I should just let it go, but hey, I’m a blogger so there is absolutely no filter to what ends up here. I’ve been following the Oscars for about eight years and can say this was the first year I was legitimately surprised because of the nominations. Why is that? Well, this is the first time where the nominations were voted on by the Academy before the major Guilds gave out their awards. There was a possibility that this could create a great difference in some of the major categories, but most people didn’t think it would. Some believed that the Academy really didn’t weigh in on the guild awards as much as people think. Well the verdict is in and it made a HUGE impact.
The Best Director category is arguably the second biggest award given out on Oscar night. It’s also a great indication to what movie is going to win Best Picture because in the history of the Oscars, there have only been several films that won Best Picture without winning Best Director. Going into Thursday morning, there was a consensus that the major films with the best chance to win Best Picture were Lincoln, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, and Les Miserables. It doesn’t matter what your personal opinion is, those were the favorites going into Thursday, but when the nominations were announced for Best Director, everything changed.
The directors nominated for Best Director include Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Michael Haneke, David O. Russell, and Benh Zeitlin. Everyone is wondering what happened to Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck, and honestly I am, too. For the record, there have only been THREE films in history to have won Best Picture without receiving a Best Director nomination. The most recent occurrence was in 1990 for Driving Miss Daisy, and the other two times it happened were in 1932 with Grand Hotel and in 1929 with Wings. So that means in the past 80 years, only ONCE did a film with Best Picture without a Best Director nomination. The odds are not looking good for Argo and Zero Dark Thirty.
But while this is bad news for those two films, the directing category is great news for other films, specifically Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook. Those films received a total of 11 and 8 nominations, respectively, and should now be considered Lincoln’s biggest competition for Best Picture. It’s really hard to pick which one might have the better shot at upsetting Lincoln at this point, but if we just look at the Guild nominations, it’s really close. Silver Linings Playbook received nominations from SAG, PGA, WGA, and ACE Eddie while Life of Pi received nominations from PGA, WGA, DGA, and ACE Eddie. Both are missing one major Guild nomination (But to Life of Pi’s defense, no way was it receiving a SAG nomination since it’s a castaway sort of film).
So once again, the ONLY movie to receive nominations from all of the major Guilds is Lincoln. It’s clear that Lincoln is the front-runner, but I understand how people will make their case all the way until February 24 to make it seem like a closer race than it really is. And you know what, that’s what I love about the Oscars because anything CAN happen. Jaws dropped when Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture and when Crash upset Brokeback Mountain. It most certainly can happen again this year, but I’m a guy who looks at the history of the Oscars and the odds and Lincoln is just too much of a favorite and a traditional Oscar film that the Academy most certainly LOVES to ignore.
Before I conclude my rants, I just wanted to discuss Paul Thomas Anderson and The Master. I’m actually surprised that The Master wasn’t nominated for Best Picture and after all the surprises in the Best Director category, I don’t know how Paul Thomas Anderson didn’t get in. I know that The Master confused a great deal of people and I know how PTA films can divide the public and the critics because of his unorthodox way of story-telling, but the mere fact is that PTA gets the best out of his actors every movie, and that’s one of the most important things about directing. If you look at the nominations this year, only three films received three or more acting nominations: Silver Linings Playbook (4), Lincoln (3), and The Master (3). Spielberg and David O. Russell got their directing nod for truly extracting incredible performances from their actors. But what about Paul Thomas Anderson?