Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 12

As the precursor awards continue unabated through the month of December, I’m going to be 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 New York Film Critics Circle, National Board of Review, Satellite Awards nominations, Spirit Awards nominations and the Producers Guild of America nominations. This is a healthy spread of award bodies from indie to big budget, and a nice broad spectrum of critics groups.

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

Feb. 21 – Costume Designers Guild Awards
Feb. 24 – Academy Awards Polls Close
Feb. 25 – Spirit Awards
Feb. 25 – Razzie Award Nominations
Feb. 26 – The 84th Academy Awards

Big Winners

The Descendants really managed to hit the ground running in the final stretch not only picking up two writing prizes for Best Adapted Screenplay, a sure sign the film will win the Oscar at the Academy Awards this coming weekend, but it also pulled off a Best Editing win, suggesting that Hugo really isn’t the film The Artist has to worry about.
Hugo didn’t do badly itself. It picked up the Sound Mixing prize from the Cinema Audio Society and the Music Editing prize from the Motion Picture Sound Editors. While the latter doesn’t mean much for the film’s Oscar hopes, the former does suggesting it’s a fairly safe bet for the Sound Mixing Oscar.
War Horse can also thank the weekend’s prizes for putting it in a position to win an Oscar. This time, it’s the Motion Picture Sound Editors who bolster the film’s chances, giving it the lead for the Best Sound Editing award.

Big Losers

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy needed to win the Adapted Screenplay prize from the Scripters to be much of a threat. Some thought it could come from behind like at the BAFTA awards to eke out a victory. BAFTA choosing a British screenplay isn’t unheard of and shouldn’t really have given fans much hope that anyone else would follow suit, not even the Oscars.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo seemed to have one real opportunity at an Oscar: Best Editing. Those dreams were dashed by the victory of The Descendants. Dragon Tattoo could still win the Oscar, but that possibility is very remote at this juncture.

Individual Analyses

Cinema Audio Society Awards

The sound category has been something of an enigma this year. The normal bombast reserved for this category seems to be taking a back seat to more dramatic and Best Picture-oriented films. And with Hugo taking this award, it puts itself in a very solid position to take the corresponding Oscar as well.

American Cinema Editors Awards

They don’t really make this easy. Had they tossed their dramatic award to something like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we might have seen a real race here. Yet, they endorsed the least edited film in the bunch and gave it an award. This signifies that A) The Descendants has more support than we previously imagined and B) the string of five-for-five in the Drama Editing category will end, but the ACE record should continue with its Comedy/Musical winner taking the Oscar…The Artist

USC Scripter Awards

They aren’t necessarily the most accurate precursor out there as they often chose the critical favorite whereas the Academy votes with something other than their minds. Still. The Descendants is a fairly popular Oscar nominee this year and while it may not do well in many categories, this one should be something of a slam dunk for it. If the Scripter had gone to another screenplay, this dialogue would be vastly different.

Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards

The Sound Editors spread their love around giving out prizes to each of seven different films: War Horse, Super 8, The Adventures of Tintin, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, The Flowers of War, Hugo and The Muppets. Only one of their prizes is a very accurate predictor and that’s the Sound Effects and Foley award, which went to War Horse making it feel like the lead contender there for Sound Editing.

Writers Guild of America Awards

Another win for The Descendants in one weekend should settle the dispute of whether The Descendants will win the award or not. Midnight in Paris on the other hand hasn’t shown it can beat Best Picture frontrunner The Artist since Hazanavicius and associates were ineligible for the award. Still, it would be just like the Academy give something of a career tribute to Woody Allen with this prize, but it wouldn’t be shocking for them to pick The Artist.

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