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I guess all that chart building was not for nothing. My high score, I think, had to do with a last minute tip from a friend about Salt of the Earth in documentary, a preference for Mr. Turner in some of the techs and a quick check of Hitfix’ Kris Tapley’s predictions (I wish I’d predicted Ida in cinematography like he did). Mark Harris at Grantland predicted 8 nominees and got all 8 right. Neither of them are on Gold Derby or Gurus.

Oscar voters nominated many of the expected contenders, including “Boyhood,” “Birdman,” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” their actors and expected technical people. But some picks were difficult, including several by Stone, who predicted all eight Best Picture nominees, nine of the 10 screenplay nominees (missing only on “Gone Girl”), “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” for Best Animated Feature, and “Unbroken” for both sound categories.

After Stone, Steve Pond (The Wrap) and Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby) were incredibly close to her in second place with 76% correct. The fourth spot is held by Gold Derby’s own Tom O’Neil with 75% right.
Up next are Scott Feinberg (Hollywood Reporter) and Glenn Whipp (L.A. Times) with 74% correct. We then have a four-way tie at 71% accuracy between Pete Hammond (Deadline), Mary Milliken (Reuters), Claudia Puig (USA Today), and Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post).


It’s all come down to this, my friends. A preferential ballot for all too enabled Academy voters. It’s hard to know  how this thing will go. There are so many conflicting narratives that run through it, so many different types of people voting. The industry throws out brilliant films like Inherent Vice or Selma but that doesn’t mean it will fit in the comfort zone of Oscar voters.

We’ve gone over Best Picture and Best Director, now let’s just ram it all on through, shall we?  My Best Picture predictions match the Awards Daily contest entries so far, and they are…

Best Picture
(In order of contest entries)
1. Boyhood (For the win)
2. Birdman
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. The Imitation Game
5. The Theory of Everything
6. Selma
7. Gone Girl
8. Whiplash
9. American Sniper
10. Nightcrawler
I know it’s a big drama that I’m predicting my two favorites, Gone Girl and Selma, and that they are just as likely to get shut out. But you know what? I looked back at the Guru’s predictions and I found that if you look at individual predictions people get things wrong but the consensus seems to be right. Thus, I trust in that and am going with that.

Best Director
Richard Linklater, Boyhood (For the win)
Alejandro Inarritu, Birdman
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Alt. Morton Tyldum, Imitation Game
Wishful thinking/too good to be true: Ava DuVernay

Best Actor
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
David Oyelowo, Selma
Alt. Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

Best Actress
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Alt. Amy Adams, Big Eyes

Supporting Actor
JK Simmons, Whiplash
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Emma Stone, Birdman
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

Original Screenplay
Alejandro Inarritu et al, Birdman
Wes Anderson, Grand Budapest Hotel
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler*
Paul Webb, Selma
Alt: Foxcatcher

Adapted Screenplay
Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game
Nick Hornby, Wild
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Alt. Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything

Gone Girl
American Sniper
Alt. Imitation Game

Mr. Turner
Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

Into the Woods
Imitation Game
Grand Budapest Hotel
Mr. Turner

Production Design
Grand Budapest Hotel
Mr. Turner
Into the Woods
The Imitation Game
Alt. Big Eyes

Sound Mixing
American Sniper
Into the Woods
Guardians of the Galaxy

Sound Editing
Guardians of the Galaxy
American Sniper

Original Score
Gone Girl
Theory of everything
The Imitation Game
Mr. Turner
Alt. Grand Budapest Hotel

Foreign Language Feature
Fource Majeure
Ida (Poland)
Leviathan (Russia)
Timbuktu (Mauritania)
Wild Tales (Argentina)+

Documentary Feature
Life Itself
Last Days in Vietnam
Salt of the Earth

Animated Feature
The Lego Movie
Princess Kaguya
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Big Hero 6
The Box Trolls
Alt. The Book of Life

Visual Effects
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

“Big Eyes” (Big Eyes)*
“Glory” (Selma)*
“Mercy Is” (Noah)*
Everything is Awesome (Lego Movie)
Lost Stars (Begin Again)

