Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why 12 Years a Slave Will Win Best Picture and Gravity Won't

Basically these are the two main contenders at the moment, and it's really not that hard to see why my title is accurate here. To whomever watched both, if you actually think Gravity (2013) will win top honors maybe you should go back to film school for a semester. Both actually have similar underplots; which is the story of survival against immeasurably difficult odds and circumstances. But here's where one triumphs over the other. What's that thing that's really important in a film that has to be nuanced and explored and worked on before principal photography even starts? Oh yeah, the fucking story. What's the story of Gravity? The plot? Two astronauts are stranded in space trying to get home safely. The end.
Both Alfonso Cuaron and Steve McQueen are auteurs in their own right but you have to admit that McQueen's work, though less prolific than Cuaron's is far superior. Here he's taking on a story that basically enormous in scope and emotion, it has to be dealt with delicately and with finesse, and he accomplishes that task beautifully. 
Visual effects don't equal Oscar gold no matter how awesome, didn't we learn that with Avatar?
I may not be a 'big player' in the film business but I did graduate (with honors I might add) from two of the top film studies programs in the country and was taught by some of the best professors in the academic world so excuse me but I know a thing or two about these things. Also, I pride myself in knowing what wins Oscars and what doesn't. A film based mostly on gimmick and technical tricks will not win anything but technical awards. Like anyone gives a shit about those anyway. Oh Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects awards are coming up, time for me to freshen my drink and use the bathroom. That's where Gravity will hit home runs.
Three huge contenders for acting nods this year, (L to R) Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyoung'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor)
On the other hand we are blessed and I truly mean blessed with a film like 12 Years a Slave (2013) which doesn't come out every so often, it will definitely be in that category of There Will Be Blood (2007), The Social Network (2010), and others that granted didn't win Best Picture honors but that was mostly due to politics, but it's a film that 50 years down the line film schools will make their students study.
It's basically the Slavery version of Schindler's List (1993), which I have to say while watching I saw so many similarities between. It was a no-holds-barred account of the story of a man through whom we saw the atrocities of what people are capable of doing to other people that actually happened in our human history. It is brutal, and yet so sincere, that's how you approach making a movie about such a delicate subject. 
the brutality and visceral nature of Schinder's List made people appreciate and understand the content in ways they'd never had before, same goes for 12 Years a Slave.
Really all you have to look at is the history of the Academy Awards, yeah they're political, yeah they're just dumb show and a fashion 'meat parade' as George C. Scott famously quipped but who wins Best Picture? Perfect example is when The Hurt Locker (2009) triumphed over overblown bullshit gimmicky crap film Avatar (2009)...in 2009. Here's a few things that matter to the Academy; Scope, brevity, STORY, and pathos. Usually a film has to have all to win. Some times they miss the mark, but I think there's nothing about this film that they can use against it. It is literally perfect Best Picture material. A better film couldn't have been fitted for that category. And they LOOOOOOOVE it when a true story is brought to life. My friend and I are talking about this as we speak and she said the following about 12 Years a Slave; 'it's dark and violent and hard to watch', all good points. But that's never stopped the Academy. Sure Passion of the Christ (2004) didn't even get nominated, but that was largely due to controversy of antisemitism and a valid one at that, and also lest we forget the same director won a decade earlier basically every award for the 'dark, violent, and hard to watch' epic Braveheart (1994). And what else fell into all those categories? One of the greatest films of all time that as difficult to watch as it was we all still did and we were better people for it, that's why all awards went to Schindler's List (1993) the year prior. 
This film to me is basically the new version of that, it has all of those things I spoke of earlier; heart, pathos, humanity, tragedy, redemption, and it makes us FEEL rather than sit there going 'woah that was cool'. So it's no question in my opinion, and if you want to put money on it, I'm ready. 12 Years a Slave to win, Steve McQueen to win, John Ridley to win, Chiwetel Ejiofor to win, Michael Fassbender to win, Sarah Paulson to win. I'm putting all my eggs into this basket this year, and though it might not turn out as I want on some of them, the first two are a sure thing in my mind. 

Trailers below: 

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