race to the Oscars
January 21, 2020

Weeks ahead of the 2020 Oscars, the Best Picture race already seems to be over. But is it, really?

After a big win at the Golden Globes, 1917 this past weekend cemented its status as Oscar frontrunner by taking the top prize at the Producers Guild of America Awards, one of the most reliable Best Picture bellwethers. The PGA winner has lined up with Best Picture at the Oscars about 70 percent of the time, IndieWire notes.

Just as important as what won at the PGA Awards was what lost, though: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which was considered the Best Picture frontrunner weeks ago. But Quentin Tarantino's film has been taking hit after hit, especially after not earning an editing nomination at the Oscars; it's rare for a film to take Best Picture without a nomination in this category.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood also didn't win the top prize of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at Sunday's Screen Actors Guild Awards, despite a star-studded cast that many thought would provide it an easy victory. Instead, SAG chose a dark horse: Parasite. With this win, Parasite surges into a strong second place in the Best Picture competition behind 1917, and The New York Times argues it's now a two-way race between these films. Working against Parasite is the fact that no foreign-language film has ever won Best Picture, though that was also true at the SAG Awards until this year.

All eyes now turn to the Directors Guild of America Awards and the BAFTAs, where Once Upon a Time in Hollywood could regain momentum, Parasite could prove to be an even bigger threat, or 1917 could continue its domination. For now, the consensus is that Best Picture is 1917's to lose after its back-to-back Golden Globes and PGA victories. But Parasite is quite well positioned for a history-making upset. Brendan Morrow

January 13, 2020

Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood just hit a speed bump in the race to the Best Picture Oscar.

Awards pundits every year keep a close eye on the Best Film Editing category at the Oscars, as there's a strong correlation between being nominated in this category and ultimately taking Best Picture. In fact, as The Ringer's Sean Fennessey points out, just a single film has won Best Picture this century without also being nominated for film editing: 2014's Birdman.

So it was particularly notable on Monday morning when Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood, which prognosticators have considered the frontrunner to win Best Picture this year, was snubbed in the category. 1917, another Best Picture frontrunner, was also snubbed. The nominees instead were The Irishman, Ford v Ferrari, Parasite, Jojo Rabbit, and Joker.

When Birdman was left out of the editing category a few years ago, that made some degree of sense seeing as that film is constructed to appear as if it's playing out in one long continuous shot without any edits. That's also true of 1917, so Sam Mendes' film being snubbed for editing might not be detrimental to its Best Picture chances.

On the other hand, Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood getting snubbed is potentially a much bigger deal, and its chances of winning Best Picture just became slightly more questionable. Parasite is looking like a stronger Best Picture contender with its editing nomination, though. The surprise editing nod for Joker, which also scored the most nominations of any film with 11, is also quite significant. Some scoffed at the idea that Joker could legitimately win Best Picture, but no one's laughing now. Brendan Morrow

January 10, 2020

And the 2020 Oscar nominations are ... what? We're days away from finding out, but ahead of Monday's announcement, here are six key questions.

1. Which Best Picture contenders will squeak in? Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood, Parasite, The Irishman, Marriage Story, and 1917 are locks for Best Picture nominations, and nods for Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, and Joker are likely. But with up to ten possible nominees, what else might slide in? Ford v Ferrari could, as could Knives Out, while Vanity Fair even speculates Uncut Gems might surprise.

2. Which lead actors will get snubbed? Joaquin Phoenix and Adam Driver are safe here, and Leonardo DiCaprio probably is, too. But could Eddie Murphy, Robert De Niro and Christian Bale be among those snubbed in this packed category, while Antonio Banderas and Taron Egerton occupy the remaining two slots?

3. Will Awkwafina make it in? Among the Golden Globe winners, Awkwafina's chances of an Oscar nod look slimmest, as she failed to score a Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination. But might she still squeeze into Best Actress? Or will Us' Lupita Nyong'o be the surprise nod here?

4. Will Parasite score any acting nominations? Parasite isn't widely favored to pick up any acting nominations, but keep an eye on potential surprises from Song Kang Ho or Lee Jung Eun.