Live Action Short 
My Father’s Truck
Baghdad Messi
The Phone Call
Carry On

Animated Short
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton

Documentary Short
The Lion’s Mouth Opens
One Child
Our Curse
White Earth


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As a treat for you readers, I interviewed the king of Oscar predicting, the one who started it all way back when, Tom O’Neil. Gold Derby has been revamped and improved continually over the years, and now includes a small calendar near the predictions that will take you back to a moment in time to see what people were thinking when. That is especially helpful this year, with so many wild and off the wall predictions happening so early. Tom’s site, like my site, is one of the few independents left on the web, and is a one-stop website for all predicting fun. They have an active forum that I’m afraid to look at, and each person can have their own predicting account to up against other users to see what does it best. On my site, the people who tend to do the best in the contests usually aren’t “in the business” as pundits. So I was wondering if he had the same experience, if the users were better than the pros. Here are his answers.

1.) Who gets higher scores, the pundits or the users?
Best scores for predicting last year’s Oscars at Gold Derby: Our official GD odds (which combine Experts, Editors, Users and Top 24 Users) and GD Editors tied for 91.67%, which is 22 out of 24 categories. We Experts and all Users got 87.5%, which is 21 out of 24 categories. Here are the links to see the breakdowns:

Experts’ Rankings — 87.5%
Editors’ Rankings — 91.67%
Users’ Rankings — 87.5%
top 24 Users’ rankings — 87.5%
Combined (All 4 above) — 91.67%

2) What does “top users” mean?
Top 24 Users are those who had the best scores last year when predicting that particular award event. Therefore, we had 2 different Top 24 teams predicting the Oscar nominations and winners. Whoever lands in the Top 24 of our leaderboards after we count up scores automatically advances forward in a team to compete against our Experts, Editors and Users. If one of our Top 24 from last year does not return this year then our computer dips down our leaderboard to find the next person with highest score, etc. It’s all automated. It’s crazy, but some of our users don’t even know they’re in those Top 24 charts. At Gold Derby, we need to do a better job of promoting all that, I know, I know.

3. What’s the biggest mistake people make when predicting the Oscars?
Biggest mistake people make when predicting the Oscars or Golden Globes is to assume that voters are actually voting for what they believe is the best of anything. That’s absurd. They’re voting for their friends, who they like and who they don’t. Usually they’re voting for a nominee because they hear everybody else is voting for that film/person too. When I ask academy members why they do that, why they keep rubber-stamping precursor awards, the answer I get most frequently, “I want to be on the winning team.”

4. Do you think there will be many surprises this year? Why does it always go as planned?
No, there won’t be many surprises at the Oscar nominations. Check out our predictions for last year – we got 70% correct.
The biggest “surprises” were the snubs of Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) and Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) for acting after they both received bids from Globes, SAG and Critics’ Choice. Oh, yeah, and no Oprah for “The Butler.” But we knew those films were in trouble.

5. Is anyone going to watch the show if they haven’t seen the movies?
Yes. Gabillions of people watched the Oscarcast last year without seeing “12 Years a Slave.” I’m still trying to find more than 8 academy members who saw the movie even though they voted for it (because they wanted to be on the winning team). Shocking. Shocking!


This year’s race has kind of been all over the place. The big movies that came in the fall haven’t yet turned into the massive hits people were expecting them to be. Interstellar, despite it having a complicated plot and three hours, has finally surged barely ahead of Gone Girl. It’s still hovering at the top of the box office, however, as people are slowly making their way to see it. Into the Woods will likely do some banging business for the holidays but who would have ever thought that by year’s end the Oscar race would maybe possibly include a single $100 million earner, Gone Girl. And even that film’s fate is held in the balance, knocked way down to #13 by Scott Feinberg, not even predicted at all by Dave Karger at Movie City News.  So what are we looking at here? It’s a confused jumble with some known titles clustered in the middle.

The Critics Choice awards are handed out by the Broadcast Film Critics. They used to be a lot more discerning in whom they allowed to be members — then it turned into a free-for-all where literally guys who used to be forum members at my site are now full fledged members of that association. Almost every Oscar blogger I know is a voting member — save David Poland, who opted out of voting at some point. Every other one though? Jeff Wells, Steve Pond, Anne Thompson, Nathaniel Rogers — you name it, they’re members of the BFCA.  This is the one area where I exercise the only integrity I have because I’ve never joined this group and, in fact, do not vote on any awards leading up to the Oscars. The reason I do this is because I am paid in advertising dollars by studios directly. Most of my pundit friends have editorial overseers — I do not. I started my own business and run my own business. So it’s a sticky area, I think. Some think so, others don’t – either way, however we got here, here we are.

