After DGA and PGA wins, is ‘The Shape of Water’ a lock at Oscars for Best Picture? Not so fast!

You are named Best Director by your guild, your film takes the top prize from the producers and it ties the record most Oscar nominations (14). So you must be a lock to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, right? That was what “La La Land” helmer Damien Chazelle must have thought in 2017. And that did come to pass, for about two minutes, before “Moonlight” was revealed as the rightful winner of the top Academy Award.

Could that same scenario play out this awards season?

Guillermo del Toro won the Best Director prize for “The Shape of Water” at the DGA Awards on Feb. 3. On Jan 20, his fantasy film was named Best Picture by the Producers Guild of America. And it reaped a leading 13 Oscar nominations on Jan. 23.

Yes, with his win at the Directors Guild of America Awards, del Toro is looking even more like a sure-thing to take home an Oscar for helming. Since the DGA lined up with the Oscar calendar in 1950, all but seven of its choices for Best Director have gone on to success at the Oscars. Chazelle was the most recent in this long run of repeat winners.

Among those who did not double dip were three men who were snubbed by the directors branch of the academy: Steven Spielberg (“The Color Purple”), Ron Howard (“Apollo 13”) and Ben Affleck (“Argo”). Of this trio, only Affleck helmed the Best Picture Oscar champ; “The Color Purple” went 0 for 11 at the 1986 Oscars and lost Best Picture to “Out of Africa” while “Apollo 13” was bested by “Braveheart” a decade later.

SEE 2018 Oscar nominations: Full list of Academy Awards nominees in all 24 categories

“The Color Purple” predates the PGA Awards which began in 1991. “Apollo 13” won this precursor prize which has previewed 19 of the most recent 28 Best Picture Oscar winners. Among the nine films that failed to repeat were two that could also boast of having the DGA choice for Best Director: Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” (Oscar went to “Shakespeare in Love”) and Ang Lee‘s “Brokeback Mountain” (Oscar went to “Crash”). In 2014 the PGA had an unprecedented tie as “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” shared the Best Picture prize. While “Gravity” helmer Alfonso Cuaron won at the DGA (and the Oscars), Steve McQueen‘s film claimed the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Although “The Shape of Water” holds a commanding lead in our Best Picture Oscar predictions, so too did “La La Land.” Last year we collectively underestimated the quirks of the preferential ballot, which was reintroduced by the academy when it expanded the Best Picture race in 2010. It is designed to reward the film that is a consensus choice rather than one that has only a passionate fan base.

SEE 2018 Oscar nominations by movie: ‘The Shape of Water’ leads with 13 Academy Awards bids, but how many will it win?

The winners of Best Picture and Best Director have split at four of the last five Oscars, including last year. Prior to that Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”), Cuaron (“Gravity”) and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“The Revenant”) all took home the Best Director award but their films lost the top prize to “Argo” (2013), “12 Years a Slave” (2014) and “Spotlight” (2016). Inarritu did win for directing the 2015 Best Picture champ “Birdman.”

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What do you think will happen this year. Make your Oscar predictions starting with Best Picture below so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on March 4. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our movie forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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