While the traditional Oscar rules do not bode well for the film, CODA is starting to peak at exactly the right time ahead of the Oscars.
The film critics have spoken and now the guilds are having their say in the matter. Both SAG and PGA gave the film’s awards campaign the biggest boost that it could get. The fact that CODA won WGA is potentially good news. What we need to factor here is that the WGA competition is quite different from that of Oscar Sunday because Jane Campion’s screenplay for The Power of the Dog was not nominated by WGA. Nor was Maggie Gyllenhaal’s script for The Lost Daughter. How Adapted Screenplay goes on Sunday could determine what things look like for the rest of the night.
The traditional stats mean that CODA will not have a good night next week but that just means it’s a tougher hill to climb. The film is not nominated in two key categories of Best Director and Best Film Editing. This is not the end of the world as five films previously won without a directing nomination. Meanwhile, there have only been ten films to win without an editing nomination. The two films that won without a directing or editing nomination came before editing even existed so we can’t exactly count them.
The list of Best Picture winners without a directing nomination:
- Wings directed by William A. Wellman (1927/28)
- Grand Hotel directed by Edmund Goulding (1931/32)
- Driving Miss Daisy directed by Bruce Beresford (1989)
- Argo directed by Ben Affleck (2012)
- Green Book directed by Peter Farrelly (2018)
Best Picture winners without an editing nomination since the category’s inception at the 7th Academy Awards:
- It Happened One Night (1934)
- The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
- Hamlet (1948)
- Marty (1955)
- Tom Jones (1963)
- A Man for All Seasons (1966)
- The Godfather Part II (1974)
- Annie Hall (1977)
- Ordinary People (1980)
- Birdman (2014)
The category did not exist before 1934. But anyway, CODA would not even set the record for fewest nominations. When Grand Hotel won, it’s only nomination was for Best Picture. It’s a film that draws comparisons to Ocean’s Eleven because of the star power and Gosford Park for its structure and stories. And yet, it is the only Best Picture winner to date without a nomination in any other category. In terms of Best Picture winners, CODA would among films with the fewest nominations but those films were released during the Great Depression. Of course, this era was a completely different time for moviegoers let alone the world.
We’re living in a different world right now. Critics get the opportunity to vote on awards in the months leading to the guilds. Once the guilds vote, I stop paying attention to what critics are saying and start paying attention to what the guilds decide. Meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein is persona non grata and he no longer has any sway like he did a decade ago. The main reasoning as to why I focus on the guilds is because of the voting overlap with the Academy. Film critics are generally not members of the Academy and yet, Film Twitter debates their decisions almost all the time. No matter what happens, Film Twitter is just going to end up starting the next awards season almost as soon as the broadcast ends–not that any of us want this. Awards season should not be so long.
At the end of the day, what the Academy decides on through their preferential ballot is final. Agree with it or not, the voters are the ones who make the decision. The body has been diversifying to so that’s also something at play now. Whether it’s The Power of the Dog or CODA, it’s a decision that’s fine by me. No film has to live up to every single one of Oscar’s rules.
If the past two years have taught me anything, we need to throw the rules out and ignore them. It’s especially true of the box office as more people are staying home. Maybe what we need right now is a feel-good crowd pleaser to take home Best Picture.
The 94th Academy Awards will air live on ABC at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT on March 27, 2022.
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