The BFCA values their record of matching up with Oscar more than any other group. The film critics mostly pretend like they’re at the same party with Oscar voters but are embarrassed to be there. The BFCA embrace this — they even expanded their categories to allow for more celebrities to attend their telecast.  I’m really glad they no longer take the stage for a round of applause. That’s progress.

They have virtually zero impact on the Oscars except in the form of publicity. Ben Affleck got off his best joke at the BFCAs when he was “snubbed” for Best Director, saying, “I’d like to think the Academy…” It caught on like wildfire. A speech in front of a camera and an audience is always good publicity and most of the time no one considers anything else.  They aren’t quite on the level of the Golden Globes yet, in terms of eyeballs, but they’re still a televised awards show and thus, that matters. Still, it cracks me up when the muggle press covers them like they’re real critics. They ain’t. Their like the Oscar-flavored version of the People’s Choice awards — somewhere between mainstream and snooty, not unlike industry voters.

I have to admit I’ve always wondered whether they try to vote to match what they think the Academy might do, thus following the lead of prominent Oscar bloggers, or whether they vote for what they actually think is good. Could that many of them really like Nine that much? Their score would indicate no. Same goes for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I find this contradiction to be strange. Shouldn’t their nominees match, at the very least, their highest scores? That leads me to believe that they probably do pick films they think the Academy will pick to maintain their record of matching up. But maybe many voting bodies do the same thing — maybe this is how the consensus is formed in the end: bloggers predict what movies get in, people voting pick those same movies, those movies get picked by the Academy. The classic self-fulfilling prophecy. It messes with your head, doesn’t it?

The BFCA will announce on Monday — you can take a look at their scores below, to see how they have leaned 2014 and in previous years. Somewhere as we speak several bloggers and BFCA members have the embargoed list. They already know what’s going to get nominated. I used to be one who got the list but — since I bitch about them too much I’ve been removed, I think, from that privilege.

The Critics Choice Best Picture nominees are in red. An asterisk* means the Academy also chose the movie as a Best Picture nominee.

Boyhood – 96
Whiplash – 93
Birdman – 91
Guardians of the Galaxy – 91
The Imitation Game – 91
The LEGO Movie – 91
Selma – 90
Gone Girl – 90
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – 89
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – 88
Nightcrawler – 88
The Grand Budapest Hotel – 87
How to Train Your Dragon 2 – 87
Snowpiercer – 87
The Theory of Everything – 87
Wild – 87
American Sniper – 85
Foxcatcher – 85
Still Alice – 85
The Babadook – 84
Locke – 84
A Most Violent Year – 84
Only Lovers Left Alive – 84
Unbroken – 84

12 Years a Slave – 94*
Short Term 12 – 94
Gravity – 93*
American Hustle – 91*
Captain Phillips – 90*
Blue Jasmine – 89
Philomena – 89*
Dallas Buyers Club – 88*
Fruitvale Station – 88
All Is Lost – 87
Her – 87*
Nebraska – 87*

Stories We Tell – 87
Before Midnight – 86
Mud – 86
Enough Said – 85
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – 85
Prisoners – 85
Rush – 85
Saving Mr. Banks – 85
Side Effects – 85
The Spectacular Now – 85
The Wolf of Wall Street – 84*
Lone Survivor – 83
Inside Llewyn Davis – 82
Upstream Color – 82
Lee Daniels’ The Butler – 81
August: Osage County – 80

Argo – 94*
Zero Dark Thirty – 92*
Skyfall – 92
The Avengers – 90
Silver Linings Playbook* – 90
Lincoln – 88*
Django Unchained – 88*
Amour – 87*
Les Misérables – 87*

Life of Pi – 86*
Looper – 86
Beasts of the Southern Wild – 85*
End of Watch – 85
Arbitrage – 84
Moonrise Kingdom – 83
The Impossible – 82
Prometheus – 82
The Master – 81
Flight – 81
Hunger Games – 81
The Road – 79

