Guild nominations week is in full force with Art Directors Guild (ADG) and Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) already announced, American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and Cinema Audio Society (CAS) today and Costume Designers Guild (CDG) hitting on Wednesday. But the big ticket, the Super Bowl of guild days is Thursday when we’ll have the big 3: Writers Guild of America (WGA), Directors Guild of America (DGA) and Producers Guild of America (PGA) all announcing on Thursday the 27th. In my memory, this has never happened before and it’s going to open the flood gates to the post-critics’ Oscar season in a big way.
Let’s get into it.
Writers Guild of America (WGA)
With the volume of ineligible screenplays due to strict WGA requirements (you have to be a member) knocking out so many contenders, including Oscar frontrunners, WGA predictions are strangely…easy? Or at least they seem to be. As AwardsWatch staff writer and I discussed on the most recent podcast, four out of five in each categories of Adapted and Original should be locked in. It’s that fifth that there’s an opening but with so few realistic possibilities at hand, it can only go a few ways.
PREDICTIONS for Adapted Screenplay
- Nightmare Alley
- The Tragedy of Macbeth
- West Side Story
Spoilers: House of Gucci, tick, tick…BOOM!
Not eligible: Cyrano, Drive My Car, The Lost Daughter, Passing, The Power of the Dog
PREDICTIONS for Original Screenplay
- Being the Ricardos
- Don’t Look Up
- The French Dispatch
- King Richard
- Licorice Pizza
Spoilers: C’mon C’mon
Not eligible: Belfast, The Hand of God, A Hero, Mass, Parallel Mothers, The Worst Person in the World
Directors Guild of America (DGA)
The DGA is not as experimental and willing to go outside the norm for their nominations as the Academy is, and that’s been highlighted by the last few years of non-English language film directors missing here but making the Oscar cut. The DGA membership hasn’t grown and changed as much as the Academy’s, which has had an influx of international directors added to their ranks. While that has favored European directors and their films
Steven Spielberg has the most DGA nominations with 11. He’s won 3 (also the record). The only other living director with 10 or more is Martin Scorsese (10). He’s in for West Side Story (although his cinematographer Janusz Kaminski just missed ASC). Jane Campion is not only the overwhelming critics’ winner, she’s going to run the whole thing right to the Oscars. Like the Oscars, only two women have ever won here: Kathryn Bigelow for 2009’s The Hurt Locker and Chloé Zhao for 2020’s Nomadland. Denis Villeneuve (Dune) is definitely in for the ‘biggest’ film achievement of the year and I have a hard time seeing Kenneth Branagh (Belfast) missing.
That leaves one open spot and this is tough as their are quite a few contenders with good reason to take it. Adam McKay already has two DGA noms (for 2015’s The Big Short and 2018’s Vice), both of which he parlayed into Oscar nominations. Aaron Sorkin (Being the Ricardos) was just nominated last year for The Trial of the Chicago 7 (then replaced at the Oscars by Another Round‘s Thomas Vinterberg). Maggie Gyllenhaal has been the year’s breakthrough first-time director with The Lost Daughter (she’s a surefire frontrunner for the DGA’s First-Time Feature award) and the DGA could find themselves in the position of having two female directors nominated – something that only just happened for the first time last year when Zhao and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) were both nominated (the pair also made Oscar history). Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza) has only been nominated by the DGA once, for 2007’s There Will Be Blood, which was his big awards breakthrough here and at the Oscars. Licorice Pizza doesn’t have quite the force that film did (which was pretty clearly the #2 that year) and, interestingly enough, PTA was snubbed here for 2017’s Phantom Thread but wound up Oscar-nominated anyway. Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard) feels very DGA wheelhouse and the film is still a top contender, having just earned a SAG nomination for its cast. But then there’s Guillermo del Toro. Nightmare Alley made such a minimal impact with critics’ awards outside of production design wins and a few strays awards for del Toro himself but in just the first few guild announcements this week the film has started to make a roaring comeback. Could that extend to del Toro here as a previous winner? On the WGA/DGA/PGA podcast this week I went with McKay but now I’m leaning to del Toro, I think there might be an unexpected groundswell comeback for Nightmare Alley.
DGA nomination to Oscar nomination:
2010: 4/5 (Nolan out for Coen Brothers)
2011: 4/5 (Fincher out for Malick)
2012: 3/5 (Affleck and Bigelow out for Haneke and Zeitlin)
2013: 4/5 (Greengrass out for Payne)
2014: 4/5 (Eastwood out for Miller)
2015: 4/5 (Scott out for Abrahamson)
2016: 4/5 (Davis out for Gibson)
2017: 4/5 (McDonaugh out for PTA)
2018: 3/5 (Cooper and Farrelly out for Lanthimos and Pawlikowski)
2019: 4/5 (Waititi out for Phillips)
2020: 4/5 (Sorkin out for Vinterberg)
PREDICTIONS for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
- Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
- Denis Villeneuve – Dune
- Guillermo del Toro – Nightmare Alley
- Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
- Steven Spielberg – West Side Story
Spoilers: Aaron Sorkin – Being the Ricardos, Adam McKay – Don’t Look Up, Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza; Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Lost Daughter, Reinaldo Marcus Green – King Richard
The First-Time Feature Film category this year is an embarrassment of riches. Between actors-turned-directors or just breakthrough filmmakers on the scene, we’re in store for a great set of nominees this year but with that will be some major snubs and omissions. As I mentioned above, Maggie Gyllenhaal is a sure bet here and will probably end up winning. She’s the critics’ leader in this category, tied with Michael Sarnoski for Pig, who also should be locked in here. From there it gets a bit tricky because the bench is so deep. Rebecca Hall (Passing) hasn’t garnered quite as much attention as the actor/director du jour but her work in Passing is likely to be recognized.
The duo of Shatara Michelle Ford (Test Pattern) and Tatiana Huezo (Prayers for the Stolen) shared the LAFCA New Generation Award and each come with some bonafides and/or DGA history in this category. Ford was nominated for Breakthough Director at the Gothams (losing to Gyllenhaal) and is nominated for Best First Feature at the Spirit Awards. In Huezo’s corner, along with the LAFCA win, are wins at Cannes and her film being Oscar shortlisted for the International Feature Film Academy Award representing Mexico. The film is also a Spirit Award nominee for Best International Film.
With all of that talent, we still have Jeymes Samuel with The Harder They Fall, Fran Kranz with Mass and Lin-Manuel Miranda with tick, tick…BOOM!, all of whom have won awards already this season.
PREDICTIONS for Outstanding Directing – First–Time Feature Film
- Jeymes Samuel – The Harder They Fall
- Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Lost Daughter
- Rebecca Hall – Passing
- Michael Sarnoski – Pig
- Shatara Michelle Ford – Test Pattern
Spoilers: Fran Kranz – Mass; Tatiana Huezo – Prayers for the Stolen; Lin–Manuel Miranda – tick, tick…BOOM!
First–Time Feature nominees that also earned a main nomination: Garth Davis (Lion, 2016) Jordan Peele (Get Out, 2017), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born, 2018)
First–Time Feature nominees that also earned an Oscar nomination: Jordan Peele (Get Out, 2017)
Bradley Cooper is the only director to earn both nominations then miss an Oscar nod.
Producers Guild of America (PGA)
With the Oscars going back to a straight ten for Best Picture, the Producers Guild of America is going to be an even more interesting predictor than it’s been for the last ten years. We’ll always see wild swings here that the Academy would never touch
The BAFTA longlist doesn’t really help us that much; every film on their list of 15 (save the ineligible Spider-Man: No Way Home) made the cut. It won’t be until those final five nominees are announced on February 3 that we’ll have a clearer idea of who’s in the top half and the bottom half of Best Picture contenders.
