The Guilds and What They Mean

Well, it’s early January now, meaning we’re finally nearing the end of the Thousand and One Nights of critic’s group awards (still missing the Offline Blogging Circle of Central Arkansas’ nominations, though). The awards season has shifted into Phase Two, with the various industry guilds putting forth their own superlatives. We already heard from the actors with the SAG nominations, but the next big three, the producers, writers and directors have also recently released their lists.

Of those, only the first and last are really worth anything in terms of Oscar foreshadowing; the WGA’s strict eligibility requirements meant that, as usual, several big contenders, including “12 Years a Slave,” “Philomena,” “Fruitvale Station,” “Rush” and others, were left on the sidelines. The biggest shock there was probably the Coens still missing out entirely for “Inside Llewyn Davis” despite the thinner field; in fact, the Coens’ film went a big oh-for-three with the guilds. That’s a troubling sign for the film’s Oscar campaign; but while it looks like broad contention in Best Director or Best Actor isn’t in the cards for “Llewyn,” I think it still stands a good chance at a Best Picture nod. It’s the kind of film (like Scorsese’s polarizing “The Wolf of Wall Street” or Spike Jonze’s quirky “Her”) that engenders passionate support from those that dig it, the kind Academy voters will put at Number 1 or Number 2 if they list it at all.

Sony Pictures Classics, meanwhile, got a pretty nice boost for “Blue Jasmine.” It takes up position as Indie Darling of the Year, and we know from Allen’s directing nod for “Midnight in Paris” a few years ago that he’s still got a lot of support within the Academy. Keep an eye out.

Generally, though, the big winners are who we thought they were: “Gravity,” “American Hustle,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Captain Phillips,” “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The latter has sparked some media “controversy” and some snazzy headlines, but it’s clear that a large percentage of the industry is on board with Scorsese. The Academy itself is a little smaller, quirkier, and stodgier than these groups, so I still wouldn’t declare it likely to challenge “Gravity” or “12 Years a Slave,” but it’s certainly in the mix.

The DGA is generally the best indicator for Best Picture contenders we have. Paradoxically, they don’t translate necessarily to the Director category at the Oscars (as we saw with last year’s wonderfully surprising Academy lineup), but only two films ever have won Best Picture without securing a DGA nomination. Then again, as we saw last year, such rules are made to be broken.

The takeaway? I’d call it a three-way dogfight between Cuarón, McQueen and Russell’s films. “12 Years a Slave” has taken the clear lead from the critics, but your guess is still as good as mine as to where the chips will ultimately fall from the guilds. We’ll have some diversionary fun from the Golden Globes ceremony this Sunday, then it’s back to the buzz-buzz grind with Oscar nominations a week from Thursday. Happy film-going!

The Daryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer (PGA)

  • American Hustle
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

WGA Nominations

Original Screenplay:

  • Woody Allen, “Blue Jasmine”
  • Craig Borten, Melisa Wallick, “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • Spike Jonze, “Her”
  • Bob Nelson, “Nebraska”
  • Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell, “American Hustle”

Adapted Screenplay:

  • Peter Berg, “Lone Survivor”
  • Tracy Letts, “August: Osage County”
  • Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, “Before Midnight”
  • Billy Ray, “Captain Phillips”
  • Terence Winter, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

DGA Nominations

  • Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
  • Paul Greengrass, “Captain Phillips”
  • Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
  • David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
  • Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
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