This is what I love about Oscar season. Despite the ever increasing number of awards bodies that are ready and willing to preempt the Academy Awards with their own forms of kudos, there is no clear picture of how the Oscars nominations will turn out when they are announced in two weeks. Based on the precursor awards, we have a pretty clear picture of how several of the major categories will turn out, but there will undoubtedly be a few major surprises in Best Picture, Director, Actor, and a few of the other big categories.
The four major guilds – Producers, Screen Actors, Directors, and Writers – have all chimed in with their annual nominations and the four groups are quite varied in their predictions. The one constant that all four guilds have in common is that they all do not care for The Tree of Life. Terence Malick’s art house film was once thought to be a strong contender for Best Picture and Director, but now it seems like both are highly unlikely. If this is the case, then this opens up a spot in the Best Picture race for another film.
Let’s take a look at the films that have received Guild nominations over the past several weeks:
Midnight in Paris – SAG, DGA, PGA, WGA
The Descendants – SAG, DGA, PGA, WGA
The Artist – SAG, DGA, PGA (ineligible for WGA)
The Help – SAG, PGA, WGA (no DGA)
Hugo – DGA, PGA, WGA (no SAG)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – DGA, PGA, WGA (no SAG)
Bridesmaids – SAG, PGA, WGA (no DGA)
Moneyball – PGA, WGA (no DGA or SAG)
The Ides of March – PGA only
War Horse – PGA only
The last film to be nominated for all four major guild awards and not receive a Best Picture nomination was Almost Famous in 2000 and it has never happened since the Oscar expanded the amount of Best Picture nominations. While I never rule out anomalies, I am going to consider Midnight in Paris and The Descendants about as close to locks as a film can get. The Artist has won more precursor awards than any other film and it only missed all four guilds because it was ineligible for the WGA. Add it to the “locks” list. That leaves 3 to 7 spots open for other films.
With the Academy’s new rules there is no certainty about how many Best Picture nominations there will be this year. After conducting a case study with the Critics Choice Award nominations, Steve Pond at The Wrap concluded that there will most likely be 8 nominations this year. That seems like a safe number, although it could just as easily be 7 or 9 or 6. Let’s assume 8 for the sake of simplicity.
Hugo is very likely to receive a Best Director nomination for Martin Scorcese, which greatly boosts the film’s Best Picture chances. It missed out on the SAG ensemble nomination, which means it is highly unlikely to win Best Picture, but it has a strong chance at getting nominated. The Help was a major crowd pleaser and it is likely to score three nominations in the acting categories (Jessica Chastain, Octavia Spencer, and Viola Davis). The acting branch is the largest in the Academy so they should give it the boost it needs to get in.
Speaking of acting, Brad Pitt could win his first Oscar this year for his performance in Moneyball and his co-star Jonah Hill is almost a sure thing for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. That acting powerhouse will also help boost that film, despite its misses for SAG ensemble and DGA nominations. Steven Spielberg’s War Horse is arguably one of the most Oscar-y movies of the year and many were expecting it to make a run for the very top prize. That is pretty unlikely, but the Academy favors Spielberg more than the guilds do (Munich was only nominated by the DGA) so it should make it in.
Those are seven films that I would put at the top, leaving one spot open with the 8 nominee model we are using. The way I see it, there are five potential films that could fill in that blank. The most likely of those five is David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The film was not loved by critics, but it has been nominated by every guild except the Screen Actors Guild. The factor that puts it in front, however, is yesterday’s Directors Guild of America nomination for David Fincher. The close ties between Picture and Director, and the fact that the DGA only does five nominees makes it stronger than many of the other guilds.
Close behind is Bridesmaids, which received a nomination from every major guild except for the Directors Guild. It has the added benefit of a likely Best Supporting Actress contender in Melissa McCarthy, whereas The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not likely to receive any acting nominations. George Clooney’s The Ides of March did not receive any acting nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, but it does have a very talented cast of actors that Hollywood loves. With it’s Producers Guild of America nomination, it is certainly in the race.
Let’s not count out films that were ignored altogether by the major guilds either. Last year, Winter’s Bone received no guild nominations and it still got in. In 2009 that happened to The Blind Side, in 2008 to The Reader, in 2007 to Atonement, in 2006 to Letters from Iwo Jima. This year the guild have been more diverse in their nominations, but there is always the opportunity for a squirrel to sneak in. This year I suspect the film to do that would be either The Tree of Life or Drive. Both films have received critical support comparable to Winter’s Bone.
There is always the chance for changes, like more or fewer nominees or a War Horse backlash. For the summary of my picks, check out the Best Picture predictions page.
- Janet McTeer moves back into the Best Supporting Actress category over Shailene Woodley.
- Hugo moves in the 5th spot for Best Adapted Screenplay.
- Midnight in Paris moves back to number 1 and Bridesmaids bumps out The Tree of Life in Best Original Screenplay.
- Cars 2 reluctantly gets back in the race for Best Animated Feature.
- The Documentary Feature category is updated with the Academy’s latest shortlist.
- All technical categories are updated as well.
Check out all of the prediction updates, and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments!