The Writers Guild of America has spoken, choosing their favorite scripts of the year in film and television. They repeat an interesting move from yesterday's Producers Guild Awards in that they've (somewhat) unexpectedly acknowledged Dallas Buyers Club, which few people thought was a strong contender outside of the male acting categories, while skipping the Coen Bros Inside Llewyn Davis for honors.
Entries in precursor awards (157)
And so we've come to it! Oscar ballots go out today and voting begins. That's potentially great timing for The Wolf of Wall Street and (maybe) Saving Mr Banks neither of which have done well in the "precursors" -an awful reductive name, sure, but an accurate one since we're long past the days when awards groups weren't primarily existing to either influence or predict the Oscar race. Both of those late blooming films could still find Oscar favor if voters are taken with them over this holiday break. The timing is also probably good news for American Hustle which is doing strong box office and doesn't have that 'shrugged off' by precursors feeling to overcome.
But, if early predictions from the vast array of pundits hold, this is going to be yet another year that reminds distributors that October is a really great time to release Oscar contenders (Captain Phillips, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity) and maybe not everything needs to wait until the last week of the year.
THREE SUGGESTIONS FOR THOSE BLESSED WITH BALLOTS
01 Watch two more screeners before voting. You can do it. For those in the acting branch might I suggest Short Term 12 and Enough Said? For those in technical fields, why not try Spring Breakers or The Grand Master or something else off the beaten path? Sometimes the small, weird or foreign movies that can't afford huge campaigns have incredible performances and brilliant craftsmanship. Gravity doesn't need your votes anyway. It's safe.
02 PLEASE STOP CATEGORY FRAUD IN ITS TRACKS. The only cure for this madness is for you, the most important movie awards voters on the planet, to reject it. You have the power. If you think Julia Roberts is brilliant in August: Osage County vote for her in Best Actress. Even the author of that film refers to her as "the protagonist" Remember that when you pretend that leading movie stars are supporting, you are in point of fact, penalizing the hardworking character actors for whom the supporting categories were created in 1936. And with so many great supporting ladies available to you this year (Sally Hawkins, Léa Seydoux, Sarah Paulson are all under-loved and why is that?) why waste one of the five spots on a leading performer. Leading ladies have their own category. Vote for Julia there!
03 Ignore the precursors. If you want to vote for James Franco in Spring Breakers or Blue is the Warmest Color for anything or, if you're in the costuming or production design branches and really believe in the work that's happening in a contemporary or out of time film like Stoker or Her or The Bling Ring or whatever but you feel like you're wasting your vote, do it anyway! Longshots can win Oscar nominations but they only can when people like you go with your true favorites and not with whatever high profile accomplishments are happening within the presumed Best Picture nominees.
What three things would you ask AMPAS to consider?
I'd love to find some beautiful extensive if not completist way to cover the annual tradition of film critics awards but I've yet to discover a feasible option. There are now 40+ critics organizations in English language countries (United States, Canada and UK/Ireland) giving out film prizes (to the same 3 films and 6 actors. sigh) and many of those 40+ groups have expanded their annual prizes to include public nomination rounds. If you wanted to cover it all this would mean roughly 60+ articles or so each year on just this one minor aspect of awardage and awardage is just one aspect of movie culture. Frankly, it's too much for The Film Experience to handle, I don't mind saying.
Lots more after the jump including the critical societies we haven't yet discussed!
Time for major chart fixes now that all the major precursors have announced their nominations. We've started with Best Picture, Best Director, Animation & Documentary, and the Visual Categories... all updated to reflect recent changes (still working on the rest!).
The visual categories needed the most fine-tuning though they're much harder to predict prior to the guild nominations. Still, I'm feeling pretty bullish on the my predicted costuming lineup -- not that that branch isn't capable of major surprise inclusions and snubs come nomination morning.
Though the BFCA "Critics Choice" Nominations named the exact ten films most pundits believe are heading towards Best Picture nods, the category is still quite volatile thanks mostly to the precursor underperformance of Saving Mr Banks, the weird resurgence of Rush (of all things), the late breaking Wolf of Wall Street (which underperformed at virtually all the precursors despite a very vocal legion of freshly baptized disciples) and the Weinstein Co's stable of four. It's never wise to count Harvey Weinstein out and the major SAG response to The Butler and August: Osage County combined with the Globe embrace of Philomena and the sweep of "first film" prizes for Fruitvale Station suggest that there's life in that quartet yet.
I'm guessing we have five fairly secure pictures: Hustle, Gravity, 12 Years, Capt Phillips, and Nebraska... which have all shown up everywhere they could have hoped to. But beyond that for the possible 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and/or 10th slots? It still feels like any number and permutation of the remaining eight or so pictures with the buzz could happen. Though, as per usual, I'd love to see a year with just five nominees again if only to watch the internet's collective head explode from the shock of it.
Current Oscar rules do allow for that, you know. We will have anywhere between 5 and 10 Best Picture nominees depending on how the voting goes down (Oscar's own statistical analysis of the past 20 years suggests that 10 is a virtual impossibility).
So have a look at the refurbished charts and report back. More categories to come.
Tim here - I won't keep you very long, since it's just another damn critics' award, but the OFCS has announced its winners this morning, with 12 Years a Slave winning five times, including only the second award that Michael Fassbender has received from any group to date. The asterisk here is that Her wasn't made widely available to the membership at large before the conclusion of voting, and it's the kind of film that tends to do well with OFCS.
The full list:
Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Best Animated Feature: The Wind Rises
Best Film Not in the English Language: Blue Is the Warmest Color
Best Documentary: The Act of Killing
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay: Her
Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Best Editing: Gravity
Best Cinematography: Gravity
Best Sound Design and Best Visual Effects to Gravity
To Roger Ebert, for inspiring so many of our members
Top Ten films Without a U.S. Release: