The global Hollywood film community rediscovered makeup, tight shoes, Spanx, tuxes, and hairspray in the last few weeks, as a range of talent from in front of and behind the camera emerged from lockdown into a swirl of awards activity, eager and happy to re-engage with each other and a public hungry for stimulation. It started with the SAG Awards February 27 and has been non-stop ever since, from Santa Barbara tributes and panels, the Indie Spirit Awards, the annual Oscar nominees and AFI Awards lunches and the most predictive awards shows of all: this weekend’s DGA, Critics Choice, and BAFTAs.
Heading into the final stretch (as Oscar ballots are filed March 17–22 ahead of the Academy Awards March 27), next weekend brings the PGA, ASC, and WGA Awards. Here’s what we learned about who’s ahead and who’s behind.
1. “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) scored everything it needed to win (DGA, Critics Choice, BAFTA), heading into the likely scenario on Oscar night of two major awards: Best Picture and Best Director. Last week New Zealand’s veteran director Jane Campion finally emerged from COVID-19 quarantine (after flying through London) to deliver a series of eloquent acceptance speeches leaning into her strength: She’s an aspirational role model who supports empowering women’s voices. Campion followed last year’s DGA winner Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”) as the third woman to win the DGA award (along with Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”) and the first to be nominated twice, as she is for the Oscar.
No question, she can hold her own. “I remember being the only woman in the room. It’s time to put that behind,” Campion told the Beverly Hilton ballroom. And, she told me at the Critics Choice Netflix after party, she had prepared her response to the inevitable question of what she thought of Sam Elliott’s misogynistic criticisms of a woman director daring to shoot a Western in New Zealand. Her answer went viral:
Jane Campion responds to Sam Elliott’s #ThePowerOfTheDog comments: “I’m sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H. He’s not a cowboy; he’s an actor. The West is a mythic space and there’s a lot of room on the range. I think it’s a little bit sexist.” https://t.co/I32wQ8lCiF pic.twitter.com/Tftq4AoXCy
— Variety (@Variety) March 13, 2022
Campion followed her DGA win — against the formidable Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, Denis Villeneuve, and Kenneth Branagh — with five BAFTA and four Critics Choice wins, which presage more likely prizes at the upcoming PGA Awards and Oscars. What she didn’t anticipate was blowback from her Critic Choice acceptance speech, when she said: “Venus and Serena, you’re marvels but you don’t have to compete against the men like I do.” She later danced with Venus Williams at the Netflix afterparty and subsequently issued an apology, so there seemed to be no hard feelings.
When “The Power of the Dog” did not land a SAG Ensemble nomination (but did score three acting nominations, followed by four acting Oscar slots), that opened the way for Sian Heder’s “CODA” (Apple TV+) to win that award. But the DGA win for “The Power of the Dog” gives it a clear lead in the race for Best Picture and Director. Overwhelmingly, the DGA winner wins the Best Director Oscar. Only eight times in 72 years has that not happened. And more often than not — 55 times — the DGA winner’s movie also wins Best Picture.
But Campion lost Adapted Screenplay to Heder at the BAFTAs, while taking it at the Critics Choice, along with Picture, Director, and Best Cinematography (Ari Wegner). At the WGA, “The Power of the Dog” is not eligible, and at the ASC and Oscars, the cinematography win could go to either Ari Wegner or BAFTA winner Greig Fraser for “Dune.”
2. “CODA” (Apple TV+): The SAG Ensemble winner is steady as it goes. It should take home at least one Oscar win, as SAG and Indie Spirit Supporting Actor winner Troy Kotsur continues to sweep, adding BAFTA and CCA wins to his collection of statuettes. With support from actors and writers, “CODA” also took home Adapted Screenplay at the BAFTAs, losing to “The Power of the Dog” at the CCAs, and is expected to win the WGA, where its rivals — Campion and Maggie Gyllenhaal, the USC Scripter, Indie Spirit, and DGA First Feature winner for “The Lost Daughter” — are not eligible.
The third possible “CODA” win, assuming the preferential ballot with 10 entries goes its way, is Best Picture. That answer will be clearer next weekend with the PGA Awards, which reflect the mainstream branches of the Academy most likely to give “CODA” high marks on a preferential ballot, but also tends to favor big-scale movies (eventual BP winners “Spotlight” and “Parasite” did not get PGA nominations). More often than not, the PGA winner lines up with Best Picture.
