Sunday, January 19, 2014

Will American Hustle go 0 for 10 at the Oscars?

After last nights ensemble win at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, American Hustle has continued to gain traction, but will a "Best Picture" win at SAG equal a Best Picture win at the Oscars, or can the film win none of their 10 nominations, it's possible.  Let's do a category by category breakdown.

Best Production Design

This is a maybe, but not likely.  Last year this category was changed to being named Production Design instead of Art Direction.  The front runners for the prize were Lincoln and Les Miserable grandiose large scale films, American Hustle does not fit this model.  I would argue that this film is in fourth in this category.  Catherine Martin who has won this prize before for Moulin Rouge will most likely win this award for The Great Gatsby.  I could see a Gravity or 12 Years a Slave winning too.

Best Film Editing

AH is NOT winning this award, this typically goes hand in hand with a Best Picture win, especially a front runner.  Argo took home this award last year.  This went with a clean sweep, but the year before that it shockingly went to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo over The Artist.  Tattoo fits the mold of a winner, AH does not.  Over the last 12 years 7 of the Best Picture winners have won the Oscar.

The editing category goes along with a Best Picture (BP) winner, to amp up the trophy wins, or to go along with the sweep.  In years the BP did not win, like 2007 where The Bourne Ultimatum beat No Country for Old Men and 2010 The Social Network beat The King's Speech, both BP winners took home four prizes, but they were Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Acting.  American Hustle is not going to do that,

Best Costume Design

This is between American Hustle and The Great Gatsby, both have excellent costumes, at the moment I am predicting Gatsby, but this is one American Hustle has a shot at the most.

Original Screenplay
Two weeks ago I would have said this is "in the bag," but Her winning this prize at the Globes, and Critics Choice Awards is interesting.  The Writers Guild will be telling, if they go for Her, then I think American Hustle is out here too.

Best Director

If David O. Russell wins an Oscar this year it would be for screenplay.  At the moment Cuaron is an unstoppable force, and McQueen seems to be in second place.


David O. Russell has done something no directors have been able to achieve, getting acting nominations in all four categories for back to back films, impressive.  Last year Jennifer Lawrence helped Silver Linings Playbook go1 for 4, but this year is looking like 0 for 4.  The men are out, Bale and Cooper have no shot.  Lawrence won the Globe, but they love stars, this trophy is going to Lupita Nyong'o.  Amy Adams has the best shot, but her lack of a nomination at SAG, and Blanchett winning doesn't help.  BAFTA will be telling, but I doubt the Brits would pick anyone over Blanchett so Adams is out there, namely 0 for 4.

Best Picture

The Producer Guild of America announcers their winner today, they use preferrential ballots like the Oscars, so the film that wins here is telling.

If American Hustle does win, then everything I said above may change.  If Gravity wins, Hustle is going home with maybe 2 prizes, Screenplay and Costumes, or empty handed.  If 12 Years a Slave wins this, then we may have a situation where no film wins more than one of a major guild, which would be crazy, but signify this is the end result.

The Oscars like to spread the wealth, giving or throwing Best Picture nominees at least one win, here and there, but this has gotten harder since there have been more nominees.  This year reminds me of two separte Oscar years 2000, and 2006. 2000 is only at first glance because there is a clear split amongst three films, American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave.  2000 was about Traffic, Gladiator, and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.  Gladiator is the historical epic, which won Best Picture.  Traffic was edgy and from a hip director, it won Best Director.  If you get the comparison I think you see my comparison, the problem is American Hustle is not Crouching Tiger Hiddern Dragon hence it's not 100 percent similar, but gets shut out that way.

This also reminds me of 2006 because of the split amongst the Guilds  Little Miss Sunshine won the PGA, WGA, and SAG awards, while The Departed won the DGA, and WGA.  This year could be even more fractured making things even harder to predict, but I guess if Hustle wins at the PGA tonight, which I do not think it will then its anyones game.

If Hustle does win tonight the only question is what other award does it win, Costume Design?  I can't see the Academy naming a film Best Picture and only giving it one other award.   Best Picture winners have won three awards, look at last year's Argo, but what about two wins?  There is Rebecca (1940), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), and no film since 1952.  
Rebecca won Picture and Cinematography, and The Greatest Show on Earth won Picture and Screenplay.  There were of course films in the 20s and 30s, which meet this criteria, but there were fewer categories, and the Oscars are different today.  They were of course different in the 40s and 50s too.  I just can't picture American Hustle winning with only a best case Original Screenplay, and Costume win.  Argo won without a director nomination so anything is possible. Only the PGA will help add to the picture.

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