It’s Show Business, Not Show Art

Susan Granger offered her annual Oscar prognostications for Y’s Men on Thursday and Westport Sunrise Rotary on Friday. As a child of Hollywood, a widely syndicated critic with a Rolodex every movie fan has to envy – and the strength to view the better part of 400 movies every year – Ms. Granger offered an insider’s prediction of winners of the major awards (and this is written – purposefully – before Sunday’s award show).

The Oscars are selected by the 6,028 members of of the Motion Picture Academy Arts and Science’s 24 branches. Members nominate finalists for their branch – acting Oscar nominees are selected only by fellow actors, while the entire Academy selects the winners.

What began as a 1927 “publicity stunt”by 36 industry leaders to promote their young industry by giving each other awards has become a glitzy global spectacular and the pinnacle of the U.S. award season.

“This has been a wonderful year at the movies”Granger said and told both groups she was not going to pick winners – “If I knew who winners will be, I’d be in Vegas!” Instead, she predicted who she thought the Academy would choose.

The biggest surprise will come at the end, Best Picture. It will be “the tightest race I’ve seen,”between “the con artist dramody”American Hustlethe outer space survival saga Gravityand the historical drama12 Years a Slave. It’s tough.”

Why so tight? Gravity and 12 Years a Slave tied for top honors at the Producers Guild – a highly unlikely outcome in the full Academy. She looks to guild choices because each honors the best work of its members. And the PGA choice has predicted the winner the last six years.

“We’ve had a remarkable number of films chronicling the black experience in America this year,”including The Butler, Long Walk to Freedom and Fruitvale Station. She predicted 12 Years a Slave will win – “though I would have voted for Gravity.”It was well done, but “Roots did it better, and Gravity broke more ground.”

Granger believes the Oscar for Best Directing will go to Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity, though this is another tough call.  He spent more than four years developing the cinematography and special effects technology. “It’s a visionarily incredible film.”

See it. But “I beg you to see this in 3D or IMAX…it’s the closest we’ll get to being in outer space.”

Though it could also be Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave. No, not that Steve McQueen.  This one is British, he’s black, and he doesn’t ride a motorcycle.

Dallas Buyers Club gets a twofer. Matthew McConaughey is a “slam dunk”for Best Actor, Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor. Their performances are “amazing.”McConaughey lost 40 pounds for his role, and looks “ghastly.”Leto is a transgender woman, “he’s not recognizable.”

Best Actress is a “very, vey interesting category this year.”Till recently Kate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine was the favorite, playing a “disgraced socialite.”Woody Allen fictionalized the story of Ruth Madoff, and Blanchett gave an “absolutely brilliant performance.”Then Mia Farrow attacked. Venomously.

But the Academy has long drawn a line between “artistic achievement and personal behavior.”Think Roman Polanski, Best Director for The Pianist in 2003.

“My prediction and my great hope is that it will be Kate Blanchett because she deserves it.”But if Farrow’s campaign succeeds, Amy Adams in American Hustle, may. “She’s terrific.”

For Best Supporting Actress, Lupita Nyong’o, in12 Years a Slave. “I believe she’s going to win…she was wonderful.”

To read a complete list of Granger’s predictions – and see how accurately she called the winners, click to

Movie making is “show business, not show art” Granger told Y’s Men. It is a business, business drives art, and money drives the business. It’s nominees who “play the game”who best position themselves to win. Harvey Weinstein became the first master when he turned a long shot, Shakespeare in Love, into Best Picture in 1999 over the more highly regarded Saving Private Ryan by promoting it often, everywhere and lavishly. What was new then is the norm today.