- 12 Years A Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures) Producers: Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Brad Pitt & Dede Gardner
- American Hustle (Columbia Pictures) Producers: Megan Ellison, Jon Gordon, Charles Roven, Richard Suckle
- Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics) Producers: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum
- Captain Phillips (Columbia Pictures) Producers: Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin
- Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features) Producers: Robbie Brenner, Rachel Winter
- Gravity (Warner Bros. Pictures) Producers: Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman
- Her (Warner Bros. Pictures) Producers: Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze, Vincent Landay
- Nebraska (Paramount Pictures) Producers: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa
- Saving Mr. Banks (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) Producers: Ian Collie, Alison Owen, Philip Steuer
- Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount Pictures) Producers: Riza Aziz, Emma Koskoff, Joey McFarland
Analysis: The PGA uses the same voting system that the Oscars have adopted in the past couple of years so we can assume that the majority of these nominees with translate to the big show. The major exclusion here is the Coen Bros’s melancholy folk film Inside Llewyn Davis. After being critically heralded and receiving nominations at the Golden Globes and the BFCA awards, it seems that the Coen flick is not playing as strongly with the guilds. The most surprisingly inclusions are Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, which has not been getting much attention outside of Cate Blanchett’s performance. Could this indicate more love for a film which has only been expected to score nominations in Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay? I’d say it’s too little, too late. However, the big story is the dominance of Dallas Buyers Club during these guild awards and it chocks up another one after the SAG nominated it for Best Ensemble a few weeks back. Most people were expecting the film to only score nominations for Best Actor and Supporting Actor, but it seems like the film is generating more love overall. I do not understand the appeal for this film outside of Matthew McConaughey’s, admittedly, fantastic performance. The other performances seem like caricatures and the writing is laughable at times. This is destined to get nominated now and be the yearly film that doesn’t generate any real emotion from me outside of a simple “meh.”
Prediction: Many pundits are predicting Gravity since it was an incredibly difficult production, revolutionized technology for visual effects and cinematography, and made a shit ton of money. However, I think that the winner will be 12 Years A Slave as McQueen’s film continues its long march to winning the big prize on Oscar night as well. The last time the PGA prize did not correspond with the Best Picture Oscar was back in 2006 when Little Miss Sunshine took the PGA prize, but Scorsese’s The Departed triumphed at the Oscars. I do not think we will have differing opinions again this year.
- American Hustle, Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell; Columbia Pictures
- Blue Jasmine, Written by Woody Allen; Sony Pictures Classics
- Dallas Buyers Club, Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack; Focus Features
- Her, Written by Spike Jonze; Warner Bros.
- Nebraska, Written by Bob Nelson; Paramount Pictures
Analysis: As we saw the previous day at the Producers Guild Awards, it seems that Inside Llewyn Davis is not going to play as strongly with the guilds as it has with critics. This one is particularly disconcerting because the Coens are renowned for their screenwriting talents and you would have thought their peers would have went from them if anyone did. I am utterly baffled at the love for Dallas Buyers Club recently, but this is the cherry on top. The script was hands down the weakest aspect of the film and I cannot get the image of Jennifer Garner angrily hitting a wall with a hammer out of my mind. Seriously, why the hell is she even in the movie for?! Hopefully, the Academy will come to the Coens rescue and stop this madness.
Prediction: American Hustle. I think the recent revival of David O. Russell’s career these past few years and the overwhelming love his new film is generating is going to translate to a win here and probably at the Oscars.
- August: Osage County, Screenplay by Tracy Letts; Based on his play; The Weinstein Company
- Before Midnight, Written by Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke; Based on characters created by Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan; Sony Classics
- Captain Phillips, Screenplay by Billy Ray; Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Seaby Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty; Columbia Pictures
- Lone Survivor, Written by Peter Berg; Based on the book by Marcus Lutrell with Patrick Robinson; Universal Pictures
- The Wolf of Wall Street, Screenplay by Terence Winter; Based on the book by Jordan Belfort; Paramount Pictures
Analysis: The nominees here were all to be expected with the bizarre exception of Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor. The Writers Guild always nominates a film that is wildly out there and has no real prospects during the season simply because their eligibly rules are so strict that they leave out major contenders and need to fill the space. Since probable Oscar nominees 12 Years A Slave and Philomena were not eligible and neither were critical favorites like Short Term 12 and Blue is the Warmest Color, it seems that Berg’s film made it in because of a lack of contenders.
Prediction: This award could go anywhere since the most probable Oscar winner, 12 Years A Slave, was not eligible for a nomination. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that they will reward the talky indie Before Midnight since it will be a reward for the series overall and its three writers who have created a love story that the thirtysomething crowd clearly adores. However, they could go with The Wolf of Wall Street if they want to reward Terence Winter who has been a mainstay on the television writing scene with The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire.
- Dirty Wars, Written by Jeremy Scahill & David Riker; Sundance Selects
- Herblock – The Black & The White, Written by Sara Lukinson & Michael Stevens; The Stevens Company
- No Place on Earth, Written by Janet Tobias & Paul Laikin; Magnolia Pictures
- Stories We Tell, Written by Sarah Polley; Roadside Attractions
- We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks; Written by Alex Gibney; Focus Features
Analysis: I am not too familiar with many of the nominees here outside of Sarah Polly’s film about her real life family.
Prediction: A winner of many of this year’s Best Documentary prizes and directed by a standout young director/writer/actress, this will be an easy prize for Sarah Polley and her film Stories We Tell, which is about her actual family and their hidden secrets.