Precursors

Precursor: 68th Directors Guild Doc Nominations (2015)

The final set of DGA nominations have been announced and all five titles are on the Academy’s Best Documentary Feature shortlist. Most notably absent from this list and likely expected was Joshua Oppenheimer for The Look of Silence. His prior film, The Act of Killing was nominated both for the Oscar and the DGA director’s award for documentaries. That he missed here may signal his film’s absence from the Oscar list, but I’d be surprised at that.

The Awards

Best Documentary Director

Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyis – Meru
Liz Garbus – What Happened, Miss Simone?
Alex Gibney – Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Matthew Heineman – Cartel Land
Asif Kapadia – Amy

Directors Guild of America Data

Year Founded: 1936
First Awards: 1948 (68)

Precursor: 36th Golden Raspberry Nominations (2015)

It is tradition for the Golden Raspberry awards to announce nominations the day before the Oscars. Other than their “dark” period where they shifted to after the Oscars, this has been the case as long as I can remember. Typically, they go for very obvious choices and this year is no different. Among the year’s nominees, three nominees could end up Oscar nominees albeit for different films. Johnny Depp who’s in competition for Best Actor for Black Mass is nominated here for Mortdecai; Eddie Redmayne, who’s also against Depp at the Oscars for The Danish Girl is nominated here in support for Jupiter Ascending, an award I suspect he will ultimately win; and Rooney Mara who is up for an Oscar nomination for Carol and is currently facing some of the worst category fraud in Oscar history is nominated in support here for her performance in Pan.

There are no major surprises except for the lackluster, but hardly panned (by critics anyway) The Cobbler getting two mentions.

Nominations Tallies

(6) Fifty Shades of Grey, Jupiter Ascending, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, Pixels
(5) Fantastic Four
(3) Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, Mortdecai

The Nominations

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Precursor: 14th Visual Effects Society (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the film I most expect to take home the Oscar for Best Visual Effects made an expected strong showing here topping all others with seven nominations. Typically, the film with the highest nominations tally will also be the Oscar winner, but as certain Bets Picture nominees of the past can attest, that isn’t always the case.

To figure out the Best Visual Effects nominees, take a look at the top two categories below, Visual Effects and Supporting Visual Effects. Other than the fact that the VES has changed its category names (again?) to reflect live-action films as photoreal films instead, the gist remains the same. Of the ten films nominated by VES, Mad Max, The Martian, Star Wars, The Revenant and The Walk are the only films on the Oscar shortlist. Will all five be nominated? That’s quit possible, though The Walk and The Martian seemed before to be the weaker ones of the bunch.

These nominations hurt two major players more than any others: Ex Machina and Jurassic World. Ex Machina scored zero nominations while Jurassic World only picked up two. That doesn’t bode well for either film for the Oscars, but either or both could make the final list. Based on this data, Mad Max, The Revenant and Star Wars likely have the best chances.

Nominations Tallies

(7) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
(5) The Peanuts Movie
(4) The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, San Andreas
(3) Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, The Walk

The Nominations

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Precursor: 68th Directors Guild Nominations (2015)

The big news is that The Big Short director Adam McKay is among the final five for Best Director from the DGA. The man who gave us Talladega Nights and The Other Guys finally turned out a film that earned genuine critical plaudits and has become a major force in this year’s Oscar competition. Tom McCarthy made it in when many thought his support was soft. The one director to take the biggest hit here is Todd Haynes. All season, American critics were giving Carol solid support, but the guilds seemed modestly disinterested. With its omission here, it seems implausible that the BAFTA selections will carry over to the Oscars.

The documentary direction nominations will be announced tomorrow, but the Best First Feature nominees are included below. The list features the two directors everyone would have expected to be here, Alex Garland and Laszlo Nemes, but all but Fernando Coimbra are unsurprising and Coimbra’s presence is just unexpected, not really surprising.

As for Best Director Oscar history: Last year, Bennett Miller took Clint Eastwood’s spot at the Oscars. In 2013, DGA nominee Paul Greengrass was replaced by Alexander Payne. 2012 was the last bizarre cross-over with only Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee making the Oscar list. The prior year, things were back to normal with Terrence Malick earning an Oscar nomination over David Fincher.

