October 01, 2016

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

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“Her”

Directed by: Spike Jonze

Written by: Spike Jonze

Main cast members: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Rooney Mara, and Portia Doubleday

Number of Oscar nominations in total: 5

Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Original Screenplay (Jonze), Best Production Design, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song

Notable precursor wins: Won Best Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards, Won Best Screenplay at the Golden Globe Awards, and Won Best Film/Best Director from the National Board of Review

Chances at winning Best Picture: It’d be an absolute shock if it managed to win Best Picture, so it’s slim to none here

Chances at other Academy Award wins: It’s the frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay, while it’s not impossible for any of its tech nominations to turn into upset wins.

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

Her is the six film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s another nominee that has to consider the nomination itself to be the real reward, at least in this category. That being said, the nod (along with all of its noms overall) is really something to admire. Such a singular and unique movie being nominated for more than a token Oscar or two is a nice change of pace for the Academy. Especially considering that it scored not just a Best Picture citation but a Best Original Screenplay as well, there are voters here who are very fond of this film, and that pleases me to no end. Regardless of anything else, it’s nothing like any other nominee this year, or really in history I’d argue, so kudos to Spike Jonze and company for such fine work. He may not be a serious Best Picture contender, but Jonze is likely to win the Original Screenplay Oscar, so the flick isn’t too likely to go home empty handed regardless.

Working in Her’s favor is just how different and romantic it is. The film has connected with so many people, arguably in a way that no other nominee has been able to do. Members of the Academy were taken by this movie in more than one way, honoring not just the film itself and it’s writing, but the production design and musical components as well. Multiple tech nominations are a sure sign of widespread support. Without it, you have no chance at all of winning Best Picture. Jonze’s probably screenplay win also gives it a leg up on some of the other nominees that most likely won’t win anything. I’m not saying that there’s any real chance of an upset, but Her won’t have the least amount of votes, I’m certain of that.

If you’re looking for something that’s not in this film’s favor, it’s the fact that it does skew to a somewhat younger audiences, and that’s not what triumphs in the Best Picture category. You need to appeal to everyone on multiple levels, and while the emotional factor is beneficial to Her, there are definitely some older voters that will dismiss this as being somewhat of a pathetic tale. Factor in how neither Joaquin Phoenix nor Scarlett Johansson were able to get acting nominations (though the former fell victim to a super crowded Best Actor field and the latter always had an uphill battle in Best Supporting Actress due to the stigma surrounding voice performances) and there’s no realistic path to a win here, at least as far as I see it.

So will this movie win Best Picture? Honestly, it’s my favorite film of 2013, but I’d probably die of shock if it somehow pulled off this upset win. As mentioned above, it won’t have the lowest vote total of our group of nominees, but it’s going to come up well short of what’s necessary to be competitive here. That being said, an insane shock would thrill me, so we’ll see what happens when March rolls around, so stay tuned…

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