With a week until the Academy's nearly bungled nominations are revealed, Oscar rumor has it that the well received James Bond film is now in the running for best picture. All of the sudden chatter stems from the Producers Guild of America, which nominated 007's latest for its Darryl F. Zanuck Award Thursday — that's basically their version of "best picture." As Anthony Breznican wrote at Entertainment Weekly, the PGA choices can be regarded as an Oscar "indicator." On top of that Skyfall "surprisingly" — according to the New York Times's Melena Ryzik — scored a nomination from the Art Directors Guild. Ryzik writes that the nod maybe gives "it some unexpected oomph in the chase for the little gold man." But does Bond actually stand a chance in this year's crowded field? Let's break it down.
The Case for Skyfall: Well, it did get good reviews, and is 92 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, though that doesn't really spell Oscar gold for big time blockbusters of this ilk. But Skyfall has Oscar pedigree: Its director, Sam Mendes, won best director for American Beauty, and then there's that stand-out performance from Oscar-winner Javier Bardem. And remember, the Academy still nominates up to 10 films for best picture — a move that drew talk of including more films like The Dark Knight, which failed to get nominated in the last year the category was limited to five films. WhatCulture! as come up with a list of 10 more reasons Skyfall s a contender, some of which are more valid than others.
The Case Against Skyfall: Scott Feinberg at The Hollywood Reporter warns that the PGA nomination does not make Skyfall a shoo-in:
Based on history, though, they should proceed with caution -- especially Skyfall. In each of the past three years, the PGA and the Academy have overlapped on all but two or three of their nominees. The discrepancies have almost always involved the PGA siding with big box-office successes from big studios, followed by the Academy replacing them either with other big box-office successes from big studios or, more commonly, smaller-scale critics' darlings.
Feinberg points out, for instance, that in 2009 Star Trek got a PGA nomination but was ultimately shut out from the Oscar race. Breznican noted that last year, those films that received PGA nods but not Oscar nods "skewed a little more populist." Looking at our own Golden Tally you'll see that Skyfall has scored early prizes for cinematography and for Bardem as best supporting actor Javier Bardem's performance — at least from the Screen Actors Guild, but not the Golden Globes. If all else fails, there's always a supporting-actor nod for Skyfall to, uh, fall back on — that and, of course, a nomination for Adele's theme song.
The Bottom Line: Our Richard Lawson suggested back in November that Skyfall might take the "The Surprise Blockbuster" spot in the best-picture field, and these last few days of praise bode well for that — after a flap over its new e-voting security, the Academy extended its nominating deadline through tomorrow. But make no mistake: Bond is still an outlier, as the action-heavy, franchise films with a thinking man's credibility often get left by the wayside. Either way, we'll know in a week.