Tonight is the biggest night for film connoisseurs across the globe. The Academy Awards ceremony, now in its 85th year, has forever been the night for actors to dazzle, artists to be recognized and rewarded, and for fanatics to look back cumulatively on the past movie year – and perhaps even to be turned onto branches of cinema other than wide releases. The Red Carpet event through the ceremony itself is a crescendo to the acme award of the evening: Best Picture. Best Picture is meant to be a testament for the film that, overall, displayed achievement as a whole. Fundamentally, this notion is flawed as everything is subject to opinion. To wit, how can one “Picture” be better than the other? While the rest of us may debate and perhaps argue over which Title the title should go to, it would appear the Academy figured out a formula (at least one variable of it) some time ago to decide who will be Best Picture. The process is called “Elimination.”
Buzz suggests the three top competitors for Best Picture this year are Zero Dark Thirty (Columbia Pictures), Argo (Warner Bros), and Lincoln (Touchtone/Fox). Here is the gag: In the past decade, not one Best Picture winner has distributed by 20th Century Fox or Columbia Pictures. The closest FOX has come was in 2008 when they co-distributed Slumdog Millionaire (domestically) with Warner Brothers. While films under Columbia Pictures have been nominated, here and there, none of them have won in at least ten years. In fact, an extended research would reveal it is considerable more years than that: The last time a Columbia Pictures film won was in 1987, The Last Emperor. The last film to be distributed solely by FOX and win was in 1972, The French Connection; apart from that, any Best Picture with FOX’s name on it was a co-finance.
To say neither Lincoln nor Zero Dark Thirty will be crowned Best Picture for certain would be to reason inductively and not deductively: Just because the past decade has ill-favored FOX and Columbia does not mean it will be so this year. However, the suspicion cannot be dismissed.
The 85th Academy Awards air tonight at 8pm (CT) on CBS.