“Gravity” has fared a lot better than other movies of its genre when it comes to awards the season. We have seen it loads of times when a special effects heavy movie dazzles its audience but fails to get any luck when it comes to awards aside from technical categories. “Star Wars” or “Raiders of the Lost Ark” might be the first movies on the scene that received that acceptance but it seems that every year there is a film like that which stands out from the rest. “Aliens” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” “Jurassic Park” are all examples of films that impressed the critics enough but still fell short of top prizes. It seemed that it would always be that way until the final chapter of the “Lord of the Rings” saga grabbed the golden statue giving hope to films with more of a visual intent. After that win however, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or AMPAS decided that they had finally given their dues to the more visceral films and waited a few years before they finally began to take the seriously again. “Avatar” was the first of the bunch, and then came “Inception” then “Hugo” and then “Life of Pi”. All of them fell short ultimately and got defeated by films that fit the AMPAS’s formula all too well.
This year however the race seems to be at its closest. “Gravity” has taken everyone on a thrill ride of their lives and they have loved it. It has swept many awards in its wake and seems ready to take home some gold. Its competition of course is none other than the much safer choice for the AMPAS “12 Years a Slave” a period piece about the true story of a freed black man who gets kidnapped and sold back into slavery. It is easy to see the appeal of the film to the AMPAS as it has everything they look for in a film and it would seem that it has the upper hand in taking the big prize but “Gravity” has many tricks up its sleeve that give it many advantages over “12 Years a Slave”.
First, “Gravity” relies much more on its director to deliver the experience than “12 Years a Slave” and if one thing is sure, based on historical precedence, it is that the AMPAS considers the director the driving force behind a film. Most of the time, the film that wins best picture also wins best director and there is nothing to suggest that “Gravity” won’t win that prize.
Another way “Gravity” has edge is the box office receipts it gathered. Gravity was a great success with the box office which means more voters have probably seen it. I am sure that a good chunk of the AMPAS have seen “12 Years a Slave” since it didn’t fair so bad in that aspect either but comparatively “Gravity” made over five times the money “12 Years a Slave” did.
And then of course is the idea that it is time for a viscerally entertaining film to win. This just might be the film they have been waiting for since 2003 when “Return of the King” was released. It certainly seems like it is. It has more overall nominations which could indicate a better liking of the film. You could say that it only has more nominations because of its technical categories but really the only category “12 Years a Slave” is not eligible for is visual effects, everything else could have been in its nominations like sound or cinematography but “Gravity” made too good of an impression on the voters to leave any room for the slaver film. Also this might be a huge stretch but it is technically correct to say that “Gravity” has a better record with its acting nominations since half of them are nominated (Even though there are only two actors in the film).
In the end do I really think that “Gravity” will win the top prize? No but I bloody well hope it does. These are perhaps the thoughts of a hopeful fool but I just might get my surprise. My predictions of Oscar night can be found here, and since this contest is not vote based we will have a clear winner this time instead of one of us beating the other by 2 votes. Happy Oscar night everyone!