5. Will it be another all-male director's line-up? After the Golden Globes' faced criticism for its all-male director's line-up, will the Oscars, too? Or will the Academy recognize Little Women's Greta Gerwig, potentially leaving out Joker's Todd Phillips or Jojo Rabbit's Taika Waititi?

6. How much love will there be for Joker? The Ringer's Sean Fennessey observes that "we don't yet know how the Academy actually feels about Joker," but we'll get a better idea of whether it's a real Best Picture player on Monday. For instance, "if you catch a best editing nomination for Joker," Fennessey notes, "you better watch out." Brendan Morrow

January 7, 2020

Joker dominated the 2020 British Academy Film Awards nominations with an impressive 11 nods, although Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is maintaining its position as Oscar frontrunner.

The nominations for the 2020 BAFTAs, the British equivalent of the Oscars, were announced Tuesday, and Joker scored nominations for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and more. This comes after the Golden Globe Awards, where the film took two prizes and was nominated for best drama film. 1917 ultimately took this top award.

The rest of the Best Film BAFTA nominations include 1917, The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Parasite.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood scored 10 BAFTA nominations, including a surprise supporting actress nomination for Margot Robbie, who has two nods in that category; the other is for her performance in Bombshell. The Irishman also earned 10 BAFTA nominations.

Oscar pundits each year keep eye on the BAFTAs as an Oscars precursor, as there is some overlap between the two voting bodies, The New York Times notes. The BAFTAs and the Oscars don't always agree on their choice for the top film award, but the Best Picture Academy Award winner almost always scores a BAFTA nomination for Best Film.

Like the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs nominated no female directors this year, snubbing Little Women's Greta Gerwig in the Best Director category. The organization also received criticism for nominating only white actors.

The award season website Gold Derby keeps track of 35 significant Oscar precursor nominations and wins including the BAFTAs and found that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has the most of any other at this point with 15, with the site writing it's the "Best Picture favorite heading into Oscar nominations." The Irishman has 13, while Joker has 12.

The Academy Award nominations will be announced on Jan. 13. Brendan Morrow

December 11, 2019

Robert De Niro has once again been snubbed at a key Oscars precursor, putting his chances of a best actor win in doubt.

The nominations for the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced Wednesday, and in the lead actor category, De Niro was surprisingly not nominated for his performance in The Irishman. That's not a great sign considering the winner of the best actor award at the Oscars is almost always at least nominated in this equivalent category the SAG awards.

Instead, the nominees for the SAG best actor prize this year are Christian Bale for Ford v Ferrari, Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Adam Driver for Marriage Story, Taron Egerton for Rocketman, and Joaquin Phoenix for Joker. DiCaprio, Driver, and Phoenix were all widely expected to get nominations, though Egerton's nod for some came as a surprise.

De Niro will be honored by SAG with a Life Achievement Award this year, however, and The Irishman itself earned a nomination for best cast, so Gold Derby wonders if "perhaps voters thought he'd be duly rewarded there."

Still, this snub comes after De Niro was also conspicuously left out in the cold at the Golden Globe Awards, where Bale, DiCaprio, Driver, Egerton, and Phoenix all received nominations, although in separate fields since the Golden Globes divides its awards into drama and musical or comedy categories.

De Niro isn't the only actor whose Oscars prospects are looking worse this week than last, with Uncut Gems' Adam Sandler also getting snubbed at both the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, while Dolemite Is My Name's Eddie Murphy got nominated at the Golden Globes but missed at the SAG Awards.

After these two snubs, when it comes to picking up an Oscar nomination let alone a win, The Washington Post's Thomas Floyd observes it seems De Niro now "faces an uphill climb." Brendan Morrow

December 3, 2019

The race to the 2020 Academy Awards is heating up, with The Irishman taking home a pre-Oscars top prize and Adam Sandler's chances of a best actor nomination becoming even more likely.

The National Board of Review on Tuesday announced its yearly awards and selected Martin Scorsese's The Irishman as best film, with Adam Sandler winning best actor for Uncut Gems, Renée Zellweger winning best actress for Judy, Brad Pitt winning best supporting actor for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Kathy Bates winning best supporting actress for Richard Jewell, Entertainment Weekly reports.

