Awards Analysis: Les Miserables vs. Lincoln vs. Argo vs. Silver Linings Playbook

Some major changes in the Awards race have been happening this weekend. Friday,  Les Miserables was screened to a New York audience, then again to a Los Angeles audience on Saturday. Also, Zero Dark Thirty has been screened to some critics and is currently being screened today. Update: Zero Dark Thirty is still receiving reactions, but so far it is being met with praise; not to the same scale as Les Miserables though.

Why are these December releases being screened now? It’s simply because the National Board of Review, New York Film Critics and Los Angeles Film Critics will be picking their best of the years soon; and while a film doesn’t have to be in contention for these, the momentum that can be built up toward the top Oscar prize. This is very helpful especially in a season as jam-packed with quality films as this one.

Django Unchained and The Hobbit do not have a set date on their screenings yet. Word is that they are both not done yet. If they aren’t considered for the NBR, NYFCC, or LAFC it could hurt their chances at Oscar glory; unless they turn out to be more mind-blowing fantastic then currently predicted.

This time of year I read a lot of award-based blogs such as Awards Daily, Scott Feinberg, Incontention by Kris Tapley, Gold Derby, ect. These blogsites are very useful when it comes to Oscar news. Even though some of the pundits, or Oscarologists, can have biases toward a particular film. So take everything with a grain of salt and look at things from an objective perspective if you are trying to predict this year’s game.

Anyways, if you are following this stuff by now realize that Les Miserables blew away audiences in LA and New York. These audiences consist mostly of SAG members and film critics. There was talk of tears and standing ovations at the screenings, which can be kind of scary. Fans of the musical (like myself) are joyous to the fact that the film adaptation is doing so well. The scary thing is that in such a packed Oscar season Les Miserables could become the over-rated film.

Luckily we do have the occasional “hater” here or there for the film. Which is good. I try to watch my personal bias toward the film, considering I have not seen it. I loved the musical so much that it drove me to tears. It’s interesting to see people’s reactions who haven’t seen or have any relation to the musical. As a fan of the musical I am more than ever excited for this film because of its successes.

So what does Les Miserables’s successes mean for the Oscar race? Before this month the big film was Argo earning a higher-than-expected box office along with some insanely high praise. I saw the film recently and loved it, the pacing and execution are flawless. However, momentum slowed down for Argo with the release of arguably Spielberg’s best film since Saving Private Ryan. Lincoln is a fantastic movie, I had the pleasure of seeing it last month at an advanced screening. The screenplay was entertaining comedically and intellectually; along with a dream team ensemble and arguably Daniel Day-Lewis’s best performance, well, ever.

It was of no surprise that critics took to Lincoln as much as I did when it finally released last week. It was surprising, and still is, how much revenue the film is taking in. Audiences are loving it. Critics loved it, so there was a momentum shift from Argo to Lincoln. 

Now with Lincoln’s momentum still hanging around it was announced that “Hey, that film from that Oscar winning director two years back, yeah, it’s pretty incredible.” It was predicted that Les Miserables would be heavy competition, and it must’ve been satisfactory to those Oscarologists predicting that it be a heavy contender that the film received such high praise.

So what now? Unfortunately the news of Les Miserables’s successful screening will probably only reach people who are highly anticipating the film and people who want to predict the award season outcomes. It has been reaffirmed that Anne Hathaway is the woman to beat for best supporting actress and that Eddie Redmayne may be the one to beat for supporting actor. Also, Hugh Jackman is now a  major possibility to squeeze into the crowded best actor race and knock out Denzel Washington, Joaquin Phoenix or John Hawkes. Unfortunately, I think it’ll be damn near impossible to beat Lewis in this category.

It was noted before that if the film continues with its praise and Universal dishes out the FYC ads as well as they’ve been advertising the film, this will become the front-running Oscar juggernaut.

When Silver Linings Playbook was first screened it was said to be the one to beat. I loved the film, probably even more so than Argo. But there is no longer any momentum for it, well there is, but it’s very little. It will benefit from having The Weinstein Company behind it (the last two Oscar winners were from them.)

So at this point I’d say Les Miserables is becoming our front-runner, but Lincoln is really not far off. Warner Brothers will have to find a way to bring the momentum back for Argo as it sits in third place with Silver Linings Playbook at fourth as we wait for The Weinsteins to draw more attention to it. However, my theory is TWC isn’t bring much attention to Silver Linings because they have a ton of faith for Django Unchained. 

Unseen so far is Django Unchained and The HobbitZero Dark Thirty is being seen today and has already had a couple rave reviews, one saying it blows Argo out of the water. I’d place it comfortably behind Silver Linings Playbook  at this point.

Your thoughts?