A Voice From the Gulf (i.e., an industry-savvy guy I’ve known for several years) wrote this morning to remind that most Academy voters tend to vote like abused, emotionally-needy children and that when push comes to shove the Best Picture contenders that offer emotional comfort-blanket assurance tend to win. I think a few of us may have pondered this one before but fine. I was going to post my response at the tail end but nobody will read that far so I’m posting it subsequently (i.e., see above). Here’s how Gulf Guy puts it:

“No offense to Sasha Stone, but your friend is out of her mind for thinking Boyhood is going to win Best Picture. Didn’t she watch your Huffpost interview with Brad and Anne? Anne thinks Birdman has it in the bag for Best Picture. They’re both nuts. Thank God Brad pointed out the obvious fact, which is that these are CRITICS CHOICES, not OSCAR CHOICES. By and large, Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, et al. are going to be Critics’ Choices and there’s nothing wrong with that, but critics awards don’t always correlate with the guilds and the Oscars.

“Look to the British biopics (The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game) and possibly Unbroken (if I were to hazard a guess) for your Oscar winner. The Academy goes for Emotional Push Buttons (EPB), not Esoteric Think Pieces (ETP). There is the very rare exception and that one that comes to mind is the Coen brothersNo Country for Old Men, which falls into the Way Overdue Artist (WOA) category. But that’s rare.”

Quick Wells response: I hear this same EPB vs. ETP dynamic every year, and it profoundly nauseates and infuriates every time. For decades members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have made themselves infamous for succumbing to soft, tepid emotional impulses in their voting for Oscar winners. The problem with the Academy can be boiled down to the ‘deadwood’ members — the over-the-hill crowd that doesn’t work that much (if at all) and whose tastes are conservative and smug and myopic. Again, from a piece I wrote on 10.31.13: “If the Academy wants to be part of the world as it is right now and have the Oscar winners reflect this, it has to reduce the influence of people whose professional peaks happened 15 or 20 or more years ago. These people will retain membership and all the priveleges that go with that, but their votes won’t count as much as those who are actively working and contributing to the films of today, or at least films made within the last five to ten years — simple.”

Here’s the Gulf Guy recap:

Dances With Wolves (EPB — Native Americans, Actor wins BP, see below numerous examples)
Silence of the Lambs (EPB — Feminist thriller)
Unforgiven (WOA and H’wood Icon Actor winning Best Picture, a trend)
Schindler’s List (EPB and WOA)
Forrest Gump (EPB)
Braveheart (EPB and WOA, Mel Gibson, actor winning Best Picture)
English Patient (EPB)
Titanic (EPB)
Shakespeare in Love (EPB)
American Beauty (EPB)
Gladiator (EPB)
A Beautiful Mind (EPB)
Chicago (EPB)
Lord of the Rings (EPB and WOA)
Million Dollar Baby (EPB)
Crash (EPB)
The Departed (WOA)
No Country for Old Men (WOA)
Slumdog Millionaire (EPB)
The Hurt Locker (WOA– A female director winning, a first)
The King’s Speech (EPB)
The Artist (EPB)
Argo (EPB — America strikes back at terrorists, also WOA — Clooney/Affleck winners, Actors getting Oscars for Producing, see next winner and Dances with Wolves)
12 Years a Slave (EPB and WOA — Brad Pitt, see above)

Gulf Guy summation: “Do you see any movie since 1990 that remotely resembles an intellectual exercise, an Esoteric Think Piece, such as Boyhood or Birdman in my 23-year tally? Or Foxcatcher? Emotionally distant films, no matter how brilliant, are usually not recognized unless they consider the Overdue Artist. In the case of Boyhood, Linklater could quality but he’s a Hollywood outsider, noted for his screenplay adaptations but I’m sorry, people are going to look through the amazing concept of Boyhood and realize it’s an interesting experiment but not a BP winner. Too long, too esoteric, too ‘boring’ for the stay at home, watch a screener Academy members. But Patricia Arquette! Mark my words.”