Tag Archives: Gravity

GrabBag – South Park Does Monty Python; plus, Gravity Revisited and Wes Anderson

grabbag

Today’s GrabBag is all videos. So sit back, relax, grab a bag of popcorn and enjoy!

  • First up, South Park’s tribute to Monty Python takes a dark turn.
  • Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segal sing an impromptu duet, “Confrontation” from Les Miserables, during an episode of Inside the Actors Studio.
  • This amazing alternate scene will change everything you thought you knew about Gravity.
  • 1001 Movies You Must See (Before You Die) is a fantastic montage of the greatest films in history, edited together with surprising virtuosity.
  • While we’re in the montage mood, here are some of the best examples of cinematography in the past decade.
  • And finally, this 10 minute mini-documentary gets to the specifics of what makes Wes Anderson so… well, Wes Anderson. The filmmaker has done such an amazing job of branding himself with a unique style, that every single thing he does is instantly recognizable as his own vision.

That’s it for this week. Join us again next Friday for another GrabBag!

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Oscar Post Partum – The Empty-Handed

prisoners

There we have it, folks. Another year of movie awards come and gone, culminating in last night’s Oscars.

In retrospect, after sleeping on it, the show itself wasn’t particularly all that exciting. In last night’s recap, I said the show wasn’t particularly memorable. But with the light of day I feel like that’s giving it too much credit.

As much as I love Ellen, most of her bits fell pretty flat. The montages on the theme of “Heroes” were uninteresting and instantly forgettable, while the Wizard of Oz tribute was completely pointless. And perhaps most egregious of all, there were absolutely zero surprises in the awards themselves. How did such a tight and unpredictable race end up with such… well, predictable… winners?

Maybe in such a close race, any winner will feel unsurprising. Except, no, the vast majority of these were pretty obvious weeks, if not months ago. Maybe the extended voting season (waiting an extra couple weeks for the Olympics) allowed everybody to settle on generally agreed-upon group of winners well before the ballots were turned in. That’s probably closer to the truth.

Either way it’s disappointing that such a close, exciting nail-biter of a race ended with so anticlimactically. And it’s unacceptable that in such an amazing year with such a wealth of extraordinary films to choose from, so few of those walked away with any hardware at all. Here’s a short list of films that didn’t win any Oscars this year…

All Is Lost
American Hustle
Blackfish
Blue Is the Warmest Color
The Butler
Captain Phillips
The Conjuring
Elysium
Ernest & Celestine
42
Francis Ha
Fruitvale Station
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor
Monsters University
Much Ado About Nothing
Mud
Nebraska
Out of the Furnace
Pacific Rim
Philomena
Prisoners
Rush
Side Effects
Spring Breakers
Star Trek Into Darkness
Stoker
Stories We Tell
This Is the End
Warm Bodies
The Way Way Back
The Wolf of Wall Street
The World’s End

All of those – and it’s by no means a complete list – received at least some amount of awards buzz throughout the year. While some are clearly better or worse than others, and individual tastes are clearly varied and subjective, every single one of those films represents teams of talented filmmakers whose are deserves recognition.

That’s not to say the Oscars are the be all and end all of recognizing art – we all know they’re not. But they are the most visible, the recognition that the general public is most aware of. Compare the list above to the list of films that did win Oscars

Gravity
12 Years a Slave
Dallas Buyers Club
Frozen
The Great Gatsby
Blue Jasmine
The Great Beauty
Her
20 Feet From Stardom

Fewer than 10 feature-length films came away with any hardware from 21 categories. The lion’s share of those trophies went to Gravity. And that’s fine. Gravity was an astounding, monumental work of art, and I don’t begrudge it a single one of its awards. But I do wish we could recognize the sheer volume and diversity of artistic vision on display in 2013 in a way that reaches the regular, non-cinephile public masses.

