The State of the Race: Do the Guilds Tell Oscar What to Do?

gurusfeb6

“People will think…” “What I tell them to think.” — Citizen Kane

This year has set up a situation where it really does test the influence of the growing guilds. So much so that you have to wonder whether there is any point to having an Academy at all.  Why bother inviting members or creating an exclusivity when anyone can basically join these other large guilds if they work in the industry and they get to decide what the Best Picture of the Year is.  In a way, it’s the reverse of 2010, when the critics unanimously chose The Social Network but the guilds said no. And the Academy followed suit.   The Oscar directors branch is the single most important group in the Oscar race.  To override them is to break with Academy history in such a significant way that it would signal a power shift in Hollywood away from the Academy and towards the guilds.

When Oscar announced that they were pushing back their ballot deadline to occur before the guilds announced, it was the rare opportunity to see what the Academy, unfettered by the guilds’ influence, really thought about the films in the conversation. My pundit friends said oh no, they think the same way the guilds do so there won’t be any noticeable difference.  Except that there was.  The directors everyone thought should be there weren’t there.

When the Oscar nominations came out and suddenly, Ben Affleck, the popular movie star in the race was what the public likes to call “snubbed.”  At the same time Argo won the Critics Choice and the Golden Globe, making the “snub” seem even more unfair. Two standing ovations at the Critics Choice awards around the same time as the PGA, SAG and WGA ballots were turned in signaled a near unanimous decision by the guilds to “correct” the Academy’s mistake.   Now it’s up to the Academy to decide if yes, they made a mistake leaving off Ben Affleck. Or no, they didn’t.

The dominance of the guilds is a recent thing.  The last time we saw a near unanimous decision by the guilds to support one movie was Apollo 13.  Before that, when the Color Purple won the DGA, the guild awards, as such, didn’t exist.  The SAG awards only started in 1995. The Producers Guild awards only started in 1990.  By contrast, the WGA and DGA started in 1949, and the Eddie in 1950.   For years, they were the only major guilds and their influence was somewhat minimal, all except the DGA.

Back when I first started Oscar blogging, the Oscars were still held in March.  The Golden Globes were considered the major influencer, not the guilds.  There was enough time between the Globes and the Oscars to ruminate on the frontrunner.  There was time to change things around and the Academy mostly did what they wanted to do.  But when the Academy pushed their date back to February for the ceremony, the awards predicting game got really easy.  Everybody voted at the same time in the same order.  The bloggers and critics herded the contenders into the pen — you had your de facto frontrunners.  The guilds announced their nominees, which were never that hard to predict.  The Academy then announced their nominees.  Everything followed a predictable pattern and the Oscars were the easiest thing to call because by that time it had all been decided.

If Ben Affleck had gotten a Best Director nomination it’s hard to know whether Argo would have been the frontrunner, or whether leaving him off the list gave voters a stronger sense of urgency to award this very nice guy for his good movie and his pretty wife and his nice family. What did he ever do the Academy? I even heard people hating on Michael Haneke because he stole Ben’s spot.

All of the pundits now say Argo can’t lose.  Those of us thinking the Academy won’t break with tradition and will pick the film with 12 nominations and the strongest box office of all of the nominees are currently being called “crazy.” Yet, most of those usually steady pundits have been scrambling around like a pile of ants who just got their jar of honey taken off the counter.  They know it can’t be Lincoln (too boring), they thought it might be Silver Linings Playbook (maybe), Les Miserables (nope), and then maybe Zero Dark Thirty (nope) so then okay, okay, fine, Argo. Argo. Argo.  And those of us who have stuck to Lincoln all along are the crazy ones.

The pundits are gathering securely around Argo and pretending like they know what they’re doing and that it’s not a risky choice. And indeed, it’s hard to not think Argo will defy history four different ways and win. It’s the safe choice to be sure.  If I wanted to be less embarrassed I would just follow what everyone else is doing. But what good is a pundit if all they do is follow what the guilds are doing? Seems to be any old Joe on the street could do that.  Oh the PGA/DGA and SAG said Argo? Okay, Argo.  That’s not really a pundit. A pundit is being Kris Tapley and calling Argo before any of the guilds did.

The thing that will probably convince me is if the WGA goes Chris Terrio’s way.  At that point it will seem a little more likely that Argo can do what no movie has ever been able to do, to me anyway — people like Tom O’Neil and Jeff Wells will continue to berate and humiliate anyone who goes against the status quo.  Argo will very likely take the Eddie. Apollo 13 did not get the WGA or the Eddie the year it was beaten by Braveheart.  Shakespeare in Love also had the WGA.  So I think if you have those two guilds you are unstoppable to win, despite Oscar history.  At that point I would probably have to switch.

But I will do so acknowledging that the guilds own the Oscars now.  And I will wonder if any film can ever win without the guilds supporting them.

How Argo has to break with history to set a new precedent.

1. Become the first film to win Best Picture without an Oscar nomination riding on a DGA win (DGA decided. In the past, Oscar rejected only two times it  happened before, Color Purple and Apollo 13)

2. Become the first film to win being fifth in line for most nominations:

1. Lincoln-12
2. Life of Pi-11
3. Les Miserables-8
4. Silver Linings Playbook-8
5. Argo-7

the lowest before that was Chariots of Fire, 4th in line:

1. Reds-12 (director won DGA and Oscar)
2. On Golden Pond -10 (also won screenplay and 2 acting Oscars)
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark-9 (art direction, fx, editing, sound)
4. Chariots of Fire-7 (won Picture, screenplay, costume, score)
5. Atlantic City-5 (zero Oscars)

3. In the years when Oscar used the preferential ballot, with five director slots, the film with the most nominations won Best Picture. Argo would also make history in that way.

It’s really the combination of a lack of a director nod and being so low on the list for nominations that puts Argo in the long shot category for the Oscars.  That is, the Oscars before the guilds took over the power of the awards race.

