No, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ Won’t be Nominated for Best Picture, but What Will?


The answer you’re probably all expecting based on films that have already been released is Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. However, as much as people will tell you they think this film is brilliant, I think Fox Searchlight’s decision to release it in May was a bit of a misfire. The film has managed to earn just north of $10 million domestically after seven-and-a-half weeks in theaters, which would right now make it one of the top ten lowest grossing films to ever be nominated for Best Picture alongside the likes of The Dresser ($5.3 million), Winter’s Bone ($6.5 million), Tender Mercies ($8.4 million), A Serious Man ($9.2 million) and Hope and Glory ($10 million).

Malick’s films, however, aren’t films for the masses so box-office won’t tell the entire story. The Tree of Life is likely to be the most experimental film in this year’s crop, and I just don’t see it landing too high on voters’ lists, especially when other big name directors begin unleashing their latest features. Malick, though, is no stranger to Oscar, The Thin Red Line was among the list of films to lose to Shakespeare in Love for Best Picture in 1999, a year Malick was also nominated for Best Director and Screenplay.

After saying all that, I still won’t count this film out. Fox Searchlight is fantastic when it comes to leveraging their films for Best Picture and I am sure they have something special planned when it comes to wooing Academy voters and making sure they understand or, at the very least, are discussing this film once it comes time to vote. It’s a film I won’t count out, but it sits firmly on the bubble at the moment.

The film highest on my list of potential Best Picture nominees from 2011’s first six months is Woody Allen‘s Midnight in Paris, which just became the writer-director’s highest grossing domestic release of his career. The film it topped, Hannah and Her Sisters, is one of only two Allen films to have ever been nominated for Best Picture. The other was Annie Hall, which won the Best Picture Oscar in 1978. As of right now I’d say there’s a strong chance Midnight in Paris becomes number three.

And that brings us up to date.

Here we sit, and as I see it we have one major contender and one bubble contender. No big surprise, we’re knee deep in the second half of summer movie season with Captain America: The First Avenger breathing down our necks and Cowboys and Aliens a week later. However, with the Toronto International Film Festival less than two months away and the Oscar heat that usually begins at Telluride and Venice just around the corner, we need to be prepared for what is to come.

As far as I see it, here is my current list of likely Best Picture contenders soon to arrive over the course of the next five months. These three groups are listed in alphabetical order and are merely predicting nominees, not a likely winner.

Brad’s Top Contenders
TitleDirectorRelease DateStudio
A Dangerous MethodDavid Cronenberg (A History of Violence)TBA 2011Sony Classics
The DescendantsAlexander Payne (Sideways)11/23Fox Searchlight
Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseStephen Daldry (The Reader)TBA 2011Paramount / WB
The Girl with the Dragon TattooDavid Fincher (The Social Network)12/21Columbia
The Ides of MarchGeorge Clooney (Good Night, and Good Luck.)10/7Columbia
J. EdgarClint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby)TBA 2011Warner Bros.
Midnight in ParisWoody Allen (Annie Hall)In TheatersSony Classics
War HorseSteven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan)12/28Disney / Dreamworks

Second Tier
TitleDirectorRelease DateStudio
50/50Jonathan Levine (The Wackness)9/30Summit
The ArtistMichel Hazanavicius11/23Weinstein
CarnageRoman Polanski (The Pianist)11/18Sony Classics
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, SpyTomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In)11/18Focus
The Tree of LifeTerrence Malick (The Thin Red Line)In TheatersFox Searchlight
We Bought a ZooCameron Crowe (Almost Famous)12/23Fox
Young AdultJason Reitman (Up in the Air)TBA 2011Paramount

Third Tier
TitleDirectorRelease DateStudio
The HelpTate Taylor8/10Dreamworks
MoneyballBennett Miller (Capote)9/23Columbia

Obviously, only two of these films have been in theaters and some of them don’t even have trailers yet. Some I am basing on early buzz I have read in brief snippets. Some I am basing on the impression I got after glimpsing the trailer. For example, The Help is a film I wouldn’t even have in the Third Tier if it wasn’t for some solid buzz that has come out of early screenings. Moneyball I would have much higher had I not been as unimpressed as I was with what I saw of its first trailer. These early predictions aren’t very scientific, but I make do with what I have at each moment and this is the field as I see it at this point.

Films will certainly come into frame and others will bounce out of this list as the months move along. Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion could prove to be more than just a late year thriller; The Iron Lady and Albert Nobbs could prove to be more than just a hotly contested acting face off between Meryl Streep and Glenn Close and films like On the Road, The Wettest County, Rampart and Coriolanus could become big festival hits. Nothing is set in stone at this point, though I think I saw some goblins chipping away a headstone that read “No, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Won’t be Nominated for Best Picture”. That, I am fairly certain on.

You can stay up-to-date on all of my Oscar coverage in my “The Contenders” section which includes the current Awards Schedule, Predictions (coming soon), For Your Consideration titles and the Oscar Overture. It’s still very early, but it’s never too early to start examining the field.

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