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Best Picture Breakdown: Little Miss Sunshine

From now until the 2007 Oscars air this Sunday night, I'll be breaking down each Best Picture nominee and giving you the scoop on why certain movies might win and why others probably don't have a chance. Yesterday, we looked at Letters from Iwo Jima, and today's featured movie is Little Miss Sunshine.

This film is a classic case of an indie darling that became a surprise mainstream hit. The movie's heartwarming charm tinged with grim reality makes it hard to resist, and the widespread appeal was most likely a factor in its Best Picture nomination. For a look at Little Miss Sunshine's chances in the Best Picture race,

Why It Might Win

  • The well-crafted story about family quirkiness and solidarity appeals to most everyone. It's refreshing to see a family that is equally, or likely more bizarre than your own.
  • The screenplay is remarkably thoughtful in terms of plot, character development, and dialogue. The story itself has it all: drama, suspense, pathos, dark comedy, intellectual comedy, and physical comedy. That could, however, simply score Sunshine a screenwriting award.
  • It is supremely well-cast. Abigail Breslin is guileless in her performance, achieving things many adult actors never have. Alan Arkin is always enjoyable, as is Toni Collette. Greg Kinnear is spot-on, and Paul Dano turns teen angst into something not entirely cartoonish. Steve Carrell is, of course, many peoples' new favorite comedic actor, which makes it particularly painful to see him so darkly sad. As an ensemble, they basically kick ass.

Why It Might Not Win

  • It's way too feel-good for the Academy, which may simply recognize its merits with the Best Picture nomination and stop there.
  • While it's impressive that these first-time filmmakers created such a successful movie, they're still not nearly as accomplished as some of the other big guns behind the other Best Picture nominees.
  • The Academy tends to favor films that are either "important" (like Million Dollar Baby or Crash) or visually spectacular (Lord of the Rings, Gladiator). Little Miss Sunshine is rather homespun in comparison.

Chances of Winning: Slim

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