Six Spot: It’s No Oscar For Which Film in the 2007 Best Picture Race?

Cheers for the twenty-first entry in our Six Spot series.

This week takes us to the 2007 Best Picture race. The Coen Brothers’ western drama “No Country for Old Men” won four Oscars this year, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem) and Best Adapted Screenplay. While that film ran away with many of the major prizes, the Oscar race this year was full of a variety of contenders. All five of the Best Picture nominees went home with at least one win a piece. In addition, there were upwards of seventeen films that received support either through critics groups, precursors, guild awards or other Oscar wins that night. Before we figure out what movie came in sixth place, let’s look at the five nominated films.

THE NOMINEES WERE:

  • “Atonement”
  • “Juno”
  • “Michael Clayton”
  • “No Country for Old Men” – WINNER
  • “There Will Be Blood”

OVERALL SUMMARY

Since its Cannes Film Festival debut in May 2007, “No Country for Old Men” had its sights set on the Best Picture prize. The film made good on its early promise, winning the PGA, DGA, WGA and Critics Choice awards on its way to Best Picture at the Oscars. Critical favorite “There Will Be Blood” was one of the last films released of the year and thought it could catch fire late in the game to be a surprise upset. While Daniel Day-Lewis was always going to win Best Actor for the film, Paul Thomas Anderson’s film wasn’t able to take down its main rival.

If one looks at precursor wins, “Atonement” appears to have been one of the main challengers for Best Picture. The film won both the BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture. Yet, the film severely underperformed at the guild awards, missing nominations at the Producers Guild Awards, Directors Guild Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Writers Guild Awards. Usually this spells defeat for a Best Picture hopeful. However, passion pays off when its a close race. Those who loved “Atonement” were willing to put it at the top of their ballots.

Both “Juno” and “Michael Clayton” showed up in the right places in order to enter the Best Picture category. They showed up in directing, writing and acting categories, illustrating broad support among the major voting blocks. When it came to actual ceremony, both films also took home a major prize. “Juno” won Best Original Screenplay for Diablo Cody, while Tilda Swinton pulled off a surprise win for “Michael Clayton” in Best Supporting Actress. All five of these Best Picture nominees had strong contingents of support. Did any other film this year have a vocal enough group of backers to come in sixth?

THE SIX SPOT CONTENDERS ARE:

  • “3:10 to Yuma”
    • Precursors – SAG Ensemble Nominee, CDG Awards – Period Film
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing
  • “Across the Universe”
    • Precursors – Golden Globes – Comedy/Musical
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Costume Design
  • “American Gangster”
    • Precursors – SAG Ensemble Nominee, ADG Awards – Period Film, Golden Globes – Drama, Critics Choice Nominee, BAFTA Nominee
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Supporting Actress (Ruby Dee), Art Direction
  • “The Bourne Ultimatum”
    • Precursors – ACE Eddie – Drama (WINNER), ADG Awards – Contemporary Film,
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Film Editing (WINNER), Best Sound Editing (WINNER), Best Sound Mixing (WINNER)
  • “Charlie Wilson’s War”
    • Precursors – Golden Globes – Comedy/Musical
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Supporting Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman)
  • “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
    • Precursors – DGA Awards, PGA Awards, WGA Awards, ASC Awards, ADG Awards – Contemporary Film, CDG Awards – Contemporary Film, Critics Choice Nominee, New York Film Critics Online (WINNER), Independent Spirit Awards
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Director (Julian Schnabel), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing
  • “Eastern Promises”
    • Precursors – Golden Globes – Drama
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Actor (Viggo Mortensen)
  • “The Great Debaters”
    • Precursors – Golden Globes – Drama
    • Oscar Nominations – None
  • “The Golden Compass”
    • Precursors – ADG Awards – Fantasy (WINNER), CDG Awards – Fantasy (WINNER)
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Costume Design, Visual Effects (WINNER)
  • “Hairspray”
    • Precursors – SAG Ensemble Nominee, ACE Eddie – Drama, Golden Globes – Musical/Comedy
    • Oscar Nominations – None
  • “Into the Wild”
    • Precursors – DGA Awards, SAG Ensemble Nominee, WGA Awards, ACE Eddie – Drama, CDG Awards – Contemporary Film, Critics Choice Nominee, Gotham Awards (WINNER)
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Supporting Actor (Hal Holbrook), Film Editing
  • “The Kite Runner”
    • Precursors – ADG Awards – Contemporary Film, Critics Choice Nominee
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Original Score
  • “Knocked Up”
    • Precursors – WGA Awards
    • Oscar Nominations – None
  • “Lars and the Real Girl”
    • Precursors – WGA Awards
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Original Screenplay
  • “The Savages”
    • Precursors – WGA Awards
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Actress (Laura Linney), Original Screenplay
  • “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
    • Precursors – ACE Eddie – Comedy/Musical (WINNER), ADG Awards – Period Film, CDG Awards – Period Film (WINNER), Golden Globes – Comedy/Musical (WINNER), Critics Choice Nominee
    • Oscar Nominations – Best Actor (Johnny Depp), Art Direction (WINNER), Costume Design
  • “Zodiac”
    • Precursors – WGA Awards, USC Scripter Nominee
    • Oscar Nominations – None

ONE PRECURSOR WONDERS

The sheer number of films with some precursor support proves how strong 2007 was. Every major awards group and guild went out on a limb for their favorites, even if they weren’t the presumed frontrunner. Films of all genres were able to mount significant campaigns, with many picking up one or more surprise nominations.

Among the major guilds, the Writers Guild Awards picked the most out of the box choices. Adapted Screenplay nominee “Zodiac” received its lone precursor citing from the WGA. While that film did not go on to any Oscar nominations, some of the lone Original Screenplay nominees at the WGA Awards fared better. Both “Lars and the Real Girl” and “The Savages” repeated the nomination at the Oscars, with Laura Linney also received a Best Actress nomination for “The Savages.” “Knocked Up,” however, did not receive any Oscar nominations.

The Golden Globes are known for their out of the box picks, especially in the Musical/Comedy categories. In 2007, the Golden Globes expanded their Best Picture – Drama category to accommodate seven nominees. Of their Best Picture nominees, the Golden Globes were the lone precursor for the following films: “Across the Universe,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Eastern Promises,” and “The Great Debaters.” Both “Charlie Wilson’s War” and “Eastern Promises” earned lone acting nominations for Philip Seymour Hoffman and Viggo Mortensen, respectively. “Across the Universe” only received a Costume Design nomination, while “The Great Debaters” went home empty handed.

Finally, the Critics Choice threw support behind “The Kite Runner,” a foreign language adaptation of a popular novel. Unfortunately, no other group followed the Critics Choice lead in honoring the film in Best Picture. Yet, the film did receive one Oscar nomination in the Best Original Score category.

SAG ENSEMBLE NOMINEES

In recent years, the Screen Actors Guild Awards have primarily nominated films they thought would receive Oscar nominations. Yet, 2007 stands out as a year where voters used the Ensemble category to reward some out of the box choices. Of their SAG Ensemble nominees, only “No Country for Old Men” was nominated for Best Picture.

Of the nominees, “American Gangster” looked to be a likely Best Picture nominee on paper a year out from its release. The pairing of Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe under director Ridley Scott in a cop/criminal tale akin to “The Departed” seemed too good to resist. Ultimately, the box office for the film was big, but the critical reviews were a bit more muted. The film still received Golden Globe, Critics Choice and BAFTA nominations in Best Picture, while the Art Directors cited the film in their Period Film category. Yet, it only showed up twice on the list of Oscar nominations, for Best Supporting Actress (Ruby Dee) and Art Direction.

Both “3:10 to Yuma” and “Hairspray” were choices that had not been recognized by many other major groups. Among guilds, the Costume Designers Guild also cited “3:10 to Yuma” under its Period Film category. Meanwhile, the Golden Globes nominated “Hairspray” for Best Picture, while the ACE Eddie nominated it for Editing in the Comedy/Musical field. On Oscar nomination morning, “3:10 to Yuma” earned two nominations (Film Editing and Sound Mixing), while “Hairspray” wound up with nothing.

OSCAR WINNING MOVIES

When all the guilds are tallied up, some interesting films pop up with strong craft support. “The Golden Compass” and “The Bourne Ultimatum” were both films that were never major Best Picture contenders. However, both won major guild awards on their way to being Oscar winning films. Both the Art Directors and Costume Designers gave their Fantasy prizes to “The Golden Compass,” while “The Bourne Ultimatum” won the ACE Eddie and received an Art Director nomination. Poor box office and reviews didn’t stop “The Golden Compass” from winning Best Visual Effects at the Oscars. Yet, “The Bourne Ultimatum” became the second biggest winner of the night. It won three awards (Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing), the second only to Best Picture winner “No Country for Old Men” with four wins. Perhaps, in a field of ten, “The Bourne Ultimatum” would’ve been the Blockbuster choice.

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” had hoped it could marry craft guild support with some other high profile award citations. Among the guilds, it won awards from the ACE Eddie (Film Editing) Awards and Art Directors, while also receiving a Costume Design Guild nomination. Yet, the film’s biggest win came from the Golden Globes, where it beat future Best Picture nominee “Juno” for Best Picture – Musical/Comedy. Unfortunately, the Oscars were not as big fans of Tim Burton’s musical as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The film received three Oscar nominations (Actor for Johnny Depp, Art Direction and Costume Design), winning Best Art Direction.

GUILD FAVORITES

In the end, the race for sixth place came down between two precursor favorites – “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” and “Into the Wild.” Though “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” was a smaller foreign language film, it caught fire with critics and awards groups. Among the main four guilds, it received nominations from three – Producers Guild Awards, Directors Guild Awards and Writers Guild Awards. The only one it missed was SAG Ensemble. Most telling, the film still wound up with four Oscar nominations, including Best Director for Julian Schnabel. It was the only film from the directing category that did not make it into Best Picture.

Meanwhile, “Into the Wild” made headlines as the debut feature for Oscar winner Sean Penn as a director. The adaptation also received nominations from three of the four major guilds. However, it made it into the SAG Ensemble category, rather than the PGA Awards. Still, the movie seemed like a major contender for a Best Picture nomination. In the end, the Oscars seemed more fond of Penn as an actor, rather than a director. The film received nominations in Supporting Actor (Hal Holbrook) and Film Editing only.

THE SIX SPOT FOR 2007 BEST PICTURE WAS:

“THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY”

Who do you think came in 6th place in the 2007 Best Picture race? Share with us in the comments below.

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