This article was written by Harry Hansford.
I’m a massive fan of the little independent hit Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) and I was truly surprised that the film got four Oscar nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, Best adapted Screenplay and Best Actress). After all, it came out so long ago and all Oscar buzz seemed to be forgotten. This independent film is the one truly great thing to happen to the otherwise quite boring and predictable Oscar season. This article will from here on champion Beasts of the Southern Wild, as I know this film is the underdog of all the films in award contention and honestly, I believe it should be a winner.
For those of you that haven’t yet seen Beasts of the Southern Wild do so NOW. Here is a little bit of information about the film so you can put into context the massive achievement this is. Behn Zetlin the director created the production. He used a small crew of professionals but also used local residents as crew. The actors were all unprofessional to the extent that the actor playing the dad of protagonist Hushpuppy was the man who ran the bakery opposite Zetlin’s studio. The film was independently financed by Zetlins own company Court 13 on a budget of 1.8 million US dollars and filmed on super 16mm film and based upon a friend’s one-act play. The film went on to be a run away success at film festivals where it got early Oscar buzz that had all but stopped by the time of the Oscar nominations.
This category is the most unlikely where Beasts will roam victorious; it’s up against giant films with giant directors and stars and giant studios behind them. Let’s start with the competition:
- A Warner bros film based upon a big American event, the 1979 Iran Hostage situation and two books about it The Master of Disguise and The Great Escape by Antonio J. Mendez and Joshua Bearman respectively.
- Produced by Hollywood golden boy George Clooney and starring and directed by Ben Affleck. Probably one of the favourites to win.
- Palme d’Or winning French film by award winning and critically acclaimed Australian filmmaker Michael Haneke who also wrote the original screenplay.
- However seems very unlikely to win as it is the only foreign film to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture and the academy rarely give the award to the same film, so it’s a safe bet Amour will walk away with the Best Foreign Language Film but not Best Picture.
- Oscar nominated writer and director Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is a massive Hollywood film that touches on the academy worthy subject of racism and is a throwback to westerns and blaxploitation films that his fan boys will love. An odd choice but the academy are known to love Tarantino and his producers The Weinstein Brothers and a film about a big American issues like slavery is a sure bet for a Oscar nod.
- The biggest British film of the year based upon the longest running West End and Broadway show ever. Starring massive talent such as Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Ann Hathaway, set in 19th Century France and directed by Oscar Winner Tom Hooper. This film was made with Oscars in mind.
LIFE OF PI
- Oscar winning director Ang Lee adapts one of the most successful books of recent times into a visually stunning movie for 20th Century Fox and the outcome is another film that was just destined for Oscar nominations.
- A film that just reeks of Oscars. Two time Oscar Winning Director and American Icon Steven Spielberg directs two time Oscar winning actor Daniel Day Lewis in a film based on the biography of American President and icon Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
- This film seems a shoe in to win the little golden man on the night. After all, the Academy love to celebrate America, they love to award war films, period films and films about tough subjects like racism. Come to think of it this will surely walk out with the Oscar.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
- Another film based upon a book directed by a former Oscar nominated director David O. Russell. About tough issues, this time mental health.
- An outside choice but too many see this as the favourite so the Academy can show they don’t always go with the obvious and they are happy to award younger generations of filmmakers.
ZERO DARK THIRTY
- Oscar winner Katherine Bigelow delivers another movie about a relevant war and the big American event of capturing Bin Laden, another film that seems to have been made just for the Academy. Also has a big chance of walking away with the gold statue at the end of the night.
As you can see, the films that are up against Beasts of the Southern Wild are all quite obvious choices that are heavy on ‘Oscar worthy subjects’. All apart from Django and Amour are based on either a book, an event or a play, and Django is highly influenced by many other films. While Beasts is also based upon a play, it is a little known play that was changed considerably. All the other films have a lot of money thrown into them and all star well known actors, even Life of Pi has well known French export Gérard Depardieu turn up.
So the Independent film starring no professional actors and based upon a little known play truly is the wild card addition by the Academy and the underdog. What a great achievement it is for the filmmakers to get their film recognised among such a group of Oscar-hunting films, and it truly deserves the recognition. Hopefully this magical film about a five year old girl trying to re-build her bohemian life after a natural tragedy whilst trying to find her mother, will cause the upsets of all upsets and win the biggest prize of them all on the biggest stage of them all. It truly is the most original and special film nominated.