This Saturday, the Producers Guild will finally announce their anointed winners. Out of ten nominees, they will implement the preferential system to name their number one film of 2018.
A large faction of the film-going community wants that winner to be Roma. Many Oscar pundits are currently predicting it to win on Saturday and then to go all the way. Without the support of the actors, however, at least at the moment, it will need to win the Producers Guild and BAFTA to have a solid shot at winning the Oscar. And if it wins the PGA and it wins the Oscar you will see Hollywood forever transformed into something completely new. Why? Because, up to now, the Netflix model has been rejected. Roma is putting the status quo to the test in a big way. If it succeeds, well then, the way movies are produced, made, released, and seen by audiences will be wide open.
Roma, however, also will have to become the first foreign language film to win both Foreign Language and Best Picture Oscars. Most film critics are 100% certain this will happen. It does seem perfect for the preferential ballot, because even if it isn’t a number one it will most definitely be the kind of movie people push to the top of their ballots out of admiration and respect for the project itself. That makes it a major threat in a year where there isn’t one overwhelming winner that can win in the first round of counting.
The preferential ballot will find its winner in two ways. One winner comes in, wins everything, then wins the Oscar. The other way is when the votes are split all over the map: there isn’t any clear, overwhelming winner, then there is often a surprise.
You can tell how they split by how the votes went down with the major guilds.
Overwhelming winners that likely won on the first round of voting:
2009: The Hurt Locker — PGA/DGA
2010: The King’s Speech — PGA/DGA/SAG
2011: The Artist — PGA/DGA
2012: Argo — PGA/DGA/SAG
2014: Birdman — PGA/DGA/SAG
When the votes were more divided up and thus a surprise winner was the result:
2013: 12 Years a Slave — tied with Gravity with the PGA, Gravity won DGA
2015: Spotlight — SAG ensemble, The Big Short won PGA, The Revenant won DGA
2016: Moonlight — La La Land won PGA/DGA, Hidden Figures won SAG
2017 — The Shape of Water — PGA/DGA, no SAG ensemble nomination
That means that Saturday night’s big win will likely tell us what kind of year we’re going to have. If Roma wins the PGA, but it can’t win the SAG, that puts it in either La La Land territory or The Shape of Water territory. Meaning, either it wins Best Picture or it doesn’t.
Any other film that wins that isn’t Roma means we’re heading into a split year because most assume Alfonso Cuaron is the winner of the DGA. That would mean, then, that the PGA and DGA and SAG could theoretically have three different winners. If Roma wins PGA/DGA it becomes the frontrunner to win, but since it isn’t in play at SAG we could still be talking about a mixed up year with a surprise ending, though I do expect all of the pundits to be predicting Roma.
Since Roma can’t win the SAG, what might? Can BlacKkKlansman, with Jordan Peele as one of the producers, be the winner? Could A Star Is Born pull through, or even, gasp, Bohemian Rhapsody? It’s theoretically possible Bohemian could win even the SAG. Black Panther could win the SAG.
Either which way, in a wide open crazy year where there is no easy, clear winner so far, we’re looking for a big surprise on Oscar night.
Now to the Spike Lee question. We do all assume that Roma is walking away with the DGA, but it’s worth noting that no black director has ever won an Oscar for Best Director. Even though both 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight were directed by black directors, they did not win. Spike Lee has also never been nominated, has been a icon of American directing over the past 30 years, has mentored countless aspiring filmmakers, and BlacKkKlansman is very well-liked across the board. So although Alfonso Cuaron is currently the heavy favorite to win a second DGA and Best Director Oscar, the narrative can easily shift if an urgency to finally award Lee sets in among voters.
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