We’re at T-minus six days before the announcement of Oscar nominations, and various prognosticators are busy trying to get their final ducks in a row, reading tea leaves and chicken intestine (or whatever) to try and get a sense of how one of the most fiercely competitive awards season in memory is going to play out in the next phase. The DGA nominations this week brought few surprises, and the Golden Globes on Sunday will be too late to affect anything (Oscar voting has closed, and counting is underway), so now it’s just a question of waiting and second-guessing yourself.
Our final and irrevocable Academy Award nomination predictions will arrive next week, but we wanted to sneak in one more awards update before then. We’ll have some brief predictions for the Golden Globes on Sunday on the next page, but first, now that the votes are in, we wanted to talk a little bit about the people who actually did the voting.
Well, we say people, but we mean stereotypes that we’ve mostly invented. But there’s a serious point here—for all that some like to roll their eyes at the Academy and their choices, they’re far from a homogenous organization. Sure, for the most part, they’re white, male, wealthy, and old, but like any decently-sized group, there’s plenty of diversity of opinion, even if not actual diversity. Tough, there has been a push to create a more diverse Academy with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Paula Patton, Michael Pena, Emannuelle Riva, Chris Tucker, Ava DuVernay, Pablo Larrain, Jafar Panahi, Steve McQueen, Todd Phillips, Lena Dunham and Danny Trejo among the 2013 invitees. So always remember that when you diss the Academy, that Machete himself is a member, and could be coming for you.
Again, the majority are likely to be more on the Old White Guy side of things, but the Academy is changing, and that’s been born up in recent years by things like Best Picture nominations for “District 9,” “A Serious Man,” “Winter’s Bone,” “Black Swan,” “The Tree Of Life” and “Amour,” as well as last year’s Directing nominations, which saw Michael Haneke and Benh Zeitlin given the nod over more traditionally establishment figures. So, for a little insight into who’s been voting for what, we’ve broken down the likely groups and factions within the Academy, and what their ballots are likely to have been topped by. Take a look below, Golden Globe predictions are on the next page.
And, we hope it goes without saying that this is all to be taken with something of a pinch of salt—we’re painting with broad strokes here, and this is mostly for fun (though there’s some serious points underlying it).
The Studio Executives
Who: Started in development or as a low-level producer, worked their way up the studio ladder, are now fully-fledged moguls. Like and respect the art, but doubly so if the art made a bunch of money. Not a huge group, all told.
Example: Disney head Alan Horn, or Sony chairwoman Amy Pascal.
First Choice: “Gravity.” A mix of state-of-the-art craft, and a shitload of money in the bank. They might not have been willing to press the greenlight button themselves, but they’re glad someone did. And they’re probably developing at least one rip-off by now.
Other Options: Muscular commercial fare like “Captain Phillips,” or the celebrating-the-studio-system message of “Saving Mr. Banks” could also appeal. “American Hustle” and, depending on their constitution, “The Wolf Of Wall Street” have also made enough money to make an impact.
Least Likely To Vote For: “All Is Lost.” They respect Robert Redford, and are glad he’s doing a Marvel movie, but a $7 million box office total is not something that registers on their radar.
The Studio Lifer
Who: Never rose to be the big boss, but worked quite happily in the system for a long time. Might be prone to more maverick tastes than the higher-ups, but still leans mostly mainstream. Includes not just junior executives and producers, but also publicists and similar outliers.
Example: These guys and girls mostly work in the shadows, but someone like former New Line boss/”The Social Network” producer/current Columbia co-President of Production Michael DeLuca fits here, along with his younger colleague Hannah Minghella.
First Choice: “American Hustle.” An old-fashioned kind of movie, not as vulgar as the Scorsese picture, smart and ’70s-ish, and sold principally on stars rather than high concept.
Other Options: Those who retired already might be more likely to go for “Saving Mr. Banks,” while “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” are also possibilities.
Least Likely To Vote For: “Inside Llewyn Davis.” The Coens‘ latest is a film about failure, and failure is not something that these guys like to engage with, because failure means they’re losing their jobs.
Who: Directors, cinematographers and the occasional actor or producer who believe that the filmmaker is king. Probably leaning under 60, for the most part, they reward distinctive voices and A-list filmmakers, and aren’t afraid of a bit of blood and guts. This is the group that got Terrence Malick and Michael Haneke Director nominations, or “Django Unchained” in the Best Picture race.