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 – 93
The Descendants – 92*
Martha Marcy May Marlene – 92
The Artist – 91*
Drive – 91
The Ides of March – 91
Moneyball – 91*
The Help – 89*
Hugo – 87*
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – 87
Beginners – 85
Midnight in Paris – 85*
My Week with Marilyn – 85
Bridesmaids – 82
War Horse – 80*
Warrior – 80
Contagion – 79
Melancholia – 78
Rampart – 78
Shame – 78
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – 78*
The Tree of Life – 78*
We Need to Talk About Kevin – 78
The Iron Lady – 77
Cloud Atlas – 74


The King’s Speech – 97*
Toy Story 3 – 97*
The Social Network – 95*
True Grit – 95*
Inception – 94*
127 Hours – 90*
The Fighter – 90*
Black Swan – 89*
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – 87
The Town – 87
The Kids Are All Right – 85*
Winter’s Bone – 85*
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – 84
Secretariat – 83
Another Year – 82
The Ghost Writer – 81
Shutter Island – 81


100 – Me and Orson Welles
100 – Up*
97 – Up in the Air*
95 – An Education*
93 – The Hurt Locker*
93 – Star Trek
92 – (500) Days of Summer
91 – Inglourious Basterds*
91 – Fantastic Mr Fox
89 – Avatar*
89 – Precious*
88 – Julie & Julia
87 – District 9*
86 – A Serious Man*
85 – Sherlock Holmes
85 – The Blind Side*
85 – The Messenger
85 – The Princess and the Frog
83 — Invictus
79 — Nine

I guess I will predict the BFCA Best Picture nominees this way:

Boyhood – 96
Whiplash – 93
Birdman – 91
The Imitation Game – 91
Gone Girl – 90
Selma – 90
Nightcrawler – 88
The Grand Budapest Hotel – 87
The Theory of Everything – 87
Foxcatcher – 85
Interstellar – 80

Also possible:

Wild – 87
American Sniper – 85
Unbroken – 84
Into the Woods – 79

I won’t even guess at the rest of the categories, though I’ll be interested to see how it goes.  How about you?





The Gurus of Gold and Gold Derby have put out their predictions. No one is predicting American Hustle to win in Best Picture, which is really the only logical split vote scenario, being that the SAG ensemble win would be in play, as it’s been every time since the beginning of SAG. They are divided between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave.

More surprising, to me, is how many pundits are predicting 20 Feet from Stardom to beat The Act of Killing. If so, they would lose all credibility to hand out awards in the documentary category. If so, I really hope they go back to the rule that voters have to see all five films to make a fair judgment call because that movie deserves to win if ever a movie did deserve to win any prize. I remain horrified in advance at this potential debacle to play out.

At any rate, let’s look at our charts of the major guilds – Producers, Screen Actors, Directors and Eddie when it comes to Best Picture and a split vote. This can only apply in modern day because to look at the years that employed the preferential ballot is to go back to the 1930s. And no one wants to go back to the 1930s.

A few minor things to note.

The Gurus and Derbyites are mostly predicting a split wherein Best Picture wins three Oscars only. Picture, Screenplay and Supporting Actress.

Continue reading…


It has all come down to this, Oscar watchers. Another year almost in the can. Outcome mostly uncertain. All eyes turn to he BAFTAS before the final predictions are made. But if you’re ready to go – the contest is ready for you. Winners will receive the customary set of all nine Best Picture contenders on DVD or Blu-Ray.

Enter Now!

wake up

Whenever people talk about Oscar Nominations Morning, in my head I hear a jeer, a rhyme, a grim homonym: Oscar Nominations Mourning. From December to mid-January I live in a dreamworld. A world where any award is possible. My comfy bubble is left unlocked but there’s a Do Not Disturb sign. Now though, the dreaming is over. Time to face the annual rude awakening. Tomorrow at 5:30am, the door slams shut on a lot of my prettiest pipe dreams — dreams featuring the year’s most precious gems. I’ll see the red carpet yanked out from under the feet of many of my favorites. That nappy rug really tied the room together, but in a few hours I have to watch it unravel. So today’s the day I need to steel myself and prepare to get my heart crushed. That’s painful enough without playing a guessing game I’m doomed to lose. So please don’t look for this list to be very coherent, alright? It’s not meant to be predictions. It’s just a mix of safe expectation, inevitable resignation, stubborn fixation, and stalwart devotion. One last time, I want to imagine what the Oscar nominations could look like if every category had a few happy accidents along with the solid locks. That’s all this wishlist is.  Before I feel the stab wounds, after the cut.