The last time a film with the most nominations didn’t win either Picture or director was in 1966 when Bonnie and Clyde lost both to The Graduate (director+DGA) and In the Heat of the Night (picture).

This weekend are the Scripter awards where Argo, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook face off.  WGA ballots have long since been turned in. It will be one of those true injustices if Tony Kushner doesn’t win for his monumental screenplay for Lincoln. I know how voters are. They don’t care. They “facebook like” what they like.  Argo’s is a good screenplay. It crosses all the i’s and dots all the t’s and has many memorable lines.  But Lincoln’s towers above all others, with the possible exception of Life of Pi.  Argo really doesn’t even belong in the adapted category since it’s really an original screenplay and that is where it should really be.  Nonetheless, I’m bracing myself for this possibility of a Kushner los.  Moreover, the way the other campaigns have been pummeling Lincoln it is clear that they want to win a lot more. And if people want to win that badly, best to get out of their way.

gurusdirectorfeb6

The gurus for director — most have Steven Spielberg winning there and that would be a solid prediction; I used to think if they give it to Spielberg they’ll also give Lincoln Picture but it’s also likely that in a split the film with the most nominations would, at the very least, win either Picture or Director.  You have to go back to 1966 to find an argument for Ang Lee winning. So if you have Argo to win Best Picture (without a director nom) and Ang Lee to win Director you really are predicting something that HAS NEVER HAPPENED.  When Steven Soderbergh won out of the blue for Traffic, that film had already won elsewhere.  But Life of Pi has not won anywhere.  I think if Ang Lee is strong enough to win Best Director why in god’s name wouldn’t a film with 11 nominations also win Best Picture? Because they like Argo that much better? Not buying it.

It’s far more likely someone out of the blue would win there, like Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild or Michael Haneke for Amour.

gurusscreenplayfeb6

Adapted screenplay has pundits picking Argo over Lincoln for that, which makes sense if Argo is to win the Eddie, the WGA and the Best Picture Oscar without a director nom — again, it’s never happened.  This might be the year it does happen.  But you will never find a year where the Eddie and Best Picture matched and there was no director nomination attached.

One last thing to contemplate. When Chariots of Fire and Driving Miss Daisy won they did so because they were sob-inducing, emotionally powerful films — and I’m guessing that the heart overrides all.  To that end, I am surprised there isn’t at least one pundit predicting Silver Linings Playbook, or Life of Pi to snatch the award, as they are the ones that appeal more to the heart.  But no one wants to look stupid and risk being ridiculed by their fellow pundits.

Let’s always remember that none of this really determines “best.” It is merely best as agreed upon by a few thousand people.

The rest of the categories, all of them, can be found over at Movie City News.

 

69 Comments on this Post

  1. OT, but the IFMCA nominees are out. No Argo!

    Do the guilds tell Oscar what to do? No, but they sure as hell try.

  2. “The last time a film with the most nominations didn’t win either Picture or director was in 1966 when Bonnie and Clyde lost both to The Graduate (director+DGA) and In the Heat of the Night (picture).”

    Are you only counting split years? Because Benjamin Button, The Aviator, Color Purple tied with Out of Africa, surely countless others had the most nominations but didn’t win either Picture or Director.

  3. I don’t think the Guilds tell Oscar how to behave. Bit the Academy is made up of the top few percent of every guild, so it’d make sense that their tastes are similar.

  4. Correction – Life of Pi has the strongest box office (in general) of all the nominees. Lincoln has a good domestic showing, but not stronger in general.

    And I think Beasts of the Southern Wild is a better and far more brilliant screenplay than Lincoln. That’s my opinion.

  5. I don’t think the guilds tell the Oscar what to do but they are indicative of how people in a respective Branch of the Academy are leaning. I think as always ACE could be the underrated Bellweather Guild. If Argo wins ACE and BAFTA imo it’s really hard to see how Lincoln still comes away with the Oscar if at the end of Guild season it’s only win is WGA.

    Braveheart and Crash 2 films that people viewed as underdogs from lack of PGA AND DGA love each still nabbed as ACE,WGA . Braveheart also took ASC and the Sound Editors and Crash took Ensemble at SAG.

  6. Sasha Stone

    Zach, split years, yes.

  7. The J Viewer

    My guess for now is Ben Affleck’s BD Oscar nomination place may have been well seated at no. 6 in rankings, very close to the fifth spot – just trying to make sense of all the buzz lately. [Not saying this is something new in case most people also already agree; just relating it to the subject matter.]

    But to answer the main question: No, the Guilds just can’t tell Oscar what to do, in my opinion.

    Need to see what BAFTA has to offer. But for now my BP Oscar prediction: Lincoln (still).

  8. Sasha Stone

    To Mohammad, you are banned from the site. Your constant attacks are no longer (nor ever were) welcome.

  9. I think the guilds’ choices are definitely influential . . . but they do not always coincide with AMPAS tastes. Everyone thought Roger Deakins was a shoe-in for the cinematography award for his work on “True Grit” – in fact, he won every major cinematographer award up until then. Eh Voila! Wally Pfister took the Oscar home for “Inception”.

    I guess one has to remember that the ENTIRE membership votes on the Academy Awards. Actors are voting on costume design. Film editors are voting on music scores. Makeup artists are voting on actors. It’s such a mixed bag of cinematic professionals. It’s what the “industry” chooses as a whole. Katharine Hepburn called it “our track meet”.

    The only thing you can count on is that they have, in the past, been rather stuffy and not very forward-thinking on their choices. I think a real shocker came in 1969 when “Midnight Cowboy” won best picture. Nobody could have predicted the stuffy old conservative Academy to choose that film. A couple years later, they even awarded Hanoi Jane Fonda Best Actress in Klute and Vanessa Redgrave Best Supporting Actress in Julia. Those, too, were real surprises, given those actresses’ politics at the time and despite the fact that their performances were phenomenal (and ultimately could NOT be ignored).

