The weekend brings us three precursors. One is of significant importance. The DGA award is typically the most reliable precursor out there and whomever wins may have a bigger impact on the Best Picture race than the Best Director race with only two of the DGA nominees also securing Oscar nods in the same category. Of the other two awards, the ADG is probably the most importance since its winners often forecast the Oscar winner. Yet, the more interesting of these latter two is the Annie Awards, which honors the best animation of the year and serves up the most interesting politics this side of the Golden Globes.
Here are our predictions for the three groups. I go out on a limb and make some predictions in all of the Annie categories while Peter and Tripp focus on the most important of its categories, the one most (or least) likely to impact the Oscars.
DIRECTORS GUILD OF AMERICA (DGA) AWARDS
Ben Affleck – Argo (Wesley / Peter / Tripp)
Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty (RU:Peter)
Tom Hooper – Les Misérables
Ang Lee – Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg – Lincoln (RU:Wesley / RU:Tripp)
Wesley Lovell: This is the final major award of the season and its winner will tell us the state of the race. Maybe. If Ben Affleck continues the roll he started at the beginning of January and ekes out a win here, we know that Argo is a very strong film and the chances of it winning Best Picture at the Oscars are high. Anyone else won’t likely give us much clue as to what’s going to happen. Bigelow’s win might suggest Zero Dark Thirty has a stronger chance than anyone imagined, but I think she’s the second least likely to win. The least likely being Tom Hooper. The remaining two nominees, Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg are both very well liked by the DGA, both having won multiple times on multiple nominations. A win by Ang Lee will throw the race into a mess with Life of Pi suddenly being discussed as a spoiler, but a Spielberg victory might give credence to an eventual Lincoln triumph. And to be honest, Spielberg HAS to win DGA or his film’s chances drop dramatically.
Peter J. Patrick: Ben Affleck is on a roll. He’ll take the DGA with minimal competition from the other nominees. If there’s an upset it could be another victim of the Oscar snub, Kathryn Bigelow.
Tripp Burton: Argo is on an almost unprecedented roll here, so newly beloved director Ben Affleck should continue that roll this weekend. If Steven Spielberg (or even darker horse Ang Lee) manage a win here it would say a lot about how things are going to turn out later in the month, but for now the Argo steamroller should keep on going.
ART DIRECTORS GUILD (ADG) AWARDS
Best Period Art Direction
Anna Karenina (Wesley / Tripp)
Les Misérables (RU:Wesley)
Lincoln (Peter / RU:Tripp)
Wesley Lovell: Three of the Oscar nominees are competing here and while that doesn’t mean Django Unchained or Argo have a chance, but it means their chances are incredibly slim with Argo the very least likely to triumph (though a victory here would signal a almost-guarantee of Oscar Best Picture chances). Since I think the primary competition at the Oscars will be between Life of Pi and Anna Karenina, my prediction goes there. But watch out for the dingy Parisian settings of Les Misérables or a late-race surge by the 1860’s period drama Lincoln
Peter J. Patrick: Looks like Lincoln will take this one, with Argo its closest competition.
Tripp Burton: Anna Karenina was not the most beloved of films this awards season, but even its detractors acknowledged its achievements in design. It should win here easily, especially with the poor showing Lincoln is making in awards.
Best Fantasy Art Direction
Cloud Atlas (RU:Wesley / RU:Peter)
Life of Pi (Wesley / Peter / RU:Tripp)
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Tripp)
Wesley Lovell: A non-Oscar nominee has a weaker chance of winning here than an Oscar nominee, making this a likely two-film race. That being said, it’s really just a one-film race as any victor other than Life of Pi would be quite a shock. The Hobbit is the other contender as an Oscar nominee, but I really don’t see it triumphing over Ang Lee’s film, nor even over the likes of Cloud Atlas.
Peter J. Patrick: Life of Pi looks hard to beat, with Cloud Atlas seemingly its closest competition.
Tripp Burton: It’s between the two Oscar nominees here, and the more sprawling and immediately impressive of the two is The Hobbit. It should take this, unless there is more love for Life of Pi than we are giving it credit for at this stage.
Best Contemporary Art Direction
Skyfall (Wesley / Peter / Tripp)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (RU:Wesley / RU:Peter / RU:Tripp)
Zero Dark Thirty
Wesley Lovell: Without an Oscar nominee in the bunch, this is one of the tougher categories to predict. Looking at the presentations in these five films, Flight and Zero Dark Thirty just don’t seem like Art Direction-driven films. And with Zero Dark being filmed largely on location, I don’t really see that as a bonus. That leaves the vast destruction of a tsunami in The Impossible, a decrepit Indian hotel in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the various exotic locations in Skyfall. With all those locations being gorgeously filmed by Roger Deakins, I don’t think Skyfall has much competition, especially considering the terrific set piece of the titular estate.
