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Guilds, Guilds, Guilds Galore!

January 8, 2013 Leave a comment

sally_field_guild_awards_norma_rae

In the last several weeks, we’ve seen the top dogs of Hollywood’s guilds announce their nominations for best of the year. Nowadays, the precedent for any of these awards-giving bodies lining up with their equivalent Academy Award is virtually non-existant. However, they have always been the closest predictors of any precursor on the table. The Screen Actor’s Guild was the first to arrive with disappointments and surprises abound.

Undoubtedly, the guild elevated Nicole Kidman to a place of prominence in the Supporting field (simply a Golden Globe nomination could have been dismissible). Everything is pointing towards a nod, but I’m sticking with her just missing the cut for a surprise indy favorite in Ann Dowd from “Compliance”.

kinopoisk.ru

While the SAGs gave a boost to Kidman, they tied a cinderblock to perhaps my personal favorite performance of the year, none other than Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”, in an attempt to drown it in the deep end of the pool. No doubt this miss of a nomination is due to Phoenix’ lack (or even disdain) of a campaign. He still managed the Globe and BFCA noms, however, and I doubt that Bradley Cooper will be able to garner as many No 1. votes on the ballots to squeeze him past such a die hard performance. Either you love it or hate it, but ask Terrence Malick how that methodology worked out for him last year.

Here’s the list of SAG nomination, color-coated with whom I think will advance:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role 
Bradley Cooper – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis – “Lincoln”
John Hawkes – “The Sessions”
Denzel Washington – “Flight”
Hugh Jackman – “Les Miserables”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role 
Jessica Chastain – “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Helen Mirren – “Hitchcock”
Naomi Watts – “The Impossible”
Marion Cotillard – “Rust and Bone”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role 
Alan Arkin – “Argo”
Robert De Niro – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones – “Lincoln”
Javier Bardem – “Skyfall”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role 
Sally Field – “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway – “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt – “The Sessions”
Nicole Kidman – “The Paperboy”
Maggie Smith – “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

As far as the Producer’s Guild is concerned, things couldn’t have gone more predictably. Generally, this field has a penchant for box office fair, with the Hollywood big whigs patting each other on the back over who managed to secure the best profit even when making decent cinema. Therefore, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” with its minuscule budget and purebred independent production, showing up here is a bit surprising and more than a little admirable.

Daniel Craig

Meanwhile, I doubt that the mammoth monetary returns of the latest James Bond entry are the only reason for it’s appearance. “Skyfall” has been steadily gathering momentum since its release and a Best Picture nomination to follow would not be at all unexpected at this point. Given that it’s become a near lock for 4 nominations and a safe bet for 3 more, it may already be in the top tier in its total tally, so why not?

It’s really difficult to translate the PGA to Best Picture, given that one has a set amount of nominees, while the Oscars will be an unpredictable number between 5 and 10. Therefore, I’ve highlighted the definite locks and noted which films are surely on the bubble:

Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures
“Argo”
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Django Unchained”
“Les Misérables”
“Life of Pi”
“Lincoln”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Skyfall”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

As usual, the Writers Guild of America continued its inclusive, snobbish routine of listing all of the films that would not receive nominations based on the rules and regulations of the union and its membership. Some of the most prominent ineligibles include “”Django Unchained,” “Amour,” “Brave,” “Seven Psychopaths” and “The Intouchables” in in the original field, along with “Les Miserables,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and “Anna Karenina” absent from adapted.

Given that it actually did make the cut of qualifying films, “The Sessions” not showing up here is a major blow. It will have a hard time eking in a nod competing against a wider field on Thursday. “The Master” finally scored an important guild mention here after being largely shut out everywhere else. Will it be booted by QT’s “Django” in a few days. I severely pray not.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Bruce Willis

A joy to see on this list is definitely Rian Johnson’s mind-blowing sci fi action film “Looper,” which has risen from a financially unappreciated flop to a legitimate awards contender. Hopefully, it hold its ground for Oscar.

Here’s the two categories and my perspective:

Best Adapted Screenplay:
“Argo”
“Life of Pi”
“Lincoln”
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
“Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Original Screenplay:
“Flight”
“Looper”
“The Master”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

Finally, we come to the newly announced Directors Guild nominations, which, for the first time, were released after the close of Oscar balloting. Whether this proves a massive difference from other years will surely determine how much of an influence these nominations have on the hearts and minds of Oscar voters.

life_of_pi_directors_guild

Not a lot of surprises abound in this group of five. There were some who believed (and maybe a few who hoped, myself included) that “Life of Pi” had gone quiet in the final stretch of campaigning, leaving the coveted final spot for “Silver Linings Playbook” helmer David O’Russell. However, with nods from the PGA, WGA and now the DGA, it’s full steam ahead for this cartoonish storybook epic. Ang Lee is such a legend in this day and age that there might never have been a question about it.