Many people like to repeat that film is a dying art, that movies are getting worse, and TV is taking over. There may be seeds of qualified truth in that refrain (especially if you compare movies like Grown-ups 2 to something like HBO’s True Detective). But in a loud and proud way, 2013 has declared that there remains no shortage art, genius, and life to be found in a movie theater.

Recognition of that fact is more important than any Oscar.

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The Oscars Split: 12 Years a Slave wins Picture, Gravity wins Director

Gravity-12-years-a-slave (1)

The old rule that you can’t predict a split has been broken. By and large most awards-watchers predicted 12 Years a Slave to win Best Picture and Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuarón to take Director. Many of the most seasoned and widely respected pundits said that was unlikely and impossible to predict. I almost changed my predictions to Gravity all the way, but I stuck to my guns instead. And guess what… It happened!

Gravity, due to it’s technical prowess, walked away with 7 wins overall, more than any other film this year. 12 Years a Slave, despite taking the top prize, tied with Dallas Buyers Club for a distant second place in total wins. Both won 3. Frozen and The Great Gatsby each won 2, while Her and Blue Jasmine just took 1 apiece. The rest of the Best Picture nominees all went home empty-handed, including Captain Phillips, NebraskaPhilomena, The Wolf of Wall Street, and perhaps most surprisingly, American Hustle, which had initially tied Gravity for the most nominations (10). 

See the full list of winners here.

Overall, I went 19/24 in my predictions. Honestly, for such a tight year with so many amazing films, there weren’t a lot of surprising wins. What surprises we did get were mild ones that many saw coming.

The biggest shock (aside from American Hustle‘s big ol’ goose egg) was honestly Gravity’s Editing win, which wasn’t shocking at all. Many were predicting ACE winner Captain Phillips to take it, but the major technical marvel in the race could not be ignored. Her‘s Original Screenplay win over American Hustle lowered some pundits’ scores, just as Jennifer Lawrence’s Supporting Actress loss to Lupita Nyong’o lowered mine. But to be honest both races were neck-and-neck, and either had a great chance at winning.

The only other races I missed were in Foreign and two of the Short Films. I should have seen The Great Beauty coming (and honestly almost changed my prediction this morning). It’s won more precursors, but I was convinced by some pundits who thought it too abstract and esoteric to win. I was surprised yet thrilled to see the lovely Mr. Hublot win Animated Short over the more widely seen Get a Horse! And I was disappointed to see the technically proficient but narratively flat Helium win Live Action Short over one of the best films of the year (of any length) in Just Before Losing Everything.

The show itself was a pretty good one. While not necessarily all that memorable, it moved along at a good clip and Ellen Degeneres kept it light and enjoyable throughout. The producers made some good decisions that improved on previous years. The Original Song performances were great (although U2’s sound levels could’ve been better mixed). The introductions of the Best Picture nominees were made in groups of three, which certainly saved time. Eventually I’d like to see those intros scrapped altogether, but at least it’s a small step in the right direction.

Another small step in the right direction was the vague “Heroes” theme and it’s montages. While still wholly unnecessary, at least the montages were short and few, and they didn’t seem quite as random as similar ones in recent years. The Wizard of Oz tribute was pretty random, but I liked Pink’s performance.

Something I really liked was the choice to go from In Memoriam directly into Bette Midler’s song. In the past the segment has always been followed by a commercial break, leaving the somber mood to be jarred by obnoxious local TV ads. This felt much more smooth, and also allowed for a segue into more presentations before going to another break.

The standout speeches of the night were given Jared Leto (starting the night off perfectly), Kristin Anderson-Lopez and newly crowned EGOT Robert Lopez for Frozen‘s “Let It Go,” and Lupita Nyong’o. Matthew McConaughey’s speech was odd and a little off-kilter, but ended up rather endearingly quirky. And finally, BRAVO to the producers for not being to trigger happy about having the orchestra play winners offstage. The only ones that got played off were a couple of the short film winners (who were struggling with language barriers).

