For the first time in Oscar/DGA history (as far as I know) I’m not entirely sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the DGA has always announced before the Oscar nomination ballots are due but I know for the past ten years they certainly haven’t.  In moving their dates back, the Oscar voters will be flying blind, without the harbinger of the highly influential DGA backing them.  It will go like this:

Golden Globe nominations announced-December 13,2012
Oscar ballot deadline-January 3, 2013
PGA nominations announce-January 3, 2013
DGA ballot deadline-January 7, 2013
DGA nominations-January 8, 2013
Oscar nominations–January 10, 2013
Critics Choice Awards–January 10, 2013 (anticipated date, not announced)
Golden Globes ceremony–January 13, 2013

There is a tiny possibility that the DGA might alter their dates once they get a gander at this – but the way it stands now, only the PGA might have the smallest amount of influence being announced the last day Oscar voters have to turn in their ballots. But voters will not have the benefit of the five picks from the Directors Guild and that throws a kink in the works.

That puts the focus on the two major awards that take place this year prior to the Oscar nominations.  Both the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice awards are set to announce their nominations in mid-December and will hold their winners around the time the Oscars are announced. That means that the Oscar nominations will likely influence who wins those awards and conversely, the nominations by these voting bodies could very well influence the Oscars — why, because the DGA and PGA are no longer a part of the equation. Kind of scary, non?

So I went back to look over the winning directors in the various groups to find out how well they matched up.  It turns out that it isn’t that much of a mismatch as I thought it would be. Both groups, the Globes and the Critics Choice have taken turns matching up with Oscar, neither particularly better or worse than the other. The difference between them and the guilds is that critics aren’t industry voters. In the Critics Choice case, they are some 200 to 300 critics, some bloggers, some TV people — like Brad Brevet of Rope of Silicon, Scott Feinberg, Kris Tapley, Jeff Wells, David Poland, Anne Thompson, Clayton Davis of Awards Circuit, Ed Douglas of Coming Soon, Robert Osbourne of TCM — it’s a hodge-podge- and the Globes are 90 or so foreign journalists.  In addition to these two groups there are the reagional and metropolitan critics groups — like Los Angeles and New York Film critics, the Southeastern Film Critics, the Boston Film Critics, the Online Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Online and on and it goes. Many are crossover members in many different groups and all they do is vote on these awards and then go write about the awards they just voted on. This is the main reason I have never joined the BFCA (despite the alluring notion of free screeners). It always seemed to me a weird thing, to belong to that group and then write about that group. But others don’t seem to have a problem with it and in fact, wear their honor proudly.

At any rate, looking at the major critics wins could help determine a strong contender, especially if they align. But predicting the DGA nominees and the Oscar nominees for Directing and Best Picture is going to be harder than it has ever been. The inclination is going to be to follow the Globes or the BFCA or both. But history tells us that you can’t rely on them 100%.  Still, how much will that change now that the DGA are out of the loop?

In fact, the elimination of DGA influence might derail some films that were headed for the Oscars.  The Oscars themselves will then derail some — like Dreamgirls, for instance.  What I find interesting in looking back is that I can see a direct influence by some of the bloggers in support of early contenders, boosted particularly by the BFCAs — like Sweeney Todd or In America. Then favor for those films dropped off once they failed to get a DGA nod.  But we will have no such derailment this year and will now have to rely on instinct to predict.

Right now, some directors are already popping.  How or if they will last will depend on how the race goes. But to my mind, it’s shaping up so far like this.

Frontrunners
1. Ben Affleck, Argo
2. Ang Lee, Life of Pi
3. Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
4. Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. David O. Russell, The Silver Linings Playbook

Second tier:
Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises
Ben Lewin, The Sessions
Michael Haneke, Amour

Still Sight Unseen:
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Peter Jackson, The Hobbit
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
Bob Zemeckis, Flight
Gus Van Sant, The Promised Land

But the  longer a movie must wait to be seen, the harder it will be to gather enough buzz to turn the Titanic away from the iceberg. The longer they wait, the more inevitable it will be that the ship keeps heading in the direction its headed in. Remember the rule about an object in motion staying in motion.  These movies should be seen as early as possible so they can get their place in line.

The History

*film nominated/+ won Best Picture at the Oscars

+won

2011

Globes | BFCA | DGA | OSCAR

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist+ Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist+ Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist+
Martin Scorsese, Hugo+ Martin Scorsese, Hugo* Martin Scorsese, Hugo Martin Scorsese, Hugo*
Alexander Payne, The Descendants Alexander Payne, The Descendants* Alexander Payne, The Descendants Alexander Payne, The Descendants*
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris Spielberg, War Horse* Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris*
George Clooney, Ides of March Daldry, Loud and Close* David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Terrence Malick, Tree of Life*
Refn, Drive

