Zero Dark Thirty All of a Sudden Best Picture Frontrunner?

I called it. After the first couple of reviews started to trickle in around mid-November, I tweeted the following:

I’m throwing this out there now: Zero Dark Thirty is going to blow a films out of the water and end up being a late contender.

So far it is not failing to turn heads. Apparently upping the ante on the back of The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal have once again teamed up to craft something fresh and energetic. On top of what is said to be nothing short of a masterful screenplay, Jessica Chastain is apparently a ‘revelation’; tearing in to the Best Actress Race and calmly stationing herself in front of Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook). Throw it a few awards for editing, and this hard fought race could be all but over by the Globes. But in a year where quality has been in such great quantity, is it too soon to start predicting dominance?

Yes.

Up until Oscar night, you wouldn’t have bet against The Social Network, yet there Tom Hooper was collecting the statues for both Best Director and Best Picture. Out of nowhere. This was a result of a lot of elements, but not least the fact that the Academy eats up period dramas about royals. Hell, up until about a month ago, there was still whispers of Anna Karenina sneaking in a Best Picture nomination…ANNA KARENINA. Needless to say, that’s not going to happen, but what could very well happen is that a very average film with only ‘largely’ favourable reviews will snap up the top prizes at the last minute. This year, Tom Hooper is at it again in the form of his gimmicky retelling of the tired Les Miserables. The film has a lot going for it, most of all the live singing, but in a year where you’d be hard pressed to limit to ten Best Picture nominees, it’s hardly worth bending over and giving it to the Broadway adaptation ‘from the director of The King’s Speech‘ when there’s so many films out there of orignal merit.

Amongst the Argos and Zero Dark Thirtys though, there will always be a Tom Hooper film lurking round a corner ready to steal the glory from the films that deserve it. I liked The King’s Speech, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t even in the same league as The Social Network or even Inception for that matter. Those films had lasting power; they live long in the memory. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s actually watched The King’s Speech since its initial buzz period. And the same applies to The Artist. It was a great film; funny, charming and respectful of the age in which it was set. But it wasn’t a laster. It simply had the buzz going for it at the right time, and managed to carry it all the way through until Oscar night.

So, has Zero Dark Thirty arrived at just the right time to ride the wave all the way to the red carpet? Abso-bloody-exactly. With a general release in the US at Christmas, and the UK a month later, the folks at Annapurna have shown their cards at exactly the right time, deciding to engrain into viewers’ minds mere weeks before Les Miserables and Django Unchained attempt a similar tactic. As a result, the film has so far picked up Best Picture accolades from the National Board of Review, the Boston Online Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle. Not bad for the first couple of weeks of critics’ awards. Los Angeles strangely went with Michael Haneke’s Amour as their Best Picture, but not their Best Foreign Language film. Go figure.

What this all definitely says to me is that Lincoln and Argo are all but out of the race. It sounds crazy to dismiss films of such high calibre, but in a race like this, often times it does simply come down to a buzz wave, as unfair as that may seem. With the Hollywood Foreign Press announcing their nominees this week, the critics have certainly provided food for thought. These days though, the Globes mean about as much to the Oscars as the MTV Video Music Awards mean to the Grammys. Nevertheless, here are my predictions for the nominees in the major categories:

Best Picture – Drama

ZERO DARK THIRTY

ARGO

LINCOLN

THE MASTER

LIFE OF PI

Best Picture – Comedy/Musical

LES MISERABLES

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

MOONRISE KINGDOM

BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

THIS IS 40

Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow – ZERO DARK THIRTY

Ben Affleck – ARGO

Steven Spielberg – LINCOLN

Tom Hooper – LES MISERABLES

Paul Thomas Anderson – THE MASTER

Best Screenplay

ZERO DARK THIRTY

ARGO

LINCOLN

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

DJANGO UNCHAINED

Best Actor – Drama

Daniel Day-Lewis – LINCOLN

Joaquin Phoenix – THE MASTER

Denzel Washington – FLIGHT

John Hawkes – THE SESSIONS

Anthony Hopkins – HITCHCOCK

Best Actress – Drama

Jessica Chastain – ZERO DARK THIRTY

Emmanuelle Riva – AMOUR

Marion Cotillard – RUST AND BONE

Quvenzhane Wallis – BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

Keira Knightley – ANNA KARENINA

Best Actor – Comedy/Musical

Bradley Cooper – SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Hugh Jackman – LES MISERABLES

Tommy Lee Jones – HOPE SPRINGS

Bill Murray – HYDE PARK ON HUDSON

Jack Black – BERNIE

Best Actress – Comedy/Musical

Jennifer Lawrence – SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Meryl Streep – HOPE SPRINGS

Judi Dench – BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

Maggie Smith – QUARTET

Barbara Streisand – THE GUILT TRIP

Best Supporting Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio – DJANGO UNCHAINED

Philip Seymour Hoffman – THE MASTER

Robert De Niro – SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Tommy Lee Jones – LINCOLN

Matthew McConaughey – MAGIC MIKE

Best Supporting Actress

Anne Hathaway – LES MISERABLES

Sally Field – LINCOLN

Amy Adams – THE MASTER

Helen Hunt – THE SESSIONS

Jacki Weaver – SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

 

The Golden Globe Award Nominations will be published on Thursday, December 13th.





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About the Author

Matthew Smith
Matthew Smith

A bi-product of both the USA and the UK, Matthew has been a film-obsessive since the summer of 1993. He claims that in 2009, he saw a total of 109 films at the cinema. Since 2009, he has been writing for NME film critic Owen Nicholls, and after exploring the intricacies of film analysis, began a BA Hons in Film and Moving Image Production in 2011 at the ripe old age of 25. His favourite film is The Big Lebowski, and his favourite director is Alexander Payne.


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