What today's PGA announcement means for Oscar

Posted by · 12:11 pm · January 2nd, 2014

The Best Picture Oscar nominees that failed to receive PGA nominations in the last four years – i.e. the relevant era – are “The Blind Side,” “A Serious Man,” “Winter’s Bone,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “The Tree of Life” and “Amour.” So there is hope yet for films like “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “Philomena” that absolutely have support within the Academy but missed out on recognition this morning. And also note, one of the films that missed with PGA over the last four years was a Coen brothers effort that manifested great passion within the Academy.

The films that made the PGA cut but missed with Oscar over that stretch are “Invictus,” “Star Trek,” “The Town,” “Bridesmaids,” “The Ides of March,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Skyfall.” There are more misses because the PGA has stuck with 10 nominees over the last two years, when the Academy changed its rules slightly to allow for anywhere from five to 10 nominees (and have ended up with nine both years). So someone from today’s announcement will absolutely be left off, but who?

I was most surprised to see “The Wolf of Wall Street” hang on amid the torrent. “Blue Jasmine” makes sense and has always been a top 15 lurker in the Best Picture ranks. If Woody Allen lands a DGA nomination next week, watch out. But I still wonder if “Her” has the right mojo. Nevertheless, finding love with the producers is pretty significant; it’s certain to show up on tomorrow’s WGA tally and may well be a DGA nominee given the respect Spike Jonze (star of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” no less) commands from his peers.

The goose would appear to be cooked for films like “All is Lost,” “August: Osage County,” “Before Midnight,” “Fruitvale Station” and “Rush” in the Best Picture category, despite having various angles on the race throughout the season. But never say never. Actors could help carry “August” and “Rush” has its fans. But the point is that concentrated passion is what’s necessary with the preferential ballot (which the PGA shares with the Academy). Which films have it? I think “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Her,” “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” absolutely qualify.

But you can talk this stuff to death. Nothing is left field as of yet. The WGA will add to the mix tomorrow with their own caveat (a number of the year’s contenders aren’t eligible). The DGA will speak up Tuesday and BAFTA will give an idea of the British voting bloc’s perspective on Wednesday. The race is still alive.

That said, in all likelihood, we will know the winner of this year’s Best Picture Oscar on Jan. 19, or a little more than two weeks from today. That is the night of the PGA Awards, when today’s announcement will yield a victor. The guild has nailed the winner 18 out of its 24 years of existence, which isn’t a miraculous stat on its own, particularly given how the face of the group changed shape over the years. But what’s more relevant is this: in the last four years of sharing the same preferential balloting system as the Academy, they are batting a thousand. Who wins? “American Hustle?” “Gravity?” “12 Years a Slave?”

I think it’ll come down to one of those three, and then, at risk of sounding authoritarian, we’ll know.

The 2014 PGA Awards will be held on Sunday, Jan. 19.

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