Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 10

The most significant guild precursors are now over with the DGA giving its prize out Saturday evening. There are other guilds still to come and a couple of major precursors left (BAFTA anyone?), but we’re through the most significant phase of Oscar season. Now just to get a few precursors to point the way in lower categories (and possibly some major upper category surprises) and we’ll be all done for the year.

But, before we get into this week’s winners and losers, let’s take a look at what’s coming up this week:

Week 11

Monday, Feb. 4 – Academy Award Nominees Lunch
Tuesday, Feb. 5 – Visual Effects Society Awards
Friday, Feb. 8 – Academy Awards Voting Begins
Saturday, Feb. 9 – Academy’s Scientific & Technical Awards
Saturday, Feb. 9 – USC Scripter Awards
Sunday, Feb. 10 – British Academy Awards
Sunday, Feb. 10 – American Society of Cinematographers Awards
Sunday, Feb. 10 – Grammy Awards
Sunday, Feb. 10 – Online Film & Television Association Awards

Big Winners


Argo is coasting on a huge high. Ballots may not have gone out yet, but its clear Argo is well liked in enough circles in Hollywood that its chances for Best Picture are still quite strong. Precedents still exist to keep it from winning, but every film in this year’s race has precedents blocking its chances. For now, Ben Affleck has to be sitting on cloud nine.
Wreck-It Ralph didn’t seem like much of a player with Oscar season started, garnering few precursor trophies from critics, the lion’s share going to Frankenweenie and ParaNorman, but as 2013 hit and the major precursor groups started handing things out, Disney’s video game extravaganza began winning almost every prize in sight. And with the Annie Award in its pocket, it takes a huge push towards winning this year’s Oscar. There is still the possibility that another film will win, but at this point I’m beginning to think Disney is about to get its first ever non-Pixar win in Best Animated Feature. Considering the importance Disney played in the modern revolution of animation through its huge resurgence in the 1990’s, this should feel like a good win for them. (In case you’re wondering, I count Spirited Away as Studio Ghibli not Disney even if Disney did distribute the film stateside)
Anna Karenina still has its work cut out for it, but winning the Art Directors Guild prize may be just the victory it needs to make a two-category Production Design/Costume Design wins at the Oscars. Most believe it was assured the Costume Design Oscar, but have been iffy on its chances with Production Design. However, it did convince the in-discipline Art Directors Guild that it was the best of the year, so Oscar voters may be an easier piece of work. Of course, its key competition also won a prize at the ADG awards.
Life of Pi is the film that could do quite well in the craft categories having earned a significant seven nominations (missing out on Costume Design and Makeup). It is Anna‘s chief competition and could prove a spoiler if the Academy showers its love on the film. Of course, the Academy will be hard-pressed to ignore their favorite genre in the Production Design category giving the prize to Pi over Karenina, but as Avatar proved, it’s entirely possible.

Big Losers

Lincoln desperately needed a win at the DGA. It has been running also-ran all season, winning only the top prize from the Dallas-Fort Worth film critics. It’s not a good barometer in spite of all of the other precedents favoring the film. Spielberg has three DGA trophies already, so he was facing an uphill battle with that group, but had his film also won at the ADG award, we might have seen a shift in the competition. The film still has some hope left as the Writers Guild of America is very likely to crown Tony Kushner’s script the best of the year, but there isn’t anywhere else it could win that would give it a boost. BAFTA is unlikely to award the film considering it shunned Spielberg for Best Director, but that organization could give the film some new life.
Frankenweenie had a number of prizes from critics to give it momentum going into Oscar season, but with few nominations at the Annie Awards, Tim Burton’s remake of his career-starting short went home empty-handed and is very likely going to lose the Animated Feature Oscar. There have been few, if any, signs that his film still has a shot, with ParaNorman winning more critics awards and Wreck-It Ralph dominating the guilds. So, Burton will once again have to comfort himself with no Oscar on his slanted mantle.

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  1. I am updating the post above with the precursors for Sunday since they were inadvertently left off.

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