Example: Filmmakers like David Fincher, Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino probably tick this box, or younger actors like Seth Rogen or Jessica Chastain.
First Choice: “The Wolf Of Wall Street“—they probably grew up on Scorsese‘s movies, and are delighted to see him back on the territory where he flourishes best. The length and the language/sexuality doesn’t phase them much either (though some of the backlash against the film might give them a little pause, if it’s on their radar).
Other Options: “12 Years A Slave” and “Gravity” both display distinctive directorial voices, as does “American Hustle” (though this group is much more likely to go for full-fat Scorsese, rather than Russell’s more freewheeling version). “Her” and “Inside Llewyn Davis” could also pick up votes here.
Least Likely To Vote For: “Saving Mr. Banks” or “Dallas Buyers Club“—performance-driven movies directed by people that they’ve barely heard of.
Who: Close cousins to the Auteurists, but lean a little artsier. Not necessarily averse to sex and drugs and violence, but prefer their films a little quieter, paying more attention to the festival circuit and international filmmakers than most. They know that a vote for “Blue Is The Warmest Color” in Best Picture might be a wasted one, but they don’t care. They pay more attention to critics’ top 10 lists than to guild award or Golden Globes. Likely to include a big bulk of international filmmakers and crew members too.
Example: Steven Soderbergh or Ang Lee probably fall somewhere here, or international filmmakers like Michael Haneke (does Haneke vote? Gosh, we hope so).
First Choice: “Inside Llewyn Davis.” A Cannes premiere + “difficult’ material” + a brace of fine performances + a reminder of their early struggling days + critical adulation.
Other Options: “Her” will also be a big one here, and “12 Years A Slave.” Expect scattered votes for “Gravity,” “Nebraska” and “Blue Jasmine” too.
Least Likely To Vote For: “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” The director might have toned down his style, but it’s still pretty crude stuff. Plus they may well have had a run or two with Harvey Weinstein over the years.
The Hollywood Liberals
Who: The art is important to this group, but comes second to the message that they’re sending with their vote. Sometimes that message is about the film (“Milk,” “Precious“), sometimes the director (they would never have voted for Polanski for best director, as much as they liked “The Pianist“). Most likely to cause controversy with their acceptance speech if they were won something.
Example: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins or Jane Fonda.
First Choice: “12 Years A Slave,” easily. They felt uncomfortable about “Django Unchained,” but Steve McQueen‘s film is the best ever film about slavery, and one that treats its subject matter with bracing honesty.
Other Options: “Dallas Buyers Club,” although they find the decision to make an AIDS movie about a straight protagonist problematic. “Philomena” is also a possibility, though it’s a little too comforting for them.
Least Likely To Vote For: “Gravity.” The craft might be dazzling, but they dismissed it as a blockbuster long ago.
The Sensitive Hollywood Liberals
Who: The parents of the Hollywood liberals, who remember the Civil Rights struggle and wore AIDS ribbons in the 1980s. They’re still true-blue Democrats, and give money to causes, but prefer their political fare comforting rather than abrasive, and they’ve heard that “12 Years A Slave” is awfully hard to sit through, and if they do sit through it, it made them feel guilty rather than uplifted.
Example: Generally on the older side of things, so someone like Barbra Streisand could fit this category (though that’s probably unfair to her). Michael Moore‘s reaction to “Wolf Of Wall Street” suggests he’s heading this way too.
First Choice: “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” A touching and powerful reminder of the Civil Rights struggle, and watching it didn’t make them feel like Benedict Cumberbatch‘s “12 Years a Slave” character.
Other Options: “Philomena” will play really well with this contingent, and “Dallas Buyers Club” will definitely pick up votes too.
Least Likely To Vote For: “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which they worry might be more in love with Jordan Belfort’s lifestyle they they’d like.
The Red Meat Eaters
Who: We think this is Anne Thompson’s term, and it suits much better than Red Staters—this mostly older crowd aren’t necessarily right-wing, but they don’t respond to message movies much either. Often old-school, no-nonsense below-the-liners or stars of a certain age, they like westerns and war movies, and aren’t against the kind of blockbuster that helped put food on the table.
Example: Clint Eastwood is an obvious figurehead for this lot, or someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
First Choice: “Captain Phillips.” A little less woozy about its message than “Zero Dark Thirty” last year, it’s a tale of good old-fashioned heroism, and done on a big studio scale with a well-loved movie star.
