Tuesday, December 5, 2023

What The PGA, DGA & SAG Award Winners Tell Us About This Year’s Oscar Race

Three of the four major guild awards are in the books for this year, and they all have a clear consensus. “Everything Everywhere All At Once” won top prizes at the Producer’s and Director’s Guild, along with shattering records at the Screen Actor’s Guild. The industry has spoken loud and clear. Even so, these guilds impact many categories at the Oscars, and there’s still lots up in the air as we head towards the beginning of Oscar voting on March 2nd. With the 95th Academy Awards less than two weeks away, let’s break down all these developments to see how the Oscar race has been impacted.

BEST PICTURE

Undoubtedly, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is the clear frontrunner for Best Picture, and there’s not even a close second. Only one film has ever won top prizes at DGA and PGA, along with SAG Ensemble, and lost the Oscar for Best Picture: “Apollo 13,” the first year SAG Ensemble was awarded. Since then, eight films have won those three prizes, and all won Best Picture at the Oscars. With the voting opening this week, is there any reason to doubt that “Everything Everywhere All At Once” will be the ninth film to do this? If so, what would be the challenger?

The Fabelmans” seemed like it could be the challenger initially, winning the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, Drama. Of course, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” was competing in the Best Musical/Comedy category, so “The Fabelmans” didn’t have to compete against it. Otherwise, Steven Spielberg’s latest film has yet to win any significant top prizes this season besides the TIFF People’s Choice Award.

The Banshees Of Inisherin” seemed assured to win Best Picture on home turf at BAFTA, but instead lost to Netflix’s “All Quiet On The Western Front.” If “Top Gun: Maverick” had any legitimate shot at winning Best Picture, surely it would’ve won at PGA, perhaps the most logical place for it to win. Yet “Everything Everywhere All At Once” still came out on top, shutting down the naysayers who held firm that it wouldn’t win on the preferential ballot.

In years when an apparent frontrunner ended up losing Best Picture, it was because of a last-minute surge from a contender with passion behind it. “Parasite” won SAG and WGA and rode that excitement to the Best Picture win over DGA and PGA winner “1917.” “CODA” shockingly defeated frontrunner “The Power Of The Dog” at PGA, then SAG, WGA, and then won Best Picture. Even when “Moonlight” defeated “La La Land,” the musical missed a SAG Ensemble nomination entirely, and “Moonlight” at least had the Globe Drama and WGA Original Screenplay win over eventual Oscar winner “Manchester By The Sea” and “La La Land.” This year, no logical runner-up has built up the passion for surpassing the incredible run of “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” If it somehow loses, it would be one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Academy Awards. To put it plainly, the 11-time Oscar-nominated A24 film will win Best Picture.

BEST DIRECTOR

In the previous 74 years of the Directors Guild of America Awards, only eight DGA winners went on to lose Best Director at the Oscars. In three of those cases (Ben Affleck in 2012, Ron Howard in 1995, and Steven Spielberg in 1985), the DGA winner had been snubbed for a Best Director nomination at the Oscars. In the other five cases, the film that defeated the DGA winner either won Best Picture, an acting Oscar, or both. “Life Of Pi” is the only non-DGA winning film to win Best Director at the Oscars without winning Best Picture or an acting Oscar. And even so, the DGA winner, Ben Affleck, wasn’t nominated for the eventual Best Picture winner, “Argo.”

Most recently, Sam Mendes won the DGA Award for “1917” but lost the Best Director Oscar to Bong Joon-ho for “Parasite.” That year, Mendes was the seemingly logical choice, the previous Oscar winner and experienced industry favorite with a hit studio film. Bong Joon-ho was the apparent outsider but with a film that generated much more passion. Interestingly, one might’ve expected Spielberg to win most of the Best Director prizes from the industry for “The Fabelmans,” much like Mendes, and maybe face the threat of the Daniels winning the Oscar based on the passion for their film. Instead, with the amount of precursor wins they have accumulated and the DGA win, the season has crowned Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert as the victors for Best Director.

If Spielberg couldn’t win at DGA, there’s no reason to think he could surprise at the Oscars. Perhaps if there was more passion around “The Fabelmans,” it might make sense for him to prevail as a surprise, but the film doesn’t appear in good shape to win any Oscars at all. It’s not winning any acting Oscars and certainly not winning Best Picture. Kwan and Scheinert should feel confident heading into the Academy Awards.

