‘Boyhood’ needs ‘Birdman’ to crash-land at Oscars like ‘Apollo 13’

Birdman” surprised at the Producers Guild Awards, won as expected at the SAG Awards, and now the Directors Guild has picked its helmer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu as Best Director. And “Boyhood,” which swept the early precursors — the New York and Los Angeles film critics, the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice —  is starting to look like an underdog. Is it three strikes and you’re out for Richard Linklater‘s innovative coming-of-age drama, or does it still have a path to Oscar?

To find a precedent for a “Boyhood” win for Best Picture, you’ve got to go back to 1995, the year of “Apollo 13.”

At DGA Awards, ‘Birdman’ soars ahead in the Oscars race

The DGA Award is one of the most reliable predictors of Oscar. In its 66-year history, it has foreseen 59 winners of Best Director at the Oscars, with many of them helming the Best Picture champ. Only seven of its picks for Best Director failed to repeat at the Oscars. They were:

1968 — DGA to Anthony Harvey for “The Lion in Winter” and Oscar to Carol Reed for “Oliver!”

1972 — DGA to Francis Ford Coppola for “The Godfather” and Oscar to Bob Fosse for “Cabaret”

1985 — DGA to Steven Spielberg for “The Color Purple” and Oscar to Sydney Pollack for “Out of Africa”

1995 — DGA to Ron Howard for “Apollo 13” and Oscar to Mel Gibson for “Braveheart”

2000 — DGA to Ang Lee for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and Oscar to Steven Soderbergh for “Traffic”

2002 — DGA to Rob Marshall for “Chicago” and Oscar to Roman Polanski for “The Pianist”

2012 — DGA to Ben Affleck (“Argo“) and Oscar to Ang Lee (“Life of Pi“)

Those seven exceptions prove DGA isn’t perfect when forecasting the academy’s choices, Indeed, they were wrong about Best Picture last year, going with Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity“) over Steve McQueen, the helmer of Best Picture Oscar winner “12 Years a Slave.” Cuaron did repeat at the Oscars. 

And the Producers Guild also went with “Gravity” last year (though in an unprecedented tie with “12 Years”). So, while the PGA is also a rock-solid academy bellwether, even winning both of the most predictive Oscar precursors wasn’t a guarantee of success for “Gravity.” Both “Brokeback Mountain” and “Saving Private Ryan” also won the DGA/PGA combo and went on to lose the top Oscar.

“Apollo 13” stands as the only film to lose Best Picture at the Oscars after claiming the top award at DGA, PGA, and SAG. And while Ron Howard’s docudrama pulled off the hat trick at the guilds, he wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar, and the academy gave Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” Best Picture and Best Director instead.

Unlike “Apollo 13,” “Birdman” is nominated for Best Director, but there is one chink in its armor: it wasn’t nominated for Best Editing, possibly because the film was cut to look like one continuous shot from beginning to end and doesn’t look like it’s heavily edited, so perhaps that explains its snub.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (‘Birdman’) wins DGA, while women sweep TV

Nevertheless, every Best Picture winner since 1981 has at least been nominated for Editing. Could that yet prove as deadly to “Birdman” as Howard’s directing snub was to “Apollo 13,” or will that race not matter this time? After all, there are exceptions to even the most consistent Oscar rules.

So what’s more likely: for “Birdman” to win Best Picture without an Editing nod, or for “Boyhood” to win without PGA, DGA, or SAG? Use our drag-and-drop menu below to make your Oscar predictions, or click here to make your picks in all Oscar races.

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