It’s interesting that there is so much attention invested in which films and filmmakers get left out of critics awards in the early stages of the Oscar race. No matter how many times you say it, this axiom never seems to sink in: the critics are not the industry. They do not vote in the same numbers as the industry. Their agendas are different from the industry’s. The best thing early critics awards can do, and this is true ACROSS THE BOARD, is what they put IN, not what they leave out.
I’ve been building charts and looking at stats and comparing lists over two decades. and I can say with confidence that, no, it doesn’t matter if such and such was snubbed or nearly snubbed from the National Board of Review. It matters not in the least bit.
Here are a few awards watching rules to live by:
- The highest number of voters any critics group has in its membership is fewer than 300. That’s the Critics Choice. Look at these numbers in comparison:
SAG – 150,000
DGA – 16,000
PGA – 6000
AMPAS – 6000
2. Early critics’ awards are almost always representative of the early part of the race; thus, they can be looked more as influencers rather than predictors. And even then, there is no guarantee of anything. Not even the Golden Globes can guarantee anything.
3. Awards voters really do tell you a lot when they vote in the thousands. And even then, we can have a year like last where the PGA went to The Big Short, the DGA went to The Revenant, and SAG and Best Picture went to Spotlight. Even in the best of circumstances the consensus doesn’t always match.
4. No one is “in trouble” yet. There is no intel at this moment in time that is so important it signals any movie is “in trouble.”
5. There are a few things to watch for that may or may not be an indicator that a film is headed for the Oscars — and none of them include anything that just happened or is about to happen in the next couple of days. Anyone who says, after the Broadcast Film Critics leave out some movie or some director or some actor, that such and such is “in trouble,” is playing Chicken Little. Pay little attention to that warning. That movie may very well be in trouble, but whether or not the critics picked them is not necessarily an indicator that anything is “in trouble.”
Don’t forget: Ben Affleck didn’t even get a nomination for Best Director and Argo STILL won Best Picture.
Here are the things to watch for that DO matter:
- Getting a screenplay nomination at the Golden Globes is good. Not getting isn’t the end of the world but it is a potential sign that there isn’t as much heat on the movie.
- Missing out on a DGA nod probably means you will not be winning Best Picture but that’s all it can tell you. It doesn’t impact nominations.
- Missing out on a SAG Ensemble nod means you’ll have a harder time winning Best Picture. It doesn’t impact nominations.
- Missing a PGA nod for Best Picture isn’t the end of the world because they almost always miss one that Oscar picks, but for a high profile movie it might not be a good sign.
- Getting on the AFI’s best list is a good thing.
- Obviously if you’re an actor you’re looking for that SAG nomination, but even in that case it’s rare for them to match with Oscar 5/5.
What can hurt a movie?
— If it opens wide and falls flat at the box office (Steve Jobs).
— A pseudo-controversy erupts (Zero Dark Thirty, Selma, Birth of a Nation).
— A whisper campaign begins that no one can control. People here or there trashing a movie can do damage. (Seeing a bit of this right now with a few movies. It’s always a drag and the only way to combat it is for the movie to fly under the radar).
— Bizarre prejudices seep in that no one can control — like homophobia, lack of interest in a story about minorities, something the critics missed like a downer ending being a problem. Inside Llewyn Davis, for instance.
What can’t hurt a movie or performance? Whether it is named by the Golden Satellites, the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics, the Broadcast Film Critics. I’m here to tell you emphatically — IT DOES NOT MATTER.
What matters more is what they PUT IN, not what they leave out. Got it?
Getting a boost today from the NBR:
Moonlight (already had it)
Manchester by the Sea (already had heat, but NBR dialed it back up after it lost at the Gothams)
Arrival (nice to see Amy Adams and the film recognized).
Hell or High Water
But the last thing you should do is walk away thinking: La La Land, Jackie, and Fences are out of the running. Well, you can make that claim if you want but you’re going to need more intel on that one.