They Shoot Oscar Prognosticators, Don't They?

On the Eve of Oscar Nods

By J. Don Birnam

January 19, 2017

Scheming for a nomination.

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A week before the Oscar nominations are announced, we take a look at what all the precursor nominations tell us about what is likely to come.

As you may know, this year the Academy pushed back the nominations date by a week to give voters more chance to view the potential nominees (in a supposed effort to expand the field of nominees). This will, in turn, give voters less time to view the actual nominees, the consequences of which we will discuss later. For now, the supposition is that the expanded voting period will give people more time and result in a more diverse slate.

I don’t buy it. They like what they like. And, in any case, this year the movies are already so diverse that it will be almost impossible - albeit a total whiteout by the Academy - to really test this theory.

Instead, let’s do what we did last year and see if we can derive some sort of correlation between what the Guilds have done and what the Academy may do.

The Ever Important Directors Guild

We know the big story of SAG this year, that it snubbed La La Land and is essentially the only nick in the train’s armor. But, fret not Chazelle lovers, the young director was recognized by his peers with a nomination at the DGA last week, one that, if he wins, means you can pretty much call the race over now.

Joining him were the directors of Moonlight (Barry Jenkins), Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan), Arrival (Denis Villeneuve), and, surprisingly, Lion (Garth Davis). Now, the DGA rarely matches the Oscars five for five, so it is likely that at least one of these gents will miss out - the branch may go for Denzel Washington or Mel Gibson, for example. But the nod here makes Lion an almost impossible lock for a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars, at least combined with its PGA nod and its across the board support from the guilds.


The Brits Speak at BAFTA

Another important guild to speak in the last parts of stage two were the British. Yes, they showed some insularity by recognizing Ken Loach’s Cannes winner I, Daniel Blake with a nomination, but the other four should by now look familiar. It was the “Big Three” plus Arrival, which, with the PGA and DGA nod also seems mortally locked for a nomination. Indeed, the movie has strong, passionate support, which is indicative of a high chance at a nomination.

BAFTA was perhaps more interesting in the acting races. Aside from the usual suspects (Emma Stone, Amy Adams, Natalie Portman), we saw Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt reappear after they did so at SAG. When SAG did it, it was funny. But with the Brits doing it, now we are listening. Given that she’s a British actress, I’m still not buying it, but it does seem that Streep is in. This makes the impossibly tight Best Actress race even tighter, with four spots gone and only one left for Annette Bening, Isabelle Huppert, Ruth Negga, etc. to duke it out. The other possibility, of course, is that one of the main four misses out, but that will be impossible to predict.

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