Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 9

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).

Apologies first to failing to get this posted yesterday when I had intended. However, today is just as good as any considering there isn’t anything else on deck until the weekend. This coming weekend, we have a smattering of guild and other awards, but it’s the two guilds we saw this past week that have the most influence on the future potential Oscar winner. Yet, with so few precursors in release, we’re fairly limited on what are big winners and losers this week.

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

Week 10

Friday, Jan. 30 – Cinema Editors Awards (Official)
Saturday, Jan. 31 – Annie Awards Awards (Official)
Saturday, Jan. 31 – Art Directors Awards (Official)
Saturday, Jan. 31 – USC Scripter Awards (Official)

Big Winners

Birdman not only pulled off a win at the Screen Actors Guild, where it at least had a strong chance of winning, but also a surprise win from the Producers Guild of America, where it wasn’t expected to be able to top the likes of Boyhood, the Oscar front-runner, or American Sniper, the new box office behemoth. This week gives Birdman serious momentum, but will it be enough to propel it past the very real failure to get a Best Editing nomination and become the first film to fail to do so and still win Best Picture since Ordinary People in 1980, 34 years ago?
Eddie Redmayne may have won the Golden Globe for best dramatic actor, but Michael Keaton was still considered the front-runner for the Oscar until SAG made that possibility more remote. Redmayne now has two of the major televised award prizes and that’s an important designation. Only BAFTA now can save Keaton’s candidacy and Redmayne has home court advantage.

Big Losers

Boyhood lost twice this weekend. The less stinging failure was at the Screen Actors Guild where its incredibly tiny ensemble failed to register with voters, who prefer much larger casts. The last time a cast of five or fewer won was The Artist, which was also a juggernaut in its year. That shows weakness for the Richard Linklater film. The other blemish on the weekend was the film’s loss at the Producers Guild of America. One of the best precursors of the Oscar for Best Picture, the PGA has gotten it right quite frequently, with a streak that goes back to 2006 when Little Miss Sunshine took the SAG and PGA awards only to lose out on the DGA and lose out at the Oscars. While that trajectory favors Boyhood over Birdman, a double loss this late in the game shows the film’s support may be fading.
The Grand Budapest Hotel had a larger ensemble than Boyhood and Birdman. The Grand Budapest Hotel had a higher box office than both films as well. Yet, it came up empty-handed twice this weekend. The film many thought might be a significant threat to Boyhood and Birdman ultimately proved to be little more than an also-ran. While this may be Wes Anderson’s biggest Oscar success to date and also his most accessible film, it’s still a quirky murder mystery. These two losses make the film’s potential to upset far more remote than we had ever imagined, especially since SAG is where Grand Budapest had the better chance, considering their affection for large ensembles (they go for the biggest more often than they go with the Best Picture front-runner).
Michael Keaton needed the SAG award to carry him towards the Oscar podium. After two wonderful speeches, Keaton seemed like the kind of affable presence that other actors and Academy voters love to recognize. Yet, a name far more recognizable to the likes of SAG’s membership, and the more legendary of the names on the ballot, ultimately failed prove they really liked him. He could still come back with a BAFTA win, but without it, this looks to be Redmayne’s all the way.

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