Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 7

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).

There was some big news this past week as the guilds have finally started revealing their nominations. We’ll have another week of that this week finalizing with the Oscar nominations on Thursday morning. After that, we’ve just got a month and a half until Oscar season is over.

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

Week 8

Tue. 12 – Audio Society (Nominations) (Official)
Tue. 12 – Directors Guild – Director & First Feature (Nominations) (Official)
Tue. 12 – Visual Effects Society (Nominations) (Official)
Wed. 13 – Directors Guild – Documentary (Nominations) (Official)
Wed. 13 – Make-Up Artists Guild (Nominations) (Official)
Wed. 13 – Sound Editors (Nominations) (Unconfirmed)
Thu. 14 – Academy Awards Nominations (Oscars) (Official)
Sun. 17 – Broadcast Critics (Awards) (Official)
Sun. 17 – London Critics (Awards) (Official)

Big Winners

The Revenant Was chugging along just fine on its way to picking up an Oscar for Leonardo DiCaprio, but tonight at the Golden Globes the conversation changed. Winning three awards, possibly as a makeup for ignoring Alejandro G. Inarritu’s film Oscar-winning Birdman last year, The Revenant edged out Spotlight as the dominant film this awards season.
Bridge of Spies was thought to be an underperformer all season with critics not giving it much attention outside of Mark Rylance as Best Supporting Actor. Now that half the guilds have put out their nominations, Bridge of Spies has proven to be a surprisingly strong performer. While it didn’t win the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe, it’s undeniable that the film is doing just fine and will very likely be a multi-Oscar nominee come Thursday.
The Big Short came on strong a bit late, but it has been doing incredibly well. Along with Bridge of Spies, it’s benefited the most from the guild nominations, picking up citations from all but one guild. That suggests it may be peaking at just the right moment. The shut-out at the Golden Globes doesn’t help much, but it’s too late to make a difference for nominations at this point.
Trumbo didn’t have the best week, but it showed up in just enough places (Bryan Cranston at BAFTA, Costume Designers Guild, Writers Guild and Art Directors Guild). That shows it has down-ballot support and may be a key player at the Oscars. It wasn’t on the PGA list, but that’s not a problem for a film about Hollywood. It’s appearance at the WGA can explain part of that. However, I think we have to look at the possibility that Bryan Cranston will definitely be a nominee.
Brooklyn has been a small player all season, but a consistent one. The nomination at the Producers Guild of America showed the film has a lot of support in the industry even if it isn’t the most visible selection. That could mean a great deal for the Oscars. And since Saoirse Ronan is a sure Best Actress nominee, it means Academy members will have seen it, which gives it a chance.
Straight Outta Compton had been submerged throughout precursor season in spite of strong reviews upon its release. Yet, with two guild nominations on top of its Screen Actors Guild nomination, it has suddenly reemerged as a major player. The Producers Guild and Writers Guild both gave the film citations. While the WGA mention was thanks to a large number of competitive films being ineligible, but that kind of publicity gives it some promise. Whether that translates into Oscar nominations remains to be seen.
Sylvester Stallone wasn’t exactly fading, but some were beginning to see his film’s lack of precursor trajectory and his more recent losses as a sign his chances were dropping, but ultimately the Globes proved just the opposite. Not for him winning the award, that was pretty much a given, but for the overwhelming response from the film professionals in the room. One of the few standing ovations for the evening, Stallone displayed grace in his speech and ultimately things are looking up for him more than we may have expected.
Steve Jobs was a box office flop and the film was taking hits throughout precursor season, never dominating as many thought when Danny Boyle’s film was first announced. That may have changed last night. Starting off the evening with a huge shock, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave the Best Supporting Actress trophy to Kate Winslet who had yet to win a precursor up to that point. Featuring heavily in several nominating contests, this was Winslet’s first major victory and perhaps a sign that the winds may be changing directions. However, I suspect it will be a one-off, but with this and the film’s win for Best Screenplay, it seems clear that the film hasn’t entirely faded and may still have some miles left in it.
The Martian was classified as a comedy and that decision has earned more derision and jokes than the film actually contained. Yet, in the end, the big dramatic blockbuster won over HFPA voters who gave it two awards, an expected win for Matt Damon and a less expected win for Best Comedy Picture. That certainly injured The Big Short, but probably not enough to make it a larger threat.

Big Losers

Spotlight had to win the Golden Globe. It has dominated the Best Picture derbies all season, but many felt it was a soft frontrunner and that anything could come along and topple it. With only one shot at a win outside of Best Drama Picture, the early loss of Best Screenplay was a sign that the film wasn’t going to play well with Globes voters. Of course, the film plays better to actual investigative journalists, not foreign correspondents covering the Oscars, but the Golden Globes could have given it a boost, but instead muddied the conversation and Spotlight lost major ground as a result.
Mad Max: Fury Road wasn’t precisely a big loser since it had several wins throughout, but without a Picture or Director nomination at BAFTA, it’s hard to see it as a big winner. Still, the film scored seven nominations with BAFTA and picked up all but one guild citation, it still has some support, but that support seems a lot weaker now. That it also went home empty-handed from the Golden Globes may have been harmful to any chances of winning, but nominations balloting is closed, so it won’t matter.
Carol rebounded with BAFTA, but it had a rather disappointing week with the guilds, failing to make the nomination list at the Producers Guild and failing to pick up an expected nomination at the Art Directors Guild. That kind of failure can’t go unnoticed. Of course, Carol wasn’t quite the blockbuster that the PGA typically loves, which could explain why Room also didn’t make the list. Regardless, it got a leading 9 nominations (tied with Bridge of Spies at BAFTA, which is plenty of attention to counteract. Of course, if it misses at DGA, things could be seen quite differently. The added losses at the Golden Globes won’t help it on its road to Oscar glory, but the Globes weren’t likely to recognize it anyway.

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