They Shoot Oscar Prognosticators, Don't They?

Guild Weekend Brings Oscar Race Into Focus

By J. Don Birnam

January 30, 2017


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It was a busy weekend, both around the world of policy and politics, but also in that La La Land of awards season. Over the last few days, the Editors, the Actors, and the Producers all handed out their top prizes, making it clearer - as if it wasn’t already - who and what is likely headed to Oscar glory next month. Let’s take a look shall we?

The Eddie Awards’ Split Decision

As we mentioned during our predictions post, and many times before, the Editors are one of the most important branches of the Academy. In the last 26 years, 20 of the winners of an ACE Eddie for editing went on to win Best Editing at the Oscars. Ten of those also won Best Picture.

But with two categories here, it is not entirely clear what the awards mean this year, particularly since the frontrunner, La La Land, was in the easier comedy category. So, just as we predicted last week, La La Land took home the prize for Best Edited Comedy, while Arrival walked home with that statuette in Best Drama. Are those necessarily the best edited movies in their races? Perhaps not, but the Editors know they are important, so they normally will go for their favorite films, not necessarily the Best Edited, like some guilds may be more willing to do.

So what does it mean? Well, for starters, it of course means La La Land is cruising to the win. And what does it mean for the Best Editing Oscar? That is harder to tell. Arrival certainly has a chance to upset the frontrunner there, and it may be the only place they find to reward that very respected movie. But watch out for those surprise years, like when action movies such as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo came out of nowhere. I still think Hacksaw Ridge has a shot, but we analyze this more fully in future posts.

Meanwhile, in other categories, the Editors went with Zootopia and O.J.: Made in America as the Best Edited Animated and Documentary Features, respectively. Get used to those two names also, as we will be hearing and reading a lot about them.


The Producers Seal It?

Then, on Saturday, the ever important Producers Guild of America spoke and they also went for - wait for it - La La Land, of course. Are we surprised? Not really. I called it, sure, but then again so did everyone else. Does it mean that the Oscar race is over? I mean, to the extent it wasn’t already, yes. Sure, The Big Short won here and still lost the Oscar, but that has only happened once since the move to the preferential ballot.

Remember that under that ballot people rank their choices, not just vote for their favorite film. The only other guild to go this way is the PGA. So, to the extent they are an experiment for how a movie does under this system, their predictive value cannot be understated. I think it would take a cataclysm of historic proportions in this awards race to see something else triumph at this point.

Oh, and by the way, Zootopia and O.J. won also in their categories. It’s that sealed, it seems.

The bigger story of the night, apparently, was the politicization of the event, with several actors speaking out against the Executive Order regarding refugees and immigrants from certain countries. After the Globes politicization, one wonders how much steam this train is going to have. It is possible that by February 26th the industry will be sick of it. Then again, with everything happening, maybe not.

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