I’m predicting a five-for-five line-up here, but would be thrilled to see either P.T. Anderson (“The Master”) or Michael Haneke (“Amour”) make surprise coups.

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film:
Ben Affleck, “Argo
Tom Hooper, “Les Misérables”
Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Stay tuned for my final Oscar predictions tomorrow evening. At this state in the race, it’s every man for himself until curtain call. Don’t be surprised if even what I’ve said above changes in the next 24 hours.

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Writers Guild and MPSE Announce Winners

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Well, the weekend has wrapped and all but a few precursors remain. Yesterday’s winners continued to shed a bit of light on how things will go this Sunday, and, in some ways, made things a little more confusing.

The Writers Guild of America announced their 64th annual slate of winners early in the evening. As was overwhelmingly expected, Woody Allen was awarded Best Original Screenplay for his comeback film “Midnight in Paris.” While some believe that this makes him a lock for the Oscar win, he is actually far from it. Due to the WGA’s wacky (and absurd, if you ask me) eligibility guidelines, many films did not even qualify for the nominations. One such film is Best Picture frontrunner “The Artist,” and to be quite honest, said film still has a tremendous chance of stealing that award away. I’d say the money is still on “Paris,” since it has managed to beat out its competition, thus far (except for the BAFTA). Yet, one should never underestimate the power of a film’s sweeping potential. Screenplay might just get caught up in the hurricane.

Adapted Screenplay was a bit of a depressing moment for me, last night. “The Descendants” expectantly won the award for writers Alexander Payne, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon. Put together with the Scripter, this easily makes it the leading contender for the Oscar equivalent. Truly sad, if you ask me. “Descendants” is a great script, hurt, mind you, by a uneven and largely expositional voiceover. However, the obvious and true winner of this award has been discarded. Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian, undoubtedly crafted the best screenplay of the year, and as of now, will probably not see their work awarded. I can only hope for a 2009-esque upset, when “Precious” defied all logic to beat “Up in the Air” (ironically also starring George Clooney). Don’t count on it, though.

The second and final awards ceremony of the night was the Motion Picture Sound Editors. Many of Oscar’s Sound Editing nominees had several mentions, here, making these awards a useful barometer. The winners went down as follows:

  • BEST SOUND EFFECTS AND FOLEY IN A FEATURE FILM: “War Horse”
  • BEST MUSIC IN A FEATURE FILM: “Hugo”
  • BEST SOUND EDITING IN AN ANIMATION FEATURE FILM: “The Adventures of Tintin”
  • BEST MUSIC IN A MUSICAL FEATURE FILM: “The Muppets”
  • BEST SOUND EDITING IN A FEATURE FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “The Flowers of War”
  • BEST SOUND EDITING IN A FEATURE DOCUMENTARY: “George Harrison: Living in the Material World”
  • BEST DIALOGUE AND ADR IN A FEATURE FILM: “Super 8″

Of the winners, two films also share an Oscar nomination: “Hugo” and “War Horse,” and we can pretty much bet that this category will go to one or the other. Since “Hugo” will probably take Sound Mixing (given its Cinema Audio Society victory, two nights ago), it is very possible it might take both categories in a sweep. Yet, I believe I’ll have to go with “War Horse” for a multitude of reasons.

First off, it took home the night’s big prize, Sound Effects and Foley, the award that most gravitates to the Oscar equivalent (“Inception,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Letters from Iwo Jima” all films that won both the MPSE and Oscar). Also, it is impossible to deny the insane popularity of Gary Rydstrom and Richard Hymns, with a combined ten Oscars between them. The last time they collaborated with Spielberg on a straight-up war film (“Saving Private Ryan”) they definitely do too shabby, either.

Everything else aside, there’s one glaring ideology pointing towards a “War Horse” victory. If “Hugo” were to win Best Sound Editing, it would be the first live action film without any gunfire to do so since “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” in 2002. If you take swordplay out of the equation, it goes back a lot further than that. With all things considered, this award leans towards movie action, and virtually always has. All of these factors, combined, point to not only a possible, but likely “War Horse” victory.

