As we head into the final act of this year’s awards race, we’re waiting for two big movies to drop. One of them is James Cameron’s eagerly awaited sequel to Avatar. The other is Will Smith’s Emancipation. Every other film has been seen and many of them have been reviewed. The competition for best picture is getting tougher.
Due to preferential voting for Best Picture, nominations are driven by passion. But when it comes to picking a winner, passion only sometimes drives him. What usually leads to a Best Picture win is general likability. Voters have to love the movie, like the movie, they want the movie to do well. They just can’t hate the movie.
Love it/hate it movies no longer win Best Picture. They used to back off when there were five nominees. In that case, victory is driven solely by passion. Whichever movie gets the most votes wins. The films they divide could win with five nominees. However, this is not possible now. It must be pleasant and non-polarizing.
Arguably the most divisive film to win was Parasite, but even that wasn’t really divisive. Almost everyone loved him since his debut at Cannes in 2019. Bong Joon Ho arrived at the awards race second only to Jeff Bridges as the guy who was everywhere. He’s been to every award show and every festival and he’s been amazing the whole way. For example, many enthusiastically watched him film Quentin Tarantino at the Directors Guild.
Parasite also received a surprise standing ovation at the SAG Awards. Now, when I’m talking about Best Picture with Clarence or anyone else, I always ask: what’s going to get a standing ovation at SAG and lead to a Best Picture win again like CODA did last year?
Parasite was also a year after the disaster Green Book Vs. I’m glad the era of mass hysteria is over—though it may not be. We might just think it’s over, but the moment something goes wrong on Movie Twitter, the monster rises again. Imagine a world where it could matter THAT much which movie won Best Picture. Because Roma, an international feature film, lost to Green Book, which was Trump’s stand-in for Film Twitter (no, I’m not kidding). The aftermath led to more awards pressure for Parasite, which became the first international feature film to win Best Picture.
Regardless, Parasite is a really great movie – I’ll say it’s one of the best movies ever to win Best Picture, so no shame. It also happened against some great movies right on the eve of COVID wiping out the industry for the next few years. It was up against Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 1917, Irishman, Joker. It was just a great year for movies.
Parasite lost almost all of Hollywood’s industry awards until 1917. But the Oscars are run by actors. They form by far the largest electoral bloc. No matter how many accolades 1917 won, it was ultimately a film driven by its director, in one long take, following a singular actor. If historical patterns existed, Sam Mendes would have won Best Director. But since Bong Joon Ho was such a superstar on the circuit, there was no way he wasn’t going to win along with Best Picture. Parasite was an actor-driven film.
However, CODA benefited from preferential voting last year. The Power of the Dog could win in a field of five nominees, but not a year with ten nominees.
It will be the same this year. Unless it’s Parasite or Birdman, movies that are big winners with actors, we have to negotiate a reasonable winner rather than find a winner who wins in a passionate rush. This makes the grand prize a sort of afterthought. You probably can’t talk to anyone in public who can remember any movie that won in the last ten years. Maybe not even last year. When there were five and the public actually watched these films, they remembered the winners. People even remember Chariots of Fire winning way back when.
What you want to do is find out what the various major guilds will win. What makes the SAG crowd jump to its feet? What will dazzle the directors to anoint the winner?
The Producers Guild decides its winner using preferential voting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Oscars will agree.
The order used to be something like this:
However, now and last year, the Producers Guild is the last. Now the order is:
That led to the PGA and Oscar matching, at least last year. Now let’s look at what won the guilds in the era of expanded voting.
2009: The Hurt Locker – PGA/DGA + Picture/Direction/Screenplay
2010: The King’s Speech — PGA/DGA/SAG Ensemble + picture/direction/screenplay
2011: The Artist — PGA/DGA + Picture/Director
2012: Argo – PGA/DGA/SAG + Picture/Screenplay (Director wins Life of Pi)
2013: 12 Years a Slave — PGA (with Gravity) + Picture/Screenplay (Gravity wins as director)
2014: Birdman – PGA/DGA/SAG + Picture/Direction/Screenplay
2015: Spotlight — SAG + Picture/Screenplay (The Revenant won directing)
2016: Moonlight — Picture/Screenplay (La La Land won for Director)
2017: The Shape of Water — PGA/DGA + Picture/Director
2018: Green Book — PGA + Picture/Screenplay
2019: Parasite — SAG + picture/direction/screenplay
2020: Nomadland – PGA/DGA + Image/Direction
2021: CODA — PGA/SAG + Picture/Screenplay
The Producers Guild coincides on 13.10
Directors Guild coincides 7/13
The SAG file matched 6/13
Which movies do you think could get a standing ovation at the SAG Awards? There must be a reason why he jumps to his feet. This happened with both CODA and Parasite. Here are my potential movie ovations:
Banshees of Inisherin
Everything and everywhere at once
That doesn’t mean they are the frontrunners to win. It just means that they would, I think, inspire the actors to jump to their feet. They would do it for different reasons, inspired by different things. And some of that has to do with the movie itself.
This year is also more director driven. Whatever the DGA wins, it has a pretty good chance of winning Best Picture. I think these are the ones that have the best chance of winning the DGA (I’ll skip Avatar and Emancipation for now):
Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Martin McDonagh, Banshees of Inisherin
Sarah Polley, Women Speak
To Daniel, Everything everywhere at once
Damien Chazelle, Babylon
Jim Cameron, Avatar
In the end, the Producers Guild selects ten. These are the ones, at least for now, that I think they might choose:
Top Gun: Maverick
Banshees of Inisherin
Everything and everywhere at once
Avatar: The Path of Water
There are many factors at play when it comes to Best Picture this year, including box office, social justice issues, and a desire (I think) to pull Hollywood back from the brink and bring back the big screen. Maybe that’s right. Who knows.
Passion will drive the movies