Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 6

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 7

Monday, Jan. 7 – Visual Effects Society Nominations
Monday, Jan. 7 – Online Film Critics Nominations
Monday, Jan. 7 – Vancounver Critics Awards (guesstimate)
Tuesday, Jan. 8 – Cinema Audio Society Nominations
Tuesday, Jan. 8 – Directors Guild of American Nominations
Tuesday, Jan. 8 – Toronto Critics – Best Canadian Film Announcement (guesstimate)
Wednesday, Jan. 9 – British Academy Awards Nominations
Wednesday, Jan. 9 – American Society of Cinematographers Nominations
Thursday, Jan. 10 – Critics’ Choice Awards
Friday, Jan. 11 – American Cinema Editors Nominations
Sunday, Jan. 13 – Golden Globe Awards

Big Winners

Argo. It may not have the same number of prizes as Zero Dark Thirty, but Ben Affleck’s third feature has done incredibly well across several groups, amassing a fairly strong number of accolades. Could it become a surprise victor over very passionate sects within the filmmaking community? It’s certainly possible at this juncture.
Amour does mightily well in several places, but the National Society of Film Critics gave it its top prize along with a pair of others. The only problem is that this might not be a good thing. Last year, the NSFC chose Melancholia for several awards. That film was completely shut out of the Oscars. While I doubt Amour will suffer that same fate, these victories at least keep it fresh in everyone’s minds.
Anna Karenina won’t be Joe Wright’s latest failure to gain Oscar traction. Nominated for the Art Directors Guild award for Best Period Art Direction, Anna Karenina proves that it’s still in the race for at least the pair of creative art awards.
Life of Pi. The little film that could continues to chug along towards Oscar. With mentions from the Art Directors Guild and the Writers Guild, Life of Pi has continued to post small, but critical gains in the race for Oscar. The film hasn’t won many major accolades, but every day that it picks up some other random nomination or victory is another day that it asserts its place in the Best Picture race and several others.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey wasn’t doing well with critics or the organizations that vote on awards, but picking up a nomination from the Art Directors Guild shows there is still support from the creative community for the film. While it won’t place in any above-the-line categories, several tech categories remain in reach.

Big Losers

Moonrise Kingdom should have been a surefire nominee with the Art Directors Guild, but it failed to even place among the 15 nominees for their annual awards. While this isn’t enough to suggest the film won’t be nominated in several categories, including Best Picture, it does prove that the creative segment of the Academy’s membership may not be bolstering the film’s chances.
The Master keeps taking a beating. Losing countless awards to other players, Paul Thomas Anderson’s film was one of the earliest acclaimed films of the year, but that early peak may have been a problem. It failed to break through to the Producers Guild slate and the movie has won far fewer precursor prizes than expected. There’s now talk that Joaquin Phoenix may be another casualty of that disappearance from memory along with its depressed chances for a Best Picture nomination.

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