2010

Globes | BFCA | DGA | OSCAR

Tom Hooper The King’s Speech Tom Hooper the King’s Speech Tom Hooper The King’s Speech+ Tom Hooper the King’s Speech+
David Fincher, Social Network+ David Fincher, Social Network+ David Fincher, Social Network David Fincher, Social Network*
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan* Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan*
David O’Russell, The Fighter Danny Boyle 127 Hours David O’Russell, The Fighter David O’Russell, The Fighter*
Joel & Ethan Coen True Grit The Coens, True Grit*
Christopher Nolan, Inception* Christopher Nolan, Inception* Christopher Nolan, Inception*

2009

Globes | BFCA | DGA | OSCAR

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker Bigelow, Hurt Locker+ Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker Bigelow, Hurt Locker+
Clint Eastwood, Invictus Lee Daniels, Precious* Lee Daniels, Precious Lee Daniels, Precious*
Eastwood, Invictus
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air Jason Reitman, Up in the Air* Jason Reitman, Up in the Air Jason Reitman, Up in the Air*
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds* Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds*
Jim Cameron, Avatar Jim Cameron, Avatar* Jim Cameron, Avatar Jim Cameron, Avatar*

2008

Globes | BFCA | DGA | OSCAR

Danny Boyle, Slumdog Danny Boyle, Slumdog+ Danny Boyle, Slumdog+ Danny Boyle, Slumdog+
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon* Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon*
Sam Mendes, Rev Road Gus Van Sant, Milk* Gus Van Sant, Milk Gus Van Sant, Milk*
David Fincher, Benjamin Button David Fincher, Benjamin Button David Fincher, Benjamin Button David Fincher, Benjamin Button*
Stephen Daldry, The Reader* Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Stephen Daldry, The Reader*

2007

Globes | BFCA | DGA | OSCAR

Joel and Ethan Coen,

No Country

Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country+
Ridley Scott, Am Gangster Sean Penn, Into the Wild Sean Penn, Into the Wild Jason Reitman, Juno*
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Joe Wright, Atonement Joe Wright, Atonement* Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton*
Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood*

2006

Globes | BFCA | DGA | OSCAR

Stephen Frears, The Queen Stephen Frears, The Queen Stephen Frears, The Queen Stephen Frears, The Queen*
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel Bill Condon, Dreamgirls Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel*
Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima Bill Condon, Dreamgirls Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima*
Clint Eastwood, Flags of our Fathers Paul Greengrass, United 93 Faris and Dayton, Little Miss Sunshine* Paul Greengrass, United 93
Martin Scorsese, The Departed Martin Scorsese, The Departed Martin Scorsese, The Departed Martin Scorsese, The Departed+

2005

Globes | BFCA | DGA | OSCAR

Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain*
George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck*
Woody Allen, Match Point Paul Haggis, Crash+ Paul Haggis, Crash Paul Haggis, Crash+
Fernando Meirelles, Constant Gardener
Peter Jackson, King Kong Ron Howard, Cinderella Man Bennett Miller, Capote Bennett Miller, Capote*
Steven Spielberg, Munich Steven Spielberg, Munich * Steven Spielberg, Munich Steven Spielberg, Munich *

2004

Globes | BFCA | DGA | OSCAR

Alexander Payne for Sideways Alexander Payne for Sideways Alexander Payne for Sideways Alexander Payne for Sideways*
Martin Scorsese for The Aviator Martin Scorsese for The Aviator Martin Scorsese for The Aviator Martin Scorsese for The Aviator*
Mike Nichols, Closer Taylor Hackford for Ray Taylor Hackford for Ray Taylor Hackford for Ray*
Marc Forster for Finding Neverland Marc Forster for Finding Neverland Marc Forster for Finding Neverland* Mike Leigh for Vera Drake
Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby+

2003

Globes | BFCA | DGA | OSCAR

Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation*
Clint Eastwood, Mystic River Clint Eastwood, Mystic River Clint Eastwood, Mystic River Clint Eastwood, Mystic River*
Peter Jackson, ROTK Peter Jackson, ROTK Peter Jackson, ROTK Peter Jackson, ROTK+
Peter Weir, Master and Commander Tim Burton, Big Fish Peter Weir, Master and Commander Peter Weir, Master and Commander*
Anthony Minghella, Cold Mountain Jim Sheridan, In America Gary Ross, Seabiscuit* Fernando Merielles, City of God

2002

Globes | DGA | OSCAR

Martin Scorsese, Gangs of New York* Martin Scorsese, Gangs of New York Martin Scorsese, GONY*
Peter Jackson, LOTR Two Towers Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings Two Towers* Pedro Almodovar, Talk to her
Alexander Payne, About Schmidt Roman Polanski, The Pianist Roman Polanski, The Pianist*
Spike Jonze, Adaptation
Rob Marshall, Chicago Rob Marshall, Chicago Rob Marshall, Chicago+
Steven Daldry, The Hours* Steven Daldry, The Hours Steven Daldry, The Hours*

2001

Globes | DGA | OSCAR

Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind+
Peter Jackson, LOTR Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings Peter Jackson, LOTR*
Robert Altman, Gosford Park* Christopher Nolan, Memento Robert Altman, Gosford Park*
Steven Spielberg, AI Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down
David Lynch, Mulholland Drive David Lynch, Mulholland Drive
Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge*