Oscar Experts Typing: Where do we stand after those wild PGA and DGA nominations?

Welcome to Oscar Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Oscar race — via Slack, of course. This week, we go over the PGA and DGA nominations.

Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! After months of informed speculation and idle musings, this was the week when priors were confirmed and shocks rattled the system. Over the last seven days:

  • the Golden Globes returned and boosted Steven Spielberg and “The Fabelmans”
  • the Screen Actors Guild Awards gave new life to “Women Talking” and “Babylon” (while throwing some disarray in the direction of Michelle Williams)
  • the Directors Guild Awards said hell yeah to Joseph Kosinski
  • the Producers Guild Awards, unsurprisingly, went for blockbusters (four sequels) and one shocker in “The Whale” — but undid the SAG goodwill for “Women Talking” and “Babylon,” both of which were snubbed

Phew! This is to type nothing about the various guilds and those nominations, where expected contenders like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Elvis” have run out in front. But for our purposes, let’s start with Thursday’s PGA Awards nominations. That group — an extremely reliable Best Picture predictor over the last 13 years, with an 88 percent hit rate for nominees between ceremonies – gave us the expected seven “safe” contenders: “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “Elvis,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “The Fabelmans,” “TÁR,” and “Top Gun: Maverick.” But then added in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Glass Onion,” and the aforementioned “The Whale” over presumed contenders like “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Women Talking,” “Babylon,” and “The Woman King.” So let’s start there after this long windup: I can’t say I was all that surprised producers went for “Glass Onion” and “Black Panther” since both previous films in those franchises were also nominated by the PGA Awards. At this moment, I still don’t expect either to get in at the Oscars. That could happen — “Black Panther” should have a lot of craft support and has a surefire above-the-line bet in Angela Bassett; “Glass Onion” is a true crowdpleaser and everyone seems to enjoy it — but I can’t help but think both should have rated with the Screen Actors Guild this week in the ensemble category. That each film failed to get in, while “polarizing” movies like “Babylon” and “Women Talking” did, suggests to me that there’s a little weakness to those Best Picture hopes. But “The Whale”? You’ll be shocked to know I didn’t even wait five minutes before putting it into my Best Picture lineup (100/1 odds, baby!). Maybe we should’ve expected this all along. While Film Twitter quickly turned on Darren Aronofsky’s film, the industry has seemingly always been kinder to the project (all those standing ovations). As we have discussed frequently, the academy does love to legitimize its Best Actor favorites with a corresponding Best Picture nomination. Colin Farrell and Austin Butler are safe on that front, and now it appears Fraser might be as well. So! I went with “The Whale,” and in my other two slots, I’ve got “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “Babylon.” Some pundits remain unconvinced there’s a Best Picture nomination in the future for Damien Chazelle’s film. But “Babylon” continues to hang around in my estimation — it had more BAFTA longlist mentions than “The Fabelmans,” for instance, and the actors branch is clearly down. Numerous Golden Globes presenters and winners gushed over Brad Pitt and during the SAG Awards nominations announcement on Instagram, my fave Haley Lu Richardson outed herself as a “Babylon” stan. One of us! One of us! In the end, I think it gets in over “Women Talking” because of its great crafts, beautiful crafts, and because the academy can’t resist a movie about movies. But let’s get to the important part of this: What do you think of the PGA Awards list and how have your Best Picture picks changed — if at all?

joyceeng: This really is the most hilarious year to have 10 Best Picture nominees. AMPAS, let’s go back to five challenge. If it were still the sliding scale, we would have our consensus seven and call it a day. Those last three spots are Full LOL now. “The Whale” could be the next “Being the Ricardos”: PGA nominee that gets snubbed in Best Picture and screenplay while carrying multiple acting nominations. But with how feeble the lower tier is and how “The Whale” makes half the people who watch it cry (not you!), it’s probably in now. It’s also fortunate that Best Adapted Screenplay is a disaster because it’s coming for that nomination too. And win? Honestly, what is winning that? I’d gone off of “Women Talking” already in screenplay and nothing this week has really helped its cause. I’ve made this comp previously, but “Women Talking” reminds me of a weaker “One Night in Miami,” which did make PGA: There’s just not a lot of passion around it and it missed Best Picture ultimately. “Women Talking” and “Babylon” also must defy history and become the first SAG nominee and PGA snubbee in the expanded era to get into Best Picture. I’m going to be annoying and say I’ll wait to see if the BAFTA nominations revive anybody (likely some combo of “All Quiet,” “Triangle of Sadness” and “Aftersun”). Those last two spots could go to, like, 10 different films? Chaos. “Glass Onion” probably will follow in its predecessor’s footsteps and miss — it really should’ve made SAG — but what if “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is the “Nightmare Alley” of the year: boosted by tech support and something the latter did not have: a strong acting contender?

SEE Experts slugfest: SAG Awards nominations snubs (Michelle Williams!) and surprises (Adam Sandler!)

Christopher Rosen: Joyce, another shocker. Right after I put “The Whale” back into Best Picture, I moved Samuel D. Hunter into my screenplay picks. I do think he’ll get nominated now (I interviewed him!), but that makes me like everyone else: “The Whale” has consistently been among the predicted nominees in Best Adapted Screenplay and I do think he could conceivably wind up the winner there — unless “All Quiet on the Western Front” pushes ahead. About that film: I do think it’ll get in regardless of PGA, where I didn’t really expect it to show up anyway. So basically, like you wrote, there are 10 movies, at least, for one spot. Regarding “Wakanda Forever”… I can see it. Bassett is a category frontrunner now, and with numerous tech nominations all but assured — plus the narrative that Marvel and Ryan Coogler pulled off the impossible after the death of Chadwick Boseman — it feels like “Wakanda Forever” might be a lot more safe than many assumed. If and when I move off “Babylon” — if only out of spite for the discourse, I expect you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands — I could see putting “Wakanda Forever” on my list. But we’ll talk about Best Picture more after Sunday’s Critics Choice Awards, I’m sure. Right now, I want to type about Best Director. The DGA nominations went pretty chalk, all things considered. I expected Baz Luhrmann might show up — and James Cameron certainly felt like a possibility — but this always seemed like the place where Joseph Kosinski would show up. I get the sense many pundits think he’ll go the way of Denis Villeneuve: the highly respected craftsman in a genre movie who misses an eventual nomination due to a lack of passion. But let me give you a silly crackpot theory: Steven Spielberg, the Daniels and Todd Field feel pretty set to me with the directors branch. We assume Martin McDonagh is too and then the final spot goes to someone like Edward Berger or S.S. Rajamouli or Ruben Östlund or, hell, even Charlotte Wells? But what if McDonagh gets dinged by the branch as a writer moonlighting as a filmmaker, and he ends up being the Aaron Sorkin of this year’s DGA nominees? And if that happens, does Kosinski get in — and then does the fifth spot go to Rajamouli, who made the most maximalist movie of a year of maximal movies?

joyceeng: I see you are still wildly pessimistic about McDonagh (is he your Amanda Seyfried of film?), but he’s pretty secure right now with how things have been breaking inside and outside of this category. “Banshees” is a top three film and far more beloved than “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” I think we have a set four: Spielberg, Daniels, McDonagh and Field. If Field could get in with this broad group, he’s good for the Oscars. “TÁR” is much more of a directors branch pick than an DGA pick, so the fact that he got in here is massive. “TÁR” is a guild fave! We are truly blessed. Best Director feels like Best Actor with a wide-open fifth slot. Obviously, the common thinking is that Kosinski will fall out with the Oscars for a more highbrow pick (since you brought up Critics Choice, gotta love that JoeKo is MIA in its expanded 10-nominee field). Lots of people will be thrilled if both those slots go to “Aftersun.” Similarly, Rajamouli has more and more felt like a Film Twitter thing than an industry thing. I can see Berger sneaking in if “All Quiet” goes over big, but I was more confident in Ryusuke Hamaguchi at this point last year. I’ve flirted with the idea that it will just be the DGA five. It feels unlikely, but “Top Gun: Maverick” is a much stronger contender, Kosinski made the BAFTA longlist (over Östlund), the film is very well directed even if no one talks about its direction, and what if people just want to give him his flowers after he’s been overlooked for so much of the season?

SEE Oscar Experts Typing: Breaking down the chaotic BAFTA longlists and why Steven Spielberg’s snub isn’t that surprising

Christopher Rosen: It’s not interesting to imagine the DGA five translating over to the Oscars, but I kind of agree with that logic too. The difference to me between “Dune” and Villeneuve and “Top Gun: Maverick” and Kosinski is that “Dune” was respected but “Maverick” is beloved. That’s kind of why I think Kosinski is safe and if there’s a shocking snub on nominations morning, it’ll come from one of the other contenders. But let’s circle back to the SAG Awards briefly before we head into the weekend. Since we last spoke, there’s been a bit of increasing smoke around the idea that Michelle Williams could get in as a Best Supporting Actress nominee for “The Fabelmans” following her snub in the lead actress category at the SAG Awards. I toyed with that notion when we broke down those nominations, but I can’t say I can see it really happening — and I fully expect Williams to land among the Best Actress nominees. But do you think there’s anything to that kind of theorizing?

joyceeng: I guess I need to feel like there’s a lot of passion behind Williams and “The Fabelmans” itself to see it happening. I’m sure she’ll get some votes in supporting, but that could also just split her lead votes and she could get snubbed completely. The SAG snub could be a fluke, especially with Paul Dano getting in, and it’s also good news for her that “The Woman King” faltered in SAG ensemble and PGA. We’ve talked numerous times before about how Viola Davis’ turn, while tremendous, is not exactly a No. 1 vote-getter, and “The Fabelmans” is obviously a stronger film, so Williams can edge her out. But I will laugh so hard if voters do revolt and she winds up in supporting and wins as we all thought she would. We stan a full circle moment.

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