Why 5 Oscar experts pick ‘Gravity’ to win Best Picture

Sure, the vast majority of Oscarologists polled by Gold Derby predict “12 Years a Slave” will win Best Picture (19 out of 25), but five of us dare to disagree. “Gravity” gets the backing of Pete Hammond (Deadline), Steve Pond (The Wrap), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby) and me.

Below are the pundits’ explanations. (Be sure to make your predicitons at the bottom of this post using our easy drag-and-drop menu.)

I agree with all of these reasons — the preferential ballot, the unlikeliness of a Best Picture/Best Director split — but I have another thought, too. Sweep voting.

Since the Oscars are chosen by a popular ballot, we often see landslides because voters can’t stop checking off boxes for their Best Picture choice once they get going. (“Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” not only tied the record for most wins — 11 — but it didn’t lose a single race.) Usually, the sweep occurs from the top category down. This year I think the opposite will be true. “Gravity” will win so many lower slots (at least six or seven) that voters will be forced to check off the top one for Best Picture, too.

PETE HAMMOND: I had been predicting “Gravity” for much of the season and then moved on briefly to “American Hustle” and then “12 Years a Slave.” But I have gone back to “Gravity” because simply I think it could be a “consensus” film. It may not be on a majority of ballots as a number one choice, but I bet it is on many as a number two.

This is a year where a number of good films will likely split that number-one passion vote. I doubt any of them will get over 50% first time out. That’s when the number two choice makes a huge difference. Right now I am betting that number two is “Gravity,” with a lot of help from below-the-line branches. I was given pause by its loss at the ACE Eddies but not enough to cause great concern. BAFTA will be the next litmus test. Until then I will stick with this strategy.

STEVE POND: In a year in which I don’t think any film will have near enough votes to win after the first round of counting, the movie that wins will need to be toward the top of most voters’ ballots. And I think “Gravity” is probably more of a consensus pick than “American Hustle” or “12 Years a Slave” — its nominations are spread out across eight different branches, which means it’s well-liked all across the Academy.

But the other reason is that like most of my colleagues, I was predicting a picture/director split. And I’ve always had the nagging feeling that it’s dangerous and foolish to do that, unless it’s last year and Ben Affleck isn’t nominated. If Alfonso Cuaron is a favorite for director, as I believe he is, then I needed to realize that “Gravity” is the favorite for picture, too.

I still think it’s too close to call … but since it’s part of my job to call it, I had to switch to “Gravity.”

PAUL SHEEHAN: Remember, this is the only Oscar category decided by a preferential ballot. All that will matter is which of the final two nominees still standing is ranked higher than the other on the eliminated ballots.

If, as we expect, it is comes down to “Gravity” versus “12 Years a Slave,” I expect that “Gravity” will be ranked higher by the “American Hustle” voters — which is likely to be in third place — as well as on enough of the other eliminated nominees to cross the threshold of 50% plus one vote.

KEITH SIMANTON: “Gravity” is the film that becomes Best Picture because of its general accessibility. “12 Years a Slave” is a film (which I love) that is a “hafta watch” instead of a “wanna watch.” It is a difficult, painful experience and people know it and will, if they can, avoid it. “Gravity” (and “Argo” the year before it) are “wanna watch” films and thus will be seen by the largest number of AMPAS voters.

10 thoughts on “Why 5 Oscar experts pick ‘Gravity’ to win Best Picture

  1. PAUL SHEEHAN: Remember, this is the only Oscar category decided by a preferential ballot. All that will matter is which of the final two nominees still standing is ranked higher than the other on the eliminated ballots.

