Sounds like we’re talking about bras, doesn’t it? What has come out of the awards rush most prominently is that Lincoln is already breaking records for Steven Spielberg. It isn’t a surprise that it’s just about to cross $100 million, in only 2K theaters. But it is a surprise that it broke a SAG record for Spielberg with 4 nominations (Saving Private Ryan had two), and it’s a surprise that it just broke Spielberg’s Golden Globe record with 7. It also broke the Critics Choice record for any film, much less a Spielberg film, with 13. Maybe you’re thinking it doesn’t matter much until we hear from the DGA and the PGA. But it most certainly does matter, and if you’re paying attention you can see what’s coming. Basically, right now anyway, it is Lincoln vs. everything else. That’s mainly because three films took a little tiny bit of a hit with these awards announcements. This may or may not matter — we’ll trot out those outlier years like Crash and Chariots of Fire and Braveheart — but if you’re looking at how things usually go, Zero Dark Thirty missing a SAG ensemble (even if they didn’t get their screeners in time), and David O. Russell and Tom Hooper missing out on directing nominations at the Globes this morning might be a falter in momentum.
But getting a huge bump was Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, which has already been receiving great buzz by people who’ve seen it. Earning two supporting actor nominations today, plus director, and screenplay, Django is tied with Argo with 5 nominations. According to Tom O’Neil from Gold Derby, that could bump Tarantino into the DGA five, and perhaps into Oscar’s Best Director race too. It’s sort of funny since Inglourious Basterds went toe to toe with The Hurt Locker back in 2009.
The factoid about the Globes record for Spielberg came from Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg, and In Contention’s Kris Tapley dug up the Best Director stat: Only Crash, Driving Miss Daisy, The Sting and Chariots of Fire have won BP without a Globe nod for Director. Again, might mean something, might mean nothing but it’s possible that Django Unchained has just unseated David O. Russell in the Best Director race and Ang Lee might unseat Tom Hooper as well. It is too soon to make any of those calls, of course, but just a heads up.
A quick word about Lincoln. The same way that the size of a hurricane can be forecast by people in the know, if you can’t see the enormity of Lincoln from way back when it started making money at the box office I don’t know what to tell you. That doesn’t mean it’s definitely going to win, or that it can’t be taken down by another film, it just means that anyone who isn’t looking seriously at Lincoln by now ought to find a different hobby than Oscarwatching.
If you’ve worked in the race a long time you can see a “too big to ignore” film coming from a mile away. It isn’t just the movie. It’s the director. It’s the director’s popularity. It’s the level of difficulty. It’s the box office. It’s the actors. It’s the subject matter. Lincoln has, despite what its detractors would like to think about it, the zeitgeist. For anyone who is passionate about Lincoln the President, and passionate about US history, the film will be one of the most emotionally moving experiences of the year. If you thought it was like a “history lesson,” which in hipster/fanboy speak translates to a “bad thing,” you will not envision it taking the top prize because it didn’t move you at all. It is going to compete with Zero Dark Thirty, the critics favorite — that now has an uphill climb because of the SAG ensemble nod — Django Unchained (ditto), Les Mis (no Globe directing nod — not insurmountable) and Silver Linings Playbook (ditto). Life of Pi is also hovering around the edges and could give Lincoln some heat as well.
Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook could be like Crash — no director nod at Globes, wins Editing + SAG ensemble, loses DGA, wins Oscar for Picture. It’s not impossible. Zero Dark Thirty could be like Braveheart, no SAG ensemble nod but win DGA, then Picture and Director. Not impossible.
It’s been a while since the Oscar race has seen a film as formidable as Lincoln. iIn fact, you might have to go all the way back to Schindler’s List. Sure, the critics were more kind back then, no doubt, and there were less of them, and there wasn’t the internet. But so far, Lincoln’s only stumble is not scoring with the New York or LA critics. I expect Zero Dark Thirty to keep winning critics awards, taking National Society and Southeastern Film Critics. We will have to wait until the DGA decides to know for sure what film takes the lead in this contentious, volatile race.
In the acting categories, Richard Gere got a nice boost for Arbitrage, as did Joaquin Phoenix and the supporting castmembers from the Master; and the off-the-radar pic Salmon Fishing in the Yemen received three Globes nods. Nicole Kidman, Helen Mirren and Naomi Watts appear to be taking a permanent spot in the race. The Weinstein Co. came in with the most nominations, 15 in total, followed by Sony with 12.
The Globes announcement was the last of the big ones. Oscar ballots will be sent out in just four days. If they were being sent out a few weeks later, there might be wiggle room for things to change. But the race RIGHT NOW is likely tightening into the race that will turn up when Oscar nominations are announced. Since they won’t have the DGA or PGA to guide them, we might have mix-up all the way down the line. In the past few years, things have been so predictable there hasn’t even really been a flexible Oscar race. No one can say that about this year.