These awards, which are selected by a group that includes industry professionals and academics, don't always line up with the Oscars. The National Board of Review picked Green Book as the best film of 2018, and it went on to win best picture at the Oscars, but that was the only time the two prizes have lined up this decade. Still, the National Board of Review winners have in recent years usually at least scored best picture nominations.

Sandler gets a boost in the best actor race seeing as recent National Board of Review winners like Viggo Mortensen and Matt Damon have also scored Oscar nominations, although some have missed out.

The National Board of Review awards come after the 2019 Gotham Independent Film Awards, where the top prize went to another Netflix movie that's a serious best picture contender this year, Marriage Story. Birdman, Spotlight, and Moonlight previously won this prize and went on to win best picture at the Oscars.

The best picture award eluded Netflix at the 2019 Oscars when Green Book defeated Roma, but with The Irishman and Marriage Story both strong contenders, could this be the year? Or might Once Upon a Time in Hollywood beat both? We'll get a better sense as more Oscar bellwethers continue coming in ahead of the show on Feb. 9. Brendan Morrow

September 15, 2019

Jojo Rabbit just earned a key victory in the 2020 Oscars race.

The dramedy from director Taika Waititi won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, the prize that in the past has typically gone to movies that went on to become Best Picture nominees or winners at the Academy Awards.

In fact, since 2009, the TIFF People's Choice Award winner has ultimately been nominated for Best Picture nine out of 10 times, and won Best Picture three times.

One of those instances was last year, when Green Book picked up the TIFF People's Choice Award in what was, in retrospect, the first major sign of its eventual Best Picture triumph. Best Picture winners 12 Years a Slave and The King's Speech also previously won the TIFF award, which is voted on by audiences at the festival.

Jojo Rabbit wasn't as well received by critics as other TIFF films like Ford v Ferrari and Marriage Story, though. Dubbed an "anti-hate satire," the movie features Waititi playing an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler, and it currently holds a 75 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus noting its "blend of irreverent humor and serious ideas definitely won't be to everyone's taste."

The runners up for the TIFF People's Choice Award were Marriage Story and Parasite, both of which are strong contenders to become Best Picture nominees, although runners up for the audience award don't always score nominations. Of last year's runners up, one, Roma, was nominated for Best Picture, while the other, If Beale Street Could Talk, was not.

Jojo Rabbit, which also stars Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, and Alfie Allen, hits theaters on Oct. 18. Brendan Morrow

August 27, 2019

Netflix's struggle to win over Oscar voters looks likely to continue in 2020.

The streamer on Tuesday announced it will release Martin Scorsese's new Oscar-buzzy film The Irishman in limited theaters on Nov. 1 and then begin streaming it less than a month later on Nov. 27. But the movie won't get a wide release in major theater chains like AMC or Regal, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline report. This comes down to theatrical distributors requiring that movies they show play for three months exclusively before streaming, something Netflix remains unwilling to do.

It used to be that Netflix wouldn't even provide theaters any period of exclusivity, but this changed last year with Roma. Netflix released that movie in theaters for three weeks prior to streaming it in what was widely seen as an attempt to placate Academy voters and land Best Picture, although its release was still limited since the three-month window wasn't met. So when Roma, the Best Picture frontrunner all season, surprisingly lost to the traditional studio film Green Book, pundits wondered whether Netflix's status as an industry disruptor that refuses to adhere to theatrical norms held it back.

Indeed, Variety's Ramin Setoodeh reported after the show that a "bloc voted against" Roma "because they didn't want a Netflix movie to land Best Picture." The Hollywood Reporter's Gregg Kilday similarly wrote that "old-guard studio types ... didn't want to hand over Oscar to such a disruptive force."

That situation may have changed if Netflix showed it was willing to play by the theatrical rules this time, and it initially seemed like it might. Netflix reportedly wanted a wide release for The Irishman and even aired an ad during the 2019 Oscars highlighting that it would be shown in theaters. But it ultimately will only play exclusively for slightly longer than Roma, meaning that if Scorsese's film is truly Best Picture-worthy, February's show could be yet another Netflix referendum. Brendan Morrow

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