How good are guilds as guidepost to Oscar nominations?

Even more so than the various critic awards and Golden Globes, the guild awards serve as valuable precursors to predicting Oscar nominees. They, like the academy, are made up of industry members. 

The Producers Guild Awards have had 10 nominations in each of the past two years and 17/20 (85%) nominees went on to claim a Best Picture bid at the Oscars. In 2009, when there were only five PGA nominees, four went on to contend at the Oscars.


The Directors Guild has been the most successful in predicting Best Picture nominees. Over the past five years, 21/25 (84%) of the DGA nominees’ films picked up Best Picture bids. With the Oscars having 10 Best Picture nominees in each of the past two years, all five of the Directors Guild films have contended. Over the past five years, 20/25 (80%) of DGA nominees also contended at the Oscars for Best Director. 

The Screen Actors Guild Ensemble prize is considered by many to be that body’s equivalent to Best Picture. However, as the award’s purpose is to honour ensembles it can lead to films that aren’t strong Oscar Best Picture contenders like “Bobby” or “Hairspray” getting nominated. As such, it is a less accurate bellwether with 17/25 (68%) of the nominees from the past 5 years going on to contend for Best Picture.While “Moneyball” may have been snubbed in the ensemble category, it was still able to pick up two acting nominations showing support for the film amongst the guild.


In the last five years, 15 films have received DGA, PGA and SAG Ensemble nominations. Only one of those — “Dreamgirls” — failed to make the Best Picture line-up at the Oscars. That stat puts “The Artist,” “The Descendants” and “Midnight in Paris” in the best positions this year.

Over the past five years, a half dozen film have contended for the Oscar without first being in the running for Directors Guild, Producers Guild or SAG Ensemble awards: “Winter’s Bone,” “A Serious Man,” “The Blind Side,” “The Reader,” “Atonement” and “Letter From Iwo Jima.” That stat gives hope to films like “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “The Tree of Life” which have been largely ignored this awards season.

The one spanner in the works is that we don’t know how many Best Picture nominees there will be this year. There could be anywhere from five to 10 which makes it more difficult to determine just how many of these guild nominees will be able to follow up at the Oscars.

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