In Contention‘s Kris Tapley has posted a Best Picture rankings rundown. I guess my only question is what exactly has Tapley seen, read, heard or been told that led him to include Promised Land among his top five “Good Bets” alongside Lincoln, Argo, Les Miserables and The Silver Livings Playbook?
Directed by Gus Van Sant (who stepped in when the original director, star and cowriter Matt Damon, had to back out) and cowritten by Damon and costar John Krasinski, Promised Land looks like a boilerplate, standard-issue moral awakening drama about a fracking guy (Damon) — a representative of a natural gas company that wants to exploit a small town’s resources — having second thoughts after considering the human and ecological cost, etc. It might be a lot better than this and here’s hoping, but how did Tapley calculate that it’s a top-fiver?
You want my opinions?
Les Miserables is almost certainly a top contender and…honestly? I really hate to say this but in terms of peception and expectation and hot air it’s probably the front-runner right now. But I hate the mindset that says (a) if a movie delivers pain and anguish and period costumes and angst and big emotion and stand-out performances, it’s Best Picture material but (b) if it’s fleet and sharp and touching and schizzy in a one-on-one, crazy-personal-relationship, present-tense vein like The Silver Linings Playbook, it’s a commercial diversion and a made-for-TVer. Eff that!
Lincoln is not a top-fiver any more. It’ll probably become a big acting score for Daniel Day Lewis, but at best the film itself belongs in Tapley’s “Other Possibilities” category. Why? Ask Guido Bazin.
Ben Affleck‘s Argo is a top contender because so many people consider it a top contender. I happen to think it’s an engaging, well-made caper film that lacks the gravitas and undercurrent of a Best Picture contender. And I say that with respect because I liked it and gave it a thumbs up as far as it went.
Tapley’s Other Possibilities include The Master (should be a nominee in my book, but a lot of older people are going to say “what was that thing actually about?” and not vote for it), Life of Pi (opinions will begin to circulate tomorrow night), Amour (superb, penetrating, very brave film but a very tough sit if you’ve watched a parent die and arguably sadistic in a certain sense — it’s safer to call it a Best Foreign Language winner), Beasts of the Southern Wild (deserves to be nominated), Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino doesn’t make Oscar movies because he puts quote marks around everything he writes and shoots — if you want an Oscar you have to man up, plant your feet, look the audience in the eye and tell the truth).
Tapley’s “Dark Horses” include The Impossible (admirable in many respects but doesn’t deliver where it counts), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (never saw it), Flight (look out for this puppy, certainly in terms of a Best Actor nomination for Denzel Washginton), Anna Karenina (one of the most brilliant and exhilarating period dramas I’ve seen in years…top of the mountain) and Hitchcock (likely to be middling, so-so, good-enough film — if anything the stand-out awards attention will be for Anthony Hopkins‘ lead performance).
Tapley’s “Rest Of The Field” titles are Zero Dark Thirty (this is in my top five in terms of faith in Biggy-Boal and general expecations), Moonrise Kingdom (good film, first-rate director but not distinctive or scopey enough to be a Best Picture contender), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (possibly nominatable if WB hadn’t turned tail on the 48 fps format — now it’s chiefly known as the 48 fps turn-tail movie), Skyfall (a Bond movie for Best Picture?), Not Fade Away (not likely but we’ll see), Cloud Atlas (forget it), The Dark Knight Rises (a brilliant, rousing, balls-to-the-wall knockout — first-rate, deserves a nomination, “just say no to Colorado massacre” vote), Trouble with the Curve (nice film but not a chance), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (haven’t seen it), Quartet (haven’t seen it), The Sessions (Hawkes and Hunt acting noms only), Rust & Bone (Marion Cottilard for Best Actress and that’s all), The Avengers (what is that, a sick joke?), Killing Them Softly (interesting, well-acted film but not good enough to be a Best Picture contender…sorry) and Arbitrage (likely Richard Gere nomination for Best Actor),