Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Guild Wars

The Producers Guild of America and Writers Guild of America both announced their nominations for achievements in film in 2010, and they tossed up a grand total of zero surprises. (Actually, that's not true--WGA, due to their long list of ineligible scripts including Winter's Bone, The King's Speech, and Another Year, had the space to nominate I Love You, Phillip Morris and Please Give. The only screenplay really hurt by the lack of WGA love was the completely eligible Rabbit Hole.)

The only Best Picture hopeful that was really hurt was Winter's Bone, which had the misfortune of being #11 of ten films nominated for the PGA Award as well as being ineligible for the WGA. So out of the three guilds already announced (PGA, WGA, and the Screen Actors Guild), Winter's Bone was only recognized for individual honors by SAG, not for the greater Ensemble prize.

In short: while it's looked as though 127 Hours, The Kids are All Right and The Town would be fighting for those last spots, all of a sudden it's Winter's Bone that looks vulnerable.

However, since who gets the last spots doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things (fighting that hard for a nomination is going to prevent any possibility of winning), let's take a look at which films are looking like the best shots for a Best Picture win.

The Social Network: Already the recipient of almost twenty critics' awards for Best Picture, the David Fincher film is also up for the WGA, the PGA, and is nominated for the SAG Best Ensemble award. However, it is also likely to lose at the Golden Globes--the Oscar frontrunners don't always win there (The Hurt Locker, The Departed, No Country for Old Men, etc.) and it has some stiff competition. However, if it starts winning guild awards, it's locked for a win. Never mind any "will the Academy respond to it?" bullshit. If it takes the guilds, it wins.

The King's Speech: Not up for the WGA because of eligibility issues, Speech is nonetheless up for both the SAG for Best Ensemble (as well as three individual prizes for SAG) and the PGA. It reflects what Oscar voters used to like, not necessarily what they like today. Atonement didn't win versus No Country for Old Men, so I'd say the same showdown will apply here. But what is No Country for Old Men, then?

The Fighter: It's Rocky with scenery chewing! I kid, I kid. While I have no love for the boxing biopic, it is popular and has gotten recognition from all the major guilds, so I'm not one to dismiss it. If the Academy really likes it and gives it a whole slew of nominations, it will be in a great position to win. (Unfortunately.)

Toy Story 3: I'm really suspicious about this one's chances, simply because of the bias against animated films. It would be easier if such films didn't get blocked out of most precursor races because of eligibility. (It's nominated for the PGA, but not for the Best Musical/Comedy Golden Globe, not for the WGA, not for the SAG...) It has a lot of goodwill going for it, but something tells me the whole "trilogy" aspect will hurt Toy Story 3, not help it.

Black Swan: I'll own up to it: calling this blog Swan is What We Aim For isn't too far off these days. I have a tremendous amount of love for the film and have written at length about it. But honestly, coming from a completely objective point of view, I think there's a pretty clear path that leads to a Black Swan Best Picture win at the Oscars. Now, admittedly, it has to sustain its buzz to make this work, but the box office for the film ($47 million and counting on a $13 million budget) shows that buzz isn't anything to worry about.

If Black Swan can win the Golden Globe for Best Picture -- Drama, which, given the deafening buzz happening while voters are filling out their ballots, is entirely possible, it will be well on its way to winning the Oscar. It can also score wins at the Critics' Choice, at the WGA (I'd say the WGA win is more than possible--it's probable), and at the DGA if Nolan and Fincher start splitting (that's less of a possibility). The PGA is probably lost to something like The Social Network or The King's Speech, but that's one prize. If it wins all the others (which is indeed possible, if a slim possibility) and keep the buzz going, I think Black Swan just might take it.

Again, that's a long shot, but who knows? Every once in a while, Oscar surprises us. It'll still probably be The Social Network, though, and that's just fine with me.

Is it fine with you? Are you okay with the Social Network parade? Or are you hoping for some rain? What movie is your "rain"? Take it to the comments!

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