    This year, the politics are different in the Academy. Remember that 60% of the Academy are white men who are in retirement. I bet some members, in fact, haven’t made a motion picture in years. I remember when Gregory Peck was President of the Academy and he “cleaned house” – he got rid of extras, old publicists, and people who got voted in on the merit of just one or two movies and who had membership cards from the 1930s but hadn’t made a movie in over 30 or 40 years. There’s something to be said for maintaining integrity within the membership. Peck was well-respected for taking that rather daring move.

    Having said that, I can see AMPAS staying with the “safe” choice: Lincoln as best picture. It has all the elements of a best picture Oscar.

    Then again, Affleck and Clooney on stage clutching each other and their Oscars over their heads is a photo opportunity made in heaven and could be just too irresistable not to vote for. And yes, I think the Academy can be THAT shallow to vote in that respect.

  10. The J Viewer

    (Sidenote: Been to AD’s “BAFTA FILM — PREDICT”, next to Oscar Predict banner, to reexamine the list of all the nominees, nothing but the banner spotted after clicking on the link *for the time being.)

  11. Sasha Stone

    My guess for now is Ben Affleck’s BD Oscar nomination place may have been well seated at no. 6 in rankings, very close to the fifth spot – just trying to make sense of all the buzz lately. [Not saying this is something new in case most people also already agree; just relating it to the subject matter.]

    Funny because we’ll never know for sure. They have always used the preferential balloting for nominations so though we have more than five Best Pictures the directing category is being done the same way as it’s always been. Point being, they picked what they thought were the strongest five.

  12. None of this really matters

    After the Oscars ceremony, each group is going to switch their dates to come before the Oscars again

  13. “The last time a film with the most nominations didn’t win either Picture or director was in 1966 when Bonnie and Clyde lost both to The Graduate (director+DGA) and In the Heat of the Night (picture).” (actually, 1967 films awarded in 1968, delayed because of the MLK assassination)

    First and last time I “invested myself” in my favorite film and that night was an painful kick in the chest. It is a very possible scenario for this year where the more visionary director of one film takes BD and the more mainstream entertainment takes BP. It’s nasty to be on the receiving end of that one because of the double rejection.

  14. Pierre de Plume

    Sasha, you’re really on your game here. Although we always look to precursors for clues, this year’s precursors have become a jumble because of the order in which the guilds (and other bodies) determined nominations vis a vis the Oscar nominations.

    Again, I believe you’re right in viewing the WGA as a key factor in determining the final outcome.

    It’s quite possible that Argo will take best picture, possibly without a screenplay win, though I find that outcome improbable. I do think Spielberg will take best director whether or not Lincoln wins best picture. I don’t think Haneke will win best director because Amour will probably take best foreign-language film, and that’s a good consolation prize.

    But until the WGA is announced, I’m still going with Lincoln/Spielberg/Kushner and Argo for editing and one of the sound awards.

  15. The J Viewer

    Thanks for the response (about Affleck’s sixth spot assumption of mine that we’ll never know), Sasha.

    Anyway, as illustrated here, a bit disappointed that Spielberg to Lee ratio is 10 to 8.8 according to what the pundits have to say for the time being. [I kind of expected something a bit closer like 10 to 9.2 or so (100 to 92).]*signed out*

  16. unlikely hood

    (OT, but I’m writing it here because it’s the outset of a thread and I was 100 comments too late when I wanted to write it)

    It’s funny to keep reading about the 13 years it took to make Lincoln and the 14 years Sasha has been doing the site. Not sure if people are picking up on the equivalence. It’s like, how about something just for the longevity? And to disrespect is almost like disrespecting your elders, or failing to appreciate that with time comes wisdom and competence that can’t be secured any other way.

    Lincoln is my favorite film of the year and I want it to win. I’m just saying.

    And I also detect, in these repeated two themes of Spielberg’s and Sasha’s long journeys, a nostalgia for those halcyon pre-9/11, party-like-it’s-1999 days, when America was less fearful, less polarized, less hypocritical (about freedoms, drones, etc), less Web 2.0 where the last 15 comments on any youtube video count as intelligent discourse. TV hadn’t *quite* started its True Golden Age of The Sopranos, The Wire and now Mad Men and Homeland and the rest, and thus you could still make a good case that Movies Were America’s Art Form, and thus the Oscars were at least one way of quantifying that, of helping that to some extent. (1999 example: sure, you and I would have seen Being John Malkovich anyway, but give it a few Oscar noms, and watch as an amazing film goes all over the country and the world to people who wouldn’t otherwise think about it.)

    Don’t leave Sasha. The country is just starting to pick up again. And whatever may be happening on TV, people want to see good movies, as evidenced by 7 BP nominees earning 9 figures. And in some ways, you’ve helped that, with tireless campaigning for Hurt Locker, J-Law in Winter’s Bone, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and others. And no one can replace you, certainly not Tapley or Wells or Feinberg. Ellen didn’t replace Oprah and no one else can either.

    The 20-teens could be great movie years. But they’ll no doubt have these Stygian caves of campaign cynicism, and so they won’t be as good without your light.

  17. Sasha Stone

    Thanks Unlikelyhood – an interesting comment. And yeah, I don’t think any voting body that is supposed to award “highest achievements in film” should A) ignore a project like Lincoln that has done everything it was supposed to do: made $171 million, gotten the best reviews of Spielberg’s recent career, capture a kind of zeitgeist then not win because it doesn’t excite Fanboy Nation. Yeah, it’s a hard to thing to watch happen before your eyes.

  18. Guilds always try influence the decisions of AMPAS. Even BAFTA is trying that sort of maneuvres these days. Just look at the Affleck Best Actor nod they have.

  19. Sasha,

    I’ve been reading you a long time, but you and I have never been in such agreement as this year. If Kushner loses the WGA and/or the Oscar…I don’t know…I’ll lose my mind. I, too, am “bracing myself.”

  20. It irks me how people have reacted to the Ben Affleck snub. The guilds have been influenced by the media outcry, exacerbated by Argo’s big wins at BFCA and the Golden Globes just after Oscar nominations. Guild voters are a fickle bunch, many of them closer to being members of the public than active members of the industry. They do as the pundits, bloggers and critics say (and, to an extent, the public), then Oscars try their hardest to do as they want, but more often than not find themselves doing as the guilds have said.

    One year we get to know how the Academy truly thinks and feels, and they get shot down for it. I hope they won’t be forced into a corner, and that Argo does not win Best Picture, solely for this reason. You’re right, Sasha, there’s almost no point in having an Academy, if following the guilds is all they’re going to do, or be criticised if they choose to do otherwise.

  21. I think I’m gonna be sick if one more user comes here hoping to correct Sasha regarding box-office.

    The awards season leads to the Oscars, which is an American thing. The story here is the domestic gross. LINCOLN is the highest grossing nominee – in America, where most of the voters are, where Hollywood is, the Guilds, the campaigns etc. It’s home, sweet home.

    I’ve yet to see any of you Worldwide Gross Advocates make a case explaining how overseas numbers are relevant to the Oscar game.

  22. filmboymichael

    I actually miss the days when the Oscar telecast was on a Monday….

  23. The answer to the main question is yes: The Guilds tell Oscar what to do, and the race is so much more boring for it. Maybe not the cinematography or the eddie guilds, but the mains ones – DGA/PGA/SAG.

  24. The Dude

    I’m not sure whether the guilds tell the Oscars what to do or simply the Guilds indicate what the Oscars will do.

    However, there are cases of movies getting massive guild love and yet being almost completely ignored by the Academy- the most notorious one being Into the Wild, which looked like a major contender to BP and yet barely got any noms.

  25. @Paddy

    Completely agree, don’t get me wrong I really did like Argo, but am increasingly frustrated with the sweep of the guilds due to Affleck’s snub.

    The most egregious win to me was the SAG win, but then again should have saw it coming since Affleck’s fellow actors would surely rally behind him during this “difficult” time for him. At the end of the day I’m still a fan of his and the film but for such a rich year in film it’s frustrating to see Argo zip on by and win everything in sight. Hoping you’re right and the Academy votes their own way since after all it was their snub that started the “Save Ben” campaign to begin with.

  26. if box office matters Amour is a bad choice and The Avengers should win by landslide.
    To argue that Linclon should win because it has made more $s than the other contenders is ridiculous.

  27. Using the pref ballot, didn’t Hugo have more nominations than The Artist?

  28. Sasha Stone

    Using the pref ballot, didn’t Hugo have more nominations than The Artist?

    From different branches, yes, but The Artist had the director nomination. We’ll know when this year concludes whether that matters anymore or not.

  29. Sasha Stone

    I’m not sure whether the guilds tell the Oscars what to do or simply the Guilds indicate what the Oscars will do.

    No. When Oscar leaves a director off the list there is usually no question that that film cannot win BP (except Driving Miss Daisy).

  30. @ phineas — I don’t think people mean Box office should be the decider, but solid to great BO is usually pretty standard. Well, until the last few years anyways (THL and The Artist certainly don’t really follow that trend).

    Before Crash, we had gone something like 15 years where every BP winner was in the top 15-20 of the year.

  31. I have a gut feeling that it will be “Lincoln”, and that everyone will have egg on their faces the day after the Oscars…with the exception of Sasha Stone…who will then command the respect that she deserves from Jeff Wells and the likes.

    P.S. did anyone listen to the Gold Derby podcast where Tom O’Neil scolds Jeff Wells for being blinded by his “Lincoln” hatred. Truly classic.

  32. Unlikely hood

    Thanks Sasha.

    Another thing about Driving Miss Daisy is that in many ways it was the safe consensus vote of the anti-Oliver Stone crowd. Look at
    the 5 nominees: dead poets, field of dreams, my left foot, stone, and DMD. You know how we talk about buyer’s remorse after the awards? I think they got buyers remorse on nomination morning. Dead Poets is so nice and sweet but BP doesn’t go to movies set in a high school. My left foot is great but it was Irish – not English – immediately gets filed under “just happy to be here.” but where was Henry V? Crimes and misdemeanors? And the big buzz of that month, Glory? Had Glory been a BP nom, things might have been very different.

    But Born on the 4th of July had the major campaign, the covers of news magazines, Tom Cruise was everywhere, it really felt like the big film. But then I think voters thought, wait 2 for Stone in 3 years? Are we really giving over Vietnam history to this guy? Was Cruise really that good?

    I’m just saying these factors helped DMD. And sadly I can see how some people see Spielberg as this year’s Stone – though he ain’t.

  33. Jason Travis

    I didn’t agree with Sasha regarding Best Actress last year (I know she had rallied behind Davis to win, which is perfectly fine)- but I totally sympathize with her this year. For the third time in a row (at least from my standpoint) she has championed a movie and it’s turning sour again. The first time I noticed this was in 2010 with The Social Network, and in 2011 it was Davis and The Help, and now Lincoln vs Argo. This year, more then ever though, I can’t help but think the love for Ben’s film is strictly “payback” at Spielberg and the director’s branch. I want to see Lincoln win more than anything, because a) it deserves it, b) it would make the Argo camp feel quite stunned, and c) it would make Sasha happy. She is, after all, in charge of maintaining this site’s well being. Would be nice to see one of her ponies win first place. I’d certainly give Lincoln the blue ribbon.

    I also think we’re mad at seeing Argo win because there’s that nawing feeling that its a Pity award and not a Merit award. Yes, Argo is the best reviewed film of the best picture nominees (I think so, at least- maybe ZDT)- and yes, Ebert named it number 1- and yes, it is fine, smooth entertainment; but are the guilds really giving it their best because of this? I think not. The DGA and SAG groups are checking it off out of spite for Affleck’s snub and Spielberg’s movie getting out in front for the win; the day of the Oscar nominations, most people said “Lincoln is winning, because Bigelow and Affleck got no director nomination.” Now, surely but slowly- you can hear the ‘oh yeah? I’ll show you then!’ from them.

