Monday, January 20, 2014

"12 Years A Slave" and "Gravity" tie for Best Picture at the Producers Guild Awards

The Oscar season lasts for about half of the year, as precursor awards are handed out starting in December. Some years, there is a clear front-runner that dominates the awards circuit and takes home every single award. Other years, the race develops throughout the year. Last year, that was the case. Zero Dark Thirty won awards in the beginning of the season, but eventually Argo took home a lot of awards, was the clear front-runner and won Best Picture at the Oscars. This year, I don't even remotely have a clue who will win. American Hustle won the New York Film Critics Award. Her took home the award from the National Board of review and tied with Gravity for the Los Angeles critics award. 12 Years A Slave won the award from the BFCA and also won Best Drama at the Golden Globes. American Hustle also took home Best Comedy at the Golden Globes and won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble. And just as I thought that Hustle was now the clear Best Picture front-runner, the Producers Guild throws a curveball, awarding their Best Picture prize to 12 Years A Slave and Gravity. That's right, there was a tie.

The Producers Guild Awards are typically the best Oscar prognosticator. Since 1989 (the first year the Producers Guild gave out awards), the guild has matched the Oscars 17 out of 24 times. That's a pretty good average. So it's safe to say I was watching these awards closely last night. I was expecting American Hustle to take home something, but it ended up a tie between Gravity and 12 Years A Slave. That's very interesting. For one thing, I didn't think that Gravity was really still in this race. I've thought of the film as the third option behind 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle ever since those films opened. But it looks like it is still very much in this race. And the more that I think about it, the more I realize that it really could win.

Gravity was the first of the nine best picture nominees to open in theaters. It opened on October 4 and was a major commercial hit. It also received rave reviews that considered the film to be THE front-runner for Best Picture. But then, the critics moved on to bigger and better things like 12 Years and Hustle, mostly forgetting about Gravity. It won a few awards, but was mostly stuck as a nominee. It was even beaten out by 12 Years A Slave last week at the Golden Globes. But now, the Producers Guild has put Gravity right back in this race. Next weekend is the Directors Guild awards show and I truly believe that Cuaron is the front-runner there. If Gravity takes that award home, I think that we can safely call it the favorite.

Yet that is far from a guarantee. One of the other big Oscar precursor awards show is the Writers Guild Awards. I think that there is a very small chance of Gravity winning the screenplay award at the WGA and believe that the award will go to a film like American Hustle or 12 Years A Slave. That leaves the race in uncertainty. There aren't many other big awards shows left. We could actually have the first Oscar night where we have no idea who will take home the top award. Who knows? Maybe there will even be a tie.

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