Other Options: “Gravity” and “All Is Lost” might be a bit artsy-fartsy for some, but they’re options. They probably respect the moxy of Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but are more likely to go for “American Hustle,” while “Saving Mr. Banks” and even “August: Osage County” are possible too.
Least Likely To Vote For: “Her” and “Inside Llewyn Davis” feel a bit wussy and artsy for this lot, while they don’t appreciate the way that “12 Years a Slave” made them feel, even if they respect the craft.
The Family Men/Women
Who: Not necessarily as old as some, but probably with kids who haven’t left for college yet, or are even younger. The family always come first here, and while they might have been into more challenging fare when they were younger, but between work and the kids, their movie diet was dominated by Pixar for years. Don’t get to theaters much, and watched the movies on screeners over the holidays.
Example: Clean-cut movie stars like Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock or Matt Damon are sort of in the right ballpark (though in reality, their tastes probably lie in other directions).
First Choice: “Saving Mr. Banks.” Watched it on Christmas Day with the kids and grandparents: everyone laughed, everyone cried, no one had to see Leonardo DiCaprio blow coke up a hooker’s bumhole.
Other Options: If they were able to get the kids in bed in time for a little date night, “Her” and “American Hustle” could win some votes. “Nebraska” could be a favorite too, as could “Captain Phillips.”
Least Likely To Vote For: “August: Osage County,” which is too reminiscent of the Christmas before last, when Great-Aunt Susan didn’t take her medication and started singing some kind of racist folk song.
Who: Generally younger contingent, or at least those who are young at heart (we somehow imagine Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks and their “Breaking Bad“-marathon binge evenings together as fitting in here), who probably came up through the independent world, and have clung to that spirit, even if they just wrote and/or directed a superhero movie for more money than they’d earned in their life up to that point. Always looking for the bright new thing. Most likely to crossover with the tastes of the movie blogs they read. Hi guys!
Example: Lena Dunham or Benh Zeitlin seem like strong possibilities for this contingent, or someone like Joseph Gordon-Levitt from the actors’ branch.
First Choice: “Her.” With everything else looking back, this was the movie that really spoke about the world we live in, and the world we’ll soon be living in. It had a bunch of their favorite actors, and an Arcade Fire score, plus they love Spike Jonze‘s music videos.
Other Options: Scorsese and Russell’s films are possible here too, along with “Gravity” and “Fruitvale Station.” Any votes for “The Act of Killing” or “Short Term 12” in Best Picture will come from here.
Least Likely To Vote For: “Philomena.” They might actually enjoy it if they watched it, but it couldn’t look more boring on the screener cover. At least “Saving Mr. Banks” has Jason Schwartzman in it, for gods’ sake.
The British Contingent
Who: The single largest contingent of overseas voters, this is all the actors, craftsmen and directors who’ve been imported over along the years. They might have been living up in the Hollywood Hills for a decade, but they retain a certain patriotism, and tend to give home-grown product a boost. A bigger group than you’d imagine, they’re the ones who helped “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The King’s Speech” to victory.
Example: Tom Hooper, Judi Dench, Gary Oldman, Christian Bale.
First Choice: “Philomena.” There’s a lot of crossover with the BAFTA vote here, and Stephen Frears‘ film performance with that group suggests this’ll easily be the first choice of the U.K. mob, as the most purely homegrown choice on the ballot.
Other Options: “Gravity” and “Saving Mr. Banks” both qualified as British films under BAFTA’s rules, so could pick up some love here too, though “Philomena” is still the front-runner. Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiofor could get some “12 Years a Slave” votes too, and there could be some stray votes for “Mandela” too, while if anyone goes for “Rush,” it’ll be this lot.
Least Likely To Vote For: Judging by their complete absence from the BAFTA announcement, “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Her.”
The Technical Geeks
Who: We should stress that we mean “geeks” with all the love in the world: these are the editors, cinematographers, designers, sound and VFX guys who make everyone else look good. Respond to craft over art, though will always spare a vote for the actors who treated them like human beings on set, rather than the ones who screeched “get out of my eyeline” at them.
Example: Whenever someone has five Oscar nominations and two statues, and you don’t know their name, that’s one of these guys.
First Choice: “Gravity.” Astonishing craft on just about every level, this’ll dominate the votes from this faction.
Other Options: By and large, this group are immune to the politics of awards season, and will just vote for the work they respect. So look for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Her,” “American Hustle,” “Captain Phillips” and even “All Is Lost” to figure in on these ballots.
Least Likely To Vote For: There’s not much for these guys to get excited about in “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Nebraska” or “Philomena.”
The Working Actor
Who: Probably never an A-list name or box-office draw, but they’ve been plugging away as a character actor for decades, and are deeply respected in the community. Might have headlined an indie or two in their time, but generally play back-up, or have migrated to TV. Have worked with every single acting nominee.
Examples: Someone like Richard Jenkins, Melissa Leo, or anyone else who had a supporting role in a “Die Hard” rip-off set in the White House last year.
First Choice: “August: Osage County.” They got over being beaten by Chris Cooper or Margo Martindale for the role they wanted, they loved the play when they saw it on Broadway, and director John Wells gave them their first TV gig years back.
Other Options: Anything up for the SAG ensemble prize could figure in here, so “12 Years a Slave,” “American Hustle,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “The Butler” are all viable, as is “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The bigger the cast, the better.
Least Likely To Vote For: “Gravity.” They respect Sandra Bullock‘s performance, but don’t really think of it as an actor’s movie.
The Music Branch
Who: Composers and songwriters who see movies with their ears first and eyes second. They won’t necessarily favor musicals or the like, but performances and mise-en-scene are likely to take a backseat to a good sound mix and a powerful score.
Examples: Many, over the years, but Prince and Cliff Martinez are among those who joined the branch this year. Randy Newman and Hans Zimmer would be among the better known figures.
First Choice: Probably “Gravity.” Steven Price‘s score has to do some heavy lifting with the movie, and it’s placed front-and-center in a way that’s not true with that many of the nominees.
Other Options: “All Is Lost” has a similar feel, but may not have been seen enough. Those who were once struggling musicians will identify with “Inside Llewyn Davis” too, while songwriters should enjoy the “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” scene of “Saving Mr. Banks.”
Least Likely To Vote For: Of all the films here, “Blue Jasmine” is probably the least reliant on music, despite the recurrence of “Blue Moon.”
Who: The sickly little mole people, as Robert Downey Jr. called them while presenting a screenplay award a few years back: the hard working, mostly undersung screenwriters without whom none of the movies would exist, but who get only a tiny sliver of the credit, and absolutely none of the respect.
Examples: Aaron Sorkin, Steve Zaillian, Michael Arndt et al.
First Choice: If any one group is likely to go for “Blue Jasmine,” it’s this one, despite it proving once and for all that Woody Allen has absolutely no idea how people who aren’t Woody Allen talk in the 21st century.
Other Options: “American Hustle,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “August: Osage County” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” are all very viable options.
Least Likely To Vote For: Probably “All Is Lost,” what with the whole 30-page-script, four-lines-of-dialogue thing.
Old White People
Who: By far the largest contingent of Academy members (and who probably encompass most of the groups above), these are mostly retired men and women who love Hollywood, and love the privilege of voting for the awards. 45 years ago, they would have voted for “The Graduate” or “Bonnie & Clyde” for Best Picture, though now their choices might not be so edgy.
Examples: Throw a rock at an Academy screening and you’ll hit one. Just do it gently, or you’ll break someone’s hip.
First Choice: “Nebraska.” Gentle, funny and sweet, with enough bad language to make them feel a little edgy, but not enough that they’ll shout at the director in an elevator. Also, they can probably identify more with this than most of the nominees.
Other Options: “Saving Mr. Banks,” “Philomena” and “The Butler” could all be favorites here, but look for “American Hustle” and “Dallas Buyers Club” to do well here as well.
Least Likely To Vote For: A dead heat between “Her,” which they don’t really understand the premise of (phones can talk to you now?), and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which shocked and appalled them, despite the fact that they might well have been the person who introduced Scorsese to coke in the first place.
Anyway, we hope that was enlightening. The important thing to remember is that the film that wins Best Picture won’t be the one that the largest group gets behind, it’ll be the one that unites the most of these groups. That’s why something like “American Hustle,” an entertaining movie that appeals to multiple groups, could be the one to watch, although the importance of “12 Years a Slave” and the craft of “Gravity” will be major threats too.