    But remember when Streisand was snubbed for The Prince of Tides? Outcry, but led to nothing. Maybe it’s because she’s a woman, but its still a valid example. Oscar voters don’t like being told what to vote for (maybe that’s why Crash won) and if they feel threatened by the Argo whiners, they could retaliate with a Lincoln (or Silver Linings) victory.

    But I just don’t know. The guilds rule it now, as Sasha says. Has the date change really affected the out come of the best picture race? Crash is the only upset for best picture I have truly seen since 1995 when Braveheart won. Even Gladiator had validation as 2000 was a somewhat split year.

    The thing stopping me and the now few others from saying Argo is a done deal, is the lack of the director nod. That is very telling. Because who ever they vote for in directing, should have a boost for best picture- right?

    I don’t go by nominations count. Ordinary People only had 6 nominations in 1980 and it won Best Picture. The Silence of the Lambs had 7 in 1991, it won best picture (over Bugsy’s 10, no less). A Beautiful Mind had 8 nods compared to LOTR’s 13 bids, it still won. Million Dollar Baby had 7- it won. Argo’s 7 fit right in the pattern, nothing surprising.

  34. If Argo wins I will not be disgruntled. Really it would be a fine winner. It would be right along the last two winners. As long as SLP doesn’t win. If SLP were to win, I would be shaking my head at how the last 40 minutes were okey dokey to the Academy. It would be the first winner in some time with genuinely bad writing.

  35. “Let’s always remember that none of this really determines “best.” It is merely best as agreed upon by a few thousand people.”–Sasha Stone.

    YUP.

  36. Sasha Stone

    c) it would make Sasha happy. She is, after all, in charge of maintaining this site’s well being. Would be nice to see one of her ponies win first place. I’d certainly give Lincoln the blue ribbon.

    That’s so sweet. :-) I know you probably remember when there were good days around here for: The Departed, No Country and The Hurt Locker. But yeah, it’s been a while…I also happen to think Lincoln deserves it – Kathleen Kennedy deserves it. Tony Kushner deserves it. Daniel Day-Lewis deserves it and Spielberg deserves it. But as the Rolling Stones would say…”I saw her today at the reception…a glass of wine in her hands…”

  37. But remember when Streisand was snubbed for The Prince of Tides? Outcry, but led to nothing. Maybe it’s because she’s a woman, but its still a valid example.

    Definitely because she’s a woman. Ben Affleck is the hunky guy. The Hollywood saviour, making easily-digestible, crowd-pleasing, money-making entertainment, whipping off his shirt and smouldering at the camera. Barbra got shafted, Kathryn’s gotten shafted. The directors branch (whose taste I often admire) have also snubbed Randa Haines, Penny Marshall, Lone Scherfig, Lisa Cholodenko and Debra Granik when their films have been nominated for Best Picture. No outcry in any of those cases, either.

    I know you probably remember when there were good days around here for: The Departed, No Country and The Hurt Locker.

    Those were good times, but not necessarily good races. No Country’s year was especially dull in the Best Picture category. This year, it’s all been up in the air for longer than usual, with big twists and shifts in the races of several major categories. And while things may appear pretty settled now, remember that ballots haven’t even been sent out yet. The Academy knocked us all for six on the 10th of January, and they could do the same again on the 24th of February…

  38. rufussondheim

    No matter who wins at this point, it will be a year of exceptions and it will always be considered an outlier in years to come.

    So to see, based on a one-year occurrance, that the Academy are now following the guilds rather than their own nominations is a bit pre-mature.

    Or maybe this year, with the new rules and procedures, will be normal even with all of its abnormality. Maybe last year’s win for The Artist will be the exception rather than the rule.

    It’s just too early to tell. This is year number 2 with these rules and procedures and because of the shift in the calendar, we can honestly say this is year 1. Maybe next year will see a bunch of changes again and we’ll have yet another Year 1.

    Me, I like to think that the abnormalities of this year has more to do with the large number of choices the Academy had to nominate from. The fact that there has always been more than five viable candidates for Best Film has caused this disarray when in most years there’s really only 2 or 3.

  39. rufussondheim

    Paddy, I think very little is settled this year. Yeah, Argo looks like a lock for BP, Anne Hathaway for Supporting and DDL for Best Actor (I still think Hugh Jackman has a reasonable, but still unlikely chance to win here.) But everything after this is really wide open, save for Song and FX.

    When there’s a large amount of uncertainty in over half the categories, that makes for an exciting year, even if some of the top awards are settled.

  40. I wouldn’t be surprised if we are all even more confused come Monday morning. It’s conceivable that, this weekend, the Scripters, the ASC and the BAFTAs could each annoint a different film – in fact, I’d say that’s likely to happen.

    Later on, the WGA and Eddies will clarify things a bit more, but the atmosphere will get more uncertain before it gets better unless Argo or Lincoln sweeps them all – and that ain’t gonna happen.

    Because I believe the mayhem this year is due to having more and better choices coupled with the tighter voting deadlines, I’m all for this becoming the new normal. Weren’t we all starting to nod out a year ago at this stage? I think we’d already started our high anticipation lists for the next year in early Feb.

  41. The last time a film with the most nominations didn’t win either Picture or director was in 1966 when Bonnie and Clyde lost both to The Graduate (director+DGA) and In the Heat of the Night (picture).

    WRONG. Only in the last decade three films did that.
    THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
    THE AVIATOR
    THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

    And ORDINARY PEOPLE had the least nominations (in a tie) – so technically it was last.

  42. Sasha, You hold the DGA with much reverence. Why shouldn’t the other guilds have their day? Even when they do, like ADG, they can choose Hugo or Inception, and either the AMPAS will follow or they won’t.

  43. Sasha Stone

    Sasha, You hold the DGA with much reverence. Why shouldn’t the other guilds have their day? Even when they do, like ADG, they can choose Hugo or Inception, and either the AMPAS will follow or they won’t.

