How’s that Best Picture Race Look Now? ‘Hurt Locker’ Gets a PGA Bump

Photo: Universal Pictures / The Weinstein Co. / 20th Century Fox / Summit Entertainment

What film is the front runner for Oscar’s Best Picture? A week ago it was certainly Avatar as it took home Best Director and Picture (Drama) at the Golden Globes, which meant The Hurt Locker was momentarily pushed to #2. However, tonight the conversation is once again thrown for a loop.

Not only did Inglourious Basterds make a name for itself last night winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble, but tonight the Producers Guild of America awarded The Hurt Locker producers Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicholas Chartier and Greg Shapiro with the even more-telling Darryl F. Zanuck award. The film edged out An Education, Avatar, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, Invictus, Precious, Star Trek, Up and Up in the Air for the award. Pixar’s Up took home the animated feature award and The Cove won for documentary.

If you are wondering if this actually means anything, the Producer’s Guild winner has gone on to win the Oscar Best Picture 13 times in the 20 years the PGA has been handing out awards. However, other than recent winners Slumdog Millionaire and No Country for Old Men, the previous three years weren’t a match with Brokeback Mountain, Little Miss Sunshine and The Aviator taking home the PGA. Strangely enough, Brokeback won the same year the Oscars offered up the surprise win for Crash, a film that also won the Screen Actors Guild Best Ensemble award before winning the Oscar.

Does this mean Inglourious Basterds stands a chance? It certainly means you shouldn’t count it out. Tom O’Neil, one pundit that still believes Basterds will win Best Picture (yes, I asked him less than 24 hours ago and he’s sticking to his prediction), wrote up a comparison piece at Gold Derby comparing the SAG ensemble winners with the eventual Best Picture winners.

The result ended up revealing only seven of the 14 ensemble winners have gone on to win the Oscar. However, the most interesting fact is that two of those seven made for two of the biggest upsets in recent Oscar history: Shakespeare in Love and Crash.

Tom offers the following list where the Screen Actors Guild winner is listed and an * denotes those films that went on to win Best Picture:

  • 2009Inglourious Basterds ?
  • 2008Slumdog Millionaire *
  • 2007No Country for Old Men *
  • 2006Little Miss Sunshine
  • 2005Crash *
  • 2004Sideways
  • 2003Lord of the Rings: Return of the King *
  • 2002Chicago *
  • 2001Gosford Park
  • 2000Traffic
  • 1999American Beauty *
  • 1998Shakespeare in Love *
  • 1997The Full Monty
  • 1996The Birdcage
  • 1995Apollo 13

Emailing back-and-forth with Tom this morning I asked him what he thought about Inglourious Basterds‘s chances considering the 50% chance the SAG winner has of taking Best Picture. He stuck to his guns, and reminded me both Avatar and Up in the Air weren’t nominated. It’s a good point considering we aren’t talking about an even playing field and after all, wouldn’t the edge go to the film with the better acting ensemble rather than the one that wasn’t even nominated? Could that mean Avatar now falls behind both Basterds and The Hurt Locker for consideration?

All things considered, is the race for Best Picture over? Certainly not. However, there is still one major award out there to help us predict which film will take home the grand prize.

The 62nd Annual Directors Guild of America Awards Dinner will be held on Saturday, January 30, 2010. Only six times since the DGA Awards began in 1948 has the Feature Film winner not gone on to win the corresponding Academy Award, and as most Oscar followers know, the Best Director winner is considered one of the best ways to predict which film will win Best Picture. Considering Kathryn Bigelow has got to be the current front-runner (if by only the slimmest of margins) doesn’t that give The Hurt Locker a small edge at the moment?

I’ll be updating my Oscar predictions later this week, but for now you can check my predictions from last week right here and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below.


Marvel and DC