The Race for Best Picture (87th Academy Awards)

February 11, 2015

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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!


2014 Producers Guild Award Winners

January 20, 2014

pga-logo

And just like that, we have a race again! While American Hustle looked to be steamrolling its way to a clear Best Picture win, the PGA throws us a curve-ball. Here were the nominees:

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Saving Mr. Banks
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

For the first time in its history, the PGA Award for Best Picture resulted in a TIE! And even more surprising, American Hustle wasn’t one of the two films that tied. The award went to 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. Wow!

Everyone knows the PGA Award is a big deal. Looking at past winners, the PGA Best Picture has matched the Oscar Best Picture the last six years. So while American Hustle was the clear front-runner, it’s not anymore. We’re still left with a three-movie race for Best Picture between American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave.


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

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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.

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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 Ten PGA Nominations: Sci-Fi friendly

January 7, 2010

A few days ago, the PGA announced their 10 nominations for the Producer of the Year Award.  Here are the nominees:

Avatar

District 9

An Education

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Invictus

Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

Star Trek

Up

Up in the Air

Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking.  How are these ten selections going to match up with the Best Picture nominees?  For the most part, I’d say they’re very accurate.  The snubbing of Nine and A Serious Man for sci-fi films District 9 and Star Trek is eye-opening.  While District 9 has a much greater chance to be nominated for Best Picture than Star Trek, it is interesting to ponder.  The rest of the films are basically locks for a Best Picture nomination.  The last two spots are still undecided between Nine, A Serious Man, The Last Station, District 9, Star Trek, and The Messenger.


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.


Producers Guild of America Nominations

January 5, 2009

The nominations are:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Frost/Nixon
Milk
Slumdog Millionaire

Animated:

Bolt
Kung Fu Panda
WALL-E

Documentary:

Man on Wire
Standard Operating Procedure
Trouble the Water

What does this mean?  Basically, the Best Picture race is finally shaping up.  Slumdog, Benjamin Button, and Milk are LOCKS.  Frost/Nixon is close to being a lock, but I want to give it just a little more room for now.  And the fifth slot is still open, but for a while now I’ve been behind The Dark Knight sneaking in for a nomination.

The funny thing is that the PGA nominations have not matched all five Best Picture nominations since 1994.  That being said, will this year follow the trend?  If so, then there will surely be a surprise when the Oscar nominations are announced.  Can The Dark Knight actually be a Best Picture nominee?  Will Frost/Nixon be one too many political films into the category?  Can Revolutionary Road, The Wrestler, or Doubt steal a nomination?  These questions still linger as time ticks down to the announcement.

I’m still rooting for WALL-E to get a Best Picture nod, though I know that’s highly doubtful.  Right now, it seems to me that the PGA has picked all of the five films that will be nominated for Best Picture, but your guess is as good as mine.


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