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On the Acting Categories — Will There Be Upsets?

I asked my followers on Facebook what they wanted me to write about, and it turned out to be whether or not there could or would be upsets in the acting categories, which feel pretty locked right now. So there are a few things to know heading into these. The first is that the acting categories are voted on as they’ve always been voted on: the one with the most votes wins. The other thing to note is that the Academy pushed the date of the Oscars up by one month starting in 2004 — after that, upsets became much less frequent. There is much more of a well-oiled machine that happens now because there is not that much time for things to shift. Since there is such a yawning chasm of time between nominations and voting (still no voting until the 20th) I would say that that means we have the potential for shifts in thinking, but we don’t know — and can’t know — in what direction.

For our purposes, right now we have a match with the Globes and SAG, which looks like this:

In looking over the history, having a match with Globe and SAG like this is rare. In fact, unless I’m reading the charts wrong, I don’t think it’s ever happened since SAG started handing out awards. Usually there is at least one that doesn’t match. But let’s take ensemble out of it and look for just years where Globes and SAGs matched in just the acting categories.

That was 2014, when Birdman won — and that did not have a Globe win for Picture:

And all four actors went on to win the Oscar.

There was also 2009 and 2010 — same thing, forget ensemble, but again all four went on to win the Oscar:

But if you go back to before the date change, you start to see a lot of non-matches:

In general, the film that wins Best Picture usually has either a Globe win or a SAG ensemble win. The only time recently that didn’t happen was in 2009 when The Hurt Locker won the PGA/DGA and then the Oscar but didn’t win either the Globe or the SAG ensemble.

The same sort of goes with Oscar wins now, even though as you can see from above, there were wins that came from neither the Globe nor the SAG, like James Coburn for Affliction and Judi Dench for Shakespeare in Love.

Here are the only ones that lost the Oscar after winning both the Globe and the SAG:

Julie Christie for Away from Her in 2007. Marion Cotillard had won the Globe for La Vie en Rose, did not win the SAG, but won BAFTA and then went on to win the Oscar. 

Eddie Murphy for Dreamgirls in 2006 won the Globe and the SAG and then lost the Oscar to Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine. 

Russell Crowe for A Beautiful Mind won both, then lost the Oscar to Denzel Washington for Training Day.

Those aren’t all that reliable in terms of maybe knocking off one or two from our list. I think the four frontrunners this year are rock solid with the possible exception of Best Actress. I think they will want to reward Frances McDormand, who deserves it 100%. But I also think there could be a Lady Bird shift, especially if Lady Bird doesn’t win anything else, which it might. Look, when Steven Spielberg begs to sit next to Greta Gerwig at the nominees luncheon, you know Lady Bird ain’t going home empty-handed. So what will it win? Well, if it wins Original Screenplay it wins Picture — PROBABLY — unless we’re looking at a very weird year where Get Out wins Picture, Lady Bird wins screenplay, and Shape of Water wins director — which honestly, I would not mind. Or any combination or permutation thereof with those three films.

But if Lady Bird doesn’t win any of those — if Get Out is your screenplay and Best Picture winner and Shape gets Director plus a bunch of other stuff. I could see Saoirse Ronan upsetting in the Best Actress category, similar to Julie Christie losing to Marion Cotillard. Ronan, like all Team Lady Bird, is pulling out the stops with publicity: going everywhere, being everywhere. That is really how you win. So that’s something to consider.

In terms of supporting actor, there are some, like my friend Erik Anderson at AwardsWatch, who have suggested that Sam Rockwell might be vulnerable for Three Billboards in light of film Twitter’s ongoing anger at the film, which has been discussed. To save themselves from the shitstorm of hashtags, voters might just shift their votes in that category. A great performance is a great performance and Sam Rockwell gives one. Richard Jenkins could also upset there if Shape of Water sweeps, which hasn’t happened in a while. I’m not sure Timothee Chalamet can unseat Gary Oldman, though I know many want that to happen and are actively trying to make that happen. Chalamet couldn’t be more gracious and adorable throughout the run-up to the awards and really just looks so happy to be there. All of the nominees seem to really like each other — there is a celebratory aspect to the awards that I like to see. I think that’s because they’re inclusive — there are so many ideas in the race this year, the Best Director category is well represented across the board, and there are so many different original stories to be told.

Me, I’ll probably stick with the four who have won Globes and SAG. Even if I thought there MIGHT be an upset somewhere, I can’t really make the call at the moment as to where that might be.

You can look at our Excel file here if you’d like:

Copy of globessagoscar