The Race for Best Picture (87th Academy Awards)

February 11, 2015

boyman

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!

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Alfonso Cuaron wins DGA Awards

January 26, 2014

alfonso-cuaron

There was a lot riding on the DGA Awards this weekend. Because of the three different films winning the SAG and PGA awards, which film would win the DGA and potentially take the lead in the very close Best Picture race? Well at the end of the night, Alfonso Cuaron won for his directorial achievement in Gravity.

So while Gravity has the slight edge going forward with the DGA and PGA awards, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave are still right on its heels. It’s going to be a lot of fun right up to The Academy Awards trying to predict which film will walk away with the big award.


Oscar Talk 2012: The DGA Awards are important (in case you didn’t know)

January 29, 2013

DGA-2013a

We all want to be able to correctly predict what film is going to win Best Picture. It’s something you can wildly debate about with your friends for countless hours, and then have the bragging rights if you select the winner. There are even Vegas odds and bets placed on the prestigious night. But while I’ve been in the game of Oscar watching for almost a decade now, there is still only one thing that I know: your guess is as good as mine.

I guess it’s kind of funny for me to admit that, but year after year that is what I keep saying. I’ll give my predictions and my reasons for believing in certain movies and certain upsets, but the truth is that your guess is as good as mine and as good as anyone else’s. If I somehow correctly predict 23 out of the 24 awards given out, I’ll be the first one to tell you that it was luck. Why do I keep doing it? Because it’s so much freakin’ fun.

So back to the game, this past weekend revealed that Argo seems to be back as the front-runner for Best Picture. Winning the PGA and the SAG awards is a pretty big deal. Am I ready to call it for Argo yet? No. It still has the HUGE obstacle of winning without a Best Director nod for Affleck, but if it wins this Saturday at the DGA awards and then gets the WGA, well it’ll practically be a lock then for Argo.

But just because it won the PGA and SAG doesn’t mean it’s a lock quite yet. In 1995, there was a crowd-pleasing film about an American event that went down this same path. Apollo 13 won the PGA, SAG, and even the DGA for Ron Howard (and also Howard didn’t get a Best Director nomination). It was expected for Apollo 13 to take the Oscars, but Braveheart swooped in with the upsets winning Best Picture (and Best Director for Mel Gibson, even though Howard wasn’t nominated).

Needless to say, this is a very strange road to the Oscars that we’ve been on thus far. You know what would really throw a wrench in the whole thing? If Ben Affleck or Steven Spielberg DOESN’T win the DGA. Imagine that? Because whoever wins the DGA out of those two will easily become the front-runner going into the Oscars. But let’s say… Ang Lee wins the DGA (which he’s won twice already). That would really throw a curve-ball at everyone, but at the same time it would hurt Spielberg and Lincoln more than anything else.

ben-affleck-argo      spielberg-lincoln

Okay… so where do we stand? Silver Linings Playbook has NO chance at Best Picture since it lost the SAG where it was expected to win. And unless Ang Lee can win the DGA, you can count Life of Pi completely out as well. As for Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild, well they’re just happy to be there. So it’s Lincoln vs. Argo down the stretch of the last month before the Oscars air.

Here’s a little bit of history, something like what we’ll be referring back to in the future if Argo wins Best Picture. Driving Miss Daisy is the only film to win Best Picture without a directing nod in 80 years and many people are comparing it to Argo. Born on the Fourth of July was a film that looked like was on its way to a Best Picture win. Here are the accolades for both films leading up to the Oscars:

Driving Miss Daisy
– won PGA
– won Golden Globes Comedy/Musical
– won WGA

Born on the Fourth of July
– won DGA
– won Best Director
– won Golden Globes Director and Drama

Though tradition was on Born of the Fourth of July’s side, Driving Miss Daisy made history with its Best Picture victory. Only once in the last 10 years has the Best Picture winner not matched the Best Director (Crash beating out Brokeback Mountain). So like I said earlier, there is a very good chance that history will be made… that is unless Spielberg wins the DGA and Lincoln sweeps at the Oscars. If that’s the case, we can all just have a good laugh.


Oscar Talk 2012: So Where Are We?

January 25, 2013

argo-photo

Remember at the Golden Globes when Ben Affleck and Argo won? Well, that has people throwing their hands up in the air with all sorts of celebratory reactions as their favorite movie of the year is finally gaining the respect they feel it deserves. But what does all of this mean with the Oscars only a month away? Does it mean anything at all?

In past years, it might not have. Here are the movies that won both Best Picture Drama and Comedy/Musuical the past 8 years at the Golden Globes:

2012 – Argo and Les Miserables
2011 – The Descendants and The Artist
2010 – The Social Network and The Kids are All Right
2009 – Avatar and The Hangover
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire and Vicky Cristina Barcelona
2007 – Atonement and Sweeney Todd
2006 – Babel and Dreamgirls
2005 – Brokeback Mountain and Walk the Line
2004 – The Aviator and Sideways

From the past 16 movies that won in the last 8 years, only 2 movies have won the Best Picture Oscar. That’s right, only TWO (The Artist and Slumdog Millionaire). So why is everyone jumping on the Argo bandwagon again? I honestly have no idea.

But this weekend the PGA and SAG will announce their winners. After this weekend, we will be able to have a much clearer projection of what will happen at the Oscars. If Argo wins both PGA and SAG, then I’ll admit that Lincoln might be in trouble. If Silver Linings Playbook (in my opinion, the biggest threat to Lincoln) doesn’t win the SAG, then it’s almost as good as dead.

argo-photo2

Back to Argo. Here’s a fun fact for all of those Argo supporters. No director has ever won the DGA, not gotten nominated for an Oscar, and then had their film win BP. Ever. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it would be an insane feat for Affleck to win the DGA and then see Argo win Best Picture. I’m a big fan of “history repeats itself” and will stick with that mindset over anything else.

If Lincoln gets shut out this weekend and both Argo and Silver Linings Playbook wins, then I’m really going to throw a fit. This could be the most unpredictable Oscars in a very long time, and while that’s frustrating for people like me, honestly it’s the best thing that could happen to the Oscars. I’d much rather be dead wrong and see Lincoln win only one Oscar while Argo wins Best Picture and Ang Lee wins Best Director than see Lincoln sweep the major awards.

Lincoln-photo

But I’ll still speak what I believe in, and that is Lincoln is the clear front-runner with every other film miles behind. Here are the reasons why:

– Lincoln has the most nominations (12)
– Lincoln has grossed the most money of all nominations
– Has 3 acting nominations and one clear favorite (Daniel Day-Lewis)
– It has ALL of the important nominations
– Steven Spielberg

While Lincoln isn’t many people’s (including mine) favorite film, you cannot ignore how well-made it is. Excellence is displayed on every level of that film, and shouldn’t films like that be rewarded?


The DGA Nominations 2013

January 8, 2013

It’s not like it’s a big deal, but I did manage to correctly predict all of the nominees for the DGA Awards, which were announced today. Everyone knew four of the five directors who were going to get in, but that last spot was definitely up in the air and everyone was divided with their prediction. According to a poll in Awards Daily, both Quentin Tarantino and David O. Russell were favorites over Tom Hooper and that completely makes sense. But like they say, sometimes you just gotta go with your gut.

So here are the nominees for the DGA Awards (taken from Awards Daily):

BEN AFFLECK
Argo
(Warner Bros. Pictures)
Mr. Affleck’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager:  Amy Herman
First Assistant Director:  David Webb
Second Assistant Director:  Ian Calip
Second Second Assistant Directors: Clark Credle, Gavin Kleintop
First Assistant Director (Turkey Unit): Belkis Turan

This is Mr. Affleck’s first DGA Feature Film Award nomination.

