I hoped it wouldn’t happen, but it did.Alphonso Cuaron, the director of “Gravity,” won the very important DGA award last night in Hollywood. Over Steve McQueen’s greater achievement IMHO “12 Years a Slave.” Usually that means a lot but in this split, competitive Year of Years, it may mean that the effects-laden Sci Fi thriller MAY win best director at the Oscars, more than a month away in March. But still not win Best Picture, which would go to “12 Years a Slave.” I have to note that these two titans of filmdom have been duking it out since Toronto, which I find ironic. It’s like if you don’t open at TIFF, fawgedabawdit. And that’s also where I first saw the both of them, in unforgettable screenings at TIFF’13.
Those are five VERY long weeks from now, and the ballots don’t go out to the AMPAS voters for quite a while yet, in Oscar terms, that’s dog years away. And it gives the Academy time to THINK. No. It really does. There’s no impulse, knee-jerk voting going to happen this year, with the Sochi Olympics taking up more TV time than ever. Between this last big gasp from the Industry’s usually all-important guilds, and the receiving of their ballots in the mail and now online, too around President’s Day Weekend. That’s a long, cold Oscar March until March when the Awards are actually handed out.
Now granted “Gravity” is an astounding technical feat, and will probably win all the technical awards, maybe even as many as seven from the below-the-line categories. But maybe it won’t. And instead of rewarding the one woman in this astounding visual tour-de-force, Sandra Bullock, award after award has been going to the amiable Mexican director Cuaron. And now this.
That’s a lot of Oscars right there. But not one for Sandra it seems. Best Actress is going to Cate Blanchett who is the lock of locks in that category for Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.”
So even if Cuaron DOES win Best Director, voters may feel that “Gravity” has had enough already and give the top prize to “12 Years a Slave.” So there’s that SPLIT again. Which certainly looks like it could happen.
It happened at the Golden Globes where “12 YAS” won Best Picture and “Gravity” got Best Director. Ditto the Broadcast Film Critics awards. Then the TIE vote from the usually authoritative PGA, the Producer’s Guild, between “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave.”
But “Gravity” for all it’s technical wonders is an actors nightmare. If this is the future, “Gravity” shows them that there is only ONE actor in it.
Huge epic blockbusters may get close, but they don’t usually win. See “E.T.” v “Gandhi” back in the day. I was always plunking for “Gandhi” even then.(Yes, I’ve been doing Oscar prognosticating THAT long!) or more recently the tiny “Hurt Locker” defeating the huge mega-millions jackpot that was “Avatar” although “THL” won Best Director AND Best Film, for the first time ever woman director winner Kathryn Bigelow over her big bully of an ex, who nobody liked anyway, James Cameron.
This year, I’m still betting that this proLONGed break between now and the voting gives people time to think “Which is REALLY the more important film?” which is in their parlance “An Academy film?” And you’ve got to admit, “Gravity has NO gravitas.
But “12 Years a Slave” does, in spades. Serious social history writ large, taking on the most challenging issue in American history, race, in terms of the worst atrocity Americans have ever perpetuated on other Americans = slavery. And doing it brilliantly on every level.
And oh yes, BAFTA happens in the middle of this prolonged Month of Oscar Silence, where, I predict “12 Years” will win EVERYTHING it’s nominated for, including Best Director, Steve McQueen, whom we must not forget is British.
And a respected fine artist there in the U.K. before he turned into a master film-maker.
Also, nominated there are Chiwetel Ejiofor for Best Actor and Michael Fassbender for Best Supporting Actor, and last but not least, Lupita Nyong’O who is now the front-runner for Best Supporting Actress.
So basically my take is the “Gravity”s Big Win is not going to change things much at all. In the end.