Oscars 2012: Why ‘The Ides Of March’ Deserved A Best Picture Nod

Nine films are nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards this year, begging the question: who deserved a tenth spot on that list? “Oscars 2012: 10 Spot” answers that question, as the MTV Movies team highlights some of 2011’s greatest films and argues why they deserved a nod as the tenth Best Picture nominee.

Though it was not received with the warmest reviews, “The Ides of March” deserved the tenth Best Picture nomination for the way it attempts to encapsulate the ins and outs modern political campaigns.

The common thread that runs through most of this year’s Best Picture nominees is nostalgia. Most of the films deal with the topic directly in subject matter or through the techniques by which the movie was made. With the focus of the year’s Best Picture race looking so predominantly to the past, a movie that deals specifically with the challenges and problems of contemporary society could have livened up a rather stale category.

The film’s trailers and ads colored “The Ides of March” as a political thriller, but near the end, you begin to realize just how much of a character study it is, a surprising fact considering the star-studded cast. Ryan Gosling owns the spotlight as Stephen Meyers, a young and idealistic assistant campaign manager.

And as with all idealistic characters in modern dramas, Stephen’s arch may feel a little predictable (a common criticism from reviews) but the way he descends from his principled starting point makes a powerful statement about “acceptable” political compromises.

Aside from Gosling’s performance, the nominated screenplay is the standout here. The smart writing never condescends and takes an honest and cynical position on the work the main characters do. You don’t have to be politically savvy to understand what’s happening and when, but you’ll feel smarter every step of the way.

Instead of the easy accessible and occasionally trite nominees filling the category this year, “The Ides of March” doesn’t delineate its characters or their actions into good and evil. There is no Bryce Dallas Howard character, who’s just so easy to hate and do so uncompromisingly.

Here, everyone has flaws and inches closer to the corrupt bastard they’re trying to fight as the movie goes on. It’s an easy movie to follow and understand, but just a small amount of ambiguity separates it that much from the other nominees and helps it stand out as deserving of a nomination.

The MTV Movies team has the 2012 Oscars covered! Stick with us for everything you need to know leading up to the awards show, and on Sunday, February 25, tune into MTV.com at 5:30 p.m. ET for our three-hour red-carpet live stream and updates on the night’s big winners.