This week, each of the three major guilds announced their nominations for 2023. While the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) nominations were full of some big surprises, the Directors Guild (DGA) and Producers Guild (PGA) nominees didn’t stray from what was expected. “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” continued to show strength, while films like “The Color Purple” and “May December” had a rough week. With Oscar voting officially underway and less than two weeks until nominations are unveiled, how do these guild nominations impact the awards race?
“Oppenheimer,” “Barbie,” and “Killers of the Flower Moon” each scored PGA and DGA nominations, along with a SAG Ensemble nomination. If it wasn’t already apparent, these three are the biggest contenders for Best Picture, and their strength was solidified this week. While a surprise Supporting Actress nomination for America Ferrera would have been wonderful, “Barbie” scored the expected nominations for Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling at SAG. “Oppenheimer” also nabbed SAG nominations for Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr., and Emily Blunt—no sign of weakness for either film this week. “Killers of the Flower Moon,” on the other hand, scored SAG nominations for Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro, but Leonardo DiCaprio missed. Interestingly, the same fate befell De Niro for Scorsese’s last film, “The Irishman.” De Niro’s SAG miss in 2020 ended up a bellwether for the Oscars, where he also was overlooked. DiCaprio is undoubtedly in a precarious position, and if he misses a BAFTA nomination next week, as De Niro did in 2020, it will be challenging to predict him to score the Oscar nomination.
The other two DGA nominees, Alexander Payne for “The Holdovers” and Yorgos Lanthimos for “Poor Things,” also had solid weeks for their films, with each scoring PGA nominations alongside two SAG nominations. Fresh off their Golden Globe wins, Paul Giamatti and Da’Vine Joy Randolph received nominations for “The Holdovers,” while Supporting Actor hopeful Dominic Sessa was left off the list. However, that was always a bit of a long shot. “Poor Things” suffered a more interesting blow when Emma Stone and Willem Dafoe received nominations, but Mark Ruffalo was ousted. Between Dafoe and Ruffalo, Ruffalo has been showing the greater strength this season, scoring a win from the National Board of Review and a CCA nomination where Dafoe did not. While this might seem like a battle for one of them to score a nomination, the Academy has nominated two actors from a single film in Best Supporting Actor for four years, which has never happened before. It seems incredibly likely that the Academy would refrain from choosing between the two and simply nominate both Dafoe and Ruffalo.
While both “The Holdovers” and “Poor Things” suffered a bit by missing SAG Ensemble, considering both have been floated as potential spoilers to win Best Picture, yet again, the simplest answer is likely the correct one: they’re beloved films that will score many Oscar nominations but don’t have a precise shot at winning Best Picture. Since 2017, three films have won Best Picture without a SAG nomination (“The Shape of Water,” “Green Book,” and “Nomadland“), but “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” are so far out in front that this doesn’t seem like a complicated miss.
Though “Maestro” and “Past Lives” were, at one time, seen as top five contenders in Best Picture, they had mixed results at the guilds. Both received PGA nominations as expected, but neither received DGA nominations for Best Feature. Celine Song did snag a DGA nomination for Best First-Time Feature, though, which she’ll likely win. “Maestro” scored nominations for Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan, while “Past Lives” didn’t receive a single SAG nomination. Greta Lee really needed the boost from SAG, so that miss hurts.
Rounding out SAG Ensemble were “American Fiction” and “The Color Purple.” As expected, Cord Jefferson scored a DGA First-Time Feature nomination, and “American Fiction” landed a PGA nomination. While Jeffrey Wright has been a bit on the bubble as a contender, he landed a SAG nomination for Best Actor. Even more surprising was Sterling K. Brown landing a Best Supporting Actor nomination. This was a strong showing for a film that needed the support. Earlier in the season, its fate was a bit unclear. Now, the Best Picture nomination is undeniable, while Wright seems as strong as ever. However, Brown’s nomination is unlikely to repeat at the Oscars, but it’s still a good boost.
SAG Ensemble nomination aside, “The Color Purple” had a lousy showing with the guilds. Danielle Brooks was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, but Fantasia missed Best Actress. More damningly, the movie failed to get a PGA nomination. PGA was always going to be the guild most friendly to “The Color Purple,” as they tend to nominate big studio pictures that make money, and with big names like Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg listed as producers, it should have gotten in. Things are not looking good for the film outside of craft categories and Best Supporting Actress.
But “May December” suffered an even worse week, not scoring a single nomination at any of these three guilds. While Julianne Moore was always a bubble contender, Charles Melton’s snub is difficult to rationalize. Will he miss it altogether? The competition is fierce, and “May December” appears to have been championed more by critics than the industry. If Moore is out, who is receiving that last spot in Supporting Actress? Penelope Cruz got in at SAG, Rosamund Pike was in at the Golden Globes, and Ferrera is in at CCA. But what if the surprise nomination of the morning is a double nomination for Sandra Hüller? She’s widely presumed to get a Best Actress nomination for “Anatomy of a Fall,” despite the SAG snub. However, with “The Zone of Interest” on the rise and a spot in the category in flux, a double nomination doesn’t seem too crazy.
Of the three guilds, PGA held the biggest surprise of the week. Typically, PGA will nominate a few unsuspecting contenders, often studio blockbusters or successful comedies. Instead, they showed a more international flair, nominating both “Anatomy of a Fall” and “The Zone of Interest” rather than studio fare. The Guild rarely nominates non-English language films and has never nominated two in the same year. By not including any surprising blockbusters, or even something like “The Color Purple,” this PGA lineup matches the ten films most widely predicted to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.
The PGA lineup has only matched the Academy Award Best Picture nominees three times, in 1992, 1993, and 1994. It feels bizarre to predict a ten-for-ten matchup. While the Academy could always throw a curveball, there aren’t logical arguments to predict it. Could “The Color Purple” or “All of Us Strangers” appear? It’s possible, but “Anatomy of a Fall” and “The Zone of Interest” showed too much strength to argue for them to miss the Best Picture nomination. At this point, any Best Picture predictions outside of this PGA ten would be “no guts, no glory” picks, not arguments based on logic.
In Best Director, Nolan, Scorsese, and Lanthimos seem solidly locked for Best Director nominations. While Glazer missed DGA, the Academy routinely nominated a non-English language film in Best Director, and with a directorial feat like “The Zone of Interest,” it’s difficult to imagine him missing. So what about the last spot?
DGA nominees Gerwig and Payne are strong contenders, though the Directors’ branch is especially reluctant to nominate comedies. A more compelling case for the last directing spot is Justine Triet. “Anatomy of a Fall” has shown undeniable strength around town, winning two Golden Globes and a surprising PGA nomination. While Gerwig scored the DGA nomination, the more serious directors’ branch may opt for the more serious picture, picking Triet instead. It’s a genuinely challenging choice between these two for the final spot. Payne could still show up, but I find it difficult to imagine having an all-male directing lineup in this of all years when there are so many good female-directed films with such exposure. It’s a competitive year, with races going in all sorts of directions, but the Oscar race is becoming clearer as we inch closer to nominations.
What was the most surprising nomination from the three guilds? How did you adjust your nominations? Are you going to predict the same PGA lineup for the Oscars? Let us know in the comments below or over on our Twitter account.