Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Has "The Big Short" Already Been Crowned the Next Academy Award Winner?

There has been a rule in the last several years that the Producers Guild of America chooses the winner of the eventual winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture.  This is not because the PGA award is the most prestigious award on the planet, it is because that is usually the first claim by a movie that ends up sweeping all the major guild awards.  The Screen Actors Guild gives out their highest honor a couple weeks later, and then a week later the Directors Guild of America hands out their award to the best achievement in directing.  In the past the DGA has most matched up with the eventual Academy Award winners, but it was also during a time when the three guilds largely did their own thing.  These days with voting so close together and many members who overlap in membership, all the guilds tend to award the same film.

It was especially evident that the guilds just followed one another the year "Argo" ran away with all the awards, including the SAG award for Best Ensemble Cast, which should have logically gone to "Silver Linings Playbook" which had three acting nominations compared to "Argo's" one (which wasn't even in a lead category).  If you want more details on stats and how they match up with Oscar I (reluctantly) recommend you check out Awards Daily, as blogger Sasha Stone has become somewhat of a master at awards statistics.  My more reserved observation is that whatever has won the PGA in the past seven years has gone on to win Best Picture when Oscar time rolled around.  This weekend the PGA awarded "The Big Short" their highest honor, which officially makes that the movie to beat.

The thing about this year though is that this is the first time in a long time things don't seem so certain.  While "The Big Short" could theoretically go on to win SAG and DGA, SAG might heavily favor the acting friendly "Spotlight," while DGA is likely to honor George Miller for his crack-filled visionary masterpiece "Mad Max: Fury Road." "The Big Short" could snag the SAG award as it has a great ensemble cast, but would it really walk away with DGA?  It could, but that would be pretty disappointing when you have the aforementioned "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "The Revenant" in competition.  At the moment the race still feels very much wide open despite what the last several years have proven to be certain.  I kind of hope none of the guilds match up, because it makes for a more exciting Oscar race.

Each movie has it's supporters at the Academy.  "The Big Short" and "Spotlight" are loved by the actors.  "Mad Max: Fury Road" seems to be loved by the directors and visual artists.  Everyone seems to love "The Revenant," but with Alejandro González Iñárritu having swept up all the awards last year for "Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance" it seems to be at a huge disadvantage in terms of voters feeling compelled to vote for him again.  Then we have "Room," which could be a sleeping tiger waiting to pounce.  I mean, how else can you explain Lenny Abrahamson's Best Director nomination despite not getting any predecessor support?  I mean, he even took the nomination away from Ridley Scott for his direction in "The Martian," and this was a guy who was poised to win before the nominations were even announced.

At the moment the race is still wide open and I like it best that way.  It makes the race more interesting and it gives everyone a chance to win at the Oscar pool at the Academy Award parties I throw.  However if "The Big Short" wins SAG then I think it winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards is all but a done deal (even if Miller walks away with his much deserved DGA).  We either know everything at the moment or we know nothing at all.  Sort of exciting isn't it?  For the record, here is my review for "The Big Short." As you can see I liked it, but I wasn't floored by it.  That could potentially change with future viewings, but for the time being that would be a fairly disappointing winner compared to some of the other films nominated.  Also my favorite film of last year - "Inside Out" - wasn't even nominated for Best Picture.  Since they have a Best Animated Feature award though, I guess they can just award it there and move on with their day.


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