Ellen’s jokes were pretty on most of the night. She’s a great comedian, and her banter with the crowd was fun. I’m not sure how I felt about pointing out that many of the actors like Amy Adams never went to college. Either she’s embarrassing them or telling the general audience that that’s ok, but there’s no middle ground and since the joke fell flat, it felt pretty awkward and uncomfortable. But I loved the “possibility” bit – “Possibility #1: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility #2: You’re all racists.” That’s how to be funny and pretend edgy, without actually being edgy. That’s what the Academy was looking for, and that’s what they got.

All in all, I had a fun night. What about you? How did you like the show? What did you love? What did you hate? What was meh? Let me know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

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Gravity or 12 Years A Slave: Making Oscar History Either Way

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As discussed in yesterday’s final Oscar Predictions entry, this year’s top prize comes to two major frontrunners. It’s so close that honestly nobody really knows how it will turn out. (Some will guess right, but they don’t have any more insight than anybody else.) It’s the closest race we’ve seen since 2000’s Gladiator vs Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon vs Traffic. It could conceivably be even closer, but American Hustle seems to have lost a little steam in recent weeks. Still we’re left with two generation-defining films, both of which would make history if they were to win.

Gravity would make history by being the first 3D film ever to win Best Picture. It would also be the first sci-fi/space movie. Genre films tend to get a bad rap with the Academy elite, but that’s not impossible to over come. A decade ago the third Lord of the Rings movie became the first fantasy film to win. The 3D thing is the bigger get. It’s the new(ish) technology that seems determined to change the way audiences approach movies, possibly at the expense of films with smaller budgets. It’s understandable that industry voters might be wary. But then again, it’s movies like this, that go so far beyond their technical achievements to touch something primal and human in all of us, that have the ability to move us forward. It’s no surprise that a director like Alfonso Cuarón is behind this – he has always had an amazing talent for bringing humanity to genre.

12 Years a Slave would make history be being the first film to win written and directed by back filmmakers and starring a mostly black cast. It would also be the first film since Gone With the Wind to even touch on the subject of slavery. In 86 years of Oscar history, this is an embarrassing statistic. Slavery isn’t just a “black thing”; it’s a huge tragic piece of history for every American. Not only that, but modern-day slavery continues throughout the world. Like Gravity, it takes a film like this that touches on universal human themes to bring us all together, to move forward as one.

As unlikely and rare as it would be, I’m predicting a split: 12 Years a Slave will win Picture and Cuarón will win Director. That could mean the history-making story of either could be seen as being a little stunted. We would still be 86 years into Oscar history without a single black director having won. (Steve McQueen is only the 3rd ever even nominated.) And we would still not have a 3D sci-fi/space Film in the list of Best Pictures.

That may be how we remember this year in the future, but that’s also missing the picture entirely. 2013 was a truly incredible year for filmmaking. There were literally dozens of amazing films, any of which would have made worthy winners. That no fewer than two groundbreaking works of art have made it this close to the big prize is nothing short of astounding.

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Cinema Audio Society Awards: Another Win for Gravity

Gravity-debris-2

The Cinema Audio Society added to the slew of technical guild awards Gravity has already scooped up, including the ASC, ADG, MPSE, and VES. That, in addition to the DGA and half the PGA. Friends, this is what we like to call a juggernaut.

Other winners announced last night include Frozen, Behind the Candelabra, Game of Thrones, and their previously announced CAS Filmmaking Award to director Edward Zwick (Glory, Legends of the Fall, The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond, Defiance).

The CAS is the guild for sound mixing. For more on the difference between sound mixing vs sound editing, read here or here.

Scroll down for the full list of CAS Awards winners. (Click here to see the nominations.)

Motion Picture — Live Action
“Gravity”

Motion Picture — Animated
“Frozen”

Television Movie or Mini-Series
“Behind the Candelabra”

Television Series – One Hour
“Game of Thrones” – “The Rains of Castamere”

Television Series – Half Hour
“Modern Family”

Television Non Fiction, Variety or Music – Series or Specials
“History of the Eagles: Part One”

Career Achievement Award
Andy Nelson

CAS Filmmaking Award
Edward Zwick

Technical Achievement Awards

Production
Sound Devices, LLC – 633 Mixer/Recorder

Post-Production
iZotope – RX 3 Advanced

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BAFTA Winners: Split Sheds No New Insight

gravity-12years

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) handed out their awards yesterday. They are basically the British version of the Academy and the last major precursor we have before the Oscars.

With the Olympics extending the season an extra few weeks, the Oscar ballots only went out a few days ago. That means we have another half-month of hemming and hawing over intangible “buzz,” with no other big group to give us a real hint at where we’re headed. It’s true that a lot can change in two weeks. Given the extreme closeness of this race, hyped-up news stories based on rumors cooked up by campaign strategists could have an impact in the empty void in between BAFTA and Oscar. But my guess is it really won’t.

Nothing has been settled yet in any of the phases so far. From the festival circuit, to the various critics’ awards, to the guild awards, to now – we still have a tight race that appears to be 12 Years a Slave for picture and Gravity for director. American Hustle seems to have stumbled ever so slightly in recent days, but you’d be crazy not to think it’s still in the mix.

BAFTA has done nothing to clear any of this up. 12 Years won picture, while Gravity took director and (somewhat controversially) Best British Film. The only choices that were out of the norm came in 4 categories where the Brits’ unique tastes came through:

  • The very British Philomena took screenplay from 12 Years, out of admiration for Steve Coogan’s outstanding year.
  • Editing went, quite deservedly, to Rush. Europeans love Formula One racing, though it seems to hold little interest over here.
  • Both Actor categories were missing their frontrunners, as Dallas Buyers Club was soundly ignored in the nominating phase. Fellow Brit Chiwetel Ejiofor is an obvious choice in place of McConaughey. But I most thrilled about seeing Captain Phillips’ Barkhad Abdi recognized without Jared Leto standing in the way.

Scroll down for the complete list of winners. (Check out the nominees here.)

Best Picture – 12 Years a Slave
Best British Film – Gravity
Best Director – Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Best Actor – Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Best Actress – Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor – Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Best Supporting Actress – Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Best Adapted Screenplay – Philomena, Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
Best Original Screenplay – American Hustle, Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
Best Cinematography – Gravity, Emmanuel Lubezki
Best Documentary – The Act of Killing
Best Animated Feature – Frozen
Best Music – Gravity, Steven Price
Best Editing – Rush
Best Production Design – The Great Gatsby
Best Costume Design – The Great Gatsby
Best Sound – Gravity
Best Hair & Makeup – American Hustle
Best British Short, Live Action – Room 8
Best British Short, Animation – Sleeping with the Fishes
Outstanding British Debut – Kelly & Victor
BAFTA Rising Star – Will Poulter

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Gravity, Captain Phillips, Frozen Win MPSE Golden Reel Awards

MPSE_Logo

The Motion Picture Sound Editors’ (MPSE) Golden Reel Awards were announce yesterday. Gravity continues its well-earned dominance in the tech guilds. Not much else to say, though this may be the only guild I’ve seen to have categories for direct-to-video. See the complete nominations here.

Sound Effects and Foley in an English Language Feature
“Gravity”

Dialogue and ADR in an English Language Feature
“Captain Phillips”

Animated Feature (English or Foreign Language)
(Includes ADR, Dialogue, Sound Effects and Foley)
“Epic”

Foreign Language Feature
(Includes ADR, Dialogue, Sound Effects and Foley)
“The Grandmaster”

Music in a Musical Feature (English or Foreign Language)
“Frozen”

Music in a Feature (English or Foreign Language)
“The Great Gatsby”

Feature Documentary
“Dirty Wars”

TELEVISION

Short Form: Dialogue & ADR
“Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere”

Short Form: Sound Effects & Foley
“Breaking Bad” – “Felina”

Long Form: Dialogue & ADR
“The Bridge” – Pilot

Long Form: Sound Effects & Foley
“Sons of Anarchy” – “Salvage”

Short Form: Music
“Game of Thrones” – “The Rains of Castamere”

Short Form: Music, Musical
“Peg + Cat: The Beethoven Problem”

Long Form Form: Music, Musical
“History of the Eagles: Part One”

Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR Animation in Television
“The Fairly OddParents” – “Dumbbell Curve”

Short Form Documentary in Television
“North America: No Place to Hide”

Long Form Documentary in Television
“Deadliest Catch: The Final Battle”

OTHER

Computer Episodic Entertainment
“Mortal Kombat: Legacy Series II”

Computer Interactive Entertainment
“StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm Cinematic”

Direct to Video Animation
“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Pt. 2”

Direct to Video Live Action
“Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter”

Special Venue
“To the Arctic 3D”

Verna Fields Award in Sound Editing for Student Filmmakers
“Robomax”

Career Achievement Award
Randy Thom

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Gravity, Frozen Dominate VES Awards

Gravity-2

This may be the least surprising news of the awards season, but it’s news nonetheless. Gravity pretty much swept the Visual Effects Society (VES) Awards at their ceremony Wednesday night.

The only award it could have won but didn’t went to The Hobbit for Animated Character in a Live Action Feature. And that makes sense: they animated Sandra Bullock for scenes that were impossible to shoot practically, but it may be a bit of a stretch to consider that an “animated character.” Smaug is more consistent with the intent of the category.

Elsewhere, Frozen took all four Animated Feature categories. And Game of Thrones took a trio of TV awards.

See below for the complete list of winners. (Check out the nominees here.)

MOTION PICTURES

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture
“Gravity”

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture
“The Lone Ranger”

Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
“Frozen”

Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” – Smaug

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
“Frozen” – Bringing the Snow Queen to Life

Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
“Gravity” – Exterior

Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
“Frozen” – Elsa’s Ice Palace

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
“Gravity”

Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture
“Gravity” – ISS Exterior

Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
“Gravity” – Parachute and ISS Destruction

Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
“Frozen” – Elsa’s Blizzard

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture
“Gravity”

TELEVISION AND COMMERCIALS

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
“Game of Thrones” – “Valar Dohaeris”

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial
PETA – “98% Human”

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
“Banshee” – Pilot

Outstanding Animated Character in a Commercial or Broadcast Program
PETA – “98% Human”

Outstanding Created Environment in a Commercial or Broadcast Program
“Game of Thrones” – “The Climb”

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Commercial or Broadcast Program
“The Crew”

Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Commercial or Broadcast Program
PETA – “98% Human”

Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program
“Game of Thrones” – “The Climb”

Outstanding Compositing in a Commercial
“Call of Duty” – “Epic Night Out”

OTHER MEDIA

Outstanding Real-Time Visuals in a Video Game
“Call of Duty: Ghosts”

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
“Space Shuttle Atlantis”

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project
“Rugbybugs”

Lifetime Achievement Award
John Dykstra

Visionary Award
Alfonso Cuarón

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Alfonso Cuarón Wins DGA, Gravity Takes Lead for Oscar

Gravity-2Alfonso Cuarón won the Outstanding Director of a Motion Picture prize at the Director’s Guild Awards last night. With that win we now have a frontrunner for Best Picture at the Oscars, but it’s still a tenuous lead.

The DGA’s were the third of the three most important guild awards to announce, after last week’s SAG and PGA ceremonies. In a sense, my outrageous prediction that each of the top three films would win one of those – American Huslte for SAG, 12 Years a Slave for PGA, and Gravity for DGA – actually proved true! But that’s not the whole story, as the PGA awarded a tie to both 12 Years AND Gravity. That means instead of a 3-way tie, the latter has a narrow half-point lead going into the home stretch.