On the Best Picture front, things are a bit different. Since 2009, the Academy has nominated more than 5 films for Best Picture. In that time, only one film has not been nominated for Best Picture after earning a Best Director citation from the DGA. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which most thought to be a sure contender for a nomination in 2011 failed to place at the Oscars. That’s the only one. That means that these five films have pretty much been assured a placement at the Oscars (much to some people’s chagrin).

The Nominations

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Precursor: 23rd Cinema Audio Society Nominations (2015)

A mix of Best Picture contenders and technical marvels were among this year’s nominations. What’s most notable is that of the five nominees in Live Action, only two of them are action films, which has been the increasing normality of the category in recent years.

The Nominations

Best Sound Mixing – Live Action

Bridge of Spies
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing – Animated

The Good Dinosaur
Hotel Transylvania 2
Inside Out
Minions
The Peanuts Movie

Cinema Audio Society Data

Year Founded: 1964
First Awards: 1993 (23)

Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 7

As the precursor awards continue unabated until Oscar night, I’m going to be providing a weekly update highlighting the films that have won and lost momentum through the precursor awards (and in some cases other outside influences).

There was some big news this past week as the guilds have finally started revealing their nominations. We’ll have another week of that this week finalizing with the Oscar nominations on Thursday morning. After that, we’ve just got a month and a half until Oscar season is over.

But, before we get into this week’s winners and losers, let’s take a look at what’s coming up this week:

Week 8

Tue. 12 – Audio Society (Nominations) (Official)
Tue. 12 – Directors Guild – Director & First Feature (Nominations) (Official)
Tue. 12 – Visual Effects Society (Nominations) (Official)
Wed. 13 – Directors Guild – Documentary (Nominations) (Official)
Wed. 13 – Make-Up Artists Guild (Nominations) (Official)
Wed. 13 – Sound Editors (Nominations) (Unconfirmed)
Thu. 14 – Academy Awards Nominations (Oscars) (Official)
Sun. 17 – Broadcast Critics (Awards) (Official)
Sun. 17 – London Critics (Awards) (Official)

Big Winners

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Precursor: 73rd Golden Globe Awards (2015)

The Golden Globe Awards have been announced and apart from the early shock of Kate Winslet winning Best Supporting Actress, most of the categories when as expected. The Revenant was a modest surprise winning both Best Picture and Best Director apart from the expected win for Leonardo DiCaprio. While this might not change nominations predictions, it will certainly have a modest impact on winner predictions.

Award Tallies

(3) The Revenant
(2) The Martian, Steve Jobs
(1) Creed, The Hateful Eight, Inside Out, Joy, Room, Son of Saul, Spectre

The Awards

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Precursor: 8th Houston Critics Awards (2015)

Spotlight comes out on top of the Houston Film Critics awards losing another Best Director award, this time to Alejandro G. Inarritu for The Revenant. Revenant took three total awards, including prizes for Best Supporting Actor and Best Cinematography.

Hardy’s win notwithstanding, there’s nothing particularly revelatory about these selections. There was announced a Best Poster Design category, but in the three sources I saw referencing the winners, not a single one of them referenced a winner in the category.

Awards Tallies

(3) The Revenant
(2) Spotlight

The Awards

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Precursor: 16th Vancouver Critics – Canadian Awards (2015)

On January 7, the Vancouver critics gave out their awards for the best in Canadian filmmaking. Separate from their annual awards for general film excellence, these are only for films made by Canadians. That means it’s not very surprising that major Oscar contender Room managed to win the most awards with four, including Best Canadian film and awards for stars Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson. The film was denied two awards, Best Supporting Actress for Joan Allen and Best Director for Lenny Abrahamson. Sleeping Giant performed well as did the British Columbian film Haida Gwaii. The only other film to win an award was No Men Beyond This Point in Best Supporting Actress.

Award Tallies

(4) Room
(3) Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World, Sleeping Giant

The Awards

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Precursor: 5th Georgia Critics Awards (2015)

Although it didn’t get key nominations at BAFTA this week, the Road Warrior continues its dominance of the critics awards picking up four prizes from the Georgia film critics, who also happen to be the only group to recognize Ant-Man, but there are reasons for that. Nothing new or exciting here, though, as many of these winners have already been picking up countless prizes elsewhere.

Award Tallies

(4) Mad Max: Fury Road
(2) Ex Machina

The Awards

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Precursor: 57th British Academy Nominations (2015)

Several notions were put to rest today by the British Academy of Film & Television Arts, the United Kingdom equivalent of the Academy Awards. First is that Carol was having a bad year. Tying Bridge of Spies for most nominations with 9, Carol is the year’s most nominated film. Unfortunately, they went for the category fraud and put Rooney Mara in support, which is strange since they put Alicia Vikander in lead for The Danish Girl. Bridge of Spies doing so amazingly well, including its appearance in a five-slot Best Picture field shows just how strong the film is still doing in spite of its seeming absence from the precursors.

Mad Max: Fury Road may have pulled seven nominations, but none of them were for Best Picture or Best Director, two categories many thought it would be a player in. The Best Director issue is galling and may be exacerbated by the DGA next week, but with only five spaces in Best Picture, it’s not surprising that it missed out since many of us thought it was safe for Best Picture, but not necessarily for Best Director. The Big Short also had a big day, proving that its late emergence is no fluke. The Revenant and Spotlight, unsurprisingly, made the top five.

Only films about serious subjects filled Best Picture, which means films like The Martian, Ex Machina and Inside Out were nowhere to be seen. Brooklyn had a good day, but its total was goosed by a nomination for Best British Film (along with Ex Machina, The Danish Girl, 45 Years and documentary Amy.

Other notable inclusions/exclusions: Anchorman director Adam McKay squeezes into the tight Best Director field while Ridley Scott takes odd-man-out position over Spotlight‘s Tom McCarthy. Other Oscar competitors Lenny Abrahamson and George Miller were left off.

The Bryan Cranston love is no fluke, which means Steve Carell couldn’t even ride his film’s wave of support to a nomination. The big surprise in Best Actress is not that Maggie Smith made the cut, she is one of the eclectic BAFTA-Home-Field selections, but it’s who she replaced. Not Alicia Vikander, but Rooney Mara and, most notably, home field competitor Charlotte Rampling. They saw her because her film was nominated for Best British Film, but nowhere else. This has to be a blow to her Oscar chances.

It’s hard to tell if Idris Elba’s appearance in Supporting Actor is a BAFTA one-off or an Oscar trend. Best Actor didn’t have one, so it’s possible Best Supporting Actor doesn’t either, but with Benicio Del Toro a fellow soft player for the Oscar nomination, it’s possible they aren’t very representative. Missing are Michael Shannon, Michael Keaton and Sylvester Stallone. BAFTA isn’t that sentimental (unless you’re British), so it’s possible that Stallone’s omission was going to be expected.

Julie Walters is likely the BAFTA-only nominee. It’s disappointing that Mara is here, but not surprising. See my article I posted on my prior nominations predictions for my reasoning. It’s such a slim field that it may be that Vikander’s appearance for Ex Machina may have pushed balloting towards her inclusion in Best Actress rather than Best Supporting Actress where she would surely have appeared otherwise. Joan Allen, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren and Jane Fonda are the notably absent.

No surprises in Original Screenplay, they match my predictions five-for-five. In Adapted Screenplay, It’s the inclusion of Brooklyn over The Martian that may be telling since the former was likely favored by BAFTA over the latter, but could be a sign that Martian‘s script isn’t as strong a player as we thought.

Carol is conspicuously absent from Best Original Score; Bridge of Spies played well down ballot, but most of our predictions seemed to be fairly spot-on in this regard. Overall, a very Oscar traditional list, which may mean it’s farther afield than normal considering the Academy’s broadening of membership. Either that or these will be highly influential. Since Oscar voting ends today, I’m not sure they’ll change anyone’s minds, though.

Nominations Tallies

(9) Bridge of Spies, Carol
(8) The Revenant
(7) Mad Max: Fury Road
(6) Brooklyn (5), The Martian
(5) The Big Short, The Danish Girl (4), Ex Machina (3)
(4) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
(3) The Hateful Eight, Sicario, Spotlight, Steve Jobs

The Nominations

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Precursor: 18th Costume Designers Guild Nominations (2015)

There aren’t many precursors for costume design, as such the Costume Designers Guild (CDG) is one of the best ways to see what the trade thinks of the potential nominees. Of the precursors that have gone out so far, The Assassin, Far from the Madding Crowd, Macbeth and The Throne are the only nominees that didn’t make this list. They also only received one nomination apiece, so that’s not at all shocking. So far, only two films have won any precursors, Mad Max and Cinderella. Both are represented here.