Continue reading…

It’s an incredibly busy season, Oscarwatchers. Tomorrow I will post the preview and predictions for the Critics Choice awards. But for now, please enter our SAG, PGA and Oscar contests!

The 85th Academy AwardsÆ will air live on OscarÆ Sunday, February 24, 2013.





My candle burns at both ends,
It will not last the night–
ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,
It gives a lovely light.

The Oscar year began all the way back in Cannes where three films were introduced – Inside Llewyn Davis, All is Lost and Nebraska.  For a time it seemed as though those three films would continue to dominate through the festival season and through the critics awards and finally, through the guild awards.  The hurried dates around this time of year, and the late comers that seemed to have changed the game, and have altered our perception somewhat; after all, last year we all thought the late comers Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, Lincoln and Django Unchained would have unseated the film that eventually won – they did not.  Argo handily took the entire season, after debuting in Telluride earlier in the season.

As Kris Tapley rightly reminded me at some party a while back – if American Hustle wins Best Picture it will be the first film since The Departed to do so outside the awards circuit.  Captain Phillips and Hustle are sitting in the same seat as The Departed way back in 2006.  Since then, however, the winning films were festival movies – or movies that showed at Cannes, Telluride or Toronto.

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These are the smart Oscarwatchers who got 5/5 on the DGA predictions. Congratulations!

Eric Edge
Reinaldo Glioche
Jeff Beck
Patryk G
Matt Neglia
Johnny Connelly
Eric Petillo
rocky langsy
Pj Edwards
Alex Heisman
Sam Mohseni
Joe Clinton
Melissa Christine
Richard Cairns
cyrus m
Edoardo Zucchini
Dave Law
Blake Gershman
Gustavo Naspolini
Nelson Gadelha
John Zampino
Vince Smetana
Rishi Ramesh
Robin Write
Daniel Logan
Nikita Pavlov
MIkhail Shurygin
Charles Trotter
Chris Swan
David Danisovszky
Aleksandr Syman
Too Many AJs
Chavel Dixon


Gold Derby has assembled a ragtag group for the first predictions sweep (Movie City News’ Gurus of Gold will also post soon) of Best Picture. These are mostly spit in the wind choices, though I follow Anne Thompson’s lead by never predicting a film to win that I haven’t seen (it’s tempting, hope springs eternal).  Therefore, I currently think, all things considered, that Alexander Payne’s sentimental, moving story of an elderly man rediscovering his own life through the lens of Dementia has the best shot of taking home the prize. But then, I haven’t seen any of the “major” contenders yet. No one has.  What I know is this: Alexander Payne is one of the greatest unrecognized American directors who came close to winning with Sideways (screenplay) and then again with The Descendants (screenplay). I don’t know a more consistently good storyteller who is as reliable as Payne when it comes to delivering flawed, memorable characters.  There is something haunting and unforgettable about Nebraska, which seems to fold in so much of what revolves in the collective now.  If it isn’t the best film in Payne’s career, it is close. Therefore, given that the Coens have won with No Country, Scorsese with The Departed, there are a couple of big time directors in the mix who are also overdue, David O. Russell among them.

Still, no one has seen American Hustle so predicting that movie to win, despite everything, is like accepting a proposal to marry someone whose profile you liked on  You only know what it looks like on the surface. Surely that’s no way to find “best.”

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We have our prelim chart up and running. You will notice from this year how diverse it (mostly) is. Some of the wild ones, I can dig it. If you just go with the flow you will always just do “okay” but never fly like an eagle. Main charts | Tech charts

I would ordinarily wait a while before this is more complete but I’m getting too many emails asking for it. So, here it is! At last. Thanks to Marshall Flores who did most of the compiling so far. We will keep adding more as we get them.

Since it’s such a wide open Oscar race, since nothing like this has happened quite this way … ever … theories keep popping up everywhere. Moreover, there doesn’t appear to be a very strong consensus forming. The only thing pundits seem absolutely certain about is Argo winning Best Picture.

The psychics know this and yet:

In a survey of 50 Hollywood Psychics professionals, more predicted an Oscar win for Lincoln than for any other film, with most of the remaining forecasts split almost evenly between Argo and Les Misérables.