THE ACTING CATEGORIES

With the acting categories, things become much less clear. No single actor has won at all of the major precursors (Golden Globes, SAG, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice) this year—no clean sweeps. BAFTA and SAG are the two most important precursors for the acting awards since they have significant membership overlap with the Academy. Shockingly, BAFTA and SAG had different winners in all four acting categories. Three of the four acting categories remain genuine toss-ups and may ultimately require going with your gut.

Ke Huy Quan is one of the lockiest locks of this entire awards race. Yes, he indeed lost the BAFTA to Barry Keoghan. Even so, with “Everything Everywhere All At Once” gunning for the Best Picture win, and after winning SAG, Golden Globe, and Critics’ Choice, there’s still no real reason to believe he’ll lose the Oscar. Keoghan is a rising star and will likely have another shot at winning an Oscar someday. For Ke Huy Quan, everyone wants to see him win, and he’ll do just that.

At SAG, Michelle Yeoh won Best Actress for “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” which was a big show of support from her fellow actors. She also won Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes. However, Cate Blanchett won at BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, and the Drama Golden Globe for “TÁR.” So, which one will you go with, the BAFTA winner or the SAG winner? In the case of Blanchett versus Yeoh, I’m personally giving the edge to Yeoh. Blanchett already has two Oscars and isn’t putting up much of a campaign, as she seems content with letting other ladies hold the spotlight. On the other hand, Yeoh stars as the inevitable Best Picture winner and would be only the second woman of color to win Best Actress. The passion for the film and support from SAG gives me the confidence to go with Yeoh to win. But again, this is a toss-up.

In Best Actor, Brendan Fraser won the SAG and Critics’ Choice Award for “The Whale,” defeating BAFTA and Golden Globe winner Austin Butler (“Elvis“). Fraser has the comeback narrative, scoring tons of viral support, even from people who don’t typically follow the awards race. It’s a compelling narrative, and every time Fraser takes the stage, it’s a reminder of how lovable the man is. He’s already outpaced other failed comeback narratives, like Mickey Rourke and Michael Keaton, neither of whom won at SAG. And yet, Butler’s film is so much more beloved. “The Whale” couldn’t get into Best Picture, while “Elvis” did, and is poised to win a few craft categories too. The Academy is a sucker for biopics, and Butler’s performance is front and center. Much like Best Actress, this race could go either way, but the disparity in reception for “The Whale” and “Elvis,” along with Butler’s BAFTA win, has me leaning toward Butler winning the Oscar.

Best Supporting Actress is even wilder, believe it or not. Jamie Lee Curtis won at SAG, Kerry Condon won at BAFTA, and Angela Bassett won at Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice. Despite having two high-profile wins, Bassett won with the two groups who have essentially zero Academy overlap. Though her speeches were phenomenal, and will undoubtedly help rally support, the industry push for Curtis and Condon places them in a better spot for the Oscar win. It’s incredibly unlikely that “Everything Everywhere All At Once” will win three acting Oscars. Only two films have achieved this feat: “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1951 and “Network” in 1976. That alone gives me great pause.

Additionally, this appears to be a wonderful place to recognize “The Banshees Of Inisherin.” Even for people who don’t like the film as much, Condon is a consistent spot of praise. Despite how much doubt I have, I’ll go with the BAFTA winner in this category. If Best Actress and Best Actor are toss-ups, this one’s a wild card where any of these three ladies can win. It wouldn’t be out of the question for Condon, Curtis, or Bassett to snag the gold, but I’m ultimately going with Condon.

As this awards season nears its end, Best Picture and Director may be crystal clear, but many more categories, like Best Original and Adapted Screenplay, hang in the balance. There’s lots of time left for hand-wringing and overthinking. These acting categories will give Oscar prognosticators headaches for the next two weeks as we all throw out various statistics to support our arguments. It’ll be a photo finish in the acting races and one of the more thrilling and surprising awards seasons in ages.

What did you think of the PGA, DGA, and SAG winners? How did this change your Oscar predictions? Do you think anything can beat “Everything Everywhere All At Once?” Please let us know in the comments below or on our Twitter account. Be sure to listen to our immediate reactions to the show on the Next Best Picture Podcast here and check out our latest Oscar predictions here.

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Daniel Howat
Daniel Howathttps://nextbestpicture.com
Movie and awards season obsessed. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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