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Your Guide to Awards Season (And Who Might Win)

Your Guide to Awards Season (And Who Might Win)

It’s here. Though there have been a few nomination announcements already, awards season is about to ramp up in serious fashion. And by “about to,” we mean today. Working as precursors to the grand finale that is the Oscars, we’ll be getting kudos coming at us almost daily between now and the end of January (with a break over Christmas), starting with the New York Film Critics Circle this afternoon. And while we’re not about to preview all of them (there’s go to be at least 100 groups announcing prizes these days), we will give you a heads up on 9 of the most notable Oscar precursors, from the big three critics’ awards to the Golden Globes to the guild awards.

New York Film Critics Circle

Who are they? Around since 1935, the NYFCC is made up of New York-based film critics, and as of late they’ve become the first critics’ group to announce their annual awards.
When do they announce? They vote on and announce the winners on December 1st (today!).
What were the big winners last year? The NYFCC surprised many (and irked a few) in 2013 by going with David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” for Best Film, Best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay. Other winners included eventual Oscar winners Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto, and eventual Oscar snub Robert Redford. Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” got a runner-up status in four major categories (including Best Film), and only won Best Director.
What might they go for this time around? It’s hard to imagine “Boyhood” and “Birdman” not being major players here, though watch out for “Foxcatcher,” “Selma,” “Mr. Turner” (the NYFCC love them some Mike Leigh, historically) “Whiplash” and just screened “Unbroken.” The acting races should be very interesting given they will be the first to announce, though at this point Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, JK Simmons and Patricia Arquette are probably the safest bets. Though it’d be shocking if all four ended up winning.

National Board of Review

Who are they? The oldest critics’ group — they’ve been around since 1909 — the NBR isn’t actually made up of all critics. The membership is noted as a “select group of film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals, academics and student,” which often makes for eclectic winners (for better or worse).
When do they announce? They vote on and announce the winners on December 2nd.
What were the big winners last year? The NBR rather boldly went with Spike Jonze’s “Her” for both Best Film and Best Director, and spread out their acting winners with three folks that didn’t end up getting Oscar nods — Emma Thompson, Will Forte and Octavia Spencer — and one eventual nominee, Bruce Dern.
What might they go for this time around? The NBR can be pretty wacky in their choices — though that’s not always a bad thing. For every Clint Eastwood winning Best Director for “Invictus” there’s a Ann Dowd winning Best Supporting Actress for “Compliance.” Which makes them very hard to predict. Like any group this season, “Birdman” and “Boyhood” could factor in, but Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” also smells like something the NBR would go for. They also do, as noted, love Clint Eastwood, so watch out for “American Sniper.” As for acting winners, we’ll bet — with very little confidence — that Steve Carell, Rosamund Pike, Edward Norton and Meryl Streep will be their quartet. Expect us to be wrong.

Los Angeles Film Critics Association

Who are they? Founded in 1975, the LAFCA — made up, as one would guess, of L.A. based critics — have tended to be a little more high brow in their choices relative to the NYFCC and NBR. Think the stretch from 2009-2011 when Yolande Moreau (“Seraphine”), Kim Hye-ja (“Mother”) and Yoon Jeong-hee (“Poetry”) won Best Actress.
When do they announce? They vote on and announce the winners on December 7th.
What were the big winners last year? Lots of ties: “Gravity” and “Her” tied for Best Picture, Cate Blanchett and Adele Exarchopoulos tied for Best Actress, and James Franco and Jared Leto tied for Best Supporting Actor. Solitary winners included Bruce Bern for Best Actor and Lupita Nyong’o for Best Supporting Actress.
What might they go for this time around? The mix will probably be similar to the various films noted with respect to the NYFCC, with “Birdman” and “Boyhood” again frontrunners. But watch out for some shockers. Like Anne Dorval (“Mommy”) for Best Actress, perhaps? Or maybe Scarlett Johannson (“Under The Skin”)? Michael Keaton seems like a safer bet for Best Actor here than anywhere else, and JK Simmons is definitely in the kind of position to sweep all the critics’ prizes. We’ll find out soon enough.

Screen Actors Guild Awards

Who are they? The Screen Actors Guild is a labor union representing over 160,000 film and television actors, and since 1994 they’ve been voting on annual awards for acting in film and television. They have a very wide voting base compared to the Globes or Oscars.
When do they announce? On December 10th we’ll get the nominations and then the winners come January 25th.
What were the big winners last year? The SAG Awards celebrated their 20th anniversary last year by offering the same four winners that Oscar did — McConaughey, Blanchett, Leto and Nyong’o. “American Hustle” won Best Cast.
What might they go for this time around? Whatever the nominees end up being, expect Oscar to look fairly similar. Last year, SAG went 14 out of 20 in predicting Oscar’s acting categories. Sure bets at this point seem like Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberatch, Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Felicity Jones, JK Simmons, Edward Norton, Patricia Arquette, Keira Knightley and yes, Meryl Streep. And we’d be surprised if “Selma,” “Birdman,” “Foxcatcher” and “Into The Woods” weren’t in the Best Cast mix.

