Saturday, June 27, 2009

Expanded by Popular Demand...

Okay, this is my last post about the Best Picture announcement, but since so many of you clicked over to my speculative chart for 1999-2008, and since I seem to be nearly alone in feeling pretty sanguine and optimistic about the promised change, I have now made it a speculative chart for 1987-2008. Yes, every once in a while, something ghastly potentially happens (à la Legends of the Fall or Good Morning, Vietnam) but just as often something awesome potentially happens (à la Hoop Dreams and Au revoir, les enfants in the same years).

The real story here, though, are the lists of what still doesn't qualify, even in a double-capacity race. It's hardly the case that a ten-wide field opens the door for "every" movie with critical raves, Globes or SAG support, ardent followings, Oscar-friendly nobility, pop-phenom status, big studio pushes, unembarrassing box-office windfalls, or middlebrow "sleeper" support automatically qualify. It's a really exciting toss-up in years like 1987-1989, and weird anomalies still occur. For instance, even the expanded list in 1996 maintains, I think, a bizarrely anti-studio line-up, and plenty of "lone director" nominees survive: Egoyan, Scorsese, probably Hallström and Kieślowski...

I can't take this chart any further, since 1987 was as early as I remember following all the critics' awards, ten-best lists, and other buzz as it all transpired. Just a few years further back, and I'd be almost totally tone-deaf to how the PR, the release schedule, and popular word-of-mouth actually played out. Again, I'm sure there's plenty to debate about my cuckoo choices, but I look at these lists and still feel that a Best Picture nomination would "mean" just as much in relation to these ten films as it does in relation to the current lists of five. No loss of horse-race drama for those of us who get off on that. More races where the historical winner might have had a tougher fight, for better or worse. This is going to be great!

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6 Comments:

Blogger Colin said...

You're right: unfamiliar as I am with the "real" Best Pic noms of the last 22 years, I'm having a spectacular time guessing which out of your lists were Oscar's five true picks, and often being surprised by the results (especially the snubs).

Empire of the Sun, When Harry Met Sally..., A Fish Called Wanda, Thelma & Louise, The Bridges of Madison County, Boogie Nights, Gods and Monsters and The Matrix are all movies spanning the pre-2000s years that I assumed had been part of the original shortlist. I guess this exercise shows not only the extent to which a movie's cinematic legacy is independent of the Oscar Best Pic noms, but also the extent to which a viewer might expect the Best Pic noms to have some degree of correlation to what movies endure, within an acceptable range of understanding of the Academy's tastes.

9:08 PM, June 27, 2009  
Blogger Glenn Dunks said...

I am warming to the idea, I must say and some of those lists do just shine. 1994, 1993, 1991 and 1998 particularly. I do think though that The Birdcage would get in over something like Lone Star in 1996 thought. It did win the ensemble prize at SAG after all.

7:45 AM, June 28, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Colin: That sounds like fun! I can never play that game, because I can tell you who was nominated more quickly than I can tell you where my glasses are, or who the current Cabinet officials are. I would certainly prefer to live in a world where Harry and Madison County were nominated, so keep spreading the rumors.

@Glenn: You're probably right about Lone Star vs. Birdcage. Glad to hear that you're warming to the whole prospect.

12:31 PM, June 28, 2009  
Blogger Abe Fried-Tanzer said...

I wanted to try again to make my own lists before looking at yours, but knew I was a lot cause because I didn't even start watching the Oscars until 2001. My lack of expertise was clear, but it was still a lot of fun. I'm happy to say I did go 10/10 for one year - 1989. It will be interesting to see if movies like "Terminator 2" can get into the top ten in the future. One omission on your part that I think might have had a shot: Misery in 1990. I know it didn't win many awards beyond Bates herself, but isn't that exactly the kind of well-reviewed, popular film that could get a standalone (besides Bates) BP nom with this new system?

10:32 AM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger RC said...

i love seeing 2003 with City of God and In America - if only.

11:05 PM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger John T said...

The more I read these Nick's, I agree with everyone else-the more I like it. Thanks for calming us down. I do feel, however, that Dave would have lost out to Jurassic Park (the piles of money there would have been difficult to ignore).

2:23 PM, July 03, 2009  

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