Competition for the 2011 Best Picture Oscar is fierce. Two pictures that are emerging as top contenders this year are “The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech.” An analysis of three upsets for Best Picture can give a better picture as to the probable Best Picture this year.
In 2006, the competition was between the movies “Crash,” a film about the sense of loss in a post-911 world, and “Brokeback Mountain,” a love story between two men who met in the early 1960s. Kris Rasmussen predicted “Brokeback Mountain” was going to win based on Hollywood’s desire to make a statement, and the fact the author felt “Brokeback” was going to be shut out in other categories.
USA Today’s Oracle predictor used a formula based on pre-Oscar wins by critics and guilds to predict winners. That year, they went five out of six, missing only with “Crash” over “Brokeback Mountain.”
The surprise upset of 1982 was “Gandhi” beating out “E.T.” “E.T.,” an instant pop phenomenon, was the story of a young boy meeting a being from another planet. “Gandhi,” the tale of the iconic Indian leader, contained elements that are common to many Oscar winners. The Academy tends to favor movies with more of a historical backdrop and heroic elements, such as, in this case, the triumph of the individual over society.
In 2003, the Oscars redeemed themselves for the “Moulin Rouge” loss the previous year by having the musical “Chicago” win over the highly critically acclaimed “The Pianist.” Slant Magazine columnist Ed Gonzalez correctly predicted “Chicago,” based on the musical by the same name, would win. He did indicate a preference for “The Pianist.” It may have lost due to director Roman Polanski’s notoriety, even these many years later. “The Pianist” is a story about a Polish Jew who escaped the Nazis by living in the slums of Warsaw.
Based on what won in former years, it is evident “The King’s Speech” should win an upset this year over “The Social Network.” One reason is historicity. “The King’s Speech” deals with the distant past, whereas “The Social Network” deals with recent history. Movies dealing with the distant past have more staying power. Another reason “The King’s Speech” will win is the triumph of the hero against all odds. Many people suffer from speech problems, as the King did, so there is a certain universal motif present.
Anthony DeBarros. “Oracle’s Tally: Five for Six.” http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/oscar-index-chart.htm.
Cynthia Fuchs. “Crash.” http://www.popmatters.com/film/reviews/c/crash-2005.shtml.
Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. “Plot Summary for ‘Brokeback Mountain.'” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0388795/plotsummary.
Dave Karger. “Producer Guild Awards.” http://insidemovies.ew.com/category/awards-festivals-and-events/pre-oscar-prizes/page/7/.
Ed Gonzalez. “2003 Oscar Winner Predictions.” http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/feature/2003-oscar-winner-predictions/95/page_5.
Anthony Hughes. “Plot Summary for ‘The Pianist.'” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0253474/plotsummary.
Kris Rasmussen. “And the Oscar goes to…” http://blog.beliefnet.com/idolchatter/2006/03/and-oscar-goes-to.html.
Adam Spector. “2002 Oscar Preview.” http://www.dcfilmsociety.org/adamoscar2002preview.htm.
For more Oscar buzz, visit Oscars.yahoo.com.