One more week to the Oscars. If you look at most Hollywood trade sites that run Oscar ads, you may notice a distinct change. All of those "For Your Consideration" ads are gone. Oscar Phase Two is over. Ballots are due at Academy Tuesday after the Monday holiday, so most voters have already mailed them in. Awards campaigning is done.
What happens now is that entertainment media will still flog the Oscar race with consumers right up to Sunday's telecast. (Kenneth Turan and I debated our picks on KUSC; Part Two is on Saturnday morning.) Oscar party planning is under way. And winning distributors (read: Harvey Weinstein; Newsweek comeback story here) will try to eke as much of a box office bump as they can from their wins. (Oscar box office analysis here.) And Oscar pundits will update their final predictions to help you win your Oscar Pools. In a year like this, when most of the outcomes are clear and undramatic–thank God for the Best Actor race–the devil is in the tech categories.
Hence this weekend's last gasp of Guild Awards (Writers, Editors and Sound), along with the USC Scripter Awards, helped to solidify my picks in several categories. We can confidently go with "Hugo" for the two sound Oscars, for example, and "The Descendants" and "Midnight in Paris," respectively, should take the two writing categories.
Best Editing will depend on how long the coattails of "The Artist" turn out to be. The Eddie Awards separate comedy and drama. Drama winner "The Descendants" did win Adapted Screenplay at both the WGA and USC Scripters, so it looks strong in the final stretch, but it may wind up with only two Oscars, if not one: Best Actor for George Clooney and Best Adapted Screenplay. Because picture and director will likely go to "The Artist," and Clooney is by no means a sure thing –Jean Dujardin could win, and everyone knows this–it's even more likely that "The Descendants" will take home the writing prize.
And Woody Allen is a likely winner for Original Screenplay for the same reason–"Midnight in Paris" has to win something. But if Michel Hazanavicius beats him (he was not eligible for the WGA), that will show how strong "The Artist" really is.
"Hugo," which earned the most Oscar nominations, eleven to "The Artist"'s ten, will probably not take Best Picture or Director either (Martin Scorsese won too recently for "The Departed"), but should win costumes, production design, the two sound categories and maybe editing. Again, "The Artist" could knock out "Hugo," but Thelma Schoonmaker is a strong favorite. After all, the Academy, while it is largely male, senior and white (as the LA Times reports–is this news?) may favor some of its own.
At the Writers Guild Awards Sunday night, Zooey Deschanel and Joel McHale were game and delightful hosts. Only one big glitch occurred. Awards are handed out in both L.A. and N.Y. ; as director David Fincher charmingly video-tributed his "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" writer and Laurel Awards for Screen winner Eric Roth–"Here is a kindred spirit who hated more people than I do, I could build on that," he said–the NYT's Carpetbagger tweeted New York's announcement of the win for "The Descendants," well ahead of the West Coast. It was odd, because all three winning writers were at the Hollywood Palladium: said Payne, "Kaui, thanks so much for letting us into your world."
The complete list of Writers Guild winners is below.
Midnight in Paris, Written by Woody Allen; Sony Pictures Classics
Adapted Screenplay – Film
The Descendants, Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash; Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings; Fox Searchlight
Documentary Screenplay – Film
Better This World, Written by Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega; Loteria Films
Breaking Bad, Written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett; AMC
Modern Family, Written by Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Elaine Ko, Carol Leifer, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Brad Walsh, Ilana Wernick, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker; ABC
Homeland, Written by Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Gideon Raff, Meredith Stiehm; Showtime
Long Form – Original
Cinema Verite, Written by David Seltzer; HBO
Long Form – Adapted
Too Big to Fail, Written by Peter Gould, Based on the book written by Andrew Ross Sorkin; HBO
The Colbert Report, Writers: Michael Brumm, Stephen Colbert, Rich Dahm, Paul Dinello, Eric Drysdale, Rob Dubbin, Glenn Eichler, Dan Guterman, Peter Gwinn, Jay Katsir, Barry Julien, Frank Lesser, Opus Moreschi, Tom Purcell, Meredith Scardino, Scott Sherman, Max Werner; Comedy Central