What Do Opposing DGA And BAFTA Wins Mean For An Unpredictable Oscar Race? – Hammond Analysis

Judging by the results this weekend of the first major industry test of where the Oscar winds could be blowing, it was basically a draw. We now have results from both the DGA and BAFTA. Both these groups, as well as the upcoming SAG, PGA and, to a slightly lesser extent due to their eligibility quirks, the WGA, are considered the most important bellwethers for Oscar, as their memberships heavily cross over with actual Oscar voters, as opposed to critics groups.

Earlier televised awards shows like Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, both composed of journalists, split their Best Picture choices between The Banshees of Inisherin (GG Comedy), The Fabelmans (GG Drama), and Everything Everywhere All at Once (CCA). But now, for the first time, we are hearing from the industry, and that is key for prognosticators. Sometimes the race can turn on a dime, or they can really muddy the waters.

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Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan at the 2023 DGA Awards
Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan at the DGA Awards

So how much can we read into the results of both last night’s DGA Awards, which anointed the Daniels, as they are affectionately dubbed, Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, with its top directorial award for Everything Everywhere All at Once? They defeated the likes of DGA God Steven Spielberg, for his very personal and early awards-season frontrunner The Fabelmans; critics group favorite Todd Field for Tár; Joseph Kosinski (not Oscar-nominated as director) for Top Gun: Maverick; and Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Inisherin, the latter the only nominee absent at DGA because of today’s BAFTA ceremony in London.

McDonagh told me Wednesday at a taping for my Deadline video series Behind the Lens that while he would appear with the others at Saturday morning’s DGA panel of nominees, he would have to miss the actual awards, as unlike others who needed to be at BAFTA, he did not believe in taking private studio jets (meaning Disney’s, which owns Banshees distributor Searchlight) to get him there in time if he also went to the DGA.

That turned out to be a very prescient decision for McDonagh, as he was called to the BAFTA stage as winner of Best Original Screenplay and Best British Film, in a seesaw race with Netflix’s German film All Quiet on the Western Front, which came into the contest as the nominations leader with a whopping 14, ultimately taking the big prize of Best Film among its leading and impressive seven wins. It was enormously important because of its drawbacks elsewhere this season.

Colin Farrell The Banshees Of Inisherin
Colin Farrell in ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’

As I pointed out in Friday’s Notes on the Season column, without SAG, PGA, DGA or WGA (where it was ineligible) nominations, and lack of acting or directing Oscar nominations, and the fact no remake of a previous Best Picture winner has ever won the Best Picture Oscar (and with Parasite as the only other foreign-language winner), it is a high mountain to climb statistically for All Quiet on the Western Front.

This strong showing at BAFTA, where British film Banshees was expected to have the hometown advantage, is going to give it a very big boost, as momentum continues to build for various movies at next week’s PGA and SAG awards. In fact, post-BAFTA, it will be “all quiet” for BAFTA winner All Quiet on the Western Front at the major guild contests leading into Oscar voting. What an interesting year.

For Everything Everywhere All at Once, its single editing win out of 10 BAFTA nominations has to be a disappointment, coming so closely on the heels of its triumph at DGA last night. But A24, its distributor, can take heart that DGA is a much more reliable prognosticator of Oscar glory than BAFTA in recent years; in fact, in the previous 74 years of its awards, it has not matched Oscar’s eventual directorial winner only eight times. BAFTA directing winner Edward Berger is not nominated in the Oscar’s Directing category, as previously noted.

Austin Butler
Austin Butler

Warner Bros also has to be happy with its impressive four BAFTA wins for Elvis, including Austin Butler in the very tight Best Actor race over British favorites Bill Nighy and Ireland’s Colin Farrell, as well as Brendan Fraser in The Whale. Leading into SAG next Sunday, that gives Butler some genuine momentum. In fact, of the six BAFTA Best Actor nominees, Butler and Fraser were the only ones not from the UK. The Oscar momentum crown also goes to Cate Blanchett, who was expected to win Lead Actress for Tár, and did, marking that film’s only win of the weekend.

In terms of Best Picture, well, in the last eight years, BAFTA, which only has five nominees, and Oscar, which has 10 now, matched their eventual choice just once, and that was for 2020’s Nomadland in a year that was a bit of an aberration because the industry and awards season were pretty much decimated by the pandemic. From 2008 to 2013, both organizations were in lockstep on Best Picture, so perhaps the changing way BAFTA votes has had an impact on their reliability vs Oscars.

Where will it all go this year?

The BAFTA showing of All Quiet matches what I have heard over the past couple of months in talks with many Oscar voters, so I think you have to consider this is turning into a race with a few more twists before it is all over. Keep in mind, Netflix is still looking for its first Best Picture Oscar win. With BAFTA, it has previously won the top prize for 2018’s Roma and last year with The Power of the Dog.

Of course, this is to be continued.

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