Thursday, February 11, 2016

Alejandro G. Inarritu shakes up Oscar race with second straight DGA Award for 'The Revenant'

The last few years have been pretty interesting for the Oscar race. Gravity and 12 Years A Slave went down to the wire in 2013, and the face-off between Boyhood and Birdman kept things engaging for a good part of the season. We haven't had a completely predictable Oscar winner since Argo in 2012. But 2015 has been on a whole different level. The Big Short, The Revenant, Spotlight and The Martian have all taken home prizes, with Adam McKay's financial flick leading the way with a victory at the Producers Guild Award. If the crisis comedy snagged a victory last Saturday at the Directors Guild Awards, it was a fairly sure thing that The Big Short would emerge victorious on Oscar night, charting a similar path to last year's Birdman. However, things didn't quite go as planned. The Directors Guild Award belonged to another filmmaker and the effect of the victory could substantially impact the Oscar race.

Alejandro G. Inarritu won the Best Director award for The Revenant, his vicious frontier western, on Saturday night at the DGA Awards. This was Inarritu's second straight DGA win after his triumph for 2014's high-wire comedy Birdman. The Leonardo DiCaprio-starred box office hit has been a force in the awards race all season, with a critical Best Drama win at the Golden Globes. But this was a huge strike for the brutal flick- in a race between The Big Short and Spotlight, Inarritu's film has put itself in a critical position as the biggest wild card of the race. Mad Max and The Martian have an outside shot, but it's clearly a three-horse race at this point.

So that begs the question- what happens now? We're pretty much two weeks away from the big night, and beyond the Writers Guild (where Big Short and Spotlight will win easily), there's very little left that can happen. Sure, the BAFTAs and Indie Spirit Awards are fun, but they aren't great Oscar prognosticators. For the first time in a very long time, we have a race that is totally and completely unpredictable. Any one of those three films could be announced as the winner on February 28 and I'm honestly not ready to make a prediction. Voting starts tomorrow, and a lot of it will depend on the campaigns that the studios run. The preferential ballot will be a big deal as well, leaving the consensus favorite as the front-runner. But as of now, I don't think there is a consensus favorite- just three films that will be in a huge dogfight until the night arrives. Buckle up. This is about to get wild.

Image Credits: Joblo

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