As January nears its end, we find ourselves knee deep in awards season. The Golden Globes have come to pass, as have the Critics Choice Awards, each offering up their widespread wealth and giving slight indication into how the more important cinematic awards – the four guild awards and the Oscars – will eventually play out. It’s been a wild season with the field narrowing only an inch at a time day by day. What began as a funnel of big screen riches has been molded into a spreadsheet of many possibilities and only a few definite locks. In the last few days, three of the biggest events thus far in the 2013 awards season have transpired, beginning with the Oscar nominations last Thursday morning, followed by the Screen Actors Guild awards (SAG’s) on Saturday night, and culminating with the Producers Guild Awards (PGA’s) Sunday night.
What’s most intriguing about that lineup is watching the two guild awards close out after The Academy has already posted their nominations. The Oscar nominations by no means indicate how the individual guilds will hand out their awards, but if, by some chance, a non-Oscar nominated actor who the Screen Actors Guild did nominate were to walk away with a SAG award, it would become a major awards season discrepancy. Whoever each guild crowns each year starts to build frontrunner status for the Academy Awards, but these discrepancies occur often in the most surprising ways. For instance, last year at the Director’s Guild Awards (the DGA’s and the WGA’s – Writers Guild Awards – for 2014 will be announced on January 24th and February 1st, respectively), Ben Affleck was awarded the top prize, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences didn’t even nominate Affleck for his direction of Argo. If the Academy had followed suit with their nominations, Affleck walking off with a Best Director Oscar would have been expected, but his absence from the category opened the door for eventual Best Director winner, Ang Lee. Nonetheless, Argo’s triumph at the SAG awards, PGAs, and WGAs in the adapted screenplay category assured its path to Best Picture on Oscar night. Therefore, even with slight discrepancies, the pattern that begins to emerge definitely cements certain actors, directors, and films as the ones to beat.
Currently, we have the results of just the SAG’s and the PGA’s to mull over when considering who might win on the evening of March 2nd. At the multi-faceted SAG awards, actors Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) were awarded Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor, as expected, while Dallas Buyers Club’s Matthew McConaughey was given a major boost in the Best Actor category and Lupita Nyong’o hopped over the predicted Jennifer Lawrence to receive Best Supporting Actress for her emotional work in 12 Years a Slave. These four actors are now undeniable frontrunners in the four acting categories and each of them are nominated for Oscars. Interestingly enough, while Jennifer Lawrence was the only member of the monstrous American Hustle ensemble to get a SAG nomination (Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Lawrence are all nominated for Oscars), American Hustle was awarded Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Motion Picture – the SAG equivalent to Best Picture. At this point on Saturday night, SAG had primed American Hustle for a direct route to Best Picture.
But the very next night, Hustle was struck with a hard blow. The PGA’s not only skipped American Hustle for their top prize, but awarded a tie – the first tie in PGA history – to two other Best Picture nominated films: 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. The awards race became even more complicated only 24 hours after the competition seemed to be winding down. Leading into the PGA’s, the SAG’s, and even the Golden Globes, it was looking like a three-way race to the finish line for American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, and Gravity. At the Golden Globes, Hustle won Best Picture Musical or Comedy, 12 Years won Best Picture Drama, and Gravity’s director, Alfonso Cuaron, won Best Director. Now, the Screen Actors Guild and the Producers Guild have locked this trifecta in the lead, though without offering a single insight into which of the three will eventually win Best Picture. This awards race is officially one of the tightest and most unpredictable to come along in well over a decade.
As for the remaining guilds, it’s hard to gauge how much of an impact they will directly have in the Best Picture race. If I were to have my way, Spike Jonze would be awarded Best Original Screenplay by the WGA – Her’s five Oscar nominations, namely in the Best Original Screenplay category, suggests that Jonze may be the writer to beat – and the finale of a trilogy eighteen years in the making is the perfect setup for Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater to win Best Adapted Screenplay from the WGA. This latter prediction could fall into either Billy Ray’s (Captain Phillips) or Terence Winter’s (The Wolf of Wall Street) hands as well, but even if that were to happen, the writing behind Hustle, 12 Years, and Gravity goes home empty handed. With regards to the Director’s Guild Awards, I firmly believe that Alfonso Cuaron will win and will plow on straight to victory on Oscar night. However, I don’t know if the Academy will give Gravity Best Picture; Cuaron winning Best Director is how I predict the Academy giving his perilous space-set adventure the recognition it deserves. Cuaron is a lock, just like Leto and Blanchett in the acting categories, so his eventual DGA win doesn’t really boost Gravity’s chances as much as it would any other year.
Bottom line, this awards race is too close for comfort and honestly may not open up until the winners are announced on Oscar night. We will see if the WGA’s and the DGA’s line up as I have predicted, and we’ll definitely be offering up our collective thoughts on their results and our predictions for the forthcoming Academy Awards. But until then, this is where we stand.
Congratulations to all of the winners of the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the Producers Guild Awards.
Article by Mike Murphy