So until we how it all played out, when the Oscar noms are revealed next week. Here’s our predictions for the Golden Globe awards which will be handed out Sunday night.
Best Motion Picture – Drama
“12 Years a Slave”
A tight race between “Gravity” and “12 Years A Slave,” but our money’s on the latter with the HFPA. Neither would be surprising, while an upset for “Philomena” isn’t inconceivable.
Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“The Wolf Of Wall Street”
“Her” might be a dark horse to watch, but this is likely going to the star-studded “American Hustle.”
Alfonso Cuaron – “Gravity”
Paul Greengrass – “Captain Phillips”
Steve McQueen – “12 Years a Slave”
Alexander Payne – “Nebraska”
David O Russell – “American Hustle”
As with the Academy, this is likely Cuaron’s, though McQueen could just squeeze past him (he’d be the first black winner in Globes history, and only Spike Lee was nominated before him).
Best Actress – Drama
Cate Blanchett – “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock – “Gravity”
Judi Dench – “Philomena”
Emma Thompson – “Saving Mr Banks”
Kate Winslet – “Labor Day”
Cate Blanchett. Next!
Best Actor – Drama
Chiwetel Ejiofor – “12 Years a Slave”
Idris Elba – “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Tom Hanks – “Captain Phillips”
Matthew McConaughey – “Dallas Buyers Club”
Robert Redford – “All Is Lost”
This is a very tough one, but we’d just take McConaughey over Ejiofor for the win here. Either one will likely become the Oscar front-runner after that, at least until the SAGs.
Best Actress – Comedy
Amy Adams – “American Hustle”
Julie Delpy – “Before Midnight”
Greta Gerwig – “Frances Ha”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Enough Said”
Meryl Streep – “August: Osage County”
Most will have their eye on Streep, but we have a gut feeling about Adams here: she’s well-liked, as is the film. Don’t rule out a shock upset from Gerwig or Louis-Dreyfus, though (remember Sally Hawkins winning for “Happy Go Lucky” in 2008, albeit in a weak year for the category).
Best Actor – Comedy/Musical
Christian Bale – “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern – “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio – “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Oscar Isaac – “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Joaquin Phoenix – “Her”
Almost anyone could win in a strong category, but we have a funny feeling about DiCaprio taking this one. Bruce Dern’s still the most realistic Oscar hope of the bunch, though.
Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins – “Blue Jasmine”
Jennifer Lawrence – “American Hustle”
Lupita N’yongo – “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts – “August: Osage County”
June Squibb – “Nebraska”
As with Oscar, it’s between J-Law and L-Nyo, but Nyong’o feels like she’ll have the edge here.
Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi – “Captain Phillips”
Daniel Bruhl – “Rush”
Bradley Cooper – “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender – “12 Years a Slave”
Jared Leto – “Dallas Buyers Club”
Almost certainly Jared Leto, though Bruhl or even Cooper could surprise.
Spike Jonze – “Her”
Bob Nelson – “Nebraska”
Jeff Pope & Steve Coogan – “Philomena”
John Ridley – “12 Years a Slave”
Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell – “American Hustle”
“Her” and “Philomena” both have a chance, but “American Hustle” should take this comfortably.
Best Foreign Film
“Blue Is The Warmest Color”
“The Great Beauty”
“The Wind Rises”
One of the tougher categories, this could conceivably go to anyone. The Cannes prestige of “Blue Is The Warmest Color” feels like the safest bet, though.
Best Animated Feature
“Despicable Me 2”
“Frozen,” by a hundred lengths, unless Universal bought every HFPA member their own personal Minion.
Best Original Score – Motion Picture
Alex Ebert – “All Is Lost ”
Alex Heffes – “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Steven Price – “Gravity”
John Williams – “The Book Thief”
Hans Zimmer – “12 Years a Slave”
Probably Price, though there could be an interesting upset from Ebert and “All Is Lost.”
Best Original Song – Motion Picture
“Atlas” – Coldplay – “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
“Let It Go – Idina Menzel – “Frozen”
”Ordinary Love” – U2 – “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom”
”Please Mr. Kennedy” – Justin Timberlake & co – “Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Sweeter Than Fiction” – Taylor Swift – “One Chance”
Easily the most prestigious category of the Golden Globes, the competition here is – oh, screw it, it’ll be “Frozen.”