The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented its best picture Oscar this year on March 2 — almost six months after many pundits, with varying degrees of certainty, had named the harrowing, historical drama
You can chalk up the lengthy time lag partly to the media's impulse to be the first to plant the Flag of Prediction and claim the call in the name of all that is good and holy and click-bait worthy. Half measures are frowned upon these days. Besides, given the absurd length of the awards season, who will remember if you're wrong on
The motive behind instantly defining the race can be easily understood. The last four best picture Oscar winners —
Audience members clapped in unison while "Roll, Jordan, Roll" played over the movie's end credits. And in Toronto, the cheering that greeted McQueen, writer John Ridley and the movie's fine cast —
But still ... don't you want to digest the entirety of the year's offerings (not to mention the burgers you ate at your Labor Day barbecue) before engraving your Oscar winners in stone? When
The good news (at least for those who don't immediately turn to the final page of a book after buying it) is that the Telluride-Toronto two-step will likely go out of fashion this year. For one thing, with Toronto artistic director Cameron Bailey relegating any films that premiere at Telluride to Toronto's less-attended second weekend, not as many movies are playing both spots this year. And those that are — Bennett Miller's warped character study "Foxcatcher,"
And though we can expect to hear much more about all of those, the best picture contenders will likely include two brilliant titles from earlier in the year,
In fact, it's entirely possible that the majority of this year's best picture field could come from movies arriving in theaters in December. Along with the aforementioned "Wild" and "Inherent Vice," the Christmas season includes such prestige entries as "Unbroken" (the Louis Zamperini biopic directed by
The upshot: There are no September reservations this year. At least in the best picture race. But Michael Keaton has the lead actor Oscar sewn up for his meta-turn in "Birdman," playing a former A-lister best known for portraying a famous superhero. ("I'm Birdman").