The awards race is flying past.
Fedex deliveries and screeners are piling up. As Thanksgiving approaches, many movies are jockeying for position. (Check Gurus 'O Gold--the race is all over the place.) That means that the first round of film critics voting will have more impact than usual this year, because what really matters is that Guild and Oscar voters see a wide swath of movies. If they are resisting "12 Years a Slave," for example, the critics may have to tell them that they cannot miss it. Various film festivals that fall inside the awards corridor are also adding their annual tributes and awards for many of the likely Oscar contenders (see below).
The Independent Spirit nominations will be announced on November 26. Patton Oswalt is set to host the 2014 Spirit Awards, taking place March 1 in Santa Monica. This show likes its funny men -- Andy Samberg, Seth Rogen and Joel McHale were the previous three years' hosts. The Gotham Awards could have some impact on December 2.
The influential New York Film Critics Circle votes earlier than usual on December 3, with the National Board of Review on December 4 and the Los Angeles Film Critics on December 8. (Word is they will all see "American Hustle" and "The Wolf of Wall Street" after the Thanksgiving holiday.) On the morning of December 11, Sasha Alexander ("Rizzoli and Isles") and Clark Gregg (one of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.") will announce the nominations for the 20th annual SAG Awards. The actual ceremony is slated for January 18, 2014. The European Film Awards are announced on December 7, with the AFI Awards for the ten best films and TV shows on December 10. The next day the nominations open up for the BAFTAs.
The Hollywood Foreign Press is gearing up to announce the Golden Globe nominations December 12, and the Broadcast Film Critics Association (I'm a member) announces theirs on December 16. The rush is on to see as many features, docs, animated and foreign films as possible in order to vote intelligently. Hence the many rounds of screenings connected to Q & As, parties, brunches, and Beverly Hills consulate dinners. The trick is to get everyone to see your movie.
A requisite stop on the usual Oscar promo tour, the Santa Barbara Film Festival will honor Emma Thompson with its Modern Master Award at this year's fest, to highlight her career and also her most recent turn as prickly Brit "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers in "Saving Mr. Banks." And another stop is the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which will be honoring Bruce Dern with a career achievement award. The 77-year-old veteran has gained awards buzz for his turn as deluded Woody Grant in Alexander Payne's "Nebraska." He will receive his award on January 4 at the fest. (Our revealing Q & A with him is here.)
And the actual nominations voting for the Oscars opens post-Christmas, on December 27. The Academy insists they've cleaned up the electronic voting. Right. (Check Indiewire's awards calendar.)