In a 2.9 Gold Derby piece about why certain Oscar handicappers are picking Gravity to win the Best Picture Oscar, Deadline‘s Pete Hammond explains as follows: “I had been predicting Gravity for much of the season and then moved on briefly to American Hustle and then 12 Years a Slave. But I have gone back to Gravity because simply I think it could be a ‘consensus’ film. It may not be on a majority of ballots as a number one choice, but I bet it is on many as a number two. This is a year where a number of good films will likely split that number-one passion vote. I doubt any of them will get over 50% first time out. That’s when the number two choice makes a huge difference. Right now I am betting that number two is Gravity with a lot of help from below-the-line branches. I was given pause by its loss at the ACE Eddies but not enough to cause great concern. BAFTA will be the next litmus test. Until then I will stick with this strategy.”
Translation: The sheep-herd mentality is almost always averse or blind to films that project a singular verve or a ferocious passion like — hello? — The Wolf of Wall Street, which is hands down the best film of the year. Which is why an orbital verisimilitude amusement ride — a towering technical achievement but that’s all — is probably going to take the top prize. Fantastic! The Academy members who decided the 1965 Oscars would get along very well with today’s gutless go-alongers if they could time-machine into the present.