More influential groups have weighed in with their picks for the best movies and performances of 2005. First it was the critics groups in early December, then journalists and their ten best lists at the end of the month, now the industry's four big guilds have spoken. In the past two days, the Directors Guild, Producers Guild, Screen Actors Guild, and Writers Guild all named the nominees for their top awards. With the coveted Oscar nominations just over four weeks away, four films emerged as favorites of the guilds this week and all come from Indiewood specialty divisions or independent companies: "Brokeback Mountain", "Capote", "Crash", and "Good Night, And Good Luck."
[The complete list of guild nominees is published below.]
Among the most prestigious guild honors is the 58th annual award bestowed by the DGA, which yesterday named the nominees for outstanding directorial achievement in 2005, selecting as nominees, George Clooney ("Good Night, And Good Luck"), Paul Haggis ("Crash"), Ang Lee ("Brokeback Mountain"), Bennett Miller ("Capote"), and Steven Spielberg ("Munich").
The recent round of honors positions a handful of films as contenders for Oscar nods, as marketers spend massive amounts of money to woo the nearly 5,800 members of the Academy. In a true test of PR prowess and financial confidence, Focus Features, Sony Pictures Classics, and Warner Independent will find themselves battling each other for Oscar attention. Beyond the aforementioned four films (Focus' "Brokeback", SPC's "Capote", and Warner Indie's "Good Night") that are receiving a lot of attention this week, some insiders also expect modest-sized studio films like "Walk The Line" from Fox, "Munich" from Universal and "Syriana" from Warners to figure into the voting while big studio movies like "King Kong" and "Memoirs of a Geisha" seem to be figuring less prominently.
Online, Oscar prognosticators are tracking every move in the race to the Academy Award nominations on January 31st (the ceremony will be held on March 5th and hosted by Jon Stewart). According to one of the leading awards season observers, Dave Poland of Movie City News, the race for Oscar gold hasn't changed much in light of this week's guild announcements. "These are the movies that have been in play for months and they still are," he told indieWIRE Thursday.
For the Hollywood studios, which own the specialty divisions that have become the heart of awards season, the success of smaller films like "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote" and "Good Night, And Good Luck" during this awards season will mean wider awareness and potentially greater box office. "The way it is now, studios have to choose to go after awards first or to go commercial first. Of course, if you chase awards first and fail, you are dead commercially," Poland said, "On the flip side, movies like 'Brokeback Mountain', 'Good Night, And Good Luck', and 'Capote' have limited muscle without awards season."
Always anxious for a bitter battle, Poland added that without a single frontrunner, the campaign would be heating up with many films vying for attention. "It is doing to be a nasty dogfight....perhaps even worse after Oscar nods come out."
The complete list of directors, writers, actors, and producers guild nominations are listed below:
DIRECTORS GUILD OF AMERICA NOMINATIONS:
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film
George Clooney, "Good Night, And Good Luck"
Paul Haggis, "Crash"
Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"
Bennett Miller, "Capote"
Steven Spielberg, "Munich"
WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA NOMINATIONS:
"Cinderella Man", Screenplay by Cliff Hollingsworth and Akiva Goldsman, Story by Cliff Hollingsworth
"Crash", Screenplay by Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco, Story by Paul Haggis
"The 40-Year Old Virgin", Written by Judd Apatow & Steve Carell
"Good Night, And Good Luck", Written by George Clooney & Grant Heslov, Warner Independent Pictures
"The Squid and the Whale", Written by Noah Baumbach, Samuel Goldwyn Films
"Brokeback Mountain", Screenplay by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, Based on the Short Story by Annie Proulx
"Capote", Screenplay by Dan Futterman, Based on the Book by Gerald Clarke
"The Constant Gardener", Screenplay by Jeffrey Caine, Based on the Novel by John le Carre
"A History of Violence", Screenplay by Josh Olson, Based on the Graphic Novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke
"Syriana", Written by Stephen Gaghan, Based on the Book "See No Evil" by Robert Baer
SCREEN ACTORS GUILD NOMINATIONS:
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Russell Crowe, "Cinderella Man"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"
Heath Ledger, "Brokeback Mountain"
Joaquin Phoenix, "Walk The Line"
David Strathairn, "Good Night, Good Luck"
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Judi Dench, "Mrs. Henderson Presents"
Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica"
Charlize Theron, "North Country"
Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line"
Ziyi Zhang, "Memoirs of a Geisha"
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Don Cheadle, "Crash"
George Clooney, "Syriana"
Matt Dillon, "Crash"
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man"
Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain"
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, "Junebug"
Catherine Keener, "Capote"
Frances McDormand, "North Country"
Rachel Weisz, "The Constant Gardener"
Michelle Williams, "Brokeback Mountain"
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
"Good Night, And Good Luck"
"Hustle & Flow"
PRODUCERS GUILD OF AMERICA NOMINATIONS
Theatrical Motion Picture
"Brokeback Mountain": Diana Ossana, James Schamus
"Capote": Caroline Baron, William Vince, Michael Ohoven
"Crash": Paul Haggis, Cathy Schulman
"Good Night, And Good Luck": Grant Heslov
"Walk The Line": James Keach, Cathy Konrad