Oscar Nomination Race: Best Picture

Award Season is getting into full swing with the Golden Globes airing tonight. While there are a few frontrunners when it comes to the acting categories, this award season has been more than a little odd when it comes to predicting Best Picture. Usually, one or two films will win at film festivals and then that film will go on to win Best Picture. However, the wins have been all over the place this film season. Not just that, but a number of front runners didn’t get a nomination for Best Ensemble at the Golden Globes, which is statistically a must have for best picture. This makes it fairly difficult to predict a winner.

Despite the oddness of this season, there have been a number of films that stood out, and many more on top of that that were unique and successful in a way that might earn them an Oscars nod, if not an outright award. Here, we have a look at some of the movies that have been thrown around as possible nominations for Best Picture.

 

Get Out – available at BPL

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Considered the closest thing to a front-runner for Best Picture in this award season, Jordan Peele’s first go at directing is already considered to be a modern classic. Despite the fact that Peele has writing and acting credits almost exclusively in comedy, he believed that the genres were similar enough pacing wise that he could do a convincing horror movie – and he was right. The movie by and large refuses to rely on jump-scares, instead forcing the the viewer into the shoes of its main character as an incredibly chilling plot unfolds.

Get Out is not only a box office success, but also hugely popular with critics for it’s satirical base in plot and commentary on racism. This commentary is what seems to be pushing it ahead as a prime candidate for not just a nomination but also a win. Since The Academy added a large amount of younger and more diverse voters to it’s numbers, the movie seems to be resonating more with the voters than it might have in the past.

 

Dunkirk – available at BPL

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Dunkirk, which came out in July of 2016, has managed to carve out a name for itself in film history even before the Oscars. Not only is it considered by and large to be director Christopher Nolan’s best work, but it’s also considered to be one of the best war films ever made. The movie took in $525 million worldwide, which makes it the highest grossing World War II film ever made, and was subsequently nominated for 8 Critics Choice Awards and 3 Golden Globes.

Praise for it’s cinematography, screenplay, and musical score almost guarantees its nomination for Best Picture. What might push it past Get Out for the win will be it’s popularity with techies, as the film is a technical marvel. If it does win Best Picture, it will be the first Oscar Award that Nolan has ever won, a surprising fact considering how well known Nolan is.

 

 

The Shape of Water – released in theaters Dec. 1st

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Considered Guillermo del Toro’s best film to date, and a labor of love for the monster loving director, The Shape of Water has been winning over critics and winning at film festivals since August. The screenplay, which has been described as touching and “joyously free,” has been an idea in the back of del Toro’s mind since he was a child. The film is thus an ode to Classic Hollywood, while also working as a commentary on bigotry. Chief among the praise is lead actress Sally Hawkins, who seems a likely contender for Best Actress. But this praise is not just for the screenplay or acting, but for the makeup and prosthetic designs in it as well. The Amphibian Man, played by Doug Jones, has been getting a lot of attention from the makeup artist crowd as well. While it’s not exactly a top contender for winning Best Picture, it seems likely the movie will be getting a nomination nod at the very least.

 

I, Tonya – released in theaters Dec. 8th

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The biopic based off the life of figure skater Tonya Harding has been cast as a bit of a dark horse in the Oscars race. Margot Robbie’s performance as Harding has been getting a decent amount of attention, as well as the performance of Allison Janney. The strong acting, combined with the Winter Olympics coming up and bringing the movie into the spotlight a bit more, means that it is possible that the movie could get nominated. It’s chances are hindered by the fact that many are prediction Margot Robbie for a possible upset for Best Actress with the Golden Globes, and more than one upset for a single movie is not likely. However, it still does merit a mention.

 

Mudbound – released on Netflix Nov. 17th

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A heavy period drama that focuses on two World War II veterans, one white and one black, as they face their PTSD as well as racism in the American South, Mudbound earned itself a standing ovation when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The screenplay and direction have been complimented because of the timeless way the struggles of the characters have been captured. The acting has received much critical acclaim as well, snagging a number of Best Ensemble Awards, and actress Mary J. Blige has received a Golden Globe nomination for her role. Its the sort of serious subject matter that the Academy tends to eat up, and yet it doesn’t seem to be a favorite for Best Picture. Why? Because it released not in theaters, but on Netflix. Despite gaining ground for other awards, there has yet to be a single Netflix produced movie or show nominated for an Oscar. Many seem hopeful that Mudbound will be the movie that finally pushes Netflix into the Academy Awards however.

Wonder Woman – available at BPL

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It is true Wonder Woman isn’t exactly a likely candidate for a nomination, much less a win. After all, action and superhero movies aren’t exactly popular with the Academy. Despite that, however, the award for Best Picture was opened up to 10 nominations due to the snub of The Dark Knight back in 2009, and Wonder Woman was not only very popular with the younger crowd, but also broke box office records across genres. So, while it’s not a likely candidate, it is still in the running for a nomination nod.

 

The Big Sick – available at BPL

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Of all the movies being thrown out there for a possible nomination for Best Picture, The Big Sick is probably the least likely to be nominated. Based on the real life story of its writers Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick follows the young couples story as they battle with cultural differences and medical emergencies. The film is an indie movie and cost only $5 million to make. The reason it keeps being mentioned however, is because of how fantastic it did at the box office, making $55 million worldwide once it closed in theaters. The screenplay has been praised by critics and the film won a number of awards at various film festivals.

So while an indie movie isn’t exactly likely to get nominated, if anyone was going to, it would almost definitely be The Big Sick.