Finally, the stats are against this long-shot scenario, even with a lot of sentiment for the movie, because it is extremely rare for a Best Picture nominee to win without an Editing nomination. “Birdman” did it, but was perceived to be a one-take movie.
3. “Dune” (Warner Bros./HBO Max) cleaned up with the craft awards this weekend, dominating the BAFTAs with five total wins: Best Cinematography, Best Special Visual Effects, Best Sound, Best Score, and Best Production Design. And the film ultimately won three of the same awards at the CCAs (Production Design, VFX, and Score). The movie could land five or six on Oscar night.
4. “West Side Story” (20th Century/Disney): Afro-Latina breakout, SAG and Spirit winner Ariana DeBose, who is openly queer, continued her winning streak with BAFTA and CCA wins. It is unlikely that the updated musical will win anything else on Oscar night, as it isn’t nominated for the category it won at the BAFTAs: Editing.
©Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
5. “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (Searchlight): It looks like the matchup between acting and hair and makeup (“Darkest Hour,” “Amadeus,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” “La Vie en Rose,” “Iron Lady,” “Dallas Buyers Club”) could continue with Best Actress SAG and CCA winner Jessica Chastain (who along with all her fellow Best Actress Oscar nominees, was not nominated for a BAFTA), as well as her Hair Styling and Makeup team, which won their Guild’s top award.
6. “Belfast” (Focus) won one award at the CCAs that could repeat Oscar night: Best Original Screenplay, which went to Paul Thomas Anderson at the BAFTAs for “Licorice Pizza” (MGM-UA). That film is also favored to win at the WGA, where “Belfast” is not eligible. This race is a toss-up, as both popular writer-directors are long overdue for a win.
7. “King Richard” (Warner Bros./HBO Max) star Will Smith is sweeping Best Actor prizes, from SAG to BAFTA (where homegrown Benedict Cumberbatch was favored) to CCA. While Smith always thanks his Oscar-nominated costar Aunjanue Ellis, DeBose continues to steal her thunder. The ACE Eddie award went to “King Richard” veteran editor Pamela Martin (“Battle of the Sexes” and Oscar-nominated “The Fighter”), who was not nominated for a BAFTA. She could win on Oscar night for her nuanced work on this heartfelt family sports drama.
8. “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix) has been winning lately (three Indie Spirits for Screenplay, Director, and Feature, the Scripter for Adapted Screenplay, Best First Director at the DGA), but faces powerful rivals at the Oscars. Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”) lost to overdue Chastain at SAG and the CCAs, while Gyllenhaal faces two Best Picture Oscar nominees in the Adapted Screenplay category: Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” which took CCA, and BAFTA-winner “CODA.” It’s rare to win Adapted Screenplay without BP support.
9. “Drive My Car” (Janus) is sweeping its awards (Spirits, BAFTA, CCA) and should take the Best International Feature Film Oscar as well.
10. “Summer of Soul” (Searchlight) lost the top prizes at the IDA and Cinema Eye to “Flee,” and the DGA Award to “Attica,” but took home big wins at the CCA Documentary Awards, Spirits, and BAFTAs — which represents how the international voters may go. Rookie director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is hugely popular; this award is voted on by the entire Academy and tends to go mainstream (see “My Octopus Teacher”).
11. “Flee” (Neon), which won the Documentary Feature Gotham and the European Film Awards, is not likely to win an Oscar: Its three record nominations for Animated, Documentary, and International Feature are the win for this extraordinary documentary.
12. “Encanto” (Disney Animation) won the ACE editing award and the National Board of Review, Golden Globe, Visual Effects Society, and BAFTA for Animated Feature; EGOT-seeking songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is beloved in Hollywood, has four songs on the Billboard charts and could also win the Best Song Oscar. But he’s competing with Billie Eilish’s “No Time to Die,” which won the CCA for Best Song. The Oscar for Score will likely go to CCA and BAFTA winning “Dune” composer Hans Zimmer.
13. “The Mitchells vs the Machines” (Netflix) won the top Annie award as well as the Critics Choice, so rookie director Mike Rianda and his producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are still in the running for the Oscar.
15. “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight) is in the running for four craft Oscars, but is not favored to win; it did not take home any BAFTA or CCA Awards. Beloved Oscar-winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”), who hosted a stream of visitors at his table at the Critics Choice Awards, will be back.