Last year I referred to this same weekend as “D-Day Weekend” – the weekend of the Producers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild award ceremonies. After the season seemed to be all about Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, up came American Hustle from the outside, and it looked like we had a three-horse race. So naturally, one would assume, once we hear from two out of the three major industry guilds, the mud would clear. Of course, there was no such luck, since Hustle took SAG and Gravity and 12 Years tied at PGA, soooo…nothing was resolved by the end of the weekend. Great for the season, frustrating for the punditry (but that’s kind of great, too).
As PGA and SAG weekend once again nears, I sense largely the same kind of non-movement in terms of the race ahead – although this season seems far more certain than last …
As PGA and SAG weekend once again nears, I sense largely the same kind of non-movement in terms of the race ahead – although this season seems far more certain than last, so the lack of movement will serve more as confirmation. There are 10 films nominated for the PGA’s big prize, the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures (i.e. Best Picture). Seven of those 10 are also Best Picture nominees for Oscar (sorry again, Selma). I don’t think there’s any doubt that Boyhood will win, given the overwhelming industry reception for its challenge and experimental nature and coordinating of a production for over a decade. To put it in those terms, in my mind that makes the film more of a shoo-in for the PGA award than even the Best Picture Oscar.
The SAG lineup is moderately more interesting. Not only are there more categories and therefore more possibilities, but there is a certain degree of uncertainty about the outcome – not so much in the individual acting awards, since those are nearly as locked in as they are every year, but in SAG’s equivalent of Best Picture, Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Since ensemble acting is at the center of the award, there is a chance that Boyhood could lose out to a film like Birdman, wherein a large cast of famous actors are ACTING in all caps. Or then again, SAG doesn’t always just opt for the film with the most acting, so they may align for Boyhood anyway. Whatever the case, there are two very viable options that will result in some tension at the end of Sunday’s ceremony. Everything else seems like a foregone conclusion – Julianne Moore for Lead Actress, Patricia Arquette for Supporting Actress, and J.K. Simmons for Supporting Actor. There will be some potential movement in the Lead Actor category, where Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne will square off for the first time with an award of consequence on the line. I’m still banking on Keaton for the win, which would emboss his frontrunner status in gold as we inch closer to Oscar night.
We won’t really have any indication about that until anonymous voter interviews are conducted in the coming weeks, and we won’t have any true confirmation until Oscar night.
Of course, what’s difficult to gauge at this point is the inclusion of another option, namely American Sniper. Eastwood’s polarizing film did earn a PGA nomination, though voting ended in advance of its box office blitzkrieg and ensuing ideological controversy. If the film were to pull off a surprise PGA win, we wouldn’t have the box office to blame, and so we’d know the film, independent of any audience popularity or media sensation, is much stronger than we could have ever anticipated. As for SAG, the film isn’t nominated in any category, so we can’t take the temperature on the industry’s feelings about Bradley Cooper’s lead performance. We won’t really have any indication about that until anonymous voter interviews are conducted in the coming weeks, and we won’t have any true confirmation until Oscar night.
In essence, this weekend’s guild prizes stand a solid chance of shaping our understanding of industry leanings going forward, certainly moreso than last year. On the other hand, the only film with enough forward momentum to alter the Oscar race in a tangible way isn’t even a viable contender for this weekend’s prizes, so even if the PGA and SAG winners appear to solidify our assumptions, there is that pesky outlier that can’t be legitimately accounted for until later on. So, as ever, it’s simultaneously a guessing game and a waiting game…
Or hey, Jennifer Aniston could win SAG’s Lead Actress for Cake and Gone Girl could win PGA. That would be hilarious, wouldn’t it?