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A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Hayao Miyazaki |||
Hayao Miyazaki

For bringing magic back to animation, and not just for kids.

Sweet story of two sisters out in the country, and their adventures with the forest spirits. The cat bus is so adorable, I still giggle thinking about it.

This one will really wow you, with its epic battle scenes and beautiful landscapes. There are conflicts on so many levels, as mankind seeks to wipe out the spirits of the forest.

By far my favorite animated film. Young Chihiro is "spirited away" to a different world, and becomes employed in the bathhouse of the gods in order to try and change her parents back from pigs.

Recommended by CassyHavens

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Oscar Handicap 2012: Best Picture of the Year

By EdwardHavens

February 25th, 2012

We begin (or conclude, depending on how you go about perusing) our ninth series of articles with the most important and prestigious award in all cinema.

Oscar Handicap 2012: Best Picture of the Year

We took a look many of the major categories over the past 33 ceremonies (for the films of 1979 through 2010), and found some surprising mathematical data, which may give some pause about who might win on February 26th.

Please note: These are not predictions on how the awards will turn out. Like in baseball, there are always more stats that could delve deeper into any category (like how well Ryan Braun hits with men in scoring position, with less than two outs, away his home stadium, during day games, against left handers, on artificial turf, when the count is 3-1, etc.), but these numbers are meant to entertain and start some interesting discussions about the nominees.

For clarification purposes, when there is mention of a pre-award favorite, this describes how this person won at least two of the top five pre-Oscar awards, between the Golden Globe for Drama, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review, the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle. Also, when there is mention of someone playing a real person, the character that actor played must not be a fictionalized version of a real person, such as with Cate Blanchett in I'm Not There or Joe Pesci in GoodFellas. Had Pesci won for Raging Bull, that would have counted. Joey LaMotta was a real person. But Tommy DeVito in GoodFellas was (allegedly) a fictionalized version of Lucchese family gangster Thomas DeSimone, and thus does not qualify for this category.

And now, on with the show...

There are basically two camps for Best Picture this year: those who think The Artist has the best chance to win Best Picture, and those who want anything else to win. Can we prove one camp is more on target than the other?

The Breakdowns:
1) Best Picture winners have come from movies whose directors were also nominated for Best Director 32 of the past 33 ceremonies (96.97%). Advantage: The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Tree of Life
2) Movies with nominated screenplays have won 32 of 33 (96.97%). Advantage: The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball
3) Films nominated for Best Editing have won for Best Picture 32 of 33 (96.97%). Advantage: The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo, Moneyball
4) Films with at least five other nominations have won Best Picture 74 of the 83 previous Oscar ceremonies (89.16%). Advantage: The Artist, Hugo, Moneyball, War Horse
5) Best Picture winners have had at least one acting nomination 29 of 33 (87.88%). Advantage: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Moneyball
6) Movies with a screenplay nominated by the WGA have won Best Picture 28 of 33 (84.85%). Advantage: The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball
7) The director of the Best Picture winner has also won the DGA Award 26 of 33 (78.79%). Advantage: The Artist
8) The winner of Best Picture was released after September 30th 24 of 33 (72.73%). Advantage: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Hugo, War Horse
9) The Best Picture winner has also won the PGA Golden Laurel 16 of the 22 times the latter award has been presented (72.73%). Advantage: The Artist
10) Stories not predominantly set in modern times have won 22 of 33 (66.67%). Advantage: The Artist, The Help, Hugo, The Tree of Life, War Horse
11) Pictures that have received the Golden Globe for drama have won 19 of 33 (57.58%). Advantage: The Descendants
12) Movies based on materials previously published or produced have won Best Picture 19 of 33 (57.58%). Advantage: The Help, Hugo, Moneyball, War Horse
Bonus) The winner of the SAG Ensemble Acting Award has won the Best Picture Oscar only 8 of the 16 times the latter award has been handed out (50%) Advantage: Nobody!

By The Numbers
The Artist has received more Best Picture awards this season than any other film, and there is no reason to suspect Sunday night will end any different. But if there is a spoiler, it should be Hugo.

The Artist (Thomas Langmann): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, +7, +8, +9, +10, -11, -12 (319 for 468, 68.16%)
The Descendants (Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor): +1, +2, +3, -4, +5, +6, -7, +8, -9, -10, +11, -12 (244 for 468, 52.14%)
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Scott Rudin): -1, -2, -3, -4, +5, -6, -7, +8, -9, -10, -11, -12 (124 for 468, 26.50%)
The Help (Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan): -1, -2, -3, -4, +5, +6, -7, -8, -9, +10, -11, +12 (146 for 468, 31.20%)
Hugo (Graham King and Martin Scorsese): +1, +2, +3, +4, -5, +6, -7, +8, -9. +10, -11, +12 (296 for 468, 63.25%)
Midnight in Paris (Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum): +1, +2, -3, -4, -5, +6, -7, -8, -9, -10, -11, -12 (169 for 468, 36.11%)
Moneyball (Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt): -1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, -7, -8, -9, -10, -11, +12 (264 for 468, 56.41%)
The Tree of Life (Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Dede Gardner and Grant Hill): +1, -2, -3, -4, -5, -6, -7, -8, -9, +10, -11, -12 (124 for 468, 26.50%)
War Horse (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy): -1, -2, -3, +4, -5, -6, -7, +8, -9, +10, -11, +12 (178 for 468m 38.03%)


All articles in this series:
Best Picture of the Year
Best Director
Best Actor and Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography
Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Feature
The Technical Categories