    That’s true. I sort of wish they could all be more separate, actually, critics awards too. But everyone leans towards the Academy. Always. Every year.

  44. Actually SAG is the worst in terms of thinking of Oscar.
    In the past 10 years the WGA has presented its award to a film not nominated for an Oscar – Bowling For Columbine is the case. The DGA went with Affleck this year.
    But the SAG never ever has given their award to somebody not up for an Oscar. Somebody like Dennis Quaid could have won for Far From Heaven.

    You know what the best thing that could happen would be?
    If next year the Academy votes before the actual SAG nominations. That already would be terrific.

  45. acmilan03c1

    Zooey, she was talking about split years only. That question was raised and answered in this very thread.
    As for the importance of the nomination count… of course the ABSOLUTE number of nominations is not too relevant. But we’re talking about the number of noms RELATIVE to all of the others that year. Isn’t that what BP is all about? Picking the best picture OF A GIVEN YEAR? And the fact is that the leader in nominations wins most of the time.
    But the truly relevant stat (my version – Sasha’s is a little different but the idea is the same) goes like this: only one movie (The Departed) outside the top 3 most nominated (at the Oscars) in any given year has won Best Picture since 1982 (Chariots of Fire). There are very few examples even before that and, yes, Ordinary People is one of them. The total is of 7 exceptions in 84 years, and only ONE of those, Grand Hotel, waaaay back in 1932, was NOT nominated for Best Director. Back then there were three nominees in that category instead of five.
    So it’s really the strength of these two stats (BD snub + number of noms) COMBINED that makes it pretty much unprecedented for Argo to win BP this year. But it’s got to happen at some point, probability-wise, if the Oscars run for long enough, and it could well be this year. However, to say that it’s a FAVORITE to happen this year is a different thing altogether, and almost everything (not just what I’ve written here) points to that not being the case.

  46. @ Sasha,

    can you answer if the best picture is voted on a different ballot or on the same ballot with other categories? Because if it’s voted on the same ballot, ARGO has a better shot at multiple Oscars. If it’s voted on a different ballot, then it doesn’t. Think of it. It’s a psychological factor. If you just voted for best picture (the category right up, I suppose), you’re likely to check at least a couple of boxes for the same film – film editing, score, adapted screenplay, even sound mixing? But at the same time if it’s voted on a different ballot, it would bode well for other films.

    But I’m repeating it – I don’t buy ARGO as a best picture winner with only two Oscars. It just won’t happen. If they are passionate about it, at least two more Oscars, even three. Film Editing is likely, no matter that Zero Dark Thirty deserves it. Score could very well happen. And it leaves Screenplay and Sound Mixing. ARGO winning any of these would be a joke but it could happen.

    What I think is hurting Spielberg is the widespread assumption that the directors’ branch snubbed Affleck and Bigelow in order to help him get the Oscar. I know it’s absurd (first of all, who would buy it that filmmakers – directors of all filmmakers, would help another filmmaker get a very rare third Oscar?) but I’ve read that multiple times and it could hurt.

    I only hope that while we are talking about ARGO vs. LINCOLN, Harvey doesn’t come out of nowhere to win an Oscar for one of my least favorite best picture nominees. Harvey, only if you campaigned for Phoenix!!

  47. Then I stand corrected and apologize.

  48. SAG didn’t have that much influence this year, Zooey. They matched with Oscar on just 14/20 acting nominations, despite being one of the very few major groups to have announced nominations before Oscar ballots closed. 14/20 is their lowest match for 11 years. Also, this year could see the first time in SAG history that two Oscar winners in the acting categories weren’t nominated for SAG, as both Emmanuelle Riva and Christoph Waltz stand decent chances. The Academy has only chosen one non-SAG nominee since SAG awards began, one out of 72.

  49. Astarisborn

    I agree with steve50 that there will be something different after this weekend of awards. Especially the BAFTA ‘s I don’t think Argo is British enough for the win. They may go with something that is universal. But I don’t know really. Sometimes I just get these gut, instead of realistic feelings.

  50. at the 50th academy awards the multiple votes stacked up as..

    Turning point 11
    Julia 11
    star wars 10
    the goodbye girl 5
    annie hall 5

    which although technically is not fifth place, joint fourth is a lot worse than chariots of fires fourth place.

    And if you count all films and not just best picture contenders it came even lower since close encounters had 8 noms.

    So I don’t think it’s THAT unprecedented.

    There is no evidence to suggest that a vote for – lets say – cinematography is a vote for best film, it could just literally mean best cinematography. We believe it to be true, especially when films seem to get nominated in categories that don’t seem to make sense but without seeing actual vote counts it’s very hard to read to much into it. Number of nominations indicates how rounded a film is and how well it’s different elements come together, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate it’s chances to win best picture. If that was the case people would be talking a lot more about life of Pis chances!

  51. I think trying to compare this season to previous years is futile. It’s a new era of Oscar watching for many reasons. But if I told you there was a movie that has swept the guilds (so far) and won the majority of the critics awards (narrowly), and made over a hundred million bucks while it was directed by a likable actor, you’d be assuming it would win best picture. It reminds me of the king speech/social network argument: so the king can’t speak right and he learns to give a good speech to get people in world war two? And the other one is about an asshole who fucks over his friends for a website and is still an asshole in the end? No brainier.

    Now I don’t agree with this logic but it exists and basic logic says Argo wins. People can trot out all the stats they want, but I have yet to meet a single people who liked Lincoln. Every person I know who’s in the business all had the same basic reaction: it was fine or I saw it because I felt like I had to. That isn’t passion. That’s sad.

    Mostly, I think this happened because of things that have nothing to do with the quality of the film. Everyone involved has so many oscars that Lincoln starts to look like one of those “try hard” oscars films, even though it’s not. Lincoln never got the chance to charm its audience. It never felt like we to find it and discover its magic. We were hit over the head with its pedigree before we ever walked into the theatre. And no one wants to be told what or who to love.

