Oscar Race 2020 Contenders: Who’s Ahead and Who’s in Trouble? | Oscar Beat

     December 11, 2019

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Over the last few days, while critics groups have been weighing in with their picks for the best films of the year, the industry guilds have also been announcing their nominations for 2019. The various guilds are key for the upcoming Oscar race in that they can often reflect how Hollywood is feeling about certain films or performances, and can provide a roadmap of sorts to the “best-liked” movies of the year. Sometimes that translates into major Oscar glory, and sometimes the Academy differs quite sharply with a particular guild choice.

So with that in mind, I figured it would be helpful to break down what the nominations mean so far. To start, here are the guilds that have weighed in:

  • SAG – Screen Actors Guild
  • CDG – Costume Designers Guild
  • ADG – Art Directors Guild
  • ACE – American Cinema Editors (note: ACE is not a union guild, but their nominees are indicative of industry support nonetheless)
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Image via Fox Searchlight

Now that we know what they are, let’s run down which guild nominations the major Oscar frontrunners have—and for SAG, we’re only counting if the film received a Best Ensemble nomination since that is that guild’s equivalent to a Best Picture nomination. Only two films scored a major nomination from all the guilds so far: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Jojo Rabbit.

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – SAG, CDG, ADG, ACE
  • Jojo Rabbit – SAG, CDG, ADG, ACE
  • The Irishman – SAG, ACE, ADG
  • Parasite – SAG, ACE, ADG
  • Knives Out – ACE, ADG, CDG
  • Marriage Story – SAG, ACE
  • Joker – ACE, ADG
  • Ford v Ferrari – ACE, ADG
  • Dolemite Is My Name – ACE, CDG
  • 1917 – ADG

So what do these individual recognitions mean? In and of themselves, not really anything, but taken holistically we can reasonably assume that folks in the industry really like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Jojo Rabbit, Parasite, and Knives Out. And it’s unfair to take Marriage Story’s two nods as a sign of trouble—it’s a two-hander, so the lack of a SAG nom is unsurprising, and it mostly takes place in houses so the lack of ADG nomination is also not surprising. It’s still a major frontrunner. Ditto Joker and The Two Popes.

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Image via Sony Pictures

Possibly the biggest piece of information we can glean from this is that Little Women is in trouble. Greta Gerwig’s radical and masterful adaptation of the beloved novel has drawn heavy critical praise, but Sony was pretty late in getting the film out to voters to actually see. Perhaps that’s why it’s picked up zero guild nominations thus far—shocking considering the level of craft involved in bringing it to the screen. This doesn’t assuredly spell doom and gloom for the movie’s Oscar chances, but it sure as heck ain’t good—especially combined with the disappointing showing with the Golden Globe nominations. Which is a shame because the film is incredible. If Gerwig lands a Directors Guild of America nomination, that’ll be a big boost.

Another curiosity is Sam Mendes’ excellent 1917. The World War I film has picked up only one guild nomination thus far, but it’s a unique movie. Crafted to look like it was constructed in one single shot, an ACE nomination was likely off the table to begin with since the editing is invisible. But the lack of a Costume Designers Guild nomination is interesting. A DGA nod (or not) for Mendes will probably tell us a lot more about the movie’s viability as a threat to win the major awards.

Again, more will be unveiled in the coming weeks, but things are moving fast this year as a result of the accelerated schedule. Oscar nominations voting begins in less than a month—on January 2nd—ahead of the February 9th date for the actual ceremony. Hold on to your butts!

For more on the Oscar race check out my full predictions for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Actress.

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