Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 3

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).

A bounty of awards have come out in the last week with the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe and Broadcast Film Critics nominations being announced along with countless other prominent critics groups. We have one more week of flooding before things taper off (around the 21st). At that point, we wait until the new year and the guilds start announcing their awards before culminating with the Oscar nominations. From there on, it’s a seemingly non-stop glut of awards…then again, it’s seemingly non-stop now, so not much will change until March.

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

Tue. 15 – Florida Critics (Nominations) (Unconfirmed)
Tue. 15 – London Critics (Nominations) (Official)
Tue. 15 – Phoenix Film Critics (Nominations) (Official)
Tue. 15 – Detroit Critics (Awards) (Official)
Tue. 15 – Houston Critics (Awards) (Unconfirmed)
Wed. 16 – American Film Institute (Awards) (Official)
Wed. 16 – Austin Critics (Awards) (Unconfirmed)
Wed. 16 – Chicago Critics (Awards) (Official)
Wed. 16 – Utah Critics (Awards) (Unconfirmed)
Fri. 18 – Florida Critics (Awards) (Unconfirmed)
Fri. 18 – Las Vegas Critics (Awards) (Unconfirmed)
Sat. 19 – Nevada Film Critics Society (Awards) (Unconfirmed)
Mon. 21 – Vancouver Critics (Nominations) (Unconfirmed)
Mon. 21 – Southeastern Critics (Awards) (Unconfirmed)

Big Winners

Mad Max: Fury Road has been having the Precursor Season most films would adore. With constant appearances on top of nomination tallies, various wins across the multiple film critics awards, it is the single film that seems poised to reap the benefits and defy modern conventions about what types of blockbusters the Academy will consider.
Trumbo was barely on the radar before last week. Most of us thought Helen Mirren would receive her requisite Best Supporting Actress nomination, but after the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globes and Broadcast Critics went gaga for Bryan Cranston, we’ve now got two categories where it could compete and, by the way the Globes treated it, perhaps three: Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
Ex Machina is another film that critics seemed to love when it was released, but which no one thought would be much of an Oscar contender. Not only is Alicia Vikander earning many citations for her work, Oscar Isaac picked up the OFCS prize and the film has earned several screenwriting nominations from various groups. The film may not have enough support to make it to Best Picture, but one or two Oscar nods seems within reach now.
Carol is having a great year with countless citations for acting, writing, directing and even Best Picture. While it has always found trouble with certain groups, not always securing nods where expected, for the most part it’s charging through the season quite effectively.
The Revenant came out late, didn’t screen for most critics, and ultimately didn’t seem like it would gain much traction in these early contests. However, with a screening that came right before a lot of deadlines and several high profile mentions, The Revenant continues to earn just enough attention to make it an Oscar contender even if its chances of winning outside of Best Actor doesn’t seem so pleasant.

Big Losers

Spotlight keeps picking up Best Picture prizes, so you would think it was a big winner. The problem is, it’s also been failing to earn recognition in several places, including the acting categories. Before the BFCA nods this morning, the actors had been largely ignored. Other than its Best Cast nomination, not a single member of the cast was cited by the Screen Actors Guild. Likewise at the Globes. While it’s still a major player and will undoubtedly get nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, the once prohibitive frontrunner may not be able to earn the top prize if it can’t pick up at least one acting mention.
The Hateful Eight doesn’t seem to be building the same level of attention that accompanied Quentin Tarantino’s two prior contenders. As with those, his film released late in the game hoping to build in word of mouth rather than critics’ prizes to get to the brass ring. Unfortunately, things aren’t going the film’s way. Apart from a smattering of attention, most frequently for Jennifer Jason Leigh, the film’s been largely ignored by the critics, something that is needed to stand out among the current year’s crowd. Perhaps the reviews will bolster its chances, but the competition may be to solid by that point to be of any use.
Creed was building such buzz that many thought it would be a major player at the Oscars, 39 years after its predecessor. Yet, other than some initial support for Sylvester Stallone and an occasional mention of Michael B. Jrodan, it hasn’t been performing that well this season.

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