Golden Globe Awards

Who are they? The unofficial second fiddle of awards season to the Oscars, at least in terms of general anticipation and viewership, the Golden Globes come to us via the rather strange Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an organization of journalists and photographers that report on the entertainment industry activity and interests in the United States for information outlets predominantly outside the U.S. In their 72nd year, only about 90 people decide on the Golden Globes, despite their status.
When do they announce? Nominations on December 10th, winners on January 11th,
What were the big winners last year? “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle” won the Best Motion Picture
awards in the drama and comedy/musical categories, respectively, while
Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Amy Adams, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jared
Leto and Jennifer Lawrence won the six competitive acting awards. Only
one Oscar winner — Lupita Nyong’o — didn’t win a Globe first last year.
What might they go for this time around? You can check out our full predictions in every category here.

Critics Choice Awards

Who are they? Formerly known as the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, these are the newest of the major precursors, and are voted on the Broadcast Film Critics Association. They have like a million categories, including Best Family Film, Best Action Film and Best Young Performer. And they tend to be more mainstream then most critics’ awards, not to mention very good Oscar predictors.
When do they announce? Nominations announced on December 15th and winners on January 15th.
What were the big winners last year? Remember the part about them being good Oscar predictors? Well, last year Best Picture, Best Director, all acting categories and both screenplay awards lined up perfectly with Oscar. Also notable: 16 of 20 folks nominated for acting Oscars were nominated here.
What might they go for this time around? “Selma,” “Boyhood,” “Unbroken,” “Birdman,” “The Imitation Game” and “The Theory of Everything” seem like very nominees for Best Picture, with the remaining four slots bigger question marks. “Foxcatcher,” “Gone Girl,” “Mr. Turner,” “Whiplash,” “American Sniper,” “Into The Woods” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” seem like the ones battling out for those slots. Last year, only “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Saving Mr. Banks” got Best Picture nods here and not at Oscar.

Producers Guild Awards

Who are they? The Producers Guild of America established these awards back in 1990, and in the 24 year since, the winners have corresponded with the Oscar for Best Picture all but six times (“The Crying Game,” “Apollo 13,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Moulin Rouge!,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “Little Miss Sunshine” were the odd folks out).
When do they announce? Nominations out January 5th, winners on January 24th.
What were the big winners last year? Technically, “Gravity” can be added to that list of winners at the PGA that didn’t win the Best Picture Oscar, because last year it tied “12 Years a Slave” here in a PGA Award first.
What might they go for this time around? Let’s just make a full-on prediction for the PGA Awards’ ten nominees of its top award: “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “Foxcatcher,” “Gone Girl,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “Into The Woods,” “Selma,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Unbroken.” Though January 5th is still more than a month away.

Directors Guild Awards

Who are they? The Directors Guild of America have been handed out these awards for 67 years. Only seven times since the DGA Award’s inception has the DGA Award winner not won the Academy Award for Best Director.
When do they announce? Nominations are out January 13th, and winners on February 7th.
What were the big winners last year? Alfonso Cuaron won here just as he did at the Oscars, and the nominees went for four for five, with Paul Greengrass getting in here and Alexander Payne getting in at the Oscars.
What might they go for this time around? Richard Linklater, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Ava DuVernay look pretty solid, with Angelina Jolie, Morten Tyldum, James Marsh, David Fincher, Bennett Miller, Damien Chazelle, Clint Eastwood and Mike Leigh among the many contenders for the final two slots. If DuVernay and Jolie both get in, it’ll be the first time ever two women were nominated in the same year.


Who are they? Handed out since 1948 by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, these are basically the UK equivalent of the Oscars, except unlike most national awards, films from any country are eligible. They usually look very much like the Oscars, except with British films tending to do a bit better overall here.
When do they announce? BAFTA will announce their nominations on January 9th, and the winners nearly a month later on February 8th.
What were the big winners last year? Cate Blanchett was the only acting winner to correspond with Oscar, with Chiewtel Ejiofor, Barkhad Abdi and Jennifer Lawrence all surprising. “12 Years a Slave” and Alfonso Cuaron won Best Film and Best Director, respectively, and “Gravity” oddly managed to win Best British Film.
What might they go for this time around? British titles “The Imitation Game” and “The Theory of Everything” will surely be big fixtures here, alongside American favorites “Selma,” “Unbroken,” “Boyhood” and “Birdman.” And you can be pretty certain brits David Oyelowo, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne will all be nominated for Best Actor.

Peter Knegt is Indiewire’s Contributing Editor and awards columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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