Forget last Sunday. Who's going to win Best Picture in 2013? Tackle that, Answer B!tch!
—Gary R., via the inbox
From the sheer number of stately British actors who have movies slated for this year, 2013's Oscar telecast is already looking ridiculously competitive. But I can tell you who's most likely to succeed. Here's my totally accurate and authoritative list on what will make the short list. Feel free to place your bets now...
Here's the short list:
Why it's a contender: Because it has death, unrequited love, amazing costumes and a grand statement on the nouveau riche existence.
Why it won't win: It has Leo in it. Then again, The Departed did take the big enchilada in 2007.
In which a redheaded Pixar princess wields a bow and overcomes a curse upon her people, all while being animated and Scottish.
Why it's a contender: Because Pixar is always a contender, is why. Because Hollywood makes much fewer quality animated films than live action ones.
Why it'll win: Well, it'll win Best Animated Feature anyway.
In which our stovepipe-hatted president saves the Union.
Why it's a contender: Because Stephen Spielberg directed it. Because it has an old-timey president in it, and that president is played by Daniel Day Lewis. Because it has a war in it. Because Jared Harris, the son of legendary actor Richard Harris, plays Ulysses S. Grant. Because John Hawkes is in it. Because we will probably be treated to Daniel Day Lewis reciting the Gettysburg Address.
Why it's a contender: Because it's by the same people who won Best Picture for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Because if you hate The Hobbit you are an orc of a human being who deserves to have your Academy membership revoked.
Why it won't win: It has wizards in it. "One of the problems is that genre films generally do not win Oscars," notes Rob Weiner, associate humanities librarian and popular culture expert at Texas Tech University Libraries. "It's not like the dramas and melodramas that the Academy generally rewards."
Why it's a contender: Because Oscar loves a musical. Well, it loves to nominate a musical, even if it doesn't reward the musical with Best Picture. Because if nothing else, it will mean plenty of nominations for the actors.
The Secret World of Arrietty
In which Hayao Miyazaki's hallowed production house presents its version of the classic children's book The Borrowers.
Why it's a contender: Miyazaki's studio has been blessed by Oscar before, having won Best Animated Feature for the fabulous Spirited Away.
Why it may not win: "Arrietty doesn't have the charm of Spirited Away," Weiner notes, "but it's certainly better than a lot of animated films out there. It's very tough to compete with Pixar, but you never know."
Why it's a contender: Nolan's previous two Batman flicks (and his Inception) were arguably robbed of some Oscars, and the Academy has been known to pay back debts at the tail end of high-profile, prestige franchises. (Hello, Lord of the Rings trilogy, we're looking at you.) And a cast that includes Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Liam Neeson is almost a lock for a couple of nominations.
Life of Pi
In which Tobey Maguire makes a comeback, on a life raft, accompanied by a tiger, a hyena, a zebra and an orangutan.
Why it's a contender: Because the book was hugely popular.
In which Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane and The Girl Who Played Lucrezia Borgia all conspire to bring yet another adaptation of another Dickens classic to the big screen.
Why it's a contender: Because, two words: British people.