Oscar 2013: Avenging the Marigold Kingdom Part II
By Tom Houseman and David Mumpower
June 20, 2012
I do enjoy that you use the polar opposite reasoning for why The Avengers and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are potential Best Picture nominees. Is the dementia finally kicking in, David, or are you just so strapped for legitimate arguments? Are they going to nominate The Avengers because they aren't that out of touch, or are they going to nominate Marigold Hotel because they are exactly that out of touch? The latter point certainly holds more water, which is why I think there is a rationale for Best Exotic being a Best Picture nominee, just a very, very weak one.
All of the movies you mentioned had a lot of things going for them that Exotic Marigold doesn't. Almost all of them (I can't speak for Prince of Tides, because I have a strict No Barbra Streisand policy) are set in the past. Many of them were about important, serious topics, or were biopics. The majority had strong lead performances around which voters could rally, and were directed by respected and beloved directors (Altman, Frears, Clooney and Eastwood). A decent number of them, most notably The Artist, had the power of Harvey Weinstein behind them. Best Marigold has none of these advantages.
Exotic Hotel is an enjoyable movie without a doubt, but it does not have the gravitas to survive Oscar season. It has an outside shot at a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, and maybe Best Supporting Actress for one of the Dames if they hit their stride at the right moment. And yes, if there are ten nominees and it turns out to be a weak Oscar year then it is not inconceivable that the acting branch could push it into the Best Picture field the way they did The Blind Side (which also had a strong lead performance around which to rally), but there are so many variables in play that it seems extremely unlikely.
As for Moonrise Kingdom, well, it seems like you've conceded that quality aside, Moonrise Kingdom is unlikely to be the Academy's cup of tea. Unless it proves itself to be a major crossover hit (which seems unlikely) it will have a very tough road to getting any Oscar recognition. That is what my central argument boils down to for all three of those films: I genuinely enjoyed all three of them, more than I expected to, although none of them will be close to my number one movie of the year. But I can't imagine a significant portion of the Academy loving these movies, not the way they loved The Help or even Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Liking, yes. Enjoying, sure. But loving enough to put at the top of their ballots? Highly unlikely.
The Dark Knight Rises and Brave are the two that have the best chance of any summer release to be nominated for Best Picture, and even those are far from locks. First of all, the Academy has yet to establish how many films they will be nominating. If there are only five nominees, then Brave's chances fall to next to nil, since before the expansion Pixar was zero-for-forever in Best Picture nominees. If there are between six and ten, then yes, you can feel pretty confident in putting Brave on your list, but nothing should be written in stone for a while.
There's nothing that can be said about The Dark Knight Rises right now, not until we see the reviews and the box office and find out how big a field there is going to be. If there are five nominees, then I'd say it probably will not be nominated, but it is still definitely possible. If there are up to ten nominees then its chances more than double, because it won't need a Best Director nomination to get in. But I have said this before and I will say it again, even if there are ten guaranteed nominees, there will not be enough room for The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers. Of course, that's fairly irrelevant, because as I've already established, The Avengers' chance of being nominated for Best Picture is lower than the IQ of the average resident of Tennessee (I needed to get one more in). I hope that can be the very end of this at least until the National Board of Review, but my hopes are not high.