For a few weeks every year, people who aren’t even that interested in movies get all worked up about the Oscars — hoping their favorite films and actors win.
Just as the Super Bowl draws in untold millions of non-football fans for a one-day celebration of the sport, Oscar season gets almost everybody stirred up about such pressing issues of the moment as: How can the voters pick “The King’s Speech” over “The Social Network”? or, When will Annette Bening finally win an Oscar?
The movie industry tries to promote the Oscar as the ultimate acknowledgment of high quality work, but those of us who have been following this contest for more years than we would care to admit remember such travesties as “Dances with Wolves” beating “GoodFellas” for best picture in 1990, and Helen Hunt being named the best actress of 1997 for her performance in “As Good as It Gets.”
So, if one of your favorites fails to take home a gold statuette Sunday night, remember that they are joining a “losers” club that includes Alfred Hitchcock, Greta Garbo and Cary Grant.
And does anyone still believe that “Crash” was the best movie of 2005?
Best picture: A Brit period piece vs. a zeigeist definer
If you had asked any Hollywood observer four months ago what movie would win the Oscar for best picture of 2010, the answer was obvious — “The Social Network.”
The David Fincher-Aaron Sorkin drama about the contentious creation of Facebook received virtually unanimous raves and was the most talked-about movie of the early fall.
Then, a largely unheralded little British film called “The King’s Speech” started generating tremendous pre-release buzz — fueled by the peerless movie promoter, producer Harvey Weinstein — and by year’s end, the film became the sleeper hit of 2010.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expanded the best picture category to ten titles a few years ago, but don’t bother betting on any of the other eight contenders — it’s a two movie contest.
SHOULD WIN: “The Social Network”
No other commercial film released last year has the heft and the entertainment value of this brilliant contemporary drama about the rise of social networking, male-female relationships in the Internet age, and a whole host of other contemporary issues. In years to come, movie buffs will scoff if they are told the Fincher-Sorkin masterpiece failed to win the top prize.
WILL WIN: “The King’s Speech”
A good little period piece about the terrible speech impediment faced by the heir to the British throne — the sort of drama that might turn up on BBC America — has through canny marketing become a box office hit and the frontrunner for best picture. A win will not be a scandal on the order of “Crash” but more like the year Robert Redford’s fine domestic drama “Ordinary People” beat Martin Scorsese’s modern classic “Raging Bull”