History tells us that whatever wins the DGA will win BP at the Oscars. Recent history tells us the same for PGA. On top of that, we know Picture/Director splits at the Oscars are extremely rare and hard to predict. With that in mind, after straying out on a limb to predict that crazy guild split, I’m going to quit while I’m somewhat ahead play it safe for my Oscar prediction. I predict Gravity will win Best Picture and Best Director.

Still that is a very tough call to make. Its lead is slight at best. It’s also missing an all-important screenplay nomination. (It’s very rare for a film to win BP without being at least nominated for its screenplay.) Many pundits are still predicting a split, with 12 Years taking BP. But going back to history again, usually when there’s a split, the DGA winner actually ends up going on the win Picture, not Director.

This is an unprecedented quandary. Hell, even Hustle could still slip in and steal all the glory. But in the sea of uncertainty, I feel safest anchoring my predictions to Gravity.

The next most important guild awards are the ACE Eddies (American Cinema Editors). Being a very showy technical piece, Gravity is expected to win that too. Going forward it looks like it’s lead will get continually stronger as it expectedly sweeps the more minor technical guilds – Cinematography, Sound, etc.

Here’s the full list of DGA winners…

Feature Film – Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
Documentary – Jehane Noujaim, “The Square”
Movies for Television and Miniseries – Steven Soderbergh, “Behind the Candelabra”
Dramatic Series – Vince Gilligan, “Breaking Bad” – “Felina”
Comedy Series – Beth McCarthy-Miller, “30 Rock” – “Hogcock!/Last Lunch”
Variety/Talk/News/Sports — Regularly Scheduled Programming – Don Roy King, “Saturday Night Live with Host Justin Timberlake”
Variety/Talk/News/Sports — Specials – Glenn Weiss, “The 67th annual Tony Awards”
Reality Programs – Neil P. DeGroot, “72 Hours” – “The Lost Coast”
Children’s Programs – Amy Schatz, “An Apology to Elephants”
Commercials – Martin de Thurah, Epoch Films
“The Man Who Couldn’t Slow Down,” Hennessy VS – Droga5
“Human Race,” Acura MDX 2014 – Mullen
Robert B. Aldrich Award – Steven Soderbergh
Frank Capra Achievement Award – Lee Blaine
Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award – Vincent DeDario
Diversity Award – Shonda Rhimes & Betsy Beers

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Weekend Wrap-up: The Producers Keep It Interesting

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This weekend the first two all-important film industry guilds announced their winners: the actors (SAG) and the producers (PGA). Next weekend the directors (DGA) will follow suit. Usually between these three a frontrunner emerges which goes on to take the top prize at the Oscars.

This race is one of the tightest in years, with essentially three frontrunners. Last week I predicted that each of those three would take one of the three main guild awards: American Hustle – SAG (ensemble), 12 Years a Slave – PGA, Gravity – DGA. It was a fairly wild guess, since that kind of thing never happens. One film always takes two, if not or all three, and then goes on to win Best Picture

On Saturday night SAG Awards (scroll to the bottom to see the complete list of winners) appeared to stick to the script. All their film winners were pretty well expected. Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto continued their respective steamrolls through Best Actress and Supporting Actor. They are the 2 surest bets for winning gold on Oscar night, as nobody has been able to beat them in any of the precursors. Matthew McConaughey continued to strengthen his frontrunner status for Best Actor. The biggest excitement was Lupita Nyong’o winner for her supporting performance in 12 Years over Jennifer Lawrence. But even that wasn’t really a surprise – the two have been neck and neck all season, and many pundits (not yours truly, though) think Lawrence will have a hard time winning back to back Oscars.

