Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 3

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 4

Monday, Dec. 17 – Chicago Film Critics Awards
Monday, Dec. 17 – St. Louis Film Critics Awards
Monday, Dec. 17 – Florida Film Critics Awards (guesstimate)
Monday, Dec. 17 – Southeastern Film Critics Awards (guesstimate)
Tuesday. Dec 18 – London Film Critics Nominations (guesstimate)

Big Winners


Lincoln wasn’t the film many of us thought would be dominating talk of this year’s Oscars. Yet, through all of the precursors and nominations, it has remained a dominant force, racking up a large quantity of prizes and topping nearly every nomination tally out there. This bodes well for Spielberg’s history lesson. It may not be enough to lead it to a win, but it could poise Spielberg for a rare third directing Oscar.
Anne Hathaway had her work cut out for her. After a lack of recognition from early precursors, she has quietly amassed the most wins of any Supporting Actress candidate and has frequently come runner-up or been among the nominees in the various groups’ lists. With few clear frontrunners out there, her victory may be a default one, but if too many shift their votes elsewhere believing her inevitable, her prize could likewise go to someone else.
Django Unchained screened late and many groups outright ignored the film even though they had seen it. Yet, after all of the questions about its potential, the film finally began claiming nominations, thanks to the Golden Globes who put it forward in five categories, only two short of Lincoln’s record. It still faces an uphill climb, especially considering the fact that the Broadcast Film Critics Association barely cited it and the Screen Actors Guild ignored it altogether.
Silver Linings Playbook is a bit like Lincoln. For a comedy, Harvey Weinstein’s dominant horse in the race has been picking up a handful of mentions from several groups, which will help Harvey sell it to comedy-reluctant Oscar voters. The genre may be a tough sell, but signs are pointing towards another strong showing for Weinstein’s films this year.
Life of Pi hadn’t really been on the radar for any major Oscar wins, but the question of whether it would resonate enough to make the Best Picture slate seems to have been answered. Several groups have put the film on their lists, a few have even given it prizes. And while none of this points towards a come-from-behind victory in any particular category, it’s doing much better than I had expected after its slow start.

Big Losers

Emmanuelle Riva, after a slam-dunk run through the early precursors, has hit a stumbling block. The Screen Actors Guild didn’t nominate her (and they nominated Fernanda Montenegro for Central Station fourteen years ago). The Golden Globes, who have no issue with aging foreign actresses, also didn’t give her a nod. The SAG failure is probably the most frustrating for her supporters. Without support from one of the major industry guilds, it’s much harder for voters to believe she’s worth the attention even if the film has been receiving rave reviews from critics.
The Master may have gotten some late support the Chicago Film Critics, but its performance before that was simply dreadful. Not only was Joaquin Phoenix ignored by SAG voters (who were restricted to five total nominees), but Amy Adams and the ensemble were also left off the SAG list and the film and its director were left out of Globes voting. Support isn’t technically soft, but for a film that was, for the longest time, a large figure looming over the Oscar race, this output is rather disappointing.

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