Oscar Gambling: The Best Picture nomineesRaja Sen in Mumbai
I've been playing bookmaker this Oscar season, trying to figure out the odds of victory among the nominees. Having already covered the Best Actor and Best Actress races, we now focus on the nine nominees for Best Picture.
Listed in the order of most-likely to least-likely winner, here are my Best Picture odds:
8/1 The Artist
French director Michel Hazanivicius has scored big with his silent homage to silent cinema, and the universally appealing black and white film has cast a massive shadow over the rest of this year's bunch. It isn't the finest film among all the nominees, but is a creative triumph featuring an adorable dog, and there is every chance it'll pick up the gold.
Image: The Artist trailer
Martin Scorsese's first family film coincidentally also happens to be a tribute to the pioneering early masters of cinema, except it is cloaked behind an enthralling children's adventure.
The director makes great use of 3D and the film is pure magic, but the fact that it didn't perform well at the box office might hurt its chances.
Image: Hugo trailer
3/1 The Descendants
Alexander Payne's drama about a nearly-widowed husband who also discovers how he's been cuckolded by his now-comatose wife, this George Clooney starrer has received rave reviews and much global applause.
However, Clooney's stirring performance alone can't rescue an underwhelming film, and if this wins -- as is possible -- it will be undeserved.
Image: The Descendants trailer
Based on the true story of revolutionary baseball team manager Billy Beane, Bennett Miller's wonderful film benefits from great performances from Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, resting on a striking script from Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin.
Four months ago, everyone would have pegged this film (and Brad) as clear favourites; now they aren't so hot. (It would be ironic if a film based on Beane's decisions finished in first place, though.)
Image: Moneyball trailer
1/4 Midnight in Paris
The legendary Woody Allen strikes sensational form in this dreamy fantasy about Paris, literature and the lure of nostalgia.
A film about Golden Age syndrome that ranks right up there with Allen's "earlier, funnier films", Midnight In Paris is without a doubt my pick for the year's best film, even if likely only to win the award for Best Original Screenplay.
Image: Midnight in Paris trailer
1/6 The Help
Of the nine Best Picture nominees, guess how many earned more than $100 million? Only one. And it's this one, Tate Taylor's unblockbustery weepie that clearly connected with audiences all over.
It's a well-performed, well-reviewed film, but the naivete with which this potentially significant film simplifies the question of race is quite disappointing. Then again, the Academy might completely dig that. (It's just that I think they'll dig The Artist even more.)
Image: The Help trailer
1/8 War Horse
You can't quite close the door on Steven Spielberg.
Just because his Tintin didn't make it to the list doesn't mean he won't be around, and in the same year Steven produced this war epic, one featuring a very good cast indeed.
The big problem with War Horse, however, is the growing criticism that it glorifies war while being ostensibly aimed at a younger audience.
Image: War Horse trailer
1/10 The Tree of Life
Opinions were polarised by Terrence Malick's new film. Several loved it, calling it a near-religious experience, while many others loathed it for its pretentious posturing.
I wasn't a fan, and in fact suggested ways for Malick to 'fix' it. (Ahem.)
Too many people hated it for it to stand a real chance, and the only reason it's on the nominee list is because of the gravitas brought about by Malick's name.
Image: The Tree of Life trailer
1/100 Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Unlike The Tree Of Life, people who watched Stephen Daldry's adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's novel weren't torn between love and hate: they just mostly hated it.
Most critics ravaged the film, with Max von Sydow earning some praise, but overall this unworthy film makes the cut simply because of how well producers Scott Rudin and Warner Brothers sold it to the Oscar jury.
Mark my words: If this film wins, your Twitter timeline will burn.
Image: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close trailer