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Oscars: 5 Things Learned From The SAG & PGA Results This Weekend

Awards
by Oliver Lyttelton
January 28, 2013 12:44 PM
14 Comments
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Still, Best Actress is still wide open
Unlike Best Actor or Supporting Actress, Best Actress seems to get more competitive over time this year, not less. Jessica Chastain has had the biggest head of steam of late, but it's not a showy performance, and the extensive PR campaign against "Zero Dark Thirty" has potentially damaged it in the eyes of Academy voters. And so Jennifer Lawrence stepped up, with a busy few weeks including a funny Golden Globes speech and a hosting gig on SNL, both of which have kept her in the spotlight. Despite being only 22, her nomination two years ago means she's a viable candidate to take the prize, and she's certainly a figurehead for the well-liked "Silver Linings Playbook" in a way that Cooper or Robert De Niro aren't. But it's far from a two-horse race, and in fact, Naomi Watts is probably the only nominee who doesn't stand a chance at winning. Neither Quvenzhane Wallis or Emmanuelle Riva were SAG nominees (the former was ineligible, the latter missed the cut), but it's conceivable to see either winning. There's still some degree of debate of whether Wallis, only 6 when she shot the film, is giving a performance or being cleverly directed (the former, we'd argue), but the film's popular, and Wallis is plenty adorable. Meanwhile, Riva, as the oldest nominee in the category's history, has a narrative to match her 70-years-younger co-star (indeed, she'll celebrate her birthday on the day of the Oscar ceremony), and has clearly been striking a chord with Academy voters. Chastain and Lawrence are sure to have nominations for years and years to come, but this is likely to be the Academy's last chance to honor Riva. So while Chastain and Lawrence are getting the lion's share of the attention, Riva still has a very decent chance of sneaking in for the win.

Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln"
Tommy Lee Jones probably has the edge in Supporting Actor, but it's still competitive
For the last five years, there have been few surprises in the Supporting Actor category -- Javier Bardem, Heath Ledger, Christoph Waltz, Christian Bale and Christopher Plummer all dominated the precursor awards, and were anointed months before Oscar night. This year, it couldn't be further from the truth, with another wide-open field, but the SAGs did at least indicate what we've suspected for a while, that "Lincoln" star Tommy Lee Jones is in the lead here. As the most emotional and passionate element of an otherwise cool-headed film, he's the obvious choice, and it's close to twenty years since the actor last won an Oscar, and it would certainly be more deserved here than for his previous victory for "The Fugitive." That said, the competition is tough. Robert De Niro also has his first nomination in two decades, and "Silver Linings Playbook" love, and gratitude for his turn away from paycheck fare, may see him be awarded. Alan Arkin is always a popular vote, and could repeat his 2006 upset. And despite Christoph Waltz's "Django Unchained" performance essentially being a benevolent reprise of his winning performance from "Inglourious Basterds," he did as well at the precursor awards as anyone else; clearly, people can't get enough of Tarantino's verbose dialogue coming from Waltz's mouth. Indeed, the one arguably least likely to win is by far the most deserving -- Philip Seymour Hoffman for "The Master" -- but even that isn't totally inconceivable. Interestingly, though, this is the first time in a while that the SAG have awarded the same film Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, and while it happened in 2004 for "Mystic River," that was the first film to do so in over forty years ("Ben Hur," which won for Charlton Heston and Hugh Griffith, was the one before). And let's not forget that no actor has ever won for a performance in a Steven Spielberg film. So there's a certain amount of history against Tommy Lee Jones picking up another Oscar.

Best Director is still wide open
Assuming "Argo" does win Best Picture -- and again, it's far from a foregone conclusion at this point -- the absence of Affleck from the Best Director nominees again makes it an unpredictable category. Benh Zeitlin's probably the least likely to win, given his status as a first-timer, but we're sure he'll be back. Comedy directors tend to not have much luck, but there's a growing sense that David O. Russell is due, and the popularity of "Silver Linings Playbook" could see it happen. The thought of Michael Haneke winning might be surprising when you think about it, but he's got a near-legendary reputation, and given that the film's already performing well with the Academy, it could yet happen. But the greater likelihood comes with two previous winners, who each won their last awards while missing out on Best Picture, in Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee. Both are as respected as any directors out there, and Spielberg would join William Wyler and Frank Capra as the only three-time winners (and be just behind John Ford, who holds the record with four). But would awarding them without their films feel like salt in the wound after "Saving Private Ryan" and "Brokeback Mountain"? Or would it be deserving recognition of impressive achievements? Unlike Zeitlin and Haneke, both are up for for the DGA, so if they take the prize, that may be the biggest indicator to date.

Your thoughts on the almost unpredictable Oscar race this year?
 

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14 Comments

  • Brad | January 29, 2013 2:19 AMReply

    How did Life of PI not do well with the guilds? It got noms from DGA, WGA, VES, ADG, MPSE, ACE, ASC and PGA. Plus don't forget all the BAFTA noms. This film could surprise people on Oscar night.

