Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 12

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).

We’ve come now to the end. Sunday, the 87th Annual Academy Awards will bring to an end weeks of speculation, excitement and history. Before that, the Costume Designers Guild will present their awards, as will the Spirit 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 13

Tuesday, Feb. 17 – Academy Award Voting Ends Awards (Official)
Tuesday, Feb. 17 – Costume Designers Awards (Official)
Saturday, Feb. 21 – Spirit Awards Awards (Official)
Sunday, Feb. 22 – Academy Awards Awards (Official)

Big Winners

Birdman. Two wins this weekend gave Birdman an added boost for its Oscar chances. Winning both the Cinema Audio Society award and the American Society of Cinematographers award, Birdman now moves into lock position for Best Cinematography and the realm of strong contender for Best Sound Mixing. Neither of these wins really cement its status with the Oscars in any major categories, but they do show there is still strong support among the creative members for a possible Best Picture win.
American Sniper is one of the year’s strongest sound contenders and is certainly on the verge of winning Best Sound Editing based on its win at the Golden Reel Awards. It lost out at the Cinema Audio Society to Birdman, but could still triumph at the Oscars with recent history showing a desire to deliver the sound prizes to the same film when possible.
The Imitation Game may not have had the greatest precursor trajectory this year, but now that it has both the USC Scripter award and the Best Adapted Screenplay prize from the Writers Guild of America, it becomes the favorite to win the Oscar even if it never had to fully compete against Whiplash anywhere and it beat American Sniper where it counted.
The Grand Budapest Hotel was never thought to be the front-runner for Best Original Screenplay, but the film has been dominating the late precursors, including a win from the Writers Guild of America. With this the only opportunity for Oscar voters to recognize Wes Anderson’s film, these little pre-indicators may be enough to suggest its strength at the Oscars.

Big Losers

Whiplash needed wins at both the Cinema Audio Society and Motion Picture Sound Editors in order to become a serious thread in the sound categories at the Oscars. The film didn’t get a Best Sound Editing nomination from the Academy, but a win at either precursor could have given it a boost into the Oscars.
The Theory of Everything may have picked up the BAFTA prize for Best Adapted Screenplay, but the American craft guild for writers (WGA) decided it wasn’t actually the best adaptation of the year. While that doesn’t preclude a potential win at the Oscars, losing a more prominent award without home field advantage doesn’t help its cause.

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