Been a few weeks since my last Oscar predictions. The Producers Guild is usually a good gage for the best picture race. Last year seven of their nominations matched the Academy's (Bridesmaids, Dragon Tattoo and Ides of March instead of Tree of Life and Extremely Loud), the year before they were only one film off (The Town instead of Winter's Bone) and in 2009 they were two off (Star Trek and Invictus instead of A Serious Man and Blind Side).
Included in the nominations are the locks of Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, Argo, Lincoln, and Silver Linings Playbook. The best picture winner is still one of these five.
Life of Pi looks to be a lock now too, along with the financially successful Django Unchained. Both had good showings at the Globes, several critics groups and now here. They are becoming much more stable predictions.
Receiving boosts from the PGA are the early releases of Moonrise Kingdom and Beasts of the Southern Wild. Moonrise has been popping up infrequently in precursors but this nod bodes well for the small film. Southern Wild on the other hand has its first big precursor nod. A few weeks ago I was almost ready to count it out of the race, but it may have more support than I had initially thought.
The film with that was helped the most by these nominations however is Skyfall. It looks like there is a sizable chance for the Academy celebrating Bond's 50th Anniversary and one of his best films. It is the PGA nominated film with the lowest chances at an Oscar nomination, but the film keeps popping up in precursors. With this and Bardem's SAG nomination it looks like voters are taking this one seriously.
There are two movies that are hurt by these nominations. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a contender when SAG and Globes announced their nominations, but a SAG ensemble nomination does not always equate to serious contender (Hairspray and 3:10 to Yuma). Also a Globe nominated comedy is not the same as a Globe nominated drama. I would say that the chances for Best Exotic to surprise with a best picture nomination is getting slimmer.
And almost out of the race is The Master. It has not done well with the Guilds and the Globes. Critics groups have been its only real Oscar attention, and critics aren't academy members. Also I am sure Weinstein is campaigning Silver Linings and Django over his earlier, smaller release. I know it has its ardent supporters, but be careful in predicting The Master for an Oscar.
So right now I would predict that the Best Picture nominations will be:
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
with Moonrise Kingdom and Beasts of the Southern Wild as potential upsets. I am not discounting Skyfall yet either. It has been an interesting race, there may be some surprises this year too, you never know.