They also have Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence to pick up the acting prizes, and for Spielberg to pick up his third Best Director Oscar.

The Huffington Post has also come up with an odd kind of way of calculating things, using an eccentricities method of known networks. In that paradigm, Daniel Day-Lewis, Naomi Watts, Sally Field and Robert De Niro are the winners.

I thought it might be worth combing through the Oscars category by category. What is most likely to win, what might win and what the dark horse could be.  I come at this three ways. First, what the general consensus is based on previous wins, Second, what the shifting buzz seems to be indicating, and third what the potential upset might be.

This weekend, is the WGA, the Eddie, the CAS and the MPSE. They will probably confirm what we already suspect, that the industry has determined its winner and that winner will go on to be confirmed at the Oscars.  It’s all over but the shouting.

One important thing to note about this year is that it might be the first time ever that the Oscars had their ballots turned in before the major guilds announced.   That seemed to throw the race into a kind of flux we’ve never seen before.  The pundits seemed more confused than ever, switching predictions each week – it’s Argo, no, it’s Silver Linings Playbook, no, it’s Les Miserables, no, it’s Life of Pi, no, it’s Lincoln, no it’s back to Argo.  After Argo won the PGA, then the SAG, then the DGA and then the BAFTA it became unstoppable.  Whether it was due to Affleck’s snub, Zero Dark Thirty’s demise or it being a really likable movie — it turned out to be the magic formula and now Ben Affleck is set to make Academy history on one week.

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Remember the good old days when Les Miserables was going to sweep? Now Argo fever.




“You put too much stock in human intelligence, it doesn’t annihilate human nature.”
― Philip Roth, American Pastoral

As we quickly glance behind to see 84 years of Oscar history already, each one of those years full of stories, moments of madness, glorious victories, regrettable choices that happened in an instant to reward films and actors that, for what looks like a minute, thrilled the privileged few enough to earn their vote, we wonder — will this year be any different? It sure feels different. It even smells different.  When Argo wins Best Picture we will sift through through the wreckage of this year and find yet another movie that was plucked out of Telluride or Toronto that ran the gauntlet, came out the other side unscathed — one that flew under the radar so that it never became anyone’s imaginary whale, or controversy du jour. It succeeded for the reason Oscar movies always succeed: it entertained.

Or we might look back on 2012 and think, how could we ever think any movie could have beaten Lincoln? As it closes in on $150 million, the Spielberg film is officially a phenomenon. Its greatness throughout the country confirmed, and yet here within the beast, Lincoln comes with much baggage. Steven Spielberg himself, loved by many but also diminished somehow by his 30 years of entertaining crowds, has made his best film in 20 years.  But others mutter it’s too boring and too talky and it reminds them of CSPAN and who cares anyway? Sure, if you don’t care about the 13th amendment, the past, present and future of African Americans in this country, you ain’t going to care about Lincoln.  You probably could get more women talking about 50 Shades of Grey than slavery in 2012.  But oh, what a film.

Or in ten years we might look back on 2012 and say, of course Zero Dark Thirty was going to win. How could it not have? It won all of those critics awards — it was such a great follow-up to The Hurt Locker and a woman was about to make Academy and DGA history? How could we not have known? We didn’t know because Zero Dark Thirty has now been branded as a pro-torture, pro-right wing CIA fantasy flick and no amount of protesting seems to stop the tsunami of hate directed at the filmmakers.  Of course, in the end, this could work in their favor — sometimes the worm can turn back around the other way and people feel like propping Bigelow and Boal up.

Or in the end will it really just come down to good old-fashioned human emotion? Will Les Mis ultimately prevail and those whose faith in it can rejoice? Cynicism won out, at least so far with Les Miserables. It isn’t a film that can play with a straight face, not to this crowd.  Even still, could a split year with heavy dramas give way to the musical? It isn’t entirely impossible.

The great thing about 2012 is that, for the first time in a while, it’s a wide open Best Picture race.

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Awards Daily’s Predict the Producers Guild contest now open for business!

Back in 1994 and before that, the Producers Guild nominees matched the Oscar Best Picture five fairly well.  But since 1995 and onward, there has been at least one mismatch. Usually the end of December would represent the earlier part of the race but this year everything is smushed together even more tightly than it has been in the past. That would suggest that Oscar ballots would reflect the same temperature as earlier awards groups, like perhaps, the BFCA, or the NBR, or even the Globes.