With the Academy, the Production Design and Costume Design categories frequently overlap. In period design, the CDG and Art Directors Guild (ADG) overlap on Crimson Peak, The Danish Girl and Trumbo. In fantasy, it’s Cinderella, Mad Max and Star Wars. In contemporary, it’s Joy and The Martian. This isn’t particularly instructive, but it is interesting.

The Nominations

Best Period Costume Design

Brooklyn
Carol
Crimson Peak
The Danish Girl
Trumbo

Best Fantasy Costume Design

Cinderella
Ex Machina
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Contemporary Costume Design

Beasts of No Nation
Joy
Kingsman: The Secret Service
The Martian
Youth

Costume Designers Guild Data

First Awards: 1998 (18)

Precursor: 29th USC Scripter Nominations (2015)

Of the six adapted screenplays that have, so far, won accolades for being the best from various precursors, Carol and Anomalisa are the only ones missing from this list. It’s not surprising that Anomalisa is absent, because it’s based on a screenplay, not on a literary piece. The USC Scripters reward the original author of source material and the adapting screenwriter and, to my recollection, have never honored a film that wasn’t based on a book. That doesn’t explain Carol‘s absence. That film should have definitely been here, but was left off for The End of the Tour which hadn’t been a player in most of the precursor season.

The only other major player in the Adapted Screenplay competition that didn’t make this list was Steve Jobs, another script that seemed like it should have been a stronger player with this group. Since the USC Scripter Awards is a major Oscar forecaster, especially in terms of winners, and has no restrictions against non-guild signatories, it can often be more instructive. Both Room and Brooklyn weren’t eligible for WGA and appeared here. Comparing the two lists, The Big Short and The Martian are the only two overlapping titles. Trumbo didn’t impress this group as it did the WGA, but the Academy is closer in representation to WGA than it is to the USC Libraries selection committee.

The Nominations

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Big Short
Brooklyn
The End of the Tour
The Martian
Room

USC Scripter Data

Year Founded: 1988
First Awards: 1987 (29)

Precursor: 68th Writers Guild Nominations (2015)

Bridge of Spies takes a temporary lead in the guild derbies securing citations from six of six guilds. Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant were never going to be players here because they are light on dialogue, as such they move into second with five-for-six along with The Big Short, Spotlight and Sicario. [NOTE: For some reason, when I wrote this, I thought Bridge of Spies was nominated by ACE, thus why I proclaimed Bridge being six-for-six. This is incorrect. Instead, we have a six-way tie for first with five-for-six.)

This does mark the end of the road for Mistress America, one of the few guild-sanctioned films that could have been nominated. Straight Outta Compton has now picked up nominations from three of the big four guilds (PGA, SAG & WGA). It won’t get in at the DGA, but it has to be seen as more of a threat than it did a month ago. Ex Machina, Inside Out and The Hateful Eight weren’t eligible here, so they could easily replace those that did make the list.

On the adapted side, Room, Brooklyn, Anomalisa and The Danish Girl weren’t guild signatory productions, thus weren’t permitted to compete. I would say that Trumbo‘s inclusion is a surprise, but considering it’s subject was a blacklisted screenwriter, it’s exclusion would have been more shocking. The bad news for the ineligible productions is that the remaining four nominees are all likely Oscar nominees, meaning only one of them, possibly Room can make the cut over Trumbo. The big question is whether Oscar winner Dalton Trumbo’s legacy tops complaints about the film’s weaknesses.

The Nominations

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Precursor: 30th Cinematographers Guild Nominations (2015)

All four of the films that have so far won precursors for their cinematography make an appearance here with Bridge of Spies rounding out the list. After two days of snubs, Carol makes a merited appearance on the list while Roger Deakins and Janusz Kaminski continue their almost-always-nominated trends. Emmanuel Lubeszki seems to be following a similar trend as Deakins and Kaminski while Lachman is also a major name to the ASC voters. John Seale, who’s had a long absence from this group’s recognitions is also here.

To date, of the guilds that have so far announced nominations (SAG, PGA, ACE, ADG and now ASC), Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant are the only films to appear on all five slates. Before anyone complains about the SAG-Mad Max mention, it did get a stunt cast nomination, which is still a SAG nomination. Sicario has the next best performance record having missed only SAG so far.

The Nominations

Best Cinematography

Bridge of Spies
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

American Society of Cinematographers Data

Year Founded: 1919
First Awards: 1986 (29)

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