The Screen Actors Guild nominations gave us another piece of the Oscar puzzle today. Some of it made things much clearer while some of it made an already wild season even wilder. What we can do though is really begin to build a picture and a path to the Oscars for individual films and performances. This is the first real look at the race from the industry’s point of view, which can often veer from the critics. We still have the Producers Guild (January 5) and Directors Guild (January 11) nearly a month away but we have a lot to work with.
For Best Picture, the race is significantly narrowing. Combining the AFI Top 10, the Critics’ Choice Top 10 and the National Board of Review’s Top 10 (plus their winner) and today’s SAG Cast nominations we see that The Big Sick, Get Out, Lady Bird and Three Billboards are way out in front. Narrowing that down even further only Get Out and Lady Bird hit all of them (and also both have Golden Globe film nominations). Break it down even more, looking to the festival route each film took, taking into consideration time of release and recent correlation of festivals to Oscar’s Best Picture and one thing becomes clear – Lady Bird covers every base. With the Telluride Film Festival being the strongest festival bellwether there isn’t a film that stands in better position that Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age dramedy. That isn’t to say Get Out isn’t a strong player, it most certainly is. In many ways it’s stronger because it’s much more the movie of our time. It’s socially relevant and progressive and that will speak to voters, especially the new ones. Lady Bird will speak to strongly to women with its female-directed and female-led story. There hasn’t been a female-led Best Picture winner since 2004’s Million Dollar Baby and nothing close to a mother-daughter film since 1983’s Terms of Endearment. That also opens the door for another woman and African-American to be nominated in Best Director for films they also wrote.
I know, I know. I’m running around throwing stats and history left and right when we’re in an era of Oscar quite different than just two years ago. But here’s the thing; even though it feels clear that the film with the most for it, the least against and the one that will feel the most timely is going to win, the history, precursors and stats also back those two top contenders. If there’s a spoiler here it would be Three Billboards. Its precursor run started slow then kicked into high gear. While it hasn’t gotten any Best Picture/Film critics’ wins yet, Frances McDormand is tied with Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) for the most Best Actress wins, Sam Rockwell is lining up wins; things could swing its way. The film’s lack of screenplay kudos over Get Out and Lady Bird is something to note though. It’s pretty hard right now for a film to win Best Picture without a screenplay win. Speaking of The Shape of Water, it was doing so well until today’s SAG snub. Combined with being a December release, the film is in trouble despite likely ending the most nominated film come Oscars.
Is there room for The Post to come in and upset? Sure, maybe. But what it has to overcome is far greater than anything else. We know it didn’t hit SAG (not even Streep was name-checked) because of late (or no) screeners. But that’s also the reason we haven’t had a December, much less a late December, film win Best Picture for 12 years. There simply isn’t time for a late release to gain buzz or momentum or even be seen in time where other films are months ahead. The Post has its own very timely nature and would also be the first female-led Best Picture winner. There is no doubt that after Streep’s Golden Globe speech last year that people could want to hear her again.
The Big Sick is a strange animal here. It got completely snubbed by the Golden Globes but a one-off miss isn’t the end of the world. But is this a Best Picture winner? Not very likely but its run of AFI, Critics’ Choice and the very important SAG Cast nom definitely puts it in contention for a Best Picture nomination…a nomination that may come at Mudbound‘s expense. While Netflix has proven itself deft with SAG, it still has yet to earn an Oscar nomination for any of its narrative features. The film has won several festival audience awards and Ensemble prizes from critics but that’s about it. No Best Picture/Film Top 10s or wins.
Here’s where the Best Picture race stands as of today, according to the Gold Rush Gang. Keep an eye out for December Part 2 predictions next week.
|1||Get Out (Universal – 2/24)|
|2||Dunkirk (Warner Bros – 7/21)|
|2||Lady Bird (A24 – 11/3)|
|4||The Post (20th Century Fox – 12/22)|
|5||The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight – 12/1)|
|6||Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight – 11/10)|
|7||Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics – 11/24)|
|8||The Florida Project (A24 – 10/6)|
|9||Darkest Hour (Focus Features – 11/22)|
|10||I, Tonya (Neon – 12/8)|
|11||The Big Sick (Amazon/Lionsgate – 6/23)|
|12||Phantom Thread (Focus Features – 12/25)|
|13||Mudbound (Netflix – 11/17)|