Hustle took Best Ensemble, as I and many others predicted. 12 Years surely provided stiff competition, but the former was the more obvious acting showcase. And in a very tight race, that was all that was needed to pull ahead for an award that honors the actors rather than the movie itself.

Still, the SAG ensemble very often goes to the eventual Best Picture Oscar winner, so without word yet from any one else in the industry, Hustle essentially took the lead. But in a race so tight anything could happen, literally that – “anything” – was about to.

The PGA awarded an unprecedented 2-film tie! If Hustle had been one of those two films it might have held onto its frontrunner status, but it wasn’t. Gravity and 12 Years split the prize. In a sense my prediction was correct that all three films would win a major guild award, but there was no way I could’ve imagined that would happen a week before the third would even announce.

Over the last 4 years the PGA (for comparison: the Best Picture Oscar is also awarded to a film’s producers) has become THE most predictive of the guilds, since they are the only ones besides the Academy to use a complex “preferential balloting system” (as opposed to a simple weighted ballot) to determine their winners. In this system getting 1st place votes is important, but so is getting 2nd and 3rd. So a winning film has to evoke passion in a much broader cross-section of voters. “Love-it-or-hate-it” films don’t weather this process well.

Given that complex process and the PGA’s 4,700 voting members, one would think a tie is statistically impossible to come by. Yet that’s what happened, and suddenly our best predictor is useless. (Ok, not useless, but you know…)

Of course now the DGA is the key. Whoever wins that will have 2 to everyone else’s 1, and will become considered the frontrunner. I still suspect that’s going to be Gravity. Alfonso Cuaron has been picking up director prizes more consistently than other film, making his film the safest bet. But at this point the race is so convoluted that even that safest bet wouldn’t necessarily be a safe bet.

That said, Oscar voting hasn’t even started yet. By the time they do, that frontrunner, however tenuous, will be known. AMPAS, just like everyone else, likes to rally behind a winner. Chances are the majority of voters will get behind the perceived leader, making it the de facto leader, and the eventual winner.

So, while it’s still early and I reserved the right to change my mind several times in light of new information, I am now prepared to make my first official Oscar Prediction of the season:

Gravity will win the Oscar for Best Picture.

Still, it could easily go any direction, and that’s what’s so exciting. That’s why I may be having the most fun I’ve had since I started paying attention to awards season more than 15 years ago. This is fantastic!

Here is the complete list of SAG and PGA winners. (Check them against my predictions here.)

SAG

THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURES
Actor – Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Actress – Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Supporting Actor – Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Supporting Actress – Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Ensemble – American Hustle

TELEVISION PROGRAMS
Actor, TV Movie or Miniseries – Michael Douglas, “Behind the Candelabra”
Actress, TV Movie or Miniseries – Helen Mirren, “Phil Spector”
Actor, Drama – Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad”
Actress, Drama – Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”
Actor, Comedy – Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”
Actress, Comedy – Julia Louis-Drefus, “Veep”
Ensemble, Drama – Breaking Bad
Ensemble, Comedy – Modern Family

STUNT ENSEMBLES
Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture – Lone Survivor
Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series – Game of Thrones

 

PGA

Theatrical Motion Pictures -TIE- Gravity and 12 Years a Slave
Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures – Frozen
Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures – We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks
Long-Form Television – Behind the Candelabra
Episodic Television, Drama – Breaking Bad
Episodic Television, Comedy – Modern Family
Non-Fiction Television – Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Competition Television – The Voice
Live Entertainment & Talk Television – The Colbert Report
Sports Program – SportsCenter
Children’s Program – Sesame Street
Digital Series – “Wired: What’s Inside” (http://video.wired.com/series/what-s-inside)
The Davie O. Selznick Achievement Award – Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli
The Norman Lear Achievement Award – Chuck Lorre
The Stanley Kramer Award – Fruitvale Station
Milestone Award – Bob Iger
Vanguard Award – Peter Jackson, Joe Letteri and Weta Digital
Visionary Award – Chris Meledandri

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