The DGA Awards are tonight. The DGA breakfast is happening now. It is perhaps the most wide open race we’ve ever seen, unless it turns out not to be and then we’ll all pick up our balls and go home, writing it off as another predictable season. This is your reminder of how unpredictable it is at this moment.
Although, as Erik Anderson pointed out on Twitter yesterday, it is a little strange that all of the pundits at Gold Derby are convinced the winner will be anyone but Adam McKay, he is still the most likely to win tonight if you go go by stats. If you go by anything other than stats, you are going to find things split up.
Here are various outcomes that might shift the race in different directions.
- Adam McKay wins. With the PGA/ACE wins, and DGA plus likely victories at WGA and Scripter, the race is over. We know the outcome. Although it’s a minority predicting this — Kris Tapley, Steve Pond, myself and Erik — that may make it seems improbable. How often do so few pick someone to win that will all but shut down any questions about Best Picture and Best Director?
- George Miller wins, breaks the tradition of needing a BAFTA nod for an Oscar Best Director win. This year’s circumstances also don’t match Alfonso Cuarón’s win in 2014 because he won the Globe and just about every other Directing award leading up to the DGA. If Miller wins, that could signal a split of the Best Director Oscar going to Miller and Best Picture still being a showdown between Spotlight (SAG) and The Big Short (PGA). Of the two guilds, the PGA has a record of predicting wins 100% of the time, where SAG has a record of matching 50% of the time since Oscar expanded to a Best Picture ballot of more than five nominees. I’m wondering whether the Internet’s passion for Mad Max means that will be reflected in the industry — or if just the sheer audacity of Mad Max might push it over. Miller is a beloved vet who has never won.
- Miller’s virtuoso directing for Mad Max is in tight rivalry with Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant, also one of the most impressive feats of directing all year. That he won last year hurts his chances with DGA and Oscar, but not with Globes or BAFTA, since Richard Linklater won those awards last year. Any time I think about Mad Max I think about The Revenant beating it back. Why would Mad Max be considered a hotter pick than Iñárritu’s film with 12 nominations? It doesn’t make sense to me — but who knows. If Iñárritu wins the DGA, it could set into motion something that becomes too big to ignore. A lot of money made, historic back-to-back wins, and a frontier epic with 12 nominations. If Iñárritu wins tonight, that will likely end the competition with Mad Max on a preferential ballot and might give The Revenant what it needs to claim the Best Picture prize.
- Tom McCarthy wins, makes history by being the first DGA winner to have lost PGA but then have his film win the SAG Ensemble award. If Spotlight wins here, like with Adam McKay winning, that probably signals Best Picture is Spotlight’s to lose. Spotlight still has that SAG Ensemble win from the largest industry guild, and that means a lot. But more than that, Spotlight is really the controversy-free choice, and the one that best displays humans as the good guys, the heroes. That narrative could influence people to push it to the top of their ballots.
- Ridley Scott. The year started with Ridley way ahead. Too bad the Academy’s directors branch did not agree. I have no doubt that The Martian is probably (still) the favorite of many of these voters, but they’ll likely not pick him because he didn’t get a Best Directing nomination and thus, heat has cooled. Still, if Ridley were to win here, that could propel The Martian towards Best Picture with someone else winning directing, like Adam McKay or Iñárritu. I still maintain that one needs a BAFTA nom to win Best Director (Ang Lee in 2012, for instance) but anything’s possible.
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