  52. Jason Travis

    @Adam: Lincoln not liked by academy members? Explain it’s 12 nominations- that’s a lot of ‘feeling like I have to’ voting. Who are the people you talk to? Do they all jump on the Argo bandwagon because of Ben Affleck’s snub? I know plenty of people who love Lincoln and have no qualms with it, but would be happy to give you explanations as to why the pity party for Affleck is growing more monstrous by the day.

  53. I have been reading all of the postings here for a while, and decided to put my two cents worth in. I realize that most people really believe Afflect’s wins are directly related to his omission from the Director category at the Oscars. For some reason, I have a hard time buying into that. I can understand that a certain group or guild wanting to make sure to include him in their nominations after that, but seriously, would 100,000 SAG members & 14,000 Directors want to reward someone their highest honor just out of pity? I would give these groups a little more credit than that. Granted, Lincoln is a wonderful film, but Argo does have some merit also.

  54. rufussondheim

    Watched The Loneliest Planet tonight. Kinda mixed about it but then kept getting interrupted. But I loved its subtlety and ambiguity. A second viewing is most likely necessary to get most of the nuance. If you haven’t seen it, you should give it a shot.

  55. Paddy, I meant it the other way around.
    I was talking about the way Oscar influences SAG, not the way SAG influences Oscar.

    By the way here are a few things about the date change with Oscar and why it made the race rather boring:

    Let’s take the years between 1995 and 2002 (before the change) – that’s 8 years.
    And then 2003 to 2011 – 9 years. Here we go.

    How many times did the same actor won the Oscar, the Golden Globe, the SAG?
    1995 – only Nicolas Cage
    1996 – only Geoffrey Rush
    1997 – Nicholson, Hunt, Basinger
    1998 – Paltrow
    1999 – Jolie
    2000 – Roberts, Del Toro
    2001 – nobody
    2002 – nobody

    AFTER THE CHANGE:
    2003 – Theron, Robbins, Zellweger
    2004 – Foxx, Swank
    2005 – Hoffman, Witherspoon, Weisz
    2006 – Whitaker, Mirren, Hudson
    2007 – Day-Lewis, Bardem
    2008 – Winslet, Ledger
    2009 – Bridges, Bullock, Waltz, Mo’Nique
    2010 – Firth, Portman, Bale, Leo
    2011 – Dujardin, Plummer, Spencer

    1995 – 2002: 9 people who won the three
    2003 – 2011: 26 people who won the three!!!

    ACTORS WHO WON OSCARS WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF EITHER THE GLOBES OR SAG:
    1995 – Spacey
    1996 – Binoche
    1997 – none
    1998 – Coburn, Dench
    1999 – none
    2000 – Crowe, Marcia Gay Harden
    2001 – Washington
    2002 – Brody

    FROM 2003 to 2011:
    2003 – none
    2004 – none
    2005 – none
    2006 – Arkin
    2007 – Swinton
    2008 – Cruz
    2009 – none
    2010 – none
    2011 – none

    1995 – 2002: 8
    2002 – 2011: 3

    HOW MANY ACTORS WON BOTH THE GLOBE AND THE OSCAR?

    1995 – Cage, Sorvino
    1996 – Rush
    1997 – Nicholson, Hunt, Basinger
    1998 – Paltrow
    1999 – Swank, Jolie
    2000 – Roberts, Del Toro
    2001 – Broadbent, Connelly
    2002 – Kidman, Cooper

    BETWEEN 2003 and 2011:
    2003 – all four
    2004 – Foxx, Swank
    2005 – all four
    2006 – Whitaker, Mirren, Hudson
    2007 – Day-Lewis, Cotillard, Bardem
    2008 – Winslet, Ledger
    2009 – all four
    2010 – all four
    2011 – all four

    between 1995 and 2002: 15
    between 2002 and 2011: 30

    Come on, be unpredictable!

  56. acmilan03c1

    Zooey, I don’t think you have to apologize! :) Unless Sasha thinks so, but I doubt it.
    dannny, if you mean me, then please know that I DO talk about Life of Pi’s chances. Perhaps I haven’t as much here, because the whole Lincoln vs Argo debate is what is most talked about around here, but I have discussed this over at IMDb. I think it’s the third favorite and has no less than 11% chances, whereas the favorite should be at about 45-50% at most, no matter if you think that’s Lincoln or Argo. 11% is not negligible at all.
    What’s the point of the Annie Hall example? Yes, there are exceptions to the top 3 nominations rule, and three of them are in the late ’70s/ early ’80s. MUST I quote them all before people stop quoting examples I already know about? I’ve already said there were 7 in total and 1 since 1983. It’s accurate. Check for yourselves. Must we go into pointless details about what movies exactly constitute the pre-1980s exceptions?
    But anyway, Annie Hall’s is a completely different situation. That one had a Best Director nomination. I said it would be unprecedented for a movie not in the top three most nominated AND without a Best Director nomination (in a year with 5 BD nominees) to win Best Picture. OK, Annie Hall didn’t have a Best Editing nomination, but back then the Editing stat (the same goes for the number of nominations stat), for some reason, wasn’t as strong as it’s become in recent years. It’s after 1982 and Chariots of Fire that it becomes bullet-proof (I can’t claim to know why), and there is a grand total of 1 (one) exception for these two stats combined (The Departed winning from outside the top 3 in nominations, but HAVING all of the necessary precursor noms/wins, of course) from then on. It seems pretty clear to me that the more recent years (1983-2012) are the ones to go with here, not what was going on in the ’70s and before, if a choice has to be made, as is the case here, where the percentages differ rather significantly between the two periods.
    “if I told you there was a movie that has swept the guilds (so far) and won the majority of the critics awards (narrowly), and made over a hundred million bucks while it was directed by a likable actor, you’d be assuming it would win best picture.” – Not without the Best Director nomination, no. Not even then…
    “So, the only film to win the Producers Directors and Writers Guilds, but to lose the Oscar, was Brokeback Mountain” – When last I checked, Argo HADN’T (yet) even won the WGA… I’ve said it before: if it DOES win the WGA as well, I will concede that it’s a slight favorite over Lincoln and a pretty big favorite over the other 7.