The sand is running out of the hourglass and only a few precursors to go. Tomorrow night is the Costume Designers Guild, where “The Artist,” “Bridesmaids” and “Harry Potter” appear to be likely winners. Then, the season is capped off by the Independent Spirit Awards less than twenty-four hours before the red carpet roles out. I’ll keep you posted.

The ACE, CAS and Scripter…Oh, my!

February 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Seven days left, folks. It’s the deep breath before the plunge. The last of the ballots are being finalized and pundits are making their final predictions. And while most of the race seems like a done deal, sealed and locked, there’s always the chance of a few upsets around the bend.

Aside from what I already mentioned, another event occurring in this final week is the rush for precursors to get their awards out before last call of the year. This weekend is a hornets nest of accolades being dished out almost faster than I can report them. While the Writers Guild is set to announce tonight, the other major screenplay award declared its winner yesterday evening. The USC Library Scripter, awarded each year to the finest example of adapting a film from another medium, went to Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash and novelist Kaui Hart Hemmings for “The Descendants.” Not at all a surprise, given the quality of the work. Personally I was predicting “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” to take this down. Also, the Scripter has absolutely no affiliation with the Academy or any other guild, so aside from common taste, this win has no impact on the Oscar outcome.

While “The Descendants” winning the Scripter was fairly expected, what was not was it’s simultaneous win with the American Cinema Editors. Forgive me, but this has to be one of the more outrageous and, more or less, absurd victories of the year. Going up against “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Hugo,” “War Horse” and, for god’s sake, “Moneyball,” the actual winner was the least deserving of any of the dramatic nominees. It’s the only film in which the editing really adds no level of complexity or character. I really have no idea what this group was thinking. In the musical/comedy category, “The Artist” very expectantly took home the prize. Originally, this award seemed like a tight race between said frontrunner and either “Hugo” or “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Yet, with this turn of events, it seems as though “The Artist” has a huge advantage next weekend. Add it to the pile.

The final award issued last night was the Cinema Audio Society, the guild equivalent of the Best Sound Mixing Oscar. As was largely expected, “Hugo” took this award home. This year presented a fairly odd situation, with the CAS and Oscar nominees only lining up 2/5 (only the second time in the CAS’ existence that their opinions differed so radically). However, going with statistics, NEVER since the formation of the CAS has a film won Best Sound Mixing without even being nominated by the guild. That would leave “Moneyball” and “Hugo.” With the latter winning the support from the guild, it has more than confirmed its frontrunner status. In fact a sweep of both sound categories is becoming more and more likely, but we’ll wait on the Motion Picture Sound Editors to announce, tonight.

With the WGA hours away, weighing extremely on the adapted screenplay field, I’ll make a prediction. However, my choice is definitely a lot more wishful thinking than common sense. If “Moneyball” takes this award down, it will reassert itself at the head of the pack (making me one happy pundit), although “The Descendants” is a steep wall to climb and the odds are definitely in its corner. I’ll stick with my favorite horse, though, but whatever wins here, will likely go on to Oscar gold.

Interestingly, while the adapted field will likely be decided tonight, the WGA’s Best Original Screenplay award will have little to no impact on the Oscar’s equivalent, barring any unforeseen upset. “Midnight in Paris” will likely take this award in a walk, but still move on to a dogfight next Sunday. That’s because the film’s stiffest opposition will not even be competing tonight. “The Artist,” which has basically become either the frontrunner or a threat in all of its categories, fell victim to the WGA’s strict eligibility rules. Therefore, even if Woody the Great is the winner tonight, “The Artist” just might be the odds-on favorite in seven days. It will be one of the night’s closest races for sure.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for updates from tonight’s awards, as well as the announcement of the 2nd Annual Edgy nominations. It’s about to get interesting.

Writers Guild of America Nominations Announced

January 5, 2012 Leave a comment

And the guilds keep rolling in. Now, when it comes to Oscar, one cannot hold the WGA up to the same predictive powers as, say, the SAG or the PGA. This is not because the voting bodies don’t match up very well, because they do. It’s because of the Writers Guild annual list of discriminatory ineligibility standards. This year, a number of very promising scripts have been cast by the wayside. The potential frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay “The Artist” will not be found here, along with “Shame,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Beginners,” and “Margin Call” (among many others). In adapted, “Carnage,” “My Week with Marilyn,” “Drive” and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” are SOL. I don’t mind saying every year that the WGA needs to stop shunning great writers just because they don’t pay their annual dues. With that, on to who does.