Peter J. Patrick: Probably Skyfall, but The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is also possible.
Tripp Burton: This is always a tough category to figure out, but the international flavor of Skyfall (and the overall love of that film) should trump the Indian locales of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (or dark horse The Impossible).
Best Animated Feature
Frankenweenie (RU:Peter / RU:Tripp)
Rise of the Guardians
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
The Rabbi’s Cat
Wreck-It Ralph (Wesley / Peter / Tripp)
Wesley Lovell: Typically, you can wager on the film with the most nominations taking the lion’s share of awards. However, there are three films tied for most this year, which makes the task something of a challenge. So I’ll have play some hunches and ignore others. Part of me wants to say the Annie organization still has some negative feelings towards Disney/Pixar. This could result in the only film not from that company at the top of the most-nominated list taking the prize: Rise of the Guardians, but considering the film doesn’t seem to be very well loved, I’m doubtful it will win. At this point, I’m leaning towards Wreck-It Ralph simply because I think it’s the Best Animated Feature leader at the Oscars.
Peter J. Patrick: I really have no idea what these people look for, but since Wreck-It Ralph seems to be winning most other prizes, I’ll say that’s the likely winner with Frankenweenie the closest runer-up.
Tripp Burton: The Annies are traditionally not the place that Pixar does the best, so Brave will probably not be a big contender here. Instead, this should be an easy pick up for Wreck-It Ralph, or maybe Frankenweenie. I really don’t know.
Best Animated Short Subject
Brad and Gary
Eyes on the Stars – StoryCorps
Goodnight Mr. Foot
Kali the Little Vampire
Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare’ (RU:Wesley)
The Simpsons – ‘Bill Plympton Couch Gag’
Wesley Lovell: I’m giving the two Oscar nominees in this bunch the lead with Pixar’s endearing, silent tale of love in the big city the edge. However, I haven’t seen most of these, so I’m really not sure which will ultimately tickle this group’s fancy.
Best Animated Effects, Animation
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Rise of the Guardians (RU:Wesley)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Wreck-It Ralph (Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: The “swarm” in Wreck-It Ralph seems like just the type of design this group would love to celebration. Yet, Rise of the Guardians has quite a few neat effects too.
Best Animated Effects, Live Action
The Amazing Spider-Man (RU:Wesley)
The Avengers (Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: You can probably jettison the most critically maligned of these, but I’m not sure that’s going to be the case. The one with the busiest effects to me was The Avengers.
Best Character Animation, Animated Feature
Brave – Travis Hathaway (Wesley)
Brave – Jaime Landes (Wesley)
Brave – Dan Nguyen (Wesley)
ParaNorman – Travis Knight
The Pirates! Band of Misfits – Will Becher
Rise of the Guardians – Phillppe LeBrun (RU:Wesley)
Rise of the Guardians – David Pate (RU:Wesley)
Rise of the Guardians – Pierre Perifel (RU:Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: Multiple nominees from multiple films. I’m not sure, but I think the realism of Brave‘s characters may be the thing to win, but the angular nature of those in Rise of the Guardians could also be in play. I’m going to hedge my bet and go with any one of the Brave folks winning with any one of the Rise of the Guardians folks as runner-up.
Best Character Animation, Live Action Feature
The Amazing Spider-Man – Mike Beaulieu, Roger Vizard, Atushi Sato, Jackie Kochler, Derek Esparza, Richard Smith, Mac Tyrie
The Avengers – Jakub Pistecky, Maia Kayser, Scott Benzu, Steve King, Kiran Bhat
Life of Pi – Orangutan – Erik de Boer, Amanda Dague, Matt Brown, Mary Lynn Machado, Aaron Grey (RU:Wesley)
Life of Pi – Tiger – Erik de Boer, Matt Shumway, Brian Wells, Vinayak Pawar, Michael Holzl (Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: Without any specific individual achievement listed for Spider-Man or The Avengers, I’m thinking Life of Pi has an edge, especially considering how lifelike the creation of Richard Parker was.
Best Character Design
Wreck-It Ralph – Bill Schwab, Lorelay Bove, Cory Loftis, Minkyu Lee (Wesley)
Hotel Transylvania – Carlos Grangel
Hotel Transylvania – Carter Goodrich
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted – Craig Kellman
ParaNorman – Heidi Smith
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – Yarrow Cheney, Eric Guillon, Colin Stimpson (RU:Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: Most of these characters are fairly standard for the genre, but Wreck-It Ralph has some different looks.