  57. Sasha Stone

    but whatever one says, Argo has dominated this awards season, not just with the guilds, but even with the critics,

    That’s just flat out wrong. I don’t count the Critics Choice as critics, nor do I count the Globes as critics. I could the NY Film Critics (Zero Dark Thirty), the LA Film Critics (Amour) and the National Society of Film Critics (Amour). In the past, Brokeback, The Hurt Locker, the Social Network dominated the critics. Argo is getting the “popular” vote. It did NOT get any major awards from critics until Zero Dark Thirty fell. Moreover, the Southeastern Film Critics, the BFCA and the Rotten Tomatoes people are all basically the same grouping of voters. Bloggers and online writers, few actual critics. You make a good case but you have it wrong.

  58. Capt. January

    Sasha said: “Those of us thinking the Academy won’t break with tradition and will pick the film with 12 nominations and the strongest box office of all of the nominees are currently being called “crazy.””

    We’ve all seen “Argo”s juggernaut dash for the gold, and we all know that the rules and statistics we use for our predictions are vulnerable to upsets.

    But I give Miss Stone credit for sticking to the very sensible choice of predicting a “Lincoln” win. Because, IMO, most pundits predicting a director/picture split is actually the crazy scenario. You may argue that this is a very crazy and exceptional year and that all bets are off on what we usually know about winning an Oscar. But since logic has been thrown out the window, why wouldn’t the Academy upset what looks like an unstoppable “Argo” trend? As if they’d never done it before.

  59. I can’t say how thrilled I am to see all this attention for DRIVING MISS DAISY (love the photo lead in here of Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy!) on these boards for this past week! The film has been unfairly reviled by way too many despite the generally excellent reviews it received back in 1989, and of the now legendary Best Picture Oscar.

    It’s always been a punching bag for those who love discussing what the ‘most undeserving Oscar winners are.’ If ARGO does what most seem to be saying it will, the 1989 film won’t be such a unique item anymore, but it remains a better film than ARGOO anyday, in my opinion.

    BTW Dan Akroyd has never been better in his career.

  60. Having the guilds nominate makes sense, but then general public and box office needs to kick in to actually award the best of the best and not just the “insiders” viewpoint. You stuck with Lincoln for best picture and I agree. I’m in even worst shape sticking by Les Miserables for the Best Actor award even though nothing will ever change my mind about Jackman actually being better than DDL this year despite all the “greatest living actor” meme in every article.

  61. Sasha Stone

    I can’t say how thrilled I am to see all this attention for DRIVING MISS DAISY (love the photo lead in here of Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy!) on these boards for this past week! The film has been unfairly reviled by way too many despite the generally excellent reviews it received back in 1989, and of the now legendary Best Picture Oscar.

    This is how it always goes when a “weak” winner takes the crown, be it Crash, Driving Miss Daisy, Chariots of Fire — these films were all beloved in their day but they have been forever tarnished — and it’s to be Argo’s fate if it wins. Watch.

  62. Ha Sasha! I read the significance there of your quotes. I agree completely with you that ARGO’s fate will be the same, and yesres down the road (sonner than later) it will deservedly be a favorite shoice for people asked to name the most overrated Oscar Best Picture winner. As I say I contest the general perception of DRIVING MISS DAISY, but I least acknowledge that the film lost it’s luster with many others.

    ARGO will be scorned for sure.

  63. acmilan03c1

    I can’t see it ever being more hated than Crash (“Trash” – I actually like the movie but also happen to love this particular nickname – is probably THE most hated BP winner ever, and I know it’s a bit soon but I stand by it) but Argo will almost undoubtedly be placed in the same category if it wins. It has all the “qualities” for that distinction. Apart from being completely ordinary and unimpressive (this is my opinion, I know it’s more well-liked over here), it also has corny scenes, historical inaccuracies, a very weak, in my opinion, lead performance, and it would win BP in a very strong year in which there are many better works over whose loss one can feel outraged. It’s not a BAD film, sure, but it’s not even close to BP material. If The King’s Speech was so hated for beating TSN (and others), then you can be sure Argo will be absolutely crucified over the coming years.

  64. Can’t really put DMD in the same class as Chariots and Crash. Freeman and Tandy deliver on the central acting roles of an interesting story. I’ve enjoyed it several times when casually bumping into it on TV channels. for Chariots and Crash, the reaction is always the same: “Why Am I Watching This?”

  65. acmilan03c1, you may be a tad bit harsh on ARGO, but I do think you are pretty much there and you make some excellent points, methinks. The film does rank in the lower third of the nominated films. There are only two films I rather dilike and they are of course the bottom two.

    Here is how I would rate the nine (9) films nominated (my own preference of course)

    Les Miserables
    The Life of Pi
    Lincoln
    Zero Dark Thirty
    Django Unchained
    Amour
    Argo
    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    Silver Linings Playbook

    My No, 1 and my No. 2 keep changing every day Ha!

  66. acmilan03c1

    Sam, that’s basically my list! :) Except I have Lincoln, behind ZDT and Django, Argo dead last and SLP possibly a bit higher than you, but nowhere near the top 5. I also can’t decide between Les Mis and Life of Pi. Life of Pi is less flawed and more technically impressive, while still being highly moving, so I guess if I’m voting for “best” it probably edges out Les Mis. But the latter has an even stronger emotional impact on me than Pi and I do believe it amply compensates for its flaws with many qualities. So, yeah, it’s hard to decide… :)

  67. Right on acmilan03c1!!!!! Fantastic! Your analogy on the two favorite films is exactly the way I would size it up!

  68. acmilan03c1

    Righteous! :)

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