Guilds as guideposts to Oscar nominations

While the Screen Actors Guild awards has proven to be an accurate bellwether for forecasting the eventual Oscar nominees, the other guild awards enjoy varying degrees of success at presaging the picks of their respective branches of the academy.  

Unlike last year, the lineup for this year’s Directors Guild of America awards did not repeat at the Oscars as Christopher Nolan (“Inception”) was once again bumped out by an academy favorite, this time the team of Joel and Ethan Coen (“True Grit”). In 2008, DGA nominee Nolan (“The Dark Knight”) lost his slot at the Oscars to Stephen Daldry (“The Reader”). Back in 2001, DGA nominees Nolan (“Memento”) and Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge!”) were passed over by the directors branch of the academy in favor of Robert Altman (“Gosford Park”) and David Lynch (“Mulholland Drive”). In 2007, DGA nominee Sean Penn (“Into the Wild”) was replaced by Jason Reitman who helmed Best Picture contender “Juno.”

Of this year’s 10 PGA nominees for top film, nine of them earned Best Picture bids with “Winter’s Bone” replacing PGA pick “The Town.” Last year, the PGA forecast 8 out of the 10 eventual Oscar nominees; the exceptions saw one box office champ — “Star Trek” — replaced by another — “The Blind Side” — and one set of Oscar favorites — Clint Eastwood and “Invictus” — lose out to another — the Coen brothers and “A Serious Man.” In 2008, the PGA went four for five with the Oscar contenders as “The Dark Knight” was bumped by “The Reader.” In 2007, it was also four for five with PGA nominee “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” replaced by “Atonement.”

Comparing this year’s WGA nominees with those of the academy is problematic given that so many of the contenders were ruled ineligible by the WGA including a pair of eventual Oscar nominees for both Original Screenplay — “Another Year” and “The King’s Speech” — and Adapted Screenplay — “Toy Story 3 and “Winter’s Bone.”

Last year, only two of the five WGA nominees for original screenplay – eventual champ “The Hurt Locker” and “A Serious Man” – contended at the Oscars. In 2008, just one of the five WGA nominees for original screenplay made it into the Oscar race — eventual winner Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”). In 2007, the WGA picks lined up with the Oscar nominees except for “Knocked Up,” which was knocked out of the competition by the team that whipped up “Ratatouille.”

Last year’s adapted screenplay Oscar race only included two of the WGA nominees as well – eventual winner “Precious” and “Up in the Air.” In 2008, the Oscars went four for five with only the WGA nominees for “The Dark Knight” bumped by David Hare, who adapted “The Reader.” In 2007, Sean Penn, who wowed the WGA with his adaptation of “Into the Wild,” was snubbed at the Oscars as was the scripter for “Zodiac.” They were replaced by “Atonement” adapter Christopher Hampton and first time writer-director Sarah Polley.

This year’s Oscar nominees for best cinematography lined up with the American Society of Cinematographers choices. Last year, it was four for five with the exception of “Nine” lenser Dion Beebe, who was replaced by “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” shooter Bruno Delbonnel. In 2008, ASC nominee Roger Deakins (“Revolutionary Road”) was replaced at the Oscars by Tom Stern for “Changeling.” In 2007, the ASC went five for five.

This year’s Oscar nominees for editing include four of the American Cinema Editors’ picks with “127 Hours” bumping “Inception.” Last year, just three of their choices made the cut with “Inglourious Basterds” and “Precious” replacing “Star Trek” and “Up in the Air.” In 2008, the nominees lined up while in 2007 ACE nominee “Michael Clayton” was replaced by “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”

This year, the full slate of Oscar nominees was forecast by the Art Directors Guild in their choices for period and fantasy films. Last year, just one of the ADG choices for period production design — “Sherlock Holmes” — contended at the Oscars. In 2008, two of the five ADG choices for period production design — “Changeling” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” — made the Oscar race, andin 2007, it was four. In 2009, 2008 and 2007 only one of the five fantasy nominees — “Avatar” — is in the running at the Oscars.

This year, two of the three Costume Designers Guild nominees for period film costumes — “The King’s Speech” and “True Grit” — and two of their three fantasy choices — “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Tempest” figure in the five Oscar nominees with “I Am Love” filling out the category.  Last year, three of the five period film CDG nominees — “Coco Before Chanel,” “Nine” and “The Young Victoria” — contended at the Oscars. In both 208 and 2007, four of the CDG choices for period film costumes made the final five at the Oscars.

Only three of this year’s Cinema Audio Society nominees for sound mixing are Oscar nominated with “Black Swan” and “Shutter Island” replaced by “The King’s Speech” and “Salt.” Last year, four of the five contended at the Oscars with just “District 9” being replaced by “Inglourious Basterds.” In both 2008 and 2007, three of the five CAS picks for sound mixing were Oscar nominees as well. 

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