into the frontrunner position now that they’d finally seen it.

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But that was before the macho bullies emerged and started pummeling “Les Miz” into saw dust. Our Oscarologists abandoned it within three weeks. Then “Lincoln” surged ahead after it snagged the most nominations from the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards.

Lincoln” remained in the lead until “Argo” bagged the Golden Globe and Producers’ Guild of America Award. It’s remained the frontrunner thereafter.
 

SEPT. 9
1. ‘Silver Linings Playbook
2. ‘Lincoln’
3. ‘Argo’
4. ‘Les Miz’
5. ‘The Master’
 OCT. 15
1. ‘Les Miz’
2. ‘Argo’
3. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
4. ‘Lincoln’
5. ‘Life of Pi’
OCT. 22
1. ‘Argo’
2. ‘Les Miz’
3. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
4. ‘Lincoln’
5. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
 
NOV. 26
1. ‘Les Miz’
2. ‘Argo’
3. ‘Lincoln’
4. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
5. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
DEC. 17
1. ‘Lincoln’
2. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
3. ‘Argo’
4. ‘Les Miz’
5. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
JAN. 10
1. ‘Lincoln’
2. ‘Argo’
3. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
4. ‘Les Miz’
5. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
JAN. 25
1. ‘Argo’
2. ‘Lincoln’
3. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
4. ‘Life of Pi’
5. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
FEB. 15
1. ‘Argo’
2. ‘Lincoln’
3. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
4. ‘Life of Pi’
5. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ 
 

 

8 thoughts on “What a crazy Oscar race! 4 films jockeyed for lead

  1. Ahhh, do you have to be a macho bully to have not liked Les Miz? I didn’t care for it. I found it to be kind of…I guess hammy is a good word. A little overdone. Lacking in subtlety. And I admit I don’t like the original musical either. Just not my thing. I don’t hate musicals. I was in the high school glee club, I still sing in choirs, and there are a couple musicals I’ve seen I really like, like West Side Story and Phantom of the Opera. I think another disconnect I have with Les Miz is I really liked that book, and I really liked the original movie they made of it before it became a musical, so I was not a fan of seeing it become a musical.

  2. I agree that there is an aversion from film critics in particular to films that wear their heart of their sleeve like Les Miz, The Help and Extremely Loud. It would seem that nowadays a film has to be cynical, dry and distant to cut the mustard with critics. It’s almost as if sincerity and emotion are seen as a weakness by these tough guy film snobs. Gone are the days when Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves could come second with the LA film critics or even when films like Kramer vs. Kramer, Ordinary People and Terms of Endearment could win major critics awards.

  3. If academy members truly vote for the best picture and not who they should vote for or whatever, silver linings playbook should sweep, no other picture was more moving emotionally or had you leaving the theater just in awe.

  4. I was among the Les Mis lovers and still don’t understand the wave of hate that has hit that film. Now with that out of the way, this year has been almost an embarrassment of riches, each favorite with their proponents and almost equal numbers who disliked that favorite for some reason. End result – No one but the winners will be happy on Oscar night and everyone else will think they made a mistake, fell for the promos, or got bought.

  5. @Chris: It’s all a matter of opinion. I found SLP to be the weakest of the nine. I hated the changes that Russell made to Quick’s book at the end. By turning his film into a typical romantic comedy at the end, Russell sidesteps the issue that many people who suffer from mental illness never can find the true closure that was given to Pat at the end of the film. The ending was not inspirational for me; it just felt phony.

  6. Mus agree with MchRe7. SLP is the one film among the contenders that I would be disappointed if it won for exactly the reasons he gave not to mention the promotional push in recent days of manipulatively going from “romantic comedy” to “socially important statement about mental illness” just feels all wrong

  7. SLP is awful and even Argo undeservedly sweeping would be better than SLP winning even ONE Oscar. I do hope it misses in all categories, which should be a possibility what with Riva and Jones/Waltz and superior scripts for both Lincoln and Argo. Still, Lincoln should win. And Lincoln should have always been the frontrunner. SLP was never good enough. The anticipation for Les Mis was palpable — I too thought it was the kind of “cinematic” film that could swoop in and beat Lincoln — but then I saw the film. Argo isn’t good enough either, but it makes sense if mostly for the usual political reasons. Just anything but SLP.

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