What has handily been one of the more curious and unpredictable Awards seasons in recent memory is entering its final stretch. Some things have become clear, other things remain cloudy as can be.
This time tomorrow, John Krasinski, Ang Lee, and Guillermo del Toro will pull back the veil and rhyme of Oscar’s Class of 2015 and everything from how many contenders there will be for Best Picture to what might emerge as a pseudo-frontrunner remains to be seen.
Over the last two weeks, The Guilds have all selected their top dogs which goes a long way to bringing the Oscar picture into focus since many guild members are the same folks who go on to nominate Oscar candidates. This stands in stark contrast to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association…who think THE MARTIAN is a comedy.
THE REVENANT got a boost, THE BIG SHORT moved to the grown-ups table, CAROL took a hit, and barring something truly unforeseen and last-minute, THE FORCE AWAKENS will have to make do with crying itself to sleep on its massive piles of money.
Let’s go one group at a time…
The writer’s guild kicked things off one week ago and went with most of the usual suspects. Seeing ROOM and BROOKLYN left out of this grouping is a bit surprising since both adapted well-loved novels rather well. Could this be a bad sign of things to come? The only other notable absence in the group was Quentin Tarantino, which is no surprise since he isn’t a guild member (…this isn’t ‘Nam, Dude…). When the WGA dust settled, things looked best for the surprise inclusions – SICARIO and STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON.
On the weekend, the producers joined the fray and tapped their ten nominees for the PGA award for Outstanding Producer. This was where STAR WARS needed to show up to really seem like it stood a real chance – what is a Disney franchise film (even one as well-received as THE FORCE AWAKENS) if not a Producers’ showcase. Now the balloting timeline was a little tight, but it’s reasonable to believe that with nominations being announced last week, the voting body had time to take-in the adventures of Rey, Finn, and Poe and decided on other selections instead.
Instead, The PGA turned its eyes to EX MACHINA (giving some of us some hope, if only for a moment) THE BIG SHORT (suddenly putting that underdog a boost of legitimacy) and STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (there’s that again)…besides the usual suspects. By this stage, a guest list seemed to be forming, but there still seemed to be an awful lot of chairs at the dinner table.
Finally, yesterday the directors showed up and named their Fab Five for the DGA Awards. In the past, this used to be a massive Oscar precursor, with usually four-if-not-all-five films going on to The Show. However, in recent years, with the DGA nominations coming so close to Oscar nominations, the ratio has been slipping. In 2012 three of the five missed the cut. At this stage though, it’s difficult not to take its inclusion of Iñárritu and McKay as huge validators. On the flip side, the wildest omission has to be Todd Haynes for CAROL that seemed all but a lock.
Oh, and through it all, MAD MAX endured. If you try to tell me you saw that coming back in the summer, I’ll call you a damned dirty liar.
So with all that in mind, here’s what I see shaking down tomorrow morning:
Count ‘Em: THE REVENANT, THE BIG SHORT, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, SPOTLIGHT
Good Looks: CAROL, THE MARTIAN
Need a Friendly Bounce: BRIDGE OF SPIES, BROOKLYN, THE HATEFUL EIGHT, ROOM, SICARIO, STEVE JOBS, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, TRUMBO
Sitting on The Bench: BEASTS OF NO NATION, EX MACHINA, JOY, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
As Indiewire asked this week, the biggest question that remains to be seen in a year where there are so many likes and so few “loves” is just how many Best Picture nominees will there be? A film has to appear on 5% of the ballots to qualify…leaving us to wonder how many of those there are. Might this be the first year since the variable class number that we actually get back down to five nominees?
In a year of so much indecision, I’d be surprised.
Here’s a gathering of what’s gone down these past two weeks. Feel free to make your guesses in the comments section.
Writers Guild Nominees
Best Original Screenplay:
BRIDGE OF SPIES (Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
SPOTLIGHT (Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer)
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman)
TRAINWRECK (Amy Schumer)
Best Adapted Screenplay
THE BIG SHORT (Adam McKay, Charles Randolph)
CAROL (Phyllis Nagy)
THE MARTIAN (Drew Goddard)
STEVE JOBS (Aaron Sorkin)
TRUMBO (John McNamara)
Producers Guild Nominees
THE BIG SHORT
Producers: Brad Pitt & Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner
BRIDGE OF SPIES
Producers: Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt, Kristie Macosko Krieger
Producers: Finola Dwyer & Amanda Posey
This film is in the process of being vetted for producer eligibility
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Producers: Doug Mitchell & George Miller
Producers: Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer, Mark Huffam
Producers: Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent, Keith Redmon
Producers: Basil Iwanyk, Edward L. McDonnell, Molly Smith
Producers: Michael Sugar & Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Blye Pagon Faust
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
Producers: Ice Cube & Matt Alvarez, F. Gary Gray, Dr. Dre, Scott Bernstein
Adam McKay, THE BIG SHORT
George Miller, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Ridley Scott, THE MARTIAN
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, THE REVENANT
Tom McCarthy, SPOTLIGHT