Anne Thompson often says (and I’m paraphrasing) that it takes support from all branches to really make a Best Picture nominee and I agree. While actors make up the majority of the voters in the Academy (1,138, to be exact), when a film has the support of the film editors, the cinematographers and the sound people to build those numbers that’s where you find your nominees. Did you know that after actors the Sound branch has the most members of any academic field? Yep, 437 of them. But hold on, what about the Executive and Producer branches? Those two groups have 458 and 483, respectively, which makes them the two largest voting blocs after actors. That’s where you get some surprise nominees like The Blind Side or Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. You need 571 first-place votes for a Best Picture nomination this year so you can see with numbers of those branches how quickly it can add up.
This year has been, as anyone following the race knows, pretty wild. Early frontrunner Spotlight hit a snag by not securing an ACE Eddie nomination while The Big Short now has ACE, PGA, SAG and WGA. That’s one of those simply immovable combinations that puts it in the top-tier of the race right now. Mad Max: Fury Road, although missing that SAG nom, is also in the top-tier but just under The Big Short.
Sicario has turned into the sleeper of the season, hitting all the major guilds except SAG. Can it go all the way to a Directors Guild nomination next week? That announcement, on Tuesday January 12th, will be a huge piece of the puzzle to this race just two days ahead of the Oscar nominations. [Updated with DGA and CAS nominations] Of course, things like the momentum of Golden Globe nominations and wins and the upcoming BAFTA nominations on Friday have an impact as well. That also happens to be the deadline for Oscar nomination ballots. This is just looking at guild support and the inevitable crossover from those guilds to Academy branches.
But, there’s always someone who scores everything (or nearly everything) and ends up on the outside. It happened to Nightcrawler last year. It’s going to happen this year. Straight Outta Compton feels like the most vulnerable. Yes, it has SAG, PGA and WGA but unless it gets a DGA nomination for F. Gary Gray it’s going to look like a Best Picture plus one other nomination type of film like Selma last year. Even Bridesmaids hit all of those (plus had a locked acting nomination) and didn’t make the cut.
Here is the breakdown, as I see it, of the race based on guild support. Placements are subject to change as more guilds announce.
The Big Short – ACE, CSA, DGA, PGA, SAG, WGA
Mad Max: Fury Road – ACE, ADG, ASC, CAS, CDG, CSA, DGA, PGA
The Martian – ACE, ADG, CDG, DGA, PGA, WGA
Spotlight – CSA, DGA, PGA, SAG, WGA
The Revenant – ACE, ADG, ASC, CAS, DGA, PGA
Straight Outta Compton – CSA, PGA, SAG, WGA
Bridge of Spies – ADG, ASC, CAS, CSA, PGA, WGA
Sicario – ACE, ADG, ASC, PGA, WGA
Trumbo – ADG, CDG, CSA, SAG, WGA
Ex Machina – ADG, CDG, PGA
Brooklyn – CDG, CSA, PGA
Carol – ASC, CDG, CSA, WGA
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – ACE, ADG, CAS, CDG, CSA
The Danish Girl – ADG, CDG, CSA
Beasts of No Nation – SAG
Room – CSA
The Hateful Eight – CAS
ACE – American Cinema Editors
ADG – Art Directors Guild
CAS – Cinema Audio Society
CDG – Costume Designers Guild
MPSE – Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild (1/22)
WGA – Writers Guild of America