If you take a good look at that ineligible list above, you will notice that Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” is not there. That’s right, it missed out on this nom out of sheer lack of votes. This is the second guild in a row to snub the film, and yet, I still do not believe it’s Best Picture chances have been tarnished. What has, however, been taken down a notch is George Clooney’s “The Ides of March,” which got a bit of a boost with Tuesday’s PGA nominations, but really could have used this one, as well. If the man, himself, doesn’t grab a DGA nod on Monday, I’d consider “Ides” to be down and out.

So enough of what’s been missing guilds and on to what’s been racking them in. Out of all the movies from this year, only two have nailed nominations in each of the four guilds, thus far: “The Help” and…that’s right…”Bridesmaids.” Chew on that for a bit, and begin to accept the film’s Best Picture chances. I’m still not sold, but am certainly entertaining the idea. However, a film enjoying perhaps an even better week is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and I could not be more pleased. Granted Steven Zallian’s script may be ousted by one of the ineligibles in a couple of weeks, this makes 3 out of 4 guild nominations (and let’s be real, an Ensemble Cast nomination was never really in the cards, given the film’s dynamic). If David Fincher is able to score his second straight DGA nomination, it will be difficult to deny this fantastic film’s chances.

One final note. Congratulations to Zallian and Sorkin for writing the BEST screenplay of the year. Hands down.

Well, I’ll let the nominees do the rest of the talking, themselves. Check them out:

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“The Descendants” by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Steven Zallian
“The Help” by Tate Taylor
“Hugo” by John Logan
“Moneyball” by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“50/50” by Will Reiser
“Bridesmaids” by Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig
“Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen
“Win Win” by Tom McCarthy
“Young Adult” by Diablo Cody

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Better this World” by Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega
“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” by Marshall Curry and Matthew Hamachek
“Nostalgia for the Light” by Patricio Guzman
“Pina” by Wim Wenders
“Position Among the Stars” by Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich and Leonard Retel Helmrich
“Senna” by Manish Pandey

Does “The Social Network” Still Have a Chance?

February 5, 2011 Leave a comment

I recently read an article written by Steve Pond over at The Wrap, who is in the same boat as 95% of awards pundits in believing that this race is pretty much called for “The King’s Speech.” However, he outlines that there still are some outs left for “The Social Network,” particularly if it changes and ups its campaign in these last few weeks.

The film is having a great weekend, having won the USC Scripter Award last night and all but locked to win the WGA award for Best Adapted Screenplay tonight. What’s better for it is that since “The King’s Speech” wasn’t eligible for the WGA awards (even though its the best bet to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay), it will be a weekend in which “The King’s Speech” will actually be out of the news.

Pond’s article makes some good points. I’ve highlighted a small section of it below where he discusses how “The Social Network” might have a shot in the balloting:

“The question that’ll face “The Social Network” on Sunday morning is whether it can capitalize on the small shot of momentum that comes from a pair of expected victories – and if so, how.

Columnists have been offering scenarios in recent days, ranging from S.T. Van Airsdale’s suggestion that David Fincher show that he actually wants the award to John Lopez’s theorythat the preferential system of ballot-counting – in which a film can win if it picks up enough number two and three votes from movies that are eliminated from contention – will help a critical favorite like “TSN.”

In fact, I’d guess that the preferential count will help “TKS” or even “The Fighter” or “Toy Story 3” more than “TSN.” The question to ask: among voters whose first choices are “Winter’s Bone,” “127 Hours,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “Inception” and “True Grit,” which film is likely to be ranked second? If the majority of those voters go for “Social Network,” it can pull off an upset; if they split their votes or rally behind something else, the Facebook flick is in trouble.”

You can read the full article here. And here’s to holding out hope:

Writers Guild of America Announces Nominees

January 4, 2011 2 comments

And the hits just keep on coming. No more than three hours after the producers have their say in the awards season, the writers fire back. It is once again important to emphasize that the WGA had a list of ineligible, and yet highly contending, films that are very likely to oust some of these from the Oscar nominations. Yet, for now, all I want to do is bask in the glory of what will be, perhaps, “I Love You Phillip Morris”‘ only decent mention for the rest of the year…and it’s not even in recognition of Jim Carrey. I’ll take what I can get.

Here is the full list of nominees, with the ineligible titles for each category that might have put a fly in the ointment:

Adapted Screenplay
“127 Hours”
“I Love You Phillip Morris”
“The Social Network”
“The Town”
“True Grit”

INELIGIBLE: “Toy Story 3,” “Winter’s Bone,” “The Ghost Writer,” “Never Let Me Go,” “Love and Other Drugs,” “The Way Back”

Original Screenplay
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“Inception”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“Please Give”

INELIGIBLE: “The King’s Speech,” “Another Year,” “Blue Valentine,” “Biutiful,” “Made in Dagenham”

Documentary Screenplay
“Enemies of the People”
“Freedom Riders”
“Gasland”
“Inside Job”
“The Two Escobars”
“Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?

