Most experts are predicting “12 Years a Slave” to win the Oscar for Best Picture, but besides that it’s favored in only two other categories: Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o) and Best Adapted Screenplay. If it’s the academy’s favorite movie, will it really not win anything else? Does it have a chance to win below the line?
This is especially worth considering after the result at the Costume Designers Guild Awards, where “12 Years a Slave” won the period film prize against the heavily favored “The Great Gatsby,” in which everyone is draped in extravagant 1920s fashions, from the lead actors to the countless background extras. Could “12 Years” upset again at the Oscars?
Usually, the film with the most costumes and the biggest period gowns wins, but that’s not always the case. In 2011, “Jane Eyre” and “Anonymous” seemingly had the most elaborate costumes, and “W.E.” won that year’s CDG Award, but none of them had strong academy support overall, so it was the Best Picture-winner, “The Artist,” that ended up taking the prize.
This year’s race is similar. “Great Gatsby” has the most elaborate costumes, but not a lot of overall support, and voters who dislike it may want to look elsewhere. So if they’re looking for places to honor “12 Years” amidst the likely deluge of technical wins for “Gravity,” this could be the place to do it.
“12 Years” also contends against “Gatsby” for Best Production Design, which is where we also saw a Best Picture favorite (“Lincoln“) upset a frontrunner with less overall support (“Anna Karenina“) last year. Those are the only below-the-line categories where “12 Years” really stands a chance; it’s also up for Best Editing but it’s a distant fourth in that race against “Gravity,” “Captain Phillips,” and “American Hustle.”
When the academy picks a Best Picture, do voters always reward the film below the line to justify their choice? In the last 10 years, seven Best Picture winners have won in those technical and craft categories, even “Crash” and “Argo,” which only won three awards each (both won Best Editing).
The three that didn’t were “Million Dollar Baby,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The King’s Speech.” The last of those was the most surprising; “Speech” had 12 nominations, and it’s the kind of lavish period film you’d expect to win technical races, but the only categories it won were Picture, Director, Actor (Colin Firth), and Original Screenplay.
So Oscar voters don’t always feel the need to honor their Best Picture in craft categories, but “12 Years” is almost certain to lose Best Director, and that changes things. It has been 41 years since the Best Picture winner was shut out of Best Director and all below-the-line categories: “The Godfather” (1972), which won Picture, Actor (Marlon Brando), and Adapted Screenplay.
That kind of result would be consistent with how “12 Years” has fared thus far. It won Best Drama Picture at the Golden Globes without any other wins. It won Best Picture at BAFTA, where its only other victory was Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor). It won only two other Critics’ Choice Awards besides Best Picture: Supporting Actress (Nyong’o) and Adapted Screenplay.
Will “12 Years” win any of its below-the-line races? For that matter, do you think it’s really the Best Picture frontrunner? Predict Best Costume Design below: