The Race for Best Picture (87th Academy Awards)

February 11, 2015


Let’s cut right to the chase, this year’s Oscar award for Best Picture is between two films: Boyhood and Birdman. Which film has the edge? That’s what I’m going to try to figure out during this post. Bear with me folks.

For Boyhood, it was the critics’ darling of 2014, collecting A LOT of accolades from critic circles. Here are a handful:

Best Film from:
– Austin Film Critics Association
– Boston Society of Film Critics
– Chicago Film Critics Association
– Critics’ Choice Movie Awards
– Detriot Film Critics Society
– Georgia Film Critics Association
– Houston Film Ciritcs Society
– Iowa Film Critics
– London Film Critics’ Circle
– Los Angeles Film Critics Association
– New York Film Critics Circle
– Oklahoma Film Critics Circle
– San Francisco Film Critics Circle
– Toronto Film Critics Association
– Vancouver Film Critics Circle
– Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association

So what’s the problem? Well for one, The Academy who vote on the Oscars aren’t critics. They’re people in the film industry and a lot of them either 1. don’t have the same taste as critics or 2. simply don’t like movie critics. Now with all the support from the critics to Boyhood, who can the industry back for Best Picture? How about a film with a distaste for critics… Birdman!

This is no major spoiler, but in Birdman, Riggan Thomson is looked down upon by a very influential theater critic because she can never see Thomson as anything else other than his super-hero days. He uses this to fuel his passion and enthusiasm to push his play to a greater level, but with extreme consequences. So basically, Hollywood can overcome the evil critics and produce incredible pieces of art, no matter what you did in the past. Is it a coincidence that Birdman has been receiving the love from the Guilds, made up of people in the film industry?

Birdman has won the top awards from the Screen Actors Guild, the Producers Guild of America, and the Directors Guild of America. It’s obvious that Hollywood is standing behind Birdman, but let’s make this even more interesting. Two other award ceremonies that are seen as precursors to the Oscars are The Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards (British Academy of Film and Television Arts). Is it coincidence that Birdman lost Best Picture at each ceremony, and instead Boyhood won because those are two awards not voted by members of Hollywood?

While all of this speculation is fun, it’s time to crunch some numbers. First, I’m going to be concentrating on 2007-present. Here are the Best Picture winners since then:

Best Picture:

2007 – No Country for Old Men
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – The Hurt Locker
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – The Artist
2012 – Argo
2013 – 12 Years a Slave
2014 – ???

Now let’s look at the SAG Award for Best Ensemble Cast.

SAG Winners:

2007 – No Country for Old Men
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – Inglorious Basterds
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – The Help
2012 – Argo
2013 – American Hustle
2014 – Birdman

In the last seven years, four films that won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble went on to win Best Picture. It’s not a great award to predict who will win Best Picture, but it’s noteworthy because the SAG is the guild with the most members in The Academy. So if it’s a coin toss and it’s down to the wire, it’s likely that the majority of the SAG votes Birdman and therefore you’ll know who will win.

How about the Directors Guild of America…

DGA Winners:

2007 – Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
2008 – Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
2010 – Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
2011 – Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
2012 – Ben Affleck, Argo
2013 – Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
2014 – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman

During the last seven years, the movies with the DGA winner have won six times. The only time they didn’t line up was last year when Alfonso Cuaron with Gravity won, even though 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture. But isn’t it true that typically, if you win Best Director at the Oscars, you’ll win Best Picture? Let’s take a look…

Academy Award for Best Director:

2007 – Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
2008 – Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
2010 – Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
2011 – Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
2012 – Ang Lee, Life of Pi
2013 – Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
2014 – ???

It looks like they matched up nice and tidily up until 2012, then it’s been chaos ever since. Ang Lee won the strange year where Ben Affleck won the DGA but wasn’t even nominated for Best Director (then Argo wins Best Picture). Last year it was a tight race between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity throughout, and they ended up splitting the Best Picture/Best Director categories. Can the same thing happen again this year to make it three in a row? It’s very possible.

Let’s look at the Producers Guild of America…

PGA Winners:

2007 – No Country for Old Men
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – The Hurt Locker
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – The Artist
2012 – Argo
2013 – 12 Years a Slave/Gravity
2014 – Birdman

Here’s one that looks like a sure thing. Since 2007, EVERY movie that has won the PGA award has gone on to win Best Picture. Its only slight blemish is that last year the vote resulted in a tie between the obvious two front-runners in 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. But this year in another very tight race, Birdman came out victorious. Is that a sign pointing at Birdman, or is this a Hollywood statement from the industry?

With the guilds out of the way, let’s look at the Golden Globes:

Golden Globe Winners (Drama/Comedy):

2007 – Atonement/Sweeney Todd
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire/Vicky Cristina Barcelona
2009 – Avatar/The Hangover
2010 – The Social Network/The Kids Are All Right
2011 – The Descendants/The Artist
2012 – Argo/Les Miserables
2013 – 12 Years a Slave/American Hustle
2014 – Boyhood/The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Globes used to be a joke. When movies like The Hangover wins a so-called “prestigious” award, everyone starts scratching their heads. But recently, the Globes have been quite spot on in predicting the Best Picture winners. The Artist, Argo, and 12 Years a Slave won the big award at the Globes. This year, Boyhood won Best Drama and Birdman lost to The Grand Budapest Hotel. So what’s the deal? Did you know that the Globes are voted by the HFPA, a group of journalists from around the world. That’s right, no one from Hollywood. So without a Globes win for Birdman, can it become the first film in four years to win Best Picture?

Continuing to stay clear from Hollywood, let’s take a glance at the recent BAFTA winners:

BAFTA Winners:

2007 – Atonement
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – The Hurt Locker
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – The Artist
2012 – Argo
2013 – 12 Years a Slave
2014 – Boyhood

Since 2008, the films that won Best Picture have also won the Best Film award at the BAFTAs. And as you can see, Boyhood won the big prize at the BAFTAs this year. Will the streak continue?

Last, but not least, let’s take a peak at the Academy Award for Best Editing. Throughout the years, there has been a direct link with this category and what film is considered a true front-runner for Best Picture. Just take a look…

Academy Award for Best Editing:

2000 – Gladiator (nominated)
2001 – A Beautiful Mind (nominated)
2002 – Chicago (won)
2003 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (won)
2004 – Million Dollar Baby (nominated)
2005 – Crash (won)
2006 – The Departed (won)
2007 – No Country for Old Men (nominated)
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire (won)
2009 – The Hurt Locker (won)
2010 – The King’s Speech (nominated)
2011 – The Artist (nominated)
2012 – Argo (won)
2013 – 12 Years a Slave (nominated)
2014 – ??? Boyhood (nominated), Birdman (not nominated)

As you can see, every single movie that has won Best Picture since 2000 has been at least nominated for the Best Editing category. You have to go back all the way to 1980 to name a film that won Best Picture without receiving a Best Editing nomination (Ordinary People). That’s just whacky! But to be fair, Birdman’s fluid style doesn’t give much to the editors, though there are plenty of editing tricks throughout the film. So how glaring is this omission?

So what does this all mean? When there is a really tight race for Best Picture, like we have this year, plenty of patterns and logic will be broken. Will Boyhood defy all logic that you need to win the guild awards to win Best Picture? Will Birdman be the first film since 1980 to win Best Picture without a Best Editing nomination? We’ll find out soon!


Oscar Talk 2012: Do Critics Awards Mean a Thing?

December 18, 2012


I was doing a little research today based on the critics awards to see if they should be relevant at all when predicting the Oscars, and even though everything that leads up until Oscar night doesn’t make anything set in stone, I feel that the critics awards shed light to certain contenders. Let’s take a glance at this year’s critics awards and which movies have been racking up the attention. Below are a few Oscar contenders and listed underneath are the cities from which critics groups rewarded it with its best movie of the year award.

Zero Dark Thirty:
– Austin
– Boston
– Boston Online
– Chicago
– New York
– New York Online
– Washington
– Utah

The Master:
– Kansas City
– San Francisco
– Toronto

– Florida
– Oklahoma
– Nevada
– Phoenix
– San Diego
– Southeastern
– St. Louis

Silver Linings Playbook:
– Detroit
– Satellites

– Dallas/Fort

As you can see, Zero Dark Thirty has been capturing the most critics awards with Argo just behind it. It’s also surprising that Lincoln seems to be in the lead in the Best Picture race, but has only won ONE critics award for Best Picture of the year (Dallas/Fort). But what does this mean? Well, maybe nothing, but let me list last year’s critics awards. As we know, The Artist won Best Picture, but The Descendants was giving it a run for its money during the critics awards period.

The Artist:
– Boston
– Las Vegas
– London
– New York
– Phoenix
– San Diego
– Vancouver
– Washington

The Descendants:
– Dallas-Fort
– Florida
– Kansas City
– Los Angeles
– Satellite
– Southeastern

Last year, The Artist was the clear favorite to win Best Picture after the guild awards, but prior to that it looked like a toss-up between two independent films. What’s important here is that The Artist still had more critics awards than The Descendants, including some major critic circles such as Boston, New York and Washington. Those three critics circles have given their Best Movie of the Year award to Zero Dark Thirty. Coincidence?

Then again, there was the year of 2010 where practically EVERY critics awards went to The Social Network while The King’s Speech ended up winning Best Picture. For the record, that doesn’t happen too often but it puts everything in perspective. Critics aren’t the people who vote for the Oscars so after everything is said and done, do they really matter?

Here’s a fun fact though. One critics awards that ended up picking The King’s Speech instead of The Social Network was Phoenix. Also, Phoenix was one that picked The Artist instead of The Descendants last year. So who did Phoenix pick this year? Argo.

San Francisco Film Critics also vote for ‘The Hurt Locker’

December 15, 2009

Best Picture:  The Hurt Locker

Best Director:  Kathryn Bigelow

Best Original Screenplay:  Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Adapted Screenplay:  Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach (Fanastic Mr. Fox)

Best Actor:  Colin Firth (A Single Man)

Best Actress:  Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)

Best Supporting Actor:  Christian McKay (Me and Orson Welles)

Best Supporting Actress:  Mo’Nique (Precious)

Best Animated Feature:  Coraline

Best Foreign Language Film:  You, the Living

Best Documentary:  Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Best Cinematography:  Roger Deakins (A Serious Man)

Quick Notes:

Once again, ‘The Hurt Locker’ is voted as the best film of 2009 by another critics group.  It is quite outstanding what this little film from the summer is doing all over the nation during awards season.  Let’s see if the film can keeps its momentum up when it counts in early March.

Mo’Nique appears to be sweeping these critics awards for Best Supporting Actress.  Do not be surprised when she holds the golden statue behind the podium during the Academy Awards.

Colin Firth has emerged as Best Actor over George Clooney.  Like I said before (and most people know), this year is an extremely tight race for Best Actor.  I’ll do a separate post about it later.

And finally, Kathryn Bigelow wins Best Director again.  Will this be the year a female director finally wins the award???

LA Critics choose ‘The Hurt Locker’ as Best Picture

December 14, 2009

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association announced their awards.  The top honor for Best Picture went to the war/drama, The Hurt Locker.  Runner-up was the crowd and critic favorite Up in the Air.

If The Hurt Locker continues to flex their muscle during the precursors, then it’s almost a lock that it’ll receive a Best Picture nomination.  In my opinion, I feel it will receive a nomination but there is still a lot of time from now and the revealing of the nominations.

The rest of the winners are below:

Best Actor:  Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
Runner-up:  Colin Firth (A Single Man)

Best Actress:  Yolande Moreau (Seraphine)
Runner-up:  Carey Mulligan (An Education)

New Generation Award:  Neill Blomkamp (District 9)

Best Supporting Actor:  Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Runner-up:  Peter Capeldi (In the Loop)

Best Supporting Actress:  Mo’Nique (Precious)
Runner-up:  Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air)

Best Director:  Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Runner-up:  Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon)

Best Screenplay:  Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air)
Runner-up:  In the Loop

Best Cinematography:  Christian Berger (The White Ribbon)
Runner-up:  Barry Ackroyd (The Hurt Locker)

Best Foreign Language Film:  Summer Hours
Runner-up:  The White Ribbon

Best Animated Film:  Fantastic Mr. Fox
Runner-up:  Up

Best Score:  T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton (Crazy Heart)
Runner-up:  Alexandrew Desplat (Fantastic Mr. Fox)

Best Production Design:  Philip Ivey (District 9)
Runner-up:  Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg (Avatar)

‘Amelia’ already crashing and burning

October 22, 2009


For a film that was once talked about being a serious Oscar contender (especially with ten nominees this year), Amelia is quickly crashing.  Here we have a biopic based on the life of Amelia Earhart and starring two-time Academy Award Best Actress winner, Hilary Swank, with Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor as support.  Also, the film was directed by Mira Nair, whose 2006’s The Namesake received a positive reception from critics.  But early reviews for Amelia have been poor with a Rotten Tomatoes Rating of 19% from 21 early critics.

It’s possible for a film with mixed reviews to be an Oscar contender, but Amelia is getting slammed for being too conventional.  Needless to say, I’m very disappointed by all this.

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

January 8, 2008

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards:


Best Picture – No Country for Old Men
Best Directors – Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Best Actress – Julie Christie – Away From Her
Best Actor – Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood
Best Picture Made for Television – Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Best Documentary -Sicko
Best Family Film – Enchanted
Best Animated Film – Ratatouille
Joel Siegel Humanitarian Award – Don Cheadle
Best Foreign Language Film – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Best Supporting Actress – Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone
Best Supporting Actor – Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men
Best Song – Falling Slowly – Once
Best Composer – Jonny Greenwood – There Will Be Blood
Best Comedy – Juno
Best Young Actor – Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada – The Kite Runner
Best Young Actress – Nikki Blonsky – Hairspray
Best Screenplay – Diablo Cody – Juno
Best Ensemble – Hairspray
I didn’t really expect much from the Broadcast Film Critics Association awards, but the winners they picked weren’t that bad.  As for the telecast… well it wasn’t funny, and allowing the speeches to go on forever without the suspense of when the music will turn on to cut the winners off was a crime.  I always enjoy that.  So the two-hour awards show wasn’t all that bad.

The big winners tonight was No Country for Old Men.  It walked away with Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem).  Does this make it a clear frontrunner for all these categories… not exactly.  Though I would say they are a slight favorite, There Will Be Blood is gaining on them, and if Atonement can grab a DGA nod, then they’re right back in the race as well.  Hairspray was loved at the BFCA awards, but I still don’t think they’ll be making any impact at the Oscars.  I was pleased to see Jonny Greenwood win for Best Score and Once’s “Falling Slowly” win for Best Song. 

If there were any categories that I would put money down right now to guarantee they’d win… they would be Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor and Ratatouille for Best Animated Feature.

All in all… a good awards show. 

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