Will a Twinkie or a Dark Horse Win Best Picture?

We usually see most of the movies that have been nominated for Best Picture but this year we’re behind the curve due to illness, weather and just plain being too busy. Here are the nominees with the ones we have seen in bold:

  • Of the five movies in this post, Arrival was my favorite by far. People who might be turned off by a “first alien contact” description should know that this movie is about much, much more.LaLa Land
  • Arrival
  • Lion
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • Moonlight
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Fences

And here, in order of preference, is how I would vote for Best Picture were I a member of the Academy:

  1. Arrival
  2. Hidden Figures
  3. Hell or High Water
  4. Manchester by the Sea
  5. LaLa Land

My Opinion—and I Do Have One

I would like to see both Lion and Fences but the war movie holds no real interest. I feel too battered by what’s going on in the country right now to subject myself to two hours of blood and guts on the screen. Moonlight I could take or leave. It reminds me of 2014 when everyone was waxing enthusiastic about Boyhood. When I finally watched it on TV I disliked it intensely and could not understand the rave reviews.

I’m going to weigh in on the film that appears to be the hands-down favorite for the Best Picture Award: La La Land.I had the same reaction to La La Land, of course. As I explained earlier, I consider it a Twinkie—a mediocre movie with substandard talent and so-so dancing. It’s simply not worthy of being nominated with the others.

And yet, it leads the critics’ lists of the movie that will probably win.

I understand Hollywood’s preference for movies about itself, particularly a rags-to-riches story that makes it feel good about just being Hollywood.  And, yes, Damien Chazelle successfully revived an old cinematic form, the movie musical. If you think that’s a really big deal you’re probably rooting for La La Land. If you think, as I do, that there’s a reason movie musicals disappeared then you aren’t.

The Box Office Vote

Hollywood also loves movies that make money. So how have these nine films done at the box office?  As you can see from the chart only Hidden Figures has made more money and delivered a better return on investment than the Twinkie.

Hollywood also loves movies that make money. So how have these nine films done at the box office?  As you can see from this chart, only Hidden Figures has made more money and delivered a better return on investment than the Twinkie.

Still, Arrival holds my vote over other excellent films because it is more innovative, intricate, creative and challenging. It sends you out of the theater thinking about the complicated concepts it presented, what we understood right away and what we needed to discuss. Arrival is also the only “alien contact” movie I have ever seen that communicates the terror of confronting something totally unknown. 

A Surprise Vote for Best Picture

I would be happy if Hidden Figures, the only movie to outperform La La Land, wins the Oscar for Best Picture. I would be happy if Hidden Figures, the only movie to outperform La La Land, wins the Oscar for Best Picture. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, newly expanded beyond its former base of old white men, will vote differently. The Academy invited 683 new artists and executives to join so as to make the membership more diverse and inclusive. They didn’t want a repeat of last year’s embarrassing #oscarssowhite.

The new members include actors Mahershala Ali, Daniel Dae Kim, Idris Elba and Lorraine Toussaint. Also invited were directors Ama Assante, So Yong Kim, and Keenan Ivory Wayans. Many were people I had assumed were already members.

See a full list of the 683 invitees here.

These new folks might just vote for substance over style, thoughtfulness over sentimentality and talent over mediocrity. Will a more diverse membership vote for white people singing and dancing in a prettified, privileged version of Hollywood?Anything’s possible.

Their votes could also surprise the experts and give the Best Picture Oscar to dark horse.  After all, it’s happened before.

1 thought on “Will a Twinkie or a Dark Horse Win Best Picture?

  1. Aline, I agree with the Twinkie moniker- I just don’t see LLL as a best picture. I enjoyed Hidden Figures much more and M by the Sea in a heartbreakingly moving way.

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