This morning we heard at last from BAFTA as they released their long list. This is the first year of their own inclusivity standards, which made the long lists make so much more sense. Why not just include everyone and make sure everyone gets a prize? That sounds more sarcastic than I mean it to. I genuinely mean, isn’t this where we’re headed? I think if the end result is to make sure no one is left behind who isn’t white or male, I wonder if the old model even serves the community anymore or not. And perhaps it’s time to rethink the five per category thing.
We didn’t learn much from the BAFTA drop because the slate of films on offer is not that many. The awards race, as least via social media, appears to be very invested in Spike Lee and Da 5 Bloods. This made the SAG today, and many categories on the BAFTA long list except Director.
The SAG drop mostly just confirmed what many had theorized but hadn’t yet seen confirmed – despite its big cast and its being about Hollywood, more or less, the actors like other ensembles more than than Mank’s. Although Gary Oldman earned their acclaim, they chose others ahead of Amanda Seyfried.
They did like Minari, which had been my early instinct but one I’d abandoned in the 11th hour for no reason in particular. The only film in ensemble with a primarily white cast, directed by a white man is The Trial of the Chicago 7. I am singling out this fact because this is how Twitter counts the fairness or unfairness of the Oscar race, as we saw with the Globes drop. As long as everyone is represented people feel okay about how the awards are coming down. If anyone or any group is not represented (white men being the exception) then there will always be some who feel badly and feel something is wrong with the nominations.
As has been their trend in recent years, the SAG noms are quite diverse across the board, thus satisfying the need of Film Twitter, not to mention the industry overall that does not wish to be seen as oppressive systemic racists. Rather, they want to be seen as global and diverse. These nominations showed that without a doubt.
The actors do drive the Best Picture race but the SAG ensemble nominating committee doesn’t necessarily. Green Book won without either a SAG ensemble nom or a Best Director nom at the Oscars. They just really liked the movie. The Shape of Water also won without a SAG ensemble nom. The key is whether the film hit the markers and Amanda Seyfried losing out in Supporting Actress is a pretty good sign that not enough members on the nominating committee (2000 members chosen at random) did not connect with the movie. Where Mank is concerned, as it is my favorite film of the year (and I believe it’s by far the best), it is best to be pleasantly surprised when it clicks with an awards body but not to expect it to be an awards favorite. This just doesn’t seem to be the year for a movie like Mank.
Either which way, Amy Adams got in for Hillbilly Elegy, and Jared Leto showed that his Globes nom wasn’t a fluke. I guess he’s in it for the long haul. And News of the World’s wonderful performance by Helena Zengel was singled out. These were mostly considered to be surprises. Regina King’s One Night in Miami is getting a nice push with the Globes nom for Best Director and now the SAG ensemble nom. This positions her for potentially a Best Director nom, along with Best Picture. She would make history if that comes to pass.
Very likely Minari will do well with industry voters at PGA, maybe DGA, and with Oscar. It is one of the few uplifting films in the race, along with News of the World.
The awards community appears to certify that the Trial of the Chicago 7 is the frontrunner to beat. I suppose it could be, theoretically. It’s been the prediction all along from many I know. I think it’s too early to make that call. What is going to sell Nomadland is partly the performance of McDormand, and how beautiful the film is – but primarily the chance to make history with the only film since The Hurt Locker in 2009 directed by a woman to win. Now think about how the awards usually go. Think about the underdog vs. the frontrunner and you can start to see how it might flip if Chicago 7 becomes the frontrunner.
Nomadland coming in as a competitive frontrunner puts pressure on the movie to live up to expectations. You also have to ask if you feel like Chicago 7 will win the SAG ensemble award. It very well might — but given who the SAG are, and what 2020 was about, and you put it all together and you imagine they will want the same kind of poignant moment they had last year when Parasite earned a standing ovation in the house. What movie is likely to do that? There are quite a few contenders – like Ma Rainey or Da 5 Bloods specifically. But – let’s see how it goes, what lands where and how the rest of the season plays out.
This year, the awards race often feels a bit of a slog on top of a trauma on top of a pandemic and everything else that went on in 2020. It feels like being trapped in a big room with a lot of people screaming at once, forming small bands or cliques, taking sides, etc. The Oscar race is always like this but with Twitter as the only global forum to share our Oscar experience, with no in person events, no actual screenings, it is one of the weirdest I have ever lived through.
The Golden Globes Awards will be handed out at the end of this month. We still have all of March to get through and then finally, in April, the last gasp. I would highly encourage anyone who has been following along to take a very long, well deserved break from all of it. ALL OF IT. Twitter, news, being indoors. Just get outside and live real life — and of course, wear the best mask you can find whenever you might be at risk.
That’s my best advice, Oscarwatchers.