What if we had told you that a biopic was about to come out telling the life story of an American Olympian and WWII survivor, adapted by multi-Oscar-winning screenwriters from a New York Times bestseller, and directed by one of the biggest female stars in the world. Hello Oscar! Right? Well, it may not be that easy but certainly not impossible.
“Unbroken” has been the biggest head-scratcher this awards season, especially given the mega names behind the camera: Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie directs, and Oscar-winners Joel and Ethan Coen are among the writers behind what should be a sure-fire Oscar contender. But if you look at the precursors we use to gauge what we’ll likely see as the Oscar nominees, the glaring omissions have included Jolie, the Coen brothers, and the film itself.
The Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild, and Producers Guild and now BAFTA have all shut-out “Unbroken,” and that has to make Jolie and the Coens pretty nervous, right? Well, maybe not. With the Directors Guild nominations yet to come, “Unbroken” still has a chance to break into the race, but even if it misses out on that it can still make it in. How? Let’s take a look:
The Oscars expanded Best Picture to as many as 10 slots starting in in 2009, and “A Serious Man” took advantage of that right away. The Coen brothers wrote and directed that film, which received just a single nomination apiece from the Globes (Best Musical/Comedy Actor for Michael Stuhlbarg) and BAFTA (Best Original Screenplay for the Coens), and of the guilds it only landed a WGA nomination (Original Screenplay again) after having been shut out at SAG, PGA, and DGA.
In 2012, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” got zero love from the Globes, SAG, DGA, or WGA, but it did score a PGA nomination for Best Picture and an Adapted Screenplay nomination (Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin) from BAFTA. Oscar didn’t care about its earlier shortfall; they gave it nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Quvenzhane Wallis), Best Director (Zeitlin), and Adapted Screenplay.
But probably the biggest gleam of hope for Jolie, the Coen brothers, and “Unbroken” comes from “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” back in 2011. Even though it was directed by Oscar-nominee Stephen Daldry from a screenplay by Oscar-winner Eric Roth, and starred Oscar-winners Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock and Oscar-nominee Max von Sydow, it was still shut completely out of SAG, DGA, WGA, PGA, BAFTA, and the Golden Globes. But again, Oscar wasn’t paying attention and rewarded it with a Best Picture nomination and a Supporting Actor nomination (Von Sydow).
“Oh, but ‘Unbroken’ only has a 59 Metacritic score,” you say? Oscar doesn’t care. “Extremely Loud” only had a 46! It didn’t even land on AFI’s top 10 list, which, by the way, “A Serious Man,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” and even “Unbroken” all did.
So there you have it, Mrs. Jolie-Pitt and Universal Pictures. Hope is not lost. Landing a nomination from DGA may help solidify at the least a Best Picture Oscar nomination, but even without it, the fact is that Oscar takes care of their own and that’s great news for the hopes of “Unbroken,” which should stay true to its title come Oscar nomination morning.
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