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Pundits pipe in: 'Yes, "Inglourious Basterds" can pull off an Oscar upset'; 'No, "Basterds" will not win best picture'

February 17, 2010 |  2:41 pm

Gold Derby asked other Oscarologists if they think "Inglourious Basterds" can pull off an upset for best picture over "The Hurt Locker" and "Avatar," as I believe will happen and Jack Mathews (Moviefone) says is quite possible. Read our overview here. Below, a few immediate responses. See more in this separate post.

PETE HAMMOND, NOTES ON A SEASON, THE ENVELOPE: Yes, "Inglourious Basterds" can pull off an upset because of the preferential voting and, interestingly enough, "The Hurt Locker" campaign team seems more concerned about "Basterds" than "Avatar." That's the vibe I've gotten over the past week. "The Hurt Locker" is the front-runner, but Harvey's done it before and there's something to the Oscar theory that the movie that wins the SAG ensemble award can pull off an upset like "Shakespeare in Love" and "Crash." There's also something to the fact that, if "The Hurt Locker" wins, it will be the lowest-grossing movie ever to do so.

Oscars best picture upset 2

SUSAN WLOSZCZYNA, USA TODAY: I still think "The Hurt Locker" will win best picture. It affected me like few others this year. But I also believe that if any film has a chance to pull an upset, it's going to be "Basterds" and not "Avatar." For one, it amuses me to have a misspelled title winning best picture. For another, I keep hearing people say how much they like it -- more than I did when it opened last summer. The fact that the ensemble won the SAG honor was impressive too. It bugged me that, like all Quentin Tarantino flicks, it was much more talk than action and what action there was usually involved a knife slicing into a head. But actors love those Tarantino monologues that often turn into career builders -- which is the case with Christoph Waltz.  Will he be the first acting winner in history to speak German, Italian, French and English in one movie?

And with the preferential voting, it could frequently be a No. 2 or 3 choice on ballots. Which might give it a boost over a film that would get more top spots.

So, yes, it could happen. But I just don't think so. Plus, "Shakespeare in Love" peaked right as the Oscars were happening while "Saving Private Ryan" was a summer release. Now people are playing catch-up with "The Hurt Locker" on DVD and video on demand. Whereas many more moviegoers saw "Basterds" when it came out in the summer. 

Ultimately, if either film won, I would be happy and either way it will make for a very cool moment on the telecast.

STEVE POND, THE ODDS, THE WRAP: I know that it's foolish to underestimate Harvey.  That said, I think his theory that the preferential ballot is going to propel "Basterds" to victory is no more feasible than your last scenario, in which the film was going to sweep to Oscar glory on the heels of a DGA win for Tarantino. 

I don't buy the idea that the actors branch is a monolithic group that's going to go for "Basterds" en masse.  And I think the preferential system will help "Hurt Locker" more than it'll help "Basterds," which is hardly a consensus kind of movie. 

I'm sticking with "Hurt Locker."

SASHA STONE, AWARDSDAILY: Well, let's put it this way.  If there weren't preferential balloting, "Inglourious Basterds" wouldn't really have a shot. Nonpreferential balloting might mean an "Avatar" win, like "Chicago" or "Gladiator" -- a robust best picture moneymaker that had acting wins but not director or writer.  But with the preferential balloting, "Basterds" has a better chance at winning. In looking over academy history, "Precious," "Up in the Air" and "Basterds" all have a better chance than "Avatar," since no film has won best pic since the early '30s that didn't have a corresponding writing and/or acting nomination.  "Avatar" has neither.

The way I look at it is that there might be a three-way split. Figuring out which of the three will draw votes from the front-runner could be your winner in a preferential balloting system.  But first you have to figure out why they wouldn't vote for the one that currently has all of the heat, because a vote for any other film counts as an anti-vote. So you have to figure out those reasons first. "I just didn't like it."  "It didn't make enough money." Or, more likely, "I liked this other one better."

So if "Basterds" is the kind of film that "Avatar" voters choose instead, that could give it the edge over "The Hurt Locker."  But I also see that there are eight other nominees pulling votes from "Basterds" and from the front-runner. I personally believe that "The Hurt Locker" is the best film of the three and therefore will win because of that reason rather than any sort of political reason, historical reason or economic reason. Like "The Departed" and "No Country" and "Slumdog Millionaire," "The Hurt Locker" is the perfect balance of great writing, directing and acting -- there isn't a weak link anywhere to be found.

So you have to ask yourself: Why would "The Hurt Locker" lose?  It could lose because people are sick of it winning everything, and it could lose because of the money. Mainly, the money is what prevents people from believing it is as strong a front-runner as "No Country for Old Men" or "Slumdog Millionaire." I don't know if voters look at their ballot and think, "Oh, I loved 'The Hurt Locker' but it didn't make any money so I'll vote for this one that did."  I'm not sure they think that way.  I have always believed that they vote with their heart. 

Whatever you come up with as the main reason "The Hurt Locker" will lose, balance that up against the thrill of seeing history be made at last at the Oscars (a la "The Departed" with Scorsese finally winning).  If a film is strong enough to overcome "The Hurt Locker" being the best movie, and its historic relevance that will be your winner.  I personally think "Precious" and "The Blind Side" are bigger threats than "Inglourious Basterds" because they are weepies. And we know the academy loves them some weepies.

Still, I feel like they could name any movie at the end and I wouldn't be too surprised.   I can actually picture Jack Nicholson standing there and reading any of the titles, from "Avatar" to "Inglourious Basterds" to "Precious" to "The Hurt Locker."  I can honestly say I have no idea what film will win.

JEFF WELLS, HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE: I'll always be in awe of Harvey Weinstein's chutzpah, but "Inglourious Basterds" isn't going to win the best picture Oscar. How do I know this? I don't, not for certain. In fact, I don't know …. But I do know that the season has been dragging on and that entertainment journalists are getting bored and need to come up with scenarios that allow for some variation of the c.w. -- i.e., the winner will be either "Avatar" or "The Hurt Locker."

I'm also sensing that the Movie Godz, the aspirational angels of our nature, are feeling a wee bit antsy as we speak and have taken to hovering like Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander in "Wings of Desire" and intimating/whispering "don't...don't do this...not the baseball-bat movie ... think of how you'll feel the next morning ….

When O'Neil predicted a "Basterds" win last November I wrote, "Trust me -- it'll never happen." This morning he notes that "Mathews is saying it really might happen and I still say it will." I'm fine with all this crap. The fever dream of a three-way race is better than an either-or. Without it things would be fairly flat, and we still have 2 1/2 weeks to go.

Read more – Jeff's full post here.


Beware: Here comes an 'Inglourious' upset at the Oscars

More pundits dish: Can 'Inglourious Basterds' pull off an Oscar upset for best picture?

Gold Derby fends off nuclear response to our 'Inglourious Basterds' prediction

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