When it comes to predicting the Oscars, there are a number of factors to take into account. The early critics awards carry some weight, as does a film’s overall box office performance, but the most significant gauge with regards to Oscar voting comes with the guild awards. The four major guilds—producers, directors, writers, and actors—have a large amount of crossover with Academy membership, which means that many of the same people that are voting for the Oscars are also voting in the PGA, DGA, WGA, and SAG awards. Earlier today we got our first look at the Producers Guild of America nominations, and there were a couple of minor surprises mixed in with the usual suspects.
In this edition of Collider’s awards column, Oscar Beat, I’ll be analyzing what this year’s PGA nominations mean with regards to the upcoming 86th Academy Awards race. Read on after the jump.
Dallas Buyers Club
Saving Mr. Banks
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
The three major frontrunners for the Best Picture Oscar—12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle—made the PGA cut, as did a couple of other usual suspects like Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks, and Nebraska, but the inclusion of Blue Jasmine and Dallas Buyers Club come as slight surprises. Though some have been predicting the Matthew McConaughey-fronted drama Dallas Buyers Club as a possible Dark Horse Best Picture candidate, many thought Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine had been mostly forgotten with regards to Best Picture. Her has become this year’s critical darling and could very well make the Oscar cut as this year’s “artsy” pick a la Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild, and the PGA was clearly not put off by Martin Scorsese’s controversial black comedy The Wolf of Wall Street.
The most noticeable absence from the PGA list is Joel and Ethan Coen’s folk music drama Inside Llewyn Davis, and The Weinstein Company was shut out completely as Lee Daniels’ The Butler, August: Osage County, and Philomena all failed to land PGA nominations. It’s very possible that one of these four “snubs” could land a Best Picture Oscar nomination anyway, and Inside Llewyn Davis feels like the best bet of the bunch given that the preferential ballot system of the Academy bodes well for films that have a passionate base, which the Coen brothers’ latest film surely does.
The Oscars and the PGA nominations rarely match up 100%, and the most vulnerable PGA picks would appear to be Blue Jasmine and Dallas Buyers Club given their overall lack of precursor mentions. The Wolf of Wall Street also isn’t a lock for Oscar just yet, as the “controversy” surrounding the pic seems to be overshadowing a conversation about its merits (some are arguing that it celebrates Jordan Belfort’s despicable behavior rather than satirizing it). At a three-hour runtime and a near NC-17 rating, it also might just be too much for Academy voters. That being said, this is still Martin Scorsese we’re talking about, so we’ll see if the other guilds spark to Wolf as well.
While the list of 10 PGA nominations doesn’t regularly match up exactly with the list of Best Picture Oscar nominees, the PGA winner is a very good predictor of the eventual Oscar winner. 7 of the past 10 Producers Guild Award winners for Best Picture have gone on to win the Best Picture Oscar, including the past 6 in a row, so keep that statistic in mind when the PGA winners are announced. With regards to Oscar nominations, it’s likely that at least two of the PGA picks will not land Best Picture Oscar nods if the past few years are any indication.
Overall, this is a strong PGA lineup that might speak to a surprise or two when the Academy Award nominations are announced on January 16th. That being said, it’s looking like the main films competing for the eventual Best Picture win are 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle. The Producers Guild of America Awards will be announced January 19th.
To catch up on all of our previous Oscar Beat coverage, click here.