December 03, 2016

Oscars: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “Gravity”

GRAVITY
“Gravity”

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

Written by: Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón (reportedly with some uncredited collaboration by George Clooney as well)

Main cast members: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, and Ed Harris (voice)

Number of Oscar nominations in total: 10

Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Director (Cuarón), Best Actress (Bullock), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects

Notable precursor wins: Tied for Best Picture at the Producers Guild of America Awards, Won Best Director at the Directors Guild of America Awards, Won Best Director at the Golden Globe Awards, Won Best Director and Best British Film at the BAFTA Awards,

Chances at winning Best Picture: One of the top three contenders for the award and a definite co-frontrunner, if not THE frontrunner

Chances at other Academy Award wins: A sure fire win in Best Director, along with Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects, though it could legitimately win every technical award that it’s nominated for

ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.

Gravity is the fifth film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s the other main contender in the category. In fact, it’s probably got the best chance of the bunch to win. Sure, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if 12 Years a Slave took home Best Picture, and I’d be one of the few not surprised by an American Hustle win, but still…Gravity is the most likely of that trio. It tied with Hustle for the most nominations overall, has picked up some strong precursor attention, and will likely dominate the tech categories at the Oscar ceremony. That gives it a leg up on the competition for sure. It’ll likely come down to if voters are opposed to citing a science fiction film as their Best Picture winner. If they don’t mind, then this movie is probably winning the Oscar.

Working in Gravity’s favor is just how significant its wins have been and how rare a split between Best Picture and Best Director is. Alfonso Cuarón has dominated the Best Director race, so his win is a slam dunk. With the flick tied for the most nominations overall and a prime competitor for the top prize, it’ll be all too easy for Academy members to not split their ballot. It may not have won the most precursor prizes overall, but it’s won the right ones, or at least tied in the case of the PGA award. That leads me to believe that more than enough people will be at least considering it for #1 on their ballot, or at least a top tier spot, and that’s how you win Best Picture. Also, consider that Gravity is all but guaranteed to take home the most Oscars overall. That means there’s some level of consensus about its Academy bonafides. That could be telling…

If you’re looking for something that’s not in this film’s favor, it’s the fact that the Academy has never gone for sci-fi in the past. They didn’t go for Avatar or Inception of late, while in the past Star Wars came up short too, just to name a few. Coupled with how closely 12 Years a Slave (and to a lesser extent American Hustle) is on its tail and just a small bit of doubt/hesitation about passing up a more “important” work for a popcorn flick could steal away crucial votes. On Oscar night, we’ll know early on if Gravity is going to win or not, as any losses in the tech categories will be glaring signs of weakness. If that happens, then that means that it’s likely coming up short to 12 Years a Slave.

So will this movie win Best Picture? Honestly, it’s now the odds on favorite, especially with American Hustle falling back to a clear third place. 12 Years a Slave is still very much in play to win, but if you’re a betting man or woman, Gravity is the horse to back right now. There isn’t too much left to do but wait, so while Oscar voters are making their decisions, all we can do is sit back and try to read the tea leaves. Right now, they point towards Gravity…

Stay tuned for the rest of my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” pieces in the days to come, with Her up next!

ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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