The Oscar Warrior: Where We At? – Final Pre-Nominations Update

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The Oscar nominations will be announced in just five short days and we wanted to do a quick update before we got too heavily into Sundance Film Festival craziness (which you’ll be able to read about here, too). The Golden Globes have been and gone as have the Critics Choice Awards and we’re just two days away from the Producers Guild (PGA) announcing their awards.

You may have read our predictions roughly a month back, which were made before some of the guilds had made their nomination, and there have only been a couple big changes.

Right now, there are five movies pretty much guaranteed to get Best Picture nominations, since all of them have overwhelming support among the guilds or have already won precursors, plus four of them have also received nominations from the DGA. These five are:

*The Artist

*The Descendants

*The Help

*Hugo

*Midnight in Paris

Bennett Miller’s Moneyball also has a very good chance at getting in with support from the WGA, PGA and individual SAG nominations.

The movie which has been making the biggest break since we made our predictions is David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which received nominations from the PGA, the WGA, and most importantly, the DGA, showing huge support from within the industry. David Fincher’s DGA nomination put “Dragon Tattoo” into the conversation as a Best Picture contender and there seems to be enough fans that it should be the seventh Best Picture nominee. Rooney Mara was ignored by SAG and the cast wasn’t included in the SAG Ensemble nominations, but there’s still a chance that entering the game late will mean Academy voters filling out the ballot will remember Mara’s performance and include her. Not that it matters since Leading Actress is between Meryl Streep and Viola Davis and only Michelle Williams stands a chance of surprising on Oscar night. (It won’t happen.)

The other interesting surprise entry into the Best Picture race is Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids, which received a PGA nomination, a SAG Ensemble nomination as well as a WGA nomination for its script. That’s all well and good but will Oscar voters really look at the R-rated raunchy comedy as something that needs to be honored in the same way as some of the more prestigious films above? Will they put it as their first, second or even third choice of the year while filling out the ballots? That’s the question and we think there’s enough separation between guild and Academy members that we won’t see the popular movie make it into the Best Picture race. Even so, it’s the most likely eighth nomination.

We feel bad for Nicolas Refn’s Drive and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, which got so much critical support throughout the year going back to the Cannes Film Festival, and now, when we’re just days away from Oscar nominations, it seems very unlikely either will be a part of the conversation. Both were snubbed by the Producers Guild and the WGA and DGA and SAG, and neither received an ACE Eddie nomination while all of the movies mentioned above did. Because the Academy’s Best Picture nominations are submitted by the entire membership, there’s still a chance of 5% of them supporting one movie or another but it’s not looking good. In fact, George Clooney’s The Ides of March seems to be more relevant thanks to a PGA nomination.

Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is pretty much dead in the water, and it looks like Steven Spielberg’s War Horse is on the way to join it even though both movies were considered “Oscar fodder” long before anyone had a chance to see them. Both were snubbed by SAG, by the WGA and most importantly by the DGA, although the PGA did include War Horse among its ten nominations. But then you have some of the technical guilds, like the cinematographers (ASC) and the recently announced Costume Design Guild. Not being included in two categories that should have been a shoe-in for this movie is not a good sign. Since War Horse was relying heavily on technical awards–it did get an ACE Eddie nomination thankfully–we’re starting to wonder whether it will even be one of the movies that squeaks in for a Best Picture nomination. It’s on the outskirts right now and could end up #9 if older Academy members prefer its old-fashioned sentiment, but it’s just not looking great.

We have a feeling that the pre-Oscar guild awards may be split up with the WGA Adapted Screenplay going to The Descendants and Original Screenplay going to Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. The Help could easily win the coveted SAG Ensemble award as well, because that has the type of large ensemble cast that’s perfect to win (though one could say that about all the other nominees as well).

It certainly will be interesting to see who the producers will choose–they announce on Saturday, January 21–and that will certainly be seen as a sea change in the Oscar race. If they go with The Artist, like so many groups before them, it’s pretty much a shoe-in to win Oscar night, even if it misses out on winning with the DGA or SAG. And of course, if it wins either of those groups’ top awards then this year’s Oscar race is pretty much over and The Artist will take it all.