This weekend produced two guild stunners that shook up the Oscar race in a big way. We all thought after Best Picture wins from many critics groups and the Golden Globes, “Boyhood” would easily stroll its way to victory.
Or so we thought.
The Producers and Actors guilds had different plans, though. With a Best Picture win from the PGA and a Best Ensemble selection from SAG, “Birdman” now seems poised to be the film to beat. The dark comedy has largely been seen as the cinematic bridesmaid but never the bride for most of the awards season. Now, it’s clearly positioned to be a genuine force other contenders will have to deal with in the coming weeks.
And yet, even with a PGA and SAG victory, it’s hard to declare “Birdman” a lock to win Best Picture. Yes, the two honors make it the frontrunner, as the guilds are better indicators of what will win the Academy’s top honor than anything else.
“Birdman” still has the fact that it’s a comedy working against it. Remember, comedies are rarely selected by the Academy, especially ones as off-beat as “Birdman.” I mean, it can happen, but it usually doesn’t.
A great example is 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine.” The little comedy-that-could got a lot of press heading into the season as being this indie darling that could go the distance. Sure enough, it claimed the same awards “Birdman” did, and everyone started declaring it the film to beat.
Only it didn’t win. Oscar night came, and “The Departed” was victorious. Granted, that film wasn’t a typical selection either. The Academy gave it to the crime drama out of the feeling it was “Scorsese’s year.” Still, it’s a great reminder comedies that do better with the individual guilds normally tank when faced with an Academy-wide vote.
That’s not to say “Birdman” can’t go the distance; we just need more proof. A DGA win would lock things up, for sure. One oddity in the whole “Birdman” hype is Michael Keaton. He seemed a lock to win Best Actor after his heart-warming speech at the Globes. The dramatic Globe victory by Eddie Redmayne for “The Theory of Everything,” matched with his surprise SAG win last night, now positions him out front. All of a sudden, the expected big win for “Birdman” in the acting categories is not there.
All of this is to say we need more results from the other guilds before we can figure out exactly what has the best shot of taking home Best Picture on February 22. For the time being, “Birdman” is flying high.