Bill Levin, who does deep-diving Oscar stat analysis, wrote in to ask me what I thought about the following:
At the end of last season, we had communicated about the new “ironclad” stat (see attached): since 2012, all Oscar BP winners have been nominated for the Globes Screenplay. This is how I knew Roma wasn’t winning BP (no Globe SP Nom!).
Given Dec 10 is right around the corner, as your post today indicates, who might our 5 be for Globe SP (and thus our possible Oscar BP winner)??
My current thinking …
1.) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
2.) Marriage Story
4.) Jo-Jo Rabbit
5.) Two Popes (or Little Women)
Right off the top I see three for Netflix and I’m not 100% that the Globes will go that way. They, even more than the Academy, seem to like to spread the wealth among studios, not necessarily fixated on Best Picture contenders. I haven’t confirmed this with research but it’s just a hunch.
Bill then shows me a comparison chart that goes back to 2009, when the preferential ballot was implemented to find the Best Picture winner.
Some quick and dirty background on that – the Academy used the preferential ballot from the beginning in 1927 to 1943. In 1944, when the number of Best Picture nominees was trimmed back to a consistent five per year, they started using the plurality ballot – that is, five nomination slots, five nominees – plurality vote rules. That went on until 2009 when, after the Dark Knight was shut out, the Academy thought that if they expanded the ballot to TEN nomination slots and TEN nominees that would help expand their Best Picture race to include films that might ordinarily not make the cut. And it did do that. For two years only. From 2009 to 2010 they had more animated movies and genre movie nominated for Best Picture, for instance, and a much wider array of options, given that voters had ten slots to fill and not five. But many Academy voters complained about chore of naming 10 nominees, and wanted to nominate only five. So back to five it went only this time the Academy would expand their picks beyond the limit of five nominees. Five nomination slots but a random number of nominees from (theoretically) 5 to 10, depending on how many met an arbitrary accounting threshold. So far, we’ve only had either 8 or 9 nominees. That’s the way it’s been from 2011 to the present.
Okay, so here is Bill’s chart from 2009 – present.
I’ve always known that it is screenplay and not director that seems to dominate in the era of the preferential ballot. Even in the case of Spotlight, which only won a single award besides Best Picture, screenplay was its second win. For whatever reason, the Academy has been more likely to separate director from picture now than they used to be.
2009 – no split
2010 – no split
2011 – no split
2012 – split (because Argo had no director nom)
2013 – split
2014 – no split
2015 – split
2016 – split
2017- no split
2018 – split (because Green Book had no director nom)
Compare that to the decade prior and you have:
2008 – no split
2007 – no split
2006 – no split
2005 – split
2004 – no split
2003 – no split
2002 – split
2001 – no split
And by the way, in the past 10 years we’ve had TWO films win Best Picture without a Best Director nomination – and that’s something that hadn’t happened since Driving Miss Daisy did it 1989.
So by far, screenplay is the more reliable and necessary nomination AND win. Of course, every year is different and stats are made to be broken but let’s go with this for a minute or two and ask ourselves — what SCREENPLAYS stand out this year.
One thing to note — one of the reasons that screenplay is stronger is that more directors are writing or co-writing their own screenplays. This could be a trend — but it could also account for why that script can win with Picture instead of director because they’re less likely to give out Picture, Director and Screenplay to the same movie. It goes like this:
2009 – Screenwriter different from director
2010 – Screenwriter different from director
2011 – Screenwriter is Director
2012 – Screenwriter different from director
2013 – Screenwriter is Director
2014 – Screenwriter is Director
2015 – Screenwriter is Director
2016 – Screenwriter is Director
2017 – Screenwriter is Director
2018 – Screenwriter is Director
So in a sense, voters can award the director in screenplay and then give best director to someone else. Funny, right?
Okay so about this year — Scripts that can win Best Picture that won’t award the director unless the director wins too – meaning, it could win Picture, Director and not Screenplay (Shape of Water) or win Picture, Director and Screenplay (Hurt Locker):
Ford v Ferrari
The Two Popes
Dolemite Is My Name
And the scripts that were written or co-written by their directors that can WIN Best Picture with Screenplay or just director and still come away a winner:
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
The most common scenario appears to be, at least lately, a film that was directed and written or co-written by the same person wins Picture and Screenplay. The only time it’s happened that a film won Picture, Director and Screenplay with the same person winning was Birdman. The best way to tell if we’re in a Birdman type scenario is if one film wins PGA/DGA/SAG ensemble. Then all bets are off and you can take it to the bank.
Finally — the way you know if you’re headed for a split year or a non-split year is by following the guilds.
2009 – The Hurt Locker–PGA/DGA/SAG ens. nomination
2010 – The King’s Speech-PGA/DGA/SAG ensemble
2012 – Argo-PGA/DGA/SAG ensemble
2013 -12 Years a Slave – PGA, Gravity-PGA/DGA
2014 – Birdman-PGA/DGA/SAG ensemble
2015 – Big Short-PGA, The Revenant-DGA, Spotlight-SAG ensemble and Best Picture
2016 – La La Land-PGA/DGA, no SAG ensemble, Moonlight won Best Picture
2017 – Shape of Water-PGA/DGA, no SAG ensemble
2018 – Green Book-PGA, Roma-DGA, SAG ensemble-Black Panther
So watch whether the guilds align or not and that is roughly how you can tell whether it will be a year that splits or a year that doesn’t. Although that would not have helped the La La Land year.
I feel as though I am so far at a loss predicting anything in such a wide open year and the Globes can be very unpredictable in terms of what movie they are going to push into the race and from what studio. I feel confident Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will be in there for Screenplay. Beyond that, though, at the moment I have no idea.