By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 6, 2012 at 2:07PM
Gosh, wasn't it nice to have a break from all this awards malarkey over the Christmas break? It's three weeks since our last column, and until the start of this week, the guilds and critics awards had been quiet, with holiday season box office and the actual Oscar ballots going out had been the only real happenings. But things geared up again this week, with Tuesday's announcement of the Producers' Guild Awards nominations, yesterday's Writer's Guild nods, and the BAFTA longlist being announced today, and so here we are again. So how does all this week's news effect the races?
Ultimately, the BAFTA announcement is not terribly influential on anything. The group's decision to release longlists of fifteen names per category is a continually confusing one – it robs the actual awards nominations of any real surprise, and just goes to show the mediocre taste of the group, with strange names like Emma Watson, John Hurt, Alan Rickman, Kathy Bates and Zoe Wanamaker, who've barely figured into the conversation elsewhere, cropping up.
As expected, patriotism is a big factor, with "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and "My Week With Marilyn" leading the way with fourteen mentions, although both will drop to a more manageable level – 'Tinker' has five acting longlist places, while Marilyn has six, but only the films' leads have any chance at winning. "The Artist" once again continues its awards domination, with nods in nine separate categories, ahead of eight for the other films, and is probably the front-runner here, although 'Tinker,' which has been shut out of awards Stateside, has a good chance of winning the BAFTA too, although its Best Picture chances are long dead.
But otherwise, it's kind of a joke of a list, and shouldn't have much effect on the race as a whole. Only slightly more relevant are the WGA as the writer's guild disqualifies a large chunk of eligible scripts, so films like "The Artist," "Beginners," 'Tinker,' "Rango" and "Drive" were all shut out. Just as it didn't hurt "The King's Speech" last year, it doesn't harm "The Artist," which, if not quite a clear front-runner for Original Screenplay, has a solid chance of winning. Otherwise, Diablo Cody got a boost with the inclusion of "Young Adult," which hasn't been the lock that many thought it might be, while "Win Win" and "Contagion" got back in the conversation, and "50/50" continues to look like a good shout for a nomination.
Meanwhile, over in Adapted, there were fewer surprises, although "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" managed to sneak in while "War Horse" was snubbed. The WGA skew younger than the Academy, which makes it likelier that Spielberg's film will get back in, but don't be surprised if Steve Zaillian gets in for the Fincher pic as well as "Moneyball," while "The Ides of March" shouldn't be ruled out, although missing with the guild isn't a great sign. Either way, "The Descendants," "Hugo" and "Moneyball" are all virtually locked in, while "The Help" is pretty much there too.
But perhaps the biggest news, along with the film's PGA nomination, is "Bridesmaids." The film already had some momentum after the SAG and Globes nods, but picking up major nominations from two of the other big guilds means that Judd Apatow's baby has dominated the conversation this week, and for the first time, we're starting to contemplate the serious possibility of it getting a Best Picture nomination. In a year of ten nods, in fact, we'd argue that it would be nearly certain, although, with rules tweaked for 2012, we're not really expecting more than seven Best Picture nominations and we think it'll still miss out on big prize. But Original Sreenplay and Best Supporting Actress are stonger possibilities.
So yes, the PGA. For the most part, the usual suspects again (if you haven't noticed, things have started to be streamlined by this point in the season), though "The Tree of Life" was shut out (not an absolute shock) while "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and "The Ides of March" both made it in – both films, like "Bridesmaids," that we suspect are in the ten top possibilities, but likely to fall outside the actual nominations.
In any case, we're starting to enter the endgame. Oscar nominations are just over two weeks away, with the DGA being the last major group to announce on Monday, while the Critics Choice and Golden Globes ceremonies are creeping up, marking the progression from wondering who'll be nominated, to wondering who'll actually win. We'll be back again next week, and with ballots out, and nominations due soon, we'll be highlighting a few folk who've undeservedly fallen out of the conversation of late. If you have your favorites, comment below.
1. "The Artist" (1)
Not doing great guns at the box office, but it doesn't matter; the film's been taken to the hearts of Hollywood types. And, well, pretty much everyone else. If only we could find a way to get Uggie nominated.
2. "The Descendants" (2)
A pretty giant hit, closing on $50 million despite never having gone over 1,000 theaters. Should top "Up in the Air," but doesn't necessarily stand any more chance at Best Picture, even if it seems to be the less sentimental alternative for some voters to "The Artist."
3."The Help" (5)
Looking stronger and stronger as more and more films fall off, and it'll be by far the top grosser among the nominees, it's certainly locked in at this point, but it would take a real upset for it to beat out "The Artist," although some might think it more 'significant' than others films on the list. Like Stanley Kramer's ghost.
4. "Hugo" (3)
The box office was always going to be the question here, and it's not been great, but not totally embarassing, so the film hasn't been derailed. Indeed, Marty could be a real threat for Best Director; we have a feeling there could be a split in the category this year.
5. "War Horse" (4)
Box office is ok, but keeps being snubbed by things like the WGA and the Art Director's Guild. Should be fine for a nod, but looking unlikely to be the competition for "The Artist" that it once seemed.
6. "Moneyball" (6)
The thinking person's choice of a Best Picture nomination, it's the first one on the list that's not a mortal lock for a slot, but it's pretty much there; in fact, we wouldn't be surprised if it ended up with more first-choice votes than "War Horse" or even "The Help."
7. "Midnight in Paris" (9)
With Woody looking like a strong possibility for a director slot, this is solidifying its place. Having said that, can you imagine older voters picking this over "THe Artist" for their first-choice slot?
8. "The Tree of Life" (7)
And now we start to get outside those that we think will get nominated, and, away from the critic's awards excitement, buzz is dropping again on Terrence Malick's film; missing out with the PGA doesn't help. But may well have enough fervent supporters for it to make the cut.
9. "Bridesmaids" (-)
Certainly has the momentum behind it, and Universal are pushing aside, but will older Academy voters go for it? We suspect not, but a nomination is, for the first time, possible.
10. "The Ides of March" (10)
A PGA nod is another boost for a film that Harvey Weinstein once labeled as his biggest threat. It's a film that may gain a lot of second or third places votes; but can it get the 5% of first choices needed?
11. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" (8)
Greeted on release by some truly poisonous reviews, and very few raves, a film we'd once pegged as a frontrunner looks increasingly likely to miss out altogether. But we could have said that about "The Reader" as well, and some Academy audiences have reportedly eaten the film up, so not to be counted out altogether. Let's see what happens when it goes wider.
12. "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" (-)
We suppose PGA and WGA nods keep it alive, but the film wasn't brilliantly received, and the box office hasn't set the world alight. If it is nominated, it's as an apology for "The Social Network" not taking Best Picture last year.
12. "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" (11)
Doing gangbusters at the box office (outperforming "The Artist" at the same point in release, among others) but being shut out by the guilds makes this very unlikely to happen, unless the film becomes a total blockbuster when it goes wider this weekend.
13. "My Week With Marilyn" (-)
If the BAFTA long-list shows one thing, it's that the British crowd, a not insubstantial chunk of Academy membership, are responding to this one. But it's competing with 'Tinker' for those votes, and our guess is that they'll cancel each other out.
14. "Drive" (15)
Continue to hang around the fringes of the conversation, it's extremely well-liked, but, let's face it, is here to make up the numbers.
15. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2" (14)
A PGA nomination might have given Warners a little hope after all the money they've been throwing after this one, but it didn't happen.