The 88th Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 28, 75 days from today.
LAFCA, SAG and Golden Globe
Last week, a host of critics groups announced their wins and nominations (18 groups, if I am correctly keeping track). The three most important are the LA Film Critics (the closer-to-Hollywood equivalent of NYFCC from the week before), the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Golden Globes. I’m going to quickly review what happened in each and then go into a little more detail for the six main Oscar races (picture, director, actor, actress, supporting actor and supporting actress). Keep in mind that this year is special: “What you’re seeing is a race in complete chaos. There are no clear frontrunners for most of the major categories, even as we approach the December holidays.”
Last Sunday, the LA Film Critics named Spotlight the best film of the year, gave a lot of love to Mad Max (which they named runner-up and to which they gave the Best Director prize) and distributed their acting wins and runner-ups to eight different films (Steve Jobs, Son of Saul, 45 Years, Brooklyn, 99 Homes, Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina and Clouds of Sils Maria). Because the Los Angeles awards are not first, the critics group (82% male, apparently) generally likes to be different. This year, Charlotte Rampling and Michael Shannon won Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor, respectively, despite having few wins and not so much hype beforehand. (Similarly, last year Tom Hardy won Best Actor for Locke and Agata Kulesza won Best Supporting Actress for Ida. Both came out of left field … but did not repeat at the Oscars.)
Being different, though, does not always mean being wrong. In the past decade, the LAFCA Best Picture winner has gone on for an Oscar nomination all but one time (2008, when Wall-E didn’t make the cut). Still, only three films since 1990 have gone on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards after winning the LA Film Critics Award. All three also won Best Director, which Spotlight did not pull off. Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of disagreement within the group about who to name Best Picture winner. “The votes were all over the place,” a LAFCA member said after the vote. “There was no clear consensus for Best Picture.” Notch these awards as a small win for Spotlight but nothing in the least overwhelming.
SAG nominations came out on Wednesday. And they were pretty crazy. (The AwardsDaily recap was titled “Sifting through the Wreckage of Da Fuq.”) Yes, Spotlight earned a Best Ensemble nomination (the closest SAG equivalent to Best Picture), but none of the other major contenders (Carol, Mad Max, Brooklyn, The Martian, Room, etc.) joined the list. Instead, the remaining four slots were filled by The Big Short (which has gotten great reviews, though was never an Oscar frontrunner), Straight Outta Compton (great reviews and a ton of money, largely forgotten), Beasts of No Nation (great reviews but not much hope since it’s distributed by Netflix) and Trumbo (which got mixed reviews but somehow ended up with the most SAG nominations). Helen Mirren, Bryan Cranston and Sarah Silverman earned nominations, but neither men from Spotlight (Michael Keaton or Mark Ruffalo) made the cut. (Nor did Stallone or Dano or Hardy.) And the three category fraud nominees (Alicia Vikander, Rooney Mara and Jacob Tremblay) all got away with it. There were a few ways of qualifying the nominations to make them make sense — the nominating committee is randomly chosen every year, so maybe this year was a wacky batch; Joy and Revenant are late releases and Hateful Eight and Star Wars did not even send out Oscar screeners — but these results are clearly not good news for a lot of films.
Many Oscar bloggers are comparing this year to 2007, where only one of the five ensemble nominees (No Country For Old Men) earned a Best Picture nomination, but it’s worth noting that in the 21 years in which the SAG ensemble award has existed, only one film that wasn’t even nominated for ensemble won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Because of this, Spotlight’s frontrunner status seems more assured. “Of the five in ensemble it’s the only one that can build any sort of momentum with the larger industry,” writes Sasha Stone. “With The Martian taken out of the race … it’s Spotlight’s to lose as there are no other challengers in that ensemble lineup unless we’re all out of our minds, which is entirely possible.”
The next day were the Golden Globes nominations, and the main surprise, at least for me, was how unsurprising they were. Carol (which had the most nominations of the day — five), Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Room and Spotlight got drama Best Picture nominations; The Big Short, Joy, The Martian, Spy and Trainwreck were nominated in the comedy category. Vikander and Mara were forced to compete in the lead categories, as was Christian Bale from The Big Short, but they had little trouble mustering a nomination. Keaton and Ruffalo were again left off the supporting actor list, leading some to note that just because Oscar bloggers put people on lists does not make them frontrunners.
Most notable was the omission of Johnny Depp from the Best Actor nominations. The Golden Globes are notorious for nominating big stars regardless of the movie quality, most infamously Angelina Jolie and Depp himself for the 2010 film The Tourist, which has a “top critics” Rotten Tomatoes score of 9%. The fact that Depp didn’t get a nod for a film and role that was actually good may be a sign that the Globes are growing up.
- Carol (GG nom) has been one of the most loved movies of the season, with multiple wins at early critics prizes (notably last week’s NYFCC). The film’s strong showing at the Golden Globes (five nominations, for picture, director, two actresses and score) will help it maintain momentum, though it’s worth reminding my readers that there is exactly one crossover voter between the Globes and the Oscars, the 88-year-old actress-turned-journalist Lisa Lu. At this point, though, it’s a likely nominee.
- Beasts of No Nation (SAG nom) picked up some steam at SAG, though it’s not clear whether it will be enough to get Academy voters to pick up their screener.
- The Big Short (GG nom and SAG nom) is looking better every day. Two top prizes this week, alongside lots of ensemble love in the past, put it squarely in the running for Best Picture. A win is unlikely but a nomination would not be a surprise.
- Joy (GG nom) is tanking. People generally assumed that the David O. Russell flick would do incredibly well, and it’s easy to see why. His last three films — The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle — have earned him Best Director nominations and lots of nods for their actors. With Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper repeating, one would have expected it to be a major contender of the season. But mediocre reviews (58% on Rotten Tomatoes) have made it increasingly unlikely that Joy will take its presumed Best Picture slot.
- Mad Max: Fury Road (GG nom and LAFCA runner-up) has won over critics from the beginning.With a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (one of the top of the season), it has managed to maintain momentum, winning NBR and also claiming a host of other critics’ awards. Take this movie seriously.
- The Martian (GG nom) was considered the Not-Spotlight choice for much of the race so far — universally liked, money making film by an acclaimed director. But the lack of love with SAG has Oscar bloggers now doubting that it can go all the way (though a nomination is all but guaranteed).
- The Revenant (GG nom) sat smugly on the top of several predictions lists, at least until it was seen. The reception since has been slightly cooler, with less love at critics prizes and reports that it is a love-it-or-hate-it movie.
- Room (GG nom) has quietly earned its place at the table, moving beyond Brie Larson’s acclaimed performance to an acknowledged Best Picture nomination slot.
- Spotlight (GG nom, SAG nom and LAFCA win) is the presumed frontrunner in the race. With early buzz coming out of Telluride, it has gotten excellent reviews and picked up prizes where it matters. It is unclear right now who its biggest competition is.
- Spy (GG nom) was a comedy and is not going anywhere.
- Straight Outta Compton (SAG nom) has everything going for it — great reviews, lots of public support and high box office — but somehow the movie has not clicked with the Oscar community as much as it should have. It earned a top SAG nomination and then nothing at the Globes.
- Trainwreck (GG nom) was a comedy and is not going anywhere.
- Trumbo (SAG nom) has been the surprise of the week. Everyone discounted it, because it apparently is not very good, but the actors didn’t care. Three nominations later (ensemble, actor, supporting actress), it had the most of SAG and the possibility for a long-shot Academy Awards nomination.
Other serious contenders:
- Bridge of Spies is the latest Spielberg drama made for Old White Men, who just so happen to make up the majority of the Academy voters. This is a probable nominee, though the lack of love this week isn’t helping.
- Brooklyn has gotten near-universal acclaim since it first came out, in the “they don’t make movies like this anymore” slot. This is a probable nominee, though the lack of love this week isn’t helping.
- The Danish Girl was considered a serious Best Picture contender until recently. It doesn’t seem like the cards are lining up for it to make the cut.
- Creed is picking up steam, but perhaps too slowly. It has the narrative (Rocky is a comeback movie after all) and it has the critical support, but it may not have the time.
- The Hateful Eight is still a possibility. It has not been widely seen (and did not send out SAG screeners), so it’s possible it will claim a spot late in the game like Django Unchained did. More likely, it will get Quentin Tarantino a Best Original Screenplay nod and little else.
- Inside Out has the best chance for an animated film to earn a Best Picture nomination since Toy Story 3. I think it depends on the total number of films that end up being nominated — with nine or 10, it could happen.
- Sicario has a small chance at a nomination. Again, it has gotten great reviews and earned a fair amount of money, but it is not clicking with the Academy as much as it otherwise could have.
- Steve Jobs was a favorite (Great reviews! Michael Fassbender! Aaron Sorkin!) until it didn’t make that much money at the box office, which apparently makes it a bad movie now that is going nowhere.
- Todd Haynes, Carol (GG nom and LAFCA runner-up) has won a host of critics prizes over the past few weeks and seems like a possible winner if Carol continues to win award after award.
- Alejandro Iñárritu, The Revenant (GG nom) seemed like a possible back-to-back Best Director winner (he helmed last year’s Birdman), though that seems less likely with The Revenant no longer the Best Picture frontrunner.
- Tom McCarthy, Spotlight (GG nom) has somehow not been doing as well as his film. It always surprises me when director and picture are not linked. The best example is probably LAFCA, where the film took the top prize but McCarthy was neither the directing winner or runner-up.
- George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road (GG nom and LAFCA win) is a strong candidate for a win, assuming Mad Max maintains momentum.
- Ridley Scott, The Martian (GG nom) is a strong candidate for a win, assuming The Martian maintains momentum.
Other serious contenders:
- Lenny Abrahamson, Room may be the Damien Chazelle of the year. Chazelle directed Whiplash, one of last year’s top movies (an an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture), and many assumed that Chazelle would be included for a Best Director nomination. He wasn’t.
- John Crowley, Brooklyn seems a little less likely since (1) no one has heard of him and (2) the film is not the frontrunner.
- David O. Russell, Joy had a spot held open for him, but it’s one that he may not be taking.
- Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies is not someone to discount, and it would be very unsurprising for him to make the final list come January.
- Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight had a spot held open for him, but it’s one that he may not be taking.
- Christian Bale, The Big Short (GG nom and SAG Best Supporting Actor nom) seems to be playing his cards for a supporting nomination at the moment.
- Steve Carell, The Big Short (GG nom) is a possibility, though the crowded race may not have space for him
- Bryan Cranston, Trumbo (GG nom and SAG nom) is increasingly looking like a nominee, though Oscar bloggers are very confused about why. Here’s an article on his chances.
- Matt Damon, The Martian (GG nom) seems like one of four that might have a nomination locked down, but this is a year where anything can happen.
- Johnny Depp, Black Mass (SAG nom) gave one of the year’s top performances, in my opinion, but it may not be enough. It’s especially troubling that Depp didn’t get love from the Golden Globes, when he normally does very easily.
- Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (GG nom and SAG nom) seems like one of four that might have a nomination locked down, but this is a year where anything can happen.
- Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs (GG nom, SAG nom and LAFCA win) seems like one of four that might have a nomination locked down, but this is a year where anything can happen.
- Al Pacino, Danny Collins (GG nom) does not exist. This movie does not exist.
- Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl (GG nom and SAG nom) seems like one of four that might have a nomination locked down, but this is a year where anything can happen.
- Géza Röhrig, Son of Saul (LAFCA runner-up) would probably be a wonderful nominee, but it’s not going to happen.
- Mark Ruffalo, Infinitely Polar Bear (GG nom) is seriously? What is Infinitely Polar Bear? Stop.
- Will Smith, Concussion (GG nom) is a strong candidate for the nomination, though it doesn’t seem that there is much passion behind his candidacy.
Other serious contenders:
- Michael Caine, Youth, is one of two old people trying to win the “he’s old but also really great!” nomination slot. It may not be enough.
- Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies, is a bit out of luck this year. I think he had a better chance for Captain Phillips, for which he got nominations at SAG and the Globes but nothing from the Academy. He actually hasn’t gotten an Oscar nomination since Cast Away in 2000.
- Michael B. Jordon, Creed, needs a lot more love for his movie to carry him into a nomination.
- Ian McKellen, Mr. Holmes, is one of two old people trying to win the “he’s old but also really great!” nomination slot. It may not be enough.
- Cate Blanchett, Carol (GG nom and SAG nom) is one of four presumed nominees, assuming that Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara go supporting rather than lead.
- Brie Larson, Room (GG nom and SAG nom) is one of four presumed nominees, assuming that Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara go supporting rather than lead.
- Jennifer Lawrence, Joy (GG nom) is one of four presumed nominees, assuming that Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara go supporting rather than lead. The disappointment in her film, though, may deny her a nomination.
- Rooney Mara, Carol (GG nom and Best Supporting Actress SAG nom) is presumably aiming for a supporting nomination.
- Melissa McCarthy, Spy (GG nom) was very funny and is not getting nominated for an Oscar.
- Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold (SAG nom) came out of nowhere with this. Before this week, Mirren had 10 SAG nominations. Now, with this, her supporting turn in Trumbo and the Trumbo ensemble nod, she has 13. That’s pretty incredible. But it may not be enough.
- Charlotte Rampling (LAFCA win) has been mentioned a ton as an Oscar favorite for the nomination but I don’t really see it.
- Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn (GG nom, SAG nom and LAFCA runner-up) is one of four presumed nominees, assuming that Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara go supporting rather than lead.
- Amy Schumer, Trainwreck (GG nom) was very funny and is not getting nominated for an Oscar.
- Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back (SAG nom) was a surprise nominee. I’d say that this may cause Academy voters to watch the screener but it may not be enough to have them vote for her.
- Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van (GG nom) is one of three old people trying to win the “she’s old but also really great!” nomination slot. It may not be enough.
- Lily Tomlin, Grandma (GG nom) is one of three old people trying to win the “she’s old but also really great!” nomination slot. It may not be enough.
- Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl (GG nom and Best Supporting Actress SAG nom) is presumably aiming for a supporting nomination.
Other serious contenders:
- Blythe Danner, I’ll See You in My Dreams, is one of three old people trying to win the “she’s old but also really great!” nomination slot. It may not be enough.
- Carey Mulligan, Suffragette, was a presumed nominee, at least until her movie disappeared. Now it’s looking increasingly less likely.
- Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road, may be able to ride the coattails of Mad Max to a nomination, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Best Supporting Actor
- Christian Bale, The Big Short (GG Best Actor nom and SAG nom)
- Paul Dano, Love & Mercy (GG nom)
- Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation (GG nom and SAG nom)
- Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies (GG nom, SAG nom and LAFCA runner-up)
- Michael Shannon, 99 Homes (GG nom, SAG nom and LAFCA win)
- Sylvester Stallone, Creed (GG nom)
- Jacob Tremblay, Room (SAG nom)
Other serious contenders:
- Benicio Del Toro, Sicario
- Tom Hardy, The Revenant
- Michael Keaton, Spotlight
- Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
- Jane Fonda, Youth (GG nom) had a glorified cameo in a well-liked movie, but it was still a surprise that she didn’t get a SAG nomination. Apparently the only one she has was for ensemble in The Butler. She is looking good if there is no Vikander and Mara, but it’s unclear how she will do when they are presumably in the race.
- Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight (GG nom) has been doing fairly well for herself in terms of critics prizes, despite the late release of her movie. She is looking good if there is no Vikander and Mara, but it’s unclear how she will do when they are presumably in the race.
- Rooney Mara, Carol (GG Best Actress nom and SAG nom) is a sure thing, as long as she doesn’t go lead.
- Rachel McAdams, Spotlight (SAG nom) was the only Spotlight cast member with a SAG or Globes nomination. She was not generally considered a possibility until now, but it may be too little too late.
- Helen Mirren, Trumbo (GG nom and SAG nom) is in a similar position as Bryan Cranston — suddenly she has the SAG-Golden Globes combo for a movie that no one really liked. Take her seriously, especially as she’s a beloved veteran.
- Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria (LAFCA runner-up) won the Cesar earlier this year and has maintained her long-shot potential. Here’s an article on her chances.
- Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl (GG Best Actress nom and SAG nom) is a sure thing, as long as she doesn’t go lead.
- Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina (GG nom and LAFCA win) is a possibility, though currently her biggest competition is herself in The Danish Girl, as you can only be nominated once in a category.
- Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs (GG nom and SAG nom) looks like she has the nomination in the bag, despite not so much love for her movie.
Other serious contenders:
- Joan Allen, Room, was mentioned as a possibility earlier this season, but I don’t see any indication that she’s is going to make it.
- Elizabeth Banks. Love & Mercy, was probably the biggest person missing from the SAG and Golden Globes lists. People considered her a strong possibility for a nomination, though it seems slightly less likely now.
- Julie Walters, Brooklyn, was mentioned as a possibility earlier this season, but I don’t see any indication that she’s is going to make it.
What’s next? This site has a list of all upcoming awards, but the main ones to look out for are the AFI and the BFCA (Critics Choice). The Critics Choice Awards (coming out some time this morning) are especially worth looking at as they are the most accurate in terms of matching up with Oscar. I’m always a bit amused by them; throughout the year, they list critical rankings of the various movies, but more often than not, top-ranked movies are not nominated for their top awards. Last year, for example, four of the top 10 highest-ranks films (Guardians of the Galaxy, The LEGO Movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Captain America: The Winter Soldier) failed to earn a nomination, while the more high-profile but lower-scored Unbroken did. I am also still holding a grudge against the BFCA for ranking the last Harry Potter film its best of the year and then completely shutting it out of its Best Picture list. This year, the 12 top-ranked films are Spotlight, Room, The Martian, Brooklyn, The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road, Sicario, Straight Outta Compton, 45 Years, The Big Short, Bridge of Spies and Ex Machina; let’s see how many of them actually get a nomination.
- George Miller thinks that you should nominate his movie, Mad Max, for everything: Vulture interviewed him and he surprisingly thinks that the Academy should give him an Oscar.
- Quentin Tarantino thinks you should name an Oscar after him: OK, Quentin.
- Grammy nominations: A few contenders from last year’s Oscars are up for Grammys this year. Best original score winner The Grand Budapest Hotel is not in the race, but nominees Imitation Game, Interstellar and Theory of Everything are facing off against Birdman and Whiplash. Last year’s original song winner, “Glory” (by Common and John Legend) is up for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best Rap Song.
- Best Original Song: 74 songs are being considered for a nomination come January. The one I would like to hear least is “Home” from Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.
- Oscar history with Sasha Stone: The AwardsDaily writer reviews three years (2000, 2006 and 2012) that looked as similarly front-runner-less as 2015 does.
- Oscar history with Scott Feinberg: The Hollywood Reporter writer seems to be reading a book about the Academy Awards, since he has recently tweeted about two moments in Oscar history. The first was in 1938, when the ceremony seems to have been postponed due to a Los Angeles (snow?)storm. The second was in 1987, when someone in the Academy had the horrifying idea to move the nominations announcement to 5:45 a.m. Thanks, Scott.
- Poor Roger Deakins: Deakins has been nominated for a cinematography Oscar 12 times, with no wins. He may be up for another nom this year for Sicario. AwardsDaily breaks down 10 of his best shots.
- Siriusly? The Harry Potter spinoff released a trailer for it’s trailer. The trailer being teased is coming out on December 15.