Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 11

We’re nearing the final moment. While the precursors have slowed, they aren’t over as this week and the five next weekend should show. We’re going to continue providing a weekly update highlighting the films that have won and lost momentum through the precursor awards (this will be in place of my prior weekly article “Oscar Preview”. Today, we look back at the results of the four awards.

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

Feb. 18 – Cinema Audio Society Awards
Feb. 18 – American Cinema Editors Awards
Feb. 18 – USC Scripter Awards
Feb. 19 – Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards
Feb. 19 – Writers Guild of America Awards

Big Winners

Jean Dujardin, with two weeks until the Oscars, has picked up a second important trophy on the way to the big night. A month ago, the dialogue was about the two pretty boys gracing the Best Actor race for dramatic turns going head to head. Now, they’ve been all but forgotten as French actor Dujardin is riding the success of his film towards an Oscar victory that will undoubtedly make for an interesting night.
Meryl Streep couldn’t have picked a better time to pick up steam. There are less than two weeks until Oscar ballots are due and having taken the BAFTA award for Best Actress, she increases her chances at the Oscars dramatically. However, since Margaret Thatcher is a recognizable figure to BAFTA voters, there’s little doubt it played a role in the determination of this award. Still, if Harvey Weinstein can parlay this victory into a “you must give Streep a third” sentiment, she could build some momentum towards an Oscar victory. However, at this point, I’m still predicting a win for Viola Davis.

Big Losers

The Best Actor Slate probably wonders where Jean Dujardin came from. Here’s a French comic actor that, before he won the SAG prize and now the BAFTA, wasn’t even considered in the running for the Oscars. The race had come down to a battle between George Clooney and Brad Pitt with longtime acting veteran Gary Oldman the possible spoiler. Now, the dynamic of the race has changed. In spite of his boatloads of precursors, Clooney’s star has faded (he does have an Oscar already). Likewise, Pitt’s chances have also diminished. Oldman could have won the Oscar, but if BAFTA voters won’t vote for a British actor in a British film, the Academy certainly won’t. And considering how much the success of The Artist is thanks to Dujardin, the rest of the Best Actor nominees have a lot to be worried about.
Michelle Williams was my pick for spoiler in this race. She fit the young starlet profile that often wins this award over more experienced actors, yet in spite of several precursor awards, she hasn’t won but one that matters: the Golden Globe. She could still emerge victorious if the Davis and Streep camps crossover enough and split their vote between the two. However, a loss at the BAFTA’s aren’t a good sign for Williams who will yet again be a bridesmaid at the Oscars. One day, she’ll get a Kate Winslet-type “career” award, but it’s looking far less likely that it will be this year.

Individual Analyses

Visual Effects Society Awards

The hands-down winner at the Visual Effects Society awards wasn’t the film anyone expected. Animated feature Rango was the big winner thanks to a dominance of the animation categories. While Gore Verbinski’s animated western was scooping up awards, the live action side was having a hard time lining up behind a single feature, giving a pair of awards to a handful of films. The big prize, the one Oscar most corresponds with, went to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, so it remains the odds-on favorite for the award, but with no consensus built at the VES (paired with a loss of the BAFTA to Harry Potter), Rise‘s chances are hanging on by a thread.

British Academy of Film & Television Arts Awards

BAFTA managed to shore up a number of races while throwing some wrenches into a few others. Still, Oscar carryover will be strong this year with voters endorsing a number of frontrunners and solidifying support around a few others. Apart from the awards to Jean Dujardin and Meryl Streep I mentioned above, other notable victories include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy over The Descendants and Moneyball, documentary Senna over the entire editing slate, The Artist picking up the award for Cinematography where Oscar leader The Tree of Life wasn’t nominated, Costume Design to The Artist, Sound to Hugo, Harry Potter for Visual Effects, and The Skin I Live In over A Separation for Foreign Language Film. That A Separation loss bodes ill for the film at the Oscars, already suffering from overexposure and being in a category alongside a Holocaust film. Any one of these semi-surprises could lead to an unexpected result at the Oscars. However, we still have a few guild awards coming up that might clarify support for some films over others, so there’s still a bit of time and two weeks in the Oscar race can matter.

Grammy Awards

Of the three potentially corresponding awards at the Grammys, one was given to a television program and the other two to films released in 2010. So, there’s nothing much we can take away from this other than that the Grammys didn’t seem to care much for most of the 2011 film slate.

American Society of Cinematographers Awards

Not much arises out of the ASC win for The Tree of Life. It swept nearly every precursor, so it’s likely to win the Oscar, right? Not necessarily. Being endorsed by the ASC doesn’t mean victory as two of the last five winners can attest. Still, it’s a fairly good bet unless there’s a sweep on its way for Weinstein’s The Artist, which could be possible.

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