This time next week, Oscar nominees will know their fate, whether they've tearfully brandished a statuette and spoken over the music, or whether they've had to test their best losing smile. Ahead of Sunday's ceremony, here's a quick review of who's up for Best Picture, so you can cast your vote below, before seeing how your favourite fares on the night.
The first three (in alphabetical order to avoid any hint of bias) as follows:
Michael Haneke's intimate study of love in old age has already collected awards, most significantly the BAFTA Best Actress gong for 85-year-old Emanuelle Riva. She is the oldest ever nominee for the Oscars, but Haneke has already pocketed the Palme d'Or for this unflinching study of what remains when glamour, lust and youth are long gone. What remains? Esteemed critic Roger Ebert has saluted that "a film like "Amour" has a lesson for us that only the cinema can teach: the cinema, with its heedless ability to leap across time and transcend lives and dramatize what it means to be a member of humankind's eternal audience". (Read his full review here). And the better news is that Haneke has got a double bite at this particular apple, with 'Amour' nominated in the Best Foreign Film category to boot.
VOTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE FOR BEST PICTURE BELOW
This film has got everything required to make Hollywood stand up and vote for it, namely, that it tells the TRUE story (the Academy likes that) of Americans behaving WELL (ditto), as CIA agents conspire to bring home US Embassy workers cooped up in hiding in Iran post-Revolution. PLUS, it casts Tinseltown in a positive, intrepid light too, with scene-stealers John Goodman and Alan Arkin chewing it up as two old towners intent on one last great production.
PLUS, if it needed one, as Mark Wahlberg pointed out to HuffPost UK, everyone's up in arms that director Ben Affleck missed out on a nomination in his category, so they could all put their angry votes to good use in the Best Picture category instead (sort of the opposite to losing out due to a split vote, a la Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, BOTH nominated for Thelma and Louise, both lost). This underdog trick has worked a treat thus far - the film's cleaned up throughout Awards Season and is now the one to beat. We must be prepared for Ben Affleck and fellow producer George Clooney to take to the stage, symmetrically bearded, looking very much like a Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese for the 21st century. (Read our review of 'Argo' here.)
Beasts of the Southern Wild:
Forget any 'Argo' wildcard nonsense, this really is the Academy's curveball option. Benh Zeitlin's magically real fable tells the simple tale of Hushpuppy and her ailing father, left stranded by floods on the poverty-stricken delta. They didn't have much before in their ramshackle bayou community, now they really have nothing - except, of course, each other. And, at the other end of the spectrum from 'Amour', this film boasts the unforgettable performance of youngest-ever Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (now aged all of nine), a force of nature with her wild hair, cherubic face, sweet wellies and indomitable spirit, whether dancing with strange, seductive spirits or facing down ancient aurochs.