  • Brad | January 29, 2013 2:16 AMReply

    How did Life of PI not do well with the guilds? It got noms from DGA, WGA, VES, ADG, MPSE, ACE, ASC and PGA. Plus don't forget all the BAFTA noms. This film could surprise people on Oscar night.

  • Brad | January 29, 2013 2:16 AMReply

    How did Life of PI not do well with the guilds? It got noms from DGA, WGA, VES, ADG, MPSE, ACE, ASC and PGA. Plus don't forget all the BAFTA noms. This film could surprise people on Oscar night.

  • Brad | January 29, 2013 2:15 AMReply

    How did Life of PI not do well with the guilds? It got noms from DGA, WGA, VES, ADG, MPSE, ACE, ASC and PGA. Plus don't forget all the BAFTA noms. This film could surprise people on Oscar night.

  • Brad | January 29, 2013 2:13 AMReply

    How did Life of PI not do well with the guilds? It got noms from DGA, WGA, VES, ADG, MPSE, ACE, ASC and PGA. Plus don't forget all the BAFTA noms. This film could surprise people on Oscar night.

  • shdrew | January 28, 2013 10:20 PMReply

    " it would certainly be more deserved here than for his previous victory for "The Fugitive." " Seriously? TLJ was brilliant in The Fugitive! He created a unique character out of a stereotype. He was good in Lincoln, but that was a showy role. I'd really love to see Christoph Waltz get Supporting Actor (though he really should be in the Lead Actor category; he's in 3/4 of the film, for heaven's sake! DiCaprio and Jackson were the true supporting actors in Django and they were both brilliant, and they're both looooooooooong overdue to win an Oscar.)

  • seriously? | January 28, 2013 6:01 PMReply

    Can everyone please stop saying that Riva should get it just because "its her last chance". Her performance was incredibly moving and undeniably impressive; and is in a league above all the others. ESPECIALLY Lawrence. Look don't get me wrong, she was good in Silver Linings, but the role was hardly challenging itself. I seriously am baffled by all this utter amazement over her performance and Silver Linings in general actually. It was enjoyable, but groundbreaking? Seriously? Unfortunately I'm aware of the pulling power of PR (and funny gags apparently), and I fear another shocker decision like that of Witherspoon over Huffman. But I just wish for once the artist who really deserves it would win.

  • seriously? | January 28, 2013 5:55 PMReply

    Can everyone stop saying Riva should get it just because "its her last chance"? Her performance was incredibly moving and undeniably impressive, and is in league ahead of the others, ESPECIALLY Lawrence. I mean I can only come to the conclusion that these awards really are only about PR (and funny gags apparently), because she was really good in Silver Linings don't me wrong, but the role itself was hardly challenging. I don't get why at all its getting so much praise, it truly is baffling. Unfortunately the Oscars will probably pull another shocker and vote her over Riva just like they did with Witherspoon over Huffman.

  • 44 | January 28, 2013 4:48 PMReply

    "Naomi Watts is probably the only nominee who doesn't stand a chance at winning," yet a "Quvenzhane Wallis" win is as conceivable as an Emmanuelle Riva? Yeah, I'm gonna say the only actress with NO chance of winning is QW. The Academy liked Beasts a lot for whatever reason, and thus rewarded the film's star with a nod. They didn't like The Impossible, but admired Watts' performance. Watts won't win, but her odds are better than QW's, whose presence was assured by the best pic and best director nods (you can't recognize those reasonably without recognizing her, the picture's center). I'm surprised Wallis was nominated (as surprised as am that Zeitlin was), given that she scored so little award recognition with anyone save AMPAS (ditto him -- save Sundance). It is just their kind of slushy feel-good stuff with a serving of artful topicality, tho

  • jst | January 28, 2013 1:59 PMReply

    Amy Adams is not overdue to win an Oscar. I would say Glenn Close, Sigourney Weaver, and Michelle Pfeiffer.

  • Oogle monster | January 28, 2013 8:01 PM

    Actually, I would go with Julianne Moore. Sigourney and Michelle haven't had good roles in years and Glenn Close being nominated for Albert Nobbs was hilarious. Adams is overdue in the sense that she has been nominated 4 times and is arguably always the best in the category but for some reason doesn't have the same momentum as her competitors.

  • Leni | January 28, 2013 1:58 PMReply

    I disagree Glass. As much as I'd like to see SLP win, I think it's between Argo and Lincoln. Probably Lincoln will win as the boring but good drama - the old man pick.

  • BEF | January 28, 2013 1:54 PMReply

    Hey guys, simple math, Driving Miss Daisy's win was 23 years ago. Not 13.

  • Glass | January 28, 2013 1:07 PMReply

    The Academy lost their shit over Silver Linings, more than any other movie this year, and I'm confident in saying it'll win best picture. It's like knowing that Obama would beat Romney MONTHS away from election, but the people sweating every micro development of the race was like "mmm I don't think so, Romney mopped the floor with him on [some issue nobody remembers] during that first debate..."

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