Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 14

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). It’s over. Now, it’s time to look at who won and who lost at the precursors.

Big Winners


12 Years a Slave proved that you should never give up on your hopes that the Academy will do something important. Going into the final night, the hubbub was that too many voters weren’t watching the screener and that the love for Gravity would spill over into a Best Picture win. After all, how often do splits happen? You shouldn’t bet against the split unless you should. This year, you should have. All the evidence pointed that way, but last-minute persuasion sank a number of us. The film also was a huge winner at the Spirit Awards on Saturday where it captured five awards including Best Picture, Supporting Actress, Director, Screenplay and Cinematography.
Gravity didn’t go home empty handed, nor should it have. It was a technical marvel and many of the precursors got it right pushing the film the direction it did. DGA continued its dominance as the preeminent precursor of the Best Director category and, other than the American Cinema Editors, every guild that went up for Gravity alone, were on-target.
Dallas Buyers Club tied 12 Years a Slave for the second-most Oscars Sunday night. With three trophies, including Best Actor, Supporting Actor, and Makeup and Hairstyling, the film did incredibly well for a Best Picture non-contender. It ended up with one of the few actor-supporting actor pairings in Oscar history. It also did well at the Spirit Awards, where it captured both of the same acting trophies it ended up with at the Oscars. It marked the first time in history that the Spirit Awards lined up with Oscar in five out of the top six categories.
Frozen was the only multi-winner of the evening taking home Best Animated Feature and Original Song for empowerment anthem “Let It Go.” Neither award was really in doubt, so it’s the weakest of the evening’s big winners.

Big Losers

American Hustle now shares a dubious second-place record for most Oscars without a win. Taking ten nominations, the film went home empty-handed, one of only five films in Oscar history with double-digit nominations to do so. The Color Purple and The Turning Point tie for biggest shut-outs with eleven losses apiece while American Hustle shares the next position with recent Best Picture contenders True Grit from the Brothers Coen and Gangs of New York from Martin Scorsese.
The Wolf of Wall Street. Speaking of Scorsese, this is the second time he’s had a major Oscar contender that was completely shut-out at the Oscars. Although The Wolf of Wall Street had significantly fewer nominations than Gangs of New York (it only had five compared to Gangs‘ ten), it must sting for the Leonardo DiCaprio-Scorsese pairing to lose so frequently. Luckily, their other major contender together, The Aviator, secured five Oscars, mostly in technical categories.
Captain Phillips seemed to have picked up steam late in the competition, nabbing the American Cinema Editors’ award for Most Editing, won Best Supporting Actor at BAFTA, and the Writers Guild of America “Best Screenplay Other Than the Ineligible 12 Years a Slave” award. It also did well with the Cinema Audio Society and Motion Picture Sound Editors. Competition seemed to favor an upset for the film, but we all should have thought better of that. The film didn’t secure nominations for Tom Hanks in Best Actor or Paul Greengrass in Best Director, which should have been our first indication that it wasn’t as well loved as we thoght.
Philomena isn’t much of a big loser. Like Nebraska, which I’m not listing here, the film wasn’t heavily favored in many categories. It did, nevertheless, have the potential to upset in two categories: Best Adapted Screenplay, where it beat out 12 Years a Slave at BAFTA; and Best Original Score, which featured popular composer Alexandre Desplat and had the aggressive Harvey Weinstein behind the campaign. Neither win materialized and, despite the trotting out of the real life Philomena, everything about the campaign crumbled in the last minute and gave us the likelihood that Harvey will try to consolidate his efforts next year instead of focusing on such a diverse list of films and focusing too late on the ones that ended up being least embraced by critics.

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  1. I lost a few of the predictions because I wanted the academy to do something different, I’m a bit dissapointed that they always try no to distribute the awards evenly, it’s always a big winner and some medium awarded.

    I think that Dallas Buyers Club didn’t deserve Best Make-up, Honestly, either Lone Ranger or Bad Grandpa deserved it more.

    I agree with the Editor’s Guild that Captain Phillips deserved the Best Edited film of the year

    And the Original Score should have gone to the “almost every year nominee and loser” Alexandre Desplat or Arcade Fire’s very memorable score of Her

    And for Best Actor, I know this was a bit of a long shot, but I think Leo deserved the award.

    I still gringe at the award for best foreign language film, I’m actually of Italian descent but I’m first a cinephile and La Grande Bellezza is a great technical and artistic film but very superficial & presumptuous while The Hunt was a much deep experience, it’s currently on 125 position in the top 250 imdb.

    That would have been a better evenly awarded year in my opinion. Still the great Nebraska & American Hustle would have been left out.

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