| March 26, 2020
Your 2020 Producer’s Guild Nominees
Producers: Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne‐Ann Tenggren, Callum McDougall
Ford v Ferrari
Producers: Peter Chernin & Jenno Topping, James Mangold
Producers: Jane Rosenthal & Robert De Niro, Emma Tillinger Koskoff & Martin Scorsese
Producers: Carthew Neal, Taika Waititi
Producers: Todd Phillips & Bradley Cooper, Emma Tillinger Koskoff
Producers: Rian Johnson, Ram Bergman
Producer: Amy Pascal
Producers: Noah Baumbach, David Heyman
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Producers: David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh, Quentin Tarantino
Producers: Kwak Sin Ae, Bong Joon Ho
Your 2020 Director’s Guild Nominees
Bong Joon Ho
And now, the eternal question… what does it mean for Oscar?
But before I get to that… David Heyman and Emma Tillinger Koskoff both have two nominations. After a decade as “The Harry Potter guy,” these two films likely represent the third Best Picture nomination in seven years for this guy, all for movies that are nontraditional in significant ways. And while ETK still lives mostly in ScorseseLand, but because of a wide range of interests, she is essentially running a small indie studio. Huzzah!
Here is some history of PGA and Oscar. PGA picks 10 nominees. Because of the counting structure at The Academy, there are very long odds that we will see 10 Best Picture nominees. So one PGA pick is going to mathematically eliminated.
Last year, Crazy Rich Asians and A Quiet Place were out and no other title joined the Oscar nods. The year before, there were 11 PGA nominees, with I, Tonya, Molly’s Game, Wonder Woman, and The Big Sick all falling out for Oscar with Darkest Hour and Phantom Thread filling in for Oscar. The year before that, Deadpool was DGA’ed but not Oscared and the other nine remained in place. And in 2015, Ex Machina, Sicario and Spotlight got their DGA honor, but Oscar passed and added Room.
So something is going to change. But there are a lot of ways it could change. Most of the PGA list will get a Best Picture nomination. And there is nothing that is remotely a surprise on the PGA list, neither what is in or what is out. Yes, it could have been a little different. But this is The Field and it has been The Field for weeks.
Bombshell and The Two Popes are the un-DGA-nominated titles that could still end up with Oscar Best Picture noms. But it is factual to say that we haven’t seen an Oscar BP winner that wasn’t PGA nominated in The Expansion Era of 11 seasons. So some hopes were dashed this morning. Every stat is just waiting to be flipped. But… it’s what it is.
The most endangered titles from the PGA are Ford v Ferrari, Knives Out and Joker. Joker has a lot of love out there (see BAFTA), though it still feels like an Oscar reach based on the level of violence and the lack of a satisfying third act. Knives Out has become a symbol of a non-IP box office success on a reasonable budget with a lot of well-liked actors and people enjoyed the film… a lot. And Ford v Ferrari has become The Traditional Hollywood Movie, though that may have been undercut by 1917, which also feels like an instant O.G. classic.
As a result, I would not be shocked to see one of these out and the other in with the other 8 PGA nominees as the Oscar group. I am sad to say that Bombshell is dead for Best Picture (I love the movie more and more)… but I think it is now. So really, I think of Ford v Ferrari, Joker, Knives Out and The Two Popes, two get in for the Best Picture Oscar and the other two do not.
Oscar nomination voting closes four hours from the publication of this piece. PGA is influencing nothing.
They rarely match Oscar. Four of five are probably locked in this year. Taika is in the up-for-grabs slot and he may make it too, though don’t sleep on previous Oscar nominees Greta Gerwig or Fernando Meirelles. I would argue for James Mangold as a possibility, but he got screwed out of his clearest nomination path by both DGA and AMPAS on Walk The Line, which is a bad sign.
Again, everything falls in line. DGA is not influencing… it is influenced. Like almost everyone else, they work from the same short list that was created by media and marketing months ago and pick their favorites, but no one (except critics groups) tend to Hulk out and break out of the suit.
Let me speak to Influencing for a moment.
The way the precursors have worked over many, many years is that they tend to reflect where all the trends have been heading for months in about 80% of the cases. And then there is the 20% or so wiggle room. None of them have ever led Oscar voters by the nose. Just not the history.
The ability to influence is closely aligned with the ability of distributors to get their unseen films seen and to make Oscar voters feel like they are not wasting a vote, voting for a film that “cannot” get nominated or, ultimately, win. It’s Psychology 101.
There is always a little chicken and egg involved. And every major award that has nominations or awards is one that involved parties want to win. Human nature. But, for instance, the Globes nominations have more significance in the Oscar life of the films involved than the wins do… because there are a few weeks to build on those nominations and to get Oscar voters to watch the films over Christmas-New Year’s break.
The illusion that 1917, for instance, was a surprise at The Globes or is “surging” now is just silly. The film started screening back in November. It had an enormous instant impact. Little Women also seemed to gather momentum over the holidays. Parasite continued to build a fanbase. And Knives Out became a popular phenom, akin to Get Out from two seasons ago (without the racial politics). As a result of all this late activity, other films that seemed locked in for months suddenly seemed stale.
When we look at PGA nominations or The Globes or whatever and say, “Well, the nominations match up, so Oscar must have been at least a little influenced,” we are just log rolling. There is no logical argument for this. It’s a feeling. The same feeling we get when someone attractive crosses in our view, while we know full well that we are not going to engage with that person for any number of fundamental reasons. But as The Farrellys once wrote, “So you are telling me there is a chance!”
This season, the “not-wasted vote” candidate was Parasite, which had a strong core of fans, voters and otherwise, since Cannes. Neon’s task was to get voters to the “it can actually get the Best Picture nomination” place. Last year, Netflix started with the assumption that they could get Roma to a Best Picture nomination and started filling the dance card in with other category possibilities early and often. It rarely works any other way. Sometimes, you get a locked in Acting nom, like Brie Larson in Room or Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn, and the Best Picture prospects are bolstered as everyone gets excited about seeing the movie, which then finds its own agency. Similarly, the “she’s the winner” tone around Kathryn Bigelow on The Hurt Locker drove that film to a win, as did Scorsese’s “gonna win” on The Departed. For Parasite, the focus was on Bong Joon-Ho and indeed, he seems sure to get every nomination he can personally get while the movie gets double picture nods. But end of November was, it seems, too late to turn the ship for everyone else on the film, deserving though they may be.
To me, the greatest single challenge left in this Oscar season is for Universal to get as many voters to see 1917 on a massive screen as possible. A 1000 Oscar voters watching the film on a immersive, huge screen could be the difference between winning Best Picture or not.
The movie is the ultimate influencer. Right?
| March 26, 2020
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"For the millions of Americans who found themselves without a job in recent weeks, the sharp and painful change brought a profound sense of disorientation. They were going about their lives, bartending, cleaning, managing events, waiting tables, loading luggage and teaching yoga. And then suddenly they were in free fall, grabbing at any financial help they could find, which in many states this week remained locked away behind crashing websites and overloaded phone lines."
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