Best Picture 2011: The Final Five

My third write-up in my Best Picture: Final Five series brings us to 2011. As a reminder, the concept is fairly simple. After 2008, the Academy wanted to broaden the amount of nominees in the big race beyond a set five. For 2009 and 2010, that number was a firm 10.

However, in 2011, the rules changed so that there could be anywhere from 5-10 BP contenders. Until the Academy reverted back to 10 definite hopefuls last year, that number fluctuated between 8-9. For the inaugural year with the changeup, it was 9.

This post series engages in revisionist and speculative history. What if the rule of five BP nominees had never been altered? What would’ve made the cut? What would wind up on the cutting room floor? In 2011, we know it would’ve included the winner – Michel Havanavicius’s French black and white silent dramedy The Artist. 

What else? Let’s consider the other eight one by one…

The Descendants 

Alexander Payne’s works had received Academy attention before with 2002’s About Schmidt and 2004’s Sideways. This George Clooney led dramedy nabbed four additional mentions for its star, director, editing, and adapted screenplay – where it won.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The screenplay victory and inclusion in key races such as directing and editing seal the deal.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The rare BP nominee that received only one other nod – Max Von Sydow in Supporting Actor. This was, to be kind, a unique and unexpected nod as Stephen Daldry’s 9/11 themed drama with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock managed just a 45% Rotten Tomatoes rating as well as subpar box office.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. The fact that it made the final 9 is still pretty shocking and is widely considered an underserving inclusion.

The Help

Based on a huge bestseller, Tate Taylor’s The Help was beloved by audiences to the tune of $169 million at the box office. Beyond Picture, it received three other nods: Actress (Viola Davis), Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain), and another Supporting Actress nod and win for Octavia Spencer.

Does It Make the Final Five?

It’s awfully tempting to say yes given its popularity, but no. I’d feel more comfortable putting it in the final five had it nabbed a screenplay or editing or directing nod (even just one of them).

Hugo

Martin Scorsese’s family adventure garnered the most nominations on Oscar night (11), one more than The Artist. That includes Director, Adapted Screenplay, Score, Costume Design, Editing, and wins for its Sound Editing and Mixing, Art Direction, Cinematography, and Costume Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes and quite easily with that impressive haul.

Midnight in Paris

This was a critical and commercial comeback for Woody Allen and it won Original Screenplay with additional nods for Allen’s direction and the art direction.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. While he’s basically blackballed from Hollywood in 2022, it was a different story 11 years ago for Allen and the Academy would’ve rewarded him for this return to form.

Moneyball

Bennett Miller followed up Capote with this acclaimed baseball drama that received five additional nominations – Actor (Brad Pitt), Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), Adapted Screenplay, Sound Mixing, and Editing. It ended up going 0 for 6.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. As I’ve explained before, Picture and Director rarely matched 5/5 before 2009. This is my pick for the BP nominee where the filmmaker didn’t make the cut.

The Tree of Life

Terrence Malick’s arty and ambitious saga served as a comeback for the legendary auteur. In addition to BP, Malick was in the quintet for his direction as was the cinematography.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. It’s not out of the question that it might’ve, but its minimal two other nods cause doubt.

War Horse

Steven Spielberg’s equine related battle flick is one of his least discussed BP contenders, but it did gallop into contention with five other mentions for Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Art Direction, and Cinematography.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Even with the pedigree, missing Editing and Screenplay is a typically dependable telltale sign.

So that means my final five from 2011 consists of:

The Artist

The Descendants

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

Moneyball 

My take on 2012 will be available in short order!

My entries for 2009 and 2010 can be found here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

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