Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 8

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 9 (Jan. 24-30, 2012)

Jan. 24 – Academy Award Nominations
Jan. 28 – Directors Guild of America Awards
Jan. 29 – Screen Actors Guild Awards

Big Winners


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo first showed up with the Writers Guild of America, Directors Guild and Producers Guild. But as the guild precursors kept citing the film (Cinematographers, Editors, Costume Designers, Sound Mixers and Sound Editors), it seems like the film’s fortunes continue to look up. Whether it can translate all of those into Oscar nominations is still up in the air, but the film is certainly poised for a Best Picture nomination.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had an excellent week thanks to the positive notices from the British Academy, but it also appeared on a handful of guild lists, including the Cinematographers and Art Directors, which suggests it’s not only been seen, but is also liked. Could it be a surprise Best Picture nominee, I have my doubts, but it would be quite nice to see.
Drive. When it didn’t make either the Producers or Writers lists, Drive seemed to be taking a dive, picked up a BAFTA nomination for Best Picture as well as a Best Picture nomination from the OFTA. It was also mentioned by the Costume Designers and Sound Editors. Those are both positive signs, but probably not enough to matter.
Super 8 had a mini-surge this week with solid showings at the two sound-based guilds. Not only does it look very likely the film will be nominated for Best Sound Mixing, a Best Sound Editing nomination also seems assured. For a film whose other Oscar prospects aren’t very good, this is a very big win for it.

Big Losers

The Tree of Life. Apart from the American Society of Cinematographers, Terrence Malick’s film has been a complete no-show with the Guilds. And a film that seemed likely to pick up a Best Visual Effects nomination not getting a nomination from the Visual Effects Society is a dangerous precedent. Even the DGA ignored Malick, which suggests no one is nearly as inspired by this film as they were by his The Thin Red Line which was similarly shut out by the guilds but rode a DGA nomination to several Oscar nominations.
War Horse It might have appeared on the Sound Editors list, but it wasn’t on the Sound Mixer’s list, didn’t get into the Art Directors nominations and only managed a handful of minor BAFTA mentions. The film didn’t have a good week and with its box office continuing on a mediocre pace, its fortunes are fading.

Individual Analyses

American Cinema Editors Nominations

There is one category whose impact on the eventual Best Picture Oscar winner is so significant that if a film doesn’t get nominated there, it won’t be able to win Best Picture. The guild that acts as a prognosticator for the Best Film Editing category has selected ten films it thinks are the best. However, a lackluster comparative history of the Academy category, not a lot can be determined from the ACE nominations. The Artist would have to break a recent tradition that a Comedy Editing nominee at the ACE can’t go on to the Oscars. Yet, I’d be surprised if it didn’t. Other than that, the drama slate has better chances and that The Descendants, which is ostensibly a comedy, got in suggests it has a lot of broad appeal.

British Academy of Film & Television Arts Nominations

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy did incredibly well, picking up 11 nominations from BAFTA including Best Picture. That it was only one behind The Artist suggests it was very well admired with them. Hugo and My Week with Marilyn also did well, but the big news was Tinker strong showing. Maybe it’s a result of the film feeling very British in style, but with a five-for-five correspondence between the BAFTA slate and the Oscars in the last three years, that has to be a good sign for Tinker. The other nominees have modest impact on the Oscar nominations Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay having the second and third best predictive capabilities. This is further good news for Tinker as well as Michael Fassbender and The Ides of March in those respective categories.

Cinema Audio Society Nominations

They are one of the worst predictors of the Academy nominees, yet paired with the Motion Picture Sound Editors, they show us a general direction the categories could go. This year, Super 8 grabbed that momentum picking up a sound nomination alongside other possible Oscar nominees and surprise nominee Hanna. However, they’ve never gotten more than four right in their recent history and three is an even more common result.

Costume Designers Guild Nominations

One of the last major guilds to announce, the Costume Designers a pretty decent history. At least four of the nominees should go on to capture Oscar nominations. While the majority will come from the Period Costume Design category, there may be one or two that come from Fantasy. Unlikely, however, will any come from the Contemporary category as it’s been five years since that last happened. I’m beginning to think that it will be The Artist, Jane Eyre, The Help and Hugo.

London Film Critics Awards

They are terrible Oscar predictors and, if anything, may show several winners that will probably not carry over. However, looking at the list, they may have a better than average year.

Motion Picture Sound Editors Nominations

In the last five years, only once have the MPSE nominees not resulted in Best Sound Editing nominations. Most often these come from the Sound Effects/Foley and ADR categories, but occasionally a Foreign or Animation entry will make it through. Since they nominate eight films in almost every category, it’s hard to really say who will make it through. Though Super 8 earning three nominations from the group probably means it has a good shot at a nomination in both sound categories. Rise of the Planet of the Apes and War Horse also have strong chances with their double nominations.

Producers Guild of America Awards

The producers don’t mess around. Instead of going for the commercially successful The Help, the producers chose the little film that hasn’t been breaking box office records. For them to make such a decision suggests The Artist is on very strong footing going into the Oscars and is very likely to repeat. As for Animated Feature and Documentary Feature. The documentary winner (Beats, Rhymes & Life) isn’t on the shortlist, so that’s unlikely. But the animated feature winner (The Adventures of Tintin) has a very strong chance of repeating at the Oscars.

Online Film & Television Association Nominations

They aren’t likely to be very accurate in many categories this year, but there’s something for being eclectic and different this Oscar season. Still, they have strong accuracy in nominations in the Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing categories. Matter of fact, in Adapted Screenplay, their nominees have matched the Oscars twice five-for-five and three times four-for-five. And looking at their list, I wouldn’t be surprised if they get another four-for-five this year and possibly even another five-for-five. They are also fairly good at predicting Best Editing, but this year’s roster doesn’t seem as astute, but could still result in three or four correlations.

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