For the first time in what's probably been years, there is a serious amount of suspense heading into the Oscars night, and a lot of the drama is focused squarely on the Best Picture race.
Two films that would make two very different types of Best Picture winners could conceivably take the top prize, and there's a movie not far behind in terms of buzz.
Will "Gravity" or "12 Years a Slave" win it all, or does "American Hustle" have a chance to pull off the dark horse victory?
Who Will Win: "12 Years a Slave"
This is the one that's giving so many Oscar prognosticators a headache. Some are calling it the closest Best Picture race in years. What will win: the searing, honest portrayal of slavery or the technically stunning thrill ride? Since at some point everyone has to cast their vote, we're siding with "12 Years a Slave" to take the top prize, continuing the trend that started at the Golden Globes. "Gravity" will get its recognition in the Best Director category because of how technically impressive it is as a piece of work. "12 Years a Slave" plays more a capital-"f" Film, and there simply is no doubting its importance.
Who Should Win: "12 Years a Slave"
For the past few years at the Oscars, "Best Picture" has come to mean "Most Agreeable." The picks for the top prize have represented a common denominator, rather than highlighting a true cinematic achievement for the respectibe year. Steve McQueen and his cast have done something remarkable here. The story of Solomon Northup deserved to be told in an honest and appropriately brutal way. It's brave, compelling filmmaking from start to finish. And if the Academy wants to reestablish the relevance of calling something the Best Picture, that's the kind of work that needs to be honored.