Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 5

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 smattering of stragglers have polished off their choices in the last week, but the critics section of precursor season is coming to a quick conclusion. While I posted last week that there was only one group to announce, several others made their announcements known that week as well. The next week, the bridge week between Christmas and New Year’s is a dull one, but immediately after the New Year (Saturday and Monday), things begin again with the first of the non-SAG guilds to give out nominations along with the last of the elder critics groups. Oh, and the Academy sends out its nominations ballots. That’s kind of important.

But, before we get into this week’s winners and losers, let’s take a look at what’s coming up this week:

Week 6

Wed. 30 – Academy Awards Voting Begins (Oscars) (Official)
Sat. 02 – National Society Critics (Awards) (Unconfirmed)
Mon. 04 – Cinema Editors (Nominations) (Official)
Mon. 04 – Georgia Film Critics Association (Nominations) (Official)
Mon. 04 – Vancouver Critics (Awards) (Unconfirmed)

Big Winners

Mad Max: Fury Road continues to chug along through Precursor Season with several more first-place finishes in various categories, even topping Star Wars: The Force Awakens for Best Visual Effects with the Florida Film Critics suggesting a tighter race there than we would have thought possible a couple of months ago.
The Revenant has been seen and it is been a dominant player in recent precursor announcements with a few more wins for Leonardo DiCaprio along with several more nominations. Apart from DiCaprio and the cinematography, the film hasn’t been winning very many awards at all.

Big Losers

The Broadcast Film Critics Association bit the bullet and voted to give Star Wars: The Force Awakens a belated Best Picture nomination, crowding their slate to eleven films. Why they would give this one film special consideration, especially when they only did so in one of the myriad categories it could have been nominated in, smacks of pandering. They want to be “on the right side of history,” but in so doing they have cemented their reputation as an organization with limited principles. Rumor has it that two members have resigned so far, including the head of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle (a group that predates the Broadcasters) and several bloggers, including Variety’s Kris Tapley (who’s also a BFCA member) have been highly critical of the move and suggested that they are wanting to be little more than an Oscar bellwether. We’ll see if they pull this kind of trick again in the future or if they respond to the backlash with new rules, but ultimately they are the week’s biggest loser and their reputation may not be easily able to recover. Just as the Globes and their decades-long attempt to regain some semblance of credibility.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens may have been torpedoed by the underhanded move of the BFCA. While the film is not going to be injured financially, any negative impact on precursor season threatens to develop a narrative that it isn’t deserving. Even if it is, the Academy may be hesitant to give into that level of pressure. That the film was also runner-up to Mad Max: Fury Road with the Florida Film Critics for Best Visual Effects and hasn’t made much of a showing elsewhere since its premiere with any of the late-voting groups, there’s the possibility that the backlash or the lack of interest has already started to work against the film.

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