Genndy Tartakovsky – Hotel Transylvania
Johan Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux – The Rabbi’s Cat
Remi Bezancon, Jean-Christophe Lie – Zarafa
Rick Moore – Wreck-It Ralph (Wesley)
Sam Fell, Chris Butler – ParaNorman (RU:Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: Genndy Tartakovsky could be a spoiler. He’s fairly well known among animators, especially on television. However, Wreck-It Ralph is the only top-nominated film in this bunch, so I’m leaning that way.
Alexandre Desplat – Rise of the Guardians (RU:Wesley)
Bruce Retief – Adventures in Zambezia
Henry Jackman – Wreck-It Ralph
Joel McNeely, Brendan Milburn, Valerie Vigoda – Secret of the Wings
John Powell, Adam Schlesinger, Ester Dean – Ice Age: Continental Drift
John Powell, Cinco Paul – Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
Mark Mothersbaugh – Hotel Transylvania
Patrick Doyle, Mark Andrews, Alex Mandel – Brave (Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: While the video game stylings of Wreck-It Ralph might be fun, they may be too “familiar” for a win. John Powell’s done a lot of work in animation, but I’m going to suggest it’s going to be a battle between the Irish melodies of Brave and the sheer talent of Alexandre Desplat.
Best Production Design
Kendal Cronkhite-Shaindlin, Shannon Jeffries, Lindsey Olivares, Kenard Pak – Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Marcello Vignali – Hotel Transylvania
Nash Dunnigan, Arden Chen, Jon Townley, Kyle McNaughton – Ice Age: Continental Drift
Nelson Lowry, Ross Stewart, Pete Oswald, Ean McNamara, Trevor Dalmer – ParaNorman
Norman Garwood, Matt Berry – The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Patrick Hanenberger, Max Boas, Jayee Borcar, Woonyoung Jung, Perry Maple, Peter Maynez, Stan Seo, Felix Yoon – Rise of the Guardians (RU:Wesley)
Rick Heintzich – Frankenweenie
Steve Pilcher – Brave (Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: The gorgeous settings of Brave seem like a better fit to this category than all the others.
Emmanuela Cozzi – ParaNorman (RU:Wesley)
Rob Koo – Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Johanne Matte – Rise of the Guardians
Leo Matsuda – Wreck-It Ralph (Wesley)
Lissa Treiman – Wreck-It Ralph (Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: I have no idea because I haven’t seen the storyboards for any of these. So, I throw my primary prediction to either of the Wreck-It Ralph team and then a runner-up to ParaNorman since it’s the only one of these that couldn’t be done with the same software the films were made.
Best Voice Acting
Jim Cummings as Budzo – Adventures in Zambezia (RU:Wesley)
Jude Law as Pitch – Rise of the Guardians
Kelly MacDonald as Merida – Brave
Catherine O’Hara as Weird Girl – Frankenweenie
Adam Sandler as Dracula – Hotel Transylvania
Atticus Shaffer as “E”Gore – Frankenweenie
Imelda Staunton as Queen Victoria – The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Alan Tudyk as King Candy – Wreck-It Ralph (Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: One thing’s for certain with this category, you never know what’s going to strike their fancies. Kelly Macdonald would be my choice, but hers and Jude Law’s seem to much like them being themselves. The same with Adam Sandler and Catherine O’Hara. Jim Cummings is a very well known name in animation circles, but Alan Tudyk seems like a very interesting choice for these guys.
Chris Butler – ParaNorman
Gideon Defoe – The Pirates! Band of Misfits (RU:Wesley)
Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa, Karey Kirkpatrick – From Up on Poppy Hill
John August – Frankenweenie
Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi – Brave
Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee – Wreck-It Ralph (Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: With all the gags, puns and homages, I think Wreck-It Ralph might have an edge, though the cleverness of The Pirates might win out.
Catherine Apple – Hotel Transylvania
Joyce Arrastia – Rise of the Guardians (RU:Wesley)
Mark Rosenbaum – Secret of the Wings
Nicholas A. Smith, ACE, Robert Graham Jones, ACE, David Suther – Brave
Tim Mertens – Wreck-It Ralph (Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: Most people would wonder how you edit films that are entirely animated. They don’t edit the same way necessarily as standard film editors, but they still have to splice images and scenes together. The one with the most variance and cutting involved is probably Wreck-It Ralph as it seems to have the most action.