Sunday, June 23, 2024

Chasing The Gold: Best Picture

This year, I will be following the Best Picture race for Insession Film. This is an exciting prospect, as every year there are always surprises in this journey.

There was a moment at this year’s Oscars, just before Al Pacino opened the envelope when ten sets of producers, actors, directors, costume designers, cinematographers, editors, sound engineers, production designers, makeup and hair stylists, writers, musicians, and visual effects artists held their breath, just as we did watching at home. It’s a bit like Schrödinger’s cat. In that moment, every film is the winner and every film is forever the runner up. Even with a year in which we believe the winner to be a foregone conclusion, like this year, and last year, there is always a possibility of upset, of Pacino’s signature voice croaking a different title.

The category is meant to cement in history the best films of the given year. A nomination is meant to be an arbiter of taste, significant achievement, and zeitgeist. It’s a way for those of us who follow closely from the fall festivals through to Oscar night to inform, sometimes annoy, others about great films we have seen that we can point to on a list. We can say, “see! I wasn’t crazy, other people, important people also believe that the three hour courtroom drama that has no conclusive answer as to whether or not the protagonist committed the crime is worth your time!”

More than anything, Best Picture is a category in which wild speculation can suddenly become reality. A film that is deeply entrenched in the mythos of a cinematic universe released in the first quarter of the year can become a real contender. A small film about IED disposal in an ongoing conflict can contend with a film about blue people on a planet far away attempting to defend their home. A lyrical coming of age film can play alongside a lavish throwback musical. A deeply affecting drama about the power of journalism can be spoken in the same breath as a film with a man tied to an armored car barreling down a road in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Narratives are formed, rivalries built, and villains made of films, which don’t deserve the distinction, but stand in the way of the more populist choice. It’s all wild speculation until the envelope is opened.

Speculating wildly is exactly what I intend to do with this feature. There will be a time in the future where the true candidates will emerge. A time after festivals, critics laurels, and the first whispers become full throated declarations in which the column will gain focus, but until then, strap in, grab hold of the safety bar, and get ready for the wild ride ahead.

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