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Filmic Friday: Is the Best Picture greater than the sum of its individual parts?

On Tuesday morning, at precisely 8:38 AM, Oscar winner Mo’Nique and Tom Sherak of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took the stage at Los Angeles’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater to announce the nominations for the 2011 Academy Awards.

I was up and on the road by 5:15 AM, so all morning I sat in my office and waited for the press conference.  And when the show commenced, I tuned to Oscar.com and turned up the live feed.

Five minutes later, the ceremony was over, and I was left to ponder the picks.

For a complete rundown, click here.

But today, let’s chat about the Best Picture category.

Like last year, the academy nominated ten films to vie for the big trophy:

Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
127 Hours
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Though there are no nominations this year that drove me batty – think Revolutionary Road, Avatar, and Blind Side – I feel pretty comfortable ruling out a lot of these.  Winter’s Bone was wonderful, but not seen enough to stand a chance. Toy Story, in my opinion, should have stuck to Animated Feature.  127 Hours, Black Swan, The Kids Are All Right were all fantastically acted but lacking in that extra oomph.  From everything I’ve heard, True Grit, the only one on the list that I haven’t seen (don’t worry – I will!), overachieved on the nomination front, but isn’t likely to contend for many of the big awards.

That leaves us with The Fighter, Inception, The King’s Speech, and The Social Network.

Which begs the question…

How should the Academy determine the best picture of the year?

Brent and I have mulled this over a few times this week, and we’ve asked other friends to weigh in.

Should there be some quantifiable way of ranking these films?  Should the Best Picture tag go to the film that has the combined best acting, writing, direction, music, cinematography, etc…?  Or is there something else that determines this category, a certain za za za zoom that you feel when the final credits roll?

I have mixed feelings on this one.

On one level, it seems like it would be most fair to weigh the other major categories and create some sort of formula to determine which comes out on top. And if that were true, I’d say the Best Picture would be a toss-up between Inception and Social Network.  Can you think of a film this year that more competently wove together – through script, direction, and editing – the complicated layers of Inception?  Or a movie that so well captured – through writing, score, acting, and direction – the social, political, and cultural climate of contemporary America than The Social Network?

But neither of these films swept me off my feet.  Neither of them gave me that unidentifiable, visceral feeling that a Best Picture should offer.

The King’s Speech, and to a lesser extent The Fighter, got me.  They grabbed me from the opening scenes and kept grabbing me long after the lights came up.  They had me at hello, and left me lingering at goodbye.

And yet, these weren’t the best directed films of the year.  They may not even have been the most well-written films.  And they certainly weren’t the most creative or innovative.

So, what gives?

What do you think?  How should the Best Picture of the year be decided?  And of the ones you’ve seen, to which would you award the statue?

(And more importantly, which films best lend themselves to cooking creations? Brent and I are envisioning lots of Swan-themed delights at this year’s party… though two of our friends came up with a pretty brilliant take on Inception.)

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6 responses to “Filmic Friday: Is the Best Picture greater than the sum of its individual parts?

  1. Kari w/ Jogging with Fiction January 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    how sad is it that I haven’t seen a single one of the nominated movies? I actually have Toy Story 3 in the dvd player right now from netflix, but Mike and I haven’t managed to finish it in over a week…maybe this weekend.

  2. Heather Eats Almond Butter January 29, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I am so saddened that the only movie I have seen from the list of Best Picture is The King’s Speech. I am so behind on my movies! That being said, it was one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Like you, it had me from the very beginning. The audience even clapped when it was over. Can’t remember the last time that happened in a theater. I’ve been pondering my cooking creation. I have one idea, but it’s not very creative. It needs work. 🙂

  3. Ali January 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I totally feel the same about this year’s nominations for Best Picture! I was shocked to see True Grit in so many categories. I liked it alright enough, but there was nothing magical about it. Inception and The Fighter were the two I enjoyed the most. I liked the Social Network a lot too, but it was a good script, good acting, nothing special with the set or filming to set it apart. The only other two I’ve seen are Black Swan and Toy Story. Black Swan was well done, beautiful at times, not mind-blowing though. I LOVED TOY STORY in a “I’m a sucker for Disney movies” sort of way. It hit home to me in particular this year (I’m finally growing up!) But yea, Best Picture? Probably not. So, next on the list is King’s Speech… it’ll be interesting!

  4. Ali January 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    My monster is such a dud! Bad hair day!

  5. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday January 31, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Just to clarify, does the movie-themed dish for the Virtual Oscars Extravaganza Cook-Off have to be a best picture nominee? Or can it be nominated in another category?

  6. the dawn January 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    i get so distracted trying to figure out which one is going to win (hypothesis and conjecture) rather than deciding which one i think should win….

    i think i’d rather see something like the king’s speech win…but i’m not sure i know why….i’ll have to give it more thought….

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