What does help us is looking at the crossover between AFI, NBR and Critics’ Choice. While none of these groups are guild or contain Academy voting members they do start to tell a story of commonality. Belfast, Don’t Look Up, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley and West Side Story showed up at all three. If you factor in the Screen Actors Guild (and why wouldn’t you, it’s a major guild) that crossover gets very small: Belfast, Don’t Look Up and King Richard. There are other cumulative factors you can consider, like the Golden Globes, but their impact is severely lessoned this year.
AFI: Belfast*, CODA, Don’t Look Up, Dune, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, The Power of the Dog, tick, tick…BOOM!, The Tragedy of Macbeth, West Side Story
Critics’ Choice: Belfast, CODA, Don’t Look Up, Dune, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, The Power of the Dog, tick, tick…BOOM!, West Side Story
NBR: Belfast, Don’t Look Up, Dune, King Richard, The Last Duel, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, Red Rocket, The Tragedy of Macbeth, West Side Story
*special mention a la Roma for non-American production
Joining Belfast, Don’t Look Up and King Richard were CODA and House of Gucci. For CODA, it only missed NBR’s list and in just looking at the classic GG+CCA+SAG+BAFTA quartet it’s got three so far. For House of Gucci, the SAG Cast nom is a big deal, especially at the sake of The Power of the Dog missing there despite three individual nominations. Cate Blanchett’s surprise individual SAG nomination for Nightmare Alley gives me pause. Is it a random one-off (she’s not even longlisted at BAFTA for it, she is for Don’t Look Up however) or is it a small piece of the puzzle that starts to turn it into a comeback contender? The film did just that on Monday, snatching an Art Directors Guild nomination (where Belfast and The Power of the Dog missed) plus three Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) nominations when the film isn’t even shortlisted for sound at the Oscars. It also broke into the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) nominees today.
I feel kind of safe that the PGA will want to nominated Spider-Man: No Way Home, the biggest box office hit in years (now #6 of all time) and the only film since the pandemic started to look and feel like what box office was in the before times. The PGA loves, loves to nominate box office hits (Deadpool, Wonder Woman) so it makes sense. It won’t get a Best Picture Oscar nomination but this is the place for it to show up. Unless there is a wild snub (and there could be), I feel good about the rest of my predictions below but the last spot is truly up in the air. It could be House of Gucci, Nightmare Alley, The Tragedy of Macbeth or even No Time to Die, which performed as well as to be expected in this climate, and still doing quite well internationally.
I’m making a big gamble today and predicting Nightmare Alley over House of Gucci -a box office success in its own right – and I hope it doesn’t bite me in the ass.
PREDICTIONS for The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures
- Don’t Look Up
- King Richard
- Licorice Pizza
- Nightmare Alley
- The Power of the Dog
- Spider–Man: No Way Home
- West Side Story
Spoilers: Being the Ricardos, House of Gucci, The Lost Daughter, No Time to Die, tick, tick…BOOM!, The Tragedy of Macbeth
PGA nomination to Oscar Best Picture nomination
2009: 9/10 (Star Trek out for The Blind Side)
2010: 9/10 (The Town out for Winter’s Bone)
2011: Bridemaids, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Ides of March out; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in
2012: Moonrise Kingdom, Skyfall out; Amour in
2013: Blue Jasmine, Saving Mr. Banks out; Philomena in
2014: Foxcatcher, Gone Girl, Nightcrawler out; Selma in
2015: Ex Machina, Sicario, Straight Outta Compton out; Room in
2016: Deadpool out; no replacement
2017: The Big Sick, I, Tonya, Molly’s Game, Wonder Woman out; Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread in
2018: Crazy Rich Asians, A Quiet Place out; no replacements
2019: Knives Out out; no replacements
2020: Borat, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, One Night in Miami out; The Father in