The year is coming to an end, the critics have named their top tens, the Globe and SAG nominations have been announced, soon the other Guilds will announce their nominees, and the Oscar nominees will be right around the corner. If we look at all the precursors, and experts predictions, which align for the most part. These are the top ten pictures (if there are ten) which most likely be nominated for Best Picture (in alpha order):
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
These are the most predicted top ten, but there are two spoilers still in contention, but genre fans should not get excited because those two spoilers are The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (nominated at SAG and the Golden Globes), and Flight, which could get attention from numerous branches and had a great box office take.
So I have to ask the Academy does this list of ten "serve the purpose" they intended? After the 2008 Oscar debacle nominating The Reader over The Dark Knight Rises (or any other better film that year), the Academy knew they had reached their precipice. The Academy wanted to become more "audience friendly" and changed their rules to nominate 10 films, the following year. Although this rule has been revised and their could be any combination between 5 and 10 now.
In 2009 the year after the rule change took effect the addition of five extra nominees added more genre films: Avatar (Sci-Fi/Action), District 9 (Sci-fi/Action), Up (Animated). Avatar would have been a nominee no matter what, in fact it was probably the second place film, losing to The Hurt Locker. The other two films District 9, and Up would never have made the top five, and these two films provided a greater film landscape, proving their new system was starting to work. You could argue Inglorious Basterds may fit within a "genre" but to me this film fits more a classic drama style with intense action (the same way this year's Django Unchained does).
In 2010 two films would fit within the genre world, Inception (Sci-fI/Action), and Toy Story 3 (Animated). With Nolan missing out on Best Director (again), I am going to argue that without 10 nominees both of these films would have missed out on the top five. Now this is merely a hypothesis, and there is no proof, but I think if there were only five nominees it would have been Black Swan, The Fighter, The King's Speech, The Social Network, and True Grit. Another way the ten nominees helped change the system.
In 2011 (after the rule change) there only nine nominees, and no genre nominee, there was no animated film the merited breaking into this group. There were two "genre" films that could have broken into the Best Picture race, but were left off. Drive is an action film, but was never taken seriously by the Academy and missed out on a nomination. A Separation was the eventual winner in the Best Foreign Language Film category film from Iran, but did not make the top 9. No foreign language film has ever made it into the top 10 since the rule change.
This year has the most potential for action or sci-fi films ever, with The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, and Skyfall. These four films could shake up the system, and all could be considered for this Best Picture race, but are any of them serious contenders?
Let's look at the super hero flick first. The Avengers will make it into the Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects category, but will go no further. The Dark Knight Rises may get a Cinematography, Editing, or Original Score nomination, in the major technical categories, and like The Avengers will most likely score nominations in both Sound categories and the Visual Effects category. Neither of these super hero tales will be taken seriously enough to make this list.
Looper a true science fiction action adventure film is being ignored left and right by many groups. The Guild nominees will help determine if this is a viable contender. Looper could sneak into the Best Original Screenplay category, and become Rian Johnson's first nomination, but may be passed over for more traditional fair, like Django Unchained, Moonrise Kingdom, Flight, The Master, and Zero Dark Thirty. Looper could also make the Sound and Visual Effects categories, but has a lot of competition.
The biggest action film with the biggest chances at Oscar is the often forgotten James Bond, and Skyfall. Of these four films Skyfall makes the most "sense" and deserves to make it into the Best Picture race, but at the moment is a major long shot. Skyfall could score one major nomination with Javier Bardem in Best Supporting Actor, and will most likely get a nomination for Cinematography, Editing, Original Song, Sound, and Visual Effects. No James Bond film has received an Oscar nomination, and this will be the first one. Oscar has the chance to reward this film, and make a statement, but voters will unfortunately not put this into the Best Picture category.
No animated film has a shot like last year, but this year is filled with strong foreign language films, but only one has a shot, Amour. With no foreign language film shaking up the box office like Crouching Tiger, Amour has an uphill battle. Amour has a shot in the Best Actress category, the Best Original Screenplay category, and of course will be nominated for Best Foreign Language film, but without any major support this film like most others will be contained within the foreign language category.
Have the more traditional voters monopolized the newer system, and brought even more traditional films into the fold? The answer is still up in the air because the nominations have not been announced, but based on statistics none of the genre films are going to make the top ten. This has been one of the best years in film in a long time, and I would hate for the Academy to play it too safe yet again, but it looks as though history will repeat, and comedy, action, sci-fi, animated, and foreign films will be left in the lurch.