Remember last year’s date scramble? I certainly do. For the first time in Oscar history the Academy had to turn in their ballots before the DGA announced. The DGA was the only really significant group that didn’t announce, though the Producers Guild announced one day before ballots were turned in. It was recently brought up on Twitter that the bloggers and critics have to work harder not to make the precursors so important. I can tell you that having started this awards watching website 15 years ago I watched, and participated and helped shape how we all watch awards now, which is to keep score of the precursors heading into the race. But whether we’re keeping score or not, human nature dictates that fellow humans want to be on the winning side. It’s really as uncomplicated as that. The more a person or a film wins, the more they look like winners. Perception is everything. Voting is irrational. The critics don’t seem to matter where the industry voters are concerned, at least not anymore. They certainly used to. But perhaps we have to now redefine critics. perhaps there are too many of them out there. So much so that “everyone is a critic.” But guild voters are in the industry, the “club” — they have become too big to fail. Either way, it proved to me that the guilds really did have the power to shift the race dramatically and in fact dominate it. But let’s take a look at this year’s dates to determine if the same dynamic will play out. AMPAS–Saturday, November 16, 2013: The Governors Awards SAG–Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 Nominations Ballots Mailed Monday, December 2, 2013: Official Screen Credits due SAG–Monday Dec. 9, 2013-Nomination Ballots Due at the Elections Firm by 12 Noon p.m. PT SAG–Wednesday, December 11, 2013-Nominations Announced SAG-Monday, December 16, 2013-Final voting begins Friday, December 27, 2013: Nominations voting begins Wednesday, January 8, 2014: Nominations voting ends 5 p.m. PT Thursday, January 16, 2014: Oscar nominations announced SAG-Friday, January 17, 2014: Ballots Due SAG-Saturday, January 18, 2014: Screen Actors Guild Awards PGA-Sunday, January 19, 2014: Producers Guild Awards DGA-Saturday, January 25, 2014: Directors Guild Awards Monday, February 10, 2014: Nominees Luncheon Friday, February 14, 2014: Final voting begins Saturday, February 15, 2014: Scientific and Technical Awards Tuesday, February 25, 2014: Final voting ends 5 p.m. PT Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014: 86th Academy Awards So the Screen Actors Guild will announce before the Oscar ballot deadline, with ample time. The DGA and PGA must announce their nominees before January 8th. Last year, they announced January 10, which was past the Oscar ballot deadline last year and would be past it this year. Last year, the PGA announced January 3rd, which would give ample this year before the Oscar ballot deadline. Finally, how does it break down in terms of time? Last year January 10, 2013–nominations announced February 19, 2013–final ballots due This year: January 16, 2014–nominations announced February 25, 2014–final ballots due It appears to be roughly the same length of time, though I can’t be trusted to count it out.