The Oscar nominations are an exciting time of year. Each January, a list of nominees is presented and voted on by various Hollywood types. The winners are announced in the middle of next month. Personally, I will be trying to predict the winners. This year's best picture category will surely present some problems. The list of films acquired only limited attention during their runs in theatres. Each is a mystery to me, because I have not seen a one. But I will try to make an objective choice based on what I do know about them.
The first film in the category is Babel. It tells the stories of six different families. Each story is connected to the others. The film stars such icons as Brad Pit and Cate Blanchett (who has been nominated for best supporting actress for the film). In the box office, the film grossed around $23,000,000 and was seen in 889 theatres. The critics gave this film a "B" average. And that is about all I know. This film came out of nowhere and now is an Oscar nominee.
The next film nominated is The Departed. Of the five films, this one has seen the most press. This is yet another movie by director Martin Scorsese. Many of his films have been nominated, but he has never won as a director. Perhaps this year will change that. I doubt it. Unlike it's competitors, The Departed has grossed over $120,000,000 and saw a wider release. It also got a better rating from critics with an "A-."
The third nominated film may blow all the others out of the water. Literally. When two powerhouses like Clint Eastwood and Stephen Spielberg get together, a hit is sure to be born. Unlike Eastwood's other film from this year, Flags of Our Fathers, this film is entirely in Japanese and tells the story of Iwo Jima from that perspective. It too had a limited release and only managed to gross around $3,000,000. This may not stop it winning though. If it does, it will be one of the few foreign language films ever to win best picture.
Next is the much talked about Little Miss Sunshine. This independent film tells the story of a family trying to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant and the cross-country trip that ensues. The ten-year-old star of the film, Abigail Breslin, has been nominated for a best supporting actress award. Maybe this film can win on cuteness alone. It's worth a shot. The film did gross around $60,000,000 and was highly acclaimed by critics that gave it an average of an "A-."
Last, but not least, is a movie about an untold true story. The Queen gives us a glimpse into the life of England's Queen Elizabeth II after the death of Princess Diana. The star of the film, Helen Mirren, is almost guaranteed to win best actress for the film. But this is another film that went under the radar for most movie-goers. Although it did have a semi-wide release, the movie made around $35,000,000. It too got an average "A-" from the critics.
With such stellar performances to choose from, the category of best picture is too close to call. After finding out more about the films, it seems likely that Letters from Iwo Jima will walk away with the Oscar this year. This movie has the power that is needed in a "best" picture. It has some stiff competition, but I think that name recognition and the snubbing of Scorsese will elevate this film to the best of the year.