This is the first year ever that most of the Oscar ballots will be turned in before the Producers Guild announces its ten nominees (January 3).  There are a few groups that offer up a top ten every year (minus various critics groups) and those would be the National Board of Review, the Broadcast Film Critics (or Critics Choice), the American Film Institute and the Producers Guild.  In looking them over all together there are usually a strong four, or three, or five that make it all the way through to the end.  And not every year can be measured the same way.

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The HFPA are announcing their nominees tomorrow.   With all of the dates being pushed back this year, the Globes aren’t as early as they usually are so they might actually be more useful than they’ve been in the recent past. Although the HFPA takes a lot of crap for being bought and paid for by studios, and/or foreign journalists nobody can identify, the truth is that it doesn’t really matter in the end; their nominees and winners do matter. They have as much an impact on the race as any other major critics awards, and are the second most watched awards show after the Oscars.  Winning a Globe gives you the world stage, and it ups your chances to win an Oscar significantly. Except when it doesn’t.

I’ll contend that after James Cameron won the Globe for Avatar it was an uncomfortable moment that eventually led to Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker’s victory.  Sometimes wins can feel “wrong” as much as they can feel “right.” It just depends on how much gratitude the contender decides to show. It’s always a good thing, for instance, to turn on the waterworks. People who bestow awards like to feel like they’re doing a good deed. So the wrong reaction is entitlement. The right reaction is gratitude. Hey, you asked. Well, maybe you didn’t ask but I’m offering up this theory which probably has one foot in a big pile of bullshit and the other foot in the truth. I won’t tell you which is which.

I have posted my predictions over at Gold Derby but I will go over them now.  Try to hide your excitement.

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Over at Gold Derby, the world turns somewhat differently than it does at Movie City News.  Most at Gold Derby are favoring Les Miserables.

Best Picture

Les Miserables
Dave Karger
Matt Atchity
Edward Douglas
Pete Hammond
Tariq Kahn
Tom O’Neil
Keith Simanton
Alex Suskind
Peter Travers
Susan Wloszczyna

Zero Dark Thirty
Thelma Adams
Michael Musto
Steve Pond
Kevin Polowy
Jeff Wells
Chuck Walton

Scott Feinberg
Anne Thompson
Glenn Whipp
Michael Hogan

Silver Linings Playbook
Sean O’Connell

Enter our Contest!

The National Board of Review announces Wednesday.  While most people go on and on about how they don’t matter, the truth is that yes, they DO matter.  Any major awards precursor matters because they give a contender publicity and legitimacy, no matter who they are.   The National Board of Review really pushed Hugo into the race last year and set The Social Network up for its sweep of the critics awards.  To date, it’s the only film that ever won Film, Director and Screenplay; usually they split up the awards. Will NBR recognize a woman with their best director award for the first time in their 77 year history, or give Spielberg his first win there since Empire of the Sun. Will DDL also finally win Best Actor there?

According to our Oscar wonk, Marshall Flores:

Historically, NBR Best Film winners have an average total haul of two wins, and it’s more likely that the best film winner takes an acting award with it instead of director or screenplay; unlike LAFCA or NYFCC, where pic and director match more than half the time (56% at NYFCC, 60% at LAFCA), pic and director/screenplay match only 33% of the time at the NBR, so splits are more common here. Also worth noting: No Country for Old Men is the only film in NBR history to win both Best Film and Best Ensemble, while The Social Network is the only film to have won Film, Director, and a screenplay award.

Finally, it is uncommon (though not rare) for both the NBR and the NYFCC to select the same Best Film winner – this has occurred 25% of the time in the past 67 years (although this match frequency is twice as high compared to NBR and LAFCA). Eleven of the 17 films NBR and NYFCC both agreed on for Best Film did go on to win the Best Picture Oscar; however, the last time this occurred was back in 1993 with Schindler’s List. Take from these stats and trends what you will.

You got that last part? When they DO match, that movie, unless it’s something brave and exceptional like LA Confidential or The Social Network it goes on to win Best Picture. If Zero Dark Thirty wins the NBR and Los Angeles, we now know it could still not win Best Picture, as The Social Network proved. To win the Oscar you have to win the guild awards, specifically the DGA (not always, but it helps).

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