SAG Awards Analysis: Three things we think we know about the Oscar race

By Sean O’Connell The Oscar race has cleared up over the past few days, with SAG and the BFCA announcing nominations for their respective awards programs (both considered dependable precursors for the Academy Awards). So while SAG threw more than a few curveballs our way in the various categories (um, Nicole Kidman?), there seem to be at least three things we can point to and say, “Yes, we know this to be true about the Oscar race.”

Until the next group announces and blows these three theories to smithereens.

What, then, do we think we have learned?

1. We have four legitimate frontrunners for Best Picture
Four movies earned both BFCA nominations for Best Film and SAG nominations for Outstanding Cast (the equivalent of Best Film). They are “Argo,” “Lincoln,” “Les Miserables” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” I’m comfortable saying that all four of those will earn Best Picture Oscar nods.

Now, which films will join them? More specifically, how many more films will join them? Oscar still remains fluid in terms of the number of slots it wants to fill in Best Picture. If I had to guess which other films will get into the Oscar race, I’d put money down on “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Life of Pi” and “Django Unchained.” After that, it becomes a question of how many movies the Academy wants to honor. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” could get in, as could “The Master” or “The Impossible.” Those last few slots are anyone’s game at the moment.

2. There are wildcards at play in the acting categories
Several names we expect to see: Denzel Washington for “Flight;” Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln;” Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook;” and Anne Hathaway for “Les Miserables.” Then there are the names that have surprised us at both SAG and the Critics’ Choice. Will they hold on to this momentum and earn Oscar nods?

Here are the names that somewhat shocked me: Ann Dowd. Javier Bardem (in both groups). Naoimi Watts (in both groups), who is VERY deserving for “The Impossible,” but I wasn’t sure enough voters had seen the film. Matthew McConaughey. Nicole Kidman! Almost all are deserving of Oscar love, yet some are going to have to be left out when the Academy nominates. Who will get in? We shall see.

3. Some films are dying. Others are dead.
“Cloud Atlas” is a stunning piece of filmmaking. It does not appear to be an Oscar contender. Neither is Gus Van Sant’s “The Promised Land,” which made no waves over the past 48 hours. “Anna Karenina” was largely ignored by the voting bodies. “The Hobbit” is not getting any momentum. And while “The Master” earned a few nods, it is not the Oscar powerhouse many thought it would be back in September, when critics fawned.

There’s still time for films on the fringe to turn their fates. But it appears that the race is solidifying, with movies like “Lincoln,” “Les Miserables,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Argo” positioning themselves at the head of the pack. Will it stay that way? Likely not. The race is an ever-shifting animal.

For now, that’s the lay of the land. At least, until the Golden Globes tomorrow.

Read more of our exclusive Awards coverage:
Robert Zemeckis to be honored at Palm Springs.
Our “Silver Linings Playbook” review
Ben Affleck tells us about “Argo” and the possibility of more Dennis Lehane stories
Bryan Cranston calls “Argo” his “proudest moment in motion pictures.”
Helen Hunt opens up about on-screen nudity for “The Sessions”
Amy Adams lends strength to “The Master”
“Arbitrage” director Nicholas Jarecki on Richard Gere and the Oscar race.
Producer Harvey Weinstein

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