As many critics awards as their are across the nation, at the end of the day it's really the guild awards that act as better indicators of who's winning AMPAS' favor, especially in a year as uncertain as 2011. We certainly saw that last year when The Social Network won just about everything under the sun, until The King's Speech trounced it at the guild awards and on Oscar night. The SAG, PGA, and WGA have all announced their nominees, leaving only the Director's Guild. And with their nominees, they've thrown a wrench into some Oscar campaigns, while giving others a boost.
The Nominees:Woody Allen - Midnight in ParisDavid Fincher - The Girl with the Dragon TattooMichel Hazanvicius - The ArtistAlexander Payne - The DescendantsMartin Scorcese - Hugo
Who got a boost: The biggest winner after today has to be Fincher and Dragon Tattoo as a whole. Ever since the first screenings, the film was being labeled as one that would make little to no contribution to the awards race. In the past few weeks the film has scored with the PGA and WGA, and the DGA nod is just icing on the cake. For the film to miss out on a Best Picture nomination and/or Best Director nomination is becoming increasingly unlikely. Star Rooney Mara may have missed with the SAG, but could still end up as a surprise Best Actress nominee, as one of many nominations the film looks likely to score now. So even though Dragon Tattoo isn't necessarily a threat to win the top prize, at the very least it can consider itself a strong contender, which is quite to comeback considering all of the doubters.
Then there's Woody Allen and Alexander Payne. Payne's film has generally stood a better shot, but there was always the chance that he would get pushed out by contenders with "bigger" films. After today, though, he's become even more of a sure thing, though the actual win is doubtful. The same goes for Allen, who could score his first Best Director nomination since Bullets Over Broadway (1994). If either of these two men takes the DGA prize, however, it will only serve to further upset the Best Director race.
Who took a hit: Unlike Woody Allen, whose film also launched in early summer, Terrence Malick was allowed any love from the DGA, or any major guild for that matter. Considering the divisive nature of Malick's film, however, it's not entirely surprising. Drive's Nicholas Winding-Refn and War Horse's Steven Spielberg, however, should probably not get their hopes up for the remainder of awards season. I'm sure Refn had a fan base within the DGA for Drive, but at the end of the day the voters favored established names (well, aside from Spielberg). Of course, there's always room for surprises come Nomination morning, but knowing the DGA's close alignment with the Academy, I suspect the chances for the above-mentioned trio are at long last dead. Such a shame...at least for the first two. War Horse has, to be honest, felt like nothing but an afterthought and an obligation rather than a legitimate contender.