- There has been a lot of shifting since my last update, due to the PGA, SAG, and Eddie Awards shows. This is about as wide open a race as there has ever been, as it took until the SAG and Eddie Awards for any one movie to pick up a second major award for best picture. The National Board of Review started things off by honoring Mad Max: Fury Road, the New York Critics Circle awarded Carol (which didn’t even get an Oscar Best Picture nod), the Golden Globes honored The Revenant and The Martian with its top two awards, the Critics’ Choice Awards honored Spotlight, and the PGAs bestowed their blessing on The Big Short. So things are a bit of a mess right now, as a lot of the historical indicators are going against each other. This could really be a year where the result of this category remains in doubt right up to the night of the show. Before I get into the in-depth analysis, here once again are the nominees:
The Big Short
Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
Bridge of Spies
Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers
Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
Mad Max: Fury Road
Doug Mitchell and George Miller, Producers
Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam, Producers
Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent and Keith Redmon, Producers
Ed Guiney, Producer
Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust, Producers
Seriously, thanks for coming. Enjoy the show, because you will not be winning.
Bridge of Spies
- Nothing has really changed with these films. Bridge of Spies has a slight chance to make some noise because of the BAFTAs, but that seems unlikely at this point.
Can’t Put You Away Quite Yet
- The Martian hangs around in contention simply because of how popular the movie is, and because Ridley Scott could still win the DGA Award. That would show there is enough support in the guilds for this movie to still have a chance.
Still Contenders, But Running Out of Chances
- Things have not gone well lately for The Revenant, and it is looking increasingly likely that The Golden Globes were, like many thought, an aberration that likely resulted from the Globes wanting to apologize to Iñárritu for not honoring Birdman last year. Still, this film cannot be counted out yet. Leo is almost a lock to continue his acting win streak, Iñárritu still has a strong chance to win the DGA, and The Revenant could still come up big at the BAFTAs. Not to mention this is still the film with the most Oscar nominations. Count it out at your peril.
Mad Max: Fury Road
- This film is still holding strong, as it claimed the Eddie for this past weekend for Best Dramatic Editing. This is not only a strong indicator that Mad Max is at worst a co-favorite to win the Best Editing Oscar (which would be quite the boon both in general and for its Best Picture chances), but it also allowed the film to stay in the headlines after not being a part of the SAG Awards in any way. With George Miller probably the slight favorite right now to win the DGA Award, things are looking up for Mad Max. The problem is that the DGAs are one of the last real chances for Mad Max to show its strength, so if Miller doesn’t pick up the prize his film’s momentum might stall. It didn’t get nominated for the top BAFTA prize or the top WGA prize, so without that DGA win, this film will spend a lot of time out of the spotlight. Furthermore, the Academy has slowly moved away from automatically assuming the Best Picture and Best Director Award winners have to match, so even a DGA win is not as huge a deal as it might appear. Mad Max really needed the PGA win, probably more than anyone else (of the real contenders), because the lack of acting and writing support still weigh heavily on this film. With all that said, right now things are going decently well for the film, and it still could find itself on top in the end.
The Two-Horse Race
- These final two films are in a virtual tie at this point, which isn’t really that surprising, as these two were the only ones that have checked all the major nomination boxes across the big guilds. That doesn’t mean I am ready to say that the Best Picture Winner will definitely be one of these two, but they have definitely put some distance between themselves and the pack.
