As the blistering cold winds churn around campus, across the country in Hollywood, the mildly warm heat is mingling with red carpets that are being rolled out and gowns and tuxedos that are being chosen as the kick off to award season has just begun.

Behind the flashing lights of the paparazzi lenses and aside from the glittering gowns and Hollywood gossip, award season, most notably The Academy Awards, serve as a time to honor and praise the year in films.

The 85th Academy Awards, airing Sunday, February 24, on ABC at 8:30 p.m. EST, have turned out nine nominations for Best Picture.  These nine nominations include: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty.  With such a large list, it comes down to many factors to decide on which deserves the acclaimed award.

“A lot of it depends on Hollywood politics,” said Peter Johnston, the Digital Media/Film Production Manager in MSU’s Film Studies Program.  “Or the way the Academy wishes to be portrayed, honoring a certain director or producer’s career rather than the particular film.  That’s the cynical answer.”

Though Hollywood politics are a major factor, it is not the only decision maker.

“The optimistic answer,” continued Johnston, “is that when a movie tells a fascinating story in an innovative way with great performances, and combines all the strengths that film can put on display, that is what makes a Best Picture.”

With an array of fair and unfair deciding factors, the nominees are always the cream of the crop when it comes to filmmaking of the year.

According to Indie Wire, Lincoln will prove winner of the annual race, but Zero Dark Thirty should be the winner.

Zero Dark Thirty is a serious contender from Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, who won in 2008 for The Hurt Locker.

Though different movies, they depict specific time periods in American history.  Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg, illustrates the last four months of President Abraham Lincoln’s life.  The film explored the Civil War and the struggle to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Zero Dark Thirty, a modern piece of U.S. history, is a dramatization of the events leading up to and during the hunt for terrorist Osama bin Laden.

“I don’t know what to predict this year,” said Shea Norling, a journalism sophomore.  “I didn’t expect Argo to win at the Golden Globes, but it did. I don’t know if the Oscars appreciates it as much, but my choice would be Argo if I had to pick.”

Argo, directed by and starring Ben Affleck, has been the surprise hit so far this award season.

Josh Braude, a comparative cultures and politics sophomore, agreed, “My favorite film to win, the most Oscar worthy, is probably Argo.”

Argo, directed by Ben Affleck, recently won the Golden Globe for Best Drama Film.  The film is another piece of American history depicting a CIA operative and his team rescuing six U.S. diplomats during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis in Tehran, Iran.

“It just won the Golden Globe and I think it has a pretty good shot. I think that Lincoln may upset because it’s an excellent Spielberg film,” Braude said.

Gary Susman of wrote in a January 2013 article “the odds are slim that ‘Argo’ can win an Academy Award for Best Picture without even having been nominated for Best Director. Last time that happened was 23 years ago, when ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ took the top prize.”

Another favorite proves to be the small-scale film, Beasts of the Southern Wild.  Based on the one act play Juicy and Delicious by Lucy Alibar, Beasts of the Southern Wild shows a young girl, Hushpuppy, as she struggles with her father’s failing health and the melting ice caps flooding her home in the Louisiana bayou.

“It’s a small film, a very inventive story, shot on 16mm film and with an army of dedicated volunteers,” said Johnston.  “I was a little surprised to see it nominated, really, and would love if it won.”

Aside from the film being nominated, star Quvenzhané Wallis is nominated for Best Actress at the ripe age of 9. Wallis instills a record of being the youngest Oscar nominated actress in Academy Award history.

“I loved that little girl in Beasts of the Southern Wild,” said journalism junior, Zack Peña.  “She’s got some nice skill for her age and she’s likely to gain a stellar career from this film, but she simply hasn’t had the same experience and training as other great actors have had.”

With so many film choices, we can’t forget about the musical spectacle that came to life. Illustrating the painful and emotional journey of a set of individuals during the French Revolution, Les Miserables is based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel of the same name and later adapted in the 1985 stage hit by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil.

“I think Les Miserables deserves an Oscar,” said Amanda Cowherd, a journalism freshman. “It was beautifully produced and epic, yet it still stayed true to the original story.”

Cowherd remained confident in the film.

“I feel like a lot of people don’t give musicals a chance, but they’re very powerful,” said Cowherd.

The last musical to win the Academy Award for Best Picture was Oliver!  in 1968.

“I think this is a decent crop of films this year,” said Johnston.  “I predict Lincoln to sweep most of the categories it’s nominated in.”

With Oscar on his way to The Dolby Theater, previously known as The Kodak Theater, Hollywood buzz is proving to be anything but quiet.  There is still time to see the nominated films that are awaiting the big gala, hosted by Family Guy’s Seth McFarlane on February 24.

Check out a full list of nominations at the Oscars official website.

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