We have about six weeks left until Oscar Sunday and thanks to the events of this past weekend that run-up will be one of the more interesting in recent memories, perhaps ever. Usually a clear front-runner has emerged at this point, but this year we have three films with practically nothing to separate one from the other. So, how do all nine best picture candidates stand up in terms of the race? Find out here with the best picture power rankings.
1. 12 Years a Slave
If any film took a hit by the tie at the PGA it has to be “12 Years a Slave.” A win would have practically sealed the deal for the long time front-runner, but now things have shifted and the ground is a little shakier than before. However, it is still the front-runner because it has the most going for it. The actors showed it their support by nominating it for best ensemble and giving the best supporting actress win to Lupita Nyong’o, over “American Hustle’s” Jennifer Lawrence. The producers obviously supported it by making it one half of the tie. Though, unlikely, you still have to think that Steve McQueen is the second choice for top honors at the Directors Guild later this week. Wide ranging support is what you need, and no film has that more than “12 Years.”
2. American Hustle
It pays to be the hot film going in to the home stretch, and “American Hustle” is that. Both “12 Years” and “Gravity” premiered at festivals in September, giving everyone plenty of time to praise them. “Hustle” wasn’t screened until Thanksgiving and has grabbed everybody’s attention. It’s gaining momentum while “12 Years” and “Gravity” have been cruising since early October. David O. Russell’s film is striking while the iron is hot. If they continue that push through the rest of phase two, this could easily be your best picture winner.
It’s not a stretch to say even this far out from the actual ceremony, that “Gravity” is going to take home the most trophies. Ten nominations give it plenty of opportunities, and it should dominate below the line categories that will easily give it five or more without even a best picture or director win. But, will it suffer a similar fate as “Cabaret” did in 1972, which won eight Oscars but lost to “The Godfather” for best picture? Its tie at the PGA was a surprise and big boost, but with all the awards it has coming, will the Academy spread the wealth to its top competitors?
4. Dallas Buyers Club
“Dallas Buyers Club’s” late push to make it into the best picture category was akin to the little engine that could. Now that it is in the field of nine, it wants to keep chugging along right to the top. Overcoming “12 Years,” “Hustle” and “Gravity” is practically unimaginable, unless the split between those films creates a gap for “Dallas Buyers” to shoot right on through. With six nominations, it also has some wide-ranging appreciation amongst the Academy.
If “Dallas Buyers” was a surprise, “Philomena” was a stunner. It just goes to show that you can never count Harvey Weinstein out. And that philosophy is exactly why “Philomena” has to at least be considered in the top five. In a year where three challenging film’s are battling it out, this is the safest pick among all of the nominees. It never hurts to be that safe pick in the Academy.
6. The Wolf of Wall Street
Martin Scorsese’s three-hour spectacle of debauchery seemed to have people, including the Academy, divided and questioning whether or not it could make it in to the best picture field. But passion pays off with the Oscars. That same passion is really going to have to come through to carry it to a win, a feat that will likely be too much to ask.
Alexander Payne’s last two efforts were probably the runners-up in their respected fields, but in a year with this many great films, and failing to win anything of note in the precursor leaves the “Nebraska” on the outside of any real chance for a best picture win, despite Payne’s surprise and worthy nomination for director.
8. Captain Phillips
Before the nominations, “Captain Phillips” was everybody’s fourth film behind the big three. Snubs of Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks, however, have left “Phillips” stumbling in the race. It still had a solid showing with the Academy, but missing what many thought were locks stopped any chance of it pulling the upset.
Let’s face it; “Her” getting nominated for best picture, along with five other awards, was the film’s big win. The critics’ darling deserved a spot at the table, and the Academy accommodated for a film that is a bit stranger than they are accustomed to go. This is a case where a nomination was truly a win, but “Her” will definitely be a film that will hold up over time.