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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Birdman Is Now The Favorite To Win Best Director And Best Picture

You should have listened to me. I told you and you didn't listen to me. I told you a few weeks ago when Boyhood was the favorite to win Best Picture and Richard Linklater was the favorite to win Best Director that you should place your money on Birdman and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Now that the Director's Guild of America (DGA) and the Producer's Guild of America (PGA) have voted Inarritu and his film as the very best of the year, we now have our Oscar favorite in the Best Picture and Best Director category.

For all of the talk about the SAG awards and the Golden Globes, and even the BAFTAs, the DGA awards are the single best predictor on who is going to win Best Director and Best Picture. Since 1999, the winner of the DGA's film has gone on to win Best Picture 12 out of the 15 times. Out of three non-predictive years, two of those instances involved Ang Lee (2000's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and 2005's Brokeback Mountain) with the other instance involving last year's Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity. However, in 2013, Gravity never felt like the front runner as the Best Picture Oscar was always 12 Years A Slave's to lose. Plus, 2005's Best Picture winner Crash is considered the biggest Oscar upset of all time.

Want further evidence that the DGAs are an excellent Best Picture predictor? Let us take a look at 2006. That was an extremely wide open year with many predicting Babel or Little Miss Sunshine to win it all. In 2006, Dreamgirls won the Best Picture (Comedy/Musical) Golden Globe and Babel won the Best Picture (Drama) Golden Globe. Little Miss Sunshine won the SAG award and the PGA award for Best Picture and The Queen won the BAFTA for Best Picture. It was a complete cluster leading up to the Oscars on who would win Best Picture. As it turned out, The Departed won. As a bonus, its director Martin Scorsese won the Academy Award for Best Director. The only major guild award The Departed won leading up to the Academy Awards? The DGA Award.

Further, people forget that Ben Affleck won the DGA award in 2012 for directing Argo and lo and behold, Argo ends up winning Best Picture.

The reason the Director's Guild of America is such a great predictor at predicting both the Best Director and the Best Picture Oscar winner is because it's hard to claim that a director did the best job of the year without claiming his or her film is not the best of the year. It should not be a surprise that the DGAs are an excellent predictor on who will win the Best Director Academy Award, just like SAGs are an excellent predictor at who will win the acting Oscars. Therefore, if a director is going to win the Academy Award for Best Director and we're saying this person did the best directing job out of anybody, that means his or her film is the best film of the year. That's why many are outraged that Bennett Miller received a Best Director Academy nomination yet his film Foxcatcher didn't earn a Best Picture nomination. You can't have one without the other. That's what makes what happened in 2012 and 2013 so uncommon. Argo winning Best Picture without its director earning a Best Director nomination is extremely rare, as its only happened four times in the 86 year history of the awards- and one of those times was the very first year of the ceremony. It is also very common for the winner of Best Picture to also have its director win Best Director as that's happened 62 times out of the past 86 years.

The Producer's Guild of America is also a pretty good indicator of who will win Best Picture. Since 1999, 11 of the past 15 winners (sans the Gravity's win in 2013 because its win was tied with 12 Years A Slave) have gone on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. However, it did have a rough patch between 2004 and 2006 where The Aviator, Brokeback Mountain, and Little Miss Sunshine all won Best Picture yet failed to win the Academy Award in the same category.

People are going to point to Birdman's SAG Best Picture win as a reason for why it will win the big Oscar, and while that's great for the cast, it has absolutely no bearing on Birdman's Best Picture chances. Since 1999, only 8 of the past 15 Best Cast SAG winners have gone on to win Best Picture. That should not be any surprise considering a Best Picture SAG win isn't the same thing as a Best Picture win by any other nominating body. The Screen Actors Guild is looking at a film solely from an acting perspective whereas everybody else is looking at a film from every aspect- how well is the movie directed, how good the script is, the film's use of music etc.

So congratulations to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Birdman on their Best Director and Best Picture win!



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