Breaking down the precursor awards — both nominations and winners — as well as the top Oscar nominations by categories gives us 35 key races that will determine the strongest contenders. Last year’s Best Picture champ, “Spotlight,” went into Oscar night with checkmarks in 21 boxes while its two closest rivals, “The Revenant” and “The Big Short,” outpaced it with 23 and 22 ticks respectively.
Below is a breakdown of how each of the nine nominees in this year’s Best Picture race fared, followed by an analysis of the performance of each at all the precursors prizes.
SAG – Screen Actors Guild
PGA – Producers Guild of America
DGA – Directors Guild of America
WGA – Writers Guild of America
ACE – American Cinema Editors
- 1) Critics Choice, Best Picture – NOMINATION
- 2) Critics Choice, Best Picture – WIN
- 3) Golden Globe, Best Picture (Comedy/Musical or Drama) – NOMINATION
- 4) Golden Globe, Best Picture (Comedy/Musical or Drama) – WIN
- 5) Golden Globe, Directing – NOMINATION
- 6) Golden Globe, Directing – WIN
- 7) Golden Globe, Acting (Any category) – NOMINATION
- 8) Golden Globe, Acting (Any category) – WIN
- 9) Golden Globe, Writing – NOMINATION
- 10) Golden Globe, Writing – WIN
- 11) BAFTA, Best Picture – NOMINATION
- 12) BAFTA, Best Picture – WIN
- 13) BAFTA, Directing – NOMINATION
- 14) BAFTA, Directing – WIN
- 15) BAFTA, Acting – NOMINATION
- 16) BAFTA, Acting – WIN
- 17) BAFTA, Writing – NOMINATION
- 18) BAFTA, Writing – WIN
- 19) SAG, Individual Performance – NOMINATION
- 20) SAG, Individual Performance – WIN
- 21) SAG, Ensemble Performance- NOMINATION
- 22) SAG, Ensemble Performance- WIN
- 23) PGA – NOMINATION
- 24) PGA – WIN
- 25) DGA – NOMINATION
- 26) DGA – WIN
- 27) WGA – NOMINATION
- 28) WGA – WIN
- 29) ACE – NOMINATION
- 30) ACE – WIN
- 31) Oscar, Directing – NOMINATION
- 32) Oscar, Acting – NOMINATION
- 33) Oscar, Writing – NOMINATION
- 34) Oscar, Film Editing – NOMINATION
- 35) Love Across the Board (Over 5 Oscar nominations)
1. “La La Land” – 31 boxes
An immense, powerhouse performance from Damien Chazelle’s musical masterpiece – it only missed four possible boxes: a BAFTA writing win, a WGA writing win, a SAG Ensemble nomination and a SAG Ensemble win. It swept the Globe boxes, it almost cleaned up at BAFTA, it won every guild bar WGA, it ticked off all the Oscars boxes and won Critics Choice. A near-perfect performance this season from the obvious Best Picture winner.
2. “Moonlight” – 23 boxes
Screenplay confusion (Adapted or Original) didn’t seem to hinder it as much as it could’ve (it lost the BAFTA but won WGA) and it got boxes ticked in all the directing and acting slots as well as editing. WGA, SAG and Golden Globe Best Picture wins boosted it too. However, Mahershala Ali’s erratic performance during this season weakened it. Had the film had a little more consistency in the writing and acting areas (say it won at the BAFTAs and Globes for writing and acting, when it was supposed to do), and it would’ve finished much closer to “La La Land.”
3. “Manchester by the Sea” – 22 boxes
Kenneth Lonergan’s film has been battling mostly for place of runner-up this season, with “Moonlight.” It may have lost that battle but this film, backed by Amazon, has done very well thanks to it’s acting, writing and directing. It reaped bids at every guild as well as a good number of nominations at BAFTA, the Globes and SAG. Ultimately, however it just didn’t win enough to truly challenge. It didn’t take a single guild prize (with shock defeats at WGA and at SAG, in particular), it won just one at the Globes and two at BAFTA where it could have done better, and it missed an Editing nomination at the Oscars.
4. “Arrival” – 17 boxes
Denis Villenueve’s sci-fi flick had a good year, being both a commercial and critical smash success. It also finished fourth in this year’s Best Picture race (according to these charts, anyway) with 17 boxes ticked. It scored key nominations in the major areas of writing, directing, acting and editing everywhere – getting in at all all the guilds, including two more ticks with WGA and ACE wins. However, it didn’t get quite reach the standard of all the major Best Picture challengers. It didn’t fare well enough at the Globes (with only one box ticked), didn’t manage a win at BAFTA and missed an acting nomination for Amy Adams at the Oscars.
5. “Hacksaw Ridge” – 13 boxes
Given the film’s awards-friendly premise, the comeback-narrative of Mel Gibson and the American- hero leading character which Andrew Garfield portrayed, its performance to date has been a bit of disappointment. It boasted early promise with Gibson getting in at the Globes. But although it popped up in enough places, it never really had that burning fire to set it off as a Best Picture competitor.
5. “Hell or High Water” – 13 boxes
By comparison, this film over performed with its key strengths lying in Jeff Bridges’ acting and Taylor Sheridan’s writing. Both consistently ticked off boxes for the film the entire season. It did miss bids at the WGA and DGA but it’s ACE Eddies nomination moved it up to a lucky 13.
5. “Lion” – 13 boxes
“Lion” struggled in the early parts of the season (getting only two ticks at the Globes, both for nominations and no wins, and one at SAG) but it’s late ground swell boosted it noticeably. At the BAFTAs, the film picked up two ticks (for winners Dev Patel and screenwriter Luke Davies) which lifted it above “Fences” and on par with the two other films at a baker’s dozen.
6. “Fences” – 12 boxes
“Fences” fared only a little better than “ .” It consistently got ticks when it came to acting – thanks to Denzel Washington and Viola Davis — and picked up more ticks in these category as Davis won every one of her nominations. It also did well at SAG, getting three out of a possible four boxes ticked. However, it too fared poorly at the Globes and BAFTA overall. And it missed nominations from the DGA and ACE.
7. “Hidden Figures” – nine boxes
Although this film won SAG Ensemble, it struggled to make an impact anywhere else. It missed nominations from two important guilds (DGA and ACE) and only managed one nomination apiece at both BAFTA and the Golden Globes for supporting player Octavia Spencer.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on February 26 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.