The Big Short
- This movie always seemed primed to make a move, but just never quite seen able to, and then after a matter of fact announcement from Michael B. Jordan, everything changed. The Big Short won the Producer Guilds of America Award for Best Picture, and established itself as the top threat in the Oscar race. Why is that, exactly? Well the PGAs are the only award body whose voting works just like the preferential ballot system for the Oscars, and since they switched over to that system in 2009, the PGA winner has gone on to win Best Picture at the Oscars every year (though they kind of cheated in 2013 when they declared a tie between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave). True, that is a small sample size, but in general the PGAs have been one of the better predictors of Best Picture Winners. The last time they differed in selections was in 2006, when the PGAs picked Little Miss Sunshine over The Departed, and since the PGA Awards started in 1989, they have only differed from the Oscars seven times (though there was a strange drought from 2004-2006 where the PGAs were off three straight times). This makes the PGAs a pretty solid indicator of where the race is going, but it must be said that the guild award has a harder time predicting the outcome of weirder years, and this is definitely one of those. Further elevating The Big Short‘s chances: it won the comedy Eddie this past weekend. Now, the drama winner is generally considered the real big winner of the night, but The Big Short has the distinction of being the only one of the nominees that can at least say it was not beaten by Mad Max, and thus the hope that The Big Short can win the Oscar for Best Editing is still very much alive. This film is surging at just the right time, and still has a lot of chances to showcase its support. If Adam McKay somehow pulls off the DGA Award this weekend, this race is probably over.
- Spotlight was once again reeling after a PGA loss, and suddenly began to have the very distinct feeling of being in the position Boyhood was in last year. Then the SAG Awards happened, and while the SAG Awards are not as good an indicator as the PGAs (which makes sense, because the SAGs are only about acting, and the best acted film is not always going to be the best film), it has proven helpful in the past. Two of the bigger examples are when the SAG Awards went with Shakespeare in Love in 1999, and Crash in 2005, which are two of the bigger upsets in Oscar history. With two major wins, Spotlight has now cobbled together a bit of momentum, and still has the rest of the month to show its across the board support, but the film is still on very shaky ground. Its two major awards can be easily explained–it’s understandable that the Critics Choice Awards would pick a film that so celebrates journalism, and generally everyone agrees that the best part of the film is its ensemble. Whether this carries over into support for the other aspect of the film remains to be seen. Similar to The Big Short, if Tom McCarthy can somehow come away with the DGA Award this weekend, the prospects of this film jump by quite a bit, though not into quite the lock The Big Short would be.
So here is how things are looking as of February 4th, 2016:
Current Predicted Winner: The Big Short
- The Big Short
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- The Revenant
- The Martian
- Bridge of Spies
What Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Have Been Nominated (Okay, I am just going to have fun with this, and highlight different films): Carol
Next up, my update on the Acting races. The SAG Awards helped bring a couple of categories more into focus, while casting a bit of chaos into one seemingly sure thing. Let’s jump in.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE NOMINEES
Thanks For Coming
- There is certainly still time for either Ronan or Blanchett (who didn’t even bother showing up to the SAG Awards) to make some noise if either manages to win either the BAFTA or Satellite Awards, but at this point the race is just about over.
Start Getting That Speech Ready
- With the SAG win on top of her previous wins, it looks like Brie Larson should get a spot ready in her home for a little gold statue. Unless some sort of backlash starts against Room or Larson, like, tomorrow, she is pretty much a lock.
Current Predicted Winner: Brie Larson
- Brie Larson
- Saoirse Ronan
- Cate Blanchett
- Charlotte Rampling
- Jennifer Lawrence
Who Should Win: Saoirse Ronan by just a bit over Cate Blanchett
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Rooney Mara, Carol (I am really not okay with this being considered a supporting role), or if we are going with complete snubs, Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE NOMINEE
Thanks for coming… Wait, you will actually come, right?
- Even more so than with Best Actress, the non-frontrunners in this category needed a surprise Best Actor win at the SAG Awards. It did not happen. Fassbender didn’t even bother showing up. Honestly, this race is so over that, can we just get it over with now? It will save everyone a lot of time.
Keep working on those speeches. Maybe you can sound like a real human.
- It’s your time. You grew the beard. You fought a bear. You crawled around in the snow. The Oscar is yours. You know it. Everyone else knows it. So please figure out your damn speech before the Oscars. Even if you have to pretend, figure out how to show some real genuine emotion over this win. We all know how much you wanted it. If you need help, watch John Hamm from this past year as he finally got his due for Mad Men. If you need to go full political, fine, do so. Just let us know you actually are a person and not a perfectly calibrated acting robot. (But if you are a robot, just lead with that, and nothing else will really matter).
