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.

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

Tue., Jan. 7 – Directors Guild Nominations
Wed., Jan. 8 – Academy Awards Voting Ends
Wed., Jan. 8 – British Academy Nominations
Wed., Jan. 8 – Cinematographers Nominations
Thu., Jan. 9 – Art Directors Guild Nominations
Thu., Jan. 9 – Costume Designers Guild Nominations
Thu., Jan. 9 – USC Scripter Nominations
Fri., Jan. 10 – Editors Guild Nominations
Sun., Jan. 12 – Golden Globe Awards
Mon., Jan. 13 – Visual Effects Society Nominations
Tue., Jan. 7 – Toronto Critics Reveal Best Canadian Film Winner (guesstimate)

Big Winners

Dallas Buyers Club. The film that would fit the typical Weinstein profile for “crowd-pleasing indie with a heart” turns out to be a Focus Features release, not The Weinstein Company. While Weinstein has struggled to define which of his five films to champion strongest, Focus has quietly propelled the Matthew McConaughey film into the spotlight. Picking up nominations from the Producers Guild of America and the Writers Guild of American, Dallas Buyers Club looks more and more like a solid Oscar candidate after all. It was thought to be a strong contender for two acting nominations, but Best Picture was tenuous at best. Now, not only is it set for a Best Picture nomination, a writing nod could also be in order alongside McConaughey and Jared Leto. Watch out for the DGA this week, Jean-Marc Vallee showing up would be a major blow to any number of other contenders, though I doubt he will make an appearance.
Lone Survivor received a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination from the Writers Guild of America but was a no-show for the Producers Guild of America nominations. While I am still dubious about the film’s chances, picking up a WGA nomination certainly gives it gravitas in approaching Oscar consideration. This is a definite win, but with half the major contenders in the Adapted Screenplay category ineligible by WGA rules, I wouldn’t put too much stock in this inclusion.

Big Losers

Inside Llewyn Davis may have won a slew of prizes from the National Society of Film Critics, muting its recent losses, there’s little doubt that the Coen Brothers’ film has suffered in recent weeks. Getting left off the Producers Guild and Writers Guild lists has to be quite disappointing. Even with its solid showing with the critics, the film hasn’t been developing the momentum a typical Best Picture nominee should have. However, this is a Scott Rudin production and he’s one of the heavy hitters in flogging year-end Best Picture contenders. It’s also worth noting that The Coen’s A Serious Man also failed to appear on the Producers Guild slate, but managed a Best Picture nomination in spite of that.
Harvey Weinstein has never struggled so mightily to find his precursor season footing. In typical years’ past, he’s had a small number of films to champion for Oscar consideration. This year, he came into the season with four to five selections that could be contender and he hasn’t been able to develop a consensus around any particular choice so far. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was marred by critics and has been non-present with the vast majority of precursors. August: Osage County has earned acting citations, but the film has been a definite no-show with critics also failing to find interest in it. Fruitvale Station had some success early in the year, especially with critics, but it almost feels like Weinstein had forgotten about the film’s potential and remembered too late to do anything. Lee Daniels’ The Butler has the pedigree to dominate, but has also been a misfire with critics and has received numerous blows from various groups this season. Philomena has been quietly building word of mouth and even showed up in the top ten at the box office a few weeks back. The film has gotten quite a bit of attention and could be the one he finally settles on, but is it too late? The Writers Guild didn’t recognize it and neither did the Producers Guild. Matter of fact, the Weinsteins were shut out of the PGA nominations and August, based on its legit pedigree was the only one of his films to show up at the WGA, though some of his films were ineligible.

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  1. ERROR ALERT: Your calendar list says “December” all over it for “what’s coming up this week,” while you posted this today (January 6).

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