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JRR Tolkien, the Father of Fantasy

In the long run, it would be easier to talk about what fantasy media that JRR Tolkien hasn’t inspired. Considered the “Father of Fantasy,” Tolkien redefined what high fantasy looked like. It has gotten to the point where it’s often hard to tell where inspiration form his work is meant and where it’s subconscious.
Still, in honor of his birthday, it would be fun to look at some of the ways he inspired other artists. Some of them are fairly obvious, but many are surprising.
 
Harry Potter 
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Michael Gambon as Dumbledore is pictured on the left. Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey is pictured on the right.
One of the most famous examples of Tolkien’s influence is the Harry Potter series. Some of these influences are more obvious; a wizened old magician helping to guide the protagonist on their journey, an object of power that has dark magic that affects the behavior of those near it, a Dark Lord who seeks power and immortality, and on and on. Some of the similarities seem to be an accident but are still similarities regardless; the protagonist’s best friend being a lower class boy who enjoys food or a secondary villain being a long haired wizard who uses his position of power to do evil. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The similarities are numerous enough that a search for “similarities between lord of the rings and harry potter” gets over 500,000 hits. Whether any of these references are on purpose or not is anybody’s guess – including JKR. While she has stated that he was a bit of an inspiration, she’s a bit fuzzy on whether she purposefully pulled that much inspiration from Tolkien.
Interestingly enough, Ian McKellen was offered the role of Dumbledore after the original actor died. Even more amusing is the fact that Elijah Wood and Daniel Radcliffe have both spoken about how they’re often mixed up by fans.
Led Zeppelin
A number of songs written by the famous rock band include references to Lord of the Rings. The most notable references are in being “The Battle of Evermore” and “Ramble On.” “Ramble On” has the most obvious reference with lyrics like “but Gollum, and the evil one, crept up” and “‘Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor.” The Battle of Evermore does contain some obvious references as well. It discusses a dark lord, queen of light, dragons of darkness, and “ring wraiths ride in black.” The song also draws influence from Celtic music, and Tolkien based some of his cultures off of the Celts.
These aren’t the only songs that feature references although they are some of the most obvious ones. “Misty Mountain Hop” is a reference to the Misty Mountains that Bilbo travels to. Fans speculate that “Over the Hills and Far Away” references Sam and Frodo’s journey to Mordor throughout the books.
It’s no surprise to fans that the band draws influence from Tolkien so often. Robert Plant is a fan of Tolkien, even naming his dog after the character Strider. Jimmy Page, who writes most of the band’s lyrics, is a fan of magic and mythology, so many fans believe he has also read Tolkien.
A Song of Ice and Fire
Another obvious example of Tolkien influence is George RR Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. GRRM has stated that Tolkien influenced how he built up his world of magic. As GRRM explained, he ascribes to Tolkien’s feelings on how magic should be used sparingly so it stays magical. In Tolkien’s stories, people don’t use magic as if it is nothing. It happens in moments that make the magic seem amazing, such as Frodo’s healing after he is stabbed by a morgul blade or the rescue by the eagles. In a similar vein, ASoIaF turns into a story where magic is slowly coming back. First this appears as a dragon or direwolf cropping up here and there, to smaller acts of magic happening in isolated instances, all finally flowing into epic scale battles between dragons and wights.
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Pictured on the left are the eagles from The Hobbit soaring over mountains. Pictured on the right are Daenerys’ dragons in season 6 of the show, soaring over ships.
Of course, who can forget Sean Bean’s heartfelt performances as both Boromir of Gondor and Lord Eddard Stark? Or his very similar ends in both stories?
 
The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
The fourth installment in the popular video game The Elder Scrolls pulls inspiration and even gives a bit of a shout out to Tolkien fans. The game draws inspiration from Tolkien’s orcs, using much of his original design as inspiration for the Daedra. The other most notable reference is The White-Gold Tower that appears in the game, which bears a striking resemblance to Orthanc, the tower that Saruman sets up in during the series. Additionally, there are a number of Easter Eggs that appear as a nod to fans of both series.
The first and most obvious is a character in the game named Boromir. This is a reference not just to the character, but also to the fact that Sean Bean, who played Boromir in the movies, voices a character in the game. Another reference is a ring the player receives upon completion of a quest which has the the same inscription as the One Ring.
The third and most involved reference is a character mentioned in a manifest the player receives. The character, who was killed by a villain, is mentioned by name. A description of what he had on him when he was killed is given also. The character’s name is Oford Gabings, which is an anagram of Frodo Baggins. The items he was carrying are also a reference to items that Frodo carries throughout the series. They include a travel cloak with a silver and green leaf fastener, an enchanted shortsword with inlaid writing,  a golden ring with an inscription, and a leather bound travel journal. These are references to, in order, the cloak given to Frodo in Llothlorien, Frodo’s sword Sting, the One Ring, and Bilbo’s journal, which Frodo took with him.
 
The Dark Tower
The epic saga by Stephen King takes its inspiration from many places, including Tolkien. The science fiction western pulls the bulk of its inspiration from a poem by Robert Browning, but there is an important element that Stephen King has said comes from Tolkien: the use of a fictional language. Tolkien had been fascinated by language since he was a teenager and spent much of his past time inventing languages. It was an odd past time to be sure, but one he excelled at.
This invention of language was a skill he demonstrated much of in the writing of The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarrillion. Some of the languages he invented included Khuzdul, The Black Speech, Rohirric, Sindaran, Númenórean, Quenya, and dozens of others. In addition to inventing these languages, he also developed cultural backstories for the languages as well. This element of his writing, while not the first to ever exist, was the most involved and detailed example of it. The fascination with his language skills became so entrenched in fantasy that it’s expected for “artlangs” to be in contemporary fantasy. Stephen King, inspired by this, developed his own form of language for the world of Dark Tower called High Speech. He also took inspiration from Tolkien’s naming conventions, with his world being called Mid-World, in a similar fashion to Middle Earth.
written by: kassie