Will Win: Gravity
Should Win: Gravity
By now it’s no secret that I’ve been rooting for Gravity throughout this entire race. It’s a breathtaking masterpiece, a work of art and a technical marvel, one that easily deserves the award over the other eight nominees. Looking at what I believe will win, if you’ve read my analysis of the Best Picture race, then you know where I stand and why, but it really boils down to some very simple points:
- Gravity won the PGA (tying with 12 Years a Slave) and the DGA. It’s rare for a film to win both of these and lose Best Picture. When it does happen, it’s usually a really big surprise (Crash beating Brokeback Mountain, Shakespeare in Love beating Saving Private Ryan). Looking specifically at the DGA award, we find what can be seen as an even better indicator for Best Picture than the PGA. There are several instances of the DGA winner correctly picking Best Picture even when the PGA did not (Martin Scorsese for The Departed, Ron Howard for A Beautiful Mind, and Clint Eastwood for Unforgiven). Gravity’s win here certainly gives it an extra boost.
- We know that the Academy loves to match up Best Picture and Best Director when possible, something they couldn’t do last year due to Ben Affleck getting snubbed for Best Director. However, this year presents them with an easy opportunity to go back to matching them up, and with Cuarón being the clear favorite for Best Director, they could easily award him for his outstanding direction, while awarding Best Picture to his masterpiece as a whole.
- Support for 12 Years has been dwindling over the past couple of months, winning one Golden Globe, three Critics’ Choice awards, and two BAFTAs (the last of which didn’t tell us anything, because the British Academy gave both Gravity and 12 Years Best Picture). Granted, the awards it’s won have always included Best Picture, but will the Academy really award it top honors while giving another film double the amount of Oscars? This is an occurrence that we haven’t seen happen in over 40 years (The Godfather vs. Cabaret), so it’d be quite shocking to see it happen tomorrow. Gravity is a film with a lot of love behind it, which, if my complete predictions are correct, will see it winning seven Oscars before Best Picture is announced, while 12 Years a Slave will have won only two. Will we really get another Best Picture winner that only takes three Oscars total, once again without winning Best Director? I just don’t see that happening, not with another film that’s receiving support in the form of wins from many other categories.
For all of these reasons, I believe Gravity has the edge going into the big night. Sure, you could make the case that 12 Years a Slave could win based solely on its Best Picture victories, but looking at precedent shows us that something else will more than likely happen. Normally we’re well aware of what’s going to win Best Picture in advance, but this year has provided a lot of curveballs (an unprecedented tie from the PGA, a multitude of groups splitting between Best Picture and Best Director), so who knows how it will all end up. It’s an extremely tight race between these two extremely popular films, one that will surely lead to a nail-biting Oscar night.
Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: Her
After the Producers Guild of America tie last month, the results of the night’s final envelope could be either Gravity or 12 Years a Slave. I figure Steve McQueen’s true story of enslavement has a few things working for it. First, Gravity does not have a nod for screenwriting. Furthermore, the Academy likes to pick films that are triumphs of storytelling rather than filmmaking and the voting body is a sucker for period pieces. Plus, 12 Years a Slave‘s “It’s time” campaign may prove effective at persuading voters to lend their bid to a film about an African-American subject that has a black director, screenwriter and lead actor.
However, if I was an Academy voter, I would give Her the top prize. Spike Jonze’s disarmingly moving and imaginative glimpse at the near future contains one of modern cinema’s most poignant love stories. It likely will not win, as the Academy skews older, and the film seems to have more support from the millennial generation.
Will Win: Gravity
Should Win: Gravity
No other film transported me like Alfonso Cuarón’s space-set survival thriller. Between its groundbreaking, absorbing visuals, emotionally charged storytelling and Sandra Bullock’s career-best performance as an astronaut fighting against external obstacles (like space debris, depleting oxygen levels and terrifying firestorms) and her own all-consuming grief, Gravity had it all for me, and it’s held up tremendously under repeat viewings. People will be talking about the film’s technical brilliance for years to come, and that alone would be enough to give it a strong shot at Best Picture in a weaker year, but the supremely impressive balancing act that Cuarón pulls off between his visuals and the emotional heft of Bullock’s journey will and should earn it the accolade. 12 Years a Slave may be a devastating, admirable look into America’s past, but Gravity has presented the Academy with the future of moviemaking. It deserves this honor.