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||| Frank Capra |||
Frank Capra

It goes without saying that Capra is one of the greatest and most beloved directors of all time, especially renowned for his madcap romantic comedies. He is one of the few directors who ever managed to balance whimsy with meaningfulness without loosing the ability to entertain.

Only Frank Capra, with his light hand and good sense of allowing the actors to be their roles, could carry off this tale of a naive average American used by an unscrupulous politician through a nationwide goodwill drive. No one was ever better at having strong yet vulnerable women not only aid, but often come to the rescue, of the leading man.

Frank Capra's final film is a hilarious translation of a Damon Runyon tale set in 1930s New York, as gangster Glenn Ford repays street peddler Bette Davis for her "good luck" apples by passing her off as a well-to-do society lady for her visiting daughter (Ann-Margret in her film debut). This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable remake of his own 1933 "Lady for a Day" is a beautiful swan song to a master storyteller. Widescreen!

In this black comedy about two sweet old ladies whose basement holds a murderously funny secret, Capra utilizes star Cary Grant to his zany, patented “double take” best. Capra’s brilliance in comic casting is demonstrated with such reliable character actors as Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre and Jack Carson who manage to play their parts to the hilt without chewing up the scenery.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Oscar Handicap 2013: Best Picture of the Year

By EdwardHavens

February 19th, 2013

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

Oscar Handicap 2013: Best Picture of the Year

We took a look many of the major categories over the past 34 ceremonies (for the films of 1979 through 2011), and found some surprising mathematical data, which may give some pause about who might win on February 24th.

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 Buster Posey hits with men in scoring position, with less than two outs, at AT&T Park, 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 Lincoln has the best chance to win Best Picture, and those who think Argo has the momentum. 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 33 of the past 34 ceremonies (97.06%). Advantage: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook
2) Movies with nominated screenplays have won 33 of 34 (97.06%). Advantage: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
3) Films nominated for Best Editing have won for Best Picture 33 of 34 (97.06%). Advantage: Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
4) Films with at least five other nominations have won Best Picture 75 of the 84 previous Oscar ceremonies (89.29%). Advantage: Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook
5) Best Picture winners have had at least one acting nomination 30 of 34 (88.24%). Advantage: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
6) Movies with a screenplay nominated by the WGA have won Best Picture 28 of 34 (82.35%). Advantage: Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
7) Best Picture winners have lined up with the winner of the Directors Guild's Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Award 27 of 34 (78.79%). Advantage: Argo
8) The Best Picture winner has also won the PGA Golden Laurel Award 17 of the 23 times the latter award has been presented (73.91%). Advantage: Argo
9) The winner of Best Picture was released in theatres after September 30th 25 of 34 (73.53%). Advantage: Amour, Argo, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
10) Stories not predominantly set in the past thirty years have won 23 of 34 (67.65%). Advantage: Argo, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln
11) Pictures that have received the Golden Globe for drama have won 19 of 33 (57.58%). Advantage: Argo

By The Numbers
Argo has won so many awards recently, some might want to throw up their hands and scream "Argofuckyourself!," but don't be too surprised if Lincoln's "better known" cast, "more traditional" storytelling structure and "more important" themes resonate stronger with the Academy's older voters.

"Amour" (Stefan Arndt, Margaret Menegoz, Veit Heiduschka and Michael Katz): +1, +2, -3, -4, +5, -6, -7, -8, +9, -10, -11 (191 of 481, 39.71%)
"Argo" (Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney): -1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, +7, +8, +9, +10, +11 (330 of 481, 68.61%)
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald): +1, +2, -3, -4, +5, -6, -7, -8, -9, -10, -11 (175 of 481, 36.38%)
"Django Unchained" (Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone): -1, +2, -3, -4, +5, -6, -7, -8, +9, +10, -11 (175 of 481, 36.38%)
"Les Miserables" (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh): -1, -2, -3, +4, +5, -6, -7, -8, +9, +10, 11 (205 of 481, 42.62%)
"Life of Pi" (Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark): +1, +2, +3, +4, -5, +6, -7, -8, +9, +10, -11 (293 of 481, 60.91%)
"Lincoln" (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, -7, -8, +9, +10, -11 (327 of 481, 67.98%)
"Silver Linings Playbook" (Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, -7, -8, +9, -10, -11 (311 of 481, 64.66%)
"Zero Dark Thirty" (Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison): -1, +2, +3, -4, +5, +6, -7, -8, +9, -10, -11 (217 of 481, 45.11%)


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