One almost wonders if the WGA deliberately leaves those films off of the market to help liven up the race a little bit, because, for sure these are some interesting choices. The winners, in my mind, are pretty obvious. “The Social Network” will absolutely sweep the vote for Best Adapted Screenplay and pretty much go on to sweep the Oscar, as well. Nothing else has even a hair of a chance.

Best Original Screenplay will most likely go to “The Kids Are All Right.” It’s the only truly writing-driven piece in the whole lot. Perhaps “Inception,” may give it a run for its money if they really want a chance to honor Christopher Nolan, but I doubt it. Once the Oscars come around, however, it will be a real shoot-out between the above mentioned winner and “The King’s Speech.” Oscar, on the other hand, seems to have a true penchant for quirk when it comes to their Original Screenplay award so it would seem difficult to ignore Lisa Cholodenko’s film.

Producers and Writers Guild Preview

January 2, 2011 1 comment

Two more of the four major guilds will be announcing on Tuesday: the Producers Guild and the Writers Guild. It’s quite obvious that the WGA awards are related to the Oscars for Best Original and Adapted Screenplays, while the Producers’ award is the union equivalent of Best Picture.

For those who are unfamiliar with the whole precursor process, the guilds are the closest tool to predicting the Oscars for they make up the largest crossover of voting members. Both the guilds and the Oscars are made up of members of the film industry, itself, though the Academy is obviously more selective. The critics and the Golden Globes can confirm what are probably thought to be the best films of the year, however, only the guilds can be an accurate barometer of what the Academy will be thinking.

This is especially true, usually, for the Producers Guild. Last year, the PGA lined up with the Academy Award for Best Picture 8 for 10, missing “The Blind Side” and “A Serious Man.” Every year since 2004, they have matched up 4 for 5. While there’s no real process for predicting the Producers Guild, they do sometimes have a penchant for blockbusters with a brain, especially ones that perform better than expected. Therefore, I would be fast to predict “How to Train Your Dragon,” were it not for their Best Animated Feature category, which I don’t think it will be able to escape from.

Therefore, I believe these will be the nominees:

1. “The Social Network”
2. “Toy Story 3”
3. “Inception”
4. “The Fighter”
5. “The King’s Speech”
6. “Black Swan”
7. “True Grit”
8. “The Kids Are All Right”
9. “127 Hours”
10. “The Town”

I obviously want to predict “Winter’s Bone,” however, I’m afraid that it is too independent for the PGA’s taste. I hope that I am proven wrong and it ousts “The Town” from the line-up. Other alternates include “Shutter Island” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part I.”

The Writers Guild of America is a little bit tricker to predict due to their annual, well-publicized list of ineligible films. For instance, last year, four of the main contenders and eventual nominees for screenplay nominations were ineligible for the WGA. They included “An Education,” “District 9,” “In the Loop” and, a close contender for the win, “Inglourious Basterds.” When so many films with great chances to not only get nominated, but rather win the eventual Oscar, it is difficult to predict these based on what to expect from the Academy.

This year, the list of ineligible films include: “The King’s Speech,” “Another Year,” “Blue Valentine,” “Biutiful” and “Made in Dagenham” in original; “Toy Story 3,” “Winter’s Bone,” “The Ghost Writer,” “Never Let Me Go” and “The Way Back” in adapted. While not all of these are locks for Oscar nominations, some of them are, as well as being big contenders for the win.

Having whittled down the selection, I believe the WGA nominations will look like this:

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1. “The Kids Are All Right”
2. “Inception”
3. “Black Swan”
4. “The Fighter”
5. “Please Give”
Alt: “Greenberg”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
1. “The Social Network”
2. “True Grit”
3. “127 Hours”
4. “Rabbit Hole”
5. “The Town”
Alt: “Fair Game”

I personally believe that the eventual winners of the screenplay Oscars are, in fact, still eligible for the WGA, as well. An interesting piece of information, and quite bad news for films like “Toy Story 3” and “The King’s Speech” is that a film hasn’t won Best Picture and not been a WGA-eligible film since “Gladiator” won in 2000.

Check back to The Edge of the Frame on Tuesday for the official PGA and WGA nominations and we’ll see how close our predictions are.