Oscar experts vs. editors Best Picture showdown: ’12 Years a Slave’ vs. ‘Gravity’

Oscar predictions are usually dominated by consensus but this year we have an unexpected divide:

Of our 23 Experts drawn from leading media outlets, 18 are predicting “12 Years A Slave” to win Best Picture while just three back “Gravity” and two like the looks of “American Hustle.”

Compare that to the predictions of our eight Editors who are backing “Gravity” over “12 Years a Slave” by a margin of five to three. 

Which film will reign supreme on Oscar night?

The race is clearly on a knife edge and a victory for either would not surprise me. However, as an editor I feel I have to question the logic of the experts here.

While the two camps are split over what will win Best Picture, there is almost total agreement about who will win Best Director as all but one of the experts and all the editors are predicting DGA champ Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”) to prevail.

Thus, the experts are doubling down that there will be a split in the top two races as there was last year when “Argo” won Best Picture and Ang Lee (“Life of Pie”) was named Best Director (albeit without “Argo” helmer Ben Affleck in the race).

Over the 85-year history of the Oscars, this Best Picture/Divide has happened just 22 times. And in the two most recent years when it was expected to happend it didn’t: in 2010, many pundits predicted David Fincher would win Best Director for “The Social Network” but Tom Hooper prevailed for helming Best Picture champ “The King’s Speech.” Conversely, in 2006 Marin Scorsese was the clear frontrunner to finally win Best Director for “The Departed” and he did but Best Picture was expected to go to SAG and PGA winner “Little Miss Sunshine” instead of his film. 

This year, one wonders if the experts are underestimating “Gravity” or are both sides not paying enough attention to “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen.

For me, “Gravity” is the clear pick for Best Picture: it is tied with “American Hustle” for the most nomninations (10), won DGA, shared PGA with “12 Years a Slave” and the LA film prize with “Her” and is already starting to collect the technical guild prizes. 

What do you think is going to win Best Picture? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. Come back and change your predictions as often as you like till Oscar night, March 2.

9 thoughts on “Oscar experts vs. editors Best Picture showdown: ’12 Years a Slave’ vs. ‘Gravity’

  1. It will be 1972 all over again with The Godfather winning best picture and Cabaret winning everything else including best director.

  2. Fincher and Hooper was not a good example. Hooper won DGA and his won PGA, so there was no split, regardless what pundits said. I picked Hooper to win best director as well as his film. I am not doing that this year just because the splits have repeated time after time with awards after awards.

    And people who picked Little Miss Sunshine for Oscar BP was deluded. It’s a lighthearted comedy and those don’t win.

  3. Gravity won’t win Best Picture, that’s a race between 12YaS and Hustle. Gravity will win Director, Cinematography, Editing, Sound, Sound Mixing, and perhaps Score – but not Picture. Aside from Argo, Driving Miss Daisy, and James Cameron pics (which perhaps Gravity can be grouped with for argument’s sake), Best Pictures have all also been nominated for Director, Screenplay, and Editing – Gravity doesn’t have (nor, frankly, does it deserve) an Original Screenplay nomination. Argo was a fluke last year; I love the movie, but the main reason it won Best Picture was because it rode the wave of sympathy that people felt for Affleck’s snub all the way to Oscar victory. That won’t happen here. Gravity will be rewarded with at least five Oscars, but Best Picture will likely go to 12YaS. Hustle could win if it also picks up Original Screenplay but Her looks like it has that prize locked up.

  4. Gravity has a real opportunity to win Best Picture given its DGA and PGA (tie) wins. “Gavity” is the highest achievement in film for 2013 on multiple levels. Hopefully, the Academy will reward it beyond just the technical awards. Hustle seems to be losing steam.

  5. I think that Gravity will ride to the win on the votes of the non-SAG guilds. It obviously has tremendous support among the PGA, DGA, and technical guilds. 12 Years a Slave may very well receive more #1 votes than Gravity, but Gravity will cross the finish line with those crucial #2 votes.

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