Current Predicted Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio
- Leonardo DiCaprio
- Eddie Redmayne
- Matt Damon
- Michael Fassbender
- Brian Cranston
Who Should Win: Whatever, Leo’s fine. Damon would have also been fine. Is there any way we can just make next year’s award worth two Oscars and skip this year? If Damon’s or Leo’s performances still hold up, they can get two Oscars instead.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Mark Ruffalo for Infinitely Polar Bear or Michael B. Jordan for Creed (but seriously, this category is a mess).
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE NOMINEES
Still Have a Chance, But Time is Running Out
Jennifer Jason Leigh
- Unlike the first two races, this one is still very much up for grabs, but the SAG Awards did bring some clarity to things. Any one of these three women could still win, but they are all definitely trending in the wrong direction.
Is your name Kate Winslet? Yes, you still have a chance.
- Winslet is in a weird place. Her lack of momentum since the Golden Globes means you could argue she should be grouped with the previous three women, but her early success and her exclusive access to the state of being Kate Winslet together mean it could be argued she should be paired with the next contender, so I am going to split the difference. She is always going to be lurking as a potential winner, no matter how much Vikander wins in the run up to the big night.
Starting to pull ahead.
- Momentum is on Vikander’s side after her SAG win (and also her SAG dress). There is still too much uncertainty to call Vikander more than the slight favorite, but she has started picking up a lot of major trophies, and is looking like the star of the award season, so things sure are trending towards her victory.
Current Predicted Winner: Alicia Vikander
- Alicia Vikander
- Kate Winslet
- Jennifer Jason Leigh
- Rooney Mara
- Rachel McAdams
Who Should Win: Depends–if this was a race of true supporting nominees, Jennifer Jason Leigh, but it isn’t, so Rooney Mara.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE NOMINEES
If Your Film Wins Best Picture You Could Be a Contender
- Christian Bale might deserve to be in a different designation, because he has more nominations in the lesser awards to lean on than either Hardy or Ruffalo, but considering the only way Bale is winning is if The Big Short wins Best Picture and sweeps him along on its coattails, Bale stays in this grouping. None of these actors feel like they have a real shot on their own.
Don’t Forget About Him
- He’s still the biggest threat to knock off Stallone, but Rylance really needed to win the SAG Award to start building momentum. It’s not a lost cause, but it does feel like his opportunity has passed, even if he does win the BAFTA.
Sure, there are red flags, but who is going to beat him?
- Okay, I will acknowledge I was a little lax in my last post, and forgot to mention that Stallone didn’t have SAG or BAFTA nominations, which in a normal year might stop him from winning the ultimate prize. This is a not a normal year. The person who legitimately could have beaten him is SAG winner Idris Elba, whose win was for a combination of quality performance and the chance to rebuke the Academy for its lack of diversity. Unfortunately, Elba was not nominated, and even if he wins the rest of the non-Oscar awards, it will have little impact on Stallone winning. Plus, it is likely the only reason Stallone failed to get a SAG nomination (and thus a possible win) is because the voting for nominees happened so early in December that not enough people had a chance to see Creed (this was an issue for a number of movies, including The Revenant). People really want to see Stallone win, and there just isn’t anyone there that can knock him off. Still, Stallone probably needs to win the Satellite Award to lock in this win for sure.
Current Predicted Winner: Slyvester Stallone
- Slyvester Stallone
- Mark Rylance
- Christian Bale
- Mark Ruffalo
- Tom Hardy
Who Should Win: Slyvester Stallone (though I think Tom Hardy is pretty damn close)
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Micheal Keaton and/or Liev Schrieber, Spotlight, or Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation, or Benecio Del Toro, Sicario (Lord, this was a super deep category as well).
That’s it for this update. Keep checking in for more from Oscarathon 2016.
Next Update: February 12th