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Which film will take the gold home this year?

The 85th Academy Awards has a lot to choose from this year. Some of the world’s finest productions have been nominated and one of the categories that everyone is thinking about is “Best Picture”. The competition is tight and the expectations are high from each nominee.

What’s it going to be?

Which film has the highest chance to win?

Ben Affleck’s Argo rose to an unexpected height amongst other masterpieces like Spielberg’s Lincoln and Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. Although Ben Affleck was snubbed as a nominee for Best Director, the film was a fresh breath of air with “Hollywood” as the rescuer, and the film has been bagging awards for both concept and execution. Argo touches the heart and the brain; not to mention the high audience rating.

Django Unchained although a brilliantly made film may lack the required emotional quotient one expects from an Oscar winning film. It’s about a slave who becomes a bounty hunter along with a German dentist. Over the years, films that have won Academy Awards had not only had something new to offer to art, but also struck an emotional chord with the audience, and offered logic and a universal message in the film.

Zero Dark Thirty, on the other hand, is perfect for the awards due to the sensitive but gripping dramatization of the operations conducted by the United States in finding and killing Osama Bin Laden. But what might have tainted the chances of the film to win are the controversies surrounding it. The film shows brutal and graphic portrayal of torture on suspects. Fingers were also pointed for publicizing the details of the operation, another issue that may hamper the film’s chances.

Life of Pi took 3D storytelling to a level one wouldn’t have expected from a film based on a novel that was declared “unfilmable”.  Ang Lee gave the audience a visual treat that was humorous, nail-biting, heartwarming, and represented characters that could represent the dreaming youth of all eras and nations. But the somewhat overdose of the computer graphics and the emotional element might change the film’s fate.

Lincoln is yet another strong nominee for both Best Picture and Best Director. Although the film’s victory seems apparent with Daniel Day Lewis’s spectacular portrayal of Lincoln and Spielberg’s brilliantly made film, but it’s not without flaws. The film has an upper hand now that Affleck and Bigelow are not in the Best Director category, but it could still lose to Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, and Amour.

Michael Haneke’s Amour has been described as elegant and gracefully made. The French drama film is also a nominee of the Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director, and Best Actress in a Leading Role. The film’s universal acclaim makes it a strong nominee for the Best Picture category as well as the Best Foreign Language film. But what endangers its chances are its style and lack of empathy; the film has been criticised for being too frigid.

Silver Linings Playbook is the romantic-comedy-drama that took everyone by surprise with terrific performances by Bradley Cooper, Robert Deniro, and Jennifer Lawrence. All of the actors showed range as well as depth in the characters they played. They explored both the emotional and psychological issues that surrounded the characters proving that a film does not have to be hard-hitting or downright serious to be nominated. It’s the execution that counts.

Les Misérables, Oscar winning director Tom Hooper’s version of Victor Hugo’s classic introduced a new concept. The director chose to have his actors sing live during filming. Not just musical numbers, everything was sung by the actors! While it brought out the best in Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, for others it highlighted the shortcomings, not as actors but as singers. This made the film appear quite flawed. Although it’s a treat for all the senses, it had shortcomings that would not go unnoticed.

Beasts of the Southern Wild tells a story through the eyes of a six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy. Although it’s hard to connect with a character so young, the film still manages to reach out to the audience because the characters are portrayed in a mature fashion, even the child. The original music score and cinematography left the audience dazzled. But when it comes to content, performance and execution, there are plenty of loopholes in the film that might not stand up against the other nominees of the same category. The strength of the film is challenged by Zero Dark Thirty, Argo and Lincoln.

As we look at the past winners of the most prestigious categories, films like The Departed, The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech, The Artist, Slumdog Millionaire, and No Country for Old Men; they all either had a strong emotional target, an important universal conflict or something entirely new to offer to the viewers.

If we were to look at this closely I would say that, the chances for the Best Picture of 2013 are strongly divided amongst Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln. The films have it all- emotion, drama, conflict (from psychology to war), execution, a new style of direction, and powerful performances.

So the question is: will the winner be one of the films we predict or are we going to be surprised?

Ambika Chauhan

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