    If, as we expect, it is comes down to “Gravity” versus “12 Years a Slave,” I expect that “Gravity” will be ranked higher by the “American Hustle” voters — which is likely to be in third place — as well as on enough of the other eliminated nominees to cross the threshold of 50% plus one vote.
    ==========================================================

    I DISAGREE …American Hustle is indeed an ”actors movie ” , but the folks who put it at the top are MUCH MORE LIKELY to place another ”actor’s movie ” in second place …I E 12 YAS

    I too am predicting GRAVITY as a consensus choice because 12 YAS is bitter medicine to swallow , while Gravity is easy to digest , but I could be wrong ….12 YAS has an advantage of a ”moral choice ”, gravitas and white guilt and there is a weight of political correctness that those Left leaning folks in Hollywood may find very difficult to ignore ; plus , an easy victory for 12YAS at BAFTA next week may well embarrass Oscar voters into ”doing the right thing ”…never underestimate the explosive political angle of this movie

  2. GRAVITY 45 %….12YAS 40%….AH 15%,
    This sounds about right to me …AH is the spoiler that is taking more # 1 votes from 12 YAS than Gravity , but an AH voter is more likely to vote 12 YAS #”2 and Gravity #3

    Furthermore , the longer this goes on , due to the delay for the Olympics , the more time for the weight of political correctness to trickle down to the voters …let’s face it , these folks in Hollywood are a very Liberal , trendy , fashionable crowd and as such are vulnerable to group think and PC

  3. The weight of political correctness won’t weigh heavily on the Academy this year. Why? Many of its members supported Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012, and even had Michelle Obama present the Best Picture Oscar last year. Anyone accusing them of being insensitive to African-American issues and films is misguided, and the Academy knows it. They know that such criticism will fall on deaf ears. Liberal guilt will not hold back votes for “Gravity” or “American Hustle”.

  4. My money is on Gravity too. for many of the reasons listed above. The Academy usually goes for what it loves, note what it “respects”, which is why The Social Network and Lincoln lost in recent years. I also strongly believe that Best Pic / Director splits are the exception, not the rule.

  5. To add to your point Tom as I feel that there will be a lot of Gravity checking off as well. Even if they don’t vote it number one at the end, I suspect most will think “Well how can I give a movie this many oscars and vote it 6th? Which will help secure it more number 2s and 3s.

    Also, Gravity has the benefit of more voters seeing it. Which will help it secure higher votes as well. Sure, some who have not seen 12 years will still rank it #1 to try and be on the winning team but I think it’s possible Gravity is the most seen among the contenders. IF you have a list of contenders and you’ve only seen, say four of them, you’d clearly put the ones you’ve seen higher. If the reports that academy members are avoiding 12 years are true (I can’t confirm or deny) then I suspect many will have to put it lower as a result.

    On the reverse, I think 12 years is being underrated in production design. As well, lets remember 12 years won on a preferential ballot too. So its proven its metal.

    This race is delightfully too close to call.

  6. I disagree, I can’t imagine it winning with no screenplay nomination and that final scene panning up Sandra Bullock like she is GI Jane is just ridiculous. Gravity just isn’t Best Picture material. I also don’t think Gravity will win 7 Oscars, but I hope everyone else does so I can win the prediction derby 🙂

  7. This assumption that “Gravity” is the most “loved’ picture is unfounded. Sweep voting — I have a question, do we know what an actual Oscar ballot look like? Do they have all the minor categories listed first and then have Best Picture as the last? If so, then Tom might have a point. But if they have Best Picture as the first category to vote, then the “sweep voting” theory will not apply. In recent years, Oscars voters tend to spread the wealth, especially in a year when there are so many worthy contenders.

  8. Just a few points of rebuttal to Tom O’Neil. If being “liked” by a broad spectrum of voters as a reason to vote for “Gravity”, Consider “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”, Star Wars, and Cabaret. All were nominated for best picture and was at or near the top of the award nominations. And for Keith Simanton, did anyone enjoy “Schindler’s List” and bunch of other movies that were must watch over want to watch, because they were important films. I thought “Saving Private Ryan” was going to win, especially with the Director award going to Spielburg, but a lesser important film, “Shakespeare in Love” won the big prize. It goes against the Academy’s grain to split best picture and best director. Plus, Apollo 13 was a film set in space with a lot of nominations but it lost out to “Braveheart”. Don’t forget that “Star Wars” a movie set in space,
    had 10 nominations and lost best picture to “Annie Hall”.

  9. Say whatever y’all want, but 12 Years A Slave is winning the Oscar for Best Picture. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to return some video tapes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *