First of all, faithful readers, I have an announcement to make – I think the weekly posting idea has proved a tad optimistic and for the new year, I’m going to aim for posting about once a month. My lack of time for movie-blogging has also carried over as lack of time for movie-watching – usually by now I would have seen at least 75% of the top nominees. I’m nowhere near that this year, which makes it hard to render opinions as to winners. So I’m going to flounder my way through the practically mandatory film blog “predictions” post, even without seeing the majority of nominees. I’ve included contenders for the big three: the Golden Globes (which have already happened), the Screen Actors Guild Awards (which will be broadcast on January 27th), and the grand finale of the glitz and sparkle of the Academy Awards (airing February 24th).
The Golden Globes
The Golden Globes are a fun celebration of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood that began over 50 years ago by journalists to try to gain greater access to and credibility with Hollywood stars. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association members vote for the movies and TV shows that will be honoured each year. So who are the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association? Well, they are working international journalists who cover the Hollywood entertainment industry for their respective publications. There are about 90 members from over 40 countries worldwide. The accounting firm of Ernst and Young diligently handles the entire voting process. But despite the stringent standards for the voting process, the HFPA has been the subject of controversy over the years falling under suspicions of bribery and vote-buying, particularly when it comes to patterns of nominating what are considered to be “substandard” films (seriously, The Tourist and Burlesque?! C’mon HFPA!)
The HFPA tends to reward films that may or may not be critically acclaimed, but have secured wide distribution, publicity, and popularity with moviegoers. The Globes have some different categories than the Oscars, most notably the separation of Best Motion Picture and Actor/Actress into “Drama” and “Comedy or Musical” categories, but coming annually about 6 weeks before the Academy Awards, they are often regarded as a good predictor of Oscar success.
A summary of the winners from the Globes breaks down like this: Les Misérables took home the most high profile trophies with three: Best Picture – Comedy or Musical, Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical (Hugh Jackman), and Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Anne Hathaway). But remember, the Globes are the only awards that have two categories for Best Picture and Best Actor/Actress. Competition within these prominent categories will be much more rigorous for the coveted SAG awards and Oscars. Argo and Django Unchained captured two apiece; Argo snagging Best Picture Drama and Best Director for Ben Affleck (who was notably snubbed by the Academy, but I’ll get to that in a minute), and Django winning for Best Supporting Actor Performance (Christoph Waltz) and Tarantino’s screenplay. Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty each secured acting trophies for Daniel Day Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jessica Chastain respectively. So there were no real sweeps at the Globes – the major awards were distributed across a range of nominated films. So this gives some indication of how the other major entertainment awards might fall, but it can be hard to draw parallels because of the difference in voting population (90-some-odd press members as opposed to thousands of moviemakers) and the narrower categories.
Screen Actors Guild Awards
Also honouring performances in both movies and television, the SAG awards are fairly prestigious and have a reputation for focusing on the “craft” of acting, rather than commercial popularity. The SAG awards haven’t been around very long (celebrating their 19th annual ceremony this year), but are considered a high profile honour because they are voted on by Screen Actors Guild union members, in other words, the nominees’ peers. A randomly selected committee of approximately 2,100 members determine the nominees. All active members are eligible to vote for the award winners (provided they’ve paid their union dues). There tend to be pronounced similarities between SAG award winners and the Oscars, as many SAG members are also members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (and actors comprise the largest block of Oscar voters).
The “Best Picture” award equivalent for the SAGs is the Ensemble Acting award and the nominees this year are Argo, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Les Misérables, Lincoln, and Silver Linings Playbook. This is likely a toss-up between Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook, with advantage Lincoln. Expect Daniel Day Lewis to be the front-runner in the Best Actor category (sorry, Hugh Jackman). The SAG Best Actress award has Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain going head to head (unlike the Globes). I would suspect Jessica Chastain will be the favourite here, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Emmanuelle Riva squeak out a win. Anne Hathaway is considered a lock for the Best Supporting Actress category – this category has identical nominees to the Globes. Despite multiple acting nominations at the Globes, Django Unchained was completely shut out of the SAGs making the Best Supporting Actor Award a complete toss-up. I have no idea on this one. Perhaps Tommy Lee Jones has an edge, especially if Lincoln snags the Ensemble award, but Robert DeNiro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Alan Arkin are all heavy-hitters as well. Anybody’s guess…
Oscar is the oldest (85 this year) and most coveted award in the pack. In addition to the main categories of Picture, Director, Screenplay, and the four Acting Awards, this ceremony also includes all of the technical/behind-the-scenes awards like Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects. These can be the trickiest to call – most often the Best Picture winner secures many of these categories, but not always (Avatar prevented a Hurt Locker sweep three years ago by taking home trophies for Art Direction, Cinematography, and Visual Effects). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has over 6,000 members who work in all aspects of film production and are eligible to vote for the Oscar winners.
As for what might transpire on Oscar night this year, check out this article in the Guardian laying out a complete list of this year’s entertainment award nominees and winners so far. In the directing category, Ben Affleck is the award-season favourite so far with a Globe and a Critic’s Choice Award. But remember he’s not even nominated for an Oscar so that category is anybody’s game at this point. However, the snub practically ensures Argo won’t win Best Picture. It is possible – Driving Miss Daisy (1989) was the last film to win Best Picture without a directing nomination – but highly improbable based on the Academy members’ voting patterns in the past.
According to “buzz”, Lincoln is the most likely recipient of Best Picture honours this year and therefore Spielberg the most likely candidate for directing. It is exactly the type of movie Academy members tend to favour, both in content and execution. Best Actress is looking like a 3-way race between Emmanuelle Riva, Jessica Chastain, and Jennifer Lawrence. Tough one to call, but if I was a betting woman (and I sometimes am), I’m inclined to favour Jessica Chastain’s performance. As I mentioned before, the SAG winner will likely give an early indicator of which way Academy voters are leaning. And at this stage in the game, Daniel Day Lewis and Anne Hathaway appear to have their respective categories locked up. The Best Supporting Actor category promises the most suspense. Not sure whether or not Christoph Waltz’s success at the Globes will translate to the Academy’s preferences come Oscar night.
As a wannabe writer, I’m always intrigued at how the Screenplay awards play out. There are two categories for Screenwriting at the Oscars: Original and Adapted. Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) is the likely winner in the Original category and Tony Kushner (Lincoln) is the probable favourite in the Adapted category, although David O. Russell could upset for adapting Silver Linings Playbook for the screen.
So despite my firsthand experience with most of the movies nominated (I still have a month or so and just saw Silver Linings Playbook last night so I’m catching up), I’ll definitely be watching. If only to see how much Seth McFarlane gets away with as this year’s irreverent host.