With a record breaking box office weekend, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has landed with a love that’s palpable in all corners of not just the internet, but among general circles in and out of your life. The question that has lit up my Twitter feed over the weekend is, “how many Oscar nominations will the film get?” or “is it in the running for Best Picture?” My honest answer is, I really don’t know.
We don’t tend to see a movie event like this too often. If I’m being honest with myself, tech categories such as Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, and Original Score feel near certain. If expanded, Production Design is the next tier of possibilities. If I’m looking at the best day for the film, Cinematography, Film Editing, and Best Picture will follow. The film is a hit, and very well liked. Speaking with Academy members over the weekend, some made the trip to see it with families and friends. Some even granting it the utmost respect before walking in. “This [Star Wars] is why I do what I do” one person said following a screening.
The film is screening for AMPAS everyday until Oscar ballots are due on January 8 save for Christmas eve. Disney is putting it in front of all the right people, and while some are foolishly attempting to get in on the action, it becomes evident that all the awards team ever cared about was PGA, DGA, and Oscar. They didn’t need the critics groups to catapult it, they had general audiences to do that for them. Was this the wise move? That remains to be seen. If the film had opened back in May, where “Star Wars” films typically open, would this have been a slam dunk? Would the shadow of “Mad Max: Fury Road” spoiled the talk about a summer blockbuster getting Oscar attention? Is there room for both “Mad Max” and “Star Wars” in a Best Picture lineup? These are all the things running through pundits’ heads, including my own. You just can’t answer it, no matter how good at predicting you THINK you are.
With this, we move on to the next big phase of the awards season: actual Oscar voting. As the Christmas holiday looms its ugly head, AMPAS will use this time to get in all the films they can. On Wednesday, December 30, ballots will be mailed/e-mailed to all voters. Based on history, and speaking with people in the industry, the hardcore membership tends to send out their ballots early. Some of the more dedicated/more practical members (I’m sure there are not many), will wait until the last possible second to get in everything they can to make an informed decision. But in all seriousness, its mostly a popularity contest by the end of the ten days. Golden Globes, SAG, and Critics Choice have all weighed in with “examples” for what they could consider but they will typically just do what they want to do. The nominations may influence voters into watching something they may have thrown towards the bottom of their pile (“99 Homes,” “45 Years,” “Love & Mercy,” etc.), but there’s no guarantee. Last year, “Cake” didn’t make an impact for Jennifer Aniston, and in the end, who knows why she missed. Could it have been a lack of not watching the film? Sure, but it can also be, not enough people like her performance enough. It can all come down to that simplicity. Oscar predicting doesn’t always have to be brain surgery. It can be a simple same-day procedure that domino-effects itself into a whole conspiracy theory message board on the internet.
With that said, members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association received their final ballots today for the Golden Globes. They’ll be making their choices over the next few days before they’re due back on January 6. PGA ballots are due January 2 before nominations are announced on January 4. The window for BAFTA nominations closes on January 4 before they’re announced on January 8. Writers Guild of America (or WGA) ballots are due January 4 before they’re announced on January 6. And finally, probably the most important are the Directors Guild of America (or DGA). Ballots are due January 11 with nominations announced on January 12, four days after Oscar ballots are turned in. This always tends to “scare” the average Oscar-obsessive because they often attribute Ben Affleck’s snub in Best Director for “Argo” to the DGA nominees announcing after ballots were turned in. I don’t tend to buy that argument but its worth keeping a watchful eye on.
New and updated predictions have taken effect as you’ll see on the sidebar, but you can also click on each category to see in-depth analysis of each race and its changes.
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