KATHRYN BIGELOW
Zero Dark Thirty
(Columbia Pictures)

Ms. Bigelow’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager:  Colin Wilson
First Assistant Director:  David A. Ticotin
Second Assistant Directors:  Ben Lanning, Sarah Hood
First Assistant Director (Jordan Unit): Scott Robertson
Second Assistant Directors (Jordan Unit): Jonas Spaccarotelli, Yanal Kassay
Second Second Assistant Director (Jordan Unit): Tarek Afifi
Unit Production Manager (India Unit): Rajeev Mehra

This is Ms. Bigelow’s second DGA Feature Film Award nomination.  She won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for The Hurt Locker in 2009.

TOM HOOPER
Les Misérables
(Universal Pictures)

Mr. Hooper’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager:  Patrick Schweitzer
First Assistant Director:  Ben Howarth
Second Assistant Director:  Harriet Worth
Second Second Assistant Director: Dan Channing Williams

This is Mr. Hooper’s second DGA Feature Film Award nomination.  He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for The King’s Speech (2010) and was previously nominated for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television/Mini-Series for John Adams in 2008.

ANG LEE
Life of Pi
(Twentieth Century Fox)

Mr. Lee’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager:  Michael J. Malone
Unit Production Manager (Taiwan): Leo Chen
First Assistant Directors:  William M. Connor, Cliff Lanning
Second Assistant Directors:  Robert Burgess, Ben Lanning
Unit Production Manager (India Unit): Sanjay Kumar
First Assistant Director (India Unit): Nitya Mehra
Second Assistant Director (India Unit): Ananya Rane
Second Second Assistant Directors (India Unit): Namra Parikh, Freya Parekh
Second Assistant Directors (Montreal Unit): Derek Wimble, Renato De Cotiis

This is Mr. Lee’s fourth DGA Feature Film Award nomination. He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and was nominated for Sense and Sensibility in 1995.

STEVEN SPIELBERG
Lincoln
(DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox)

Mr. Spielberg’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager:  Susan McNamara
First Assistant Director:  Adam Somner
Second Assistant Director:  Ian Stone
Second Second Assistant Directors: Eric Lasko, Trevor Tavares

This is Mr. Spielberg’s eleventh DGA Feature Film Award nomination. He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film three times for Saving Private Ryan (1998), Schindler’s List (1993) and The Color Purple (1985). He was also nominated in this category for Munich (2005), Amistad (1997), Empire of the Sun (1987), E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (1982), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Jaws (1975). Mr. Spielberg was honored with the DGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.

So now we just have to wait and see if the same five are nominated for the Oscars this Thursday. Once again, I’m going with my hunch by saying it will be the same five.


DGA Nominations Announced

January 7, 2010

The Directors Guild of America have spoken!  Here are the five nominations for Best Director from the DGA:

Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment)

James Cameron, “Avatar” (20th Century Fox)

Lee Daniels, “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Lionsgate)

Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air” (Paramount)

Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Co./Universal Pictures)

All the talk has been about Kathryn Bigelow’s chances in becoming the first woman in history to win Best Director at the Oscars.  Bigelow is the seventh woman to be nominated for the DGA award.  Just like the Oscars, no woman has ever won the DGA award.

Only two of the five nominees have been nominated for the DGA before:  James Cameron (who won in 1998 for Titanic) and Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction).  Everyone else are first-time nominees.


Slumdog’s road to Oscar gold

February 1, 2009

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The question still remains:  Can anyone or anything stop Slumdog Millionaire?  This was a question after the Oscar nominees were announced, but before the SAG, PGA, and DGA awards.  Now that all of those Guilds rewarded Slumdog… is it really a question anymore?  In fact, the answer is:  no.  I don’t see anything stopping Slumdog Millionaire in its road to glory.  It looks pretty certain that Slumdog Millionaire will walk away with a number of awards that includes Best Picture and Best Director for Danny Boyle.


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