Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 11

As the precursor awards continue unabated until Oscar night, I’m going to be providing a weekly update highlighting the films that have won and lost momentum through the precursor awards (and in some cases other outside influences).

There are only two more precursor weeks to go and the biggies are already done. Yet, we still have a couple of guilds left to present and their selections might influence future victories.

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

Week 12

Saturday, Feb. 14 – Audio Society Awards (Official)
Saturday, Feb. 14 – Make-Up Artists Guild Awards (Official)
Saturday, Feb. 14 – Writers Guild Awards (Official)
Sunday, Feb. 15 – Cinematographers Awards (Official)
Sunday, Feb. 15 – Satellites Awards (Official)
Sunday, Feb. 15 – Sound Editors Awards (Official)

Big Winners

Birdman may not have done well at BAFTA, but it completed the Guild Triple Crown this weekend by winning an unexpected victory over Richard Linklater at the Directors Guild of America Awards. The last time a film won DGA, PGA and SAG ensemble and didn’t win Best Picture at the Oscars was 1995, the near of the Braveheart debacle. That’s great news for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s film, but it’s still not a slam-dunk for the film yet.
Boyhood may have lost the DGA award for Best Director, but winning both Director and Picture prizes at BAFTA eased some of its troubles. BAFTA has become a significant precursor and while the guilds are having tougher times in recent years staying relevant, BAFTA isn’t having as much trouble. With strong carry-over between BAFTA and AMPAS, it’s possible that BAFTA’s choice may be more indicative of what the Academy will vote for than DGA, SAG or PGA voters.
Eddie Redmayne didn’t win much from the precursors, but winning Best Actor from SAG, the Golden Globe and now BAFTA, his trajectory is perfect for a clean sweep to the Oscar. He could still be trumped by a Michael Keaton surge, but that possibility becomes more remote by the day.
The Theory of Everything hadn’t performed well in recent months outside of Redmayne’s victories, but on its home court, the Stephen Hawking romantic drama has been boosted dramatically in a category that didn’t seem competitive for it to begin with: Best Adapted Screenplay. The film won the music award at the Globes, but lost it at BAFTA, so that category seems farther out of reach. Best Adapted Screenplay, on the other hand, lost its top competitor when Gone Girl was left off the list. The Imitation Game has been the de facto front-runner since then, but the film hasn’t been a big presence on the awards circuit and a final loss at the Oscars could be in the cards.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes won the top visual effects prize from the Visual Effects Society. The group, which hasn’t been known for being accurate precursor in the past, still showed that this race was always Interstellar‘s to lose. With a victory at VES, Interstellar is on the ropes, though its BAFTA win may have muted its potential. Still, a high profile win like that only give Planet of the Apes an opportunity to win where its predecessor unfairly lost.

Big Losers

The Imitation Game was the single film around which Harvey Weinstein decided to rally. A popular film that had the potential to go all the way with the Oscars has been trailing everyone this Oscar season and remains relatively under-rewarded this year. With a Best Director nomination, signs pointed to Imitation Game being a potential spoiler, but it hasn’t spoiled anything yet. Not even at BAFTA, the film’s home territory, the film was completely ignored. The film seems to have hit a wall and any victories from here on out may be hard-fought with only Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score left as potential winners.
Michael Keaton needed to beat out Brit Eddie Redmayne to stave off the fading chatter that has surrounded him since he lost the Screen Actors Guild award. Ostensibly the veteran among this year’s nominees, Keaton should have been running the gamut this year, but keeps getting one-upped by Redmayne late in the game. That’s not going to help put him over the top.
Anyone other than Moore, Simmons and Arquette. Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress are officially locked. All the necessary awards have been won and no one seems to be posing a threat to Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons or Patricia Arquette who look assured to cruise to victory at the Oscars.
Interstellar hasn’t entirely lost. It did pick up the Best Special Visual Effects trophy from BAFTA, but its loss at the Visual Effects Society foreshadowed a slip in estimation, which could ultimately impact the film negatively. It’s still the leader of the pack, but it’s no longer the prohibitive front-runner it was two months ago.

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