Monday, January 28, 2013

Golden Fleeced

With its win for outstanding ensemble cast last night, there's some sentiment out there that Argo is now the favorite for the Best Picture Oscar. But is that really the case?

We've looked at the predictive tendencies of pre-Oscar awards before, and here's what I think we can say based on that:

1. Golden Globes mean almost nothing. The last time the winner of the best drama Globe also won the Oscar? 2008, with Slumdog Millionaire. Before that it was 2003 (the last Lord of the Rings movie), and before that 2001 (prior to that it was much more closely aligned).

2. SAG Awards are a little better, maybe. The cast award winner has gone on to win the Oscar 9 times in the 17 years where both have been awarded. Skewing things a bit is that this is an award given to actors by actors, so while it's the de facto best picture award, it does not include input from anyone behind the camera, unless they're also actors. Like Ben Affleck.

3. The PGA Awards are definitely better, at least recently. You have to go back to 2006 to find the last film to win this but not the Best Picture Oscar. Prior to that the relationship is spottier, to be sure, but of the three awards this one seems to track the best with Oscar winning.

But none of them track as well as the DGA Awards, which last split with the Oscars in 2002. There are only two cases where the DGA went to a director who wasn't Oscar nominated - Ron Howard for Apollo 13 and Stephen Spielberg for The Color Purple. There's some thought Affleck could win the DGA based on momentum and the wider voting pool.

But even he does pull that off, there's the one last hurdle to clear - the very small number of movies that have won the Best Picture Oscar without having its director nominated. It has happened three times, most recently with Driving Miss Daisy. That was almost 25 years ago. The other two instances happened in the very early days of the award (Wings and Grand Hotel), when voting rules were very different. So for all of the buzz, I'd say the odds are still stacked against Affleck, even if those odds are shifting in his favor.

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